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21/25/40: California has a spending problem. As State Senator Tom McClintock likes to point out, population and inflation combined have grown at a rate of 21% the past four years; revenue has grown 25%. Yet California government spending has grown 40%. The result is an unprecedented state budget deficit expected to exceed $35 billion.
- Thomas Krannawitter 5/2/03

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[5/31/04 Monday]

[Eric Hogue - radio talk show host KTKZ - Sacramento] 5:05 am [link]
President Bush's Memorial Day Speech – Winner: President Bush’s speech at the WWII Memorial afforded him the opportunity to draw a comparison to the struggle we have today against terrorism.

Bush said, "Ideas first whispered in the secret councils of a remote empire, or shouted in the beer halls of Munich, became mass movements, and those movements became armies. And those armies moved mercilessly forward, until the world saw Hitler striking in Paris and U.S. Navy ships burning in their own port."

The same can be said about sermons that are offered in Mosques, enforced by a radical teaching that 'infidels' must be killed in a religions embrace of a worldwide jihad. Those who embrace liberty, freedom, or of Christian or Jewish descent must be removed from power - or from life. This is the battle we fight in this 'war on terrorism'.

The President said, "As life changed in America, so did the way that Americans saw our own country and its place in the world. The bombs at Pearl Harbor destroyed the very idea that America could live in isolation from the plots of aggressive powers. The scenes of the concentration camps, the heaps of bodies and ghostly survivors, confirmed forever America's calling to oppose the ideologies of death."

One wonders how Americans see their country in today’s battle. From the scenes of 9-11, to the training fields of the holy jihad, can we see the call to fight...can we muster the courage and the resolve to battle on to victory?

The President even spoke of his post - one held by a resolved President and Commander and Chief. "And all these vast movements of men and armor were directed by one man who could not walk on his own strength. President Roosevelt brought his own advantages to the job. His resolve was stronger than the will of any dictator. His belief in democracy was absolute. He possessed a daring that kept the enemy guessing. He spoke to Americans with an optimism that lightened their task."

Can we find this same resolve for this generation, in this battle for democracy and freedom?

[5/28/04 Friday]

[Carol Platt Liebau - editorial director] 5:23 am [link]
Dems Paper of Record: The New York Times, a once great paper, is nothing more than a Democratic Party house organ, tip sheet and cheerleader. Yesterday's offering? "For House Democrats, a Whiff of Victory." As they say, perhaps the wish is father to the thought. The Times, which completely missed both the Republican takeover of 1994 and completely missed the pro-Bush, pro-Republican tide of 2002, seems to have suddenly dialed in to the psychic hotline. Will the Democrats retake the House? It's possible, but there are even fewer seats "at play" now than there were in 1994. And it's six months before the election, for heaven's sake! But analysis isn't the point of a lot of what the Times does, these days. Boosterism is. As ridiculous as the paper has become, in some ways, it does Republicans a favor -- by breeding so much complacency among Democrats who then view the actual outcomes of elections with both surprise and dismay, because they didn't see it coming. Here's hoping the trend continues this year.

[5/27/04 Thursday]

[Eric Hogue - radio talk show host KTKZ - Sacramento] 5:01 am [link]
A Bunch of Hot Air! This past week I've been airing some audio from US Senator John Kerry talking about his 'gassy resolutions' for America. The audio reveals the senator making some 'absolutely stupid comments' on the types of cars we'll be able to drive in the near future - campaign pandering at its best, by a professional.

Kerry offers the usual mantra, "we just need to be more clever", and the "oil companies are actually sitting on the big inventions"...all we need is the 'magic pill' and this energy crisis will be history, vote for me, John Kerry!

So Senator Kerry, where is the 'magic pill'? Tell us, what source of alternative energy can we use that WILL NOT tap into the limited supply of fossil fuels?

Now we have the environmentalists taking their global warming cues from a science fiction film. "The Day after Tomorrow" is produced and created by the same people who gave us "Independence Day"...maybe we should be on the lookout for aliens in Placer Country who can produce fossil fuel from rattle snake manure!

Patrick J. Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and author of the upcoming book, Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians and the Media.

Michaels writes in the USA Today, today, "As a scientist, I bristle when lies dressed up as "science" are used to influence political discourse. The latest example is the global-warming disaster flick, The Day After Tomorrow."

"This film is propaganda designed to shift the policy of this nation on climate change. At least that's what I take from producer Mark Gordon's comment that "part of the reason we made this movie" was to "raise consciousness about the environment."

"Fox spokesman Jeffrey Godsick says, "The real power of the movie is to raise consciousness on the issue of (global warming)."

'Nuff said!

So WHY does this happen? John Kerry's campaign takes a "Focus Group" lesson and learns that the populous buys this rhetoric, they add it to the campaign and use it against the 'evil, nasty Bush oil target. Kerry then begins banking on the ignorance of the American people when it comes to science and facts.

And HOW does this happen? Consider the party - the source - and the agenda of the left. These folks have indoctrinated this message into the curriculum since the late 1970's. Public education is the 'seeding soil' of the non-science thrillers of the Democrat Party. They plant the seeds, reinforce them through Hollywood and lies, then harvest them during the election season in the form of votes!

[5/26/04 Wednesday]

[Eric Hogue - radio talk show host KTKZ - Sacramento] 5:05 am [link]
Public Employee Unions: I take much heat for my great concern surrounding public employee unions and their burden on the state's budget and our tax dollars and rates, here is more evidence.

California has 21 state employee unions. If they get scheduled raises on July 1st, 19 of those unions will have pay raises of 13% to 18.5% since 1998.

The guard's cumulative raise, including a scheduled 11.3% in July, would be 31.1%.

Simple question, before these contracts were singed with Gray Davis, were we losing these service jobs...were we have a rought time filling the positions? No!

Remember, it is NOT the government's job to create jobs, or to maintain them in a competitive manner with the private sector. That's why the benefits to government jobs tend to make up the difference. Out of control people, out of control!  

