Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Surprise Drop in Oil?

Larry Kudlow knows economics and oil.

The economic principles at work here are very simple: Markets work. Supply and demand works. Higher prices are gradually slowing consumption. At the same time, those high prices continue to stimulate outsized profits and investment returns. So capital is pouring into all the energy sectors, providing a strong foundation for new energy production. Chevron, for example, is reinvesting virtually all its profits in new oil-and-gas exploration and drilling. The drilling industry, meanwhile, has recovered from last year’s Hurricane Katrina shock and is once again producing near peak capacity.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Church and Sin

Hammer left a comment on my last post with a link to an article by Al Mohler about the need for Christians to truthfully confront the sin of homosexuality. Trinitarian Don also makes some very good points today about sin, objective truth, the Church, and homosexuality.

While I fully agree with the truth of what both Don and Al wrote, I don’t like how homosexuality often gets singled out by Christian leaders when referencing and discussing sin. Al stated, “The church is not a place where sinners are welcomed to remain in their sin.” It sounds like Al hasn’t been to Church lately. Churches nowadays are packed with greedy, lustful, deceitful, proud, selfish, and sexually immoral believers who are quite comfortable in most of their sins. Pastors and other Church leaders are just as comfortable in some or all of these sins. I’m sure I also have blind spots in regard to my own sins.

Some sins are worse than other sins and all sins have gradations of evil. Homosexuality is no different. A homosexual relationship with one partner is different than a homosexual relationship with many partners. Advocating homosexual marriage is different than advocating acceptance of homosexuals. Struggling and failing to overcome a homosexual lifestyle is different than proudly proclaiming a deviant sexual orientation. If Christian leaders and lay believers wish to demonstrate the love of God towards homosexuals, they need to place homosexuality and the gradations of homosexuality on the list of all other sins where it belongs and quit singling homosexuality out as the worst of all sins.

Additionally, if Christian leaders and lay believers wish to be taken seriously when proclaiming the truth of homosexuality, they need to increase the references to the sins of greed, lust, deceit, pride, and selfishness. Perhaps they could start by proclaiming the truth in their own Church and make a few believers a little uncomfortable.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Truth and Love

Brad at The Broken Messenger has written today about the inseparability of truth and love.
What’s my take? Truth and love appear to be inseparable partners. At least until Paul places love over the great pillars of a rebirth in Christ: hope and faith (1 Cor. 13:13). But Christ proclaimed himself as the “truth” and also said that you “shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:34). Is that truth God's love? Absolutely, it must be according to Paul's defense of the absolute need for love in faith (1 Corinthians 13).

But I don’t have a firm position right now as to which is "higher", other than to say that I don’t think that I need one. In other words, I don’t think that my ability to properly order one over the other is critical to my faith in Christ. As long as I am embracing both and apply all revealed truth in love, within faith and for Christ, I obey Christ and glorify him.

What I can say with confidence is that love and truth are certainly are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I am convinced daily that the love of God is the greatest of all truth. Why? First, we have the great command to love God with all heart, mind and soul. Second, we have the command to love others in proof of our love for God:

Great work Brad, I love how you have revealed the truth.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Global Warming Fever

Debra Saunders analyzes Al Gore and Global Warming. I agree with her entire piece. Here are some excerpts:

There is a conceit among the American left that the American right cleaves to bad science out of deference to religion, while the left is all-science, all-the-time. Former Veep Al Gore's new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," however, shows how unscientific -- and downright faith-based -- the left has become.

Gore was wrong in 1992 when he wrote that 98 percent of scientists agreed with him on global warming. Witness the survey cited above. Now, he is wrong when he argues in his movie that there is a complete consensus on global warming today. As proof Gore cites a 2004 study that looked at 928 climate abstracts and found none that refuted global-warming dogma. That says more about the researcher than the scientific community.

There are a number of well-known scientists who don't believe that global warming is human-induced, or who believe that if it is, it is not catastrophic. Hurricane expert William Gray of Colorado State University believes the Earth will start to cool within 10 years. Neil Frank, former director of the National Hurricane Center, told The Washington Post that global warming is "a hoax." Climate scientist Robert Lindzen of MIT believes that clouds and water vapor will counteract greenhouse gas emissions.

So you have to ask yourself: Why does Gore pretend that apostates do not exist? Scientists acknowledge contradictory data. But the faith-driven Gore argues that all scientists agree with him -- well, except for those who are bought and paid for by big polluters.

