Score! Stocks Will Rise This Year

Stock bulls will like this Super Bowl. Are you familiar with Wall Street’s Super Bowl Predictor? It says that the stock market will go up in a year that an original National Football League team wins the Super Bowl, but will fall whenever a team from the former American Football League is victorious. Hey, don’t scoff; it’s been right more than 80 percent of the time. And since both contestants in this year’s Super Bowl were part of the original National Football League (the Baltimore Ravens trace their lineage back to the old Cleveland Browns), followers say the market will be up for the year. Time will tell if they’re right again.

Surprising opposition to the Hagel nomination. The Washington Post published an unusually harsh editorial opposing the nomination of former senator Chuck Hagel to be our new Secretary of Defense. The Post wrote: “Mr. Hagel’s stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term — and place him near the fringe of the Senate that would be asked to confirm him.” Meanwhile, some anticipated opposition to the nomination vanished when New York Senator Charles Schumer issued a warm endorsement of his former colleague after a private meeting between the two.

Wal-Mart steps up. In a speech at the National Retail Federation’s annual convention, Bill Simon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart’s U.S. business, said the company will hire more than 100,000 honorably discharged veterans over the next five years. He said vets “are leaders with discipline, training, and a passion for service. There is a seriousness and sense of purpose that the military instills, and we need it today more than ever.” Simon also announced that the company will purchase an additional $50 billion of American-made products over the next 10 years, in an effort to create more jobs here at home.

Conservative group sues to stop new gun controls. FreedomWatch, a conservative activist group, has filed suit in Federal court to block President Barack Obama’s new gun-control initiatives, including the 23 executive orders he issued on Jan. 16. The group claims that the White House task force that created the proposals conducted illegal meetings with lobbyists, without the public notice that is required by law. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a ruling in the group’s favor.

–Chip Wood

Your Tax Refund Will Take Longer

Delays expected in tax refunds. The Internal Revenue Service announced that the Congressional debate over the fiscal cliff has caused it to delay processing individual tax returns by eight days. The IRS needed the extra time to program its computers to include the changes and extensions the legislation included. The IRS says it will begin processing 2012 tax returns by the end of the month.

The rush to buy guns and join the NRA. Gun stores around the country are reporting record-breaking sales, thanks to all the publicity about further gun-control efforts. “If I had 1,000 AR-15s, I could sell them in a week,” one dealer said. The National Rifle Association also reports a surge in membership, with more than 250,000 joining the group in a month. The NRA now has some 4.25 million members and says its goal is to reach 5 million “before this debate is over.”

Time to stop subsidizing Planned Parenthood. In its latest annual report, Planned Parenthood says that it performed a record 333,964 abortions in 2011 and received a record $542 million in taxpayer support in fiscal 2011-2012. But here’s the real shocker: The same report says the abortion group has total assets of more than $1.2 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) and “excess assets” (what normal businesses call “profits”) of $87.4 million. No wonder many in Congress want to stop taxpayer funding of the group.

Save your favorite Monopoly token. Hasbro, maker of one of the world’s most popular board games, has announced a Monopoly token contest. Fans are urged to vote on the “Save Your Token” Facebook page for their favorite game piece: the race car, iron, Scottie dog, wheelbarrow, boot, hat, thimble or battleship. Whichever one receives the lowest total when the contest ends on Feb. 5 will be dropped from future editions. Fans can also vote on what should replace the loser: a toy robot, helicopter, cat, guitar or diamond ring.

–Chip Wood  

Obama’s ‘In Your Face’ Nominations

Barack Obama’s second term hasn’t even officially begun. But we already know that the tone will be even more demanding and confrontational than his first term. That became clear in the so-called negotiations over the fiscal cliff.

Except there weren’t really any negotiations. It was pretty much “my way or the highway.” One of his most recalcitrant representatives in discussions with Congressional leaders was White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew.

In fact, Lew’s intransigence so infuriated Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that the normally mild-mannered Republican refused to meet with him anymore. To show you just how extreme Lew was, the Democrats brought in Vice President Joe Biden as a “moderating” influence. Imagine Biden being the calming voice in the room.

So how did all those negotiations end? Here’s how veteran Washington observer Pat Buchanan described the results:

“Rather than do a deal with Speaker John Boehner and offer one-for-one budget cuts for tax hikes, the president forced congressional Republicans into a humiliating climb-down and public retreat that split the House majority asunder. Then he spiked the football to rub it in, saying he had made good on his pledge to make the rich pay.”

Obama then added insult to injury, at least as far as conservative Republicans are concerned, by nominating Lew to succeed Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury.

John Carney, an editor at CNBC.com, said that by nominating Lew for the Treasury post, Obama was being intentionally antagonistic. Indeed, he is sending a “pointed message” that he is now ready to “pick fights with Congress.”

Indeed, that is precisely what has been happening.

Two years ago, when he was serving as Obama’s budget director, Lew testified that Obama’s budget “will get us… to the point where we can look the American people in the eye and say we’re not adding to the debit anymore.”

What a joke! Instead of not adding to the debt, Obama increased the national debt by $6 trillion in four short years. His Administration overspent receipts by more than $1 trillion a year every year he’s been in office.

And now he’s demanding that the debt ceiling be increased — or even worse, abolished altogether — so the spending spree can continue. To put it another way, for every dollar the Federal government spends, it saddles our children and grandchildren with an additional 34 cents of debt.

So much for promises of “not adding to the debt anymore.”

Lew’s nomination to the Treasury post probably won’t receive the opposition it should. There would have been a ton of fireworks on Capitol Hill had Obama proceeded with his original plan to appoint U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. But the Administration wisely decided that it didn’t want to face the barrage of negative questioning that would have occurred over Rice’s repeated deceptions about the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya in September.

The last thing anyone in the Administration wanted was more attention placed on the murder of Christopher Stevens, our ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans. So Rice was persuaded to withdraw her name from consideration. Instead, Obama went with the very safe nomination of the liberal senior Senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry.

Kerry’s vision of what this country’s role in the world should be is certainly vastly different from mine… and probably yours. But it isn’t strikingly different from that of his new boss. He is generally respected by his colleagues in the Senate, or at least not too heartily disliked. After some tough questioning at his confirmation hearings, I predict that he will be easily confirmed to become our latest Secretary of State.

That won’t be the case for Obama’s third nomination that the Senate will have to consider. There will be some heated opposition for Chuck Hagel to succeed Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense.

Normally, when a President nominates someone from the other party for an important post, it is smooth sailing all the way. This won’t be the case for Hagel, the former Republican Senator from Nebraska. Not only is he to the left of his Republican colleagues, but on some important issues he is to the left of Barack Obama — as hard as that may be to believe.

Hagel has gotten a lot of criticism for comments that made him appear to many as being anti-Israel. How else would one interpret things like “I’m a United States Senator, not an Israeli Senator” or “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here [on Capitol Hill]”?

A decade ago, after Yasser Arafat has launched his Second Intifada against Israeli, it was not the Palestinian terrorists whom Hagel condemned. No, he said that “Israel must take steps to show its commitment to peace.”

Charles Krauthammer, the popular FOX commentator, had this to say in response:

“Good God. Exactly two years earlier, Israel had proposed an astonishingly generous peace that offered Arafat a Palestinian state — and half of Jerusalem, a previously unimaginable Israeli concession. Arafat said no, made no counteroffer, walked away and started his terror war. Did no one tell Hagel?”

Regarding cutbacks in the defense budget, Hagel in the past has called the Pentagon “bloated” and says our military “needs to be pared down.” Those views are pretty much in accord with those of Obama. But they are sure to lead to some sharp questioning at his confirmation hearings.

But expect the most heat to be generated over Hagel’s squishy soft attitude toward Iran. Not only has he been outspoken against any military action to end the threat of a nuclear Iran, but he has also opposed American economic sanctions against the terrorist-sponsoring state. He even voted against designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

Krauthammer rightly calls Hagel “a fringe Senator who left no trace behind.” And he adds, “Hagel matters only because of what his nomination says about Obama.” And he concludes, “The lessons are being duly drawn. Iran’s official media have already cheered the choice of what they call this ‘anti-Israel’ nominee.”

In March, Obama whispered to then-President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia: “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”

Judging by the first three nominations for his new term, we now know what Obama meant by “more flexibility.” He will be even more demanding, hard-nosed and unyielding than he was during his first term. And he will push harder and faster in his quest to transform the country that has twice elected him to our highest office.

You all right to be worried, my friends, about what this means for our once-great Republic. Very worried indeed.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Not So Fast, Governor Christie

Did you see where New Jersey Governor Chris Christie lit into Speaker John Boehner and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for delaying a vote on giving billions of dollars in Federal aid to States devastated by Superstorm Sandy?

Christie is one of the better ranters on the national scene. But even many of his admirers were taken back by the harshness of his attack.

“There’s only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims,” Christie proclaimed, “the House majority and their Speaker, John Boehner.”

Christie told reporters he called the Speaker’s office four times the night he heard the vote would be delayed but never got a return call. Just to rub salt in the wound, the White House announced the next day that Barack Obama had personally called the Republican Governor to discuss relief efforts. The Governor concluded his diatribe by declaring, “(S)hame on you, shame on Congress. … put aside the politics and help our people now.”

