The Democrats’ Desperate Maneuvers

What’s the most important question that Barack Obama and his aides are wrestling with these days?

No, it’s not what they should do about the crisis in the Ukraine or how they can get Vladimir Putin to back down. Sadly for us, and all freedom-loving Ukrainians, the Russian President knows he can ignore any tough talk from the American President. Putin has concluded that Obama is all bluff and bluster. And who can blame him?

Nor are those White House aides burning the midnight oil debating how they can prevent things from degenerating even further in the Mideast. Their only hope for a peaceful solution in Syria is that Bashar Assad suffers a fatal heart attack. And that the fates (or maybe Israel) will conspire to halt Iraq’s nuclear ambitions; certainly the mullahs there don’t view American policy as a serious threat to their ambitions.

No, the single most important question occupying the Democrats these days is much closer to home. It is simply this: What can the Obama Administration do to minimize Democratic losses in the midterm elections this November?

The Democrats may be committed to raising taxes on the “rich,” giving more subsidies to the poor and even most middle-class Americans, and doing everything they can to promote economic equality. But they’re not total idiots. They know that tens of millions of Americans are still unemployed or woefully underemployed. They know that there is no “economic recovery” taking place in this country, no matter what the President and his pet economic advisers claim.

They know that the horribly (and deliberately) misnamed Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, is the most unpopular piece of legislation to be rammed through Congress in the past 50 years.

And they know that, as a result, Democratic incumbents are in big, big trouble in the coming midterm elections. They’ve already given up on winning back control of the House of Representatives. Now their biggest nightmare is that they will also lose control of the Senate.

Once you realize that this is the question consuming Democratic leaders, then every new policy, every new promise and every new pronouncement makes a lot more sense.

That’s why Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had the unmitigated gall to declare that all of those horror stories about people being hurt by Obamacare are nothing but lies. According to the Senate Majority Leader, all such reports are just “made up from whole cloth.” Sure thing, Harry. Lots of luck getting any but the most deluded Democrats buying into that one.

It is this political concern that explains why Obama and his team have made more than a dozen changes to Obamacare since the Affordable Care Act became law. The latest occurred earlier this week, when they declared that consumers can keep insurance plans that don’t comply with the Federal health law for another two years, until the end of 2016.

Previously, those plans would have expired at the end of this year, which means that millions of consumers would have received notices of cancellation right before the November elections. Guess which party would have been hurt the most when those people went to the polls?

But wait a minute. Since Congress passed the original law, shouldn’t it have been up to our lawmakers to change the requirements or issue any such extensions? Sure, it should. But obeying the law has never been a policy of this Administration. After all, Obama boasted about how much he could do without Congressional approval, just by using his phone and his pen.

Last week, The Heritage Foundation issued a list of the Obama Administration’s most flagrant violations of the Constitutional separation of powers. Leading the list was how the Administration had unilaterally changed the employer mandate in Obamacare without any Congressional authority to do so.

So now comes the latest charade in the political theater that is Washington, D.C.: the President’s new budget proposal. Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2015 calls for a staggering $3.9 trillion in Federal spending. But thanks to hefty new taxes on corporations and “the rich,” he claims that the deficit will shrink to “only” $564 billion.

That’s right. Our most spendthrift President in history has the nerve to brag about a budget that will put this country another half-a-trillion dollars in the red. “Our budget is about choices,” the President declared. “As a country, we’ve got to make a decision if we’re going to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans or if we’re going to make smart investments necessary to create jobs and grow our economy and expand opportunity for every American.”

The President’s proposed budget repeats calls for a several proposals, such as increasing the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits, that have gone nowhere in Congress but always get enthusiastic applause from Democrat loyalists.

Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who as House Budget Committee Chairman will be responsible for putting together the Republican counterproposal, said in response, “This budget isn’t a serious document; it’s a campaign brochure.”

Well, of course it is. The Democrats know full well that there isn’t the slightest chance that the President’s budget proposals will get approved in the House of Representatives. Of course it reads more like a campaign document than a serious proposal. It was planned that way.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was just as dismissive as his Republican colleague. “After years of fiscal and economic mismanagement,” Boehner declared, “the President has offered perhaps his most irresponsible budget yet. Spending too much, borrowing too much, and taxing too much, it would hurt our economy and cost jobs.”

So the political charade continues. And it will — until enough voters decide to replace both the Tweedledum and Tweedledee candidates. Meanwhile, get ready for a lot more BS from the poseurs and politicians in Washington. Remember, it’s all about what polls well and makes the best commercials.

God help our Republic.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Editor’s note: To see The Heritage Foundation’s list of President Barack Obama’s most unConstitutional executive actions, check out Ben Bullard’s article from Monday’s P.M. Edition of Personal Liberty Digest™.

The Tyranny Of The Minority

Chalk up another victory for the gay and lesbian lobby. They managed to stir up so much of a ruckus that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a measure the State Legislature passed to safeguard the religious liberty of its citizens.

Senate Bill 1062 was designed to protect Christian business owners from being forced to provide goods or services when to do so would violate their religious beliefs. Such a measure became necessary, its supporters said, because Christian photographers, bakers and florists had been punished for declining to provide services for gay weddings.

State Senator Steve Yarborough, one of the sponsors of the bill, said: “This bill is not about allowing discrimination. This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”

In cases in Oregon, Washington and New Mexico, business owners were found guilty of violating the civil rights of gays for refusing to provide their services for a gay wedding. In some cases, they were fined thousands of dollars for discriminating against gay customers.

And it isn’t just private businesses that are under the gun of the homosexual lobby. So are many public charities. Catholic Charities came under attack when it said it would not violate the teachings of its faith by placing children in the homes of same-sex couples. When it was ordered to do so, it chose instead to shut down its foster care and adoption services in several States. When the charity closed its doors in Illinois, Bishop Thomas Paprocki said, “In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated.”

Indeed, that is precisely what increasingly is happening all across this county.

Once the State Legislature in Arizona passed SB 1062, the floodgates opened against Governor Jan Brewer, demanding that she veto the bill. John McCain and Jeff Flake, the two Arizona Senators, denounced the measure. So did Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for President. Newt Gingrich, another prominent Republican politician, said the same thing.

Three Republican legislators in Arizona who had voted for the measure said they had changed their minds. In a letter to the Governor, they said that their intent had been “to create a shield for all citizens’ religious liberties.” Instead, they noted, “[T]he bill has been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance.”

Many businesses, including Apple and American Airlines, joined the chorus urging Brewer to veto the measure. Even the National Football League got involved, threatening to move the 2015 Super Bowl from Phoenix to some other, more gay-friendly State unless she vetoed the bill.

Faced with all of these strident demands, it isn’t surprising that Brewer buckled. Very few politicians could have withstood the pressure she faced.

In announcing her decision, the Governor said, “My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona.” While she believes strongly that “religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value,” she added, “So is non-discrimination.”

Here is how she explained her decision to veto: “To the supporters of the legislation, I want you to know that I understand the long-held norms about marriage and family that are being challenged as never before.” She recognized that “Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes.”

But then she added, “However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want.”

Demonstrators outside the State capitol building in Phoenix erupted in cheers when Brewer’s decision was announced.

We have come full circle in this country, with the people demanding “tolerance” becoming absolutely intolerant of anyone who disagrees with them. If, because of your religious convictions, you decline to participate in a gay wedding, it’s not enough to insist you violate your conscience. No, these new forces of intolerance say you must be punished.

Welcome to the new tyranny of the minority.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Barack Obama, Jobs Killer

What’s the single most important issue facing the country today? According to a recent Gallup poll, a majority of Americans says it’s jobs. We need more of them. Millions more.

But thanks to the policies of Barack Obama, we’re not getting them. In fact, just the opposite is true. Recent reports from the Congressional Budget Office reveal how two of the President’s pet programs will cost this country millions of jobs. They make very grim reading for anyone concerned about the employment picture in America.

The first report dealt with the impact of Obamacare. The CBO estimates that as the Affordable Care Act becomes fully implemented, some 2 million Americans will either leave the workforce or substantially reduce the number of hours they work.

The reason is simple: They won’t want to lose the subsidies for their health insurance. But that’s what will happen as their earnings increase, either because they work more hours or get a higher-paying job. The Obamacare insurance subsidies are gradually reduced as a person’s income rises. In other words, as the CBO report puts it, Obamacare is really “an implicit tax on additional earnings.”

The White House immediately put its own enthusiastic spin on the CBO’s projected job loss. Believe it or not, it said this was really good news, because it meant that many people would finally have the freedom to stay home with their children or maybe start their own businesses.

Yep, the Obama Administration said we should all be happy about the loss of 2 million jobs, because it meant that “Individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods and have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

Sure thing. That “dream” no doubt helps explain why nearly 50 million Americans have signed up to collect food stamps. Welcome to the Obama version of the American dream, which is rapidly becoming the American nightmare for those of us who have to pay the taxes to keep the shell game going.

The employment picture is already pretty grim, with the lowest labor-participation rate since the 1970s. The way the Feds like to count, the unemployment rate in the U.S. is now less than 7 percent, a finding that led to all sorts of back-patting and self-congratulations from the White House.

But of course, “the way the Feds like to count” is as crooked as a corkscrew. As soon as someone stops looking for work, he is no longer counted among the unemployed. So while the Bureau of Labor Statistics sees only 10 million unemployed Americans, the reality is that there are another 91 million Americans — more than nine times that number — who don’t have jobs.

Some of them don’t need or want to work, of course. They may be retirees or stay-at-home moms. The number also includes full-time students, the disabled and anyone else who doesn’t need a job. But even after making every possible allowance, it’s clear that the real unemployment number in this country is considerably higher than the government’s official figure.

The second bit of bad news for the Democrats concerned their campaign to increase the minimum wage by almost 50 percent. They want it raised from $7.25 an hour, where it is now, to $10.10.

I’ll leave aside for now the whole question of whether the Federal government has any business setting wages in this country or whether it has the Constitutional authority to do so. Of course it doesn’t. But the three branches of government haven’t agreed with me on this one since 1938, when the first law was passed by Congress establishing a Federal minimum wage.

Now comes a report from the CBO estimating that raising the minimum wage to more than $10 could cost anywhere from half-a-million to a million jobs.

According to the Labor Department, about 3.6 million Americans earned $7.25 an hour or less in 2012, the latest year for which numbers are available. Almost half of them were between the ages of 16 and 24. The vast majority were working in entry-level jobs, mostly in restaurants and other service industries.

But here’s the good news: Most people who start in minimum-wage jobs in this country won’t stay there. After they’ve increased their skills and experience, they become worth more to an employer. That just makes sense.

There are 146 million people employed in this country, according to the Labor Department. Some 118 million hold full-time jobs, while another 28 million are working part-time. And you know what? Most of them got their first jobs working for minimum wage at McDonald’s or some other fast-food joint. Many, if not most, of the people reading this column could probably say the same thing.

How many of those first-time jobs will be lost if the minimum wage goes up by almost 50 percent? We have no way of knowing for sure, of course. But you can bet it will be plenty. That’s why the National Restaurant Association warned that increasing the minimum wage will “significantly limit the entry-level opportunities businesses can provide, hurting employees with limited skills or experience and looking to enter the workforce.”

So is there any good news on the job front? As it happens, the answer is a resounding yes. It comes from Chattanooga, Tenn., where employees at the Volkswagen plant there voted against joining the United Auto Workers.

That isn’t what was expected to happen. The UAW had been working for more than two years to clinch the deal. The union had the not-so-secret support of Volkswagen management, which allowed it to campaign on the plant floor while denying opponents the same opportunity.

So it came as a shock when workers voted, 712-626, to reject the union. A victory here was supposed to be just the first step in a long-term campaign to unionize the South. Now, that won’t happen — at least not as quickly or easily as the UAW hoped.

In its lead editorial on the subject, The Wall Street Journal wrote, “The decision by workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee to reject the United Auto workers is the best news so far this year for the American economy.”

The same editorial pointed out how the Obama Administration had stacked things in the union’s favor: “Don’t believe those who say this means the end of the UAW,” the paper wrote. “It has too many friends in high political places, as the 2009 auto bailouts proved.”

The UAW is threatening to file an unfair labor practice complaint over the election, so this may not be the end of the story. In fact, I can guarantee it’s not. But it’s nice to have any victory to celebrate. Thanks to those workers in Chattanooga for giving us this one.

Until next time, keeps some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The Dirty Deal For A ‘Clean’ Debt Bill

Well, the Republican leadership has done it again. In the battle over government spending, they waved the white flag of unconditional surrender. Believe it or not, they gave Barack Obama permission to spend as much money as he wants over the next year — with absolutely no strings attached.

The media are reporting that the House and Senate passed a “clean” bill to raise the debt ceiling. Actually, they did no such thing. They didn’t set a new limit on government borrowing. Instead, they abolished any debt ceiling for the next 14 months.

It’s incredible how this deal will work. By suspending the debt ceiling, your friendly Federal government can spend all the money it wants — or rather, all the money that Congress will allow – between now and March 16, 2015. By an amazing coincidence, that gets everyone past the elections this November.

