Ray Kroc Legacy More Than Food

Ray Kroc, the founder of the world’s most successful fast food chain, was born 107 years ago this week. The one-time milkshake machine salesman was born on Oct. 5, 1902. He opened his first McDonald’s 52 years later. Today, it is almost impossible to grasp how huge the company he founded has become.

McDonald’s has some 15,000 restaurants in this country with 85 percent of them owned by franchisees. And listen to what those outlets have accomplished: More than half of the workers in America today got their very first job at a McDonald’s somewhere. The company has made more millionaires—and especially more black and Hispanic millionaires—than any other entity ever.

Kroc died in January 1984, just 10 months before McDonald’s sold its 50 billionth hamburger. That’s eight burgers for every man, woman, and child on earth today. Today, of the 90 meals a month we consume, the average American eats three of them at McDonald’s. Or at least they get their food there; most customers pick up their order at the drive-up window.

But we’re not all dining on Big Macs. Today McDonald’s sells as much chicken as it does beef. And here’s another fun factoid: Years ago, the Washington, D.C.-area McDonald’s sponsored a television show called "Bozo’s Circus." On it, the company spokesman, Ronald McDonald, was played by a 25-year-old Willard Scott. You’ll know him better as the Today show weatherman who celebrates centenarians’ birthdays.

—Chip Wood

Watching ACORN Get Chopped Down

There’s a wonderful German word, “schadenfreude,” which translates roughly as “taking pleasure in the misfortune of others.” Normally that would be a pretty petty thing to feel. But I’ve got to admit, I’ve been enjoying a lot of schadenfreude lately, as I witness the problems the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has created for itself.

The radical agitators who run this so-called “association of community organizers” are finally being exposed as the criminals and swindlers they’ve always been. As a result, it looks almost certain that they will lose the billions of dollars in federal subsidies they were promised by their good friend and generous benefactor, Barack Hussein Obama.

First, the background. I know you’ve probably heard all of this before, but please bear with me while I repeat the story of ACORN’s support of a pimp, a prostitute and a child sex-slave ring. Seldom have I taken such pleasure in seeing some Marxist revolutionaries get their come-uppance.

ACORN’s exposure started when two independent filmmakers visited their offices in Brooklyn, N.Y., Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md. In each case, they posed as a pimp and a prostitute who wanted advice on how they could obtain a federal housing loan (they wanted their own brothel) and how they could avoid taxes on their ill-gotten gains (they planned to be extremely profitable, don’t you know).

And oh, by the way, they also planned to import 13-year-old girls from El Salvador and turn them into prostitutes. Did ACORN have any advice on how they could get away with all of this?

Time after time, ACORN officials were only too glad to help. And thanks to some hidden recording equipment, it was all caught on tape. As you might guess, Fox News had a field day with the footage.

ACORN reacted by claiming that the videos had been “doctored.” It also accused its critics of “racist coverage” and running a smear campaign. And oh, by the way, it also fired four of the employees who were caught on the incriminating videos.

Before you could say “oh my,” the Senate voted 83 to 7 to deny ACORN some $1.6 million in federal housing subsidies it was supposed to receive. And the U.S. Census Bureau announced that it was cancelling a contract it had with the community organizing group to assist in next year’s census. Let us hope this is just the first of many setbacks ACORN will receive, as its friends in Congress and the White House scurry for cover.

(Let me note in passing that the seven senators who voted against the measure included both leftist legislators from Illinois, Roland Burris and Dick Durbin; the outright socialist from Vermont, Bernie Sanders; and Hillary Clinton’s replacement from New York, Kirsten Gillebrand. Completing the sorry seven were Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Pat Leahy of Vermont, and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. May their constituents vote to retire all of them at the next available opportunity.)

Yes, the publicity has hurt ACORN. But what’s really going to frost their petunias is what will happen next. ACORN was in line to receive a staggering $8.5 billion in stimulus funds from the Obama Administration. Color that money gone.