[5/25/04 Tuesday]

[Carol Platt Liebau - editorial director] 5:57 am [link]
POTUS Speech: The President did a good job in his speech last night. That is, he did what he needed to do, setting forth a five-point plan, carefully counting each element so that all the weak-kneed Republicans and braying Democrats would understand that there are numerous elements to the strategy, and that a plan does exist (but can Joe Biden count as high as five??? Given his pathetic performance on MSNBC after the speech, one is forced to wonder). And the President does deserve credit for being honest -- how often would you find Bill Clinton giving anyone bad news, i.e. that things will get worse before they get better?

Yes, it would have been great if the President had "connected the dots" even more clearly about the relationship between the fight in Iraq and the war on terror (i.e. we are fighting them in Iraq so we don't have to fight them in New York). And he didn't mention the sarin and mustard gas (although that is understandable -- why bring up the WMD, a sore point to begin with?). Thankfully, he did't apologize AGAIN for Abu Ghraib . . . just did the right thing, emphasizing that we will tear it down as a way to symbolize Iraq's new beginning.

All in all, this will hopefully reassure all the worriers who actually thought we were fighting in Iraq without any sort of larger strategic vision at all. And it puts the Democrats in a box -- President Bush has laid forth HIS plan, where's YOURS? And don't bring up the U.N. again . . . the President made it clear that they, along with 37 other countries, are already involved.

[in the ebag - Senator Tom McClintock] 5:07 am [link]
Letters to the Editor Los Angeles Times: Michael Hiltzik's column of May 24 accuses me of fabricating facts when I contended that roughly 7,500 illegal immigrants are receiving subsidized university educations while we are turning away a like number of qualified residents.

Most glaringly, Mr. Hiltzik reported that the Legislative Analyst's Office disavowed "any such numbers." In fact, Mr. Hiltzik was informed by the Legislative Analyst's Office last week that the numbers I cited were within the range of their estimates. Indeed, the statistics I used -- and the column itself -- were submitted to the LAO prior to publication to verify the accuracy of the numbers and the estimate was confirmed by that office. And Mr. Hiltzik knew it.

In my interview with Mr. Hiltzik, I also pointed out that the estimate of 7,500 students is quite consistent with an estimated cost of $63.7 million used by Gov. Gray Davis when he vetoed the first bill extending the in-state tuition subsidy to illegal immigrants in 1999. At least one staff analysis written in 2001 also used this figure - citing proponents of the measure.

I appreciate that Mr. Hiltzik has a political point of view quite different from mine and I respect an honest debate over our differing policy positions and the data that supports them. But accusing me of fabricating statistics - while ignoring facts presented to him -- is unfair, untrue and unworthy of a professional journalist.

[Eric Hogue - radio talk show host KTKZ - Sacramento] 5:05 am [link]
Kerry's Democrat Non-nomination Convention: John Kerry has mentioned that he 'might' delay the actual nomination at the Democrat Convention in Boston, in order to raise money for an extra 30-days and not have to dip into the $75 million federal gift...only Kerry could be for the nomination convention, yet against the actual nomination itself.

Has anyone asked Senator John McCain what he thinks about "his close, personal friends" idea of ignoring the 'rules of campaign finance'?

There is a question as to whether the media will cover a Democrat Convention that will NOT have an actual nomination...I say yes! If this was a Republican idea they would be screaming bloody murder, but since this is the liberal John Kerry and the Democrat Party...all is fine and dandy with the elite media.

Mark my words, this is a serious consideration for Kerry's team and the media will care not - they actually will call this brilliant!

The difference between the parties, one offers respect to the rule of law, the other offer respect only to themselves and their power grab!

[5/24/04 Monday]

[Carol Platt Liebau - editorial director] 5:57 am [link]
Red Taco Sauce? According to the Wall Street Journal, Taco Bell has announced that it wants to select "words of wisdom" from its clientele, to put on its sauce packets. But there are, apparently, caveats; according to the company's press release: "The message should be simple, left of center and provide insight on the little things in life."

A redundancy, to be sure. After all, aren't most "left of center messages" simple in the extreme? . . .

The Journal reports that Taco Bell's "people" have denied that "left of center" refers to anything political -- that the term refers only to Taco Bell's "think outside the bun" mentality. But if the people at Taco Bell REALLY wanted to think outside the bun, maybe they should look a little "right of center." After all, if you want to "buck the system," what could be better than a little school choice? And for a really revolutionary idea? How about a flat tax!

Or letting the CIA recruit on Ivy League campuses again! Now, that's radical.

Taco Bell's marketing mistake -- with its "left of center" imperative -- is enough to make anyone sick (food aside). So sick, in fact, that in the words of the famous Taco Bell chihuahua in the fabulous Godzilla ad, "I think I need a bigger bag."

And the people at Taco Bell should remember -- their most famous mascot, as enterprising, hardworking and prosperous as he was, almost certainly leaned to the right...

[5/21/04 Friday]

[Carol Platt Liebau - editorial director] 5:51 am [link]
The politicians strike back: Apparently, forty-eight Roman Catholic members of Congress have warned Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., that if bishops deny Communion to politicians who support positions inconsistent with Church teaching, they will promote anti-Catholic bigotry and severely harm the church.

Nice try. After all, if there's anything that's hurting the Church, it's having teaching watered down to the point that it becomes essentially meaningless. Apparently, the politicians want it both ways -- they want to be SEEN as being Catholic without having to put up with all that fuss and inconvenience that results from having to actually adhere to religious precepts.

Someone explain how any of this would cause "anti-Catholic bigotry", please. Whatever happened to "separation of Church and state"? No bishop is trying to say that any politician should or should not be elected, determined by his relationship with the Catholic Church. They are merely upholding their own teachings.

In fact, if the politicians prevail, couldn't it be argued that there's no more separation of Church and state? That, in fact, in the struggle between them, the state has won?

