NYS

The Plot Thickens...

...an essay by contributor and Tioga County resident Jerry Troeger.  You can't make this stuff up.

***

In a recent link posted by Nick Schoonover of the Tioga County Landowner’s Group captioned “Follow The Money Trail”, some light was shed on the well-funded and well organized opposition to natural gas development, especially here in New York State.  However, evidence suggests that there is far more to the story than most people are comfortable talking about and its implications are ominous.  I ask you to consider the following:

In spite of his remarkable business accomplishments, wealth and powers of persuasion, George Soros is not anyone that I particularly admire or trust. His rise to power reads like an excerpt from a political strongman’s handbook.  He likes to manipulate things, including the economies of whole countries like Czechoslovakia, and his financial ambitions nearly broke the Bank of England.  In terms of his vision for the future, Mr. Soros is also one of main architects of the proposed ‘New World Order’.  If you are not familiar with the concept, it provides for one World Government, one World Bank and by definition, one ruling class.  There is little doubt as to where the rest of us fit in. In short, this is Socialism on a global scale. My main concern is that his radical vision of the world ‘as it should be’ may someday become our reality. 

I cherish my right to free speech and welcome the opportunity to pursue my dreams. Anything less is not what the Founding Fathers of our country had in mind for us when they crafted the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  In this fundamental way, there are numerous grounds for disagreement between our two philosophies.

Within his vast financial empire, Mr. Soros and his constituents are heavily invested in foreign energy importation.  He makes a lot of money on the fuel we purchase so the more we are dependent on foreign energy, the more money he makes.  Insuring that investors like himself are able to leverage these markets effectively requires extensive capital and cooperation at the highest levels.  He has both.  And although I will not directly accuse anyone in government of collusion, it seems odd that any efforts to lessen our dependency on foreign sources of energy are being shot down on a regular basis.  Somewhere, there must be a method to this madness.

The proposed Keystone oil pipeline from Canada for example, which would have cut  oil prices drastically in the U.S., provided thousands of jobs and increased our supply, was indefinitely delayed by the White House over ‘environmental concerns’ when nearly every credible analyst called its implementation absolutely safe and a ‘no brainer’ for the betterment of our economy.  The same is true with regards to natural gas development in our area.  We are being strategically bogged down in a sea of bureaucracy and indecision while millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent on worthless ‘Green Energy’ schemes that have led to little more than bankruptcy.   They have also fattened the pockets of many of our elected officials and their families. It’s all just a bit too cozy.  And if you ask yourself whose interests all of this serves, I do not think you will find your name on the list.  I know mine isn’t.

Bringing things closer to home, there are more thought-provoking facts to consider right here in New York State.  When Governor Andrew Cuomo first took office, he appeared to be receptive to the possibilities associated with natural gas development.  He then appointed Joseph Martens as the new Commissioner of the D.E.C., replacing Pete Grannis. Not long afterwards, Cuomo had a change of heart and began to back away from the gas industry as a whole. The curious thing here is that, prior to his appointment, Martens spent twelve years as the head of the Open Space Institute, an organization founded and funded by none other than George Soros.  The question then becomes: was the Martens appointment one of merit or one associated with an agenda?

The recent (and ongoing) influx of over 16,000 letters to the D.E.C. in opposition to natural gas drilling is being solicited by the well-funded and politically motivated MoveOn.org, another Soros affiliate.  And the infamous Walter Hang who, in my opinion, is a hack whose job it is to stop gas development by any means with his ‘truth be damned’ policy and deceitful approach to ‘public awareness’, is in part being funded by environmentalist groups with ties to…you guessed it…George Soros.  You do not have to be a rocket scientist to connect the dots—and this information is readily available on the Internet for anyone to see.  All you need do is take the time to look.

