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"What the heck does this have to do with the stock market?"

Reported by Judy - December 10, 2005

Nearly every week that I watch one of Fox News Channel's so-called financial shows, I ask myself, "What the heck does this have to do with the stock market?" Panelist Ben Stein asked the question for me Saturday (December 10, 2005) on "Cavuto on Business."

Host Neil Cavuto pegged the show on two air marshals' shooting of a bipolar man on an American Airlines flight in Miami because they thought he had a bomb, asking the question whether the tragedy showed Americans are safer than before 9/11. In the news brief at the start of the show, Janice Dean reported that passengers on the Miami flight said they never heard the man say he had a bomb.

Panel members busily defended the air marshals. Daria Dolan said, "The guy was told to lie down and drop the bag and he reached into the bag. Anybody with half a brain would have pulled their gun and shot him if that's what they're trained to do. It's working (homeland security). It's working twice because he didn't even have a bomb in the sack." Huh?

Stuart Varney did his usual job of sucking up to the Bush administration with his comment, saying, "In the Miami incident, the right policies were in place. They were implemented correctly by the trained police and I think the flying public, you and I Daria, I think we're reassured by this. We appear to be spending homeland security money very well."

Jim Rogers, author of Hot Commodities, disagareed. "I agree with the 9/11 commission. I don't think we're better off. This incident in Miami, who knows what happened? You two seem to have been there. You two seem to know what happened. I don't know. Just like in London. They killed a perfectly innocent person and we found out later they were at fault and he wasn't. I don't feel any safer. We have lots of enemies being built up around the world ... I don't see that they've done much to secure America. I'd much prefer for us to spend money in America, with soldiers in America protecting America instead of making enemies in Iraq," he said, coming dangerously close to criticizing the president and thus undermining morale of our troops, threatening the strength of the dollar, sapping the confidence of investors, and possibly causing a stock market crash. Oh, wait. That was "Bulls and Bears."

John Rutledge of Rutledge Capital also threw cold water on the idea that the shooting was a sign of Americans' safety. "You know, this man had already been through security. I think this tells us nothing about homeland security. He was sick, not evil. We need to stop being paranoid in America. We're wimps and we're still trying to pretend that there's security in the world and there's not," he said.

Then Ben Stein, author of Yes, You Can Still Retire, asked the question that I always ask about these shows, telling Cavuto, "I have a very important question for you. What the heck does this have to do with the stock market? What the heck does this have to do with planning for retirement? What in the heck does this have to do with personal finance? And as far as I can tell, nothing."

Taking offense, Cavuto talked over Stein, telling him the stock market went down 50 points the day of the incident and then rallied when the man was found not to have had a bomb. "That's why," he said. Replied Stein, "Well, that has nothing to do with long-term financial planning."

Rogers, however, stuck up for Cavuto, saying if the U.S. is attacked by terrorists again, it will affect the economy so people need to ask if homeland security money is being spent wisely.

Still, it's a big stretch from air marshals shooting an unarmed man to concluding that homeland security money is being well spent. Chris Lahui, from Daily Trends.com, tried to bring the conversation back to the Bush administration's failure to spend money to make ports, subways, and trains safer. That discussion would have made more sense.

But it might have made Bush look bad.

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