Unhappy Birthday to the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve System was “born” on Nov. 16, 1914. That’s the day that marks the beginning of the long, slow decline in the value of the U.S. dollar.

Although this country had managed to survive without a central bank for the first 140 years of its existence, that all changed when Congress approved the Federal Reserve Act the previous December. (For an account of the conspiratorial manipulations that led to the passage of this bill and its consequences, see G. Edward Griffin’s masterful study, The Creature From Jekyll Island.)

The Fed’s friends in Congress promised that it would be a passive institution, working behind the scenes to prevent future bank panics. Instead, it soon adopted an interventionist policy. Today, it is actually praised in many quarters for controlling interest rates and regulating (read: increasing) the U.S. money supply.

Since the creation of the Fed 95 years ago the dollar has lost 98.5 percent of its purchasing power. Sadly, most Americans have been convinced that greedy businessmen cause the steady rise in prices. Tell them that higher prices are caused by a Fed that continues to flood the world with fiat currency and you’ll be greeted with blank stares and a change of subject.

—Chip Wood

Dismantling the Berlin Wall

On the night of Nov. 9, 1989, the most hated symbol of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall, was turned into a pile of rubble. All night long, East and West Germans celebrated their new freedom by smashing the 28-mile-long (and 28-year-old) barrier. The following morning, East German troops were ordered to dismantle all of the wall. Soon, East and West Germany were reunited.

Two years earlier President Ronald Reagan stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate (one of the many checkpoints into Communist East Germany) and declared, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" The wall was the last desperate effort by East Germany’s then boss, Walter Ulbricht, to stop defections to the west.

But by 1989, the Soviet Union and its various satellites were on the verge of collapse. Erich Honecker, East Germany’s brutal head of state since 1976, resigned. A day later, so did Bulgaria’s communist boss, Todor Zhikov. By Christmas of that year, most former Soviet satellites had gained their freedom, as a sort of reverse domino effect took place.

—Chip Wood

What Obama Should Do and Shouldn’t Have Done, a Deficit and Ted Turner

*What Barack Obama should do. A Straight Talk salute to Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, for the best suggestion I’ve heard regarding Obama’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. Here’s what she said: “What he ought to do, frankly, is send the mother of a fallen American soldier to accept the prize on behalf of the U.S. military, to remind the Nobel committee that each one of them sleeps soundly at night because of the greatest peace-keeping force in the world today.” Right on, Liz. Too bad there’s not a chance in a million he’ll do it.

*And what our president shouldn’t have done. I’ll admit this could be a very long list. But I’m thinking specifically of his decision to renege on a commitment to attend ceremonies in Germany next week, marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This was one of the greatest symbolic victories of freedom over communism in my lifetime. I’m sorry and a bit ashamed that our president thought going to Copenhagen to lobby for the Olympics in Chicago was more worthy of his time.

*The biggest deficit in 60 years. The U.S. Treasury Department reported that the budget deficit for fiscal 2009, which ended Sept. 30, hit the astronomical total of $1.4 trillion. The number is the most red ink we’ve incurred since World War II and represents 10 percent of the gross domestic product of this country. That’s our money they’re using to buy those votes, friends.

*The “Mouth of the South” on getting by. Ted Turner says things just aren’t the same for him anymore. He’s lost CNN, the Atlanta Braves, Jane Fonda and much of his money. But he adds, “You know, if you economize and don’t buy new airplanes or long-range jets, or that sort of thing, you can get by on a billion or two.” Thanks for the inspiring advice, Ted.

Chip Wood

Barack Obama’s Corrupt Cronies

Thank you, Michelle Malkin.

Thank you for reminding us that it’s not just Barack Obama’s policies that are often wrong; it is the people who surround him that are a large part of the problem.

Thank you for writing the bestselling book, Culture of Corruption, to give us the documented proof, as you put it, of the “tax cheats, crooks and cronies” with whom he has chosen to associate.

And thank you for granting an exclusive interview to Personal Liberty Digest, so we can remind our 500,000 subscribers of just how dangerous many of those people and programs are.