And the bad news for ACORN just keeps pouring in. Last month 11 ACORN workers in Florida were accused by prosecutors of falsifying information on 888 voter registration forms. The month before, ACORN’s former field director in Las Vegas agreed to testify against the group’s activities there. Las Vegas election officials say that up to 48 percent of the voter registration forms the group submitted were “clearly fraudulent.” Although it has barely been mentioned by the mainstream media, to date some 70 ACORN employees in 12 states have been convicted of voter-registration fraud. Expect those numbers to grow.

Earlier this summer, Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released an 88-page staff report on ACORN’s activities. Here’s how that damning document began:

“The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has repeatedly and deliberately engaged in systemic fraud. Both structurally and operationally, ACORN hides behind a paper wall of nonprofit corporate protections to conceal a criminal conspiracy on the part of its directors, to launder federal money in order to pursue a partisan political agenda and to manipulate the American public.”

The report goes on to note that “since 1994, more than $53 million in Federal funds have been pumped into ACORN, and under the Obama Administration, ACORN stands to receive a whopping $8.5 billion in stimulus funds.”

Not any more, I’m very happy to report.

Republicans in Congress are urging the Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate ACORN. Nonsense! The agency that should be conducting an investigation is the Justice Department. ACORN is not merely a bunch of liberal do-gooders run amuck. They are criminal conspirators with a blatant disregard for the laws of this country.

Back in March, Rep. John Conyers, the liberal congressman from Michigan who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, recommended that a hearing be held on ACORN’s abuses. His suggestion was immediately shot down by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Conyers was later heard to mutter that “the powers that be decided against it.”

President Obama has already proven, in his cold-blooded dismissal of many former friends (remember Rev. Jeremiah Wright?), that he won’t hesitate to toss an ally under the bus if it becomes politically necessary. I’ll know we’ve won this battle when ACORN’s former attorney turns his back on these radical friends.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for this to happen. But don’t let your congressman give these professional agitators another dime of your money, either.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

—Chip Wood

A Growing Deficit, Missing Millionaires, Red Hot China and More American Ingenuity

*Record-setting federal deficits. Thanks to the recession, the Federal government is collecting far less in taxes than it expected. And thanks to all of the bailouts, buyouts and stimulus packages, it’s spending more than ever. As a result, for every dollar the IRS collected in July the Obama team spent $2.15. The deficit for the month was a record $180 billion. Maybe like the tailor who lost money on every suit he made, they hope to make it up on volume?

*Millionaires become an endangered species. According to the 2009 World Wealth Report, the number of millionaires around the world fell at a record rate in 2008. Some 15 percent of the world’s wealthy no longer qualify as millionaires. The total worth of the world’s high-net-worth individuals dropped $7 trillion. Oh, by the way, the hardest hit was the United States, which lost 600,000 millionaires last year.

*Red China is red hot. Need more evidence that the rulers of Communist China have learned how to enjoy the fruits of capitalism? Consider this: Four of the top-performing initial public offerings on Wall Street this year are from China-based firms. Almost one-third of new listings on Nasdaq are also Chinese companies.

*American ingenuity strikes again. Over the past century inventors and innovators in the United States have been responsible for more inventions, more patents, and more technical advances than the rest of the world combined. And it’s just happened again. A computer whiz in Los Angeles has created the website “runpee.com,” which tells you the best time during a movie to head to the bathroom. Dan Florio says his creation was inspired by the movie King Kong. “It’s a three-hour movie, and by the end of it there was a huge queue waiting to use the bathroom.” Now you’ll know when you can leave your seat without missing any of the action.

—Chip Wood

The Model T: Ford’s Great Promise and a Legacy Derailed

It was 101 years ago this week, on Oct. 1, 1908, that Henry Ford unveiled what would become the most popular automobile in the world, the Model T.

Ford promised, "I will build a car for the great multitude. No man making a good salary will be unable to own one and enjoy with his family the blessings of hours of pleasure in God’s wide open spaces."

He kept that promise with the Model T.

