Thursday, June 30, 2011

Executive Hydrofracking Moratorium to be Replaced by Regulatory One

Nick Grealy, of No Hot Air, asks, "Could sanity be breaking out in the empire state"?, while ProActive Network is a bit more jaundiced, finding "some good recommendations and some strange recommendations", with lawsuits on the horizon. While the NRDC Switchboard states "the de facto moratorium that has been in place since the summer of 2008 remains intact".

So what gives?

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation was required to release its Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Study (SGEIS) on Friday July 1. The details of which were released by surprise today. Fred Dicker of the NY Post claims that "Cuomo Administration insiders said they believed details of the report were being released Thursday by environmental activists at DEC, who opposed the findings." This may in fact be true, but if so it was poorly coordinated as there is virtual silence, for now, from the anti-fracking brigade.

It tuns out the rumors are true! The NY State DEC will issue new recommendations in its hydraulic fracturing review, the full report will be presumably be presented tomorrow, but the general findings can be found at the NY DEC website.

  • In Reversal of 2009 Report, High-Volume Fracturing Would be Prohibited in NYC and Syracuse Watersheds
  • Drilling Banned Within All Primary Aquifers and on State-Owned Land Including State Forest and Wildlife Management Areas
  • Drilling Permitted on Other Private Land with Rigorous and Effective Protections
  • Advisory Panel on Implementation to Be Appointed

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) tomorrow will release its revised recommendations on mitigating the environmental impacts of high-volume hydraulic fracturing . The recommendations contain these major revisions:

  • High-volume fracturing would be prohibited in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, including a buffer zone;
  • Drilling would be prohibited within primary aquifers and within 500 feet of their boundaries;
  • Surface drilling would be prohibited on state-owned land including parks, forest areas and wildlife management areas;
  • High-volume fracturing will be permitted on privately held lands under rigorous and effective controls; and
  • DEC will issue regulations to codify these recommendations into state law.

These recommendations, if adopted in final form, would protect the state's environmentally sensitive areas while realizing the economic development and energy benefits of the state's natural gas resources. Approximately 85 percent of the Marcellus Shale would be accessible to natural gas extraction under these recommendations.

DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said, "This report strikes the right balance between protecting our environment, watersheds, and drinking water and promoting economic development."

The ban on high-volume fracturing in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds represents a reversal of the Department's 2009 draft report, which would have permitted drilling in those watersheds. The New York and Syracuse watersheds are unique in that they are the only unfiltered supplies of municipal water in the state and deserve special protection. The prior report also would have allowed high-volume fracturing surface drilling in primary aquifers and on public forests, wildlife areas and parkland; the 2011 report reverses all of these recommendations.

There will be more opportunity for review and comment on the Department's recommendations. DEC plans for a 60-day public comment period commencing in August. There is no administrative or discretionary moratorium on high-volume fracturing. By law, no permits may be issued until the public comments are reviewed and considered and the final Supplement Generic Environmental Impact Statement is released.

DEC enforcement and oversight of high-volume fracturing will be rigorous and effective. No permits will be issued until DEC has the proper enforcement capacity in place to monitor all fracturing activities.

In preparing the new recommendations, DEC engaged independent consultants to perform research, sought further information from the gas drilling industry, considered more than 13,000 public comments and studied other states' regulations and experience, including site visits by Commissioner Martens and DEC officials to Pennsylvania incident sites. Since September 2009, DEC staff has spent approximately 10,250 hours updating the document. The 2011 version contains more than 900 pages, including more than 150 additional pages of data and analysis compared to the 2009 version.

The DEC review has resulted in recommendations for rigorous and effective controls on high-volume fracturing on private lands. The "state-of-the-art controls" include rules to regulate eight specific parameters: Protecting Drinking Water, Properly Handling Flow Back Water, Taking Local Governments & Communities into Account, Identifying Fracturing Fluid Chemicals, Protecting the Air, Conserving Habitats, Making Sure We Get It Right - Community Impacts Still Under Study, and Appointment of Advisory Panel to Develop Implementation Plan. For specifics on each of these, please see the DEC website.

It seems obvious from the requirements that hydraulic fracturing for natural gas will not take place any time soon in New York State. The DEC seems to have effectively replaced an executive moratorium with a regulatory moratorium. Cuomo would be right to sign off on this plan as soon as possible. It may anger the anti's for a while, but they will eventually realize that the Governor is giving them a gift.

The realities of the situation will likely take a while to sink in, so I look forward to the wailing, gnashing of teeth, name calling and outright lies to blossom forth from the bosom of progressive environmentalists everywhere and I look forward to documenting it, even as I rue the economic opportunity New York will miss out on!

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My Endorsements for the Republican Nomination

I endorse both Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson for the 2012 Republican nomination for President. Both are not crazy and I think both would make good presidents.
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Romney Video: Obama Isn't Working

Photos: The Creepiest Trees on Earth

There are some things in nature and in the wider world that are disturbing. Humankind has definitely produced plenty of ideas and goods that have creeped out many. However, one element that is not usually thought of in this context is arboreal life.

So now we're going to pick out some of the highlights (or if you prefer, the lowlights) from the world's creepiest trees. Not for the faint of heart or aboraphobes:

We get these from a compilation at Environmental Graffiti. For the rest, check out here.

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The Month in Review

June has been another busy month on Pundit Press. Our articles have reached across the blogosphere again. We're at 215 subscribers, 123 Twitter followers, and 116 followers.

In the last month we've had 338 articles.

Danny Butcher: 60 articles, up from 4. This is 17.5% of the total.
Aurelius: 101 stories, down from 123. This is 29.6 of the sum.
Mr. K: 41 pieces, down from 54. This is 11.5%
Thomas: 97 articles, down from 146. This is 28.7% of the total.
Unlikely Hospitalist: 31, from 35. This is 8.9% of the month's articles.
Fenway Nation: 5, up from 1.
Dr. Owens: 4, the same.
Dr. White: 1, from 2.
Kaptain Krude: 1, from 4.
Joe C.: 0, from 1.