But of course, asking Congress to “put aside the politics” on anything is to ask for the impossible. In fact, politics has everything to do with why this disaster-relief bill is a pork-filled disaster. Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) was correct when he said, “They had the opportunity to have a $27 [billion] to $30 billion dollar legit relief package, packed it with pork, then dared us not to vote on it.”

Among the absurd bequests in the aid package are $150 million to support Alaskan fisheries, a couple of million bucks for roof repairs at the Smithsonian and dozens of other pieces of pork, including $17 billion to support “community development” activists.

The Wall Street Journal warned in an editorial: “Far from being must-pass legislation, this is a disgrace to the memory of the victims and could taint legitimate efforts to deal with future disasters.”

Under the circumstances, I think Boehner showed commendable courage by delaying a vote until the new Congress could consider the legislation. When they do, let’s hope they’ll vote to take a scalpel — or even better, a meat clever — to all of the pork that usually got stuffed into the bill. (I’ll leave for another day the argument about where in the Constitution you will find any authority for Congress to take our tax dollars for such charitable activities, no matter how noble they appear.)

I would like to see Congress discuss the folly of paying people to build homes and condos that everyone knows could be wiped out by a hurricane. Since insurance companies refuse to write policies for such properties, our benevolent Federal government decided to force all taxpayers everywhere to subsidize flood insurance for the happy owners.

When a storm comes along, as one inevitably does, the happy homeowner gets a free ride on rebuilding. In some areas, the same home has been hit, damaged and repaired several times — all at taxpayer expense. How about letting these ninnies take the risks themselves, rather than getting us to pay for it?

While on the subject of Congressional malfeasance, let me mention something that I neglected to include in last week’s column, Congress Sticks It To Us Again, on the rushed-through, unread legislation that kept this country from plunging over the fiscal cliff. Did you hear what our legislators decided to call this Frankenstein’s monster?

Even though the measure raises taxes on all working Americans, the bill is called the American Tax Relief Act of 2012. My friend Mark Skousen says the measure should have been called the “Congress Relieves Your Pocketbook Act of 2012.” But of course, that name could be used for just about any legislation that Congress passes.

While some Republicans are still trying to defend that abominable measure as “the best we could do in a bad situation,” Charles Krauthammer is one observer who isn’t buying it. He said the bill represents “a complete surrender on everything. … it’s a complete rout by the Democrats.”

The FOX News commentator said the President not only won increases in tax rates on the wealthy, he’s likely to gain another tax increase when Congress agrees to reduce deductions in the future. “So he gets a double rise in rates,” Krauthammer observed.

The Coming Clash Over The Debt Ceiling

With the fight over the fiscal cliff behind us, the next “line in the sand” for conservatives in Congress will be the battle over raising the ceiling on our national debt. The last time around, Republicans caved in and voted to raise the ceiling only after President Barack Obama agreed to spending cuts. There was supposed to be $1 in spending cuts for every $1 the debt ceiling was raised. If this wasn’t done, then $1.2 trillion in cuts would be mandated over the next decade — the so-called “sequestration” you’ve heard so much about.

Of course, the Federal budget wasn’t reduced. The Democrats didn’t even play their usual game of smoke and mirrors by agreeing to reductions in spending increases, which they would then call “spending cuts.” Nope, the spending spree continued, as Obama racked up another trillion-dollar deficit.

What’s next? We’re going to hear a lot of nasty threats and implausible promises over the next few weeks, including all of the disastrous things that will befall this country if we don’t give Obama all of the funds he wants.

But of all the absurd proposals that will be offered, this week produced the most hilarious of all: the suggestion that the United States mint a shiny new platinum coin, give it a nominal face value of $1 trillion and then deposit it with the Federal Reserve.

The theory is that the Fed could use the new funds to buy back U.S. Treasuries it holds, thus reducing the outstanding amount of government debt. Lowering the debt would mean there would be no need to raise the ceiling.

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) says he is “absolutely serious” about putting such a proposal before Congress. Paul Krugman, the Pulitzer-prize winning economist and influential New York Times columnist, says it’s worth considering. There’s even a petition on the White House website asking the U.S. Mint to make such a coin.

I’ve learned over the years never to underestimate the ability of Congress to consider, and sometimes pass, some truly ludicrous legislation. It makes you wonder how we’ve managed to survive the government we have, doesn’t it? But at least we don’t get all the government we pay for; that would really destroy us.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Get It Through Your Thick Skull

We’re getting tired as well, Mr. President. Speaker of the House John Boehner told Wall Street Journal columnist Stephen Moore that during negotiations over the fiscal cliff, he kept trying to tell the President that the Nation doesn’t have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. Moore quotes Boehner as saying he repeated this message so often that the President finally responded, “I’m getting tired of hearing you say that.” Well, we’re getting tired of having to say it, Mr. President.

The high costs of wind subsidies. In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, former Senator Phil Gramm gave an interesting comparison of the cost of various energy subsidies. Wind power tops the list, at a cost of $54.28 per one million watt hours generated. The same amount of electricity from nuclear power costs $3.10, from hydropower 84 cents, from coal just 64 cents and from natural gas 63 cents. Yet it looks like we will spend another $12 billion in wind subsidies this year. Why?

A costly break in a Presidential vacation. According to Newsmax, most of the Obama family’s vacations in Hawaii cost about $4 million, much of it for Air Force One. But when the President interrupted his Christmas vacation this year to fly back to Washington at the end of the fiscal cliff negotiations, the extra round trip added $3.4 million to this year’s tab.

Al Gore’s dubious deal. Current TV, the cable network founded by Al Gore and some friends, never caught on with the American public, averaging fewer than 40,000 viewers a night. But that didn’t deter the pro-Islamist network Al-Jazeera from ponying up $500 million to buy it. The sale will be worth about $70 million to Gore, who tried but failed to get the deal closed by Dec. 31 in order to avoid the higher tax rates that kicked in on Jan. 1. Gore reportedly will remain on the board of the new entity, to be called Al-Jazeera America.

–Chip Wood

More Lies

The Benghazi, Libya, deceit continues. Remember when the U.S. Department of State said that four top officials resigned after the release of a scathing report on the terrorist attack that killed our ambassador and four other Americans? It turns out that wasn’t quite true. One person simply got a new job, while three others were placed on temporary leave. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, blasted the deception, saying, “The discipline is a lie and all that has happened is the shuffling of the deck chairs.”

Should we kick the rascal out? Piers Morgan, a normally well-mannered Englishman who hosts a CNN television program, has gotten in hot water for his outrageous attacks on gun control opponents who were guests on his show. He called Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, “an unbelievably stupid man” with “dangerous” views. On another show, he denounced a guest as a liar and refused to let him explain his views. As a result, thousands of people have signed a petition calling for Morgan to be deported from this country.

Good riddance to this regulator. I was delighted to see that Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has handed in her resignation. In the past four years, no one in Washington has issued more punitive regulations or done more to stifle American industry than this lady. Hopefully, her successor will stop issuing dictatorial edicts and defying Congressional authority. But I wouldn’t count on it.

Gold’s amazing track record continues. For the 12th year in a row, gold finished the year worth more than it was at the beginning of 2012 — a record no other investment class can match. The Midas metal finished up 6 percent on the year. But silver did even better, rising  9 percent for the year. Platinum climbed 8 percent. But it’s not that precious metals are getting more precious; it’s that the value of the dollar continues to decline — something that will probably be true this year as well.

–Chip Wood

Congress Sticks It To Us Again

Happy New Year, everyone! Weren’t you inspired to see how our elected representatives worked late into the night, even on New Year’s Eve, to keep this country from plunging over the fiscal cliff?

And what a great deal they got for us! Taxes are guaranteed to go up for the vast majority of Americans. Spending cuts will be postponed. Government is going to get bigger. So will the deficit. Barack Obama can gloat that he forced Republicans to accept higher taxes. In fact, an anonymous “official close to the talks” told FOX News’ Ed Henry that getting the GOP to break their tax pledge is “one of the most consequential policy achievements of the last couple of decades.”

My, doesn’t that make you feel better?

Conservatives in the House made a last-ditch effort to include some mandatory spending cuts in the legislation. But that effort failed when Democratic leaders in the Senate said they would refuse to consider any changes in the legislation they had approved the night before. When the final tally was taken, the measure passed the House 257-167, with about a third of the Republicans voting in favor of it.

The margin of approval was even bigger in the Senate, where it passed by a vote of 89-8. Among the tiny minority that voted nay were such Tea Party favorites as Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).

And even though everyone is sick of all the politicking and posturing, we’re going to go through all of it again over the next couple of months. That’s when we run smack into the debt ceiling, have to deal with mandatory budget cuts and are supposed to come up with some sort of budget for the next fiscal year.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner added fuel to the fire when he said last week that the United States would reach its debt limit on Dec. 31 and, thus, presumably run out of money. But then he piously proclaimed that he could use some “extraordinary measures” to find the funds to keep government going for another couple of months. So the rhetoric to raise the debt ceiling from $16.394 trillion, where it is now, will get a lot hotter between now and March 1.