The first versions sold for $850. A customer could choose among four colors: red, green, blue or black. Within five years, the price had dropped to just $250, or less than a month’s pay for one of his factory workers. And the color choices had been reduced, too. As Ford said, customers could get "any color they want, as long as it’s black."

The Model T’s four-cylinder engine cranked out 20 horsepower and got 21 miles to the gallon. That’s less horsepower than some of today’s riding lawnmowers. But the car could cruise at a hefty 45 miles per hour. For the first time in history men (and women and children) were free to travel where they wanted, when they wanted. The Model T liberated Americans in ways few visionaries could imagine.

Ford was richly rewarded for his genius. Sadly, this staunch conservative failed to protect his legacy, and the organization he funded with his wealth was captured and subverted by the left. Today, the Ford Foundation finances policies and programs that are the complete opposite of the views and the wishes of the man whose money founded it.

—Chip Wood

John Paul Jones and the Bonhomme Richard

There are many things wrong with public education in this country, as we all know. But one thing that’s almost never mentioned is how little young people today learn about many of the heroes we were taught to admire.

If you want to see evidence of this, play a word-association game with any teenager you know. Ask them to tell you about John Paul Jones, the Bonhomme Richard, or the phrase, “Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!” You’ll be sorely disappointed with the answers.

It was on Sept. 23, 1779, during the war for American independence, that Jones, commanding the Bonhomme Richard, engaged the British man-of-war Serapis. During the hard-fought sea battle, the American ship suffered considerable damage and British captain Richard Pearson asked Jones to surrender. It was then that the American captain issued his famous reply, “Sir, I have not yet begun to fight!”

The battle continued for three more hours until Pearson surrendered his ship to the Americans. Shortly after boarding it, Jones and his men watched their own ship, the Bonhomme Richard, sink to the bottom of the sea.

—Chip Wood

Who’s the Liar Now, Mr. Obama?

It isn’t easy to upstage the President of the United States when he’s delivering a speech to a joint session of Congress. But Rep. Joe Wilson managed the feat 10 days ago, when he blurted out, “You lie!” during President Barack Obama’s pitch for his healthcare proposals.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle were quick to jump all over the Republican congressman from South Carolina for his rudeness. Katon Dawson, the former head of the Republican Party in South Carolina, opined, “If Joe’s mother or father were alive, they’d take him to the woodshed and whip him for bad manners.”

Before the night was out, Wilson had been pressured to call the White House to apologize. Not content that Rep. Wilson apologized directly to the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her cronies demanded he also apologize on the House floor. When he refused, they voted 240-179 to "disapprove" his actions. Ah well, at least it distracted them from spending a few billion more of your tax dollars for a day or two.

By the end of the day last Thursday, Rob Miller, his opponent in last year’s election, reported that he had received some $400,000 in contributions from 11,000 donors to help him defeat Wilson next time around. Wilson promptly announced that he too had received a big chunk of moola from patriots who want him to stay in Washington. Looks like next year’s election in that district will be mighty interesting.

Lost in all of the hullabaloo were two things worth mentioning: First, Wilson’s outburst paled in comparison to the treatment President George W. Bush received on numerous occasions from his Democrat opponents. There were times during George W.’s State of the Union speech in 2005 when there were so many jeers, cat-calls, mutterings and murmurings it was difficult to hear what he was saying. Anyone remember the liberal media expressing its outrage then?

But my second point is far more important: For all of his impoliteness, Wilson was telling the truth. Obama wasn’t.

Wilson’s outburst was in response to the president’s claim that nothing in the Democrats’ proposals would lead to federal funding of healthcare for illegal immigrants. Wilson knows something most Americans don’t: Liberals in Congress have defeated every single attempt by Republicans to put such provisions into law. Of more than 20 such amendments that were introduced in the past year, not a single one has been allowed out of committee.

No wonder Wilson was so upset. He knows what’s really been going on behind those closed committee doors. He knows Obama was playing fast and loose with the truth. And so did everyone else in the House chamber that night.