This month, we received 61,188 pageviews.

Top articles of the month:

1. Unexpectedly Compilation by Aurelius, with 11,618 hits or 19.1% of the total.
2. Ewww: Picture of Weiner Cross-Dressing Released by Aurelius with 3,370 hits, or 5.5% of the total.
3. Opponents to Natural Gas Make Very Strange Bedfellows by Unlikely Hospitalist with 3,156 hits, or 5.2% of the total.
4. Congressman Weiner 'Oiled Up' by Thomas with 1,766 hits, or 2.9%.
5. VA Cemetery to Veterans: The Word "God," "Jesus" are Offensive, no Longer Allowed by Aurelius, with 1,581 views, or 2.6% of the month's total.
6. O.J. Simpson Admits to Killing Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in Self Defense? by Unlikely Hospitalist with 1,433 hits, or 2.3% of the total.
7. Article about Lara Logan's assault by Aurelius with 1,271 hits.
8. Explicit Pic of Anthony Weiner's Weiner Leaked by Aurelius with 1,163 hits or 1.9% of the sum.
9. Weiner writes Woman: "ridiculous bulge in my shorts now. wanna see?" by Aurelius with 1,154 hits, or 1.9%.
10. "Unexpected" Compilation Redux by Aurelius and reader JB with 966 hits.

Mr. K's top article was Obama Betrays Britain on Falkland Islands with 326 views.

Danny Butcher's top article was Economic Storm Brewing Around Obama with 280 hits.

To Those that Linked to Us

We would like to thank the following for linking to us:

  • WCBM
  • Michelle Malkin
  • Instapundit
  • Gateway Pundit
  • The Blaze
  • Atlas Shrugs
  • Ace of Spades
  • The Telegraph
  • The tomb of the unknown blogger
Top Contributor of the Month

This month the top contributor was Danny Butcher, who came in full force this month. Last month it was our stalwart, handsome veteran Mr. K.

Some interesting notes:
  • This is Danny Butcher's first full month.
  • We are very disappointed in Joe.
  • We introduced a new feature: Pundit Press Question.
  • Osama bin Laden is still dead.

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U.S. Senate Confirms Petraeus 94-0

The United States Senate just voted 94-0 to confirm General David Petraeus as the next Director of the CIA. Senators "debated" the nomination for nearly two hours before unanimously supporting President Obama's second consecutive defense related appointee. Leon Panetta was confirmed 100-0 just last week.

General Petraeus is one of the few individuals in modern America that could be unanimously supported without considerable debate, and no one could possibly argue that he doesn't deserve such an honour - as he has overseen our military's definitive victory in Iraq and our ongoing military success in Afghanistan. 

America is blessed to have such a patriot always willing to put his country first.

What say you?

Breaking: NY State to Lift Moratorium on Fracking

So says a banner at the NYT that was posted via its twitter feed an noon today. As of now there has been no confirmation from the NY DEP.

The New York Times
NYT NEWS ALERT: New York State to Lift Moratorium on Hydraulic Fracturing

Politics on the Hudson has more:

In a one-line crawl on the top of its website and a blast from its official Twitter account, The New York Times is reporting that the state will lift its moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

But Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office quickly moved to knock the report down, with a spokesman Josh Vlasto calling it “baseless speculation and premature” in an e-mail.

The one-sentence was added as a “Breaking News” item on the top of its website at noon: “New York State to Lift Moratorium on Hydraulic Fracturing”

As of 12:40 p.m., it remains there. A full story hasn’t been added yet.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is up against a July 1 deadline for a second draft of its Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement—a massive document that will guide the permitting process for hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale.

By executive order, the process is set to remain on hold in New York until a final version of the document—not the upcoming draft—is set in stone, so a lift of the moratorium would be a major surprise, to say the least.

The upcoming draft is set to be followed by at least a 30 day comment period, as directed by a separate executive order from former Gov. David Paterson, and extended under Cuomo. Shortly before the NYT alert moved, a DEC spokesperson said there “will be ample time for public comment and it will not begin until sometime after the document is made available to the public.”

I will continue to add more as events warrant and my time allows.


Cuomo Will Seek to Lift Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing

The Cuomo administration is expected to lift what has been, in effect, a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial technology used to extract natural gas from shale, people briefed on the administration’s discussions said.
Administration officials are discussing maintaining a ban on the process inside New York City’s sprawling upstate watershed, as well as a watershed used by the city of Syracuse, according to people briefed on the plan. But by allowing the process in other parts of the state, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would open up New York to one of the fastest-growing — critics would say reckless — areas of the energy industry.
When the decision will be made public is less certain. On Friday, the State Department of Environmental Conservation is due to release a long-awaited study of the process, widely known as hydrofracking. But it was unclear if the Cuomo administration would use the occasion to announce its broader policy plans related to the issue as well. The report will likely include recommendations, and then there will be a period for public comments before a final determination can be made.
Hydrofracking has spurred intense protests from environmental activists, who say it threatens the cleanliness of ground water. The process involves injecting large volumes of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, deep into the ground to break up rock formations and release natural gas. It is legal in a number of other states, including Pennsylvania.
A primary concern among environmental groups has been the leftover waste water that can be contaminated with toxins buried underground, including naturally occurring radioactive elements or carcinogens like benzene.
Drilling for natural gas has been promoted as a way to reduce dependence on imported energy, even as it burns more cleanly than coal.
Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for the governor, said it was “baseless speculation and premature” to say the state’s current moratorium on hydrofracking would be lifted.
Ian Urbina unavailable for comment!