Then, when this temporary measure expires, the new debt ceiling will be the present debt — which is an absolutely appalling $17.2 trillion (yes, that’s “trillion” with a “t”) — plus however much more debt is created between now and next March. That will be another trillion dollars in red ink added to the total by the profligate politicos in Washington.

In just six years of his Presidency, Obama will have increased the national debt by more than $7 trillion. And what’s most amazing of all is that our so-called leaders in Washington are actually claiming that this latest vote means that they were being “responsible.” Isn’t that incredible?

The Republican surrender began in the House of Representatives when Speaker John Boehner told a startled group of Republican Congressmen that he finally agreed not to attach any spending restrictions to the debt-ceiling measure. That is exactly what the Obama Administration had been demanding all along.

As hard as it is to believe, when Boehner announced his new plan at a closed-door meeting of Republican Congressmen, he actually expected to be applauded for it. When he was greeted by silence at the end of his remarks, he said rather petulantly: “I got this monkey off your back and you’re not even going to applaud?” The docile lawmakers took the hint and gave him a less than robust round of applause.

That was all it took for 28 Republicans, including Boehner, to vote for the measure. All but two Democrats in the House also said “aye,” so the no-debt-ceiling bill passed the House on Tuesday by a vote of 221-201.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was absolutely delighted with the result. “A few reasonable House Republicans were willing to join Democrats to avert a catastrophic default on this nation’s obligations,” he said.

Reid wanted to rush the bill through on a straight majority vote. But that didn’t happen. Instead, an interesting fight developed when Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) refused to go along. The Tea Party favorite forced the Senate to vote to end debate on the matter.

But ending debate can’t be done by a simple majority; cloture requires 60 votes, and there are only 55 Democrats in the Senate (counting two independents who usually vote with them). Unless five Republicans could be found to join them, Reid wouldn’t be able to bring the measure to a vote.

That’s when Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Republicans’ ostensible leader in the Senate and a guy who insisted all of last year that he would never vote to raise the debt ceiling unless some spending restrictions were part of the deal, agreed to switch sides. So did John Cronyn (R-Texas), the Minority Whip in the Senate, and 10 other turncoats.

So Reid had the super-majority he needed to end the debate. The final tally on that one was 67-31, with a dozen Republicans joining all of the members of the Democratic caucus.

Now that the debt bill could be approved by a simple majority, it was safe for the Dirty Dozen to switch back. So every single Republican, including McConnell, pressed the “no” button. The bill to suspend the debt ceiling passed on a straight party-line vote, 55-43.

This means that McConnell will be able to assure the voters in Kentucky that he voted against suspending the debt ceiling. If you live there (or have any friends there), I hope you won’t let him get away with this charade. Please remind everyone you know that McConnell was instrumental in getting the measure approved.

If it sounds like there was an unseemly rush to get the dirty deed done, you’re absolutely right. That’s because the House and Senate had already scheduled a recess from now until Feb. 24. But the Treasury Department said it was close to exhausting all of the “extraordinary measures” it was using to continue spending money. Unless it received new authority to borrow funds, it would begin defaulting on some payments on Feb. 27. Now, that won’t happen.

So now what? In How To Stop More Republican Betrayals, I said that one of the best things conservatives could do was send McConnell packing. I urged you to support Matt Bevins, his opponent in the Republican primary in Kentucky this June.

Many conservative leaders agree with me on this. Amy Kremer, chairman of the Tea Party Express, said that her group will work to defeat McConnell and other Republican leaders this year. “Leadership needs to go — they need to be completely changed,” she said.

Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks, says the choices are clear: “Do you stand with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell or do you stand for fiscal responsibility?” He says the move to suspend the debt ceiling will encourage his members to work even harder. “It heightens activists’ desire to bring in new blood to Washington, D.C.”

Let’s hope they’re right. In fact, let’s do more than just hope. Let’s work to make sure they are.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood   

How To Stop More Republican Betrayals

Thanks to yet another “bipartisan compromise” in Washington, we taxpayers have had it socked to us again. This time, it’s a new farm bill that’s made everyone so happy — except for us taxpayers, who will have to pay for the danged thing. Congress hadn’t managed to pass a comprehensive farm bill since 2008, so the fact that this one finally got approved is supposed to be greeted with hosannas.

The bill is 959 pages long and calls for spending nearly a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. The $956.4 billion in expenditures works out to nearly $1 billion for each page. That’s not as bad as the Affordable Care Act (the monstrosity that created Obamacare), but I think you’ll agree it’s a pretty hefty sum.

The measure passed the House of Representatives last week on a vote of 251-166, which meant it had substantial Republican support. The same thing happened in the Senate this week, where it was approved this past Monday on a vote of 68-32.

The biggest single expenditure, by far, is the food stamp program, which has more than doubled since Barack Obama took office five years ago. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to give its official name, now feeds one out of every seven Americans. The cost comes to $80 billion a year.

Yet we’re somehow supposed to be grateful that Congress agreed to trim 1 percent from that total bill, or a measly $8 billion? Thanks a bunch, Congress.

Even more idiotic than the farm bill that just got passed, Republicans are now talking about agreeing on a compromise immigration bill. This would be a mistake of colossal proportions. I can’t imagine their being so stupid and self-destructive. But then again, after watching the so-called Republican “leadership” for many years: Yes, I can.

First of all, there is nothing that Republicans could do — not even agreeing to some sort of amnesty program, as they did under Ronald Reagan — that will enable them to win a significant number of Hispanic votes. It just ain’t gonna happen.

Second of all, no matter what new legislation says about protecting our borders, does anyone really believe that Barack Obama will enforce it? The President has shown an utter disdain for his Constitutional mandate to enforce many existing laws. Now we’re going to count on him to do something that would upset a significant number of his supporters? No way, José.

And here’s one other major concern. No matter what sort of bill the Republican majority in the House of Representatives passes, you can bet that a far different and more destructive one will come out of the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will make sure of that. Guess which side is likely to win most of the battles when the two sides sit down to hammer out the final legislation?

The smartest thing Republicans could do this year regarding a new immigration bill is… nothing. Let the Democrats issue all of the threats and make all of the promises they want. Republicans should simply sit down, shut up and refuse to bring any immigration legislation to a vote. This is definitely one case where doing nothing is a whole heck of a lot better than any “compromise” legislation they could approve.

The best thing the Republicans could do is not even start down this path. Let the Democrats rant and rave and bluff and bluster. Let’s put this one off until next year — when hopefully a Republican will take the reins as Senate Majority Leader. What a difference that would make!

But maybe not, if it’s the current Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). What a squishy-soft compromiser he is. If conservatives want tough, determined, uncompromising leadership in the Senate, McConnell is not the man.

The best way to replace him is not by waiting until next year, but by getting a better person to run for his Senate seat this year. And happily, there is a candidate running against him in the Republican primary who would bring a Tea Party brand of conservatism to Washington. His name is Matt Bevin.

In July, National Review ran an article titled “Kentucky’s Ted Cruz?” that was about Bevin. In response, Bevin wrote: “I can tell you, I truly appreciate this comparison. Ted Cruz is exactly the kind of principled, conservative senator I will be–one who isn’t afraid to stand up to the ‘establishment,’ even in his own party.”

Could you imagine McConnell saying anything like that? I can’t.

It should tell you something that The Hill ran an article about Bevin’s challenge of McConnell with the headline “Democrats, for once, are rooting for McConnell in Senate primary.” Why would the Democrats hope a Republican incumbent would win his primary? Because they know — and recent polls confirm — that Bevin has a better chance of beating Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic candidate, than McConnell.

That’s right. As surprising as it may sound, the latest Rasmussen poll in Kentucky says that Bevin has a better chance of defeating Grimes than the incumbent. Kentucky is a deeply red State; heck, Obama lost the state to Mitt Romney by a margin of 22.7 points. So any Republican should be a shoo-in to win an election there.

But not McConnell. It seems that many Kentuckians are as dismayed by his so-called “leadership” as I am. And I’m not alone. Here’s what Erick Erickson, the editor of RedState, had to say about this contest: “You want to change Washington? I’ll say it again — the single biggest thing you can do is support Matt Bevin.”

To learn more about Bevin, go to his campaign website, www.mattbevin.com. But don’t delay. The Republican primary in Kentucky is May 20. That gives conservatives just three months to get a staunch conservative running for the Senate seat there.

I hope the voters in Kentucky will tell McConnell it’s time to retire. If you know any there, please ask them to jump on this bandwagon.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Can Obama Sink Any Lower?

Did you listen to Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night? It was amazing to hear him tell Congress that he was going to do whatever was necessary to circumvent them — and to see them leap to their feet and applaud him for saying so.

That’s right. The Democrats in Congress actually cheered the President when he said he wasn’t going to wait for them to pass legislation. He’s ready to proceed without them. Here is how our imperial leader put it: “But America does not stand still – and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Watch for yourself. He makes that comment at the 0:07:32 mark.

The threat of unilateral action didn’t take anyone by surprise. White House officials had been promising for days that this would be an important part of El Presidente’s remarks.

Obama didn’t waste any time putting his threat into action. He’s been badgering Congress for months to raise the minimum wage. He wants it increased from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. He doesn’t seem to know — or care — that ordering businesses to give low-wage earners a 39 percent increase in pay might cause some of them to fire some workers. After all, the more something costs, the less of it you get. And that definitely includes jobs.

In most cases, the President can’t just order a business to pay its employees more. But there is one area where he can: those with federal contracts. In his speech, he said he was going to order all such firms to increase the minimum wage for their employees to $10.10. And he urged other businesses to do the same thing voluntarily, before they are required to do so by law.

All of this was too much even for some Democrats. Alaska Senator Mark Begich told CNN: “You have to be very careful of how far you extend those executive powers. … I would encourage the President to work with us, not just have a slew of executive orders, because I think that’s going to upset the balance and also create a lot of controversy not just from Republicans, but some of us that are much more moderate and view this careful balance that we have a role here. … If they go too far, you’ll clearly hear push back from me. There’s no question about it.”

Begich joined a growing list of Democrats who said he had no interest in having Obama campaign for him in the coming elections. And no wonder. Back in 2008, when Begich first won his Senate seat, Obama lost Alaska by 22 points. Clearly, the President is not the most popular guy in the State.

As you’d expect, the harshest criticism of Obama’s arrogant posturing came from Republicans. Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) said on CNN’s “New Day”: “This threat that the president is going to run the government with an ink pen and executive orders, we’ve never had a president with that level of audacity and that level of contempt for his own oath of office.”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was even more blunt. In an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal the day after Obama’s State of the Union speech, the Tea Party favorite declared: “Of all the troubling aspects of the Obama presidency, none is more dangerous than the president’s persistent pattern of lawlessness, his willingness to disregard the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive fiat.”

No surprise that the No. 1 example of Obama’s cavalier attitude toward the law is Obamacare. Cruz wrote: “There is no example of lawlessness more egregious than the enforcement–or nonenforcement–of the president’s signature policy, the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Obama has repeatedly declared that ‘it’s the law of the land.’ Yet he has repeatedly violated ObamaCare’s statutory text.”

Cruz listed several other examples of Obama’s abuse power: “When Mr. Obama disagreed with federal immigration laws, he instructed the Justice Department to cease enforcing the laws. He did the same thing with federal welfare law, drug laws and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.”

Cruz pointed out that “11 state attorneys general recently wrote a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius saying that the continuing changes to ObamaCare are ’flatly illegal under federal constitutional and statutory law.’”

In their letter, the attorneys general wrote that “the only way to fix this problem-ridden law is to enact changes lawfully: through Congressional action.” Don’t hold your breath waiting for anyone in the White House to agree with that.

So how can we put the brakes on this imperial President? Clearly, so long as the Democrats hold a majority in the U.S. Senate, there isn’t a chance of getting remedial legislation passed. Heck, as long as the petty and vindictive Harry Reid (D-Nev.) serves as Majority Leader, such legislation won’t even be allowed to be brought up for a vote.

Hopefully, this unhappy situation can change this November, when Republicans have a chance to win control of the Senate. That will depend on getting decent candidates, getting them adequately funded and then making sure that they focus on the right issues.

According to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, there is no question what the key issues are … and aren’t. When asked what should be an “absolute priority” for the President and Congress this year, the top two issues, by a wide margin, were creating jobs and reducing the deficit.

And what topics were down at the bottom of the public’s wish list? Again, I don’t think you’ll be surprised. In descending order, they included reducing income inequality, passing new immigration legislation, and addressing climate change.

Needless to say, Barack Obama gave a shout-out to all three in his State of the Union address.

No wonder the same poll said that 51 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama’s job performance, while only 43 percent approve. An even larger number, 63 percent, say that the U.S. is “off on the wrong track.” And almost as many say they are uncertain, worried or pessimistic about the chances that Obama will do a good job in the remainder of his Presidency.