One of the first things Michelle and I discussed when we spoke was the mainstream media’s fawning favoritism toward Barack Obama and his administration and their relentless bias against anyone and anything to the right of Nancy Pelosi.

As just one example, Michelle described how the New York Times sold millions of dollars worth of Obama memorabilia during and after the campaign. I asked her, “Isn’t it a little unusual for a major media to profit so directly from a candidate?”

“You would think so,” was her sardonic reply. “But if you’ll take a look at my blog ( www.michellemalkin.com ), you’ll be able to see some of the actual merchandise, which really, literally deifies Barack Obama. There are glorious, glowing photos of the president with halos behind him. All sorts of political swag promoting his campaign and then the inauguration.”

And then she made this very telling point: “Imagine if a newspaper out there had been doing this during the Bush years—selling merchandise that glorified George W. and his candidacy. Why, the New York Times would have been all over it.”

By the way, one of the things the Times has not been all over is Michelle Malkin’s book. When we spoke, Culture of Corruption had been riding atop the NYT’s own bestseller list for almost two months. But the paper itself has never published a review of it. Imagine that. The newspaper’s own survey ranked her book No. 1 in sales across the country yet refused to even review it!

We talked for a while about the incredible bias and intellectual dishonesty of the left. Then I asked her if she detected a growing tone of desperation in their attacks on conservatives.

“I certainly do,” she said. “The left simply cannot help itself. They degenerate into ad hominem attacks and very ugly language, bigotry and intolerance. Even with their control of the White House and both branches of Congress they can’t contain themselves.

“We’ve seen this in their attacks and their rhetoric against the townhall protestors and the TEA Party movement. Their knee-jerk resort to things like the race card. It belies the promise that under Obama we were heading into a post-racial era in this country. We certainly are not. The first thing they do is accuse us of racism, whether it’s our criticism of healthcare legislation or Joe Wilson’s calling out of the president during his speech to a joint session of Congress. There is more than a smidge of desperation in their tactics.”

There are nine chapters in Culture of Corruption and every one of them is loaded with facts and anecdotes that need to be more widely known. But if there is one chapter that, by itself, is worth the price of the book and then some, it’s the second one, which she calls “First Crony Michelle Obama.”

As author Michelle puts it, “Star-struck liberal journalists swoon over Michelle O.’s bare arms, but it’s her bare-knuckles they should be watching.”

Here’s how the bestselling author put it during our discussion: “The mainstream media pays a lot of attention to Michelle Obama’s toned arms and what shoes she’s wearing. I pay a lot more attention to the political muscle she has flexed over the years. There’s been a lot of white-washing of her own political history. But what she does is marry a lot of the hard-left ideology—the class warfare, the politics of racial resentment—with the Chicago way of hardball tactics, cracking heads and cracking knuckles.”

Her book is loaded with carefully documented exposés of activities by both Obamas that will shock even the most cynical observer. If you doubt that, just turn to page 52 of Culture of Corruption and read the section that begins “Mrs. O. Screws the Poor.” I have to confess, even I didn’t realize what a sordid history the First Lady has.

Bring any of this up publicly, of course, and you can count on Obama’s defenders to smear you mercilessly. As Michelle Malkin put it when we talked, “These are the folks who called their opponents ‘political terrorists.’ That phrase was used not just by Democrat leaders, but of course by all their satellite organizations as well.”

One of the most powerful and dangerous of those satellites is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)—a group that poured $60 million to $80 million into Democrat coffers to get Barack Obama elected. Their investment is paying off handsomely, as their legislative agenda is on the front burner of the White House. In fact, we just learned that SEIU president Andy Stern has been the most frequent visitor to the White House thus far this year.

“The SEIU not only uses these bully tactics,” Michelle told me, “they specialize in them. It wasn’t until some of their henchmen showed up at various town hall meetings that we saw actual violence.”

She then continued: “The SEIU, which calls itself the purple shirts of the purple army, has a long and proud history of thug tactics. Their president is quoted in my book about his organizing philosophy, where he says they prefer to use the power of persuasion. But if that doesn’t work, they will use the persuasion of power. That’s not just an idle threat, that’s a guarantee.