U.S. Recognizes Muslim Brotherhood; Brotherhood "Welcomes" Idea of US Contacts

Sweet feathery you-know-who.  What the hell is the Obama Administration thinking?  Actually, forget I asked:
The U.S. has decided to formally resume contact with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood group - which does not recognize Israel – in a move that could further alienate some Jewish voters already skeptical of President Barack Obama, it was reported.

One senior U.S. official said the Brotherhood’s rise in political prominence after the forced departure of former President Hosni Mubarak earlier this year makes the American contact necessary...

The Muslim Brotherhood - founded in 1928 to promote a conservative version of Islam in politics, culture and society.
And from Reuters:
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood welcomes any formal contacts with the United States as a way to clarify its vision but no such contacts have yet been made, a spokesman for the Islamist group said on Thursday.

A senior U.S. official said on Wednesday that the United States had decided to resume formal contacts with the Brotherhood, a step that reflects its growing political weight but is almost certain to upset Israel and its U.S. backers.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
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Virginia: Obama, Generic Republican in Dead Heat

President Obama's hard road to remaining in the White House has to go through Virginia, and her fifteen electoral votes, but that might not be easy according to a Quinnipiac University survey released earlier today.

Over 1,400 registered Virginian voters were asked if the 2012 election were held today whether they would vote for President Obama, or the currently unnamed Republican candidate. 43% would vote for Obama; 41% for a Republican to be named later; 10% says it depends on the final candidates and 6% just don't know.

The President obviously has problems.

Both old (55+), and middle age (35-55) voters support the unnamed Republican with 45% of the vote, while unreliable youngsters support President Obama with just 56% of their vote - several points lower than polling data reported in 2008.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to be in the situation of barely leading an unknown Republican candidate with the election just seventeen months away. President Obama is in serious trouble if undecided voters break even slightly for the eventual GOP nominee.

Great news for the Republican field today.

What say you?

Hungary Unveils Ronald Reagan Statue

Hungary unveiled this statue of Ronald Reagan on Wednesday in honor of our 40th President for his valiant efforts to defeat Communism. Prime Minister Victor Orban, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were present at the ceremony, along with several other American and Hungarian officials.

It is nice to know that someone appreciates the role America has played in the fight for individual freedom since our founding nearly 235 years to the day.

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Red Eye Now Beating CNN's Primetime Lineup, Despite 3am Airtime

You may have never seen Red Eye. Most likely you're sleeping when it airs. I've caught several dozen shows and, if I'm awake in the middle of the night for some reason, I invariably put on Red Eye.

Looks like I'm not the only one. According to Nielson ratings, Red Eye is now beating CNN's primetime lineup. That's right, a show that airs at 3am is beating a show that airs at 8pm... you know, when people are awake.
Greg Gutfeld: Busy Being Awesome
I'm not sure whether this shows that people really appreciate how awesome Red Eye is, or no one watches CNN. Either way, it's a major coup for Fox News.

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Sarkozy Attacked Video

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was physically accosted in southern France. Here is the video. The man is apparently a Muslim national:

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Justice Breyer Defends Justice Thomas

HT: Newsmax

Should Justice Clarence Thomas recuse himself from all potential proceedings on the Constitutionality of ObamaCare because of his wife's affiliation with Tea Party associated organizations last year, which she financially benefited from?

Most conservatives say absolutely not, while liberals have launched campaigns demanding his recusal. But what about a fellow member of the United States Supreme Court - from the other side - on whether the Justice should sit out this fundamentally important case?

According to Justice Stephen Breyer, who is one of the four liberals on the court, "this is a false issue" that does not hold water because the action of your spouse, an independent person, has nothing to do with your work on the court. He pointed to his wife's work in psychology and his own involvement in related cases as an example.

There you have it - Justice Breyer has just confirmed what Conservatives have said for months now - the actions of Mrs. Thomas do not, in any possible way, impact the impartiality of Justice Thomas and the same applies to every Justice.

What say you?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Herman Cain Ad: A Failure to Lead

I dedicate this to Unlikely Hospitalist. The good doctor would like this:

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Golfer-In-Chief to Congress: “You Need To Be Here, I’ve Been Here”

Saw this on the always interesting Weasel Zippers, thought I'd repost it here.

From CBS:
President Obama offered some harsh words of members of Congress at his news conference Wednesday, saying, "At a certain point, they need to do their job."

Mr. Obama made the comments in reference to attempts to reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling, which the Obama administration says will be exceeded on August 2. Appearing exasperated, Mr. Obama negatively compared members to his daughters, 13-year-old Malia and 10-year-old Sasha, who he said "generally finish their homework a day ahead of time."

"They don't wait until the night before. They're not pulling all nighters," he said. "...You know, Congress can do the same thing."

He went on to complain about Congressional Republicans' calls for him to get more involved in the negotiations, saying that he "met with every single caucus for an hour to an hour and a half each" and "met with the leaders multiple times."

"They need to do their job," he said. "Now's the time to go ahead and make the tough choices. That's why they're called leaders."

Obama: "Fuss" over Libya action is just "politics"

He also called for members to "start having to cancel things and stay here" in Washington if there isn't "substantial progress" by the end of the week.

Mr. Obama then took aim at members for their frequent recesses, saying "they're in [session] one week, they're out one week."

"You need to be here," he said, directing his comments at members. "I've been here."
Dude, seriously?