For once, I find myself agreeing with the majority — although “uncertain, worried or pessimistic” isn’t nearly strong enough. During the remainder of his Presidency, I am absolutely certain that Obama will do everything he can to expand government, increase spending and push this country even further to the left.

The rest of the President’s address was pretty much a tired rehashing of prior failed policies. If you didn’t listen to it, you didn’t miss much. He even put closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, back on his to-do list.

Obama did toss in a few lines that would appeal to conservatives, such as cutting the bureaucracy and reducing the deficit. They not only sounded like something a Republican would say, but a former speech writer for George W. Bush says they were. Marc Thiessen, who was the lead writer on Bush’s 2007 State of the Union address, told Fox News’s Megyn Kelly that parts of Obama’s speech were eerily similar to what he wrote seven years ago.

“So Barack Obama has gone from blaming George W. Bush to plagiarizing George W. Bush,” he said.

So an increasingly unpopular President continues to push increasingly unpopular policies. Is anyone surprised?

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Conservative? You Must Be Racist, Extremist

Why has Barack Obama’s popularity come crashing down? In a recent Gallup poll, the President’s approval rating hit a record low — below anything that either George W. Bush or his father experienced. The only President in modern times to get a lower rating was Richard Nixon, shortly before he resigned.

Why such abysmal ratings? Do you think it might have anything to do with the far-left policies Obama has pursued? His disastrous healthcare program? The National Security Agency spying scandal? Or maybe the use of the Internal Revenue Service to intimidate conservatives?

No, according to the man himself, none of those are the reason why his approval ratings have plummeted. When asked by New Yorker editor David Remnick to explain his dismal approval, Obama reached into his bag of tricks and played the race card again:

“There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President,” Obama said.

Well, sure, in a country of more than 300 million people, no doubt there are some people who are prejudiced. Just ask any Muslim you know. But the truth is Obama’s color isn’t the reason his popularity has plummeted. On the contrary, it’s the reason he was elected President in the first place, to which Obama alluded in the New Yorker article:

“Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black President.”

Think about it. What if Obama had been white? Do you think there’s any chance that an obscure white politician from Illinois who hadn’t even completed a single, undistinguished term in the Senate would have been elected President? Heck, if Obama had been white, do you really believe he would have defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination?

Not a chance.

If Obama had been white, do you believe the media would have ignored his very dubious associations or his lack of any real accomplishments as a U.S. Senator, an Illinois State Senator or a community organizer? Do you he would have been given a pass on such mysteries as the grades he got in college or why he can’t produce an authentic birth certificate?

No, Obama’s skin color has nothing to do with his plunging popularity. On the contrary, Obama was elected President in 2008 precisely because he was black, not in spite of it. He won because there was a vast reservoir of good will in this country toward him from whites who genuinely wanted him to succeed.

Had they known what he actually believed and the kind of far-left policies he would try to implement, there’s not a chance he would have been elected. It was precisely because he was able to hide his Marxist associations and his far-left agenda that he is sitting in the White House today.

Despite the fact that a majority of Americans say he’s taking the country in the wrong direction, Obama says he is more determined than ever to implement his radical agenda. And if he can’t get Congress to pass the legislation he wants, then he’ll do it without their approval.

He said so himself. As he convened his first cabinet meeting of the new year, Obama said: “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”

He then rattled off a long list of issues that he says Federal bureaucrats will begin implementing, regardless of what Congress does.

For a man who once taught Constitutional law, Obama sure doesn’t think much of the system our Founding Fathers created. Forget about checks and balances between three branches of government. Creating the laws under which we must live is supposed to be the responsibility of the legislative branch, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Obama’s job, as the head of the executive branch, is to implement the laws Congress passes.

Of course, Obama knows that is how the system is supposed to work. He just doesn’t like it. He doesn’t want to be bound down by the chains of a Constitution.

And he isn’t. Last year, for every law that Congress approved, the executive branch created hundreds of new rules and regulations. In 2013, the Federal Register, where such new dictates must be published, was more than 80,000 pages long.

Obama is sounding more like the dictator of a banana republic than the President of the American republic. He and his staff have repeatedly changed the rules for Obamacare in an effort to keep the program from totally collapsing. The Environmental Protection Agency is doing the same to destroy the coal industry in this country, as well as to implement the Administration’s agenda on “climate change.” (Remember, we’re no longer calling this trumped-up crisis “global warming.” In the wake of the winter storms that have been paralyzing much of the country, the environmental extremists needed a phrase that didn’t make them look totally ridiculous.)

Disturbing as his comments may have been, Obama hasn’t gone as far as Andrew Cuomo. During a radio interview last week, the New York Governor actually wondered out loud if conservatives should even be allowed to live in the State.

Here’s what he said: “Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

Be sure to note how Cuomo twists things to portray honest conservatives as extremists. If you believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, that somehow makes you an anti-gay extremist. If you support the right to “keep and bear arms,” as the 2nd Amendment promises, then you must be a “pro-assault weapon” extremist.

If other words, if you disagree with the liberal agenda, you are an extremist. And not only does the Governor of New York want to exclude you from the political debate, but he doesn’t even want you to live in his State.

The bad news is that the left is getting even more open and arrogant about their intentions.

The good news is that more and more Americans don’t like it. A majority of our fellow countrymen now agree that the country is heading in the wrong direction.

How do we turn it in the right one? One way is to nominate, and then elect, politicians who will stick to their principles after they are elected. Pay attention to what they say now. And even more important, hold their feet to the fire once they get to Washington.

Nobody said it would be easy defending our liberties. But somebody’s got to do it. So it better be us.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

More Evidence We’re Losing Our Freedom

The latest Index of Economic Freedom has just come out, and the news for the United States isn’t good. The study, a joint effort of The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, concludes that economic freedom in the United States has declined again. This is the seventh year in a row this has happened.

For more than 200 years, the United States led the world in economic freedom. For many of those years, we were also the most prosperous Nation in the world, as we demonstrated that economic abundance was one of the happy consequences of economic freedom. Now, many other nations are confirming the same thing.

But we aren’t. Now, we’re not even in the top 10 of the 178 countries the study measured. Thanks a lot, Barack Obama! And Congress. And, yes, even the U.S. Supreme Court. All have been complicit in the unrelenting assaults on free enterprise in this country.

In an opinion piece in The Journal, Terry Miller, one of the study’s directors, had this to say: “It’s not hard to see why the U.S. is losing ground. Even marginal tax rates exceeding 43% cannot finance runaway government spending, which has caused the national debt to skyrocket.”

But out-of-control government spending is just one of the areas where the United States is in decline. As Miller wrote: “The Obama administration continues to shackle entire sectors of the economy with regulation, including health care, finance and energy. The intervention impedes both personal freedom and national prosperity.”

So if the U.S. is losing economic freedom, how is the rest of the world doing? Believe it or not, economic freedom is actually improving in most of the world. According to the study, 114 countries of the 178 in the study enjoyed an increase in economic freedom in the past year. And some 43 countries scored their highest ranking ever in the index’s 20-year history.

Leading the list once again is Hong Kong, which scored 90.1 on the 100-point scale. Following it in the “free” category are Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand and our northern neighbor, Canada.

Rounding out the top 10 in the “mostly free” category are Chile, Mauritius, Ireland and Denmark. Then comes Estonia. The United States finally shows up next, at 12th on the list. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but even Estonia did better than the U.S. this time.

Maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise. It turns out that several countries in Eastern Europe that used to be dominated by the Soviet Union are thriving now that they have embraced free-market economies. According to the study, Estonia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic are the European countries that gained the most economic freedom in the past 20 years.

Congress, are you listening?

According to the study, 18 countries in Europe have reached new highs in economic freedom. They include Germany, Sweden, Poland and Georgia. On the other hand, five countries — Greece, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and Cyprus — scored lower than they did when the first index appeared 20 years ago.

No surprise on which countries are on the bottom of the list. In descending order, they are Iran, Eritrea, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Cuba and North Korea. All are known for despotic governments, government-run economies and few, if any, property rights — oh, and one other thing: the abject poverty endured by most of their citizens.

The study measures economic freedom in 10 different categories under four broad areas, which it calls the pillars of economic freedom. They are,

  1. The Rule of Law, which includes property rights and lack of corruption;
  2. Limited Government, measured by fiscal freedom and controls on government spending;
  3. Regulatory Efficiency, such as business freedom, labor freedom and monetary freedom; and finally,
  4. Open Markets, as measured by freedom to trade, investment freedom and financial freedom.

Does it really matter how a country scores on economic freedom? Absolutely!

“Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity and social progress,” Miller wrote.

It is an outrage that this country, whose freedom and prosperity made us an inspiration for the world, is now measurably on the decline. The report says that the U.S. has suffered “particularly large losses in… control of government spending.” But we already knew that, didn’t we?

The latest jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms just how shaky things have become in the U.S. economy. While forecasters expected new jobs in December to exceed 200,000, the BLS number came in at a lowly 74,000.

Yet even with that disappointing number, the unemployment rate in this country somehow dropped 3/10 of a point, from 7 percent to 6.7 percent. How is that possible?

It turns out that nearly five times more people stopped looking for work in December than found new jobs. An estimated 347,000 Americans left the labor force and are no longer counted among the unemployed.

Clearly, there’s the solution to make the unemployment numbers look good. If enough people who don’t have jobs simply give up looking for them, unemployment in this country would drop to zero. Wouldn’t that give the Obamaites something to crow about?

The sad truth is that the actual number of people with jobs in this country — the so-called “labor participation rate” – is at a measly 62.8 percent. That’s the lowest number since 1978.

“[T]his year’s index demonstrates that the U.S. needs a drastic change in direction,” Miller wrote.

Indeed it does. But as long as Harry Reid holds the reins as Senate Majority Leader, we’re not going to get it. Happily, that could change in a big way this November, when he could receive a well-deserved demotion to Minority Leader.

I’ll have a lot more to say in coming days on the key elections that could make that happen. In the meantime, keep reminding your friends that Ronald Reagan got it right when he said: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

The latest Index of Economic Freedom confirms the wisdom of the former President’s remark. The more government gets out of the way, the more a country will prosper. The results of five years of Obama prove that the opposite is true, too.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Hooray For Our Do-Nothing Congress

Did you hear about a December poll that found a large majority of Americans are really disgusted with the current “do-nothing” Congress? According to a CNN/ORC International survey, almost three-quarters of those questioned say that, so far, the 113th Congress has done nothing to address the country’s most serious problems. Nearly two-thirds say the current Congress is “the worst ever.”

Commenting on the survey, CNN polling director Keating Holland said: “That sentiment exists among all demographic and political subgroups. Men, women, rich, poor, young, old — all think this year’s Congress has been the worst they can remember.”

And how’s this for a negative consensus? It seems that 52 percent of those polled say the policies of the Democratic leaders in Congress were moving the country in the wrong direction. A slightly larger number — 54 percent — said the same thing about the policies of Congressional Republicans.

And the comments weren’t any more positive for Barack Obama. Here again, a 54 percent majority said the President’s pet programs would hurt, not help, the country. Based on what they’ve seen so far of Obamacare, who can blame them?

Back in 1948, then-President Harry Truman based his campaign for re-election on denouncing the 80th Congress for refusing to pass his favored legislation. He (or his speechwriters) coined the phrase, a “do-nothing” Congress. And it worked. Not only did Truman beat Thomas Dewey in the Presidential election that November, but the Democrats regained control of both the House and the Senate.

The Democrats, of course, are hoping to use the public’s poor opinion of Congress to garner support for more of their pet legislation. Currently on the docket are measures to raise the minimum wage and to extend unemployment compensation. After that will be an immigration bill. And then will come more measures to adjust the “income equality” that has Obama so distressed.

How about reducing government spending or curbing government power? With Democrats in control of the Senate and Obama comfortably ensconced in the White House, a realist has to say it won’t happen this year.

So before we go any further, maybe instead of castigating the folks who are supposed to represent us, maybe we should be shouting: Hooray for a “do-nothing” Congress! Hey, I’d much rather have our legislators succumb to gridlock, and not pass any legislation, than have them approve more of the money-grabbing, liberty-eroding measures they’ve been inflicting on us. Wouldn’t you?

So what will it take to start winning some victories? How about more Republicans in the Senate like Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.)? We have a chance to do that this year. There are some important battles coming up in several key States. I’ll be writing about them in coming issues.

But right now, I’d like to ask your opinion about the one facing Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, as he tries to hold on to to his seat in Kentucky. As happens so often when moderate Republicans face re-election, McConnell is moving sharply to the right. Friends in Kentucky tell me he’s sounding more like a member of the Tea Party — patriots whom he previously denounced as “profoundly stupid” and said should be “punched in the nose.”

An outsider named Matt Bevin has stepped forward to oppose McConnell in the Republican primary. The Senate Conservatives Fund has endorsed Bevin and is already raising funds for his campaign.

The Fund’s position is simple: We can’t let the liberal Republican establishment win the 2014 primaries. If we do, they will cement their control over the party, Obamacare will never be repealed, and we will continue to get more spending, debt and taxes.

