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"On one segment some months ago a fellow brought up Biblical law and common law during a discussion regarding a legal matter. With a quick wave of his hand and a sharp comment telling the man to cast aside that point because it wasn’t important, Bill did not allow the discussion to touch on the fundamentals of law that once anchored our nation’s legal system."
Dear Bill O'Reilly
Dear Bill O’Reilly
This month’s lead-off article is a cross between an open letter to Bill O’Reilly and a critique of his television program “The Factor.” Bill’s FOX Network program has become somewhat of a sensation lately. He’s cable television’s most-watched commentator, news analyst, investigative reporter, or whatever you want to call him.
Several years ago I tuned into Bill’s program. I quickly tuned out because he tended to “go off the page” too much for me. At times he hit the nail on the head, but too often he was lambasting thin air. Then during last year’s presidential race, a friend recommended that I watch him again. So, I did.
Bill was on target with the Clintons. He didn’t, and still doesn’t, trust them. Bill seemed to understand that Gore’s “fight-for-you” pitch was a call for bigger government and more cradle-to-grave programs, which empower bureaucrats and enslave the citizenry. He leaned toward Bush, even though the “conservative” rhetoric of smaller government and lower taxes that emanates from the Republican side of the aisle never really matches up with their actions. (I guess actions don’t always speak louder than words.)
Refreshingly, Bill has always been very much pro life. He heaps praise on honest politicians and lambastes those who are deceitful or corrupt. He preaches basic values. He hates the IRS and the graduated income tax. He refers fondly to our Founding Fathers. He is passionate, has a very good sense of humor, and believes strongly in what he says. Sometimes, he even admits to being wrong! Often, he plays the devil’s advocate with his guests, which I think confuses his audience sometimes. And he’s never afraid of addressing politically incorrect or socially sensitive topics. In fact, I think he enjoys tackling such issues, and it may be his greatest viewer draw.
So far so good.
Bill on Politics
I think it was late September 2000 when I tuned into Bill’s program and decided to become a “loyal viewer.” From early on Bill declared over and over again that politically he’s an “Independent.” That always kept me wondering what he meant by that. Then one evening during the presidential race I discovered what it was. He had Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate, as a guest. “Wow,” I thought, “this is going to be good.”
Alas, that was not to be.
During the Harry Browne segment, Harry got to say about 30 words. Mostly they were “sputter,” “sput,” “ahhh,” “yes but,” “no but,” or just plain “but.” Nothing else. Bill went on a tirade about legalizing drugs and spent most of the segment blasting anyone who might even suggest that drugs should be decriminalized. (Harry steadfastly states that drugs must be decriminalized and has a whole host of good reasons why.) Bill virtually screamed that to “save the children” drugs must be illegal. He was so focused on drugs he didn’t bring up any of the many other points Harry stands for. As Bill’s tirade continued, Harry gave up trying to speak and just sat there, smiling.
To me, the Harry Browne segment of “The Factor” was a very humiliating experience. I believe that when a viewer watches someone like Bill, they are supporting him and his message. In this case, I was mortified. Not only was Bill not carrying my message, but his unrelenting diatribe filibustered one of the more informed presidential candidates, one who had some of the best ideas being offered in the presidential race. In effect, Bill was not being independent, nor was he reporting and letting the audience decide; he was doing his best to destroy a candidate’s reputation in the public’s eye without letting him say a word in his own defense.
At the very end of the segment, Harry got in a dozen or so words that included his Web site address and a quick comment referring to Bill’s program being a comic book or some such thing. I had to agree with Harry. Bill did not focus on the issues this candidate brought to the table. He focused on one aspect of Harry’s message and urinated all over it. It was a horrible, far from the independent “we’ll-report-you-decide” presentation that FOX says its network is noted for.
When the presidential race was winding up I was sure Howard Phillips would be making an appearance on “The Factor.” Some of the policies and ideas Bill favors were the heart and soul of Howard’s platform. But it never happened. Instead, Bill had Ralph Nader on more times than I care to remember. Bill likes Ralph’s “I’m-for-the-little-people” approach to politics. They’re also longtime friends!
After the election, Howard wrote in his newsletter that he had tried to get on the FOX network, especially “The Factor.” He said he personally called many times attempting to get an appearance. He never heard from Bill or his representatives. The only response from FOX came from Alan Colmes, of the “Hannity and Colmes” show. Alan invited Howard to make a cameo appearance. What’s amazing about this is that Alan is a raving liberal.
