Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Rick asks a very good question:

How many Hummer-Years does Al Gore consume?

Since we're talking about the environmental impact of greenhouse gases, it makes more to measure Hummer-Years in the amount of CO2 emission.


Some of the best people I have ever known were and are United States Marines. However, some of the most despicable people I have ever known were also United States Marines. The same elite fighting corps that attracts the most patriotic, courageous, honorable, sacrificial, and brilliant men and women also attracts some of the most cowardly, selfish, and ignorant people as well. Some are marines in every sense of the word, some want to be marines in every sense of the word, and some just want others to think they are marines in every sense of the word without ever having to be marines in every sense of the word. The pretenders are not just low ranking privates either. Pretenders span the ranks all the way up to those with stars on their collars.

There is a fine line between tough and mean. There is a fine line between discipline and obsession. There is a fine line between brilliance and insanity. There is a fine line between strong leadership and abusive control. The best marines approach all of these lines without ever crossing over any of them. Some of the worst do not have the will or ability to determine when a line is being crossed. Some of the worst know they are not up to the challenge and never even attempt to approach any of the lines.

I do not know what happened in Haditha anymore than what has been reported so far. My gut instinct is to be suspicious of what has been reported and my nature is to want to defend the accused marines. Reporters with an agenda could be getting the story completely wrong, good men could have cracked under pressure, but it is also possible the stories are correct and a group of marines did murder innocent civilians. Furthermore, cowardly officers may end up making scapegoats of the accused marines in order to save their own tail. Quite frankly, Haditha, though rare, is probably not an isolated incident.

I would like to believe every soldier was noble all of the time, but I know better. I would also like to believe every conflict could be resolved peacefully all of the time, but I know better. Those who commit atrocities need to be punished, but an atrocity during a military conflict is not a reason to abandon the military action. It is an almost unavoidable consequence of the world we inhabit. May God protect the innocent and punish the guilty.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Rush and Hugh = No Landslide

Hugh Hewitt has a piece today titled Sustained Audience, Trust, and Rush about his appearance on CNN's Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz and the reaction to his description of Rush Limbaugh as America’s most trusted journalist.

Hewitt’s piece and all of the recent talk by the Democrats and the media about the likelihood of a Democratic landslide in the 2006 congressional elections similar to the Republican landslide in 1994 has reminded me of a major reason Republicans won big in 1994.

In 1990, I drove from Chicago to Arkansas to be with my family for Christmas. Once free of the Chicago radio air waves, I started scanning the AM dial and kept finding stations broadcasting a guy who was having fun ridiculing big government and the proponents of big government solutions. As I drove and laughed and listened, I realized I was hearing something I had never heard on the radio or seen on television before; I was hearing someone who shared my values of hard work, self reliance, honesty, and sacrifice. I was also enjoying what I was hearing.

Rush Limbaugh really struck a chord with me that day in 1990 and for the next three years he must have struck a chord with many Americans who had been voting for Democrats all of their voting life. Rush Limbaugh probably didn't persuade many voters to become Republicans, but he did give many of us the confidence to know we were not alone in distrusting what we were hearing from the media and he did persuade us to become former Democrats. By 1994, the majority of voters decided it was time to reverse the trend towards higher taxes and bigger government. Rush Limbaugh may only be a radio talk show host, but he did completely change the political landscape with his radio show in the late 80’s and early 90’s by being different from the mainstream media and by appealing to average voters in middle America.

Big-government Republicans and ignore-the-immigration-laws Republicans have increased the likelihood of a Democratic takeover in 2006, but there is absolutely no chance of a landslide in 2006 like 1994 because there is no change to the political landscape similar to Rush. The Democrats have a few new media stars, but they don’t have very many new voters because Democrats still advocate the same solution to every problem. The Republicans in congress have betrayed many of the voters who brought them to power and many deserve a one way ticket home from DC, but the offspring of Rush which includes Hugh Hewitt, Larry Elder, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Prager, Sean Hannity, and many, many others, will keep reminding voters of the failure of big government and the only solution ever offered by Democrats.

I don’t listen to Rush much anymore because I find other radio hosts more interesting, but there is no doubt in my mind that he is one of the most influential people in America for the last two decades. Thanks Rush. Carry on Hugh.

Update: Welcome Hugh Hewitt readers. Hugh’s comment focused on my secondary point regarding the likelihood of a landslide. My main point was, and is, that nothing significant has happened similar to the ascendance of Rush that will change the landscape enough for a landslide to occur. Political opinion on the internet (new media) has grow to maturity, but it seems to be divided between left and right so it will not tip the balance in either direction.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Senate's 'Tough' Immigration Bill

Thomas Sowell doesn't think much of The Senate's 'Tough' Immigration Bill.

Some people are worried that amnesty will give illegal aliens the same rights that American citizens have. In reality, it will give the illegals more rights than the average American citizen.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


I always did like Reba.