But McConnell has some powerful support, both in Washington and in his home State. In fact, Tea Party hero Rand Paul, the junior Senator in the State, has endorsed McConnell for re-election.

My question for you is: Should conservatives and libertarians try to replace McConnell with a more dependable conservative; or, in doing so, are we simply paving the way for a Democratic victory?

This won’t be the only time, and Kentucky won’t be the only State, where conservatives and libertarians face such a choice. What do you think is the principled thing to do in such cases?

I’ll read your comments with interest. And look forward to continuing the discussion in future columns.

Did Global Warming Do That?

Wow, the supporters of global warming have sure had a tough time recently. First, the research ship Akademik Shokalskiy went looking in Antarctica for evidence of global warming. And it got trapped, as one wag put it, in 15 feet of irony.

The researchers were hunting evidence that the polar ice cap was melting. Instead, ice was much more plentiful than they expected. Before they knew what was happening, the Russian-flagged vessel was trapped in dense ice sheets and couldn’t move.

Then, a Chinese ice breaker tried to come to their rescue. But it also got trapped in the ice. Finally, a helicopter arrived and transported the passengers to an Australian ship that wisely stayed far enough away so it could rescue them.

No sooner did we global warming skeptics get a chuckle over the story than the country was hit by some of the coldest weather we’ve seen in years. Frigid conditions blanketed most of the country, including the normally balmy State of Florida. The freak storm was blamed on something called a polar vortex.

No wonder that the phrase “global warming” has fallen out of favor with the left. Now the preferred expression is “climate change.”

And I have to admit, they finally got something right. Of course there is climate change. We call it seasons.

Until next time, please try to keep warm. And keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Big Nanny Government Strikes Again

If you like your light bulb, you can keep your light bulb.

Actually, just like Barack Obama’s promise regarding health insurance, this one’s not true either. As of Jan. 1 (Happy New Year, by the way!), the import or manufacture of 40-watt or 60-watt light bulbs is now forbidden in the United States. This follows the ban on 75-watt and 100-watt bulbs, which had already been implemented.

I wish we could blame this on the current Administration, but actually this assault on our freedom of choice goes back to 2007, when Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act and it was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Yep, the prohibition on incandescent bulbs is actually six years old. It just didn’t get much publicity until replacement light bulbs began disappearing from store shelves. Now that more consumers realize what’s happening, a whole bunch of people are stockpiling the ones that remain. If this is the first you’re learning of it and you want to keep some incandescent bulbs on hand, good luck finding some.

The experts who’ve decided they know what’s good for us say that, in time, we’ll learn to appreciate the wisdom of their policies. After all, the new compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that we’re being forced to use are much more energy-efficient than the trusty old favorites. The new bulbs last so much longer — up to 23 years, we’re told — that we’ll save money in the long run. So what if they cost 10 times more money than the old, familiar light bulbs that we’ve used for the past 100 years?

And so what if we hate the way these new light bulbs look? Or the weird kind of light many of them give out? Your not-so-friendly Federal government has decided that it doesn’t matter what your preferences might be. No consumer choice here — except which kind of new, energy-efficient light bulb you’re going to buy.

Welcome to one more way that Big Nanny government manages to intrude into the bedroom — not to mention the kitchen, living room and anyplace else where you flip a switch and expect a light to come on.

Oh, and how do you like how long it takes for some of these bulbs to come to full strength? I went into a guest bathroom recently. When I turned on the switch, it was still so dark in the room that I could barely find the toilet. In time, the room got a little bit brighter. But forget about bringing any reading material in with you.

Don’t look to Congress for any relief from these edicts. The House tried twice, back in 2007, to let us keep our incandescent bulbs. But two alternatives offered up by conservative lawmakers, the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act or the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, failed to pass the House.

Facing the inevitable, General Electric has closed the last factory in the U.S. that manufactured incandescent bulbs. The shutdown of the plant in Winchester, Virginia cost 200 employees their jobs. And don’t count on the forced demand for CFLs and LEDs creating a bunch of new jobs in this country. All of those are being manufactured abroad, mostly in China. Thanks, Uncle Sam, for helping export even more U.S. jobs.

The assault on the light bulb is mere trifle, however, compared to the job losses and financial costs of Obama’s war on coal. And this isn’t happening because of any laws passed by Congress. No, the culprits here are the bureaucrats in the Environmental Protection Agency, who simply decree whatever regulations they deem necessary to achieve their goals.

Estimates are that some 600,000 jobs will be lost because of the EPA directives, mostly in Kentucky and West Virginia. Last week, both Kentucky Senators, as well as all five of the State’s Representatives, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Supreme Court, in support of a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s authority to regulate coal plants.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said the case is “an egregious example of the EPA’s violation of the law in pursuit of its overzealous, anti-coal agenda.” And he added, “The ability to create laws is the purview of Congress and the EPA has clearly overstepped its authority.”

We’ll find out later this year if the Supreme Court agrees with him and does anything to retard the EPA’s onslaught against the coal industry. If not, you can expect to pay a lot more for electricity in this country. Nicolas Loris, an economist at the Heritage Foundation, warned that the EPA assault on coal-fired power plants “will deliver a blow to the economy and raise costs for consumers.” He added: “Any way you shake this, it’s a no-win for our economy.”

And speaking of a no-win, how about the latest on Obamacare? Just before Christmas, the Obama Administration announced that it was waiving the individual mandate for people who have had their existing health insurance policies canceled.

Geez, wasn’t it only a few weeks ago that the Democrats allowed a partial shutdown of the Federal government, rather than pass any Republican-endorsed measure to delay the individual mandate? Now it seems that Obama and his allies are tacitly admitting that Senator Ted Cruz and the House Republicans were right in demanding a delay.

This is just one more example of how the Obama Administration is changing the law without bothering to get Congress involved. Columnist John Fund says delaying the individual mandate “is at least the 14th unilateral change to Obamacare that’s been made without consulting Congress.”

Ho-hum, another crisis, another unConstitutional edict from the folks in the White House.

Considering all of the attacks on our freedoms, is it any wonder that the latest Gallup poll says that 72 percent of Americans now say that Big Government is a threat to our liberties? That number is a new record high, by the way.

As I said last week, there are some encouraging signs that more and more Americans are standing up and speaking out in defense of their principles. It was wonderful to see the furor that erupted when A&E Networks suspended “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson.

Let’s hope the new year will bring us some more such victories. I hope that one of your resolutions will be to do your part in making it happen.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Barack Obama’s Lie of the Year

Is the tide finally turning against the left in this country? Two important issues suggest that it may be. We’re a long way from being able to proclaim victory. But we’re winning some important battles. Let’s look at the evidence.

Let’s begin with the most vilified piece of legislation in recent years: Obamacare. The latest polls say that 62 percent of the public are now opposed to the measure, while just 35 percent favor it. That’s one heck of a black eye for President Barack Obama’s major legislative accomplishment.

It’s by now common knowledge that Obama was knowingly and deliberately lying through his teeth when he repeatedly promised, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” In fact, PolitiFact, the Pulitzer-Prize winning feature of the Tampa Bay Tribune, named this Obama whopper as its “Lie of the Year.” After the newspaper announced its selection, readers in a separate online poll overwhelmingly agreed with the selection.

For a while, the President tried to deny that he said what he clearly and repeatedly promised. Here’s how he tried to rewrite his own history, in remarks to political supporters last month:

“Now, if you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law, and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”

PolitiFact promptly labeled this as a “pants on fire” falsehood. And it noted that it had counted 37 different times before that, when the President had included no such caveats in his promise.

Even many Obama supporters cried foul over this obvious effort to deceive. Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page declared that the public “was entitled to hear the unvarnished truth, not spin, from their President about what they were about to face. I don’t feel good about calling out Obama’s whopper, because I support most of his policies and programs. But in this instance, he would have to be delusional to think he was telling the truth.”

No, Mr. Page, our President wasn’t delusional; he was desperate.

Obamacare supporters claim that the measure’s website is now largely fixed. Therefore, they hope, the problems are largely behind them.

Not a chance. Nearly 10 times more people have lost their insurance than have been able to sign up for a new policy. Millions more will be told in the coming year that their old policies are being canceled.

Many of those who do apply through Obamacare are finding that their premiums will be significantly higher — in many cases, more than twice as much as they had been paying — while their deductibles (that is, the amount they must pay out of their own pockets) have gone through the roof.

More and more Americans are realizing that this massive government takeover of our medical system is a disaster. Fixing the website won’t change the fact that the program is fatally flawed.

This one issue could be enough to decide several Senate seats this fall. Let’s make sure it is.

The ‘Duck Dynasty’ Controversy

Another sign that the sleeping giant called the Silent Majority is coming awake is the amazing response of Christians and conservatives to the attacks on “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson for expressing his honest convictions about homosexuals.

GLAAD, the militant gay-rights group that launched the attack against Robertson, says it has received more criticism for its actions in this case than for any other positions it has taken. Even many gays have spoken out against the group’s efforts to suppress free speech.

One of the quickest about-faces came from Cracker Barrel. At first, the country restaurant chain said it was removing all merchandise from its gift shops that carried Robertson’s photograph. The company quickly did a complete turnaround and issued the following statement:

When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done.

You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings.  You flat out told us we were wrong.

We listened.

Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores.

And, we apologize for offending you.

Good for Cracker Barrel! The response reminds me of what happened last year, when the gay rights movement attacked Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy for his remarks defending traditional marriage. Instead of hurting the restaurant chain’s business, supporters turned out in droves, leading to some of the busiest days in the company’s history.

The same thing is happening again, this time with “Duck Dynasty” merchandise selling in droves. After the furor broke over A&E’s actions, there was a rush to purchase all sorts of “Duck Dynasty” items from Wal-Mart’s website. The group’s T-shirt was already Wal-Mart’s best-selling item of apparel for men and women. But now the shelves have been stripped of just about everything carrying the “Duck Dynasty” name.

And we’re talking about a ton of stuff. Wal-Mart’s annual sales of “Duck Dynasty” merchandise is said to come to some $200 million a year. According to Forbes magazine, the show’s merchandise empire is worth an estimated $400 million, so Wal-Mart sales come to about half of that amount. As you can see, the family business is a lot more than duck calls.

But let’s get back to the reaction to the attacks against Robertson. Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh says there is something special going on here. He told his vast radio audience, “I think a lot of people are sick and tired of being pushed around by a very small minority of leftists who use weapons, like political correctness and censorship, intimidation, and everything else, in order to shut up the people who say things they don’t want to hear or disagree with.”

Limbaugh pointed out that Robertson is “the only one that’s really been discriminated against here.” He lost his gig on the family’s TV show. “[A]t some point,” Limbaugh added, “enough people are gonna say, ‘Okay, enough of this,’ and they’re gonna stand up and say, ‘Just shut up.’”

There’s no doubt Rush is right. A&E made a huge mistake by kowtowing to the radical gay rights movement. The reaction of Robertson’s defenders has shocked and alarmed the mainstream media. They’ve always been worried about what would happen if the Silent Majority weren’t silent any more. Let’s hope they’re about to find out.

In this holy season, as we celebrate the good news of Christ’s birth, I hope you’re encouraged by these more earthly glad tidings. Let’s begin the New Year rested, refreshed, and even more resolved to do battle with the enemies of liberty.

Happy New Year! And until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Kelly Was Right, Santa Is White

Good golly, Miss Molly, what a brouhaha FOX News host Megyn Kelly stirred up by saying something that the vast majority of us would regard as incredibly obvious: Santa Claus is white.

It all started when Kelly made a reference on “The Kelly File,” her nighttime TV show, to culture blogger Aisha Harris’ commentary “Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore,” posted on Slate.com.

Kelly told her TV audience, “When I saw this headline I kinda laughed and I said, ‘Oh, this is ridiculous. Yet another person claiming it’s racist to have a white Santa.’” Then she added, “And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white.”

That was all it took to send some of the knee-jerk race baiters into paroxysms of rage. But, of course, all they really succeeded in doing was making themselves look incredibly foolish.

Kelly said her comments on her program were meant to be tongue-in-cheek: “Humor is part of what we try to bring to the show. Sometimes that’s lost on the humorless.”

And no one is more humorless than a liberal on a righteous rampage. There is no other issue in America that gives liberals more opportunities to climb up on their soapboxes and spout off than accusations of racism.

So, of course, an almost perfect issue was dumped into their laps when a high school teacher in New Mexico made the horrendous mistake of telling a black student that he shouldn’t dress up as Santa Claus, because, of course, Santa Claus is white.

The student was embarrassed. His parents were incensed. The teacher and the school district did their best to apologize. In fact, Kim Vesely, Director of Parent, Community, and Staff Engagement for Rio Rancho Public Schools, said in a statement:

This situation involves a teacher recently hired by Cleveland High who made — and admits he made — a stupid mistake. The remark was inappropriate and should not have been made. The teacher feels very badly about what occurred. He self-reported the incident to the principal and has apologized to the student and to the student’s parent. Appropriate disciplinary action has been taken.