I wasn’t surprised by all the blatant falsehoods in Obama’s speech. For me, the tone was set in the first five minutes, when the president told the assembled lawmakers, “I am not the first president to take up this cause. But I am determined to be the last.”

That may have been great rhetoric. The assembled Democrats obviously thought so, because they gave the president an enthusiastic standing ovation.

Yes, it might have sounded good. But it wasn’t the truth. And everyone listening to the president knew it.

Is there anyone anywhere who honestly believes that the government’s role in providing healthcare for the public will no longer be an issue when President Obama leaves office? That no one on either side of the aisle—Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative—will ever introduce new legislation to “improve” whatever system Congress agrees to during Obama’s tenure?

Give me a break. This debate will continue until long after your great-grandchildren have collected their last Social Security check. Obama knows that. So does every member of the House and Senate who sat through his speech that night. And to pretend otherwise is nothing short of political duplicity. (That’s a more polite way of saying, “He lies!”)

Another obvious fantasy in the president’s address was his claim, “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits, either now or in the future—period.”

Let me see if I’ve got this right. Under ObamaCare, some 40 million Americans who currently do not have health insurance will suddenly get coverage … and it won’t cost taxpayers a dime? Does anyone believe this?

I was amused to hear the president say that one reason his plan would be more efficient is that the government-run program, unlike private insurance, wouldn’t have to make a profit. Nor would it have to pay all those expensive executive salaries.

Has anyone anywhere found one example of a government-run program that is more efficient than private enterprise? Anyone? Anyone?

It’s hard for me to believe that any adult American could be so gullible as to believe this. What I do believe is that a majority of Congress will pretend to believe it, knowing that a bunch of their constituents want it to be true. (Or, far more likely, don’t care if it is or not, so long as they get all those “free” benefits they’ve been promised.)

Another misleading remark in Obama’s address was his claim that “no federal funds will be used to fund abortions.” Did you notice that not a single pro-abortion legislator (who as a group are probably the most outspoken extremists in Congress) said anything in opposition to this part of Obama’s speech?

That’s because they know the fix is in. Despite repeated efforts by pro-life legislators, not a single proposal to put this into law has been approved in Washington. No matter what Obama says now, the pro-abortion crowd is confident that whatever legislation is finally approved, it will include a provision requiring that so-called “public option” health insurance covers abortions.

Finally, let me say a few words about the part of Obama’s speech I found the most offensive. That was his “my way or the highway” attitude. He accused talk radio hosts, cable news and conservative leaders of deliberately spreading falsehoods. He wants you to believe that everyone who opposes his plan to nationalize medical care is lying.

There was not a word of criticism for the attack dogs on the left, such as House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who called opponents of these plans “un-American.” Or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who labeled those who disagree with him as “evil mongers.”

After denouncing virtually everyone who has disagreed with him, the president then said, “Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together.” The amazing thing to me is that no one laughed out loud at the hypocrisy of such a statement.

As every conservative on Capitol Hill knows, there has been absolutely no effort to include them in this debate. Their ideas are not welcome—and neither are they.

To say that conservatives and libertarians have never offered any constructive suggestions about healthcare is a flat-out lie. Anyone who cares can check out proposals on “How to Insure Every American” by Republican Representatives John Shadegg and Pete Hoekstra. Or the very sensible ideas for health-care reform by John Mackey, the founder and CEO of Whole Foods. Or the detailed analyses and proposals from the Cato Institute, Reason magazine, the Heritage Foundation and a dozen others.

Republicans haven’t been included in negotiations on Capitol Hill for months. House Speaker Pelosi has shown nothing but disdain for those who disagree with her. Nor is it any different at the White House, where conservatives have been locked out of discussions on healthcare since early spring.

While he says he wants bipartisanship, Obama means he wants opponents to sit down, shut up and go along with his proposals. He seems determined to use the Democrat majority he enjoys in the House and the Senate to ram through the most drastic reorganization of healthcare this country has ever seen.