The controversy over natural gas is not about the water we drink, I assure you.  This country and most modern countries throughout the world use natural gas in over ninety percent of its households.  Historically, gas has been used for heating, lighting and cooking for over one hundred years yet we still have an abundance of good, clean water readily available at our fingertips.  What does that tell you? Supporters of the natural gas industry have systematically debunked all contrived fears over the drilling issue and the SGEIS is one of the most comprehensive and enforceable energy regulation documents ever written, yet inexplicably the battle rages on.

Getting back to where we started, let’s paint this picture in broader strokes. In order to fundamentally transform any society, the first thing you need to do is to disrupt the existing one in as many ways as possible.  The economy is always a good place to start because it makes the job much easier.  Conversely, one of the LAST things you want to do is inject money into that society because it makes the job much harder.  Money empowers people, stimulates their creativity, boosts the economy and reinforces their sense of self-worth and individuality.  Most people understand this and are eager to work for the things they want because they have goals that can be achieved in a Capitalist society. It is what makes this country great.  But does this in any way fit the profile of a Socialist philosophy?  Or is it simply an obstacle on the road to transformation and control?

No matter which end of the political spectrum your core beliefs fit into, there is the possibility that aspirations for a global transformation by a powerful few could be at the heart of the domestic energy issues we are currently facing nationally, as well as locally.  Of course, I could be wrong.  But the evidence is suggestive and it raises more questions than answers.  In other words, when things don’t make sense, I wouldn’t be too quick to bet the farm until I knew the whole story.  Right now, none of us do and that’s my point.

If it is in fact the footprints of Global Socialism we are seeing on our doorstep, then the pieces of the puzzle will begin to fit and there would be reasonable cause for concern.  Time will bear witness to the truth.   It always does.  I only pray that while we are able to do so, the decisions we make now are the right ones.  If we are wrong, we may not get a second chance.

It is said that “The truth will set you free!”  Now more than ever, it may be the only thing that will keep us free. We owe it to ourselves and our children to find out what that truth is. 

***

See related One of Nine posts here and here.

 

Balancing act

A federal balanced budget amendment (BBA) to the US Constitution sounds great—as Richard Hanna (R-NY24) notes in a recent mailer on that topic, 49 states already have some form of a balanced budget requirement—but the devil is in the details. Hanna's mailing describes how a BBA would work, at least as far as the House is concerned:

  • Federal government spending cannot exceed revenue receipts in any year unles 3/5 of the House and Senate vote to approve it.
  • Any increase in the debt limit would require a 3/5 vote in Congress.
  • The President would be required to send a proposed balanced budget to Congress each year.
  • Any legislation to increase taxes would require a true majority roll call vote.  Currently, tax increases can be approved by a "voice vote" without personal accountability.
  • Congress would be required to enforce the Balalnced Budget Amendment through appropriate legislation.

But here's the thing...as Heritage points out:

...A BBA is constructive, but it’s not the final answer to America’s fiscal woes despite the tools it offers—in large part because it fails to tackle entitlement reform, the most detrimental driver of spending in this country. A BBA is not a neatly packed solution, as no constitutional amendment can replace the hard work of true spending reforms...


The proposed amendment being debated in the Senate...is stricter and...fundamentally differs from its counterpart in the House, but it still lacks in several areas.

The proposed amendment addresses many key issues requiring disciplinary action on the $15 trillion federal debt. These include a spending cap of 18 percent of GDP, a three-fifths vote to raise the debt ceiling, and a two-thirds votes to raise taxes...

Let's not forget that

...the principal reason for adopting a balanced budget constitutional amendment is to limit the size and scope of the federal government by limiting its spending.

Or that since this is a constitutional amendment, we want to be particularly certain to get the language right. No toothlessness here or anything that would cause this later:

But back to state balanced budget requirements.  We're betting that Rep. Hanna got his information from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which "has traditionally reported that 49 states must balance their budgets, with Vermont being the exception." 