And one thoughtless remark made headlines from coast to coast. Don’t you miss the good old days, before the mainstream media fastened on every possible point of controversy — especially any that could make conservatives look bad?

So, of course, the controversy had to continue on Kelly’s show. Two days after her original remarks, Kelly devoted a major segment of “The Kelly File” to the episode. She played several clips from coverage on other networks and a round-up of the late-night comedians, who couldn’t resist poking fun at all the fuss.

Kelly said the overreaction “would be funny if it were not so telling on our society.” She said that the saddest part of the controversy was “the knee-jerk reaction to race bait.”

Bill O’Reilly, the most popular personality on FOX, said the real target of the attacks on Kelly was FOX News itself:

Now why the bother? Two reasons: one because any talk of skin color brings out the zealots and two because any controversy attached to the Fox News Channel will be seized upon by the media.

[I]n this case Miss Kelly is correct. Santa was a white person. Does that matter? No it doesn’t matter. The spirit of Santa transcends all racial boundaries, it’s a spirit based on generosity, kindness to children and magical moments. But for those who despise the Fox News Channel there is nothing magical about anything we do here.

Again a little history. When we first started up more than 17 years ago the mainstream media was dismissive believing CNN and MSNBC would crush us. They were wrong. When that became apparent the liberal media attacked and continues to do so today. Because they can’t defeat us on the media battlefield the far left seems to — seeks to demonize Fox News as a right wing propaganda machine and a racist enterprise. That’s why Miss Megyn got headlines about a Santa Claus remark that was totally harmless. So there you have it. And that’s “The Memo.”

Two weeks ago, media billionaire Oprah Winfrey beat the drum once again for a favorite liberal refrain: Much of the opposition to Barack Obama is because he is black, not because of his policies.

This is nothing but racism, pure and simple. But did anyone in the mass media call Winfrey on it? Of course not.

Hey, Oprah, have you ever considered the possibility that maybe, just maybe, a whole bunch of Americans are sick of a government that is spending us into bankruptcy? That we are appalled that the United States is already more than $17 trillion in debt but keeps spending like crazy anyway? That the White House uses the National Security Agency to spy on us and the Internal Revenue Service to intimidate us?

No, my opposition to Barack Obama has nothing to do with the color of his skin. It has everything to do with his policies. And I can assure you that a whole bunch of Americans feel the same way.

Recently, “Saturday Night Live” came under fire for not being “diverse” enough. It seems that of six new players added to the cast this fall, not a single one is “a person of color” (although one is a quarter Hispanic) — no blacks, no Asians, just five white men and one white woman. Shame on SNL!

When confronted about this, SNL creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels said he is committed to hiring a black female. He is, in fact, conducting auditions now and hopes to be able to have a black female join the cast next month. Way to go, Lorne.

Craig Robinson, who was identified as the Chief Diversity Officer for NBC Universal (yes, the company does have such a position), declined to comment for a story in USA Today about SNL’s lack of diversity.

And on and on it goes. Do you think we’ll live long enough to see the left get tired of playing the race card against us? Not so long as they think it can help them win the culture war against us.

As for me, I’m going to ignore their absurd assaults for the next few days. Instead, I’m going to enjoy a very special time with friends and family, as we share our favorite Christmas traditions. I even plan to watch “White Christmas” again.

Please accept my best wishes for a blessed holiday season. Then, let’s return to the battle for our faith and our freedoms with even more energy and enthusiasm.

Merry Christmas. And until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Nelson Mandela: The Un-Obama President

More than 100 world leaders gathered in Johannesburg to attend memorial services for Nelson Mandela, the first black president of that country. None received more attention or got a more enthusiastic reception than Barack Obama, the first black President of this country.

All the hoopla led to an orgy of fawning media coverage for both men. But in all of it, even in the comments and commentaries in what passes for the conservative press, no one drew attention to what seems to me to be the most glaring difference between the two men:

  • For all of his adult life, Nelson Mandela was outspoken about his core beliefs. For most of them, he was a Marxist revolutionary, committed to the violent overthrow of his government.
  • Obama, on the other hand, has never been candid with us about his past associations or activities. Even the grades he received in college are guarded as a deep, dark secret. And the less said about his communist and terrorist associations back then, the better.

As a candidate for President, Obama promised to be a great uniter. Instead, he has turned out to be one of the most divisive presidents this country has ever seen. What a contrast with what happened in South Africa!

But while Mandela is being held as a saint today, let’s not forget that for most of his adult life he was an outspoken Marxist revolutionary. He openly advocated the use of violence against the government of South Africa. When he tried to implement his beliefs by blowing up a hospital, he was arrested, tried and sentenced to life in prison.

At one point, P.W. Botha, then the president of the country, said he would release Mandela from prison if he would renounce the use of violence. Mandela refused. He ended up spending 27 years in prison and was finally released in 1990.

It’s worth noting that for all of the years that he was in prison, Amnesty International never tried to win Mandela’s freedom. The reason was simple: The organization noted in 1985 that it would work only for the release of “prisoners of conscience” who “have not used or advocated violence.” And the group explained, “Amnesty International does not believe that this definition applies to Nelson Mandela.”

By the way, it wasn’t just whites who were the targets of violence by Mandela’s organization, the African National Congress. No, many of the victims were blacks who refused to support the group and its Marxist goals. One of their favorite terrorist tactics against their fellow blacks was “necklacing.” This was when tires were placed around a victim’s neck, filled with gasoline, then set on fire. It was a horrible and gruesome way to die, intended to terrorize any black who considered cooperating with the white “enemy.”

Winnie Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s wife at the time, was one of the most vociferous leaders of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. She gloated about the effectiveness of this weapon of terror and intimidation. “With our necklaces,” she bragged, “we will liberate this country.”

That was the background when Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990. Like many other anti-communists at the time, I was frightened that he would call for even more violence in that beleaguered country. But to my amazement, the opposite occurred. Rather than demand revenge against the whites who had ruled the country for so long, Mandela advocated forgiveness and reconciliation.

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom,” Mandela said later, “I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” While he led the negotiations that brought a peaceful end to segregation in the country, he urged his fellow blacks to forgive the white government that had imprisoned him and discriminated against them.

In 1994, four years after getting out of prison, Mandela was elected as the first black president of South Africa. Happily, Mandela refused to implement the Marxist goals he had advocated for so long. There would be no massive seizure of the property of whites, no sweeping nationalization of the industries in the country.

Where many feared even more bloodshed and acrimony, Mandela called for cooperation and peaceful coexistence between whites and blacks. I confess that I was astonished by the change.

Nothing I’ve seen captured this transformation better than the movie “Invictus.” Morgan Freeman played Mandela in this 2009 film, which was directed by Clint Eastwood. Matt Damon portrayed Francois Pienaar, the white South African who was the captain of the country’s rugby team.

In one memorable scene, Mandela walks onto the playing field before a crucial contest gets underway. He’s wearing a green and gold jersey bearing Pienaar’s number on the back. The stadium, which is filled with mostly white spectators, roars its applause.

Rory Steyn, one of Mandela’s black bodyguards, described the event and its effect on the public: “That crowd, which was almost exclusively white… started to chant his name. That one act of putting on a No. 6 jersey did more than any other statement in bringing white South Africans and Afrikaners on side with new South Africa.”

Contrast that with the disgusting scene from Johannesburg this week, when our President went out of his way to shake hands with Raul Castro, the murderous dictator of communist Cuba. Obama even gave a slight half-bow as he did so.

That was too much for Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla), who declared: “I came here when I was a small child with my family fleeing the aggression of the communist tyranny in Cuba, and to see the President of the United States shake hands with a sadistic murderer, which is what Raul Castro is and what he represents, it is nauseating.”

Ironically, in his eulogy for Mandela, Obama pointed out that “around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs.” Nowhere is this truer than in the communist dictatorship just 90 miles from our shore. Too bad our President didn’t keep this mind — and avoid giving Fidel Castro’s brother a photo op that is sure to become what Ros-Lehtinen described as “a propaganda coup for the tyrant.”

I have no problem with all the praise and plaudits being heaped on Mandela. Especially when I consider the bloodbath that would have torn his country apart, had he not rejected his previous revolutionary rhetoric.

I’m not foolish enough to believe that the same thing will happen with the covert revolutionary who now occupies the White House. Since we can’t trust him, we will have to contain him. Happily, the Constitution of the United States spells out exactly how to do that.

We can take a big step in the right direction a year from now, by replacing four or five liberal Senators with some battle-hardened conservatives. It won’t be easy. But it can be done. In fact, it must be done, if we are going to take our country back.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Get Ready for More Obamacare Propaganda

Well, isn’t that special? Now that the Obamacare website has been “fixed” (more on that travesty in a moment), the Administration of President Barack Obama has announced it will ramp up efforts to build support for its takeover of the American healthcare system. I can hardly wait.

The New York Times reported the Administration is preparing “a daily barrage of more positive messages about the health care law during the next several weeks — some to be delivered by Mr. Obama personally.” And it quoted one anonymous official as promising: “Every day, there will be something coming out of the White House.”

The new propaganda effort kicked off two days ago, with a speech by the President to a White House Youth Summit meeting. Interestingly enough, that was the same day a new poll was released, showing that the President and his signature healthcare measure have become strikingly unpopular with a group that used to be his most fervid supporters: the so-called millennials.

A new poll from Harvard University’s Institute of Politics confirms just how much support Obama and his signature healthcare legislation have lost among young people between the ages of 18 and 29.

The millennials supported Obama in his two Presidential elections by a huge margin. The poll asked, “If you could re-cast your 2012 vote for President today, for whom would you vote?” Seventeen percent of the young Obama voters would not support him.

Boy, how they’ve changed today. To paraphrase an old adage, you can fool some young people all of the time, and all young people some of the time. But you can’t fool all of the young people all of the time.

According to the IOP poll, Obama’s overall job approval rating has plunged 11 percentage points since April and now sits at just 41 percent. A majority of 54 percent now disapprove of his performance. On many specific issues, Obama’s approval is even lower. For example, only 28 percent approve of his handling of the Federal budget deficit. (Frankly, I’m surprised that even one out of four young people think he’s doing a good job here. How bad would it have to get before they said “enough”?)

It should come as no surprise that the issue that has hurt the President the most among young people is Obamacare. It seems that a majority of them have finally figured out that they will be the financial victims in this scheme.

Only 38 percent of the young people surveyed said they approved of the program. A plurality told the pollsters that they expected Obamacare to reduce the quality of their healthcare, while an outright majority said that they expected it to lead to higher costs for them. They got that right!

Here’s a statistic that should scare the bejabbers out of the defenders of Obamacare. Just 22 percent of the young people surveyed said they expected to sign up for health insurance under Obamacare. More than twice as many said they were unlikely to do so. If these numbers are confirmed by actual results in the coming year, it will be a huge problem for the redistributionist scheme known as the Affordable Care Act.

One of the key assumptions behind the plan was that a large number of healthy young Americans would pay more in premiums than they cost the system. If this doesn’t happen, there goes Obama’s promise that Obamacare “won’t add a dime” to the Federal deficit. No, it won’t be a dime; it will be tens of billions of dollars.

The millennials surveyed are so disgusted with politics today that a majority of them, some 52 percent, said that they would recall every member of Congress if it were possible to do so.

But it isn’t just the members of the House and Senate who would feel their wrath. Almost as many would like to remove Obama from the White House. Some 47 percent said they would like to recall him, while 46 percent said they would not. Since the margin of error in the poll was 2.1 percent, you can call this one a toss-up.

Those are some pretty grim numbers for Obama supporters. But according to former President Bill Clinton, in a few more months it will all be different. “I believe that if the computer problems are all fixed, and it’s up and running by — and healthy in the next several weeks,” he told Fusion’s Jorje Ramos. “I think that the damage will be minimal.”

Clinton has certainly benefited more than most people from the public’s short memory of misdeeds. So it comes as no surprise that he hopes “within four or five months people will be talking about something entirely differently.”

Of course all of that optimistic outpouring is predicted on one dangerous assumption: that the problems with the Obamacare website are all fixed. That is hardly the case. The best its defenders can say is that it’s “less prone to errors” than it was. But the system still crashed when CNN tried to use it during a live news broadcast.

Head honcho Kathleen Sebelius offered this helpful piece of advice to potential enrollees: Go the site during “off-peak hours.” Yeah, that’s the ticket. Set your alarm clock for 3 o’clock in the morning, and maybe — just maybe — you’ll be able to get through.

But even then, the process won’t be complete. The New York Times offered up a particularly misleading piece of reporting last Sunday, when it wrote that the back-end systems “that are supposed to deliver consumer information to insurers still have not been fixed.”

Of course they haven’t been fixed; they haven’t been built yet! Remember, it was just more than two weeks ago (on Nov. 19, to be exact) when Henry Chao, the Administration official in charge of overseeing the Healthcare.gov website, told a Congressional committee that “the accounting systems, the payment systems, they still need to be” created.

How can you “fix” something that doesn’t even exist?