There is no rest for the wicked — or for the big spenders in Washington.

In a classic example of premature congratulations, the stock market celebrated the new accord. The Washington Post reported: “The Dow soared 308 points, or 2.4%, on Wednesday, the biggest point to start a year in history, after posting the biggest ever year-end point gain of 166 points on Monday.”

But don’t expect the euphoria to last for long, as the realities of what this new agreement does and doesn’t do begin to strike home.

Just how bad is this Frankenstein’s monster? The bill is packed with pork for many of the Administration’s pet projects, including subsidies for plug-in electric vehicles, special deductions for film and television productions, a $12.1 billion tax credit for wind energy and even first-time home buyers in the District of Columbia. Numerous subsidies, tax credits and other goodies are buried in the legislation. You can be sure that the more we learn about what’s in the bill, the less we will like it.

Although Barack Obama campaigned on promises to raise taxes for anyone making more than $200,000 a year and couples earning $250,000, the final legislation raised the base a bit higher. The new limit is families and small-business owners earning $450,000 a year. They will see their personal income tax rate go from 35 percent to 41 percent.

But that’s a fraction of the hit that income from investments will take. Thrifty seniors who lived within their means all of their lives will see the taxes on their investments go up dramatically, while the incentive for anyone to invest in productive businesses will go down. That’s because taxes on dividends and capital gains will go from 15 percent to 23.8 percent. (The final number includes an Obamacare investment income surtax of 3.8 percent.)

In addition to those higher tax rates, couples earning $300,000 or more a year will see their deductions and exemptions phased out. The more they earn, they less they will be able to deduct.

One of the few pieces of good news in the measure is that the estate tax won’t be quite as bad as was feared. If we had gone over the fiscal cliff, the death tax would have been 55 percent on all estates worth $1 million or more. The new number is 40 percent for estates valued at $5 million.

But there is another tax increase that will hit every wage earner in America. That is the payroll tax collected for Social Security, which will rise from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent. This is because a temporary reduction in payroll taxes that Congress approved two years ago, ostensibly to help stimulate the economy, expired on Jan. 1.

So every person earning $50,000 a year or more will pay an additional $1,000 in payroll taxes. So much for the myth that only “millionaires and billionaires” will have to ante up to help pay for Obama’s additional spending.

Taken all together, the Congressional Budget Office says this compromise legislation will add $4 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years. And even that estimate assumes that the budget cuts required by sequestration actually do take effect this year. I wouldn’t bet on it. Although the sequestration cuts were supposed to begin on Jan. 1, the fiscal cliff compromise kicked that can down the road for another two months.

The bottom line is that this legislation raises income taxes, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes, death taxes and payroll taxes. It is a huge victory for Obama and his big-spending buddies in Congress and a big setback for everyone who believes that Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

In effect, we’ve given some chronic alcoholics the keys to the liquor cabinets. And now we hope they will somehow sober up? Don’t count on it.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Should We Arm Our Teachers?

There are several things that are not going to happen in this country in the aftermath of the terrible tragedy that struck Newtown, Conn., two weeks ago.

First of all, despite the recommendations of National Rifle Association top honcho Wayne LaPierre, we are not going to post armed guards in all of our nation’s schools. There are something like 135,000 schools in this country. The cost to put armed guards in all of them for every hour they are open would be staggering. I can’t imagine there are very many local communities that would be willing to pay the price.

Nor is there any chance that Congress will vote to strip our various entitlement programs to cover the costs, or to slash the military budget to do so. Yes, I know, only a heartless cretin would try to put a price tag on the value of saving the lives of those 20 6- and 7-year-olds, not to mention the six adults who were also murdered by the same deranged gunman. But let’s face facts here, folks. Would we really be willing to pay the costs of sending armed guards into our schools every day (and night) they are open, to prevent one or two incidents a year? I don’t think so.

Another idea some people have proposed is to arm some of our teachers. While I agree with the sentiment that the best way to stop a bad man with a gun is by a good man (or woman) with one, can you really see very many school boards that would approve such an effort?

As the father of five children, I’ve known a lot of teachers over the years. And frankly, there aren’t too many of them I would like to see armed and ready at any of the schools my children attended.

Yes, I’ve seen the emails circulating on the Internet claiming that school teachers in Israel routinely go to school armed and ready to deter terrorists. But the story is false. Israel has no such policy. Although I confess, it would make a lot more sense to do so in a country where military service is compulsory for every young person, male and female. Presumably they all have had some weapons training, which is not the case in the United States.

But let me play the devil’s advocate here for a moment and point out that it isn’t necessary for every teacher to be armed and ready to fend off an attack. All it takes is one. And there is a lot of evidence that responsible gun owners who have taken the steps necessary to comply with concealed-carry laws in their community can save lives.

Mass shootings at public schools in this country were extremely rare prior to 1995. That was the year that Congress approved the national Gun-Free School Zone Act. The assumption was that banning anyone from carrying a weapon into any of our public schools would make them safer.

No, it didn’t. All it did was make them sitting ducks for deranged lunatics. For starters, how about we rescind that law and encourage people who want to be ready to deal with such situations, rare as they may be, to get the training, permits and equipment necessary to carry a concealed weapon in public?

I’m told that something like 8.5 million Americans can legally carry concealed weapons today. Wouldn’t you feel safer if that number were several times higher? And wouldn’t you feel safer if our schools were no longer publicly advertised no-gun zones?

John R. Lott Jr., author of More Guns, Less Crime, asked an interesting question in USA Today this week: “Would you feel safer with a sign on your house saying ‘this house is a gun-free zone’? But if you wouldn’t put these signs on your home, why put them elsewhere?” Why indeed.

While we’re on the subject of getting weapons in the hands of the good guys (and gals), let’s discuss for a moment if it’s possible to do a better job of spotting the potential bad guys and stopping them before they act.

I don’t know of any mental health screening that would have identified Adam Lanza as a potential mass murderer; or one that would have warned the folks in Webster, N. Y., that William Spengler was about to go berserk and murder two firemen (and wanted to kill a lot more). And I shudder to think of the violation of our civil liberties that it would take to put any such program in place.

I suspect that one thing all of these murderous lunatics have in common is a sick desire for publicity for their crimes. Sadly, that’s one thing we can’t deny them. A free press means giving the public the news it wants, even if that means a morbid fascination with such terrible tragedies as the one that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But it’s interesting to contemplate whether their actions would be any different if they knew the media wouldn’t fill the airwaves with stories about them.

And finally, let me say a few words about the notion that taking guns away from law-abiding Americans will do anything to keep them out of the hands of criminals and psychotics. After the tragic deaths in Newtown, the gun-control lobby has gone into a frenzy. The vitriolic attacks against the NRA and other gun advocates have gotten a bit scary.

But I don’t believe that taking guns away from law-abiding Americans will do anything to make us safer. And no matter what the anti-gun lobby would like to believe, it ain’t going to happen. I expect the courts to continue to affirm our 2nd Amendment rights, which pretty clearly states, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

Oh, I’m sure we’ll see proposals to increase controls on assault weapons and large magazines. Now that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are on the case, more restrictive legislation is bound to be proposed. Something may even get approved in Congress.

But to believe it will make us any safer is just wishful thinking. I for one would like to see more law-abiding Americans prepared to defend themselves and their community. And after the recent tragedies, maybe we will.

Let me close by thanking you all for your readership and comments. I appreciate the bouquets and yes, even the occasional brickbats.

It’s certainly been an interesting year. And 2013 looks like it will be, too. Although I’m reminded that the ancient Chinese expression, “May you live in interesting times,” wasn’t meant as a blessing, but as a curse.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

-Chip Wood

Benghazi Mistakes

Report confirms Benghazi mistakes. Well, it took more than three months, but the State Department finally released the results of an internal investigation into what actually happened during the Sept. 11 attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya. It concluded that our ambassador and three other Americans died as a result of “systemic failures” and “leadership and management deficiencies” at senior levels within the State Department. The report also rejected the now-discarded explanation, put forward by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and President Barack Obama, that the attack was the result of protests against an anti-Islamic film.

Another unConstitutional assault on our freedoms. An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act cosponsored by Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) was designed to guarantee Americans charged under the legislation the right to due process and a jury trial. It passed the Senate last month by a 67 to 29 vote. However, the safeguards were removed before the final vote, Paul reports, adding, “The idea of throwing American citizens in jail without being charged or given a jury trial goes against every principle this country was founded on.” Although Paul and a handful of others voted against the final version, the measure passed the Senate on an 81-14 vote.

So much for Obama’s mandate. Here’s an interesting stat from the 2012 Presidential election. It would have taken just a switch of 381,000 votes, or 0.003 percent of the total 126 million votes cast, to make Mitt Romney president instead of Barack Obama. Yes, that was the total margin of victory Obama enjoyed in four key States: Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Iowa. Had Romney won them instead of Obama, he’d be heading to the White House in January.

