Glenn Beck (over 6,000 turned out to hear him speak at the Chaifetz Center in St. Louis recently) has been voted the second most popular cable-TV show personality (behind Oprah Winfrey).
I attribute his success not to his mannerisms but to his continuous presentation of information. He's the bestselling author of three books, and recently I read his 167-page book "Common Sense," the case against an out-of-control government inspired by Thomas Paine.
The following are some excerpts:
* "How is it possible that a Congress with an overall approval rating of 13 percent saw 95 percent of its incumbent representatives win re-election along with 88 percent of its incumbent senators? Common sense tells us those two things cannot possibly go together -- yet it happened. Why? Because veteran politicians have written the rules to favor themselves and the two mainstream political parties.
In the 2008 general election, the average incumbent House member raised an average of $1,356,311. The challengers raised an average of $336,585. Incumbent senators fared even better, raking in an average of $8,804,631, while their lowly challengers averaged 87 percent less, or $1,155,599.
"No matter how great your message is, it's hard to win an election when you can't afford to get it out there -- which is why campaign-finance laws have helped the parties become so entrenched. But it's not the only reason for their dominance -- there's also redistricting, otherwise known as 'gerrymandering.' Americans want elections that are open and fair, but the gerrymander is designed to make sure that doesn't happen. How? It's simple: by artificially carving out election districts that favor a particular incumbent or political party. That politician and party then have a much better chance of staying in power.
"Politicians can actually decide which neighborhoods, races, religions and income levels they want in their district. They can even decide which side of the street to draw the line down. In short, they get to choose exactly who lives in their district -- which begs the question: Are we choosing our representatives, or are they choosing who gets to vote for them?"
* "For anyone keeping track, our politicians have committed future generations to pay a combined $99.2 trillion just for our unfunded Social Security and Medicare obligations. Add in our national debt and interest payments and you'll easily exceed the capability of most calculators."
* "The tax code that started in 1913 as 14 pages now exceeds 67,000.
"An income tax that was promised to only apply to the wealthiest 1 percent in 1913 quickly grew to 5 percent in 1939 and then, following World War II, to almost 75 percent of all Americans. To soften the tax blow, the government did what it always does: It reframed the argument. When 'War on Terror' was considered to be too aggressive it was changed to 'overseas contingency operations,' which is supposed to sound much friendlier. The same idea applied to our tax agency. The 'Bureau of Internal Revenue' was renamed the 'Internal Revenue Service' to, as the government put it, 'stress the service aspect of its work.'"
The Missouri U.S. Senate race between U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is already being followed nationally. By the time Election Day arrives we will probably know more about them than we care to, but it's important that we make a dedicated effort to separate the wheat from the chaff.
With the current 59-41 Democratic Senate majority, this state is one of a few that can provide a tipping point in history.
I recently finished a book about Winston Churchill by historian Paul Johnson. I've always wanted to read more about Churchill. He was a prolific writer during his lifetime, which is covered in this 165-page book.
It's like reading a well-done CliffNotes version. Fascinating.
Another book I found enjoyable and highly informative about the campaign of Barack Obama for president is "The Audacity to Win" by David Plouffe. It was published last October, but I missed it, and when Plouffe was brought back onto the scene by President Obama after the Democrats lost the Massachusetts senatorial race to Scott Brown, I decided to read it.
The book goes into depth about this initially small-groups strategy that brought a surprise victory in the Democratic primary over the Hillary Clinton team.
Also, the $750 million raised with a major use of e-mail (13 million-name list) and social networking was eye-opening.
Many who bought into candidate Obama's image and campaign rhetoric are now reconsidering their enthusiasm about the man who is governing differently than they thought he would.
Although government-sector employment has ranged since 1950 between 15 percent and 19 percent of the population, President Obama's Cabinet appointments have over 90 percent of their public experience in the government sector. No wonder they have so much trouble running what has been a free-market constitutional limited government.
Of the total union employees in this United States, 51 percent work for local, state or federal governments, and the influence they have on our governments is growing.
Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.