He doesn’t want to debate, he wants to dictate. We’re about to find out if a majority in Congress will let him.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

Chip Wood

Chastising a Dictator, the Irreligious, AARP and a Rising Federal Payroll

*Congress rebukes Obama for dictatorial claim. It wasn’t the biggest issue to come before Congress in a long time. But as a straw in the wind, it could be significant. On July 9, the U.S. House voted overwhelmingly (429 to 2) to tell President Obama he has to obey the law. The previous month, when he signed a supplemental appropriations bill, the President said he could ignore stipulations in it he didn’t like, such as how new funding for the International Monetary Fund could be used. Even Rep. Barney Frank criticized Obama, saying that “there is a kind of unilateralism, in an undemocratic, unreachable way, to these signing statements.”

*Where to find the least religious Americans. Recently, the Gallup Poll asked a cross-section of Americans if religion is an “important part” of their lives. Among those who answered “no,” you probably won’t be surprised to learn that New England had six of the top 10 states. Vermont led the way, with New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts following in second, third and fourth place.

*AARP demands more COLA. The American Association for Retired Persons (AARP), which never met a government subsidy for seniors that it didn’t want made larger, is outraged that there will be no increase in Social Security checks next year. Seems that the folks who calculate cost-of-living expenses found that the index actually dropped 2.3 percent so far this year. Because prices kept rising for much of last year, seniors enjoyed an additional 5.8 percent in their Social Security checks this year. But of course, that’s not enough to satisfy the AARP.

*But federal paychecks keep rising. Now here’s a statistic that will frost your cookies. The pay gap between what employees earn in private industry versus those who work for the federal government is the largest in history. The average annual salary paid people in the civilian workforce is $49,935, while those who collect a paycheck from Uncle Sam pocket 58 percent more—a rather hefty $79,197 per year. Anyone want to argue that’s because they work so much harder or are so much smarter?

—Chip Wood

How Barack Obama Will Destroy Liberalism

I’ve got great news for you. In case you haven’t noticed, Barack Obama’s honeymoon with a trusting, gullible public is over.

For the first time since last November, a majority of Americans say they don’t like his policies. Many of them are concerned that he is going to bankrupt the country. Can you believe it? Where would they get such a crazy idea?

Before I get into the specific policy mistakes—and the Obama Administration has made a ton of them—let’s take a brief look at the numbers. The Angry Left likes to take all of the credit for Obama’s election (and thus demands that he implement every far-left scheme they can propose). But the truth is vastly different.

Last November, Barack Obama won the election with 53 million votes. John McCain finished second with 46 million votes. That’s a margin of 7 million.

Who were those voters? Almost without exception, they came from the middle of the political spectrum. They are neither Republicans or Democrats. They describe themselves as independents.

And here’s the amazing thing: Some 10 million of them now say they don’t like what President Obama is doing.

At the beginning of his term, President Obama enjoyed the support of more than 80 percent of the people who described themselves as independents. Today that number has fallen to under 50 percent. That’s an amazing reversal in just a few months.

How did Obama do it? Let me count just a few of the ways.

  1. A stimulus program that didn’t stimulate. While the street cleaners in Washington were still cleaning up the confetti from the inauguration, the Democrats rammed through an $800-billion stimulus bill. The measure was supposed to solve our employment crisis, bail out state and local governments, get the economy moving again and make flowers grow in the desert.

Okay, I’m kidding about the last one. But you remember all the extravagant promises this massive spending bill was supposed to achieve. Instead, unemployment has continued to climb, California was forced to issue IOUs, the housing crisis took a turn for the worse and the economy barely limps along. To paraphrase an old country song, Congress got the gold mine (the bill had so much pork it squealed) while the taxpayers got the shaft.

  1. Next, Obama set out to nationalize just about everything. The Feds took $100 billion or so to bail out their buddies on Wall Street. The insurance industry was next, with $80 billion going to prop up just one company, American International Group (aka AIG). Then the national banks were coerced into taking loads of federal moola—and all the “oversight” that would mean. The car companies were the next takeover target, as Uncle Sam became the new boss at Chrysler and General Motors.

