Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Consumer Spending Falls

Another sign that the economy is doing poorly, consumer spending has fallen:

Incomes rose 0.1 percent, the smallest gain since September. Many people are also pocketing more of their paychecks. The personal savings rate rose to 5.4 percent of after-tax incomes, the highest level since August 2010.
The data confirmed last week's report that showed the economy expanded at an annual rate of just 1.3 percent in the spring after only 0.4 percent growth in the first three months of the year. It also highlighted that consumer spending softened at the end of the April-June quarter, which could mean the sluggish economy is worsening.
Stocks fell after the report was released. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 100 points in morning trading. Broader indexes also declined.
We may be heading for another recession.

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Debt Deal Passes Senate

The new debt compromise has just passed the Senate. It has now passed both Houses of Congress and will go on to President Obama for his signature. The markets are down significantly, though.

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Watch Obama Speech on Debt Ceiling Live/Streaming, August 2, 2011

The speech is scheduled to begin at 12:15pm:

Live video by Ustream

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Utica Shale Bigger than Eagle Ford and Putting Greens on Notice

With all the talk about budgets, debt ceilings, credit rating downgrades and default many missed some very big energy news last week. Chesapeake Energy announced a major discovery in southeast Ohio after discovering natural gas and shale oil deep within the Utica Shale. Ohio Governor John Kasich recently asked, "Did you hear about the revolution that's coming to Ohio? Folks this is huge."

PennEnergy reports:

Chesapeake noted successful results from six horizontal and nine vertical wells drilled in its Utica shale holdings, and based on its proprietary geoscientific, petrophysical and engineering research during the past two years, said its “industry-leading 1.25 million net leasehold acres in the Utica Shale play could be worth $15 - $20 billion in increased value to the company.” Analysts at Baird Equity Research say the results constitute an implied acreage valuation of $12,500-$16,667 per acre.


In what some may see as most compelling about the report is the direct comparison to the much publicized Eagle Ford Shale. The company believes the Utica Shale “will be characterized by a western oil phase, a central wet gas phase and an eastern dry gas phase and is likely most analogous, but economically superior to, the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas.”

The Utica Shale occurs in outcrops in New York and in the subsurface in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario in Canada. It is also found in the states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.

One estimate puts an estimated 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Utica Shale, and while it offers some unique challenges—a higher carbonate content and lower clay mineral count than the Marcellus as well as significant depth and a lack of information surrounding the play—producers are cautiously optimistic that advances in technology utilizing multi-stage hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques can unlock the play’s potential.

The potential of the Utica Shale in New York is immense and opens areas to drilling in the state not covered by the Marcellus. With the DEC now lifting the hyrdraulic fracturing moratorium in the Marcellus look for the the environmental lobby to redouble their efforts to shut down drilling in New York all together. With the Town of Otsego as the standard, pressure is building in communities across the state to enhance land use laws and zoning restrictions in an attempt to usurp state law.

This plan of action doesn't seem particularly well thought out though as there are significant potential legal ramifications to such action and in the town ofDryden, New York, the town board has been put on notice. The towns of Otsego, Springfield, Middlefield, and Cherry Vally would do well to take notice so as to not put the citizens on the hook to defend positions that turn out to be indefensible.

In conclusion, the Town should affirmatively anticipate that federal and/or state court action against it is highly probably, if not virtually certain, on one or more of the above cited or other claims. You cannot extinguish hundreds of millions of dollars of property values held by thousands of residents and separate mineral rights held by both in and out of state people without anticipating legal actions. The energy industry has its own causes of action and may also sue.

It is highly probable that this overly broad ban, as written, will have unforeseen or unintended consequences. For similar reason, the County Legislature deferred action on a road law.

The more sensible alternative and responsible fiduciary response is to defer any action on a ban until ban challenges elsewhere are litigated. Certainly, the State is far from ready to begin permitting wells, so there is no need for haste. You have at a minimum into 2012, if not longer.

The Town should take notice that a ban is inconsistent with environmental advocates’ position favoring the development of natural gas under the Kyoto protocols. It is also inconsistent for the Town and individuals to use energy from elsewhere while refusing to allow its regulated development locally. And, failure to develop domestic energy means foreign energy dependence, foreign wars to protect vital energy interests, and the sapping of revenues the government could use to pay debt and provide programs.

DSEC’s mission is to offer balanced, data driven information on safe energy development, to logically and numerically evaluate benefit-to-risk ratios, free of emotional bias or ideology, and to bring together people interested in an analytical approach to energy issues. A ban does not serve to meet this mission. It does not allow for a “middle way” in which there is lawful, safe, regulated energy development. Legally, we believe a total ban is an unnecessary high risk strategy for the Town and which in its uncompensated takings is unjust.

The Board is now on notice. It is DSEC’s hope the Board will do the prudent thing and recognize there is both division of opinion in Dryden and significant large scale dollar risk. Both drilling without regulation and refusal to drill are equally extreme solutions. We oppose both. Please opt for deliberate moderation and do not adopt in haste this radical total ban.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

Cross posted at Lonely Conservative
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Biden: Tea Party Similar to "Terrorists"

Certainly not a ringing endorsement from the Vice President:
Vice President Biden was criticized Monday over reports of a private meeting he had with House Democrats in which Tea Party Republicans were compared to “terrorists," though Biden denies he described Republicans that way.

A senior Democratic official told Fox News that Biden made such comments in reaction to a heated conversation with liberal House members like Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., who were venting that Republicans got too much out of the debt ceiling deal unveiled the night before and "acted like terrorists."

The comment drew an immediate rebuke from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., one of the most outspoken Tea Party-aligned lawmakers in Congress.

“With the president holding the American economy hostage, I would prefer to think of myself as a Freedom Fighter,” Paul said in a statement, calling the remarks “insulting.”