Making money finding “the disabled.” Remember Johnnie Cochran, the lawyer who successfully defended O.J. Simpson? Now there are 30 law offices around the country bearing his name that are helping people get on disability. “Denied disability? Call The Firm,” reads one of their billboards. Is it any wonder that in the past four years, the number of people on disability has risen more than seven times faster than the number of people finding jobs? “You get what you pay for,” Milton Friedman used to say. If you pay people to be disabled, it should come as no surprise that you’ll get a lot more of them.

-Chip Wood

Gold Rush

Gold sales hit new highs. The U.S. Mint reports that sales of American Eagles, the popular gold coins it produces, exploded in November, hitting their highest level in more than two years. The Royal Canadian Mint says that sales of the gold Maple Leaf were also up dramatically last month. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this follows on the heels of Barack Obama’s re-election. Do you?

Who will be the new secretary of state? It looks like there won’t be any nasty confirmation hearings for Susan Rice, our embattled ambassador to the United Nations. She has asked President Barack Obama to remove her name from consideration to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. That means that Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, now becomes the leading candidate for the post. If Kerry does get the nomination, I wonder if anyone from the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth will be asked to testify at his hearings. Remember how they torpedoed Kerry’s campaign for the Presidency in 2004?

Thank you, Jim DeMint. One of the staunchest conservatives in the Senate, Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), announced that he is resigning his post at the end of the year to become the president of the Heritage Foundation, the influential Washington-based think tank. DeMint and the Senate Conservatives Fund which he founded were early supporters of such anti-establishment candidates as Rand Paul in Kentucky, Ted Cruz in Texas, Mike Lee in Utah, Marco Rubio in Florida and Jeff Flake in Arizona. Thanks for a great job, Jim! Let’s hope that Erick Erickson, editor of RedState.com, was correct in saying the change means that “Jim DeMint’s power in the conservative movement just grew exponentially.”

DeMint’s noteworthy successor. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has named Representative Tim Scott to replace DeMint. Scott, an outspoken conservative and Tea Party favorite, will be the first black Senator from the South since Reconstruction. In fact, he will be the only black Senator in the new Congress. He will serve until 2014, when there will be a special election for the seat.

–Chip Wood

‘Right-To-Work’ Wins In Michigan

Union bosses in Michigan thought they had pulled off a real coup when they managed to get a measure on the November ballot that would have enshrined their power in the State constitution. Imagine their shock when voters overwhelmingly rejected the amendment.

That was just the beginning of the bad news for the maestros of compulsory unionism. Emboldened by the measure’s defeat, Republicans in the State Legislature promptly introduced legislation that would make Michigan the 24th “right-to-work” State in the Nation.

Union activists called on their supporters to march on the State capital to protest the proposal. Thousands of supporters showed up in Lansing in response. All of them were pretty noisy; a few were actually amusing, including the ones who put up four giant inflatable rats on the Capitol lawn bearing the names of Governor Rick Snyder and three Republican legislators.

But all was definitely not fun and games. A hospitality tent put up by Americans for Prosperity, one of the groups supporting the measure, was attacked by union partisans and torn down. At least one conservative supporter was physically attacked. A street vendor was called an “Uncle Tom” and worse and had his cart trashed for daring to sell hot dogs to the measure’s supporters.

But all the protests and threats — including one Democratic legislator who said that if the measure passed “there will be blood” — couldn’t prevent a vote from being taken. The legislation passed easily and a few hours later was signed into law by Snyder. The Governor previously had declined to support right-to-work legislation but said he changed his mind when he saw how a similar measure encouraged new jobs in other States.

The week before the vote in Michigan, President Barack Obama flew to the State and tried to rally support for the union. “What we shouldn’t be doing,” the President proclaimed, “is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions.”

Of course, Obama knows that right-to-work legislation does no such thing. It doesn’t prevent anyone from joining a union, if someone wishes to do so. It doesn’t preclude unions from negotiating pay and working conditions with management, either.

What such legislation does do, however, is give an individual the choice to join or not join, to pay or not pay. And that freedom to choose is what the union bosses can’t stand. They know that if workers aren’t forced to join a union and pay dues, huge numbers won’t. That not only means they have less power in the workplace, it also means they have less money to give to politicians, whom they count on to pass legislation that protects their power.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that more and more manufacturing plants have moved to right-to-work States. Autoworkers had to have noticed when BMW built a plant in South Carolina, Mercedes-Benz did the same thing in Alabama and Volkswagen, and Nissan Motor Co. began assembling automobiles in Tennessee. Meanwhile, two of the Big Three automobile companies in Detroit declared bankruptcy and had to be rescued by Uncle Sam.

The results in the workplace support Snyder’s comments. In the past 30 years, total employment in right-to-work States grew by 71 percent, while employment in non-right-to-work States expanded less than half as much, a mere 32 percent. The differences are even more dramatic for the past decade. Since 2001, right-to-work States added 2.4 percent more workers, while employment in other States actually declined by 3.4 percent. During the same period, wages rose in right-to-work States by 12.5 percent, compared to 3.1 percent in union States.

No wonder that a whole bunch of people have been voting with their feet. Between 2000 and 2010, 5 million people moved from compulsory union States to right-to-work States. I don’t know if they all found jobs, but I’ll bet most of them did. So it appears that right-to-work is not only good for business, it’s good for workers, too.

The defeat in Michigan has to be a tremendous letdown for the United Auto Workers. The union was formed in the State and at one time had more than 1 million members. Today, its national membership is down to about 380,000. Now that workers in Michigan there can opt out of the union and know that they will still keep their job, UAW numbers — and revenue — are bound to decline even further.

Still, until recently, the right-to-work movement was pretty moribund. Prior to this year, Oklahoma was the last State to pass such legislation. And that was more than a decade ago — way back in 2001.

But that’s when union leaders made a huge mistake. Confident of their support in Washington, they tried to get Congress to pass “card-check” legislation. The measure would have done away with a secret ballot for elections on whether to unionize. Thanks to conservative gains, especially in the House of Representatives, the measure never got approved.

So then they tried another approach. They filed suit against Boeing Corp. for having the unmitigated gall to build an aircraft assembly plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work State.

Lafe Solomon, a pro-union lawyer whom Barack Obama appointed general counsel to the National Labor Relations Board, issued a complaint against Boeing for what he called an “unfair labor” practice. Public reaction to this union/Washington gambit was extremely unfavorable. Prior to 2008, Gallup polls showed 60 percent approval of unions in America. That number had been pretty consistent going back 30 years.

But in 2009, the approval number had fallen to 48 percent. Today, it’s only 52 percent. So it should come as no surprise that more and more States want to jump on the right-to-work bandwagon. The National Right to Work Committee reports that in the past two years, right-to-work legislation has been submitted in 19 States. The measures have passed in two of them, Indiana and Michigan.

In Washington, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he will introduce the National Right to Work Act in the new Congress soon after it convenes. I’m sure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will make certain it never comes to a vote on the Senate floor — at least not next year.

But it’s impossible not to see which way the wind is blowing. And once enough Americans support freedom of choice in the workplace and see how it benefits them, maybe they’ll want the same thing for their healthcare — and even the education of their children.

So don’t despair, conservatives. If right-to-work can pass in Michigan, pro-freedom legislation is possible almost anywhere. Sooner or later, even in Washington, D.C.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Better Be Glad Obama Won

I’m beginning to think it doesn’t much matter whether this country plunges over the so-called fiscal cliff in two weeks. Regardless of whether Congress and the President reach some sort of accommodation over how much the “rich” will be taxed, a financial train wreck looks almost unavoidable.

Consider a few of the warning indicators that are flashing.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported that 847,000 new jobs were created in the United States in the past six months. While that’s not enough to make a meaningful dent in the unemployment numbers, it’s at least a step in the right direction, right?

Not when you read the fine print in the BLS report. When you do, you’ll discover that 73.3 percent of those new jobs are in government. That’s right; of all the new jobs created in the United States since June 1, the Labor Department says only one in four were in private enterprise. All of the rest are new government employees. No wonder government spending is going through the roof.

Speaking of government spending, in the first two months of Fiscal 2013 (which began Oct. 1), the Federal government spent $638 billion. But it collected only $346 billion in revenue. This means that it borrowed 46 cents for every dollar it disbursed.

Some of that money went to all the people who have been added to the food stamp rolls — more than 1 million in August and September alone. I haven’t seen the numbers for November yet, but I doubt if they’ll be much better. The Labor Department reports that some 350,000 people left the workforce last month — nearly three times the number who actually got jobs.

The short-term picture doesn’t look very good, does it? Well, I’m sorry to tell you that the longer-term picture is even more alarming.

The latest estimates from the Congressional Budget Office are that Federal deficit spending will surpass 100 percent of the gross domestic product of this country by 2025. And that it will double from there after another 12 years, reaching almost 200 percent of GDP by 2037.

But don’t worry about these astronomical levels of government spending. We’ll never reach them. Long before that can happen, the economy is going to crash. As former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said: “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.”

The Federal behemoth will run out of “other people’s money” long before it is gobbling up 200 percent of our GDP.

So what happens when the feathers hit the fan? What happens when unemployment soars and tax revenues fall? What happens when it becomes obvious to everyone and his brother that our massive entitlement programs can’t be sustained?