[5/20/04 Thursday]

[Eric Hogue - radio talk show host KTKZ - Sacramento] 5:03 am [link]
Budget Bargain:
For the first time in a long time the Capitol has produced a ‘May Revise’ without the gnashing of teeth by the media or the Democrats over the evil ‘Republican Obstructionists’. All of this is due to the popularity of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the success of the recall. Still in the wide minority, the state GOP now has an advocate in the corner office, representing the party that represents the hard working tax payers of this Golden State.

The voters see Schwarzenegger as a moderate Republican governor, leading this state back to health from the fiscal virus that was Gray Davis and his special interest deals. The governor has an approval rating hovering around 65% on any given day. Arnold leads, he makes decisions on time and he has this state operating rather than cowering from deadlines and tough decisions.

There is a ‘high negative’ and it features the legislators who are viewed as liberal money hogs, taxing and spending for every piece of candy that comes down the pike. A recent poll revealed that voters in California believe the State Assembly and the State Senate to be too liberal, untrustworthy and myopic on their own political careers rather the direction of the state. The image problem is so bad for the legislators even state registered Democrats believe the elected and representative Democrat majority in the “Belly of the Beast” to be too liberal for their own liking

It is with this ‘opinion initiative’ that Governor Schwarzenegger has delivered a budget revision for the state with no new taxes. No Democrat dare stand too tough against this governor - at this time – and challenge his direction by throwing mud his way. The populous is not in the mood for partisan games…and with the general election on the horizon such behavior is too risky for the state Democrats who are still licking their wounds and looking for a state party leader for the first time in nearly eight years.

The budget may not be everything you want, but it is everything we need in California. No new taxes, some solid budget cuts and the continuation of the winning streak for this administration – which means more victories for the tax payers and business owners of California. So far, happy days are beginning again in Sacramento. Now let’s stand back and watch the Democrats attempt their hand at playing the role of obstructionists…at their own risk come November.

[5/19/04 Wednesday]

[Daniel Pipes - author, activist CRO contributor] 5:54 am [link]
Oh Canada, Beware: I am someone who prefers enemies to be straight-talkers. Better a Nikita Khrushchev who states "We will bury you" than a Leonid Brezhnev with his détente. Better a Saddam Hussein who blurts out his unfiltered thoughts and blunders into Kuwait than a Hafez al-Assad who disguises his views and steals into Lebanon. And likewise, it's better to face a jihadist who acknowledges his plans to take over the world than a smarmy "religion of peace" Islamist who double talks and confuses.

And you don't find a more straight-shooting jihadist than Khalid Khawaja, a bin Laden pal who calls Al-Qaeda's members "the most wonderful people of the world" and is the subject of a remarkable article in Friday's National Post by the redoubtable Stewart Bell (back on the beat after promoting his new book, Cold Terror: How Canada Nurtures and Exports Terrorism to the World). Here are some extracts from Bell's interview with him, conducted in Islamabad last week:

On the failings of Western civilization: "Your civilization is selfish and self-centered. Just you want to live and enjoy yourselves and that is all, you don't give."

On reasons why suicide bombers would want to strike Canada: "It is very simple. As Bush says, either you are a friend or you are an enemy. So if you are not my friend, you are our enemy. So it is very simple. When you are supporting the enemy [the United States] then you are a target." And Canadians should just learn to "take it."

On Canada's treatment of Abdul Karim Khadr, the teen who recently left Pakistan for Canada for medical treatment after being wounded in a shootout that left his Al-Qaeda father dead: "Look at these Canadians. They have millions and millions of dollars to fight against Muslims, to send their troops, to send their weapons, and all of them put together, they have objections to giving treatment to this 14 year-old-boy who has been a victim of your terrorism. … So you paralyzed this boy with no thought, you paralyzed his father with no thought, now the whole Canadian nation put together, they are bothered about taxpayers' money, that this boy should not be treated with this money.

On the success of jihad: "Today you have the power in your hand. The other day the suicide bomber also has power. So you use your cruise missiles and atom bombs and all that, so he uses his power. So why do you cry at that time? When you say we are fighting a war against you, so better take it then. They are also fighting a war against you. They are fighting their way, you are fighting your way. So let's be happy. But only thing is, your faces are pulled down, you are scared, sitting in America and Canada. You are scared of a man sitting in the cave. We are not scared of you."

On the ultimate goals of jihad: "We don't believe in killing innocent people but we would certainly like to send you into the Stone Age the same way you have sent us into the Stone Age." [Pipes blog]

[Eric Hogue - radio talk show host KTKZ - Sacramento] 5:05 am [link]
Democrats Recall the Recall: Democrats have created two pieces of legislation targeting the recall process for California. SB1317 would protect a statewide elected official targeted by a recall campaign within the officials last six months of his/her term. AB2917 would make it a misdemeanor for paid signature-gatherers to misrepresent themselves or the purpose of their petition. (Where were they during the gathering campaign of Proposition 56?)

To make a real change to the recall process in California would take a constitutional change, not a single piece of legislation. The real story here doesn’t rest with these two bills, but with the Democrat Party itself. At a time that when they should be looking ahead and representing the people of California, they are still looking back and looking for measures to defend themselves from another evil, nasty voice and vote of the people the Dems shout that they represent. Why is the Democrat leadership so afraid of the real vote of and by the people?

[Eric Hogue - radio talk show host KTKZ - Sacramento] 5:02 am
The Prison Abuse:
A mere 30 hours after the beheading of Nick Berg, the national media was back on its Abu Prison Abuse ‘Scandal’. The reason is simple; this story offers the elite, liberal media the opportunity they have been looking for – a chance to REALLY go after the hated George W. Bush!