“It’s not just healthcare they want. Their holy grail is the card-check bill. If they get it, it will radically transform the political landscape. They now have 1.8 million members and they see card check as the way to vastly inflate their membership rolls and subsequently, of course, their campaign coffers.”

Bad as it has been, Michelle expects the use of terror and intimidation to get worse.

“Team Obama is notorious for that,” she explained, “going back to the campaign days of trying to stifle dissent through shear intimidation. Now they are using the power of government to try to silence their opponents as well.”

As we came near the end of our interview, I asked Michelle about the dedication of her book. “The book is dedicated to the whistleblowers,” she explained. “Many of them worked in the trenches for Barack Obama’s satellite organizations. They saw the raft of broken promises that he’s left over the past several months on transparency, ethics and accountability; core issues that transcend partisanship and ideology.”

And then she concluded, “If Barack Obama can’t deliver on these, what does it tell you about the era of hope and change? It tells you that it was a complete farce. That is what my book documents, extensively and comprehensively.”

As I said, there’s lots of scary stuff between the covers of Culture of Corruption. Michelle Malkin has done us all a huge service in compiling the sorry, shoddy record of the Obamas and those they have invited into their inner circle.

Since we spoke, her book has slipped a bit on the bestseller lists. If you don’t already own a copy, do yourself and your country a favor and order one. In fact, order several and loan the extras to some less-alarmed friends. Believe me, if they’ll read it, Culture of Corruption will act like a very loud alarm bell going off alongside their head.

Go wake them up! And until next time, keep some powder dry.

—Chip Wood

Monopoly Monopolizing the Board Game Industry

Out of the depths of the Great Depression came the most popular board game in history. More than 750 million people have played some version of Monopoly since the game made its debut on Nov. 5, 1935.

Among various special editions that have been issued, Neiman Marcus offered one in their 1978 Christmas Wish Book where every element—board, tokens, cards, dice and money—was made of chocolate. Then in 2000, F.A.O. Schwartz toy company produced a “One of a Kind” Monopoly set. The department store topped the hotels and houses with emeralds and sapphires. It also made the tokens of solid gold, and the money was real currency. For $100,000, you could take it home.

Before the collapse of communism you could buy a version of Monopoly in Russian, which strikes me as pretty ironic. And Mad Magazine once created an anti-Monopoly game, where the objective was to lose all of your money as quickly as possible.

The best-known edition of Monopoly is the original “Atlantic City” version. The city’s streets, railroads and utilities were chosen by Charles Darrow, the game’s inventor, long before Donald Trump and numerous casinos transformed the town. Boardwalk and Park Place were the most valuable properties, with Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues the least desirable.

If you managed to buy up all properties of one color (or all railroads, or utilities), you had a monopoly and could jack up the rents. The goal of the game, after all, was to bankrupt your opponents and grab all of their money. (Bet you never thought about the anti-capitalist philosophy behind the game, did you?)

One of the problems with Monopoly is that the game can take forever to play. (Hasbro, the game’s current owner, says the longest one on record lasted 1,680 hours.) Most contests today have a time limit—two hours at the national championships.

—Chip Wood

A Really Frightening Halloween

The night before Halloween was really frightening 71 years ago.

It was on Oct. 30, 1938 that Orson Welles produced a radio drama for CBS called The War of the Worlds. The studio duplication of a live newscast was so realistic that thousands of people did not realize the program was a play. Instead, they honestly believed that Martians had landed in a field in northern New Jersey and were dispatching everything the U.S. military sent against them.

Recordings of that original broadcast (available through most public libraries) sound convincing to this day. Check one out and see if you don’t agree.

And here’s some less frightening news: Statisticians tell us that Nov. 1 is the best day of the year to purchase stocks. This is probably because September and October are historically the worst two months of the year for the stock market.

Thus, they form a bottom from which the following six months, starting with November, have got to be better. Will that be true again this year? Time will tell.

—Chip Wood

The U.S. and USSR Stood on the Brink of War

The “Cuban Missile Crisis” began on Oct. 22, 1962, when President John F. Kennedy told a nationwide television audience that the Soviet Union had placed nuclear missiles in Communist Cuba. This was four years after an "agrarian reformer" named Fidel Castro seized power there and quickly turned the island nation into a Communist dictatorship.