But the Democratic official stressed that Biden made the comment to move the conversation along.
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Putin: US "Like a Parasite" on World Economy

Vladimir Putin is not pleased:
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the United States Monday of living beyond its means "like a parasite" on the global economy and said dollar dominance was a threat to the financial markets.

"They are living beyond their means and shifting a part of the weight of their problems to the world economy," Putin told the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi while touring its lakeside summer camp some five hours drive north of Moscow.

"They are living like parasites off the global economy and their monopoly of the dollar," Putin said at the open-air meeting with admiring young Russians in what looked like early campaigning before parliamentary and presidential polls.

US President Barack Obama earlier announced a last-ditch deal to cut about $2.4 trillion from the U.S. deficit over a decade, avoid a crushing debt default and stave off the risk that the nation's AAA credit rating would be downgraded.

The deal initially soothed anxieties and led Russian stocks to jump to three-month highs, but jitters remained over the possibility of a credit downgrade.

"Thank god," Putin said, "that they had enough common sense and responsibility to make a balanced decision."

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Former Gingrich Staffer: 80% Twitter Followers are Fake; Gingrich Loses 20,000 Followers in a Week

This is hilarious or devastating, depending on your view of Newt Gingrich.  Mr. Gingrich recently announced that he would be running for President; however, he was met with little coverage and even less support.

But somehow he amassed a tremendous amount of Twitter followers:
1,325,939 followers.  That's over twice the number of followers of fellow Republican and former VP candidate Sarah Palin:
Approximately twenty times the number of followers of Republican Presidential nomination opponent Michele Bachmann:
And about 25 times the number of followers of opponent Herman Cain:
Well, there's a reason for that:  most of them are fake.  80% to be precise.  That's according to Gingrich's former staffer.  According to him, Gingrich hired a firm to create accounts in order to make Gingrich's campaign appear to be on a roll.  The staffer estimated that only 10% of the users are real.

In fact, even if the fact that Gingrich is leading every other Republican candidate and his staffer's statement isn't evidence enough, even more damning evidence comes from Twitaholic.  According to the site, Gingrich has only gained 18,000 followers in the last year.  In fact, since he announced that he intends to run for President in May, he's only gained 10,000:
Those 10,000 are now gone, along with more.  According to Twitter Counter, Gingrich has lost 20,000 followers in the last week alone:

For a candidate whose main fault is his image problem, this could be the nail in his already feeble Presidential campaign.  Twitter Counter further predicts that Gingrich will continue to lose followers:
Sarah Palin, on the other hand, has been gaining followers steadily:

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Doctors find Uterus in Indian Man; Man has Emergency Hysterectomy

An Indian man, only identified as "Ryalu," went to the hospital after intense stomach pains. The hospital in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh thought it may be a hernia or a list of common stomach illnesses. They did not expect what they found: a "full female reproductive system," including a uterus.

Precisely, the man had "a female uterus, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, a cervix and underdeveloped vaginal tissue" all in his lower abdomen. Surgeon Pramod Kumar Shrivastava stated that the man "had external male organs, was fit from working in the fields, and lived a normal life."

After the discovery, Ryalu had an emergency hysterectomy. He is currently recovering in a hospital.

The Telegraph continues:
"Usually the contents of the Hernia Sac are abdomen organs like large intestines and small intestines but when we operated on the patient we were surprised to find female reproductive organs. We have removed the organs through a hysterectomy and repaired the hernia.

"The sac contained quite developed uterus, both the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, cervix and a tissue which is undeveloped but apparently looks like vaginal tissue," he explained.

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Monday, August 01, 2011

Members of the Cracked Head Club Unite!

Although he is denying it now, there have been rumors floating that Vice President Biden described Tea Party activistists as terrorists. Although it has been a popular theme of late and he is surely jumping on the bandwagon, at least he didn't call us racists.

Surprisingly, this slight is the least of what is coming out of Biden's mouth these days.

While the nation is celebrating the return of Gabriel Giffords to the House chamber, Biden does what only Biden can do....

ABC reports:
Vice President Joe Biden, with a big smile on his face, walked to the House floor and said, “I came to see Gabby, that’s why I’m here.”

…When Biden was asked about what he spoke with Giffords about, he joked, “She’s now a member of the cracked head club like me."

VIDEO: Gabrielle Giffords return to the House

Here is the video of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords returning to the House floor to cast her vote in support of the debt ceiling deal. Giffords received a standing ovation from her fellow House members.

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Debt Deal Passes House with Strong Bi-Partisan Support

The debt deal to raise the debt ceiling and enact budget cuts has passed the House of Representatives with strong bi-partisan support.  It will now go on to the Senate, where they will vote on it tomorrow.  It is expected to pass easily there, then will be signed into law by President Obama.

In a touching moment, Representative Gabrielle Giffords returned triumphantly to Congress in order to vote in favor of the bill.

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Rep. Gabby Giffords Returns to Congress

Democrat Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in January and survived, has returned to Congress to vote for the debt deal. Moments before appearing in the House, Ms. Giffords's twitter tweeted:
She was met with standing applause that went on for several minutes.
Giffords before the tragic shooting
The bill was passed with strong bi-partisan support.

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Registering Republican

For the past 26 months I have been the Chairman of a countywide Young Republican club in New York, but was too young to actually participate in elections; fundraising; petition drives, or anything else involving the law.

Me and my fellow young GOP turks did a lot of ground work, but I had to watch everyone else actually vote and elect our local, state, and federal officials. It was painful to watch, especially when I wanted to see new friends win their race for Sheriff, or even Town Supervisor.

It's painful no longer.

On Wednesday morning I went down to the local Board of Elections office and finally - finally - registered to vote as a proud member of the Republican Party. Meaning I am no longer a young turk looking in, but a young turk taking part in the greatest political system on earth.