The Federal government won’t be able to borrow its way out of the mess it’s created. And it won’t be able to print its way out, either.

Oh, sure, for a while it will try to do both. That’s why I’m so certain that the dollar will continue to decline in value, while tangible assets (with gold and silver leading the list) will continue to climb.

But sooner or later, things are going to get really messy. And when they do, I hope there will be a massive repudiation of the tax-and-tax, spend-and-spend policies that brought us there.

Sadly, that’s not what happened during our last economic catastrophe. The Great Depression got blamed on capitalism. As a result, the country took a massive turn to the left under Franklin Roosevelt and his comrades.

But even the talking heads on MSNBC will have a hard time blaming the coming crisis on the right. When that day comes, conservatives should be very glad that Barrack Hussein Obama won re-election in November.

That’s why it’s so vital that we conservatives hold our ground, that we continue to defend and promote the principles we know are true and that we do everything in our power to explain the economic facts of life to our families, friends and neighbors.

At a time when the future looked even bleaker than it does today, George Washington said: “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.”

That’s the best advice I can offer today to help sustain you in the difficult days that lay ahead.

Oh, and one more thing. Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Underwear Flashing

An economic indicator goes positive. When he was chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan said that one of the unusual indicators he followed was sales of men’s underwear. The theory posits that sales decline when men are pessimistic about their incomes and the economy. Let’s hope the opposite is also true, because Hanes and other underwear manufacturers are reporting higher sales than they’ve enjoyed in years. The men’s underwear indicator is flashing positive.

Google avoids a bunch of taxes. Google has avoided a ton of taxes by funneling most of its overseas profits into a company in Bermuda, rather than bringing the money back to the United States. According to Bloomberg, Google saved about $2 billion in taxes by shifting $9.8 billion in profits. Since the U.S. tax on corporate profits is 35 percent, Google’s savings were probably a lot higher. Is it any surprise that people — and companies — will avoid paying higher taxes when they can legally avoid them? Washington, please take note.

A bountiful bonus. A record number of companies are paying out record amounts in dividends this month to avoid the higher taxes everyone expects next year. But I haven’t heard of anyone who will equal the payout that Sheldon Adelson will receive from his company, Las Vegas Sands Corp. The special dividend the casino operator approved last month will be worth about $1.2 billion to him, the press reports. That is more than 22 times the amount of political donations Adelson made this year. Clearly, he can afford them.

Why not just send them the money? A report from the Republican staff of the Senate Budget Committee says the United States spent $1 trillion on welfare payments last year. Of that total, $746 billion came from Federal taxpayers, while $254 billion came from the States. If the money were divided equally among the 16.8 million households below the official poverty line of $23,000, each one would receive $59,523. But then a lot of bureaucrats would be out of a job.

–Chip Wood  

Barack Obama’s Phony Mandate

Let me see if I have this right. Earlier this year, while campaigning for re-election, Barack Obama said he wanted to raise taxes $800 billion on everyone making more than $250,000 a year. Republicans were virtually unanimous in shouting, “No way!”

Then what happened when the Spender in Chief wins the White House for another four years? He promptly doubled down. Now, he says he wants $1.6 trillion in new taxes over the next 10 years. And our “don’t call my bluff” President made it abundantly clear that he’ll play hardball to get it.

When he appeared on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who is serving as Obama’s messenger boy to Capitol Hill, declared flatly: “There’s no path to an agreement that does not involve Republicans acknowledging that rates have to go up on the wealthiest Americans.”

In other words, it’s our way or the highway. So what did the Republicans do? Rather than sticking to their earlier promise, the leadership countered by agreeing to give Obama the $800 billion he originally asked for. Way to fight for principle, guys.

Of course, $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue isn’t all that the Democrats are after. Obama also wants $50 billion in new stimulus spending and another $30 billion to extend unemployment benefits. Plus, he wants the death tax to go back up to 45 percent on estates and family farms worth $3.5 million and more.

And it doesn’t end there. Geithner, a tax cheater, also says that it’s time to abolish the ceiling on the Federal debt. No more coming back to Congress, hat in hand, to increase the limit on how much money our bankrupt Federal government can borrow. No, if Team Obama gets its way, there will be no limits on how much deeper this country will go in debt. Isn’t that a lovely situation to contemplate?

What about cutting some spending? “We’ll talk about that sometime down the road” is the best Team Obama will offer. No wonder Charles Krauthammer said that the Democrats’ proposal is “not just a bad deal, this is really an insulting deal.” In fact, he added, “Robert E. Lee was offered easier terms at Appomattox and he lost the Civil War.”

What happens if House Republicans dig in their heels and just say no? Well, inaction might give the Democrats an even bigger victory. It would mean that the Bush tax cuts (which Obama extended in 2010) would expire on Jan. 1. Those increases, plus all the new taxes and fees that are part of Obamacare, will mean that our taxes will go up even more.

A lot of observers are convinced that Obama and his advisers will be only too happy to see the U.S. plunge over the much-hyped fiscal cliff. Either way, they get the tax increases they want. Plus, under the latter scenario, they get to blame the Republicans for not being willing to compromise. It’s a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose proposition, with the big spenders in Washington coming out ahead either way.

By the way, did you see what one top Obama supporter is doing to avoid paying a bunch of those new taxes? Jim Sinegal, the co-founder, director and former CEO of Costco, was so smitten by the job Obama is doing that he agreed to give a prime-time address at this year’s Democratic convention. So you’d think he’d be hunky-dory with the Obama tax increases, wouldn’t you?

Not on your life. This past week, Costco announced that it would pay a special dividend this month to all of its shareholders. It is doing it in December — and even borrowing the $3 billion it will cost — so shareholders won’t have to pay the higher tax on dividend income next year.

Since Sinegal owns 2 million shares of Costco stock, that’s $14 million he’ll get in this special dividend. At the current tax rate of 15 percent on dividends, he’ll have to fork over a little more than $2 million of it to Uncle Sam. But had Costco waited until January to pay the dividend, Sinegal’s tax rate would be 43.4 percent, or more than $6 million.

In other words, the former Costco CEO gets to pocket an extra $4 million that otherwise would have gone to the Internal Revenue Service. Merry Christmas!

So much for the “shared sacrifices” by Obama’s wealthiest supporters. Now, please allow me to puncture a few more holes in the Democrats’ balloon. Let’s turn to the myth that Obama got a huge mandate in the November elections.

Nonsense! Obama won 51 percent of the votes for President on Nov. 6. But only 60 percent of eligible voters even bothered to cast a ballot this year. Winning support from 30 percent of eligible voters is hardly an overwhelming mandate.

Plus, exit polls of the people who voted revealed that a majority of them didn’t want taxes increased on people earning $250,000 or more. Obama’s claim that the voters this year sent “a very clear message” that they favored higher taxes is a bunch of baloney.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that the problem in Washington isn’t too little revenue; it’s too much spending! If the Federal budget were reduced to what it was four years ago when Obama first took office, we wouldn’t need a nickel of new taxes to balance the budget.

In fact, if we held the line on spending and simply stopped increasing it every year, pretty soon Uncle Sam would enjoy surpluses once again. We could even start reducing the national debt, rather than see it go up more than $1 trillion a year.

Of course, there’s about as much chance of seeing this happen of a snowball surviving a trip through Hades. While it’s not what we wanted or worked for, I’m afraid it is now a virtual certainty we will see higher taxes and fewer new jobs and more new bureaucrats, regulators, tax collectors and other Federal busybodies next year.

And after that, it could get even worse.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Chafed Chafee’s Surprise Ceremony

Better not call that a “Christmas” tree. Politically correct Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island doesn’t want to offend the delicate sensibilities of any of his constituents by showing favoritism toward Christmas. So last year, he decreed that the beautifully decorated tree in the rotunda of the State House be known as a “holiday tree.” At the official lighting ceremony, however, a group of carolers showed up and burst into song. The tune? “O Christmas Tree,” of course. So this year, the Governor’s office gave just 30 minutes’ notice before the tree lighting. Can’t have any of those nasty carolers upsetting the non-believers, can we?

Betting on the baby’s name. The news that Prince William and his wife, Kate, are expecting a royal baby has sent the British public into a joyful frenzy. Since Brits can bet on almost anything, bookmakers there are taking bets on the baby’s sex and birth weight, along with his or her name. Among the favorites for the latter are Charles, Elizabeth, Victoria, George, Diana, John and Frances. The baby will be third in line for the British throne, bumping Prince Harry down a notch.

Britain’s vanishing taxpayers. The Telegraph reported that in the 2009-2010 tax year, more than 16,000 people in the U.K. reported having an annual income of more than £1 million. But after taxes were raised to a new top rate of 50 percent, that number fell by more than 60 percent. In the latest tally, only 6,000 Brits admitted making that much. So 10,000 of Britain’s wealthiest residents either fled the country or reduced their taxable incomes. Maybe some folks in the Administration of President Barack Obama should consider whether the same thing is likely to happen here.

What happened to all those Hostess products. A friend reports that when Hostess Bakery shut its doors, its most popular products quickly found new homes. The Secret Service hired all the HoHos, the State Department hired all the Twinkies, the generals are with the Cupcakes, and the voters sent all the Ding Dongs to Congress. Hey, it makes sense to me!