In his address to the nation, Kennedy said that the United States would implement a blockade of Cuba until the missiles were removed. The next day, the Organization of American States passed a resolution unanimously approving the U.S. quarantine of Cuba—something that would never happen today. The measure authorized the U.S. to use military force to prevent the shipment of more offensive weapons to Cuba.

When a Soviet ship challenged the blockade on Oct. 24, all U.S. military forces went to DEFCON 2, the highest military alert ever reached in the postwar era. The U.S. and the USSR appeared poised for full-scale war.

Two days later, on Oct. 26, a deal was struck between the two powers. The Soviet Union agreed to remove its missiles from Cuba. Castro pledged not to accept any more offensive weapons. And in turn, the U.S. promised to stop any efforts to overthrow Castro or to invade Cuba. Forty-seven years later, the Castro brothers are still in power. And the Cuban people are still enslaved.

—Chip Wood

Barack’s Ignoble Award

Well, now it’s official. Barack Hussein Obama has just won the highest honor that the elitists of the international left can bestow on one of their own.

His very own Nobel Peace Prize. Imagine that!

And what has our president done to deserve this lofty honor? Why, in the words of an infamous “Saturday Night Live” sketch, nothing, absolutely nothing. I’ll come back to that hilarious skit in a moment. But first, let’s look a little closer at the curious timing of Obama’s award.

Did you know that the Nobel Committee’s own regulations require that all nominations be postmarked by Feb. 1? This means that—if the rules were followed—Barack Obama was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize a mere 12 days after he was sworn into office.

Twelve days in office and he’s already being considered for a Nobel Peace Prize? Give me a break! Does anyone anywhere really believe that this is how it actually happened?

Let me suggest something that strikes me as incredibly obvious: The Nobel Committee broke its own rules to give Obama the award. Can’t you imagine a committee meeting with someone shouting the Norwegian equivalent of “Rules? Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules.”

And of course it’s true. When it comes to honoring one of their own, and advancing the cause of their dubious socialist schemes, the elitists of the international left don’t need no stinkin’ rules. They can do whatever they want. That’s why they hate the very idea of being bound down by the chains of a constitution. These power-hungry sycophants always and everywhere love monopolies and dictatorships, so long as it’s one of their own who is in charge. That’s why they are so enraptured with the United Nations.

But I digress. The plain and simple fact is that this year’s selection was rigged. This is far from the first time that the noble idea of a “peace prize” was prostituted to serve the ignoble ambitions of the left.

Do you remember in 1994, when the Nobel Committee gave the honor to a thief and murderer named Yasser Arafat? It’s true that Arafat shared the award with the then-prime minister and foreign minister of Israel. But still, giving a “peace” prize to the father of modern terrorism? Arafat gloated about using the most heinous murder of innocent civilians to advance his aims.

Oh, by the way, he also stole tens of millions of dollars from the very Palestinians he supposedly led to finance a life of luxury on the French Riviera and various world capitals. In a sane world, he would have been tried for murder and executed.

Instead, he was the most frequent visitor to Bill Clinton’s White House among all so-called world leaders. What a travesty.

If that wasn’t enough to make you rush to the nearest vomitorium, how about the winners in 1973? In case you’ve forgotten, that’s when Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and North Vietnam’s Lu Duc Tho shared the award for negotiating the Vietnam peace accords. If you remember that Communists describe “peace” as “when all opposition has been eliminated,” then you’ll have to admit the committee got it right: Kissinger and gang made sure all opposition to a communist takeover of South Vietnam got slaughtered. Way to go, Mr. Secretary.

But you don’t have to be a mass murderer, or even open the door to it, to be honored by the Nobel Committee. Slavish devotion to the left’s latest cause is often enough. How else would you explain the selection two years ago of former Vice President Al Gore? Even if you bought into all the skewed science and deliberate deceptions in “An Inconvenient Truth,” can you really contend with a straight face that he deserved a Nobel Peace Prize?

Well, okay, I’ll grant you. He has done more to earn it than our Teleprompter-in-Chief. But that’s not saying much.