Well, it's not quite that simple; read the NCSL's report, which, among other things, has a really interesting map in it

with this explanation (emphasis mine): 

The stringency of state requirements varies substantially. In 1984, the staff of the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations evaluated state balanced budget requirements on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 indicating the most rigorous requirement. For a score of 10, a state had to have a constitutional prohibition against carrying a deficit forward and requirements that the governor propose and the legislature pass a balanced budget. Twenty-six states scored a 10, and 10 more states scored either eight or nine points. According to this evaluation, 36 of the states had rigorous balanced budget requirements. The low-scoring states tend to have only a statutory or constitutional requirement that the governor submit a balanced budget, but not that one be enacted. Figure 1 shows the 26 highest-scoring states and the four with scores of three or less. In California, the voters approved constitutional amendments in 2004 that require the Legislature to enact a balanced budget and prohibit borrowing to manage an end-of-year deficit. Those amendments moved California into the “most rigorous” category.
 
Sheesh.  Like charity, balancing acts need to begin at home. Just sayin'.
 
 

Fair and balanced?

This story from WKTV-Utica from mid-July has some landowners both in NYS and in Bradford County, PA pretty steamed:

The landowners from both PA and NYS we met with in northeastern PA recently not only adamantly denied that the claims made in this report are true—and indeed made the case that the claims are demonstrably false—but were not happy with the NYS residents that they say come down in groups, not just to poke around Bradford and Susquehanna Counties looking for evidence of animals keeling over within two steps after drinking "contaminated" water, but to disrupt meetings of PA landowner groups. I was embarrassed to be a New Yorker.

And we saw some indirect evidence of the unwelcome presence of NYS anti-development people in Susquehanna County in the distinctly hostile behavior of a landowner when he spotted us in a vehicle with New York tags taking pictures of his land being prepared for drilling.  Can't say that I blame him—it's hard to imagine what he's had to put up with from the "anti's".

WKTV was supposed to do a follow-up to this story to provide some balance, but I couldn't find any evidence that they had in fact done so.  If someone knows of such a thing, please pass it along in the comments.

It would appear that it doesn't matter what you say as long as you're impeding progress.

UPDATE: Thanks to NY Shale Gas Now for the link to the follow-up story at WKTV that came about "after CNY landowners complained about the coverage":

"A government of laws and not of men." -- John Adams

First, a little context...the highest-ranking law enforcement officer for NYS, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is, according to his bio at ny.gov, "responsible for representing New York and its residents in legal matters."  Got it?

And

Schneiderman has worked to restore the public’s faith in its public and private sector institutions by focusing on areas including public integrity, economic justice, social justice and environmental protection.

The alarms inside your head should be going off now.

He apparently also needs a copyeditor:

He was also a public interest lawyer for many years, representing taxpayers in historic lawsuits against the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), tenants trying to evict drug dealers from their buildings, and women seeking access to health clinics.

This paragon of public virtue sued "tenants trying to evict drug dealers from their buildings, and women seeking access to health clinics"?  I'm pretty sure that's not what he meant, although it is what he said. But I digress.

According to the April 22, 2000 People's Weekly World (the earlier iteration of what is now the People's World, a Marxist newspaper based in NYC that is the official organ of the Communist Party USA) Schneiderman told the 2000 Working Families Party convention

There's been an incredible explosion of wealth...the two parties have presided over this shift, in which the rich have kept all the money.

Scheiderman added that due to tax cuts for the wealthy "there won't be any money for people's needs."

Got that?  It should sound real familiar to folks in Assemblywoman Babs' 125th district—and Babs and Eric are fellow travelers on gas drilling issues.

UPDATE: From South of 5 and 20Eric Schneiderman, you say? Al Sharpton's pal?  Good one...we'd momentarily forgotten that those two were BFFs.

Now fast forward to 2011.  AG Schneiderman wants to defend landowners' rights. Wait...in view of the above that sounds absurd, says you.  You're right—it is absurd:

....the U.S. government will seek a dismissal of the suit filed by Schneiderman’s office earlier this year [New York v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 11- cv-2599, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn). Citation at Bloomberg—tvm].  The AG filed his suit back on May 31, claiming the government is allowing the controversial natural-gas extraction process to move forward in the Delaware River Basin without a proper environmental review...
 