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A Prediction; The First Woman President of the US will be elected in 2012

Over the last four years, two women from opposite political poles have been serious candidates for the Presidency,

Hillary Clinton came very close to winning three years ago, but got caught in the wringer of a brilliant campaign by President Obama. Can she be a candidate again? As our Secretary of State, she has diligently supported Obama’s policies; it is likely that this has hurt her far more than helped. Further, unless Obama pulls a Lyndon Johnson and resigns, he will be the Democratic candidate in 2012 and Hillary will need to wait until 2016 when there will be fresher attractive candidates (such as Andrew Cuomo). Also, at that time, she will be held partly responsible for Obama’s record, which has been a failure with respect to foreign policy. Finally, Hillary has always been a polarizing figure, disliked by large numbers of both conservatives and independents

At the other end of the spectrum is Sarah Palin. A candidate for Vice-President in 2008, and currently considered a viable candidate for the top office in 2012, she is even more polarizing than Hillary Clinton. She is despised by liberals and progressives, not taken seriously by centrists and a large swath of the Republican party, and is a reliable figure of humor and ridicule on the nighttime talk shows Further, her gaffe proneness, and her lack of intellectual curiosity, makes it unlikely that she could survive a general election. She does have an enthusiastic base of supporters, but it is not large enough to nominate her. While she is keeping her followers guessing, it is unlikely that she will run. Should she do so, it will likely be a brief campaign.

And then there is Michelle Bachman.

She has just announced her candidacy, and is already tied for first place with Mitt Romney who has the advantage of considerable name recognition, the result of his record as a first line contender in 2008.

How is this possible? Comedians have had a field day with Bachmann. Journalists have labeled her a buffoon. To those on the left, she is a cartoon figure, derided by the same elite crowd that have laughed at Sarah Palin. Many have tried to portray her as a Palin clone. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has labeled her as an extremist, and has set her up as the “poster boy” for scaring their followers into donating money.

There are similarities between Bachman and Palin. Both are conservative Republican women, and both are mocked and ridiculed by the left. However the differences stop there. Palin lacks intellectual depth and is basically uneducated about most issues. Her appeals to her supporters tend to be emotional. Bachmann’s approach is far more cerebral. She knows how to fashion an argument, she speaks with eloquence and passion, and her talks are filled with references to books and articles from the entire spectrum of political thought.

In her column in the Washington Post. Jennifer Rubin, has published a glowing interview with Bachmann. Rubin states that her “media image — extreme and excitable --- has missed, or chosen to ignore, the real Michele Bachmann”. Rubin points out that she is “a very disciplined and organized woman … who has the intellectual heft to formulate and defend her positions”.

Republicans need to take her seriously, since she has the skills and temperament necessary for the highest office, as well as the ability to defeat the incumbent. The 55 year old Bachmann is an attorney who has practiced tax law. She has enormous energy, is Intelligent, charismatic, and attractive, is knowledgeable about a wide range of issues and is a quick study with respect to the rest. When Chris Wallace asked her in an interview if she was a “flake”, her calm and measured response showed that she was anything but. And she is fully capable of expanding her base as the electorate learns who she really is.

Bachmann came to conservatism through personal experience. She worked for the election of Jimmy Carter, but was later turned off by his record in office. And she became disillusioned by the anti-Americanism of some leftist intellectuals.

Matthew Continetti, a highly respected commentator, has published a favorable article in which he points out that “She’s a talented fundraiser who raised $13.5 million for her 2010 reelection campaign. She’s a television star who appropriately tailors her message to her audience, Her combativeness will delight conservatives eager to fight Barack Obama. Her movement credentials—she founded the House Tea Party Caucus—put her at the cutting edge of right-wing politics. And in a primary campaign where authenticity counts, no other candidate has Bachmann’s unique history: an Iowa native who put herself through law school, raised her five children and took in 23 foster children, and has never lost an election for state or federal office”.

At present, the Republicans are split between the populist tea party people, and main stream “business” Republicans. These positions are best represented by Bachman and Romney respectively. However, the party’s major concern is a single one; who can beat Barack Obama?. While Bachman has been identified with the Tea Party wing, her positions are not so far from the mainstream of the GOP. She will succeed in getting the Republican nomination since she is smart enough and articulate enough to win over a majority of the party, while Mitt Romney and the other candidates each have too many negatives.

So if Bachman gets the nomination, how will she do against Barack Obama in the general election? President Obama has several strikes against him. Unlike 2008, he no longer can be all things to all Americans. He now has a record and can’t hide behind flowery but meaningless phrases.

His major Achilles heel is the very high unemployment rate which he had promised to correct. The number of Americans who are not working is even greater than the official numbers, since many have simply given up looking, while others are underemployed.

Obama has successfully pushed for passage of very expensive legislation, presiding over the highest historical level of federal spending, and has done this at the worst possible time.

His health reform legislation, labeled as a measure that the electorate would learn to love, has had the opposite effect as citizens have seen that many of his claims (e.g. no one will lose their present coverage) are simply false.

And finally on foreign policy, Obama ran on a platform of restoring American prestige by being a kinder gentler President than George Bush in dealing with foreign nations, by using engagement and diplomacy to solve our problems, and by downplaying the seriousness of the threat of Islamic jihad. These policies have failed all tests of effectiveness.

Engagement with Iran and Syria have been dismal failures, the leaders of Iran and North Korea laugh at him, he abandoned an ally in Hosni Mubarek, and has failed to support our friends thereby scaring other Arab and European leaders who wonder about the reliability of our nation. Former allies like Turkey are moving away. And his on again off again confused approach to Libya, seems to be a final disillusioning blow. .

Finally, he has suffered losses among some major constituents. A large segment of the Jewish community, those who feel strongly about the need for the existence of a Jewish state, have watched with horror while Obama has put enormous and counterproductive pressure on Israel with no corresponding demands of the Palestinians. He will still garner a majority of Jewish voters, but Jewish enthusiasm, fundraising, and organizational skills, will be greatly diminished. (And there will be comparisons with the fact that Bachmann spent her summer after High School in Israel working on a kibbutz)

Obama still believes that J Street, Tikkun, and their fellow travelers represent the majority view among American Jews, but he is about to learn that these are marginal organizations who are good at self-promotion, but fail to influence the large numbers they claim, and for most Jews simply lack honesty and integrity.

Other groups such as Hispanics are less enthusiastic than in 2008. Further, many who were impressed with his rhetoric have now seen his performance and are feeling chastened. In particular, his left wing base is upset that he has failed to meet their expectations on many social and economic issues. As a result, many of those who supported him in 2008 will be AWOL in 2012.