And now the Obama Administration wants to make health care in this country more “fair” and “efficient.” I’ll have more to say about the absolute ludicrousness of such proposals at some other time. For now, let me just note that a whole lot of Americans have gotten so fed up, they’re saying “no more!”

  1. Massive new spending, and exploding deficits, as far into the future as we can see. What will all of this incredible largesse cost? In less than six months the Obama Administration has racked up the biggest deficit this country has ever witnessed. And the red ink will continue to pour over us for as far into the future as we can see.

The administration claims that its cost over-runs will “only” amount to a trillion dollars a year for the next 10 years or so. They base this number on incredibly optimistic estimates of how much their programs will cost. And even more generous guesses of how much tax revenue they can take from us.

Of course, anyone who believes these projections won’t go a whole lot higher probably also believes in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Every sensible American knows that spending will get worse, taxes will get higher—and the deficits will multiply faster than maggots in a dumpster.

Along with all of these big issues, there have been dozens of smaller ones that have damaged Obama’s poise and credibility. How stupid was it for him to call the police in Cambridge, Mass., stupid? I was shocked and shamed to see the President of the United States use his bully platform to side with a black professor who lost his cool. So were a lot of other Americans, both black and white. Obama responded like a knee-jerk racist.

Then there was his 180-degree turnabout regarding the interrogation of terrorists. At first Obama promised there would be no prosecution of the CIA agents who, in the words of a Washington Times editorial, “produced life-saving intelligence that disrupted numerous terrorist plots.” Now our President has torn up that pledge. In an effort to placate the extremists on his left he has authorized Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the matter. Can anyone doubt that prosecutions will be far behind?

I won’t even get into all of Obama’s foreign-policy blunders. Everywhere you look it seems to be his intention to treat our friends as enemies and our enemies as friends. South of our border, the good people and legitimate government of Honduras used legal and constitutional means to rid themselves of a Hugo Chavez crony. Instead of applauding them for protecting their liberties, Obama’s State Department seems determined to reinstall a budding Marxist tyrant there. Shame on them.

To put it as succinctly as possible, Barack Obama seems determined to preside over the most radical transformation of the Federal Government this country has ever seen.

And the American people don’t want it.

The American people don’t want trillion-dollar deficits. They don’t want huge new government agencies to supervise our health care. They don’t want the people who defended us from terrorism persecuted or prosecuted.

They don’t want our friends penalized or our enemies pandered to. They don’t want more of their hard-earned money taken from them and given to people who didn’t earn it and don’t deserve it.

And when they’ve had all they can stand, they really don’t want to be called “un-American” and “evil mongers” when they finally decide to speak out.

So what do I think will happen?

I think we are witnessing the beginning of the end of liberal domination in Washington. I think Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank and Barack Obama have badly underestimated the American people. They lied about what they’d do and they badly misjudged how much we would endure.

The counter-revolution has begun. You can see it at town hall meetings and tea parties. You can hear it in conversations with your neighbors. You can feel it as the left becomes more hysterical, more abusive, and … yes, I’m delighted to say it … more frightened.

We won’t win every battle over the next year or two. But we’ll win a bunch of them. And before too much more time passes—by the time Barack Obama’s successor is getting ready to leave the White House—I predict that the Obama era will be seen as the last gasp of liberalism. The dinosaurs of the left may not become extinct. But they are about to lose their fangs.

Yes, the era of big government will soon be over. And we’ll have Barack Obama and all of his over-reaching cronies to thank for it.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

—Chip Wood

Doom, Gloom or Boom? Or Maybe All Three?

More than 750 worried investors gathered at the historic Fairmont Vancouver last month to hear what a group of experts had to say about the fate of our economy. They wanted to know which investments would protect their wealth the best… and just maybe help them recover some of their losses.

We were in the beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia, for the 10th annual Agora Financial Investment Symposium. Not so coincidentally, the event also marked 10 years since Agora’s founder, Bill Bonner, launched a curious Internet experiment called The Daily Reckoning. This rant and rumination now goes out to nearly half-a-million people every day.