–Chip Wood  

 

Trying To Secede? Don’t Waste Your Time

I don’t know who thought of the scheme that allows citizens to petition the Federal government to allow their State to withdraw from the Union. But whoever it was sure came up with a dandy way to get a lot of good patriots spinning their wheels, wasting their time and pouring a bunch of money down the drain.

On the surface, the pitch sounds pretty appealing. Anyone who can get 150 signatures on a petition can put it on the White House website We the People. The website promises: “If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.” What qualifies as “enough support”? A minimum of 25,000 signatures.

Thus far, petitions to allow a State to secede from the union have come from all 50 States. Texas is leading the tally, with 116,070 signatures submitted the last time I checked. But six other States have also passed the 25,000 test: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and Tennessee.

As far as I can determine, the White House hasn’t issued an “official response” to any of them. As of this writing, there are 146 petitions on the website. Some 66 of them are requests for secession. (Yes, some lucky States have more than one.) And while the White House says it has responded to 82 petitions, none of the secession ones have made the list. It seems there’s a little avoidance going on.

It’s hard to quarrel with some of the assertions made in the various petitions. Consider this from the one from Texas:

“Given that the State of Texas maintains a balanced budget and is the 15th largest economy in the world, it is practically feasible for Texas to withdraw from the union, and to do so would protect its citizens’ standard of living and re-secure their rights and liberties in accordance with the original ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers which are no longer being reflected by the federal government.”

Of course, not everyone in Texas wants to be part of the secession movement. A group from El Paso, Texas, has submitted a petition that would allow the city to secede from the State. “El Paso is tired of being a second-class city within Texas,” the petition declares.

Eager to get in their 2 cents’ worth, some residents of Houston have submitted a petition stating that secession-minded Texans “are mentally deficient.” This group is asking for “more education in our state to eradicate their disease.”

Hmmm, are things about to get nasty in the Lone Star State?

Since anyone can submit a petition for just about anything, some pretty weird things can get posted. One petition called on President Barack Obama to “do the Hokey Pokey on national television.” That one got removed before it could garner anywhere near 25,000 signatures.

One that achieved the required minimum asks to “Deport Everyone That Signed A Petition To Withdraw Their State From The United States Of America.” As someone remarked, that sounds sort of like kicking a prisoner out of jail for trying to escape, doesn’t it?

Another petition demands that States be required to pay their portion of the national debt before being allowed to secede. Since neither the States nor individual taxpayers are legally liable for money the Federal government has borrowed, it’s hard to see how this one could be implemented. No matter; the Federal government already has plans to extract as much money as possible from any American who wants to surrender his citizenship.

Since many signatures are just a first name and initial, there is no way to confirm their validity — or even that they are residents of the States whose petition they signed.

But please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not going to argue that the secession petitions need more oversight. I don’t believe there is any way to make them more practical or to increase their effectiveness. Nor do I dismiss them as just a mildly amusing distraction.

No, I think this petition movement is actually hurting the cause of liberty. It’s taking time and money away from efforts that could make a difference and channeling them into something that is simply a dangerous waste of both.

Does anyone anywhere really believe that petitions on a White House website will achieve anything positive in the battle for liberty? C’mon, folks. Those of us who believe in limited government — who want to see government spending reduced, not taxes increased — know we’ve got some mighty battles in front of us. Let’s focus our efforts where they have some chance of affecting policy, not fritter them away on meaningless efforts.

Yes, I know that the results of the last elections were somewhat discouraging. But this November wasn’t the most depressing election of my lifetime. That watershed event occurred 48 years ago, when Lyndon Baines Johnson crushed Barry Goldwater by a far bigger margin than when Obama beat Mitt Romney.

The nomination of Goldwater at the Cow Palace in San Francisco was an incredibly symbolic event. Conservatives had wrested control of the Republican Party from the East Coast establishment — the so-called Rockefeller Republicans who had controlled it for decades.

We’d done it by going outside of traditional party channels. Our weapons weren’t ballots, at least at the beginning. No, they were alternative methods of communications: films and filmstrips, meetings in living rooms, and small paperbound books that we distributed by the millions. Remember A Choice Not An Echo or None Dare Call It Treason? Some of you probably still have copies stuck in a box in a corner of your basement or garage.

Remember, these were the first elections following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In those emotion-filled days, it’s not surprising that the Democrats won the White House in a landslide, along with big majorities in the House and Senate.

For a conservative, it was disheartening to see what followed: massive new social programs as LBJ tried to build what he called the Great Society, plus huge increases our military presence in Vietnam. The results led to some of the most bitter divisions and nastiest confrontations this country has ever seen.

But in time, the pendulum started swinging back. Conservative defeats in the 1960s and ’70s led to some victories in the ’80s and ’90s. Granted, all we’ve been able to do so far is slow the growth of government; we haven’t gotten strong enough to reduce the size and power of the Federal behemoth.

But if we abandon the battlefield, we never will. If there were ever a time to stay the course and even redouble our efforts, this is it. Let’s pick some battles where we can expect a sizable number of our fellow citizens to be on our side — not ones that will drive them even farther away from us.

More on this in future columns. In the meantime, stay the course. And keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

A Statesman’s Parting Thoughts

Ron Paul’s farewell address. After 23 years in the House of Representatives, Ron Paul chose not to run again. Two weeks ago, he gave a farewell address on the House floor. He wanted to express “a few thoughts as to why the people of a country like ours, once the freest and most prosperous, allowed the conditions to deteriorate to the degree that they have.” Click here to read his complete speech.

Solving the post office debt. Did you see the story that the U.S. Postal Service reported a record loss of $15.9 billion for the current fiscal year and is scheduled to lose even more money next year? Years ago, I proposed a radical solution on my daily radio program: Give the whole darned enterprise to Federal Express. While it figured out how to make a profit delivering mail, we could begin taxing all the property, trucks and other stuff the Postal Service owns. Sad to say, my win-win proposition never caught on.

Getting the perfect poker face. Now I think I’ve heard it all. It seems that a plastic surgeon in Manhattan is offering a new service: Botox injections for gamblers who want to develop that perfect poker face. Want to make sure you don’t twitch or raise an eyebrow when you have a good hand? Get “Pokertox” for a mere $800 and your face won’t give away what you’ve got.

The cost for “12 Days of Christmas” goes up. Those five golden rings will cost a lot more than they did a year ago, thanks to gold’s higher price. Since the minimum wage didn’t go up this year, the maids-a-milking and ladies dancing will cost the same. But overall, giving your loved one all of the gifts in the “12 Days of Christmas” will cost 6.1 percent more this year than last, according to PNC Wealth Management.

–Chip Wood

A Thanksgiving Lesson We Need Again

Many years ago, I was hired by a national conservative organization and given an interesting job assignment: travel the country and introduce conservative principles to high school and college students. To say it was sometimes challenging would be the understatement of the year.

After some trials and more than a few errors, I hit upon a couple of anecdotes that seemed to resonate with many members of my audiences. In the first one, I asked them to imagine what would happen if one day the teacher said something like this:

Some of you did very well on yesterday’s test. I’m happy to report that many of you earned As and B’s. But others didn’t do nearly as well, and I’m sorry to say that there were also many Ds and even a few Fs.

Today we’re going to conduct an experiment in equality. I’m going to take some points from those of you who did well and give them to those students whose scores were much lower. All of you who got As will lose some points to those who got Fs. Those with Bs will give some points to those with Ds. As a result of this redistribution, everyone will end up with a C.

Then, I asked the students what they thought the result of this experiment would be. Sometimes, the responses got very lively — especially if I was talking to a high school or junior high school class. The older sophisticates in college were much more blasé in their responses.

I heard a lot of “that wouldn’t be fair” and “you can’t do that.” But when they calmed down a bit, almost everyone agreed that if this grade redistribution continued, all grades would go down. The students who normally worked hard for an A or a B wouldn’t work as hard. Many of them would start getting Cs. And even those in the bottom half would not try to do better, so their grades would suffer, too. In time, the entire class would not be doing as well as it had been.

It was an interesting way to lead into my larger point about the benefits of competition and rewarding success. I said that the incredible prosperity we enjoyed in this country was thanks to the free-enterprise system and allowing people to keep the fruits of their own labors.

The young students in my audiences seemed to enjoy the discussions, even when they weren’t sure about my conclusions. Interestingly enough, in several cases the most vocal opponent wasn’t a student, but the teacher in the classroom. And don’t get me started on some college professors I encountered.

Another story I shared that always got a lively response, especially among older students, was when I told them about how our Pilgrim forefathers practiced a form of communism when they first arrived on our shores. And what a miserable failure it was until they abandoned it in favor of any early form of capitalism.

Let me share that lesson with you now, on the day after Thanksgiving. I think you’ll agree it contains some very important truths for us today.

The Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in December 1620 were motivated by the noblest of virtues. They had vowed to be as selfless as possible and to always put the needs of the group first.