I might just be one new Republican, but I will work hard to equalize hundreds and hundreds of Democrats - and you can too.

What say you?

Watch Boehner Speech Live Video, August 1, 2011

Streaming video by Ustream

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New York State Democratic Party Chair: "Drill, Baby, Drill"

NYS Democratic Chair has come to a remarkable conclusion.

Jay Jacobs has committed a cardinal sin. He has signed a contract with Hess Corp and received per-acre money upfront to drill 140 acres of land at his Tyler Hill summer camp in Pennsylvania. His claims of doing his own research and coming up with an honest conclusion will not sit well with those in his party. You have to respect the man for taking this position. It will likely cost him his job.

"Many things that we do in modern society have the potential to destroy the environment, and we can't stop doing everything because of minuscule risks. It's when those risks become significant that we have to stop," said Jacobs.

"My belief is if we can extract natural gas, which is a cleaner form of energy, from our land, reducing the import of foreign oil and the cash flowing out of our country, and make for cleaner air, improve the economy and not damage the water, I'm for it," Jacobs continued.

"We have to be rational here, not emotional. If it's going to destroy people's water, I'm against it, too. But I've been led to believe that there are definite ways if you do this right not to destroy the water."

Some have argued, myself included, that the opponents to hydrofracking for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale have reached the maximal point of influence and this would help in confirming this suspicion.

Otsego ProActive Network is in search of the elusive middle ground in natural gas development. With democratic party leadership like Mr. Jacobs, they may just find it.

Cross Posted at Lonely Conservative

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July 2011 "Unexpectedly" Compilation

Last month I decided to make a compilation of as many "unexpectedlies" that I could find.  For those unfamiliar with the term, the Main Stream Media and news outlets sympathetic to President Obama always used the term "unexpectedly" (or some variation of the word) to describe bad economic news.  The reason why they do this is simple:  if bad economic news is unexpected, then good news about the economy is the norm.  Get it?

The problem is, of course, that there has been a tremendous amount of bad news about the economy and, in fact, under President Obama's leadership, bad news is indeed the norm.  Yet the MSM trudges along, refusing to change despite how ludicrous they look.

So, I tried to cover from the beginning of 2011 to late June in my last compilation.  Of course, I recognize that I certainly missed a bunch.  Therefore, I figured that I would do a monthly piece so that these articles aren't lost in the big world of the internet.

I'm sure you're done reading this, so without further ado:

U.S. Economy: Sales of New Houses Unexpectedly Dropped in June, Business Week, July 26

U.S. durable goods orders fall unexpectedly, Financial Post, Jul 27

U.S. Trade Deficit Unexpectedly Surges as Oil Prices Climb, Business Week, July 12

US Trade Deficit Unexpectedly Surges to $50.2 Billion, Money News, July 12

"Many key labor market signals deteriorated, and the jobless rate rose unexpectedly to 9.2 percent," Reuters, July 8

Orders for U.S. Durable Goods Unexpectedly Fall as Inventory Growth Slows, Bloomberg, July 27

Expected bumper crop in US makes corn prices suffer its biggest fall in 15 years, Merco Press, July 1

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Unexpectedly Sink, Fox Business, July 27

Data worse than expected AUD/USD plunged to 1.0720 short-term, Forex News, July 4

U.S. GDP Grows At Annual Rate Of 1.3 Percent In Second Quarter, Missing Expectations, Huffington Post, July 29

"The unemployment rate jumped unexpectedly higher in June," Fox Business, July 8

U.S. economic growth in the second quarter, lower than expected, Finance Online, July 30

U.S. Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Declines to 63.8 From 71.5 in Index, Bloomberg, July 15

UPDATE: US June Durable Goods Orders Unexpectedly Fall, Nasdaq, July 27

Existing-Home Sales in U.S. Unexpectedly Decreased in June, Business Week, July 20

New York Area Manufacturing Unexpectedly Shrank in July, Bloomber, July 15

And, of course, economic news that no one seems to pay attention to: data that is later revised downward. In other words, normally the economic data is "unexpectedly" low during initial reports, then it gets lowered even further later on:

GDP report shows economy even weaker than expected, Washington Examiner, July 29

2011 auto sales forecast revised downward, Business Times, July 18

Bernanke revises down U.S. growth this year, Economics Newspaper, July 13

US revises down growth rate, Financial Times, July 29

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Vote: Are You Satisfied with the Debt Deal?

Following months of political posturing, a deal between Republican and Democratic leaders has been reached in Congress. The proposed plan will raise the debt ceiling, allowing the United States to go further into debt. However, with it comes cuts in the hundreds of billions to trillions.

Most Democrats seem displeased with the deal, complaining that an increase in "revenue" should have been addressed. Many Republicans are pleased that taxes will not be raised, but are upset that the cuts do not go deeper and that a Constitutional amendment to balance the budget has been separated from the bill itself. Further, many Tea Party Republicans believe that the debt ceiling shouldn't be raised at all.

Still, President Obama is heralding the deal as satisfactory. Speaker of the House John Boehner called the bill imperfect, but said that Republicans got "98%" of what they were after. So the question is: what do you think? Are you satisfied or do you want more? Vote below:

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Watch Obama Debt Ceiling Speech, July 31, 2011

Earlier today:

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A Call for Contributors

Pundit Press is slowly growing, in case you didn't hear. That's why we're asking for those that read the site and think that they should be heard if they would like to write for our blog. Your level of participation is up to you-- an article a day, an hour, or per week. It's a no-pay but rewarding experience.

We're looking forward to your response.

Send all inquiries to punditpress-at-gmail.com.

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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 201 subscribers, 146 Twitter followers, and 121 followers. And if you're interested in writing for us, send us an email at punditpress-at-gmail.com.