Meanwhile, the Administration is gloating that about 100,000 people signed up for health insurance through the online Federal exchange in November. To be sure, that’s a substantial increase from the 27,000 people who, in October, managed to navigate the website and actually select an insurance plan.

But even the number of enrollees is another example of how the Obama Administration plays fast and loose with the truth. They count as “enrolled” anyone who has put a healthcare plan in an online shopping cart.

But to be fully enrolled, a consumer not only has to select a plan, he must also receive confirmation from an insurance company that they’ve been accepted. And then he must make his first premium payment. No one will say how many people have completed the whole process.

Originally, the Administration said it hoped to have 800,000 people fully enrolled in Obamacare by the end of November. That’s just a fraction of the millions of Americans who’ve been notified that their existing health insurance will be canceled at the end of the year. Even so, they are not one-fifth of the way to enrolling 800,000 people.

Yes, the Obamacare story has been one of billions, blunders and baloney. Expect to see a lot more of all three in the coming weeks and months.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

The Democrats Get Desperate

Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, is no stranger to political confrontation. He had some doozies (including two shutdowns of the Federal government) back when Bill Clinton was President.

But he says nothing that happened back then can match the Democrats latest power grab. In a column titled “The Death of the Senate,” he wrote: “No one should be confused about what happened [last Thursday]. The Obama Democrats killed the United States Senate as a deliberative body 226 years after the Founding Fathers created it.”

What happened eight days ago to lead to this harsh appraisal? After years of threatening to employ the “nuclear option” to limit debate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid finally pushed the button. The Democrats rammed through a resolution on a straight 52-48 party-line vote that will keep Republicans from using filibusters to prevent confirmation of various Presidential appointees.

They did this in part so they could finally get the additional liberal votes they want on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. I mentioned in last week’s column how vital they think this is to protect many of Barack Obama’s unConstitutional usurpations of power. As The Wall Street Journal pointed out: “[T]he D.C. Circuit in particular will now have more liberal judges to hear challenges to [the President’s] unilateral climate-change power grab or his rewrite by fiat of the Affordable Care Act.”

My, how times have changed. Back in 2005, the shoe was on the other foot. Republicans controlled the White House and had a majority in the Senate. So the Democrats used the filibuster, or the threat of doing so, to prevent votes on dozens of George W. Bush’s nominees.

When Republicans threatened to use the nuclear option to end their delaying tactics, Democrats were outraged. Back then, Obama was a mostly unknown junior Senator from Illinois. Here’s what he said at the time: “Everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate, then the fighting, the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse.”

Back then, it was hard to imagine “the fighting, the bitterness and the gridlock” getting any worse. But that’s certainly what’s happened, isn’t it?

The future President wasn’t the only one to protest the Republican threat. At the time, Harry Reid was the Minority Leader in the Senate. Here’s what he had to say:

[The filibuster] encourages moderation and consensus. It gives voice to the minority, so that cooler heads may prevail. It also separates us from the House of Representatives — where the majority rules. And it is very much in keeping with the spirit of the government established by the Framers of our Constitution: Limited Government… Separation of Powers… Checks and Balances. … [T]he filibuster is a critical tool in keeping the majority in check.

Of course, the Democrats haven’t worried about “moderation” or “consensus” since they won a majority. And Harry Reid has turned out to be one of the most mean-spirited, uncompromising and punitive leaders the Democrats have ever selected.

When Republicans threatened to use the nuclear option eight years ago, no one was more passionate, or more sanctimonious, in protesting the threat than then-Senator Joe Biden. He declared: “We should make no mistake. This nuclear option is ultimately an example of the arrogance of power. It is fundamental power grab by the majority party… We have been through these periods before in American history but never, to the best of my knowledge, has any party been so bold as to fundamentally attempt to change the structure of this body.”

Biden said his opposition to the measure was “the single most important vote” he cast during his three decades in the Senate. And listen to this. In a comment that I’ll bet he would love to delete from the history books, he then added: “I pray God when the Democrats take back control, we don’t make the kind of naked power grab you are doing.”

So what’s changed, gentlemen? Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) explained what’s really going on. “The heart of this action is directed at packing the D.C. Circuit,” he said, “because that is the court that will review the lawless behavior of the Obama Administration implementing Obamacare.”

And the Tea Party favorite added, “President Obama and the Administration refuse to follow the plain text of the law, and the D.C. Circuit court is the court of appeals that has been holding the Administration accountable.”

John Hayward, a staff writer for Human Events, was even more eloquent in his description of the Democrats’ duplicitous action:

Sure, they’re liars and hypocrites who never meant a word they said during the Bush era, shameless political hacks who abandoned all that lofty rhetoric about ripping out the beating heart of democracy in a mad power grab designed to grease the wheels for Obama’s lame-duck years. They desperately need to change the subject from Obamacare’s failure, while packing the D.C. Circuit Court with loyal Party operatives to thwart legal challenges that could bring the hated Affordable Care Act down.

Of course, the left will proclaim that this is all the Republicans’ fault. That it was their “obstructionism” that made the Senate so dysfunctional. And this naked power grab is supposed to make things better?

Three years ago, the Democrats used their super-majority in the Senate to ram through the monstrosity known as Obamacare. They did it on a straight party-line vote. They were willing — nay, eager — to force the most unpopular piece of legislation since Prohibition on us, without getting a single Republican to vote with them.

How much more repugnant legislation will they jam down our throats now? We’re about to find out. In less than two months, the temporary deadline that Congress approved earlier this year to suspend the debt ceiling will expire. They’ll also be confronted with the need to approve some sort of Federal budget.

Meanwhile, the “new and improved” website for Obamacare is supposed to be up and running this Sunday. I’ll take a look next week at how much worse this train wreck is going to be.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Will The Obamacare Lies Ever Stop?

Geez, you’ve got to feel sorry for Jessica Sanford. Do you remember her? She was one of the glowing examples of an Obamacare success that Barack Obama bragged about at a press conference last month. Turns out this much-hyped “success” was anything but.

Sanford is the mother of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD. The medications to treat him cost $250 a month. For the past 15 years, she had been unable to afford health insurance. But thanks to Obamacare, the President bragged, she was able to buy an affordable plan through the State of Washington’s health insurance exchange.

Except, it turns out that she wasn’t.

When she first applied, Sanford was told she qualified for a federal subsidy, so a “gold” plan would only cost her $169 a month. Then she was told, “Sorry, we made a little mistake here. Your actual cost will be $280 a month.” Then she got another notice, stating that because she earned $50,000 a year, she actually would not receive any subsidy and her actual cost would be almost twice as much again.

Sanford finally gave up and said she’ll just pay the penalty for not joining Obamacare. She posted on Facebook: “Wow, you guys really screwed me over.”

Yes, indeed. And with millions of people being dropped from their existing plans, while only a tiny fraction of that number actually purchases new insurance through Obamacare, you can expect to hear similar stories repeated over and over again.

This has led to such mind-boggling irony as having former President Bill Clinton lecturing Obama on the need to be straight with the American people. Yup, the man who was impeached for lying about having sex in the Oval Office broke ranks with the White House and said, “I personally believe, even if it takes a change to the law, the President should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.”

To a lot of folks, that sounded like a perfect set-up for the “Keep Your Health Plan Act” introduced in the House by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.). So Obama had to do more than merely denounce the legislation and promise to veto it if it reaches his desk.

No, the President went even further. A day before the House was to vote on the measure, he told a hastily assembled press conference that he would now allow insurance companies to continue offering those supposedly defective insurance policies for another year.

So once again, the White House is engaged in a patently unConstitutional usurpation of power. The President, who is supposed to enforce the laws that Congress passes, claims he can change the law whenever he wants. After all, he’d done it earlier this year, when he unilaterally suspended the employer mandate.

Some Republicans pointed out that the President has no legal authority to issue such an order. Insurance companies say that Obama is basically inviting them to break the law. And State insurance commissioners say that Obama’s “fix” will be impossible to implement in a timely fashion.

Consider: Insurance companies had three years to get ready for Obamacare to take effect. Now they’re being given less than three months to comply with the changes Obama cavalierly insists they make.

When the Upton bill came up for a vote last Friday, 39 Democrats joined 222 House Republicans in voting “aye.” The number of defectors surely would have been higher had it not been for the dubious “compromise” the President offered the day before.

But this wasn’t the only bombshell that exploded over Obamacare this past week. Here are three others that are giving the Democrats an Excedrin headache:

On Tuesday, one of the top tech officers responsible for building the Obamacare website told a Congressional subcommittee that almost 40 percent of the IT systems supporting Healthcare.gov website have not even been built yet. “It’s not that it’s not working,” Henry Chao told a House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations subcommittee. “It’s still being developed and tested.”

On the same day, four cybersecurity experts warned the House Science Committee that the Obamacare website is in danger of being hacked. The personal financial information of people who use it is at “critical risk,” they said. ABC News reported: “Three of the four witnesses agreed that the Obama Administration should take the site offline in order to address the security flaws.”

And finally, we learned this week that McKinsey & Co., an outside consulting firm that was hired to check on the progress of the Healthcare.gov website, told Administration officials back in March that the website would not be functioning properly by its Oct. 1 launch date.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius allegedly was briefed on their findings on April 4. Yet just two weeks later, Sebelius said in sworn testimony before Congress, “I can tell you we are on track.” Think anyone will suggest that perjury charges be brought against her?

All of this helps explain why opinion polls have gone from dismal to disastrous for Obama and the badly misnamed Affordable Care Act, the signature legislative achievement of his Presidency. The latest Quinnipiac national poll shows that just 39 percent of the public approves of his performance. His disapproval rating has climbed to 54 percent.

A month ago, Democrats were gloating at how badly the Republicans had been hurt by the reaction to the partial shutdown of the Federal government. The latest poll numbers indicate that the Democrats are suffering much more from the cataclysmic rollout of Obamacare.

Here’s what may be the most worrisome number of all for the President’s supporters. Some 46 percent of the people surveyed said that the President knowingly deceived the public, when he repeatedly promised that they could keep their health insurance plans if they wanted to.

The numbers just keep getting worse. The latest CBS poll says that the President’s approval rating has slipped even further, and is now down to 37 percent. That’s a drop of 9 percentage points in just the past month. Obama’s disapproval rating, according to the CBS poll, has climbed to 57 percent, an all-time high.

As bad as those numbers must seem to be to the denizens of the White House, the numbers for Obamacare are even worse. The same CBS poll found that 61 percent of Americans now disapprove of the President’s healthcare plan. Only 31 percent approve of it — a drop of 12 points in just the past month.

And here’s something that must have the residents of the White House tearing their hair out. Thanks to Obamacare, the President is losing the support of younger voters. Back in 2008, Obama got 66 percent of the vote of Americans under the age of 30. That landslide majority declined a little bit in 2012, but he still received 60 percent of the youth vote then.

Now, Quinnipiac says that young Americans disapprove of Obamacare by a margin of 51 percent to 42 percent. As shocking as that must be, check this out: The same poll says that young Americans disapprove of Obama himself by an even bigger margin — 54 percent to 36 percent. Not only do they give him a negative rating on his healthcare plan, they also rate him negatively on the economy, the Federal budget, immigration and foreign policy.

Granted, poll numbers can change quickly. It’s far from certain that voters will still feel the same way a year from now, when it will be time to vote for the men and women who will represent them in Congress. But given these numbers today, it’s easy to see why so many Democrats — especially those who will be seeking re-election in areas where Republicans have traditionally done well — are bordering on all-out panic.

Let’s do everything we can to make sure their worst fears are justified.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

You Can’t Pray That Here!

Another Federal court has taken a whack at another 200-year-old tradition in this country. This time, it’s opening public meetings with a prayer. An appeals court has ruled that the practice somehow violates the U.S. Constitution.

Now the issue is in front of the Supreme Court. Let’s pray that a majority of the justices get it right. Here is what is going on.

Like many communities in America, the town of Greece, N.Y., opens its monthly board meetings with a prayer. Although a variety of local religious leaders have delivered the prayers, most of them were given by Christians. This shouldn’t be surprising, since most of the religious institutions in this Rochester suburb — as in most of the country — are Christian.

But this was too much for two women in the town. Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens protested that the prayers constituted a government endorsement of religion. They sued the town to have them stopped.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that such “legislative prayer” is perfectly OK, as long as the prayer does not promote (or disparage) a particular religion. But the plaintiffs found a court to support them. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Town of Greece v. Galloway that the practice was “too sectarian” and had to be stopped. The town appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, which held a hearing on the case last week.

Hopefully, a majority of justices there will agree with earlier Supreme Court decisions, such as Marsh v. Chambers in 1983, which ruled that such legislative prayers weren’t an “establishment of religion,” but rather a “tolerable acknowledgement of beliefs widely held among the people of this country.”

By the way, in that 1983 decision, the Court wrote that the very same group of lawmakers who drafted the 1st Amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights also “adopted the policy of selecting a chaplain to open each session with prayer.”

That is a tradition that every Congress has followed since then. To this day, every session of Congress begins with a prayer. The Supreme Court begins its sessions with the appeal, “God save the United States of America and this honorable Court.” Our coins carry the motto “In God We Trust.” And even the Pledge of Allegiance contains the phrase “under God.”