....“There’s not been a ruling yet,” Schneiderman said of the suit. “We’re dealing with the hydrfracking issue at several levels.”

Among those levels is the rights of property owners. Schneiderman said his office has received several complaints from landowners who say gas companies are trying to extend leases during the ongoing environmental review process from the Department of Environmental Conservation...

He added, “This is not a frack or don’t frack issue. It’s about the fair treatment of landowners.”

Whatever regulations the DEC does develop, Schneiderman would have to defend them in court...

Ah.

In view of AG Holder's selective enforcement practices at the federal level when it comes to laws he doesn't like and in view of AG Schneiderman's opinions on things like "social justice" and his public position on fracking when he was in the state senate, how do you think it will turn out in NYS if AG Schneiderman doesn't like how the DEC regs come down?

Me, too.

h/t Tom

SHOCKER: Republican States Have The Best Public Schools In The Country, By A Long Shot

Ace writes:

"What are blue states getting in exchange for bankrupting themselves, exactly?"

We here at Redneck Mansion wonder the same thing.

He's referring to a Newsweek survey (and an earlier Washington Post survey) that Bard College professor Walter Russell Mead wrote about a few days ago on his blog Via Meadia (poor Prof. Mead is probably the Bill Jacobson of Bard, a conservative voice crying in the wilderness of NYS colleges).  In it, Mead writes:

...Defenders of the high tax, high regulation, highly unionized model of state governance that characterizes the blue states like to point to their higher quality of government services as justification for the taxes they pay and the regulations they accept.

Let those crackers and hillbillies in the red states wallow in their filth and their ignorance, say proud upholders of the blue state model.  We blue staters believe in things like quality education — and that costs money.

In theory, perhaps, but in practice the extraordinary achievement of so many red state schools strongly supports the idea that blue state governance is no friend to excellence in education...

Granted, these kinds of surveys are self-selecting—for instance, my alma mater (I'll let you guess which one wink) appears in the top 35 of the Newsweek survey , but not at all in the Washington Post survey, presumably because the school chose to participate in one but not the other. Similarly, Ithaca High School doesn't appear in the Newsweek survey, but does appear in the 800s on the Washington Post survey (along with Tburg)—of course, the Newsweek survey only lists their top 500 public high schools in the country, so maybe our Tompkins County schools just didn't make the cut.

You can read about the survey methodology at the Post and at Newseek at those links...and Mead makes valid points.  Read the whole thing.

"Almost" only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades

Jumping into the fray here on two fronts...

From Stacy McCain:

When Stacy refers to independent voters here, he's talking "small i" independent, not the Independence Party, which is almost an irrelevancy anyway, at least in this area (Independence Party members, feel free to comment on that assertion):

Republicans who go squishy on social issues do so under the mistaken belief that this somehow helps the GOP reach independent “swing” voters. But that kind of soft-headed thinking is based on a complete misunderstanding of who independent voters actually are.

Independents are not moderates, but rather are prototypical “low-information” voters, and aren’t really much interested in social issues one way or the other.

You know what independent voters truly loathe? Gutless backstabbing unprincipled two-faced flip-floppers.

That last bit is certainly my reading of voters around here who regard themselves as small-i independents.

Read the whole thing.

And as for polls and the media (emphasis mine):

For years, the mainstream media has done their level best to make the redefinition of marriage seem inevitable. As if in concert, local, regional, and national outlets have published the results of poll after poll under headlines like “Majority of Americans Now Supports Same-Sex ‘Marriage,’” all in an attempt to silence opposition...

....The good news for the media is they may have almost succeeded in persuading a sufficient number of salt-of-the-earth Americans to give up the fight.

[....]  we cannot allow ourselves to fall prey to the machinations of the mainstream media, which frequently employs polls not simply to report public opinion, but to frame it...