Bill says he’s an Independent. To me, an Independent is a ship without a rudder, a map, or a compass. And after watching many episodes of “The Factor,” I think that description fits Bill to a tee. Bill doesn’t have a core belief, or philosophical theme, that runs true from top to bottom. Like a liberal, his use of history is inconsistent. At times he’s for free markets, then in the next breath he wants more government intervention. Much of his philosophy is grounded on whatever seems best or fair for the “little man” or the “working man.” Maybe a better definition of “Independent” is “Inconsistent.”
I always laugh, or moan, when Bill says he’s not a conservative because he believes in global warming. He says conservatives don’t believe in global warming. That is poppycock. Global warming is not a religion or a political philosophy. It’s the temperature. If the temperature of the world is rising, then it’s rising. If it’s falling, then it’s falling. What Bill doesn’t seem to grasp is that liberals tend to blame man for changing the world’s temperature. Yet since the Earth’s creation its temperature has swung up and down dramatically many times in 100,000-year-long cycles. Did the last Ice Age end because cavemen built too many wood fires in order to stay warm?
Another ridiculous aspect of Bill’s global warming pitch is that he’ll refer to what he remembers the temperature being during the winter when he was a kid. Once he said it was colder then because he used to ice skate on a pond for months during the winter. In the last 10 years or so no one has been able to ice skate on the same pond for more than a month. Therefore, the entire world is warming.
Does he really expect us to believe that if his childhood memory is correct, what has happened in his area of the world is true for the entire planet? Oh, man!
What’s really frightening is that Bill has a populist streak in his “Independent” viewpoint. He believes in the “right” of the masses. If the people don’t like something they should be able to pass laws against it and hire enough cops and build enough prisons to make sure no one wants to break the law. And if someone breaks the “new” law, they should be punished severely. This rhetoric sounds a lot like what the leaders of the French and Russian revolutions preached.
Bill on Law
As an investigative reporter and commentator, Bill’s mission is to tell it like it is. But even though he has a Ph.D. from Harvard, he can’t tell it like it is when he doesn’t understand the basic fundamentals of law. For sure, Bill consults with some pretty sharp attorneys when it comes to controversial legal issues such as the Florida vote count. He did a good job there. But interpreting current laws and understanding the differences between a legal system that enslaves citizens or one that ensures their freedoms is a different matter.
On one segment some months ago a fellow brought up Biblical law and common law during a discussion regarding a legal matter. With a quick wave of his hand and a sharp comment telling the man to cast aside that point because it wasn’t important, Bill did not allow the discussion to touch on the fundamentals of law that once anchored our nation’s legal system. The point Bill does not understand is that Biblical law does not change. On the other hand, evolutionary law changes under the pressure of variable human desires in favor of those who empower judges. Therefore, Biblical law, common law’s foundation, guarantees free men, but evolutionary law, which our country embraces today, enslaves men.
Bill on Nutrition
There are several fundamental aspects of life from which Americans have deviated that are exacting a high price in terms of health and quality of life. It’s a problem because Americans like to follow the crowd rather than think for themselves. And when it comes to nutrition Bill once again exhibits his ignorance. A month or two ago Bill had a guest on his show who opened a door to fundamental facts regarding nutrition, yet Bill gave it short shrift.
By and large Americans are in a feedlot and have become what they eat. All animal food products are from confinement production systems in which critters are fed mostly grain. Not only do animals in confinement have a hellish existence, but the meat, dairy products, and eggs from these critters are unnaturally high in omega-6 fatty acids and very low in omega-3 fatty acids.
Since grain is a government-subsidized crop, it’s cheap. It’s so cheap it is used as filler in more food products than you can count. In addition, nearly all “convenience” food products, those with long shelf lives, contain “partially hydrogenated oils.” Partially hydrogenated oils act somewhat like omega-6 fatty acids in the human body. Making matter worse, the USDA’s nutritional guidelines recommend up to 11 servings of grain products per day, which are more servings than it recommends for the fruit and vegetable groups combined!
If you add the USDA-recommended servings of grain-fed livestock, grain-fed dairy, and foods with grain fillers to the recommendation for grain products, you can see why Americans are overdosing on the nutrients found in grain.
Omega-6 fatty acids come primarily from grain. Omega-3 fatty acids come mainly from green leafy plants and some nuts. Both of these fatty aids are essential, repeat, essential for human health. Both fatty acids are listed among the critical components that make up the cell walls for every cell in the bodies of man or beast. Bodies can’t manufacture these fatty acids, which is why they are called essential. They must come from the food we eat. It was only recently, about 1985, that scientists started realizing that fatty acids were essential. Soon after that, they determined humans must have about a 2:1 balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in their diet to have a healthy cellular structure. When the ratio exceeds 4:1 the scientists found health problems start cropping up. For many Americans the ratio of essential fatty acids in their daily diet is currently 20:1.