In the last month we've had 256 articles.

Aurelius: 80 articles, down from 101. This is 31.2% of the sum.
Thomas: 64, down from 97, or 25.0% of the total.
Danny Butcher: 63 total, down from 64. This is 24.6% of the total.
Mr. K: 22, down from 41. This is 8.6%.
Unlikely Hospitalist: 13, down from 31. This is 5.1% of the total.
Dr. Owens: 5, up from 4.
Dr. White: 6, up from one.
Kaptain Krude: 1, same as last month.
Joe C. 2, up from 0.

This month we received 109,995 pageviews, up 80.0% from last month.

Top Articles of the Month

1. Anders B. Breivik Facebook Account Found, by Thomas with 11,584 hits, or 10.5% of our total hits.
2. Anders B. Breivik Twitter Account Found, by Thomas with 10,362 views, or 9.4% of the sum.
3. New Utøya Picture Released, by Thomas, with 6.9% of the total.
4. Anders Behring Breivik Facebook Profile Description, by Aurelius, with 7,490 hits, or 6.8% of the total.
5. Horrible New Picture from Utøya Appears to Show Gunman Walking Through Victims, by Thomas with 7,121 hits, or 6.5%.
6. Inevitable: Left Pushes Norway Shooter/Palin Link by Thomas with 7,034 hits, or 6.4%.
7. Another Utøya Picture Released by Thomas, with 6,098 views, or 5.5%.
8. 20-30 Killed in Utøya, First Picture from Utøya by Thomas, with 5,871 pageviews, or 5.3%.
9. Anders Breivik Photos by Thomas with 5,633 views, or 5.1% of the total.
10. Watch President Obama Speech Live Video, July 25, 2011 by Thomas with 4,564 hits, or 4.1%.
11. Anders. B. Breivik Possible Utøya Shooter, Oslo Bomber by Thomas, with 1,541 views, or 1.4% of the total.
12. Breivik to Face Norway's Maximum Jail Sentence: 21 Years by Aurelius, with 1.2% of the total.
13. Video: Bad Call from Pirates Braves Game by Thomas with 1,303 views.
14. O.J. Simpson Admits to Killing Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in Self Defense? by Unlikely Hospitalist with 1,160 views.
15. Anders Breivik YouTube Video by Aurelius with 1,074 hits.
16. Utøya Shooter Picture by Thomas with 1,063 hits.

Top Contributor of the Month

This month it goes to Thomas, for coverage of the tragedy in Norway.

Those that linked to Us:

Hot Air
Michelle Malkin
Ann Coulter
Transterrestrial Musings
Big Journalism
Human Events
Front Page Magazine
Gateway Pundit
Director Blue

Tomb of the the unknown blogger (for anyone we missed)


- We are less disappointed in Joe.
- What happened to Mr. K?

Obama Speech on Deal Deal Live/Streaming, July 31, 2011

Update: The speech is over. Here is the video.

The President is scheduled to speak at 8:40pm:

Streaming live video by Ustream

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Breaking: Debt Deal Struck

It's about freaking time:  CNN, Fox News, and President Obama are all confirming that a deal on the debt ceiling have finally been struck.  If the President hadn't led from behind, it most likely would have been solved months ago.

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Plaxico Burress to Join Jets

I'm a Jets fan and I'm pleased:
Former Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress(notes) will return to the Big Apple after spending two seasons out of football. After a whirlwind free agency tour, Burress and agent Drew Rosenhaus have agreed to terms with the New York Jets on a one-year, $3.017 million deal. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the deal is fully guaranteed. Reports indicate that the extra $17,000 in the total was a small vanity point, as Burress' jersey number was (and is) #17.

And as has been before, it appears that Rex Ryan was a major drawing card.

"I know they have a good team and everybody knows Rex," Burress said of the Jets' head coach yesterday. "I think he's great. He stands behind his players, I think his players have a lot of respect for him and they play hard for him. … He's a great coach, great personality. He seems like he's always upbeat."

Burress also has a new Twitter BFF in Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez(notes).
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D.B. Cooper Identity/Case Solved?

Back in the day, I used to listen to a lot of Coast to Coast. For those unfamiliar with the very popular radio program, it was once hosted by a man named Art Bell. It normally discussed the meaning of life, the existence of God, the JFK assassination, urban legends, ghosts, and God. That's when I listened to it nightly. Unfortunately, more recently it has taken a strong turn towards conspiracies and psychics, and is now hosted by the occasionally able, but not as good as Mr. Bell, George Noory.

One thing that was discussed a lot a few years ago was D.B. Cooper. Honestly, this case never intrigued me because it was a cold case with a bunch of red herrings and a myriad of stories and versions from different people.

Well, guess what: the case may soon be solved:
The FBI today revealed that it believes it has America's most elusive fugitive finally in its sights 40 years after famed hijacker DB Cooper disappeared when he jumped out of a plane over Washington.

Investigators said that they are testing the fingerprints of a new suspect after what they said is the 'most promising' lead to date in its bid to crack America's only unsolved hijacking.

A mystery hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper, also known as DB Cooper, boarded a Northwest flight in Portland for a flight to Seattle on the night of November 24 1971, and commandeered the plane, claiming he had dynamite...

The FBI today announced that it has a new suspect in the case who they are hoping to link to a tie Cooper left on the plane and cigarette butts in an ashtray using DNA testing and fingerprints.

There have been more than 1,000 suspects over the past four decades, but the FBI have described the new lead as 'looking like our most promising one to date'.
Sketches of the Criminal

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Change? Iraq More Dangerous than One Year Ago

After President Bush initiated the surge that turned the tide against insurgency in Iraq, candidate/Senator Obama slammed the move as pointless and ineffective. Well, he's proven once again that he has no idea what the hell is going on:
The security situation in Iraq is more dangerous than it was a year ago, according to a government watchdog report issued Saturday that cites more attacks on U.S. troops, a continuing wave of assassinations targeting Iraqi officials and a growing number of indirect rocket strikes on Baghdad’s Green Zone.