And not just the mainstream media but political party powers-that-be would do well to remember the old adage about where "almost" counts.

RTR.

In contrast, however, to McCain's conclusion that

The four GOP state senators in New York who voted for this bill have destroyed all hope that the Republican Party can ever make a real comeback in that state.

I posit this:

Just sayin'.

Primal scream therapy may be in order

From Greg David on New York at Crain's:

John Liu and Thomas DiNapoli are the custodians and overseers of the enormous city and state pension funds and the watchdogs over the city and state budgets. So one would think that these two men would be in the forefront of the effort to deal with spiraling pension costs. Unfortunately, think again.

The odd role played by the respective city and state comptrollers should be spotlighted as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg seek very significant changes in pensions in an effort to reduce the cost. New York is already at a disadvantage on this issue to New Jersey, since the courts say New York cannot reduce benefits for current employees, unlike the neighboring state across the Hudson.

Representing the state, Mr. DiNapoli has repeatedly said he won't take part in the "vilification" and "demonization" of public sector workers. At a recent meeting at his law firm, he explained his position by noting that both his father and mother were members of unions and that he was only able to go to college--and become the first in his family to do so--because of the wages and benefits the unions had been able to win for his parents...

Pardon me while I get out my violin.

[....] Mr. DiNapoli's position may not be very important. His cautious approach to using his office's powers on major issues means he is not a major player in the important debates in Albany. Mr. Liu's efforts are important because he is a leading contender for mayor in the 2013 election and a much more energetic player in policy debates.

In the end, both men have failed to confront the key questions. Why should public sector workers have such superior pensions and health benefits to the private sector workers who pay for them? What role do pensions play in forcing the nation-leading tax burden in the state and city? And what economic impact results from that level of taxes?...

Pardon me while I step outside for a moment—and scream.

Pushing back

The Unlikely Hospitalist, writing at The Lonely Conservative, says this has been a good week for supporters of fracking in the region:

First, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research released a report entitled “The Economic Opportunities of Shale Gas Development”. The report highlights some incredible numbers highlighting the economic benefits that would take place if the renewed moratorium on drilling [in NYS] were lifted. You really have to read it to believe it. You will be left wondering, as I am, “What the hell is wrong with New York”....

And at Real Clear Markets:

To find a remedy for New York State's persistent fiscal problems, New Yorkers need only look down—far down.

Miles below the Empire State's mosaic of cities, suburbs, villages, lakes, farms, and highways lie vast reserves of natural gas, currently off-limits to producers. IF Albany were to permit development of these clean energy resources, it would spawn new jobs, a surge of economic activity--and more tax revenues.

Read the whole thing.  Many of the points in the RCM piece were also covered in a paper referenced in an earlier post here.

And the opposition may be starting to fracture:

We always talk about and hear how well organized the anti-Marcellus crowd is, but the Josh Fox rally in Harrisburg this week [Tuesday, June 7th] suggests that there may be a significant disconnect — even outright animosity — amongst their followers. The rally turned out about 150-200 protesters, but everything we’ve read coming out of the event  indicates that this band of die-hard back-to-earthers were among the most radical of the entire lot — folks who aren’t interested in any outcome or compromise that doesn’t involve the end of oil and gas development in America.

[....] it’s no secret that we often do not agree with the information distributed by groups like PennFuture, but lo and behold — this rally has shown that, at least on one issue, we stand in agreement. Seems both of us want to see natural gas developed safely in Pennsylvania. We, and PennFuture, both want to embrace the economic benefits the Marcellus Shale brings while protecting the environment in which we live. And like us, PennFuture is opposed to a moratorium that would bring to an end the one industry in our state that’s actually creating jobs. Because of this, PennFuture did not attend the anti-fracturing rally in Harrisburg on Tuesday....