Because this is a crusade -- and not about science -- Gore is drawn not to the most reasoned scenarios, but the most apocalyptic.

I thought Gore's chart comparing carbon-dioxide increases to temperature spikes was dramatic. But because Gore omits what he does not want to see, I have to listen to former NASA scientist Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, when he tells me: "It is an alarming chart, but there are so many alternative explanations for what he's showing. He's giving it one possible explanation and making it sound like the only explanation." Spencer says it is "more likely" that the higher temperatures increased carbon dioxide levels.

Spencer, who also writes for TCS Daily (which receives some funding from ExxonMobil), believes that some global warming is human-induced, but "I don't believe in climate catastrophe. And, "It comes down to whether you believe the climate system is fragile or resilient." It all comes down to belief -- and that is the problem. Global warming has become so politicized that scientists must believe in it. If they predict dire consequences, they win praise from true believers and grants for their important research. Scientists who question the prophecies of doom can expect to be marginalized.

Now Gore is the know-it-all teacher -- and woe to any scientist who does not agree with him, not just on global warming, but on a 20-foot rise in sea level. It is this alarmism -- this extremism -- that has led many a thinking person to question global warming. It's hard to trust those who believe only the most extreme scenario.
Besides, whenever the establishment says you have to believe something, you want people who question the establishment. Or as global cooling guru Gray once said, "Consensus science isn't science."

Monday, June 12, 2006


Everyone has a certain single value of primary importance or a combination of several values of importance that affects their decisions, actions, and world view.

For some, good relationships trump all other values. For others, the accumulation of wealth is at the top of their list. Some people value achievement over everything else. Others dream of a high social status and will do whatever it takes for popularity. As for me, I value truth above all else.

By valuing truth above all other values, I sometimes have to sacrifice relationships, wealth, achievement, and social status. Likewise, those who value wealth will often have to sacrifice relationships, and truth in order to accumulate a high net worth and those who place the most importance on relationships will often have to sacrifice wealth and honesty.

Our decisions and our actions are mostly derived from our primary values. People who primarily value relationships will seek agreement, compromise, consensus, and peace. These people will be reluctant to take and express a strong position on most matters unless their social network is in agreement. The final agreement or consensus is as likely to come from feelings as it is to come from a rigorous discernment of facts. People who primarily value relationships are not leaders, but are often put in positions of leadership due to their ability to create peace through agreement and compromise.

For the most part, as I observe those who have achieved wealth or success, I don’t observe people I want to emulate. I observe people who are willing to do whatever it takes to attain what they value the most. Often times, family, friends, truth, and integrity are left in the wake. Success, as defined by most, is not for me.

Debate and the earnest pursuit of truth will always be difficult, if not impossible, on blog sites that value relationship above truth. Debate and the earnest pursuit of truth will always be difficult in Churches that value relationship above truth. Marriages where one spouse values relationship above truth and the other spouse values truth above relationship will experience many challenges.

I doubt very many believers would choose the life of Elijah if they had a choice. I certainly wouldn’t. Elijah had too much trouble, too much loneliness, too much difficulty, and too much doubt. However, I am very comforted by the life of Elijah as recorded in Scripture. He trusted God, declared the truth, considered everything else including relationships secondary, and he left the outcome of his ventures to God. I don’t have the truth from God other than my understanding of Scripture, but I am willing to place truth above all else and let God determine the outcome; trouble, loneliness, difficulty, doubt, and all.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Facts are the building blocks of ideas; ideas are the building blocks of concepts; concepts are the building blocks of beliefs, views, opinions, and ideologies. It is impossible to have a rock solid opinion, belief, or view without accurate facts, clear ideas based on the facts, and clear concepts based on consistent ideas.

Last week I was told by a writer/blogger that the type of comments I leave at his site made him feel like I was only concerned with nitpicking his pieces. Therefore, he didn’t care to respond to my type of challenges. He assured me he wanted dialogue, but he didn’t want to get dragged into a vortex of challenging each other’s facts. He felt like my challenges were a hindrance to his ability to focus on what he was trying to achieve with his writing at his blog.