“Iraq remains an extraordinarily dangerous place to work,” Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, wrote in his quarterly report to Congress and the Obama administration. “It is less safe, in my judgment, than 12 months ago.”

The findings contrast with public statements by U.S. diplomatic and military officials in Iraq and come as Washington awaits a final decision by Iraqi leaders on whether they want U.S. troops to stay in the country beyond the expiration of a three-year security agreement in December. U.S. officials have said they are willing to extend the American military presence into 2012 only after receiving a formal request from Iraqi leaders.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top leaders postponed a meeting scheduled for Saturday to debate any future U.S. military presence, once again dashing hopes of quickly resolving the issue. Maliki instead was scheduled to appear before the Iraqi parliament to defend plans to cut the 46-member cabinet down to 30 members — another long-simmering political dispute that appears far from resolution.

With about 46,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq, U.S. military officials are urging Maliki and his colleagues to reach a final decision before tens of thousands of U.S. troops begin departing this fall.
President Obama
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U.S. Senate Votes Down Reid Bill 50-49

The U.S. Senate took up Senator Reid's proposed debt-ceiling hike earlier this afternoon, and as expected, was voted down with no real surprises from either side of the aisle. It failed yesterday in the House of Representatives.

Republican Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) voted for Reid's proposal; Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) voted against it from the right, while Independent Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT) voted against it from the left.

Reid initially voted for his proposed legislation before switching his vote for procedural reasons.

What say you?

Obama Disapproval Breaks 50% Threshold; Approval Lowest in Obama Presidency

It's about time.  Despite trying to appear like the adult in the room, the American people are realizing what President Obama has been throughout this entire debt debate: a spectator.  Mr. Obama has led from behind, letting his party down while trying desperately to paint Republicans as radicals.  He failed and the evidence cannot be much starker:

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"Tentative" Debt Deal Reached

Is the crisis over?  Maybe:
Democratic and Republican Congressional sources involved in the negotiations tell ABC News that a tentative agreement has been reached on the framework of a deal that would give the President a debt ceiling increase of up to $2.4 trillion and guarantee an equal amount of deficit reduction over the next 10 years.

The details are still being worked out, and a senior White House aide tells ABC News, "talks continue but there is no deal to report."

Congressional leaders plan to brief their members on the framework tomorrow. The reaction from both parties' rank-and-file will determine whether this tentative deal becomes a final deal.

Here, according to Democratic and Republican sources, are the key elements:

-A debt ceiling increase of up to $2.1 to $2.4 trillion (depending on the size of the spending cuts agreed to in the final deal).

-They have now agreed to spending cuts of roughly $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

-The formation of a special Congressional committee to recommend further deficit reduction of up to $1.6 trillion (whatever it takes to add up to the total of the debt ceiling increase). This deficit reduction could take the form of spending cuts, tax increases or both.

-The special committee must make recommendations by late November (before Congress' Thanksgiving recess).

-If Congress does not approve those cuts by December 23, automatic across-the-board cuts go into effect, including cuts to Defense and Medicare. This "trigger" is designed to force action on the deficit reduction committee's recommendations by making the alternative painful to both Democrats and Republicans.

-A vote, in both the House and Senate, on a balanced budget amendment.

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hey Look, Someone Made a Video About Something We Broke Months Ago

It's nice to be ahead of the rest of the internet sometimes... At other times, you're so far ahead no one notices.  This is one of those times.

Good video anyway:

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Civility: A Compilation of 'the GOP is Insane/Terrorists/Extremists' Articles

In the aftermath of the horrific shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords in January, President Obama made a rousing speech calling for civility in politics. In the speech, he told Americans that "only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation". Furthermore, the President explained:

Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.

Not withstanding the Left's perverse blaming of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party for the attack-- with the debt ceiling debate forefront in Washington, the Left that President Obama represents should be out in front in attempting 'humble discourse,' right?

There are some legitimately non-hyperbolic editorials coming out from the Left. However-- a disproportionate amount coming from actual establishment news organizations and writers should be cause for alarm. Yes, there is the regular alarm-pulling at the Nation and the Daily Kos-- but there is a troubling trend. The most heavy-- and even obscene terms are being thrown at the GOP. Below are just some examples from this month alone.

- William Yeomans, Politico: Tea Party's Terrorist Tactics
- Paul Waldman, American Prospect: Underestimating Right Wing Insanity
- Nicholas Kristof, NY Times: GOP Zealots Threatening America's Security
- Andrew Leonard, Salon: New GOP Hostage Demand: Kill ObamaCare
- E.J. Dionne, Washington Post: Tea Party Extremism Endangering Nation
- Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA): "Cult Fringe" Holding Up Debt Ceiling Increase
- Gene Lyons, Salon: A Republican Party Divorced From Sanity
- Gary Younge, The Guardian: Debt Ceiling Crisis Exposing GOP Madness
- Bill Maher: Maher: Where Were The "Teabaggers" Before "Blackie McBlackman?"
- Senator John Kerry (D-MA): Kerry: Tea Party Republicans a "Group of Absolutists, Extremists"
- Robert Kuttner, American Prospect: The Joys of Fanaticism
-  Paul Krugman, New York Times: The GOP Went Insane Long Ago
- Robert Reich, Huffington Post: The Wrecking Ball Right
- Joan Walsh, Salon: GOP's Extremist 2012 Field Helps Obama
- Jonathan Chait, The New Republic: The Republican Crazy Is Not an Act
- Mike Littwin, Denver Post: Tea Partier Crazies Want U.S. to Default
- Tina Brown, MSNBC: GOP Are Suicide Bombers in Debt Negotiations
- Martin Frost, Politico: The tea party Taliban 
- Politico Cartoon: Norquist as the Mad Hatter
- Fmr Governor Ted Strickland (D-OH): 'Crazy'-sounding candidates can't beat Obama
-George Zornick, the Nation: The 'Right-Wing Nutters' Who Are Pushing the Country to the Brink
- Katrina vanden Heuvel, the Nation: The GOP Wants to Sabotage the Economy
- Andrew Leonard, Salon: The House GOP's debt ceiling hara-kiri
- Morning Joe, MSNBC: Is GOP Extremism the Problem in Politics Today?
- Steve Benen / Washington Monthly: How big is the House GOP's sane contingent?