I was delighted to be invited once again to serve as Master of Ceremonies. The theme of the conference was set in the opening talk by Dr. Marc Faber. The editor of The Doom, Gloom, and Boom Report used enough charts and graphs to make your head spin, while explaining why things must get a lot worse before they will get any better. Don’t look for a recovery in the stock market, housing market, commercial real estate or anywhere else anytime soon, he warned. But he also shared why he is convinced things will get better—a whole lot better—once the market is allowed to cleanse itself of the toxic poisons in the system.

The Agora Symposium included many first-time speakers. But none captured the attention of the audience more than Juan Enriquez, an early-stage venture capitalist specializing in biotechnology discoveries. The crowd listened spellbound as Dr. Enriquez described how bioengineered goats now produce milk that battles cancer; how a woman re-grew her own trachea after a horrific bout with cancer; and how a tiny salamander may help people grow new limbs to replace ones they’ve lost. Truly amazing stuff.

Next up was Rick Rule, whom Bill Bonner has described as “the best resource investor I know.” Rule got the crowd excited when he declared that we’re in the first leg of a resource super-bull market. He pointed to the inevitable rise of emerging economies like China and India. When those people get wealthier, they buy more and more things—things that require raw materials to be made. So he sees a huge rise in demand for these resources—and thus, the prices of the underlying commodities and the companies that produce them.

Rule said another huge bull market would be alternative energy—even “stupid stuff” like biofuels. Although many of the Greenies’ favorites will never be economic, Rule said there is one source that should please everyone—even profit-hungry investors.

That one is geothermal. While the costs to build a geothermal plant are high, it should produce ultra-clean energy for 100 years or more.

Next up was Frank Holmes, the CEO of mutual-fund giant U.S. Global Investors. Holmes’ funds have won more awards than I can list here. He is especially proud of the performances (and holdings) of his natural-resource and emerging markets funds.

Holmes had the audience laughing and applauding when he shared Holmes’ Rule #1 for bad government. “The higher the percentage of lawyers who hold office,” he told the appreciative crowd, “the more decrepit the financial system they devise.” Amen to that, brother.

Chuck Butler, the president of EverBank World Markets, was one of several speakers to sound a very similar theme: Barack Obama is the most aggressively leftist president this country has seen since FDR. The results may be horrible for our deficits and the dollar, but they’re going to be mighty good for gold.

“Trade dollars for gold” was Butler’s top recommendation. It was a suggestion we heard many times in Vancouver. In fact, Bonner said he had first proposed his “trade of the decade” nine years ago. It was simplicity itself: Sell stocks, buy gold. “We’re almost at the end of the decade,” he noted, “and I wouldn’t change a word of that advice.”

EverBank has created many unique products to serve contrarian investors, from foreign currency CDs (you can invest in the Norwegian krona and New Zealand dollar, with the same FDIC protection as the U.S. dollar) to commodity indexes owning gold, silver and other metals.

I’m running out of space, so there’s no room to tell you about Byron King’s captivating presentation, “Is God Brazilian?” Or Doug Casey’s rant about the utter hopelessness of the situation—and why it’s not really all that serious. Or Bonner’s closing exhortation to remember the lessons of history: There is no such thing as a free lunch. Or two dozen other informative presentations, each one loaded with practical advice and specific stock recommendations.

But thanks to the miracle of modern technology, you can hear every word of every presentation via CDs or MP3s. All of the main session speeches were professionally recorded and are now available. To order the complete set, simply click here.

Or you could skip all the palaver and just implement the bottom-line recommendation uttered so often at the conference: trade dollars for gold. One precious metals specialist we recommend is Asset Strategies International. Check them out on the web at www.assetstrategies.com. Or give one of their friendly and knowledgeable staff a call at 1-800-831-0007 or 301-881-8600. They will be delighted to help you turn dollars into gold, silver or platinum, or even your favorite foreign currency.