Because provisions were so scanty, they decided that the land would be worked in common, all produce would be owned in common and goods would be rationed equally. It was the agrarian version of Karl Marx’s dictate “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Unfortunately, this utopian idea did not work very well. Pilferage from the storehouse became common. Suspicions of malingering were muttered. Over the course of that first harsh winter, nearly half of the colonists perished. Four families were wiped out entirely. Only five of 18 wives survived. Of the 29 single men, hired hands and servants, only 10 were alive when spring finally came.

But the colonists struggled on for two more years. Armed guards were placed around the storehouse. All of the able-bodied men were asked to work longer and harder. But by the spring of 1623, all of their provisions were gone. Unless things drastically improved, they feared few would survive the next winter.

That’s when the Pilgrim leaders decided on a bold course. The colony would abandon its communal approach and permit each person to work for his own benefit, not for the common good.

What happened then seemed like a miracle. Here is how the Governor of the colony, William Bradford, described the results. This is from his marvelously readable memoir (if you can make adjustments for the Old English spellings), History of Plimoth Plantation:

The experience that was had in this commone course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Plato & other ancients, applauded by some of later times; — that ye taking away of properties, and bringing it in communitie into a commone wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as it they were wiser than God.

For this comunities (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion & discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For yet young men that were most able and fitte for labor & services did repine that they should spend their time & strength to worke for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.

Once they replaced communal efforts with individual responsibility, the differences were dramatic — and life-saving. Men went into the fields earlier and stayed later. In many cases, their wives and even their children (some barely past the toddler stage) worked right alongside them.

More acres were planted, more trees were felled, more houses were built and more game was slaughtered because of one simple change: People were allowed to keep the fruits of their own labors. For the first time, instead of scarcity, the Pilgrims enjoyed abundance. The colony not only survived, it thrived. In gratitude for their bounty, they held the first celebration of Thanksgiving in this country.

On this Thanksgiving weekend, some 352 years after the Pilgrims celebrated the first of this uniquely American holiday, let us remember the sacrifices they made, the devotion they showed and the lessons they learned.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Advice For Obama

A quote worth remembering. “Maybe peace would have broken out with a different kind of White House, one less committed to waging a perpetual campaign–a White House that would see a 51-48 victory as a call to humility and compromise rather than an irrefutable mandate.” Does that sound like good advice for President Barack Obama? Actually, it’s a quote from Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope, which was published when he was the junior Senator from Illinois. He was talking, of course, about George W. Bush’s re-election victory.

Is it racist to want the truth? Many members of Congress are still trying to find out why we were given so much false information about the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the murder of our ambassador and three other Americans. They want to know why Susan Rice, our ambassador to the United Nations, helped disseminate a false explanation for the assault. In his first post-election press conference, President Barack Obama angrily defended Rice. And this week, a dozen female Democrats in the House came to Rice’s support, saying such criticism is “clear sexism and racism.” It doesn’t look like this controversy will go away anytime soon. Nor should it.

Time to stock up on Twinkies? The news that Hostess, the manufacturer famous for Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread, was closing its bakeries and firing all of its workers caused a mad scramble at grocery stores and other outlets. People were even auctioning Twinkies on eBay. The company and its labor union attempted mediation to see if closure could be avoided. Reportedly, the effort failed; but I’m sure that someone else will pick up the iconic brands. It’s hard to imagine a world without Twinkies, isn’t it?

Stop trying to kick it, Charlie Brown. Believe it or not, it’s been 60 years since Charlie Brown first tried to kick a football — and Lucy jerked it away at the last moment. Yes, the legendary comic strip “Lucy’s Great Deception” first appeared on Nov. 16, 1952. You would think that after all this time Charlie Brown would finally learn not to trust her, wouldn’t you?

–Chip Wood

Market Reacts To Obama Win

Obama wins, stock market falls. The day after Barack Obama’s re-election victory, the Dow Jones industrial average, a popular gauge of the U.S. stock market, suffered its biggest loss in nearly a year, dropping 312.95 points. Even so, the fall wasn’t as bad as the day after Obama first won the White House. On Nov. 5, 2008, the Dow plummeted 486 points. Maybe we should be glad the drop wasn’t worse this time.

Will the U.S. become energy independent? A new report from the International Energy Agency says that the United States will become the world’s top producer of oil within the next five years and a net exporter of the fuel by 2030 or so.  According to the IEA’s World Energy Outlook, this country could be almost energy self-sufficient by 2035, thanks to dramatic increases in the production of oil, shale gas, natural gas and “clean” energies including solar, wind and hydropower.

Another Chicago politician faces jail time. Federal investigators have been looking into whether Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., son of the famous civil-rights crusader, spent campaign funds on personal items, including decorating his home in Washington, D.C. Jackson was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1995. Despite not campaigning this time around (he’s been treated for various health problems for most of the year), the Congressman won re-election handily last week.

What have they done to James Bond? “Skyfall,” the 23rd movie in the James Bond saga, is setting box-office records around the world. It looks as though it will be the most popular Bond film ever. But what’s this I hear about our favorite spy changing drinks? Instead of a vodka martini, he’s now asking for a Heineken. Even worse, he gets caressed by a former agent with a “sexually ambiguous” past. That never would have happened with Sean Connery as Bond.

–Chip Wood     

 

The Battle Lines Have Been Drawn

The fiscal cliff draweth nigh. A lame-duck Congress and a triumphant President have six weeks to effect a deal that will keep the country from plunging over it. And right now, while both sides pay lip service to the idea of compromise, it looks like they’ll play chicken right up to the edge.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama met with a bunch of left-wing labor leaders and social activists — all of whom were happy to take credit for his election victory. Afterward, the President doubled his demands for higher taxes. Instead of the $800 billion in additional tax increases that were on the table before the election, Obama now says he wants $1.6 trillion in additional revenue over the next decade.

Anyone who hoped we’d see a milder, more moderate occupant of the White House this time around just got a very loud wake-up message: It’s going to be war on the haves on behalf of the have-nots — and the bureaucrats who get to distribute the spoils, of course.

In case you’re just waking up from a Rip Van Winkle-type nap, the fiscal cliff is what will happen when the George W. Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year (they’ve been extended once already) and automatic spending cuts kick in. The spending cuts, known as “sequestration,” were part of the last agreement to raise the Federal debt ceiling. If they aren’t undone, the military budget will face $500 billion in cuts, starting in January.

It should come as no surprise that the Congressional Budget Office says that the combination could be devastating to our economy. The supposedly nonpartisan CBO says that economic growth in this country, which is already dreadfully anemic, will drop 0.5 percent. At same time, unemployment will climb from 7.9 percent to some 9.1 percent, the CBO predicts. Of course, the “official” unemployment figures are a cruel distortion of what has actually taken place; when the underemployed and long-term unemployed are counted, the actual number is more than 20 percent.

So, yes, we’re facing some pretty serious problems. Meanwhile, although Obama likes to say that he’s willing to compromise and that “all ideas are on the table,” there are a couple that he says absolutely won’t be considered. One is making significant cuts in spending on his favorite programs. The other is giving any sort of tax break to “millionaires and billionaires.”

Meanwhile, a majority of members of the House of Representatives have made a promise to their constituents not to vote for any tax increase. Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, which created the no-tax pledge, reminds us that it has been signed by 271 members of the current Congress and 258 members of the one that will take office in January. The pledge promises that signers will “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses.”

And don’t look at closing deductions as a way to raise revenue, either. Signers have also pledged to “oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”

House Speaker John Boehner hinted at the possibility of compromise when he said: “For the purposes of forging a bipartisan agreement that begins to solve the problem, we’re willing to accept new revenue, under the right conditions.”

Boehner didn’t explain what those “right conditions” might be. But so far I haven’t heard any proposal that will satisfy the tax-and-spenders on the left and the no-tax crowd on the right. From what I’ve heard, compromise looks a long way off.

Oh, and did I mention that we are also approaching the ceiling for the Federal debt? The Treasury can do a little check kiting for a while. But sooner or later, we will reach a point where we won’t be able to add to the national debt. That’s going to be a heck of a problem, since that borrowing provides the funds for about 30 percent of Federal spending.

So what should our fearless leaders do? Let’s look at a few hard facts.

First, the Obama tax increases on the super-rich won’t solve our deficit problems. In fact, they won’t come anywhere close. The most generous estimates are that they will raise an additional $60 billion to $80 billion a year in revenue.

But the deficit has topped $1 trillion a year for every year that Obama has been in office. Washington will need to raise 15 to 20 times that much revenue if our leaders are serious about balancing the budget.

Here’s another example that should help bring some perspective to this discussion. It’s been estimated that repairing all the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy will come to something like $50 billion. That’s a staggering amount of money, isn’t it?  The devastation we’ve seen on our TV screens (and many people have witnessed in person) has been incredible.

But consider this: Obama’s deficits have amounted to 20 such hurricanes every year for the past four years.

That brings me to the second fact that the politicos in Washington — on both sides of the aisle — will have to face. This country doesn’t have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. When you add together taxes collected by all levels of government, the combined bite from Federal, State and local taxes comes to more than half of the money the more successful people among us earn. What sort of incentives will successful people have to try even harder and do even better if the government grab goes even higher?

The answer can be found somewhere between “very little” and “none.”