And this is without delving into Kos, TPM, FireDogLake, Democratic Underground and others. Does anyone else see a meme or is it just me?

Hat tip to RealClearPolitics for helping me index and organize.

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Did President Obama Want the Debt Negotiations to Fail?

The weeks of squabbling on Capitol Hill have failed to bring about any solution to the short term increase of the debt ceiling to longer term issues of entitlement reform or large spending cuts. In fact, it now appears that the situation may be getting worse.

Instead, President Obama has repeatedly come on television to discuss the debt ceiling debate, while couching himself as between the Congressional Republicans and Democrats. To many observers, this could show aloofness or incompetence-- but perhaps this shows an intentional attempt to allow the two sides to make him look like a 'reasonable center.'

Take, for example, the President's role in the negotiations to raise the debt ceiling. President Obama's negotiations with John Boehner eked out a plan to save $4 trillion over ten years, including about $800 bill taken from increased tax revenues. Both sides had agreed on this plan. The White House even threw in a sop about tax reform:

The White House was agreeable to parts of the deal — notably, the proposal for nearly $800 billion in added tax revenue.

"They were willing to accept our number," the GOP aide said. The group also talked about overhauling the tax code.

"We walked out of the room thinking we were making good progress on the tax reform," the aide said.

Abruptly, and without prior warnings, the White House abrogated the earlier potential solution and instead demanded $400 billion more in tax revenue, shattering the fragile plan:

The White House must have known that to Boehner-- and especially the Tea Party elements in the GOP, this would be not only unsavory, but unacceptable.

So since the President and his advisors made this deliberate decision to push an unpushable envelope, it comes to the question of whether this idea was made to push the increasing meme that the GOP was made up of 'extremists.'

With the bully pulpit, consider the speech the President made on July 25, which some called a desperate attempt to stay relevant but could instead be seen as the 'middle ground' ploy:
Yes, many want government to start living within its means. And many are fed up with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few. But do you know what people are fed up with most of all?

They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word. They work all day long, many of them scraping by, just to put food on the table. And when these Americans come home at night, bone-tired, and turn on the news, all they see is the same partisan three-ring circus here in Washington. They see leaders who can’t seem to come together and do what it takes to make life just a little bit better for ordinary Americans. They’re offended by that. And they should be.

The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government. So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.

Although a lot of the criticism was leveled at Republicans, the idea of blaming Congress in general is a winner, politically. The President has repeatedly attempted to be seen as the 'adult in the room' and instead has grasped defeat from the jaws of victory on the debt deal.

He is attempting to be the only one left standing, because-- let's face it-- he is the President and the office commands respect. And in the case of a default or whatever comes our way Tuesday, he will be in the most televised position to blame everybody but President Barack Obama.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

List of Republicans Who Voted Against Boehner Debt Bill

Love them or hate them, here is the list of the 22 Republicans who voted against Speaker of the House John Boehner's Debt Bill:


Duncan (SC):
Graves (GA):
King (IA):
Mack (FL):
Ron Paul:
Scott (SC):
Wilson (SC):

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House Debt Vote Results

UPDATE: The bill just passed with 218 yes votes.

It now appears that the bill sponsored by Speaker of the House John Boehner is going to pass the House. As of 6:19 PM the bill needs just four more votes, with 213 Republicans voting yes, 16 voting no. All Democrats have voted no.

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Did the Boehner Bill Pass?

UPDATE: The bill just passed with 218 yes votes.

It now appears that the bill sponsored by Speaker of the House John Boehner is going to pass the House. As of 6:19 PM the bill needs just four more votes, with 213 Republicans voting yes, 16 voting no. All Democrats have voted no.

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Watch Boehner Speech Video Live

Happening now:

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Watch Debt Limit Vote Video Live

Happening now:

Streaming video by Ustream

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Obama Approval Rating Crashes to New Low

Barack Obama's standing with the public appears to be dwindling during the ongoing debt negotiations. Add to that a sour economy and a public souring the President is less-approved of than just several months ago. After a brief respite after the killing of Osama bin Laden, the President's job performance is not well-received by the people at large.

Case in point is the most recent Gallup tracking poll. Taken over the course of three days, the rolling poll is among the most accurate in the business. According to the poll, the President's ratings have been falling the last several weeks. In a similar Rasmussen poll out today, his performance is rated favorably by 46%.

For Gallup, which usually tallies a higher approval rating for Obama than Rasmussen, this is not the case. The latest three-day average has Obama's rating down-- significantly.

Approve: 40%
Disapprove: 49%
Other/dk: 11%

Obama's approval rating had shrunk in recent weeks. For example, it had been hovering at 42% in Gallup recently. However, now that it has reached 40%, it is the lowest approval rating that Obama has had since elected. It was at 43% before bin Laden was killed May 2.

Now there is word that GDP growth is slowing and the debt issue is still on the table. To make matters more complicated, the July jobs numbers are coming out next week and could damage his ratings further.