You’ve got it. Bill’s guest was saying the culprit for the nation’s many health problems is grain. Yet Bill just stared at the man and said, “I don’t know much about nutrition.” And Bill is the same man who says that for a fact all illegal drugs are bad for the body and that we must do this and that for our welfare and imprison anyone who peddles “bad stuff”and spend untold billions in the process. Yet, in spite of his highly emotional stance on drugs, he doesn’t know anything about nutrition! This is amazing because everyone requires three meals a day, every day of their life. If they eat the wrong foods, those who do will end up sicker than those who pay attention to what goes between their lips.
The number one problem in the United States today is health and affordable health care. Most modern health problems are associated with body breakdowns, not pathogens and accidents. Body breakdowns are caused primarily by nutritional deficiencies. The primary deficiency in the American diet is omega-3 fatty acids.
Bill, if you can’t wake up to this, you’re really lost.
Bill on Drugs
Bill’s favorite harangue is drugs. He believes “illegal” drugs are the scourge of America. Does he believe that all other drugs are good? I don’t know. But for a fact he thinks Americans should continue to wage war, every day, every week, and every year against drug traffickers and those who use drugs. He thinks enforcement should be suffocating, punishment should be harsh, and the war relentless–no matter what it costs society.
I disagree. But if you don’t trust my opinion, look to others with more sophisticated historical and intellectual opinions. Ask folks like William F. Buckley, Otto Scott, and Jacob G. Hornberger. Look around and you’ll quickly find that some of the wisest men in our country think the war on drugs is counterproductive. It costs society far more than the meager benefits that accrue from it. Probably one of the best historical examples is Prohibition. While Prohibition lasted, Americans were truly at war. When it ended, peace settled upon the land and alcohol consumption per capita fell!
Instead of enforcing imaginary crimes, imprisoning offenders, calling them criminals, driving their activities underground, and artificially increasing the price of their product, it would be many times easier (and cheaper) to educate people and lead them to higher ground.
Bill on Finance and Markets
In the financial arena Bill has some things figured out. He doesn’t believe regular folks should borrow money. He’s really against using credit cards to finance consumption. But that’s where he seems to run out of gas.
Recently, Bill has been pounding the table about our economy being in a recession. He’s also been literally screaming about the “stock market collapse.” His economic- and market-oriented reports are punctuated with negative rhetoric focused on Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve. In Bill’s opinion, if it wasn’t for Alan being asleep at the switch, everything would be coming up roses.
Bill is so incredibly far off base in his economic and market analysis I hardly know where to begin. So I’ll just start and try to be brief.
Business has certainly slowed considerably. Maybe growth has stopped. Yet there is no evidence our nation is in a recession. So we don’t know if consumers are just shifting gears from buying cars and computers to homes and furnishings or what. We do know that the computer industry has slowed the most in the past six months. Its growth had been given a major booster shot by Y2K concerns, and now everyone owns an old computer that still works plus a brand new electronic marvel. It’s no wonder then that computer sales have slowed a lot. So the question remains, are consumers looking around for other things to buy or have they stopped buying?
I’m not saying our economy is in great shape. We know it’s not. It’s leveraged to the hilt and is dependent on perpetually increasing consumptive debt levels to keep the good times rolling. But as long as debt continues to expand, then the recession (possibly a depression), which is most assuredly on the horizon, is postponed. On that front, we see that the latest Fed data indicate the money supply is still expanding rapidly. During the past five months the M2 money supply has expanded at a 11.5% annualized rate while MZM money mushroomed at a blazing 20.2% annualized rate.
Bill has complained a lot about Greenspan’s failure to react soon enough by easing monetary conditions last November. Bill points to the Fed’s tardy lowering of interest rates as proof Greenspan has failed the American public. As a result, Bill spent several weeks demanding Greenspan’s resignation! What Bill fails to understand is that the Fed has more tools in its war chest than just the interest rates he follows. Looking back, we can see that the Fed was easing aggressively last November when the stock market was starting to break down. At that time two separate indicators provided very oblivious signs to all market observers that the Fed was easing. One was that the money supply started growing faster than in the months before. The other was the drop in short-term and long-term interest rates and the narrowing of the spread between those rates. Those events were far more important indicators of monetary ease than just a lowering of the Discount or Federal Funds rates.
What’s interesting about the Fed’s very aggressive easy money stance, which started in early November last year, is its timing with the stock market. The MZM money supply seemed to take off on the upside almost the same day that the NASDAQ Composite index broke below its May 24, 2000 low and commenced its famous collapse. This evidence totally negates Bill’s entire premise that Greenspan didn’t do his job.