But there’s even more bad news waiting for us around the corner. What happens when the badly misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, becomes fully operational over the next two years?

Well, for one, an awful lot of us will be paying more in taxes, thanks to various fees and add-ons the bill includes. That’s bad enough. But even worse, a lot of full-time jobs in this country will vanish, as more and more companies replace them with part-time workers. Employers will not be required to provide health insurance for anyone working 30 hours a week or less. A lot of companies will prefer to hire four part-time workers to three full-time ones. Can you blame them?

A lot of these problems could be solved by a vibrant, growing economy that saw millions of new jobs being created — which also would mean billions more tax dollars being collected. It’s happened several times in the past, under both Republicans (see Ronald Reagan) and Democrats (see Bill Clinton’s second term).

What are the chances that an even more liberal Senate and a President who no longer has to worry about being re-elected will do the things necessary to get the economy growing again? I fear they are very, very small.

If I were a conservative legislator in Washington today, what would I do? I’d stick to the promises I made that got me there. I’d insist that our government needs to spend less and tax less, and I’d vote only for legislation that helps move the country in that direction.

More freedom, not more government, will produce the prosperity we once enjoyed — and can enjoy again. But that’s not what we’re going to get from Washington anytime soon.

Better batten down the hatches, folks. I’m afraid we’re in for a very rough ride.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Why We Lost And What It Will Take To Win

Well, so much for the seers, sages, pundits and prognosticators who predicted an easy victory for Republicans on Election Day. It turned out to be anything but.

For a lot of us, our worst fears are coming true: four more years of Barack Obama in the White House and at least two more years with Harry Reid and the Democrats controlling the Senate.

Ouch!

The one bright spot is that Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives. Since the Constitution requires that all spending bills originate in the House, that provides hope there will be at least some slight restraint as Big Government marches forward.

But then I remembered that Obamacare, one of the biggest spending bills in history, didn’t originate in the House — and that this was perfectly OK with the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts said this incredible usurpation of Federal power was legal because the mandate was a tax. His redefinition of the facts made it all hunky-dory, or so we were told.

The chance that Obamacare will be overturned or even substantially revised is now pretty close to zero. We won a few important victories in the Senate (I’m thinking particularly of Ted Cruz in Texas, Debbie Fisher in Nebraska, and Jeff Flake in Arizona). But Republicans lost all of the other races where victories were essential to give them control of the Senate.

Yes, I’m afraid we’ll be saddled with Harry Reid as Majority Leader for at least two more years. That means even if a decent bill is passed in the House, its chances of getting through the Senate are virtually nil. Not to mention what would happen if such a bill — to cut spending significantly, let’s say, or reform the tax code, or audit the Fed — did by some miracle make it to Obama’s desk. How many milliseconds would it take, do you think, before a veto sent it flying back to Capitol Hill?

So the chances of seeing some decent legislation get through the new Congress are about nil, I’m sad to say. About the best we can hope for is to delay some of the worst legislation and work and pray for more victories in 2014.

In the meantime, I shudder to think what sort of nominations Obama will make for our courts, since he needs approval only in the Senate, not the House. Or what sort of treaties he may submit for the Senate’s approval. How much of our sovereignty (and our money) will the internationalists in this Administration want to turn over to the United Nations? I don’t want to think about it.

We’re going to hear a lot of criticism of the sort of campaign that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan conducted. They didn’t “take it to the President” hard enough, tough enough or often enough, some will say. I think there’s a lot of truth to such accusations.

Romney scored a dramatic victory in the first Presidential debate. Finally, millions of Americans got to see that he was not the mean-spirited vulture capitalist that the Obama campaign had portrayed him as. Hey, he was actually human — and pretty impressive.

But the gains from that night weren’t enough. For some strange reason, both Romney and Ryan began to run a very cautious campaign. Oh, they made some decent speeches. But they spoke only in broad generalities; neither ever got the electorate inspired with the specifics of what they would do for this country.

I would have liked to see them tackle head-on some of the big issues that were being used against them. Where was the Romney-Ryan appeal to Latinos, who will work so hard to earn a piece of the American pie? Where was their outreach to women, who surely have bigger concerns than getting Uncle Sam to pay for their birth-control pills? We waited in vain to hear anything along these lines.

And while there’s no question but that the economy and other domestic issues were far more important to voters than foreign policy, I’ve got to wonder how much of a difference it might have made if Republicans had really hammered the White House over what happened in Benghazi, Libya.

We can debate these questions forever — or at least until the next election. But in the meantime, there are three other issues that I’m afraid will spell the doom of this Constitutional republic, if we can’t find some way to overcome them.

The first is the incredible bias of the mainstream media. I could fill a dozen columns with examples of how the media raked Romney or Ryan over the coals for the most trivial of misstatements, while giving Obama and Joe Biden a free pass on some of the most outrageous comments ever uttered during a political campaign.

You and I may wish that Romney had phrased his concerns a little different, when he spoke about “the 47 percent who don’t pay taxes” at a private fundraiser. But they paled in comparison to Obama’s statement that “you didn’t build that” or his dismissive remark that “the private sector is doing fine,” when everyone and his brother knew it wasn’t.

The mainstream media tried to turn Romney’s remarks into a national scandal. “Good Morning America” said it was a “bombshell rocking the Mitt Romney campaign.” Diane Sawyer called it “a political earthquake.” There was no such phony outrage over anything the President or his Vice President said during the campaign.

And don’t get me started on many of the so-called “fact checkers” on TV and in the press. Time after time, they allowed Obama and Biden to get away with some whoppers that would have had Pinocchio’s nose growing out the door, while they pounded the Republican candidates for every minor misstatement they could find or distort.

My second concern is how Republicans can counter the hundreds of millions of dollars the Democrats spent on an incredible barrage of attack ads. They were among the most dishonest and despicable commercials ever put on the air. They were targeted to very specific audiences: union workers in Cleveland, young women in metropolitan areas, blacks and Latinos wherever they were a large enough minority.

Sadly, the ads worked. Those of us on the right have to recognize that our opponents on the left did an incredibly effective job of targeting their message to very narrow and specific segments of their audience. They got a majority of the viewers to believe their propaganda. And then they got them to the polls.

How can the next Republican candidate for President overcome such a well-financed, brilliantly planned, expertly produced smear campaign? I confess I don’t know. I hope someone will come up with a solution. If you’ve got one, let me hear about it.

That brings me to my final and largest concern. In State after State and district after district, Democrats won by promising that government would do something for the people hearing their message. Subsidize their healthcare, pay for their prescriptions, finance their schooling, guarantee their retirement… the list goes on and on. It’s the 21st century version of promising a chicken in every pot.

And, folks, let’s face it. It worked. What happens when a majority of voters are told they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury, if they’ll only put the “right people” in charge?

We saw the answer Tuesday. They’ll stand in line for hours to vote to keep the goodies coming.

It’s going to be awfully hard to outwork, outspend and outvote them. The silent majority is being replaced by a “gimme” society. What’s going to prevent them from dragging this country over a fiscal cliff — and us along with them?

I don’t know. Do you?

Sorry to sound so pessimistic, but I’m stunned and saddened over the results of Tuesday’s elections. I thought it was one of the clearest choices between two different directions for this country I’ve ever seen. And I’m scared to death of the decision a majority of voters just made.

Ah, well, there is one positive thing I can say about the outcome. It will give this humble scribe — and the other writers here at Personal Liberty Digest™ — plenty to talk about for the next few years.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Obama’s Revenge

Are you ready for a little revenge? At a campaign rally the day before the election, Barak Obama told the crowd that “voting is the best revenge.” Really? What a strange thing to say. Now he’s got me worried about who he wants to take revenge on. Oh, I know: It’s all those “millionaires and billionaires” who aren’t paying their fair share. I guess we’d better get ready for the tax bite to cut a lot deeper.

A really expensive miss. Nobody has spent more money with less success to win a seat in the Senate than Linda McMahon, co-owner of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.). According to reports, the wrestling magnate dumped close to $100 million of her own money into her two campaigns for a Senate seat in Connecticut. This past Tuesday, Christopher S. Murphy handily defeated McMahon in the race for the seat being vacated by the retiring officeholder, Joe Lieberman.

So much for the Redskins Rule. No, I’m not talking about victories on the field by the NFL football team, but an interesting series of coincidences. If the Redskins won a home game before a national election, the Democrats won the Presidency. While if the team lost, so did the Democrats. According to the theory, the Redskins’ loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday meant that Barack Obama would lose, too. To the dismay of some 60 million Republicans, that turned out not to be true. Another theory goes down the drain.

A little political propaganda here. On Monday, the day before the election, CNNMoney’s article “Election 2012: What about the poor?” left no doubt what it meant: “One wants to strengthen the nation’s existing safety net. The other wants to overhaul it. President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney have vastly different views on how to help the 46.2 million Americans in poverty.” What the story doesn’t say, of course, is that Romney does his charity privately and personally, while Obama wants to force all taxpayers to “do the right thing.” What about the likelihood that the poor’s fate rests more with themselves than with any politician? Of course, that possibility is not mentioned at all.

–Chip Wood