Most significantly, over the last two years, millions of previously disinterested Americans, scared about our nations decline and angry over government policies, have become involved in politics.. Michele Bachmann knows how to speak to those voters.

So Bachmann will almost certainly win the GOP nomination, and I give her better than an even chance to win the general election. She is smart and capable, and she is willing to attack Obama effectively on the issues without being shrill or irrational. Her timing is right, given the marked and growing resistance to government debt, to taxes, and to Obamacare. Bachmann says that . “They see that Obama just seems to be completely clueless. And everything he’s done has turned to dust. He has the opposite of a Midas Touch”

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The Chicago HQ

I remember reading in Sarah Palin's autobiography, Going Rogue, how she and her Vice-Presidential team were frustrated with the mysterious "headquarters" at the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C. The "headquarters" primary function was to make sure everything worked according to a set plan, but that sometimes meant not changing the plan when they should have.

At least that was with a candidate for the Vice-Presidency of the United States, because the "headquarters" of 2011 isn't telling Sarah Palin what to do; but the main stream media.

It doesn't matter what is said or who said it, because the main stream media will unfailingly pick up the red phone and call President Barack Obama's reelection headquarters in Chicago for their summons, err, response to whatever was said. Some in the media are even writing "Chicago:" in their 2012 headlines now.

I'm getting a gut feeling that the main stream media isn't calling Chicago for the Obama campaign response, but for the party line in how liberals should address whatever Republican accusation was made that day, because the official Obama response usually becomes the media line within only minutes of Chicago's edict.

Am I thinking too outside the box, or have I struck the nail on the head?

What say you?

Too Late for Education? A Discussion About the Left and Their Version of "Climate Change"

Pundit Press is proud to present an emailed article that we received from one of our best readers, JB (signed MOAtty). You may remember that he was the one that sent us the chronologically sorted "Unexpectedly Compilation." This time he's sent us an excellent on the Left's version of "climate change." Once again, it was too good to not share:

A conservative pundit recently engaged in a noble effort to educate the 2012 Republican presidential contenders on how to intelligently discuss “climate change”, urging the candidates to begin by stating: "I accept the opinion of the large number of scientists who conclude that human activity has helped cause the warming we've experienced so far." Unfortunately, there is absolutely no justification for such a Romney-like concession. This inane hand grenade of a statement sabotages any candidate-education project and grants an unearned victory to the ignorance of the other side.

Where to begin? First, who are these scientists? The reputation of the Union of Concerned Scientists, e.g., leaves much to be desired. The Climategate “scientists” were caught trying to “hide the decline”. A surgeon may have studied a lot of science, but what does a surgeon know about climate? Al Gore, who majored in journalism and political science, has talked endlessly about all the "scientists" who agree with him. Who has reviewed the relevant credentials of any of this "large number of scientists"?           

Second, an opinion is not science; anyone can have an opinion, but it is not a hypothesis or a theory, much less a law. And science is not settled by consensus. Large numbers of scientists have been wrong many times throughout recorded history. The consensus about the Earth being the center of the universe comes to mind. It almost cost Galileo his life.

Third, the Earth generates a share of its own warmth. It consists of a ball, approximately 25,000 miles in circumference, with a relatively small iron core and a relatively thin crust; in between is an enormous mass of melted rock called magma (commonly known as lava when it regularly bursts out through a volcano). The crust, in effect, floats on a sea of magma, as pieces of the crust (tectonic plates) grind against each other, generating earthquakes. Think of an egg with a relatively thin crust; think of its liquid center being raised to the temperature of molten rock; would you want to hold it in your hand? Obviously the Earth's crust provides more insulation, but other celestial bodies (e.g. moons of Jupiter), which are not volcanically active, seem to be notably colder than those that are.
Is the world really burning?
Fourth, the Earth is, cosmologically, a close neighbor to the Sun. The Sun is a gaseous ball, generally pegged at about 2.7 million miles in circumference, consisting of a gigantic, ongoing nuclear fusion reaction. Sunspots (giant storms) rage on its surface. The energy continuously belched out at us through its massive flares and prominences is almost unimaginable. Yet the usual suspects snickered at Vice President Cheney when he correctly suggested that sunspot cycles affect our climate. Moreover, the ultimate fate of the Earth is to be literally consumed by the Sun. As the Sun burns through its nuclear fuel, it will gradually morph into a “Red Giant”, growing exponentially in circumference and engulfing the orbits of the inner planets, incinerating them in the process. Maybe Al Gore can come up with some massively intrusive regulations to prevent that process.

The point of all of the above is that there are massive natural forces at work on our planet that we are powerless to affect, as powerless as are microbes on a laboratory slide to affect the temperature in the laboratory. It is astonishing hubris, as well as ignorance, for the usual suspects to declare CO², a naturally occurring gas that is essential to all life on Earth, to be a "pollutant", and to suggest that by gathering opinions from a "large number of scientists" we, in our majestic intelligence, can determine the precisely correct amount of this essential gas that we should permit to exist, and the exactly correct temperature at which we should attempt to maintain the Earth.

Yes, there is natural climate change going on, as there always has been and always will be for as long as the planet exists. No, we do not need presidential candidates who will make the concession urged above. We need candidates who will stand up and call the left’s version of “climate change” what it is: a power and money-grabbing scheme of historical proportions. One might expect, when people step forward and declare themselves ready to be President of the United States, that they would already know such things. If our candidates do not, maybe we need some different candidates.


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Video: Amazon May Leave CA Over Taxes

Taxes don't kill business? Well, ask Amazon.

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'Hundreds' of Yemeni Forces Defect

According to new reports, hundreds of Yemeni troops have defected from the military. These include over 100 members of the Republican Guard, run by dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh's brother.