Blame Congress, Not Greenspan
If Bill wants to worry about the Fed and its concentration of financial and economic power, which literally rests in the hands of a few, he should not blame Greenspan, he should blame Congress and its concept of having a central bank in the first place. Most of the Founding Fathers were against the idea of establishing a central bank. That was sound thinking on their part. The reason our country started the Fed was to create “perpetual prosperity.” The only way we can have perpetual prosperity is for debt to grow nonstop forever. Any man with half a wit knows that’s not sustainable.
I find it ironic that Bill screamed for lower interest rates to reverse the falling markets and spur the sagging economy. Yet if lower interest rates are to work, American consumers must borrow and spend, which Bill says they shouldn’t do. So we wonder Bill, who’s supposed to borrow all this cheap money in order to spend our nation rich?
And speaking of debt, our money supply is actually a debt indicator. Our currency is an IOU, a note, a debt instrument. Our Founding Fathers insisted that our nation’s currency must be backed by specie so it would be defined and given value. Therefore, if Bill wants to be a good investigative reporter, he should be screaming about our irredeemable currency. In that department Bill is also clueless. He says price inflation is not a problem. Well, our currency lost 95% of its purchasing power during the last century, and its annualized rate of deprecation for those 100 years was just about the same as it was during the past few years. Consequently, I’d say price inflation is still a problem, it’s just not hyper inflation–yet.
I could go on and on with more of Bill’s failings in this economic/market arena. But after this last point I’ll move on. Bill has been saying that he lost a lot of money in his mutual funds. He says their managers should have known that the market was going to fall and they should have been in cash. He is naive. Market tops are deceptive, and the one we passed through was many years overdue. There are two reasons all mutual fund managers can’t move into cash. For starters, if a fund is supposed to invest in high-tech stocks, what would folks think if it held mostly cash? That’s not a high-tech mutual fund, plus folks don’t need to pay an advisor to hold cash. Therefore, if a fund moves to cash before a market drop, then its investors will redeem their shares believing the manager is an idiot for not staying with the rising market. Also, if it was generally known that a top was in, how could all the mutual fund managers move to cash? That would be impossible because who would they sell to? The way markets work is that prices are “beliefs of value.” They don’t have to be determined by actual transactions. If everyone tried to sell and no one tried to buy, prices could fall to zip without one share trading hands.
Bill, that’s why individuals must be responsible for their own savings. And it only makes sense that after stocks rise for 20 years, they may be in for some “downside adjustment,” just like what’s happened in the past. If history is any guide, the next 15 years may be very rough.
Another big problem with Bill’s show is that many of his guests are weak. They are not scholars or wise men. In fact, in my opinion many of them are nut cases. It’s either that or they are very shallow thinkers. Oh sure, Bill has some excellent guests, but all too often he wants to hear from the common man in order to get something other than the “spin” from major power brokers. As a result, viewers get loaded down with myths, fantasies, incredible ignorance, and blasphemy. I don’t know why Bill can’t find common men who are also wise men. They do exist. I don’t know if William F. Buckley can be called a common man, but he is certainly a wise man. There are others who are really common men, scholars, and wise to boot. For instance, there’s Howard Phillips, Otto Scott, Herbert W. Titus, Jacob G. Hornberger, Walter Williams, Richard M. Ebeling, Artemis Simopoulos, and the list could go on and on.
Another unfortunate aspect of Bill’s program is that it’s sound bite oriented. Most guests have only a few minutes to express a point. In many cases that’s a relief. But it’s a major failing when a really great guest makes an appearance.
Rather than being an investigative reporter/correspondent first and foremost, I think Bill is primarily in the entertainment business. That’s why the segments are short. He doesn’t want to bore his viewers. That’s also why he has a segment at the end of his show where he reads some quips from his boatload of e-mail. That effort is meaningless in the big picture because there are so many clueless people in the world writing him he gets opinions supporting virtually every cockamamie idea ever thought or dreamed. He reads a cross-section of them, and that supports his Independent position of being everything to every man.
Mark Helprin recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal that “The way out of the wilderness is the truth: recognizing it, stating it, defending it, living by it. In everything we do, individually or collectively, it is God’s imprimatur, and to continue to believe that we can conduct our affairs without it would be the greatest and most consequential mistake in the history of this nation.”
Bill’s job as an investigative reporter and commentator is to seek the truth and report it. The truth is there, and there is only one truth. There cannot be more than one truth. For the most part Americans are totally lost. They no longer know what is true. They need good, statesmanship-like leadership. I think the most important issues Americans must understand today include nutrition, money and credit, legal structures, political systems, stock markets, science, history, sustainable business practices, and social mores. So let’s find the truth in these matters and report it. Let’s skip the myths and madness. How about it Bill?
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