I don’t know that dialogue is possible without challenges to facts. If you say you are a Methodist and I say I am a Presbyterian, we don’t have dialogue. We may have learned something knew about each other, and we may have the start of a relationship, and we may even have a starting point for dialogue, but we still don’t have dialogue until we reach a point of disagreement in regards to some facts. There is no “iron sharpening iron” until and without challenges to the building blocks of beliefs.

“I am a Democrat” - “I am a Republican”, is not dialogue. “I am a Democrat because Democrats care about the poor” - “I am a Republican because the Republicans actually help the poor”, still is not dialogue. “I am a Democrat because Democrats care about the poor by creating government programs to assist the poor” - “I am a Republican because the Republicans actually help the poor by reducing taxes and government regulations”, is getting close to being dialogue, but it is still missing the challenge that is needed for dialogue. Up until this point, we have only made statements of belief. Dialogue begins when the Democrat challenges the Republican to demonstrate how reducing taxes has helped the poor and the Republican challenges the Democrat to demonstrate how government programs have helped the poor. Through the challenges, we may both reconsider the possible fallacy to our belief.

I like getting comments on my site and I like most of the people who comment, but I especially like the challenges I get from Hammer and Derek. Both of these men have impeccable integrity to go along with a professional ability to nitpick. I still have a long way to go, but I think I am a clearer thinker as a result of the challenges I have received from Hammer, Derek, and others. Without their challenges, I may have been able to improve my writing skills, but I would not have been able to improve my thinking or my communication skills.

Although I have a high tolerance for being nitpicked, it seems like most writers are offended when they are challenged. I don’t know why I like it and others don‘t, but it probably has something to do with being contrarian. I can see where nitpicking can go too far when criticism becomes the stubborn repeating of the same debatable point. Several months ago I had to tell an old friend to leave me alone. We couldn’t have a conversation without him claiming that “Bush Lied”. Of course I don’t believe President Bush lied to convince Americans of the need for war or even if he did lie regarding a few facts it would change what needed to be done. My friend is certainly entitled to an opinion and he is entitled, even encouraged, to express his opinion to me. However, he should have realized that at some point, I did not agree with his facts and it was time for him to give it a rest.

Occasionally I may cross the line of what is acceptable and I may become obnoxious. I hope my friends will honestly let me know when I have gone too far without telling me to leave them alone. I also hope all of my readers will nitpick with all of their energy and ability because I do still have a long way to go in writing and thinking clearly.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Haditha Hoax?

Evidence accumulates of a hoax in Haditha.

Is Al Gore a Brave Truth Teller?

Robert Tracinski did not have much trouble contradicting some of Al Gore’s claims.

Selected Excerpts:
Everyone knows that the global warming theory is the dogma of the entrenched establishment. We know this because we are relentlessly barraged with global warming hysteria from political leaders, the mainstream media, and the government-scientific complex. We are constantly told that we are in imminent danger of dying from everything as catastrophic as massive flooding or as trivial as runaway poison ivy.

What the general public may not have heard about is the courageous band of researchers who are the ones actually speaking up for science in the face of this global warming juggernaut. Ironically, some of the reporting prompted by Gore's film has allowed some of these scientists to be heard--and we ought to listen.

But the truth about this claim is very inconvenient for Al Gore and the environmentalists. The Washington Times published an article surveying a number of top hurricane scientists, whom it found to be "divided" on the merits of Gore's claim. Chris Landsea of the National Hurricane Center even doubts that hurricane intensity has increased as much as claimed over the past thirty years, pointing out that scientists couldn't accurately measure hurricane wind speeds until 1984. We don't know how much of the increase in Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes recorded in recent years is due to an actual increase or whether it is, as he puts it, an "artificial increase," an illusion produced by our improved ability to measure hurricanes.

Meanwhile, Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane forecaster at Colorado State University, points out that increased hurricane activity in the Atlantic has been balanced out by a decrease in the number of tropical storms in the Pacific. "When these two regions are summed together, there has been virtually no increase in Category 4-5 hurricanes."

So if the splashy movie-poster claim of An Inconvenient Truth turns out to be dubious and hotly contested--very far from an established "truth"--where does that leave Al Gore's status as the brave truth-teller? A fawning New York Times profile on Gore admits that he avoids "making direct causal links that most scientists say are impossible to substantiate" but instead "uses imagery and implication" to make his case. That's about the most tasteful description of the methods of a flim-flam artist I have ever read.