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Interview with For Repeal

Pundit Press is proud to present its 41st interview in our ongoing interview series. Today we're interviewing Bill from For Repeal, which pushes for the repeal of ObamaCare. For Repeal allows citizens to sign up to show their support of repeal and also offers information about the legislation and the efforts to end it. Check them out today!

1. When and why was For Repeal created?

For Repeal, an initiative of the Conservative Action Fund, was publicly launched on Wednesday, July 20, as the first and only user-powered and action-driven movement to repeal Obamacare. For Repeal will primarily focus on repealing a few of the provisions of Obamacare at a time, and we will provide the American public with the resources and tools it needs to repeal the outrageous law that is Obamacare.

2. What is the pledge goal in the next year?

Our immediate goal is to get 1,000 pledge signers that are also active volunteers through the various tools we provide to activists so that they can get involved.

3. If ObamaCare was disassembled-- who would be more likely to do it, the Congress or a federal court?

As stated before, our focus is on repealing a few components of Obamacare at a time. Though we certainly implore all efforts to repeal the bill in its entirety, we also realize that doing so will be a tremendous challenge. As such, we will empower grassroots activists around the country to get involved in efforts to repeal elements of the bill -- we have already had some success with this, as we have been able to repeal the 1099 provision, and there is increasing scrutiny over the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

4. Would the Conservative Action Fund support Congressional Democrats that pledge to end ObamaCare?

The Conservative Action Fund does not endorse any candidate or political organization. However, we certainly applaud the Democrats who have been willing to stand up against this terrible and hurtful bill.

5. Will ObamaCare be the albatross that sinks President Obama's 2012 bid?

Given that a majority of Americans are clearly opposed to the bill, there can be no question that it has contributed to Obama's falling approval ratings. We still face a difficult election in 2012, and Conservative Action Fund stands ready to help elect a Republican President.

6. Anything else you'd like to add?

We want to encourage any person who is opposed to Obamacare to sign up and get involved in our grassroots movement to repeal the law. It takes less than 30 seconds to get involved, there are a number of initiatives with which you can already help, and we will continue to keep our team informed of new ways they can help kill the bill. Sign up at ForRepeal.com!

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Video: Allen West Slams Tea Party "Schizophrenia"

On Laura Ingraham:

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The Corrupt Bargain

In American History slogans, catch phrases, and grand titles have often come to serve as signposts marking out eras and pointing the way to popular notions of what passes for an understanding of the national mood or circumstance in a particular period of time.  Examples include: “Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute!” a slogan which spurred us on to our first undeclared war against the Barbary Pirates.  Remember the Maine!” a slogan used by the newspapers at the end of the nineteenth century to gin up support for a war against Spain, and a war which launched the United States as a colonial power.  The Square Deal,” the “New Deal,” the “Fair Deal,” and the “Great Society” all designate government programs aimed at the redistribution of wealth, and of course “Camelot” immediately brings forth visions of the youthful, inspiring, inept, and immoral Kennedy years.
In an effort to advance the cause of verbal economy by recycling a catch phrase from the past, I propose that we label House Speaker John Boehner’s proposed plan for raising the debt limit as “The Corrupt Bargain.”
Looking back the original Corrupt Bargain refers to the compromise which defeated a hero, elected a president, and ultimately led to that president’s defeat.
In 1824, as today, America’s political system was under unbearable stress.  There were two major political parties; the Federalists who were the political descendants of Hamilton and the centralized government party and the Democratic-Republicans who were the political heirs of Jefferson and the Anti-Federalists.
During the election of 1824 the Federalists collapsed as a party while there were five major candidates and scores of minor ones running as Democratic-Republicans.  The candidate officially backed by the Democratic-Republican Party was William H. Crawford, the Secretary of the Treasury under President Monroe.  He had been chosen by the Democratic-Republican Caucus in Congress and had little popular support.
The confusing outcome of this election showed the growing power of an electorate fast outgrowing the original restrictive voting practices of the Federalist era and beginning to display the impact of mass appeal campaigning.  Andrew Jackson, the hero of the battle of New Orleans came out on top with Ninety-nine electoral votes and 43% of the popular vote.  John Quincy Adams, the son of the second president and Monroe' secretary of state, won eighty-four electoral votes and 30% of the popular vote.  Crawford won forty-one electoral votes.  Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House came in fourth with thirty seven electoral votes.  Since no one had enough electoral votes to win, the election was thrown into the House of Representatives.  They had to choose between the top three candidates, which immediately disqualified Clay, and since Crawford had very little popular support it was immediately seen as a contest between Jackson and Adams.
In this situation Clay, as Speaker of the House, held the commanding position.  He held similar views in most areas to Adams and had actually split that wing of the party siphoning off enough votes to deny Adams a win.  However, Clay was an outspoken opponent of Jackson ,and after more than a month of bargaining he threw his support behind Adams securing his election as the sixth president.  Adams then appointed Clay as his Secretary of State a post that had been the stepping-stone to office for the four previous presidents.
While this politically expedient arrangement worked well for the election it did not work out so well for the administration or for the future of either Adams or Clay.  The supporters of Jackson branded it as the “Corrupt Bargain” and used it to immediately launch the bitter 1828 presidential campaign.  The Jackson Democrats pointed to the Adams-Clay bargain as the symbol of a corrupt system wherein Washington elites disregarded the will and interests of the people to pursue their own ends.
All of which brings us to Speaker Boehner and his various plans, trial balloons, and phone interviews he is presenting to the nation as a means of raising the debt limit.  And make no mistake about it that is his goal.  He is a career politician and a quintessential Washington insider.  He and the other leaders of the Republican Congressional Caucus are as attuned to the voice of their constituents as the Democratic-Republican Caucus was in 1824.  The grassroots Tea Party which swept the 2010 elections and which made him Speaker clearly want an end to yearly deficits and to an ever-increasing debt.  Yet every plan the perpetually-re-elected Republicans present including Paul Ryan’s, merely cuts the present deficit and slows the growth of the debt, but they do not end the deficit spending or reduce the debt.  In other words they propose to drive us to the poor-house a little slower than their Democrat opponents.
These same neo-conservative progressives caved during the lame duck session after the paradigm shifting election of 2010 breathing life into the freshly hobbled Obama Administration by agreeing to a stealth stimulus in return for an extension of all the Bush tax cuts.  They caved during the series of continuing resolution battles allowing more spending in exchange for cuts in discontinued programs and layoffs of none-existent federal workers.  They have either colluded or have been out-maneuvered by an administration determined to fundamentally transform America. 
Now they stand with the strongest card conservatives have held since the Clinton impeachment debacle.  A card dealt by the hard work and strategies of the Tea Party.  This card is the ability of the House to just say no to any more deficit spending.  By refusing to pass a bill to raise the debt limit the House can stop our slide into the financial abyss.  When a shopaholic has maxed out all their credit cards and reached the limit of their available lines of credit the answer is not to give them a higher limit or new cards.
Yes, the alternative will be tough but we have spent our way into this corner and we have to work and save our way out.  Since neither party seems willing to drain the swamp it is time to flood the swamp with calls, letters, and visits.  Demand that our representatives represent us and not themselves or their fellow insiders.  Stop the deficits!  Pay down the debt! And don’t make a Corrupt Bargain that will lead us and our posterity further down the road to serfdom.  Don’t sacrifice the future for the expediency of the present.  Don’t mortgage the innocent lives of the unborn for the fleeting luxury of a self-indulgent present or we will all endure a shabby future in a second-rate Chinese financial dependency that was once the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens drrobertowens@hotmail.com  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.