The defections are the latest in a series by security forces since the anti-Saleh uprising began in February. Most prominent was the defection in March of Brigadier General Ali Mohsen, who has since sent in his troops to guard protesters in Sanaa.

The protests have culminated in battles between Saleh loyalists and gunmen from the powerful Hashed tribal federation in Sanaa that brought the country to the verge of civil war.

This also comes as there is a fierce battle raging between al Qaeda-linked terrorists and members of the Yemeni military.

Cross-posted at WorldThreats.

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Frackophobia Results in Loss of Critical Thinking Skills

I highlighted a video produced by entitled "The Truth About Fracking". It's is a simple interview style video that endeavors to give science correspondent Ronald Bailey a chance to discuss hydraulic fracturing. It didn't take long for commenter du jour, Tlaloc to have his say in the comments. I quote,

"Given that Reason is hardcore libertarian propaganda and that Bailey is strongly involved with both the CEI and AEI (huge purveyors of corporate propaganda) I’m pretty sure I can guess what the video says.

Here’s the thing, if the science of fracking is convincing why do you have to parade these shills to say it? Where are the respectable scientists?"

Now I don't think I would catagorize Reason as hardcore libertarian propaganda, but the description is useful to point out what those who support hydraulic fracturing are up against. I responded with the example of Taury Smith, New York state geologist, who spoke up in March 2011 saying, "The worst spin on the worst incidents are treated as if it's going to be the norm here,...this could really help us fight climate change; this is a huge gift, this shale." The article continues,

He said he has been examining the science of hydrofracturing the shale for three years and has found no cases in which the process has led to groundwater contamination, although several portrayals by anti-fracking groups and featured in the press have raised concerns about underground pools being harmed because of drilling.

"Those are exaggerated problems; each incident wasn't the result of hydro-fracking. There were incidents of groundwater contamination near frack sites, but they were unrelated," Smith said. He said the industry should be strictly monitored by the Department of Environmental Conservation, and should be encouraged to move the nation away from coal-fired power and to the more environmentally friendly natural gas.

"I'm for a strong regulation by DEC. They have no vested interest. The environmental groups have a vested interest. The companies have a huge profit at stake, so I wouldn't trust them either," Smith, who works for the State Museum said. "If there's one group you can trust it's the DEC."

Does it matter that "Smith, who has worked for the state for nearly 11 years, disclosed on the Ammonite website that he has done and does consulting for Saudi Aramco, Angola LNG, Shell, Texaco, Repsol, Devon, Encana and other clients", or that "None of the companies named have applied for the rights to drill in the Marcellus formation, according to state data." For many it matters a great deal.

For his trouble people like my commenter friend labels Mr. Smith and others like him as liars who will be treated as such.

My suspicion is that there aren't many geologist's around. It would also be my suspicion that many of these geologist's were in some consulting capacity for a number of energy, oil, and gas companies. It seems like a great job for a geologist to have and would be very surprising and disconcerting to me if these companies weren't asking experts in the field for their thoughts and perspectives prior to investing billions of dollars into the crazy notion of drilling into the ground almost a mile to find a thin layer of shale. Really, doesn't that sound a lot more unreasonable?

This is nothing new. It matters little that Taury Smith is an expert in the field or that he is a self expressed environmental democrat. It only matters that he hasn't catagorically impugned the natural gas industry as evil and hydraulic fracturing as an unsafe technique that will spoil our water, radiate our children and disrupt everyone's endocrine system.

For lots more background on Taury Smith follow the link.

Perhaps the most troubling thing here is the complete and utter hypocrisy demonstrated by those suffering from a profound and severe case of frackophobia. I wondered aloud if Mr. Tlaloc would hold those who oppose hydraulic fracturing to the same standard.

Does it concern you at all that the lead author of the Cornell Methane study is a fierce and vocal supporter of the anti-fracking agenda? Or that one of the few on the record references in the NYT expose over the weekend, Deborah Rogers, was a featured speaker at OGAP’s “People’s Oil and Gas Summit” in Pittsburgh, even directing her own anti-shale group in Texas to pitch in as a sponsor for the event.

By your own standard this delegitimizes a major expose in the NYT Sunday edition and a scientific peer reviewed study.

If anyone is interested, the conflicts of interest doesn't concern my commenter friend in the least.

By their own standards the Cornell methane study, the Duke gas migration study, the recent NYT expose from Sunday June 26 and the NYT piece on radiation contamination of fracking fluid would be considered a null event. Articles like this one from the Stuart Smith Blog should never be considered or read. You see, Mr. Smith is a lawyer whose job it is to fight "major oil companies and polluters". Because he has a financial interest in the prohibition of energy production his opinions on the topic are not to be considered worthy of consideration, when in reality his opinions are demonstrably wrong because of the science.

Tlaloc and others set a very dangerous precedent. Doubtless, it is a precedent that has been set long ago, but one I am only beginning to become aware of. To invalidate expert opinion because of a perceived conflict of interest is to bring into doubt the very integrity of the individual.

Consider this, I am a physician, as such I receive payment from private insurance for the services I provide patients. Based upon the reasoning and logic described above, physicians comments regarding healthcare reform and PPACA are invalidated because we have a vested interest in the outcome. It is absurd on it's face, but this is the level of debate we now find ourselves in with regard to hydraulic fracturing the Marcellus shale for natural gas!

Cross Posted at The Lonely Conservative

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VA Cemetery to Veterans: The Word "God," "Jesus" are Offensive, no Longer Allowed

The Houston National Cemetery has told veterans and volunteers alike that they can no longer use the word "God,""God bless," or "Jesus" at any and all funerals or condolence cards.  The word has been deemed 'offensive.'

That is according to local volunteer and veterans groups that work at the cemetery.  They are now suing the Cemetery in federal court so that they can use the word God.

To cite one specific example given in the suit, the director of the cemetery, Arleen Ocasio commanded volunteers never to use "God bless you" and "God bless" ever again at the cemetery.