By an extraordinary coincidence, two days before the award was announced, “Saturday Night Live” opened its Oct. 3 show with a skit skewering Barack Obama for accomplishing “nothing, absolutely nothing” since Inauguration Day.

In case you missed it, the sketch featured actor Fred Armisen portraying the president and delivering a very sober speech to the American public. Here’s just part of that delicious put-down:

“There are those on the right who are angry. They think that I’m turning this great country into something that resembles the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. But that’s just not the case. When you look at my record, it’s very clear what I’ve done so far—and that is nothing. Nada. Almost one year and nothing to show for it.”

As he spoke, a checklist of promises appeared on the screen—global warming, immigration reform, gays in the military, limits on executive power, torture prosecutions, closing Guantanamo Bay, withdrawing from Iraq, healthcare reform, and so on. Armisen, as Obama, admitted very honestly how little his administration had accomplished.

“Remember,” he said. “I can do whatever I want. I have a majority in both houses of Congress. I could make it mandatory for all gays to marry, and require all cars to run on marijuana. But do I? NO!”

He then closed with this wonderful admission: “So looking at this list, I’m seeing two big accomplishments: JACK and SQUAT!”

You’ve got to admit, sometimes the liberals get it right.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

—Chip Wood

Congressional Honor, Friends and Term Limits

*A congressional honor role. Here’s a tip of the hat to the seven House members of the Congressional Black Caucus who voted to defund the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). They were Sanford Bishop of Georgia, William Lacy Clay of Missouri, John Conyers of Michigan, Artur Davis of Alabama, Hank Johnson of Georgia, Kendrick Meet of Florida and Laura Richardson of California. Since there are 35 members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the House of Representatives, this means that a staggering 80 percent of them voted not to stop taxpayer funds from going to an organization that has been caught on video at least five times offering advice on how to practice slavery.

*If you’re known by your friends… Although it didn’t get much publicity, I thought you’d like to know about the tirade Libya’s Muammar Qadhafi delivered at the United Nations last month. He was allotted 15 minutes to speak but ranted on for over an hour and a half. Among the highlights: Israel plotted the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the U.S. military produced the AIDS virus and other diseases to help wipe out minorities. Oh yes, and that he hopes Barack Obama—whom he called “my son”—remains president for life.

*More examples of friends helping friends. A start-up car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has been awarded a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid gas-electric sports car. And here’s the kicker: the vehicle will be built in Finland, not the U.S. Fisker Automotive, which has yet to build a single vehicle, says the car will retail for around $90,000 if it ever goes into production.

*Now, this is the way to do term limits. I saw a put-down of politicians a few days ago that I really liked. Here it is: “Limit all U.S. politicians to two terms. The first in office, the second in prison. Illinois already does this.”

Chip Wood

Cavalcade of Stars Performed in Musical “Girl Crazy”

On Oct. 14, 1930, “Girl Crazy,” a new musical by George and Ira Gershwin, premiered at the Alvin Theater on Broadway. The show made stars of Ginger Rogers (who sang “Embraceable You”) and Ethel Merman (who belted out “I Got Rhythm,” among other numbers).

But the real cavalcade of stars appeared not on stage, but under it, where George Gershwin conducted an orchestra that included such future greats as Benny Goodman (then 21) on clarinet, Jimmy Dorsey (26) on sax, Gene Krupa (21) on drums, and Tommy Dorsey (24) and Glenn Miller (26) on trombone.

“Girl Crazy” would run for 272 performances. It contained more hit songs than any other Gershwin musical. Other hits from the stage show and movie included “Bidin’ My Time,” “But Not for Me,” and such forgotten gems as “Goldfarb, That’s I’m!” and “(When It’s) Cactus Time in Arizona.”

“Girl Crazy” was also the only Gershwin musical comedy to be turned into a movie three times, including 1992’s “Crazy for You.” Best of the bunch was a 1943 version starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. In the 1943 movie, Garland’s role combined the parts—and songs—performed by Rogers and Merman on Broadway.

To show you how much things have changed, back then you could have gotten a balcony seat for a Saturday matinee for 50 cents. Today, a decent seat on Broadway can set you back one hundred bucks or more.

—Chip Wood