Think about it, this story sells. The media can (1) gather ratings because it deals with ‘sex and perversion’. The culture is in an orgy over this story, (2) it provides the media the opportunity to bash away at Bush without apology. They can play the ‘blame game’ at will and eventually take this ‘up the chain of command’ to the Oval Office itself. For the first time the media can dish out some revenge. (3) This abuse story has equal footing with the elite media with the ‘Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski’ story of 1998. This is the elite media’s opportunity to apply a sexual scandal to the administration of the President George W. Bush. And finally, the media can actually express true sediment, (4) they can go after an organization that they have secretly despised for a number of year - the US Military!

The elite media is so overjoyed, not even an American citizen having his head ‘sawed off’ and viewed around the world can get them to let go of their true essence of hatred toward this administration and this military!

[5/18/04 Tuesday]

[Bill Leonard] 5:05 am [link]
A Hero’s Tribute:
There is a political theory that Democrats are born to politics and Republicans only move into politics later in life. While there are some exceptions, this truism has a lot of validity. I was reminded of that while attending the celebration of life services for Senator Pete Knight. He was a hero. He is my hero. He served his country as an Air Force fighter pilot, surviving the skies over Vietnam and coming home to what could have been a quiet life. Yet he moved from the dangers of enemy fire to the even more hazardous challenge of experimental aircraft. I have had the great joy to have experienced checkout rides in two production jet fighters (F-4 and F-16), and I can tell you that the comfort I took in knowing that others had already flown these overpowered, minimal lift, and temperamental aircraft was all that allowed me to be strapped in the seat. I cannot imagine climbing into the cockpit of a rocket powered airplane (the name alone sounds dangerous) that had never been flown before. Colonel Pete Knight did that on a regular basis. He did it faster than humans had ever gone. He flew it so high that the sky turned black and the atmosphere could not support the wings of the plane.

What do you do for kicks after you set a world record that still has not been broken? You run for Mayor of Palmdale, then the State Assembly, and at last the California State Senate. While he was not born to politics, Pete Knight brought with him the confidence, courage and integrity that he showed over enemy airspace and in outer space. I have served in public office with several hundred legislators-- some of them were born to politics, and some of them arrived after successful first careers. But none of them were national heros except for Pete Knight. He will be missed for unflinching leadership in defense of the family. [Leonard Letter 5/18]

[Eric Hogue - radio talk show host KTKZ - Sacramento] 5:05 am [link]
The Forgotten Hero: As much as we are celebrating Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his powerful leadership since October, there is one legislator who needs some attention. Two years ago, the Republican leadership stood against additional taxes for the 2002 budget. Both State Senator Jim Brulte and Assemblyman Dave Cox told their GOP members to ‘just say no’, only to have Governor Gray Davis pick of just enough rogue Republican votes to pass his tax raising budgets and drive the state into a huge deficit.

Last year State Senator Jim Brulte pulled his GOP members into a closed door session. The Senator read them their rights, “you vote for tax increases in this budget, I will personally come to your district and campaign against you!”  It worked! With Brulte’s strong message and the people of California signing nearly 2.2 million signatures on a historic recall petition, the paradigm shifted.
Without the leadership of Senator Jim Brulte, the recall and Arnold Schwarzenegger would not be enjoying the success it enjoys today. Brulte is termed out this fall. He is being replaced by State Senator Dick Ackerman. Senator Ackerman is a stellar legislator and will find his footing as the Senate leadership in due time, but replacing a legend like Brulte, well…he has some big shoes to fill!

[5/17/04 Monday]

[Carol Platt Liebau - editorial director] 8:51 am [link]
Oh, that WMD: There is sarin gas in Iraq. An artillery shell containing it has injured two American soldiers there. It's going to be interesting to watch the left (and the virulently anti-Bush press) try to spin this event. Over the past months, President Bush has been subjected to some of the most vituperative attacks ever against a Commander-in-Chief during a time of war. What will all the critics -- who charge that we were taken to war based on lies about the existence of WMD in Iraq -- do, when and if evidence finally surfaces demonstrating that, in fact, Saddam Hussein had at least some WMD's? Many Democrats have been guilty of shameless political opportunism -- voting for war when it seemed politically expedient, then criticizing elements of the war's execution, without offering any meaningful suggestions about how they would have conducted things differently (Exhibit A for this disgusting behavior: John Kerry). How wonderful from a political standpoint to see them squirm if more evidence of WMDs does surface -- but how scary to know that this deadly stuff is still hidden from us, and accessible to our enemies.

[Streetsweeper - into the opinion bin] 5:02 am [link]
Abuse at Abu Ghraib? Rush Limbaugh is getting pummeled for that Skull and Bones comment... Hmm. Why?... I have a hard time understanding why Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank are so upset about the Abu Ghraib prison episode... If we could all calm down and take a deep breath, please! In many ways, this incident is really very Progressive and should be praised by Kennedy, Pelosi and Frank. It could very well be considered - uh - Aggressive Diversity Training (ADT)... with a little refinement it could easily become standard Progressive policy. Gee, look at what has been achieved in a short period of time! The best of Progressive American culture has been compressed into high-impact learning:

Alternative Lifestyle Awareness: These uptight thugs and terrorists have quickly experienced alternative lifestyle in a group setting... and even in a dog pile! It’s almost the sort of thing that San Francisco could easily mandate for all city employees.

Understanding Victimhood: That dog collar thing really works to bring home the impact being at the bottom rung of society. Of course, the collar and leash might do double duty in an alternative lifestyle sort of way...

Girls Gone Wild: Showing breasts? Heck it’s worked out for lots and lots of women here! Why not spread the entrepreneurship to these uptight folks? They could get their own infomercial on the UPN stations.

Porn is Free Speech: Lynndie England romping around with two guys in front of the prisoners? Gee, that’s the sort of stuff that comes out of the San Fernando Valley porn industry on a regular basis... Now that that HIV thing’s abated there’s probably some enterprising... uh, actress primping for a “Lynndie Lusts Part I” in short turnaround.