The show's host, country veteran Reba McEntire, drew the loudest applause when she took a shot at the Dixie Chicks. "I don't know why I was so nervous about hosting this show this year," she said. "If the Dixie Chicks can sing with their foot in their mouths, surely I can host this sucker."

Imigration Uncertainty

Most of the financial reporting regarding the recent stock market blames the fear of inflation for the sell off of stocks. I doubt it. Interest rates have been rising for 18 months with the fear of inflation a constant concern. Gradual increases in inflation will affect profits, but not cause a sudden sell off, especially when inflation has been assumed for quite some time.

The real reason for the sell off of stocks is the uncertainty regarding immigration legislation. The word “comprehensive” may sound reassuring to voters who are sure to get something they like along with some things they don’t like, but this word creates fear and uncertainty for investors who don’t have a formula for calculating the affects of all of the changes.

If comprehensive legislation regarding immigration becomes law, the stock market will recover slowly as the changes are evaluated and adjustments to corporate policy are made. If strong border enforcement becomes law without other changes, look for continued selling in the stock market. If a compromise can’t be reached and there is no new immigration law, look for a rapid recovery in the stock market.

Of all of the options, I prefer letting this effort pass without any new laws. From the beginning this has been a solution looking for a problem. People who come to America to work are not a problem. People who come to America to take advantage of government handouts are not a problem, but the government handouts are a problem. Stop the government handouts for everyone and the illegal immigrants will find jobs or go home. People who come to America to break the law are the same problem as people born in America who break the law. Building a few good prisons would be much more cost effective than building a wall and enforcing the American borders.

On immigration, it's time to get real.

Enforceable, Sustainable, Compassionate


Friday, May 19, 2006

The Real Iraq

The Real Iraq

Is Iraq a quagmire, a disaster, a failure? Certainly not; none of the above. Of all the adjectives used by skeptics and critics to describe todays Iraq, the only one that has a ring of truth is messy. Yes, the situation in Iraq today is messy. Births always are. Since when is that a reason to declare a baby unworthy of life?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Most sources of information and opinion are one way communication. Newspapers and Television News programs present selected facts using words that convey value judgments in order to make a certain impression. Speeches, sermons, direct mail, on-line and dead tree publications are all very similar. One person or an organization of people tell others what they should know and think without ever being challenged on the facts or the conclusion of their message.

As someone who believes I can usually draw my own conclusions and as someone who believes most thinking people can draw their own conclusions based on the facts, I prefer dialogue to monologue. This is one of the reasons I find going to Church so difficult. Way too many Pastors include way too much editorial opinion in way too many parts of their sermons without giving listeners an opportunity to respond.

For me, talk radio and blogs are superior forms of communicating information and opinion because ideas and beliefs get challenged in ways that facilitate iron sharpening iron. Ideas, beliefs, and opinions that withstand critical challenges rise to the top while opinions that are refuted by thoughtful challenges get discarded.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Affluence and Its Discontents

Robert Samuelson confirms some of my points about poverty in Affluence and Its Discontents:

Advanced societies need economic growth to satisfy the multiplying wants -- public and private -- of their citizens. The social order depends on it. But the quest for growth unleashes new anxieties and economic conflicts that disturb the social order. Affluence liberates the individual, promising that everyone can choose a "unique way to self-fulfillment," writes historian Avner Offer. But the promise is so extravagant that it preordains many disappointments and sometimes inspires choices that have antisocial consequences, including family breakdown and obesity. Statistical indicators of happiness, Offer notes, have not risen with incomes.

Should we be surprised? Not really. We've simply reaffirmed an old truth: The pursuit of affluence does not always end with bliss.

Everything You Know Is Wrong

We need more John Stossel's in our world!

Everything you know is wrong.

But the main reason we think there is an epidemic is that the media, suspicious of technology, hype dubious risks.

Almost every week, there is another story about a potential menace. Reporters credulously accept the activists' scares: While I've been a reporter, I've been asked to do alarmist reports about hair dye, dry cleaning, coffee, chewing gum, saccharin, cyclamates, NutraSweet, nitrites, Red No. 2 dye, electric blankets, video display terminals, dental fillings, cellular phones, vaccines, potato chips, farmed salmon, Teflon, antiperspirants and even rubber duckies.

I refused to do most of those stories. If one-tenth of what the reporters suggested was happening did happen, there would be mass death. The opposite is true: Despite exposure to radiation and all those nasty new chemicals, Americans today live longer than ever.

So grab a bar of chocolate (it's healthier than you think, if you eat the right kind) and a copy of my new book, just out this week.