Here’s one last suggestion: Do it soon, before Obama and his cronies devalue the dollar even further. There is still nothing that’s as good as gold… except maybe silver.

Until next time, keep some powder dry. And some gold handy.

Is Judge Sotomayor A Secret Right-Winger?

Is Judge Sonia Sotomayor really a secret right-winger? Wait! Before you decide I’m a stark-raving lunatic, hear me out.

What if you knew absolutely nothing about Barack Obama’s first appointment to the United States Supreme Court except what she said during her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee?

Just for a moment, pretend you’d never heard her remark about how “a wise Latina woman” might dispense better justice than a white male who didn’t share her “life experiences.”

Forget about any past verdicts regarding racial quotas in Connecticut or favoritism for minorities. Ignore her outspoken support of the openly racist organization, La Raza. Pretend you didn’t know President Obama said he appointed her because of her much-vaunted “empathy.”

In fact, assume for a moment you didn’t even know she was nominated for the nation’s highest court by Barack Obama.

No, the only thing I want you to consider today is what she said in her sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I submit, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that if all you knew about Judge Sotomayor’s beliefs and likely decisions was what she told that panel of U.S. Senators, you would have to conclude that she will be one of the strictest constructionists the Supreme Court has ever seen.

Why, if you judge the judge by what she said—and remind you, ladies and gentlemen, that she swore under oath to tell the truth—she’s going to be so far to the right that Clarence Thomas could use her for shade.

Consider: The very first thing the lady did when she began her testimony was to throw the man who nominated her under the bus. Use “empathy” to decide a case? Not on your life, Senators. The most important thing to be considered—in fact, the only thing that matters—is what the law says.

What about that “wise Latina woman” comment, Judge? It was a terrible choice of words, your honorables. I regret ever saying it. Why, I don’t even believe it. It was just a “rhetorical flourish.”

You’ve got to admit; whoever vetted the lady prior to her testimony did a fantastic job. I didn’t hear her make a single misstep. Did you?

Yes, the White House handlers who prepped her and primed her and spent all those hours rehearsing her had everything down pat, including the decision to distance herself from the man who nominated her. They did a splendid job. The Democrats were so proud they were bursting their buttons. Even the Republicans found almost nothing to fault.

There is only one problem with the whole sorry charade: It was all a lie.

Let’s face it: Our first Latina nominee, the Honorable Judge Sonia Sotomayor, was carefully rehearsed not to tell the truth, but to tell the Senators (and through them the American public) a carefully calculated falsehood. In fact, a whole series of them.

As the senior Republican on the panel, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Ala., said in a USA Today op-ed piece, “Judge Sotomayor’s attempt to rebrand her previously stated judicial approach was, as one editorial page opined, ‘uncomfortably close to disingenuous.’” My, wasn’t he being diplomatic.

In other words, the lady stretched the truth so far, it almost snapped. Had anyone on the panel pushed her a little harder, who knows what we might have heard? But there were no profiles in courage on Capitol Hill that week.

So now we have the remarkable spectacle of seeing our leaders, from the President on down, praise a person whose every statement was a deliberate deception. A splendidly rehearsed deception, I’ll grant you. But a deception nonetheless.

And because she did her job so well, on Thursday she received a lifetime appointment to the highest court in our land.

The entire spectacle was a fraud. To be absolutely and totally honest about it—something Judge Sotomayor was forbidden to do—her entire testimony was carefully and cleverly planned so she would reveal nothing about what she believed or what she will do, once she’s a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Welcome to a world, ladies and gentlemen, where the lying liars who lead us are not only shameless about their duplicity … they are proud of it!

Shame on everyone who participated in this odious charade, from the schemers in the White House to their sycophants on Capitol Hill. Of course, none of it would be possible without the eager acquiescence of their puppets in the press.

But shame on the rest of us, too. We also remain silent, bleating contentedly as we’re fed this preposterous pabulum. Once again the sheeple are about to get sheared. And I have to say, more in sorrow than in anger, maybe we deserve it.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.