Girl Power: The trio of female guards Lynndie England, Sabrina Harman and Megan Ambuhl must be the pride of NOW - giving men back what they deserve... Probably worth an HBO deal – maybe even Miramax.

American culture brought home front and center into Iraq, see? I don’t understand the problem. I bet these seven or so Reservists all have Showtime at home – Queer as Folk, The L Word, Family Business... it’s a Viacom feastday over in Iraq...

[Joe Armendariz - columnist ] 5:01 am [link]
Bargain Gas: A reader suggests I want it both ways in my latest column titled: Gas Is Still A Bargain (CRO 5/12). Indeed, he states that "if oil companies are declaring record profits in the midst of significantly higher gas prices", then they must be charging more than they had to pay for their oil. He then poses the following question: "if gas prices are about what they were 25 years ago (in fact, in constant dollars, gas prices today are much lower than they were 25 years ago*), what about the profits the oil companies are declaring right and left?"

Indeed, the reader is of the view that oil company profits are so high he refers to them this way: "record profits", "being declared right and left" and my favorite: "going through the proverbial roof". And perhaps the worst charge of all, at least for many on the proverbial left-wing, oil and gas companies are guilty of: (gasp), "capitalism"!!

To begin with, I never suggested, hinted, or implied that the oil companies weren't making a profit on the extraction, refinement and distribution of their product. I assumed readers already knew that and that most wouldn't be offended by the dastardly deed of being in business to make a profit. But, even so, are the profits the oil companies earn going through the "proverbial" roof when compared to profits earned by other businesses or industries? The answer is an unequivocal no.

In the first place, there is a huge difference between "profit", which is, as the reader points out, "that which is left over after all expenses are paid" and "profit margins", which is a company's net-income divided by the sales and other revenue from operations. Only looking at the measures of changes in profits, or "net-income", doesn't tell us the whole story. Indeed, a far more realistic measure of success is a company or industry's profit-margin.

And when looked at in that context, oil and gas industry profits are not only well in line with other industries, in many cases they are lower and in some cases they are far lower. Let's take a look at some of the data:

According to first quarter 2004 financial statements, oil and gas industry profit margins averaged 6.9%**. This is compared to an average of 7.5% for all U.S. industry. Note: This 7.5% profit-margin for all industry represents an improvement over the first quarter of 2003. However, the 6.9% profit-margin for the oil and gas industry represents an actual decline from 2003.***

What about profit margins for other major industries? In fact, many industries posted far better returns than did the oil and gas industry according to the first quarter 2004 financial statements. Just how does the oil and gas industry compare? The following list was comprised by using data from the May 17th edition of "Corporate Scoreboard," a regular feature of Business Week Magazineand re-printed by the American Petroleum Institute.

Profit Margins of Major Industries
(04: Q1 net income/sales)

Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology - 19.1%
Diversified Financials - 16.8%
Semiconductors & Equipment - 13.3%
Real Estate - 11.8%
Beverages - 11.5%
Household & Personal Products - 11.4%
Insurance - 11.3%
Software & Services - 10.7%
Telecommunication Services - 9.6%
Health care - 9.0%
Utilities - 7.3%
Media - 7.3%
Oil & Natural Gas - 6.9%

All Industry - 7.5%

So, as we can see, the oil and gas industry is doing relatively well...but, it is not doing as well as many other industries. So where is the proportional outrage?

I also find it interesting that some people have such a problem when it comes to what they are asked to pay for with certain products but not others. For example, yesterday, while getting my car washed and filled with gas, another customer, an elderly woman, sat down beside me and immediately began complaining to my wife about the price of the gas. She never said a word about the price for the car wash (about $12.95 for an exterior wash). After she went through the line to pay for both, I noticed she bought herself a pack of cigarettes. Again, not a word about the price of the cigarettes which must have cost about $4.75 if not more.

In her mind, $12.95 for a car wash was a fair price to drive around in style. The $4.89 for a pack of cigarettes was a fair price for one of life's little pleasures. The $2.46 for the gallon of gas that made it all possible? What an outrage

* Dismal Scientist.
** The oil and gas companies include, but are not limited too: ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch/Shell, Occidental as well as Independent Oil and Gas Producers and Independent Refiners and Marketers.
*** American Petroleum Institute, Santa Barbara Industrial Association, Oil & Gas Journal, Business Week Magazine's "Corporate Scoreboard".

[5/14/04 Friday]

[Nick Winter-found in the ebag] 8:11 am [link]
Arnold's Better Way: CRO columnist Larry Stiring is running for the California Senate from the San Diego area. We got this from him in the ebag...

It is with great pleasure that I announce the endorsement of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Governor Schwarzenegger's endorsement means a great deal to my campaign because I am running for the California State Senate for the same reasons he sought the governorship; a deep concern for future generations and the fiscal security for our state. What the Governor is attempting to accomplish for the future of all Californians is no simple task. The Governor understands that his challenge will be made possible if more like minded individuals are elected to replace those who will stand in the way of progress. Once elected to the Senate I will bring my experience and leadership to Sacramento to help the Governor make California the Golden State once again. Because there is a better way.

[Chuck McVey] 5:04 am [link]
Avoidance & Consequences: I'm sure we have all heard the remark in one way or another, "I vote for the best man" or "I vote for the lesser of two evils." And I've voted that way in the past, a lot. But look at Clinton vs. Dole. What a poor choice for the American public. Clinton was no substance, no core, and all "I feel your pain." Dole was all substance but couldn't even get across that he had a sense of humor (which he evidently does).

But by voting for Clinton we got: - An administration that effectively encouraged terrorism. - Sold out national security to campaign contributors (contributing Chinese generals came into the White House, the Chinese received American know-how to fix the problems with their intercontinental missiles, the list goes on). - A military castrated by budget cuts (his "balancing" of the budget was achieved with an overblown economy, the largest tax increases ever, and the military budget cuts) and candidates to the General level selected by political objectives (Clarke was so bad that even he was sacked). - A home and international security system (FBI and CIA) castrated by both budget cuts and unreasonable, unnecessary, restrictive laws - And not to mention the scandals. I don't care what party the President belongs to; I don't want my President to have to be impeached. In regards to the concept that oral sex is not really sex; the incidence of oral gonorrhea in the 10-14 year-old reporting group has shot up, I believe, significantly over 100%.