I guess some of the truth is starting to get a hearing--no matter how inconvenient that might be for Gore and company.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Electoral College

As a country, America should always strive to be better. Actually, most of the time, America needs to strive just to stay good. However, changing a Presidential Election system that has worked better than every other system on earth would not be an improvement.

The direct election of our President and/or higher voter turnout would probably give us worse government than we currently have. Countries with pure democratic elections of their President or Prime Minister are all more corrupt than America. Countries with higher voter turnout than America, and most countries do have higher voter turnout, all have worse leaders than America. I don’t think this is purely a coincidence. There is a correlation between direct elections, high voter turnout, and bad government.

With the Electoral College, there is no reason to cheat in most states. The outcome in California, New York, Texas, etc., is all predetermined. Cheating is constrained to the few competitive States where the outcome is uncertain. With less reason to cheat, fewer opportunities to cheat, and a greater focus on the States where cheating is suspected, the cheating can be identified, sometimes prevented, and usually fixed. However, without the Electoral College, cheating would happen up and down every state. It would be impossible to identify and correct all of the corruption.

We will never know with certainty who won the 2000 Presidential election. However, we do know it was a photo finish and it was so close that both candidates had a legitimate claim to the Presidency. Without the Electoral College, a legitimate President would not have been possible. President Clinton never won a majority of the popular vote, but he had the support of the majority of the population because of the Electoral College system, and for the most part President Clinton had a successful Presidency.

The Electoral College is a moderating force. Government, in my lifetime at least, has been very centrist. Johnson, Nixon and Carter moved the country a little to the left. Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush II a little to the right. Eisenhower, Ford, Bush I, and Clinton maintained the status quo.

Sure, I would like better government. I would also like a model wife, perfectly obedient children, and a higher paying job. However, I’m not about to get rid of my wife, my children, or my job, because when I compare my wife, my children, and my job to other wives, children, and jobs, I realize I already have it pretty darn good.

Our Presidential election system is not perfect, but it is the best in the world. Changing it would be a mistake. Other countries should copy us.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

To vote or not to vote?

The main reason there is so much money and therefore corruption in politics is because of the cost involved in creating and running television commercials and the cost involved in creating and mailing direct mail pieces.

I wish choosing to vote for a candidate was as easy as voting against the candidate who produces the most deceitful ads and literature. However, in most elections this is not an option because all of the serious candidates who have a chance to win are spending lots of money trashing their opponent.

Please do not let money in politics affect your decision to vote today and please do not ever vote if the only information you have is from television or direct mail.

Monday, June 05, 2006


One of the best attributes of America is that America doesn’t have a permanent upper class like Europe. Ordinary Americans can still work their way into the upper class by hard work, disciplined saving, and wise investment. Without an inheritance tax, wealthy Americans will be able to use government to protect the “already wealthy” and make it harder for ordinary Americans to work, save, and invest their way into the upper class. Ever wonder why America doesn’t have a wealth tax?

Of all forms of taxation, the inheritance tax hurts the least number of people and has the least affect on the economy. It is much better to tax the dead who no longer need their wealth than it is to tax the living who are still climbing the ladder of success. Ted Kennedy hasn’t had to work a [honest] day in his life, but he is constantly advocating new taxes on those who work.

Of all forms of taxation, income taxes, including Social Security are the least fair. If we have to have taxes, and we do, although not at current levels, then it would be better to eliminate Social Security and increase inheritance taxes.

Children of the wealthy should not have a lifetime pass even if they are only inheriting a small business. If a business is big enough to owe the inheritance tax at the death of its principle owner, then it is large enough to be incorporated.

In addition to keeping the inheritance tax, I would prefer a wealth tax to an income or consumption tax.

Both income and consumption taxes hurt those generating economic activity by penalizing the industrious. If a person spends every dime they earn, they should pay no taxes. They have done their part for America by working and supporting the work of others. Reducing income taxes would also immediately make American workers more competitive in the world economy.

Furthermore, a wealth tax would prevent anyone from just sitting on a pile of money. It would also be the easiest for government to administer and the hardest for cheaters to avoid. Income and spending can be hidden from government; it is much harder, impossible even, to hide property and investments. A wealth tax would still be passed on to those earning income and those consuming goods and services, but earners and consumers would not have to worry about the burden of paperwork.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Tough and Sweet

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Hammer.

Contrarian Views could probably use a guest piece from Hammertime on certain holidays and special occasions.