Lastly, the information is starting to make it into the MSM.  From a June 6th USA Today editorial:

Little more than a decade ago, the United States was running so low on natural gas that companies were making plans to cover the shortfall with imports of liquefied natural gas. Today, though, the marine terminals built to dock huge LNG ships in Texas, Louisiana and Maryland are being converted to ship gas out, not just bring it in...[Fracking] has brought a surprising amount of new gas production from states as disparate as Texas, North Dakota and Pennsylvania — enough combined with conventional supplies to last perhaps 100 years at current consumption rates.

That's game-changing, wildly underdiscussed news....

In 1992, climatologist Chris Folland stated: “The data don’t matter… We’re not basing our recommendations on the data. We’re basing them on the climate models.” Anti-fracking arguments often seem to follow the same sort of reasoning: we know what the conclusion is, now let's try and find the data to support that conclusion.

But people are starting to wise up.

Hanna on microstamping: an all-around bad idea for NYS

First an update: on Tuesday, May 24, Assembly Bill 1157 passed in the New York Assembly by a 84 to 55 vote. The bill has been delivered to the state Senate and will be considered in the Senate Codes Committee (see earlier post here).

Around the same time, a regular columnist for America's First Freedom wrote in the June issue:

I run across a lot of letters to the editor that deal with both sides of the issue of gun control. My unscientific analysis is that most of the pro-Second Amendment letters usually contain at least one or two facts and rely more on logic and reason than on emotion. Then there are the anti-gun letters, which usually feature a straw man argument, some ad hominem attacks on gun owners, some faulty logic (or even worse, no logic at all) and attempts to write that pesky Second Amendment out of the Constitution.

Thankfully, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY24) takes the first route—with more than "one or two facts"—in an op-ed in the Utica Observer-Dispatch:

...Remington is the nation’s oldest gunmaker and has manufactured its product in Ilion for nearly 200 years. It is the largest U.S. manufacturer of shotguns and rifles — the only American company to produce both firearms and ammunition domestically.

But legislators in Albany are considering a new law that could jeopardize jobs at Remington’s plant and increase costs on consumers...

[....] Microstamping is a patented, sole-source concept that would micro-laser engrave the firearm’s make, model and serial number on the tip of a gun’s firing pin. In theory, that information would then be imprinted on to the discharged cartridge casing when the gun was fired. Proponents of the law say it would help law enforcement solve gun crimes.

But there are many flaws with this idea. Among them:

* The concept is unproven...

* It causes increased costs and burdens on manufacturers and consumers...

* Lawful gun owners, not criminals, will be affected... 

* This legislation will be particularly punitive to New York, especially Upstate New York...

Read the whole thing and then contact your state Senator.

It's the redistricting, stupid

I always did like calculus...from "Nate Silver's Political Calculus" column at the NYT:

In the chart below, I’ve detailed the population shifts in different regions of New York State, as well as the attendant changes in the number of congressional districts that they require. Although New York City grew at the same rate, 2.1 percent, as the rest of the state between 2000 and 2010, the number of congressional districts it can support has declined from 12.2 to 11.4 because of the overall reduction in the state’s allotment. The slowest growth in New York City has been in Brooklyn and Queens...

Now I get it. I may be stupid, but I'm slow: 

It is looking more likely that Rep. Anthony Weiner, embroiled in a sexting scandal, could lose his 9th Congressional District as part of a redistricting deal, multiple New York Democratic sources told CNN on Wednesday.

New York will lose two seats when the U.S. House gets reconfigured to reflect population shifts recorded in the 2010 U.S. census. The state's redistricting will be decided by the New York State Assembly in Albany, the capital, with the expected result being an overhaul that would cut a Republican seat upstate and a Democratic seat downstate.

Weiner's district is in Brooklyn and Queens in New York City...

[....] Two of the sources, both Democratic strategists in New York, said that scenario helps explain why New York Democrats haven't rushed to call for Weiner to resign. Many prefer for Weiner to stay, making it more likely his district will get cut and not theirs, according to the two sources.

What, no honor amongst thieves? I'm shocked, shocked...

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