There were more negative consequences to the Clinton legacy and Carter was even worse. After the trauma of the Nixon years, the country was presented by the media with a nice, God-fearing man and went with Carter. However, in terms of administering a country Carter was an idiot and now we find out he's not even nice.

Our problem is that we want a nice, comfortable person for President. Elections do not really address the issues, no matter how much we pontificate that we want to hear the issues. What we want is to hear HOW the candidate presents "issues" to us. We don't listen to the message; we listen to the delivery. Many have a single issue and if party A fails that test, individuals vote for party B to teach party A a lesson. But there are real consequences that accumulate based upon whom we elect into office.

Men and women live or die; our economy is strengthened or weakened; our judiciary is workable or we get a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; our military is strong or weak and demoralized. All of this and more constitute our civilization. And at a time that we are in a war of civilizations, we cannot afford to blow electoral decisions. We cannot afford to be misled by the media. This is true to such a degree that we must even be suspicious of a candidate implicitly supported by the media. We must look at the issues with an eye to consequences. Business as usual is not acceptable.

[Found in the ebag- reader Larry Van Kuran] 5:02 am [link]
Gas Bargain? I am a capitalist, tried and true. And I agree with Joe Armendariz [Gas Is Still A Bargain CRO 5/12] that, when adjusted for inflation, gas prices today are just about what they were 25 years ago.

However, here's where Joe and I part company - the degree of profit declared by each of the various oil companies.

Profit, by definition, is that which is left over after all expenses are paid - it's 'net.'

So, if the oil companies are declaring record profits in the midst of significantly higher gas prices, then they're charging that much more than they had to pay, and they're making money - their costs are far less than what they are charging at the pump.

So, Joe, if gas prices are about what they were 25 years ago, what say you about the profits the oil companies are declaring right and left?

Can't have it both ways - gas as cheap as 25 years ago, with oil company profits through the proverbial roof. Given that, suppose it's much more difficult to blame gas prices on the increasing cost of oil, right?

Suppose one way of looking at things is that the oil companies have learned very efficient means of production, and kudos to them for doing so. We're paying more at the pump because oil companies are charging more - more than their cost of doing business.

That's capitalism, Joe. Let's call a spade a spade.

[5/13/04 Thursday]

[Chuck McVey] 5:03 am [link]
Apologies and Following Orders: 1- Apologies Remember when our President Bush apologized to Jordan's King Abdullah II for the prisoner abuse saying it was "a stain on our country's honor," and the good king as a representative of all Arabs accepted this heart-felt apology? Hmm, will we now see an apology to America from the good king as a representative of all Arabs for the murders of Daniel Pearl, the four contractors, and now Nick Berg? OK, just one? Come on your majesty, can't you apologize for just one little murder? The point is that he can't. To do so would shame Arabs and thus put his kingship in mortal danger. How about the Saudis? No? The real point is no Western country has either an ally nor a friendly country in the Middle East. France may delude herself because of her arms deals with many Arab countries and because the Saudis have invited her forces in to put down an uprising by killing rebels in a mosque, and America deludes herself because Ka'daffy has told us that he almost had an atomic bomb and Pakistan has rounded up a few militants, but Arabs always have conspiracies within conspiracies. They are not even friends with each other, let alone us. 2- Following Orders Remember that smiling female guard with her prisoner on a leash? The one who says she was ordered to smile? I know, how can we forget her? Well, evidently there are pictures of her... uh, copulating with another soldier, her superior, as it were. One can only assume she was ordered to perform that too. I can't wait to hear from her family or one of her three attorneys to hear if she was also ordered to become pregnant, 'cause she is. You do remember her family? They're the ones who are saying what a four-square-gothic, all-American kid she is... Semi-sorry for the terminal sarcasm I seem to be suffering lately. It's my own fault; I was dumb enough to watch the news.

[5/12/04 Wednesday]

[Streetsweeper - into the opinion bin] 5:07 am [link]
Some Dare Call It Murder: Finally the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is calling it like it is

CAIR condemns murder of American in Iraq - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned the murder of an American civilian in Iraq by a group claiming links to Al-Qaeda. A video posted on an Internet web site shows the beheading of a Philadelphia man working as a contractor in Iraq whose body was found on a highway overpass in Baghdad on Saturday. The group that carried out the killing said it was in retaliation for the ongoing Iraq prison abuse scandal. In its statement, the Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said: "We condemn this cold-blooded murder and repudiate all those who commit such acts of mindless violence in the name of religion. We call on people of all faiths and cultures to work together for peace and reconciliation, not war and destruction.

Amazing. Based on CAIR’s previous positions it would have been true to form if they had condemned the “mutilation” and not the killing. Maybe CAIR is beginning to understand the real stakes in this game and is going to have to choose sides instead of acting like some Middle-Eastern ACLU...

[5/11/04 Tuesday]

[Streetsweeper - into the opinion bin] 5:06 am [link]
Nobody CAIRs:A little over a week ago Tali Hatuel, a pregnant 34 year old Israeli woman, was murdered along with her four children. Haaretz reported that after Tali Hatuel was wounded “The two gunmen then raced to the car and fired from their Kalashnikov rifles for up to half a minute, before IDF troops arrived. The soldiers shot and killed the terrorists.”

Gee, where are the news releases from CAIR for Yassar Arafat to “apologize” for these deaths? After all, these murders happened “on his watch.”