Cheryl Whitfield, founder of Houston National Memorial Ladies, could not simply stand by. "I could've kept my mouth shut and let things happen, but when it comes to standing up for your belief in God and giving comfort to the families, I don't want to regret not saying anything," she said. "We all had to stand up for what we believe in."

Specifically, the suit brought against the cemetery and the Department of Veterans Affairs states that there has been "a widespread and consistent practice of discriminating against private religious speech."
Houston National Cemetery
The suit goes on to describe Ms. Ocasio's running of the cemetery:
"The doors remain locked during Houston National Cemetery operating hours, the cross and the Bible have been removed, and the Chapel bells, which tolled at least twice a day, are now inoperative. Director Ocasio only unlocks the chapel doors when meetings or training sessions are held at the building. Furthermore, it is no longer called a 'chapel' but a 'meeting facility.' "
Another man allegedly discriminated against in the suit was Vietnam veteran Nobleton Jones. After reciting the words, "We ask that God grant you and your family grace, mercy and peace" at a burial ceremony, a phrase that he has used for decades, he was told to stop.

"That makes me feel smaller, even after I spent my time in the military, fighting so that people should be able to say that," he said in response. "I did all this for my country and you are going to tell me what I can and can't say?"

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Wednesday Bush-a-Thon

 Consider this an open thread:

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg Cites Al Qaeda Video in New Ad Calling For More Gun Control

Obligatory gun show image
New York City Mayor (as well as anti-gun and anti-salt crusader) Micheal Bloomberg and an organization called Mayors Against Illegal Guns has launched a new video featuring quotations from a fugitive American member of Al Qaeda, claiming that terrorists will take advantage of a so-called 'gun show loophole'.

Frankly, I would be more concerned about firearms falling into the hands of thieves and convicted felons like Mayors Against Illegal Guns alumni Kwame Kilpatrick, Eddie Perez, Rod Blagojevich or Sheila Dixon.
An ominous television ad commissioned by Mayor Bloomberg will soon blanket the airwaves - warning that Al Qaeda could exploit the so-called "gunshow loophole."

This is a golden opportunity," said Al-Amriki. "America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms."

"You can go down to a gun show and come away with a fully-automatic assault rifle without a background check," Al-Amriki said on the terror tape. "So what are you waiting for?"

Bloomberg and his coalition - dubbed "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" - have long urged for the repeal of the gunshow loophole, which allows unlicensed sellers to peddle weapons without running a background check of the buyer.

"Criminals already know how to take advantage of gaps in our gun laws, and now Al Qaeda knows too," said Bloomberg about the new commercial.

"Weak gun laws aren't just a crime problem, they're a national security threat," Bloomberg said, "and this ad should be a wake-up call to Congress."
The Mayor's Against Illegal Guns ad makes reference to a video made by "American Al Qaeda" Adam Gadhan that was released earlier this month calling for "lone wolf" style attacks against high profile targets and institutions.
He said: 'America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms.
'You can go down to a gun show at the local convention centre and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card.
Seriously- is it just me, or does it sound like Gadhan and Mayors Against Illegal Guns get their talking points from the exact same place? Perhaps this is an attempt by Bloomberg, other MAIG members and other gun control advocates to deflect attention away from the Congressional hearings into the ATF's Operation Fast & Furious with damning testimony from field agents who were ordered to allow weapons sold to straw purchasers in the USA to be illegally exported to Mexican drug cartels where they would be recovered from crime scenes on both sides of the border.

You'll have to excuse me if I call Mayor Bloomberg's counterterrorism expertise into question, given not only how the latest Mayors Against Illegal Guns video tidily overlaps with a number of long-standing gun control memes but his assessment of the attempted Times Square bombing last year.

US, Afghans Launch Kunar Offensive

United States and Afghan forces have launched an airborne assault against Taliban fighters in Kunar province. Hundreds of soldiers were airlifted to the region with the idea of defeating organized pockets of Taliban control. In this region bordering Pakistan, the Taliban functions more as a pseudo-government than simply a terrorist group.

The offensive operation is the largest for the 3rd Brigade since its deployment to eastern Afghanistan in April. A brigade spokesman, Maj. David Eastburn, said it was at least "five to seven times larger than any previous operation conducted by the brigade."

So far the operation appears to be going well:

U.S. military commanders said they have so far killed close to 80 insurgents.

Brigade Intelligence Officer Maj. Chris Rankin said the militants were part of the Taliban and Pakistani insurgent groups such as the Tehrik-i-Taliban, known as the TTP, and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Lashkar-e-Taiba, which regularly cross the ill-defined border to wage attacks on American and Afghan troops.

"It's (Watahpur) an ideal insurgent safe haven," Rankin said.

The LeT launched the Mumbai attacks and could be considered (no turn of phrase meant) as al Qaeda 1.5-- ready to launch attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Soon perhaps outside of South Asia.

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Qaeda Consolidates Hold on Southern Yemen

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and linked groups have consolidated their control over a portion of southern Yemen as that nation spirals into virtual civil war. It appears that the Yemeni government and military is nearly powerless to stop this.

The militants, operating under the name "Ansar al-Sunna," or supporters of Islamic Sharia law, captured the coastal city of Zinjibar in late May.

Zinjibar is on the Arabian Sea and normally has a population of about 150,000. But residents on Monday said large parts of the city are deserted and most stores are shuttered. There is a shortage of drinking water, forcing residents to bring water from wells on the city's outskirts.

They said the province's main hospital, al-Rajaa, on the road to the nearby city of Jaar, has been taken over by the militants and is being run by physicians from Sudan and Syria. They said the militants also have taken over local government offices.

"Why has not the army moved in to retake the city?" asked Zinjibar resident Ali al-Sumeiti, 22. "Now, from every 10 shells they fire on the city, only one hits the militants."