As I said, acknowledging our dependence on God and asking His blessings upon us is a tradition that goes back to the very formation of this country.

While our Founding Fathers declared their “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,” they had a healthy mistrust of government. They recognized the wisdom of Lord Acton’s famous dictum: “All power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The best way to prevent this from happening, as Thomas Jefferson wrote, was to bind men down “by the chains of a constitution.”

But even the original Constitution didn’t go far enough to protect the rights of the States and the people. So before the Constitution could be ratified, 10 amendments were added, to specify even further what the central government could and could not do.

The 1st Amendment in what became known as the Bill of Rights covered the rights that the Founding Fathers considered most essential: freedom of speech, of the press, to assemble and to petition the government “for a redress of grievances.”

But of all these basic freedoms, the most important was the one they listed first: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Note the first five words: “Congress shall make no law.” It says nothing about what a State or a community might or might not do. In fact, the Founding Fathers were so intent on protecting the rights of the people to do pretty much do whatever they wanted that they wrote not one, but two amendments on the subject.

The 9th Amendment states: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

And in case that wasn’t clear enough, the framers of the Constitution repeated the same idea in the 10th Amendment. Could anything be more straightforward than this? “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The Founders never wanted or expected every state or community to draft the same laws, follow the same rules or practice the same traditions as every other community. They would have been appalled at the idea of some proscribed uniformity.

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for people to understand and support the Constitution, the Federal courts in this country are one of the last places you should look. And if President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) get their way, that situation is about to get a lot worse.

At a recent fundraiser, Obama boasted: “We’re remaking the courts.” And certainly the ultra-liberal appointments he’s made to various Federal courts confirm what he said.

Now, a key battle is brewing over three vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has said there is no need for more additional judges there. “In terms of raw numbers,” he said, “the D.C. Circuit has the lowest number of total appeals filed annually among all the circuit courts of appeal.” He claims that members of the court agree with him. One even told him, “If any more judges were added now, there wouldn’t be enough work to go around.”

Grassley has introduced the Court Efficiency Act of 2013, which would eliminate three seats on the court, which he says are totally unnecessary. That’s one way to keep more liberals from being appointed.

However, there is no way Reid will allow Grassley’s proposal to come to a vote. Reid has said the Democrats need to get at least one more member on the D.C. Circuit Court to “switch the majority.”

Why is this court so important? Here’s how Janice Crouse and Mario Diaz, both of whom are associated with Concerned Women for America, explained it in the Washington Times: “His credibility shattered, the only hope the president has of advancing his agenda is through executive action. Because administrative actions are reviewed by the judges on the D.C. Circuit, the president seeks to pack the court with left-wing ideologues who will uphold his agenda.”

So that’s what’s at stake in this battle. On the issue of legislative prayer, there are some reasons to be optimistic that this Supreme Court will overturn the decision of the Appeals Court.

During the hearing, Justice Elena Kagan said, “Part of what we are trying to do here is to maintain a multi-religious society in a peaceful and harmonious way.” Then she added, “And every time the Court gets involved in things like this, it seems to make the problem worse rather than better.”

Of course, the same thing could be said about almost every time the Federal government tries to “make things better.”

We’ll let you know how this battle plays out, as well as how the Supreme Court handles this latest assault our right to pray in public whenever our leaders gather. God knows we need His blessings — and protection.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Conservatism Didn’t Die On Tuesday

Liberals are gloating that Tuesday’s election results prove that committed conservatives can’t win the big races. Their main exhibits are two Gubernatorial races: the defeat of Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia and the success of Chris Christie in New Jersey. The left’s message can be summarized in four words: Conservatives lost big time. And, boy, do they love to rub it in.

There’s just one problem with all of their self-satisfied jubilation: The facts don’t support their claims. A much more accurate statement is that, once again, conservatives got sucker punched by liberals. And the GOP’s so-called leadership has a lot to answer for, too.

To see what I mean, let’s take a closer look at the race for Governor in Virginia. Yes, it’s true; Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic operative and longtime friend of the Clintons, beat his Republican challenger, State Attorney General Cuccinelli, by 2.5 percentage points. But considering how Cuccinelli got sandbagged by his own team, it’s surprising that the race turned out to be this close.

The biggest lesson from this week’s elections is that there is no substitute for having plenty of money to spend. And McAuliffe, the longtime Democratic operative, sure did. He outspent Cuccinelli by some $15 million — most of it on the nastiest and dishonest sort of attack ads.

Four years ago, the Republican National Committee spent some $9 million on the Governor’s race in Virginia… and won. This year, it managed to come up with only $3 million for Cuccinelli. Do you think the fact that establishment types control the purse strings at the RNC had anything to do with their pared-down support of a Tea Party favorite?

The spoiler in the Virginia race for Governor turned out to be Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate. Thanks to having a record amount of money to spend for a third-party candidate, Sarvis managed to garner 6.5 percent of the vote. That was enough to tip the scales in McAuliffe’s favor.

But here’s an interesting rumor that’s not getting much play in the national press. It’s that Democratic operatives poured a ton of money into the Sarvis campaign, knowing that he’d siphon a lot more votes from Cuccinelli than their guy. Sad to say, their bet paid off with a victory for McAuliffe.

Now that they’ve proven how to split the conservative/libertarian vote, want to bet that the formula won’t be tried in a lot more places in 2014? What are the chances this story will make the headlines on the nightly news shows? Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

The media have been full of stories about how voters in Virginia were so angry over the 16-day government shutdown that they held their noses and voted for McAuliffe. This is probably true in the northern Virginia counties adjacent to Washington, D.C. Is anyone really surprised that the bureaucrats, lobbyists and others dependent on government largesse want to make sure the good times don’t end?

Cuccinelli did his best to make the election a referendum on Obamacare, and he almost succeeded. Despite being vastly outspent in the closing days of the campaign, he closed the gap dramatically. A month ago, polls said that McAuliffe had a double-digit lead. By the time the polls opened on Tuesday, the race was virtually neck and neck.

Exit polls in Virginia revealed that 53 percent of the people who voted on Tuesday are opposed to the Affordable Care Act. Of that number, more than 80 percent voted for Cuccinelli.

Brian Baker, the president of a conservative political action committee that supported Cuccinelli, said the election proved that “Obamacare is toxic.” And he added: “If the shutdown had ended a week earlier, or the election had ended a week later, Cuccinelli would have won. This is a bad omen for Democrats in 2014.”

Indeed it is. Of course, that’s not how the mainstream media are calling it. But as the debacle that is Obamacare continues to grow, and millions more Americans lose health insurance they like (and get forced into a much more expensive government-mandated program), this is one issue that could win a lot of elections for Republicans in 2014. And maybe even 2016.

Speaking of the 2016 elections, the only surprise in New Jersey was the size of Christie’s victory. The Republican incumbent was re-elected governor by a margin of 60 percent to 38 percent. There was no surprise in how quickly the national media moved to crown him as the front-runner for the Republican nomination for President in 2016.

Of course, Christie was only too happy to play into those expectations. Listen to what the rotund politician said in his victory speech:

I know tonight, a dispirited America, angry with their dysfunctional government in Washington, looks to New Jersey to say, “Is what I think happening really happening? Are people really coming together? Are we really working, African-Americans and Hispanics, suburbanites and city dwellers, farmers and teachers? Are we really all working together?”

As Alex Castellanos, one of the political analysts on CNN, said afterwards, “It wasn’t an acceptance speech, that was an announcement speech.”

But in his campaign in New Jersey, Christie moved far to the left of most Republicans. Here’s how John Gizzi, chief political columnist for Newsmax, put it:

By winning Tuesday night in a landslide election for his second term as governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie moved so far to the left it may be difficult for him to win the Republican nomination for president come 2016.

The GOP governor won in one of the bluest states, where President Barack Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney by 18 points in 2012. To win, Christie had to morph close to not only blue-state values and views, but become close to Obama himself — and he did just that.

Of course, that won’t stop the left from hailing the maverick Governor as the new savior of the Republican Party.

According to the left, the Republican in primary in Alabama’s first Congressional district was another Tea Party failure last Tuesday. But since three of the largest national Tea Party groups — FreedomWorks, the Tea Party Express and the Club for Growth — all refused to take sides in the Republican primary there, it’s certainly stretching things to claim that they failed.

Finally, what is there to say about the election for mayor of New York City? Voters there chose ultra-leftist Bill de Blasio over Joe Lhota, his Republican opponent, by a margin of 74 percent to 24 percent. You sure can’t call that one close.

The Big Apple is about to get its first Democratic mayor in 20 years. De Blasio has promised that he will usher in a new era of extreme liberalism, including raising taxes on the wealthy. His “progressive” administration will be good news for Texas and other no-tax States, as more of the productive and successful flee the city for friendlier climes.

Tuesday’s elections did prove a couple of things: One is that money can buy elections. That certainly shouldn’t come as any surprise. The other is that there are plenty of voters who will cast their ballots for the big-government candidate. But we knew that too, didn’t we?

Are there enough of us left to keep them from spending this country into bankruptcy? Looks like we’re going to find out — whether we like it or not.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood 

Our Know-Nothing President

Is it really possible that the President of the United States knows as little about what his Administration is doing as his defenders claim? That no one tells him anything about what’s going on until he reads it in the papers?

Consider all of the scandals that have taken place since Barack Obama moved into the White House: Operation Fast and Furious; the murder of our ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya; the Internal Revenue Service harassment of Tea Party and other patriotic groups; National Security Agency spying on foreign leaders, as well as millions of Americans; the incredibly botched implementation of Obamacare… The list goes on and on.

We’re supposed to believe that Obama remained in blissful ignorance about all of them until the media reports started. When that happened, he was just as surprised and upset as the rest of us.

The latest “I didn’t know anything about it” scandal is the revelation that the NSA has been monitoring the private conversations of some 35 world leaders. Apparently, the bugging operation has been going on for years. Yet we’re supposed to believe that no one told the President about it until a couple of months ago.

Sure, that sounds credible, doesn’t it? Turns out, we’re tapping the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, among others; yet no one in the chain of command thinks that maybe, just maybe, Obama should be told about it.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, followed the party line when she said: “It is my understanding that President Obama was not aware Chancellor Merkel’s communications were being collected since 2002. That is a big problem.”

It certainly is. Of all the sorry excuses that have been offered for this Presidential ignorance, my favorite is the one from anonymous officials who said that “the NSA has so many eavesdropping operations under way that it wouldn’t have been practical to brief him on all of them.”

If you were in charge, how would you like to have that pathetic excuse laid in front of you? Do you think that maybe some heads would roll? That’s what would happen in the real world — but not in this Administration, where the watchword is to protect the President at all costs. And always, but always, blame somebody else when anything goes wrong.

The latest example of this came on Wednesday, when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the woman in charge of implementing Obamacare, trudged up Capitol Hill to explain why things have gone so disastrously wrong in the launch of the President’s pet program — and to promise that they will get better very soon.

In her testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Sebelius said that she was “as frustrated and angry as anyone” about the problems that have occurred since the launch of Obamacare on Oct. 1.

At one point, she even denied that the Healthcare.gov website had actually crashed, saying it just runs a lot slower than it should. Hah! In a piece of cosmic irony, the website crashed again, just as she was delivering this whopper. When it did, CNN broadcast a split screen, showing Sebelius on the right half and the crash error message from the website (“The system is down at the moment”) on the left-hand side of the screen.

Potential enrollees aren’t the only ones who can’t get the information they need from the Obamacare website. Turns out that neither can the HHS Secretary. When asked how many people had actually managed to navigate through the website to the end and actually purchase one of the government-mandated health plans, Sibelius said that the numbers weren’t available yet. Check back next month.

Is it that the total number of enrollments can’t be tabulated or that they won’t be released, since they are so embarrassingly low?

Still, Sebelius promised her skeptical inquisitors that everything would be hunky-dory by the end of November, when the website will finally be working properly. In the meantime, she proclaimed, “Hold me accountable for the debacle. I’m responsible.”

Does that mean she’ll do the honorable thing and tender her resignation to the President? Not on your life. Or at least, not yet. If the promised re-launch of the website comes on Dec. 1, as seems likely, I don’t think the White House will bear with her much longer. By sometime in January, I suspect you can color Sebelius gone.

Meanwhile, CNN reports that the Administration is putting pressure on insurance companies not to say anything critical of Obamacare. “What’s going on,” reporter Andrew Griffin told Anderson Cooper, “is [a] behind-the-scenes attempt by the White House to at least keep insurers from publicly criticizing what is happening under this Affordable Care Act rollout. Basically, if you speak out, if you are quoted, you’re going to get a call from the White House, pressure to be quiet.”

Bob Laszewski, a consultant for several insurance companies, says he’s getting calls from executives he knows, asking him to speak out on their behalf. He told CNN: “The White House is exerting massive pressure on the industry, including the trade associations, to keep quiet.”