Nope. This sort of thing isn’t worth CAIR’s attention. After all the rule of thumb is Israeli’s bad, Palestinians good. Palestinian "freedom fighters" murdering a pregnant woman and her four children is just… well, too bad…

[Bill Leonard] 5:05 am [link]
Changing of the Guard: Last week, Senator Jim Brulte will step down as the Senate Republican Leader and a great era of California politics will end. In addition to being a close friend, Jim is a great leader. He brought to the legislature a rare combination of skills that have enabled him to be effective for his constituents, his party and the state. Most legislators are good at one or two things: policy, politics, fundraising, relationship building, strategic thinking, etc. Jim is good at all of them, and two aspects of his personality, in particular, made him successful. First, he approached a problem by thinking ahead about what each of the key participants needed from the situation, and then he set about to craft a solution that met those needs. Second, Jim never cared who received credit for any particular negotiations, project, bill or idea. Though Jim will be missed, the new Senate Republican Leader, Dick Ackerman, will do just fine. He will benefit from the low expectations that come from his filling the BIG shoes of Brulte. Senator Ackerman will far exceed those expectations. He is a business lawyer (this is not an oxymoron) who approaches challenges in a methodical and thoughtful way, gathering intelligence from all around him. He is very personable and enjoys the social contact with all of the Capitol’s interest groups-- probably quickly exceeding Brulte’s attendance at Capitol events. Most of the legislative Republicans have been elected within the last six years and know only a Democrat Governor. Ackerman will reach back to his working relationship with Pete Wilson and will help teach both caucuses the best ways to work with Governor Schwarzenegger. In addition to your prayers of support for the new leader, I ask you to remember his wife, Linda Ackerman. She has a sharp political mind and perceptive intuition. Dick Ackerman needs her. She enjoys being with the Senator, but also enjoys her grandchildren. With her husband’s new scheduling commitments all over California, not just in their Orange County base, she is going to stretch to make choices she may not want to make. Leadership of a caucus is always servanthood. The Leader serves the interests of the caucus members both individually and corporately. The Ackerman family just got bigger by 14 Senators. [Leonard Letter 5/11]

[5/10/04 Monday]

[Streetsweeper - into the opinion bin] 5:01 am [link]
Thanks for nothing: So, we see that CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) calls for Don Rumsfeld’s head.

"As Secretary of Defense, Mr. Rumsfeld bears ultimate responsibility for the brutal and humiliating actions of American troops and for the poor handling of the scandal by the military establishment. He must also take responsibility for fostering an atmosphere in which the traditional rules of war and norms of international law are treated as excess baggage. With responsibility comes accountability. Secretary Rumsfeld and his entire management team must put America's interests first by resigning their posts. If he and his top advisors do not resign, they should be removed by President Bush. No other action could possibly help mitigate the devastating impact this scandal has had on our nation's image worldwide.”

Well… now what do you suppose is the responsibility of the chief Islamic apologists in the U.S.? What is their responsibility? What is their accountability? .

CAIR was certainly quick to condemn the mutilations of American civilians in Fallujah…

“The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned the mutilation of those killed in Iraq on Wednesday. Four American civilian contractors were ambushed in their SUV's, burned, mutilated, dragged through the streets and then hung from a bridge spanning the Euphrates River, according to news reports. - CAIR said the mutilations violated both Islamic and international norms of conduct during times of war and called on all parties to the conflict to respect the sanctity of the dead and the sensitivities of their families. - The Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group cited a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad that prohibits mutilating bodies (Hadith 654.3).”

Yeah, that mutilation stuff is bad. Much worse than killing those four American civilians to begin with… But the really bad stuff is pictures of humiliated Islamic prisoners. Now, that’s just awful… and the Secretary of Defense should resign for it…

You’d think that a group like CAIR would try to calm down its Muslim brothers’ outrage. You’d think that CAIR should be vociferously defending Secretary Rumsfeld to the Muslim world… explaining that what happened in Abu Ghraib prison does not represent the policy of the U.S. government nor the values of its citizens. CAIR should be making it loud and clear to Al-Jazeera and other Arab media.

It’s sure hard to find evidence of CAIR caring about anything to help America’s image in the world…

[5/7/04 Friday]

[Carol Platt Liebau - editorial director] 11:51 am [link]
Grilling Rummy: I wonder if the senators grilling Donald Rumsfeld understand that their reputations are on the line, as much as his is. After all, most of what we've heard from the Senate is outrage -- over the behavior of some "bad apples" in Iraq, yes, but mostly because THEY weren't kept "in the loop" about what was going on. Well, it's important to have perspective . . . and clearly, nothing is as important as senatorial prerogatives.

Second, it's going to be interesting to hear whether -- and how many -- call for Rumsfeld to resign. Those who do ought to be willing to take a pledge themselves: If any impropriety ever occurs within their own offices (whether in D.C. or their home states) -- whether or not they knew or should, could or would have known about it -- they will resign without a word of self-defense or protest. After all, if Rumsfeld is to be held accountable for the actions of a few rogue soldiers half a world away, surely the senatorial "profiles in courage" are willing to take their chances on staff members they themselves have hired.

Think they'd agree to such a deal? Don't hold your breath. Outrage is much easier to summon when one is accountable for almost nothing at all.

[Chuck McVey] 5:03 am [link]
Selective Outrage: There's more that I'd like to say but... I'd like to pass on the following:

"I think there has been a huge overreaction. Obviously it is a terrible thing, it shouldn't have happened, and the people who did it are going to be punished. Let's put it in context, nobody was killed, nobody was maimed....