Watch Obama Speech on Debt Limit Video Live, July 29, 2011

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Time For "Gas Industry" Outrage

The folks of South of 5 and 20 are a little upset. Seems they are taking offense at all the sniping coming from environmenalists directed at the "gas industry". If you live in any area of the Marcellus Shale you know what they are talking about and recognize the frustration. But who exactly is the nebulous and ever suspicious "gas industry"?

The pro-energy, pro-jobs, pro-prosperity point of view is always represented as "the gas industry." What the "mainstream" media, which does not do well with economics, is missing is that the "gas industry," as they understand it, does not exist. Unlike coercive government programs, the "gas industry" would not exist if every man, woman, child and reporter didn't choose to consume energy on a daily basis. The "gas industry" is really nothing but a willing servant, doing the demanding bidding of the common man. But the "gas industry" is much easier to demonize than, say, Mrs. Smith's fifth grade class, which can study environmentalism in a nice warm classroom in January in the Finger Lakes, instead of shivering in a crude shelter in the woods, hoping to survive until spring.

Wait a second, I am the "gas industry", too? Well now I am angry! But just for fun, I would like to up the ante just a bit. What if we were to find out that the money used to finance all this industry outrage were coming from far left, philanthropic organizations and individuals like the Sandlers, or the Heinz Endowments, or George Soros?

Who are the multi-million dollar foundations and activists, nonprofits, media groups and academics that are attacking the natural gas industry and its safe, effective hydraulic fracturing process? Who spreads myths and lies about a business that has created thousands of jobs and has delivered energy extracted from U.S. lands to millions of Americans, reducing our dependence on foreign countries?

“Environmentalist groups and activists want you to believe that they — and by extension the land, water and air that we all treasure and want to protect — are endangered because so-called ‘big’ fossil-fuel companies allegedly have a huge advantage in spending on lobbying and messaging,” said Chesser, who is also a senior fellow for the Commonwealth Foundation. “Our report shows that ‘Big Green’ also play a big money game — often built on lies and distortions, which unlike energy, are useless to the public and harmful to the issues debate.”

Paul Chesser and Mark Newgent have put together some very interesting pieces of this puzzle in a 12 page policy brief entitled "The Great Frack Attack: The War on Natural Gas". It's only 12 pages and provides some very interesting reading. More from the ATI Press Release:

Among its revelations the report, titled “The Great Frack Attack: The War on Natural Gas,” exposes efforts by the Sandler-funded ProPublica, which to date has dedicated 120 articles in an assault on natural gas and hydraulic fracturing. Former subprime mortgage lenders Herb and Marion Sandler, who have joined George Soros in support of Center for American Progress and many other leftist groups, poured more than $9 million into ProPublica to help launch it on its mission. Herb Sandler serves as chairman of its board of directors.

Also examined in the report are the funding activities of the Heinz Endowments, overseen by liberal icon Teresa Heinz Kerry, which recently expanded its anti-gas funding dramatically. Among the Heinz grants were thousands of dollars for “outreach and organizing” and to “characterize pollution impacts” from drilling in the Marcellus Shale region. Another large Heinz grant went to a University of Pittsburgh public health center run by alarmist Conrad Volz, who left his position in April after several errors were found in a report where the natural gas industry was falsely accused of dumping carcinogenic agents into drinking water supplies.

The Oscar-nominated movie “Gasland,” activist groups Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future and PennEnvironment, and dozens of other national and state groups come under scrutiny in the report as well.

Thanks to the Instapundit, I happened across Alykhan Velshi, whose ad campaign is premised on the notion that oil exports ultimately underwrite the values of those states that produce them. "'Conflict oil' funds 'dictatorhship' and 'terrorism' and results in 'women stoned to death'.

Conflict Oil vs Ethical Oil

For the first time in my lifetime, we do have a choice about satiating our energy needs. The reality of the world makes it a very easy choice for me. Drill Here, Drill Now!

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