Everything you know is wrong -- and that's very good news.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Clouds of Global-Warming Hysteria

Finally starting to lift?:

"Some establishment scientists seem to be getting the message that they may have over-played their hands and become more parody than prophet. In just the last few weeks, two studies in major journals (Nature and Geophysical Research Letters) dump cold water on the high-end horror-story estimates coming out from politicized groups like the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The articles, which cast a gimlet eye on climate-model predictions, show that more likely estimates for doubling of the world's carbon-dioxide level (which many argue will never happen) would produce a warming between 1.5 - 4.5 degrees celsius. Not a walk in the park, but not the stuff of Hollywood disaster epics."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Man-Friendly Church

David Murrow offers a few of his own suggestions for making Church more man friendly here.

Church Ladies

Church Ladies is another opinion piece based on David Murrow's book about why men hate going to church.

Intersting conclusion:

Although Mr. Murrow offers a useful diagnosis of the feminization problem, he overlooks a simple answer to the question of why church is more appealing to women than to men: its domesticating influence. Why else did pioneer women who helped settle the West make one of their first priorities the erection of churches? This leads to another observation, albeit an unpopular one in our age of gender egalitarianism: For as long as women have tried to tame and domesticate men, men have resisted. Understood this way, perhaps the lack of men in the pews is not so much cause for alarm as it is an affirmation of that unspeakable truth--men and women are different.

How We Got to $3 Gas

Robert Samuelson writes a clear description of gas economics in How We Got to $3 Gas.

Selected excerpts:

The United States has the energy policy it deserves, although not the one it needs. Having been told for years that their addiction to cheap gasoline was on a collision course with increasingly insecure supplies of foreign oil, Americans are horrified to discover that this is actually the case. But for all the public outcry and political hysteria, high gasoline prices haven't significantly hurt the economy -- and may not do so. Since 2003 the economy has grown about 3.6 percent annually. It's still advancing briskly. That may be the real news.

But first, how did we get to $3 a gallon? The basic story is simple enough. Oil was cheap in the 1990s. From 1993 to 1999, crude prices averaged about $17 a barrel. Low prices discouraged exploration and encouraged consumption. China emerged as a big user. In 1995 global demand was about 70 million barrels daily; now it's almost 84 million barrels daily.

Spare production capacity slowly vanished, meaning that now any supply interruption -- or rumor of interruption -- sends prices up sharply. An Iraqi pipeline is attacked; prices jump. Nigerian rebels menace oil fields; prices jump.

These pressures get transmitted quickly to the pump, because there are few fixed-price contracts in the oil business. At each stage of distribution -- from producers to refiners, from refiners to retailers -- prices are adjusted quickly. They're often tied to prices on major commodities exchanges, where oil and other raw materials are traded.

"A gas station will get a delivery every four to eight days at a different price," says Mary Novak of Global Insight. Even between deliveries, station owners may push prices up because they know that "for my next tankload, I'll have to pay the market price."

Of course, profits have exploded. Production and refining costs haven't risen in tandem with prices. To the extent that oil companies have their own crude reserves -- as opposed to buying from producing nations -- they've reaped a bonanza. From 2002 to 2005, profits for most U.S. oil companies more than quadrupled, to almost $140 billion a year, the American Petroleum Institute reports. But the really big winners are the oil-producing countries. In 2005 their oil revenue exceeded $750 billion, up from $300 billion in 2002. (Crude oil and taxes represent about three-quarters of the retail price of gasoline; refining, distribution and marketing account for the rest.)

It's conventional wisdom that big increases in oil prices usually trigger a recession -- or at least a sharp slowdown. Why haven't they? One oft-cited reason is that the economy has become more energy-efficient. True. Compared with 1973, Americans use 57 percent less oil and natural gas per dollar of output; compared with 1990, the decline is 24 percent. Cars and trucks have gotten more efficient, though not much more so since 1990. New industries (software programming, health clubs) use less energy than the old (steelmaking, farming). But there's a larger reason: The conventional wisdom is wrong .

This may explain the economy's resilience. One hopeful sign: most nonenergy companies aren't yet passing along higher energy costs to their customers. "Businesses have had wide profit margins," says Mark Zandi of Moody's "They may be willing to eat the higher costs." In 2006, he expects the economy to grow 3.5 percent, with average unemployment of 4.7 percent.

Higher prices will slightly dampen demand, and added supplies will create some spare production capacity. Naturally, he could be wrong. Energy economist Philip K. Verleger Jr. thinks oil could be headed for $100 a barrel, with inflation going to 5 percent and inducing a recession. Continuing strong oil demand will collide with rigid supply (both production and refining). The conventional wisdom -- wrong in the past -- could be right in the future.

Whatever happens, the larger question is how Americans build on this episode. It may feel good to vilify the major oil companies and the oil cartel. But that won't help. We now import 60 percent of our oil; large imports will continue indefinitely. So far, we've escaped a true calamity. We may not be so lucky in the future. We could minimize our vulnerabilities to supply interruptions and price increases. We could open up more acreage (including Alaska) to drilling. We could orchestrate -- through tougher fuel economy standards and a gradually rising energy tax -- a big shift toward more-efficient vehicles. Once again, we've been warned. Will we continue to ignore it?