This has been the most humanitarian occupation in history. The fact is the Arabs are outraged over this. Where was the outrage when the four Americans in Fallujah were murdered and burned and desecrated? Where is the outrage when women and children are used as human shields? Where was the outage for 30 years when Saddam Hussein routinely tortured and maimed and humiliated. When I hear all this Arab outrage I see it as highly selective, highly anti-American and highly hypocritical. I think our response ought to be we're sorry, it shouldn't have happened, we're going to punish who did it, and then carry on." Charles Krauthammer - FOX News

[5/6/04 Tuesday]

[Daniel Pipes - author, activist CRO contributor] 5:55 am [link]
Palestinian Terrorism Bests Palestinian Anarchy "One would have to have a heart of stone," Oscar Wilde once declared, "to read the death of Little Nell... without laughing," referring to Charles Dickens' account of an innocent girl's demise in his novel, The Old Curiosity Shop (1841). Wilde's mean quote comes to mind on reading the news from Gaza under the headline "Robbers Die Trying to Hold-Up Suicide Bomber." Here is the Press Association's take on what happened:

A Hamas suicide bomber blew up two armed Palestinians who tried to rob him at gun point in the Gaza Strip.

Rather than give up his explosives, the bomber detonated them, killing himself and the two robbers near the border fence between Gaza and Israel.

Palestinian security officials said the the gunmen were criminals who were involved in a car theft ring that brought stolen vehicles from Israel to Gaza. Hamas said the bomber was on his way to try to infiltrate into Israel, accompanied by another Hamas member and a guide, when they were stopped by the armed men.

The robbers forced the bomber to lie on the ground and tried to steal the bomb, but the militant [DP comment: militant is how the press terms a terrorist, so long as he is Palestinian [DP comment: militant is how the press terms a terrorist, so long as he is Palestinian] detonated it, killing all three. The other Hamas man and the guide escaped.

There have been cases of rival groups stealing each other's explosives, but no group claimed the two gunmen, and their families did not go to the hospital to take the bodies, indicating that the two were not militants [DP: terrorists], who are revered in Palestinian society.

A Hamas official said that whatever their intention, the two should be considered agents of Israel. "Anyone who tries to stop a fighter from doing his work is a collaborator," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

This episode highlights two of Palestinian society's most characteristic and hideous attributes: terrorism and anarchy. May every suicide bomber blow himself up in this manner. [Pipes blog]

[5/5/04 Monday]

[Streetsweeper - into the opinion bin] 5:01 am [link]
Did Kerry earn his medals? Do we care? Well, yes. He’s made his Vietnam service a centerpiece of his qualification for becoming commander-in-chief, so it’s fair game. If he shaded or fabricated his service, then that counts.

But so what? Mr. Kerry is not a hero for all time. He was a hero for four months. Then the guy came back to the States and completely negated his heroism. He deliberately put our troops in harm’s way by giving aid and comfort to the enemy. He falsely testified before Congress about American atrocities. He helped to persuade Congress to stop funding to Vietnam and Cambodia which led directly to the deaths of millions.

Hey, what about that Vietnam Veterans Against the War meeting he was at in Kansas City? His associates were discussing killing U.S. Senators and likely took a vote on it. Ah... Did our patriotic hero then alert officials to this conspiracy? Isn’t that kind of conspiracy a crime? What did he do? Well, he quit. Except he denied being at the meeting... Well, others say he was there and there are FBI notes that corroborate it. Clearly, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War were a fifth column in the U.S.

And this is a man that is running for President of the United States?

[5/4/04 Tuesday]

[Chuck McVey] 5:03 am [link]
Heinz-Kerry funds radical pals: Note that the following piece ran in John Kerry's hometown Boston Herald. It is because of such political liabilities that many are talking about the possibility of Kerry withdrawing and allowing someone chosen/picked by the Democratic power brokers to run for the Presidency. Additionally, there's a rumor that a letter is coming out tomorrow, signed by every commanding officer that Kerry had, stating he is unfit to be President.

All this is bad for our Republic. Not that it is happening, but that the Democrats have put themselves into such an awful, untenable position. Symptoms of that are the constant stream of Bush bashing and antiwar tirades that we have seen to date. It would be bad for America were these to occur after the conventions, but they really began before Super Tuesday.

John Kerry is the Senate's most liberal member. But his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, looks to be even farther left, judging from her charitable giving. Over the years, she has poured nearly $6 million into the San Francisco-based Tides Foundation, a kind of front philanthropy, founded by California activist Drummond Pike in 1976, that channels donations to left-wing causes in ways that make the original funders hard to trace directly.

The Tides Foundation gives to causes to the left - sometimes way to the left - of the Democratic mainstream. It has been a big supporter (to the tune of $1 million over the last three years) of the ``living wage'' movement, which seeks to force urban firms to pay up to double the minimum wage - a sneaky way of bringing socialist economics to America's cities. Tides has also helped bankroll environmentalist radicalism, shelling out $205,000 over a two-year period to the Ruckus Society, a wacky anarchist Green organization, and nearly $500,000 over the past decade to the alarmist National Resources Defense Council, responsible for the Alar scare a while back, which wrongly convinced people that eating apples sprayed with the chemical put them at higher risk of getting cancer. Growers needlessly lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Most recently, Tides has donated $500,000 to set up the Iraq Peace Fund, which contributes to a motley assortment of hard-left groups that opposed the war. Among the recipients:, the George Soros-funded outfit that notoriously featured online ads comparing President Bush with Hitler... [more]

[5/3/04 Monday]

[Bill Leonard] 5:01 am [link]
Stop the Shakedowns: One of the most influential interest groups in Sacramento is the trial lawyers association. They have called themselves by different titles over the years, but that does not change who they are. These attorneys wrote the law that makes it easy for the sleaziest among them to sue businesspeople for no reason. The result has been the threat and filing of frivolous lawsuits where no one has been damaged, hurt, misled, and when no consumer has asked the lawyers to file the suit. An initiative has been filed to change the law, and I believe it has collected enough signatures to get on the November ballot. This measure protects consumers who have legitimate claims, but protects everyone from the kind of frivolous suits that some attorneys have been pursuing simply as a shakedown tactic to make money. To read more and lend your support, visit Also, if you have been the victim of one of these frivolous lawsuits, the campaign needs to hear from you. You can tell your story of woe at the website, or by sending an email to:


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