Another Zinjibar resident, 65-year-old retiree Abdullah al-Mohandes, said residents were running out of food and were heavily dependent on kitchen gardens to survive.

Al-Mohandes, however, had some praise for the militants.

"To be completely honest, we have not been badly treated by the mujahideen. On the contrary, they try to win our goodwill all the time," he said. "If you tell them you want to leave town, they escort you out and give you money to tide you over."

The jihadists are attempting to placate the civilians with programs, just as Hamas and Hezbollah have done. This could engender trust from the locals, which would be a very bad sign.

Cross-posted at WorldThreats.

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Martens: DEC may or may not hit Friday deadline for fracking report

Friday this week is July 1st. This is the deadline given by Governor Coumo for the DEC to submit the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the Marcellus shale. They have been working on it since at least December 2010 and were given an initial soft deadline of June 1st by former Governor David Patterson. Now we find they may not yet be finished. Can't say I am surprised....

Martens: DEC may or may not hit Friday deadline for fracking report

With a Friday deadline looming, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens said today that his office is “working full time” on a report detailing the permitting process for hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale.

But the commissioner said the report may or may not be completed on time for July 1, as requested by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

“We’re still working on it, so stay tuned,” Martens told reporters exiting a meeting of Cuomo’s cabinet. “We’ll tell you later in the week whether we’re going to make the deadline or not.”

Martens said the report—which is a revised draft of one released in 2009—may be partially released Friday.

“We’ll see again what we get out Friday versus days after Friday. We’re in the production process right now.”

High-volume hydrofracking has been on hold since former Gov. David Paterson ordered the DEC to complete the review in July 2008. It remains on hold until the report, called the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, is finalized, which won’t happen until the department holds a public comment period on the new draft and has time to deal with suggestions and shortcomings.

Courtesy of YNN’s Capital Tonight, here’s video of Martens addressing reporters:

For added background on this and the historical battle between natural gas and New York state you should check out Andy Leahy at NY Shale Gas Now blog site. He has lots of background and seven reasons why the July 1st deadline and the SGEIS report will do nothing to hasten gas production in the Southern Tier or Upstate.

July 1, 2011, that's the day, Cuomo said so — the day New York's landowners would finally see some regulatory headway on shale gas.

As this date approaches with a crescendo (and surely passes us by, with one roar or another), I think it's worth reminding everyone of some insufficiently considered recent history in New York State.

As of July 1, folks who happen to wittingly or unwittingly own shale gas under upstate New York will have been restrained in the exercise of their private property rights for nearly three full calendar years, and by seven different shale gas moratoriums.

Seven! (Yes, it's true, that's including two bans which were proposed, but which were pushed back in the final hours.)

But, still, seven! It's not a good sign. Let's break it down.

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"Huge" Attack on Luxury Hotel in Kabul

From CNN:
A group of people using bombs and small arms attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul Tuesday, and fighting was ongoing with Afghan security forces, Chief of Criminal Investigation Mohammed Zahir told CNN.

Among the attackers were suicide bombers, he said.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, said a group of Taliban bombers was responsible for the 10 p.m. attack on the hotel, which is popular among international guests. There were no immediate details on casualties.

A news conference had been scheduled to take place Wednesday in the hotel to discuss the planned transition of security from international to Afghan forces. The hotel is on a hill on the outskirts of Kabul and is typically protected by heavy security.

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Bolton for President?

John Bolton for President?

No, I am not kidding at all.

There is continued buzz within Conservative networks that the former U.N. Ambassador might throw all political caution to the wind, and jump into the 2012 Republican nomination battle. His campaign platform would revolve around foreign policy and he would be the first U.N. Ambassador to run for President since George H.W. Bush, which bodes well for Mr. Bolton.

Bolton would not play to the opinion polls, and talk about withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, like many of the Republican Party's announced candidates, but he would stand strong and talk about why we will win the war for the good of America, regardless of how long it will take, or how much it will cost.

His campaign would be hard hitting and tough; not for the weak of heart, or mind.

Should the former U.N. Ambassador run for President?

I absolutely believe so. His campaign would bring focus to foreign policy issues that have shamelessly been ignored since the race started and represent a home for wandering hawks who currently have no real home in the 2012 field. And we could always use his awesome moustache in the race.

John Bolton for President? Why not!

What say you?

"Unexpected" Cartoon of the Day

For your amusement:

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Headline of the Day, Care of The Tatler

Stephanopolous to Bachman: We'll Investigate Your Foster Kids

And of course he means it. If any doubt remains in the minds of voters that the MSM is anything but a press office for the Democratic party this should eliminate it.

Stephanopoulos: Finally one—one final question. I think one of the most impressive things that people find in your background is the fact that you and your husband have helped raise 23 foster children and I know you want to shield them but are they prepared and are you prepared for the loss of privacy that comes with the president campaign? And is that something you are concerned about for them?

Bachmann: Well when we were making this momentous decision we sat down for a long time as a family and contemplated what this was meaning and yes, we are ready. We have five wonderful biological children. Our last one is off to college our oldest one is a doctor. And then we had great – a great 23 foster children in our home as well. And as you can imagine and appreciate we’ve tried to keep a good handle on their privacy and we will do that, we will respect their privacy. We are thankful that we had them but we also want to observe their privacy and that of their families.

Bryan Preston adds this:

George Stephanopolous was deep in the Clinton administration, which pleaded with everyone to “leave Chelsea alone.” And everyone has mostly complied with that, for all these years. Michele Bachmann and her family’s 23 foster children, though, will not be afforded the same courtesy, not by George or anyone else in the MSM. The same MSM, it’s worth pointing out, has still left President Obama’s pre-Senate life largely unexamined. Stephanopolous has fired up the flare that if any of those foster children, which the Bachmann family took in out of love and compassion, has run into any kind of trouble over the years, the media will try to hang it on Bachmann.

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