Now it turns out that the insurance companies — and the Obama Administration — have known for years that millions of Americans would lose their health insurance once Obamacare went into effect, despite all of the claims to the contrary.

Regulations written by the Department of Health and Human Services in July 2010 estimated that “40 to 67 percent” of policyholders would not be able to keep their health insurance once the Affordable Care Act went into effect. Now there are estimates that the actual figure may be as high as 80 percent. So somewhere between 8 million and 14 million Americans will lose the health insurance they presently have.

Of course, Obama promised the American people exactly the opposite. Back in June 2009 he said, “[W]e will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan. Period.”

And he’s repeated that promise countless times since then. In fact, as of yesterday, the official White House website still claimed, “If you like your plan, you can keep it and you don’t have to change a thing due to the healthcare law.”

Of course, we now know that this isn’t true. Millions of people are learning that they won’t be able to keep their present policy, no matter how much they might like it. But the Obama Administration continues to spread this falsehood.

This helps explain why Obama’s popularity is plummeting faster than a safe falling from a window. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll says that the President’s job-approval rating has fallen to an all-time low. According to the poll, a majority of Americans — 51 percent — now disapprove of the job he is doing. Only 42 percent say they still approve of his performance. That’s down from 53 percent at the end of last year.

In the same poll, just 29 percent said that their representative deserved to be re-elected to Congress. More than twice as many, some 63 percent, said it was time to give a new person a chance.

The disdain was bipartisan, by the way, with two Republican leaders — House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — joining Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in getting their highest negative ratings ever.

Oh, and get this: Half of those polled don’t believe that an accord will be reached by the Jan. 15 deadline on a plan to fund the government. They say another Federal shutdown is likely.

Will all of this disdain and distrust result in votes to actually reduce the size, power and cost of our central government? It would be wonderful if that were the case. But I wouldn’t count on it.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Don’t Let Obama Get Away With It

The funniest editorial cartoon I’ve seen this week shows a White House aide talking to Barack Obama in the Oval Office. In the first panel, he says, “The focus now shifts from the Republicans’ poorly thought-out plan to defund Obamacare.”

And the second panel concludes, “… to our poorly thought-out plan to implement it.”

Can you believe what a disaster the launch of the badly misnamed Affordable Care Act is turning out to be? It seems that the reality is even worse than many critics predicted.

Now the Democrats are scrambling to figure out how to keep the whole mess from causing even more damage, such as losing control of the Senate in next year’s elections. Faced with the massive unpopularity of the scheme, the last thing on Earth the Democrats want is for Obamacare to be the key issue in those elections. Let’s make sure it is.

Obama gave a press conference in the White House Rose Garden this past Monday, to promise that things would get better. There were 13 smiling people lined up behind him, all of them said to be shining examples of how successful his healthcare plan could be.

Guess what? Turns out that none of them had actually purchased health insurance through Obamacare. In fact, only three of them had even completed the application process.

These dismal numbers should come as no surprise. The Washington Post reports that while 4.7 million people tried to log on to Healthcare.gov, the official website for Obamacare, in the first 24 hours after it opened, fewer than 10 people — that’s right: 10 people — actually succeeded in buying health insurance.

Consumer Reports, the respected product-testing company, says that of 9.5 million people who attempted to register in the first week, only 271,000 were able to do so. And “register” doesn’t mean they bought health insurance. No, it only means they were patient enough and determined enough to navigate an unbelievably complicated, confusing and error-prone application process.

Meanwhile, in Florida some 300,000 customers of Florida Blue are being notified that their health insurance is being cancelled and that they need to sign up for Obamacare. In California, Kaiser Permanente sent similar notices to 160,000 people — half of the number it used to insure. In Pennsylvania, Independence Blue Cross says it will cancel about 45 percent of its policyholders there. The same thing is happening in State after State.

It now appears that more people are going to lose the health insurance they have than will buy new policies under Obamacare. So much for Obama’s promise that “if you like your health insurance, you can keep it.”

After analyzing the problems with the ObamaCare website, Consumer Reports offered this startling advice to its readers: “Stay away.” Because of all the software glitches, the magazine said that readers should not try to use the Healthcare.gov website “for at least another month, if you can.” And it added, “Hopefully that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess that they’ve made.”

Sure thing. In that Rose Garden pep talk, Obama said, “Nobody’s madder than me about the fact that the website isn’t working as well as it should, which means it’s going to get fixed.”

But how soon? And at what cost?

Two years ago, when CGI Federal, an information technology firm, was awarded the contract to build the website, it estimated that costs could be as high as $93.7 million to get it up and running. Now, the Government Accountability Office says that we taxpayers have poured out more than $390 million, with millions of dollars more still to be spent. The GAO estimates that another $150 million has been spent on administrative costs associated with implementing Obamacare.

That’s more than half a billion dollars in taxpayer funds that the Obama Administration has squandered so far in perpetrating this job-killing boondoggle on the American public.

To put these numbers in perspective, consider that it took Facebook over six years, from 2004 to 2010, to reach total expenditures of $500 million. During that time, it grew to several hundred million active users. (It now has more than a billion.)

Twitter, which handles more than 340 million tweets a day, operated from 2006 to 2011 with just $360 million in funding. LinkedIn and Spotify, two other hugely popular networking sites, have raised just $200 million and $288 million, respectively.

But this is government we’re talking about. It is any surprise that it costs so much and performs so badly?

Now come reports that government officials knew the Obamacare site wasn’t ready. The Washington Post reports that when the site was tested, several days before the official launch: “It crashed after a simulation in which just a few hundred people tried to log on simultaneously.”

Mike Barnicle of MSNBC, which can usually find no fault with the President, sounds like a Personal Liberty contributor in his interpretation of what’s going on. “They’re lying about it now,” he says. “They’re not depriving us of information, they are outright lying.”

The Wall Street Journal says the catastrophe is the result of deliberate decisions by the Obama Administration. “This isn’t some coding error, or even the Health and Human Service Department’s usual incompetence,” the paper editorialized. “The failures that have all but disabled Obamacare are the result of deliberate policy choices, which HHS and the White House are compounding with secrecy and stonewalling.”

Remember when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius said that the reason the servers were crashing all of the time was because of unexpectedly high demand? She called it “a great problem to have.”

Now her biggest assignment is to protect her boss from the catastrophe that is taking place. She wants us all to believe he had no way of knowing how quickly things would go so badly.

Human Events senior writer John Hayward calls this “the Incompetence Defense.” He says that’s what happens “when embattled officials insist they are blameless because they were clueless. They had no idea what their underlings were up to.”

Faced with this growing embarrassment, you can expect the powers-that-be to offer the same solution to the Obamacare fiasco that they did to their last contrived crisis, the debt-ceiling debacle: Kick the can down the road.

Obama has already delayed the employer mandate in Obamacare by a year, even though there was no authority in the Constitution or the hugely unpopular law for him to do so.

Expect him to do so again for the individual mandate. But this time, many in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, say they’ll go along with him. Even Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has said he’ll offer legislation to delay the implementation of Obamacare for a year.

Conservatives should refuse to go along with this — not if we want Obamacare to be the deciding issue in next November’s elections. And what better? One-third of the Senate (including some very vulnerable Democrats) will face the voters then, along with every member of the House.

Let’s make those elections a massive referendum on this disastrous government takeover of our healthcare system. A majority of voters say they don’t like Obamacare. And that they want to toss out every incumbent in Washington. Let’s give them a chance to do so.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood 

Republican ‘Leaders’ Cave Again

The dirty deal has been done. By a “bipartisan” vote of 81-18, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday afternoon approved a bill to raise the debt ceiling and end the partial shutdown of the Federal government. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Republican leader in the Senate, joined Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in crafting the compromise.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who led the battle to defund Obamacare, said that he would not try to prevent a vote on the measure. I’m sure he and his colleagues in this fight, especially Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have gotten tired of being portrayed as “terrorists” and “extremists,” even by people in their own party, as they tried to fight for principle.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wasted no time in waving the white flag of surrender. He said there was simply no point in continuing the battle. “We fought the good fight; we just didn’t win,” he said. He later added, “There’s no reason for our members to vote ‘no’ today.” Later that evening, the House passed the Senate bill by a vote of 285-144.

Barack Obama couldn’t help chortling. The President said he would sign the legislation as soon as it reached his desk, adding: “We’ll begin reopening the government immediately.”

The measure allows the government to continue borrowing money, but just through Feb. 7. You can bet that the Obama Administration will blow past the $17 trillion debt ceiling in a matter of days (if not hours). But it won’t be able to continue the spending spree after Feb. 7, unless and until they can get Congress to agree to raise the debt ceiling again.

The measure also funds all of government, including Obamacare, as the President demanded — but only until Jan. 15. The measure requires House and Senate negotiators to get together and produce a longer-term budget and deficit-reduction plan. They have until Dec. to wave their magic wands and conjure up something both sides can support.

So is this the ignominious defeat for conservatives that it’s being portrayed by the left? Not on your life! All this compromise has done is kick the can down the road for a bit. Boehner himself acknowledged this when he said: “I know this isn’t everything we want, but we’re going to live to fight another day.”

The battle isn’t over — not by a long shot.

Meanwhile, let me mention two events this past weekend that dramatically illustrate the huge gulf dividing this country. One was a glimpse of the best of our past; the other was a frightening look at a possible future.

The encouraging one took place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where White House operatives have tried repeatedly to shut down the World War II memorial. Once again, some elderly members of the Greatest Generation stormed the barricades that had been erected to keep them out. They were joined by younger veterans of more recent conflicts, many of them marching on prosthetic limbs.

Not only did they push the barricades aside, in a marvelous demonstration of a “we’ve had enough” spirit, they carried them down the street and stacked them up in front of the White House. One marcher stuck a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag in the ground. Another added a hand-painted sign, “Return to Sender.”

Aren’t you delighted to see people refusing to put up with the petty shenanigans of our would-be masters, who want to make the government’s partial shutdown as painful as possible?

That is the feel-good story I wanted to share. The other one is not nearly as uplifting. It took place in Louisiana, where thanks to a computer glitch, people using the debit cards that have replaced food stamps — the electronic benefits transfer system — suddenly found that their cards had no spending limits.

Rather than refuse to let people use them, several Wal-Mart stores decided to put people on the honor system and let them use the cards for their usual purchases. Fat chance. You can guess what happened next.

Dozens of people raced through the stores, pushing two and even three shopping carts. They stripped the shelves of as many goodies as they could stuff into their carts, then headed for the check-out counters.

Only a few of them made it through the lines and out the store, however, before the glitch was corrected and credit limits were restored. When that happened, most of the disappointed shoppers simply abandoned their goody-laden carts and walked out of the store.

Isn’t that a perfect example of the greedy rapaciousness that our entitlement society has produced? You won’t be surprised to learn that a lot of the food stamp recipients were furious when they learned that they weren’t going to get away with all the loot they wanted to grab.

Before I close, let me remind you of some recent history that the mainstream media has been ignoring.

First, despite the fact that Federal law requires Congress to pass a budget every year, the Democrats who control the Senate have refused to approve one for the past five years. And don’t blame this on that obstreperous Republican majority in House; that’s only existed for the past two-and-a-half years. Prior to 2010, Democrats controlled a majority in both the House and Senate, and they still refused to approve a budget.

Second, it’s simply not true that it was the refusal of House Republicans to approve any spending bills that led to the current partial shutdown of the Federal government. In point of fact, the House repeatedly passed legislation to fund every single Federal program, with one exception: Obamacare.

But early on, Obama and his advisers decided on an “all or nothing” strategy. They refused to budge an inch. There would be absolutely no give and take this time around. In fact, for most of the prolonged controversy, they refused to even meet with the Republican leadership. Is it any wonder that things have been at an impasse for the past month or two?

And when Republicans finally threw in the towel and decided to give the Democrats almost everything they had been demanding, guess what? Obama demanded even more.

Yes, now that he thinks the Republicans are on the ropes, Obama is demanding that the budget cuts he himself proposed two years ago — the ones now known as sequestration — must be rolled back.

By the way, isn’t it interesting that during the debate over defunding Obamacare — an incredibly unpopular law that was crammed down our throats without a single vote in its favor by any Republican — Obama and his supporters insisted that no changes would be allowed. It’s the law of the land, they said, passed by Congress and signed by the President.

But sequestration is also the law of the land, passed by Congress and signed by the President. The big spenders in Washington don’t like the limits it places on them, so of course it should be changed, if that’s what they want.

Does anyone detect a little bit of hypocrisy here?

Have all the posturing and politicking over the past few weeks accomplished anything positive? Well, yes. According to the latest opinion polls, a majority of voters now want to kick all of the politicians in Washington out of office.

Sadly, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll still feel this way 14 months from now, when they will actually have an opportunity to do precisely that — at least for every member of the House and one-third of the Senate.

Oh, sure. There would be a few guys (and gals) I’d miss, if by some miracle that happened. And we’d probably even get a whole new group of baddies trying to spend us into bankruptcy.

But it sure is a delightful fantasy, isn’t it?

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood