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Quote of the Day: Fracking Berlin Wall

Daily Caller:

“The Pennsylvania-New York border is the ‘Berlin Wall,’” Karen Moreau, executive director of the New York State Petroleum Council, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Pennsylvania is West Berlin, and New York is East Berlin.”

“What’s happening in New York is just a continued decline in the economy of the Southern Tier. Those are the counties right along the border with Pennsylvania,” said Moreau. “Literally, people can stand there on the New York side and look just across the political border and see all this prosperity.”

 

Kinda glad I didn’t stay in NY after college, not that PA doesn’t have its problems.

February 26, 2013 at 10:02 pm Comments (0)

Global Warming Math Does Not Add Up

It’s actually a relief to be writing about something else besides the election. Like the ongoing destruction of Western Civilization at the hands of hardcore socialists in the name of environmentalism.

Watermelons, people. Green on the outside, red on the inside.

Bill McKibben is a journalist and writer who essentially makes his living off of environmental activism. He is a darling of the enviro-left who has made a name for himself as a global warming alarmist climate change activist and has most recently become the head crusader against the Keystone XL pipeline.

Why should you care? Because his latest project is called “Do the Math” which is a nationwide tour of liberal cities and college towns where he pushes the “certainty” of climate change based on a handful of factoids which vastly oversimplify the issue. The upshot of all this is that if we don’t do something NOW! NOW! NOW! the world will burn, and, of course, evil capitalist Americans will be to blame.

The problem is that McKibben isn’t telling the story. What McKibben doesn’t talk about for a general audience these days, since he started focusing more on activism for wide audiences, are the specific ways that this “math” will affect the ordinary Americans who show up to his rallies.

What does this mean, specifically, for McKibben’s audience? Back in 1998, he once illustrated what happens when we try to slash fossil fuels before an efficient alternative is ready:

Say, just for argument’s sake, that we decided to cut world fossil-fuel use by 60 percent—the amount that the UN panel says would stabilize world climate. And then say that we shared the remaining fossil fuel equally. Each human being would get to produce 1.69 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually—which would allow you to drive an average American car nine miles a day. By the time the population increased to 8.5 billion, in about 2025, you’d be down to six miles a day. If you carpooled, you’d have about three pounds of CO2 left in your daily ration—enough to run a highly efficient refrigerator. Forget your computer, your TV, your stereo, your stove, your dishwasher, your water heater, your microwave, your water pump, your clock. Forget your light bulbs, compact fluorescent or not.

Unless we can replace more than three quarters of America’s energy with something at least as efficient, all those other things in your life are going to get much more expensive, even unavailable. In case anyone in Pennsylvania has any illusions about what this means for them, here’s McKibben again:

[I]n a humbler world, transportation might well wither, as people began to live closer not only to their work but to their food supply. Oranges all year round—oranges at any season in the northern latitudes—might prove ambitious beyond our means, just as the tropics might have to learn to do without apples.

And if you look at McKibben’s older work, or when he’s talking to smaller audiences, he’ll tell you this poverty is part of the plan:

Since environmentalists cannot alleviate poverty by increasing the amount of goods, one would logically expect them to advocate a drastic redistribution of wealth. The environmentally sane standard of living for a population our current size would probably be somewhere between that of the average Englishman and the average Ethiopian […] But this sort of talk would erode what support environmental concerns enjoy among the privileged.

[…]

A humble path, in which the rich world meets the poor world halfway, seems to me to allow for far more justice than an ever-growing supply of air conditioners.

He wrote the two quotes above in The End of Nature in 1989, when Ethiopia’s per-capita GDP was under $250, and the UK’s was just over $15,000 – less than a third of current US levels. And that was the “sane” standard of living for 5 billion people; there are 7 billion of us today.

McKibben has gradually learned not to talk like that to the “privileged.” He doesn’t tell his larger audiences things like, “I don’t think everyone can live a middle class American lifestyle all over the world, including middle class Americans.” When he’s writing in Rolling Stone or speaking to a packed theater, he talks about far-away things like gigatons of CO2 and Big Oil.

Which brings me to the “Do The Math” action plan: disinvestment from fossil fuel companies. Of course, that doesn’t slow down foreign state-owned petroleum industries like Iran and Venezuela, but it does give them an advantage over private, publicly traded companies. But again, that’s a feature, not a bug, in McKibben’s eyes, because it’s those domestic companies that are standing in the way of his political strategy:

“The reason that it’s so great that we’re occupying Wall Street is because Wall Street has been occupying the atmosphere. That’s why we can never do anything about global warming. Exxon gets in the way. Goldman Sachs gets in the way. The whole fossil fuel industry gets in the way.

[...]

“The problem is 20 blocks south of here. That’s where the empire lives. And we’ve got to figure out how to tame it and make it work for this planet or not work at all.”

Keep all of this in mind as you watch a newly emboldened environmental movement, led by people like Bill McKibben, try to move public policy in a “green” direction. And the next time you start a criticism of environmentalism with the phrase, “They mean well, but…” remember that many of them do not mean well. They mean to set human development back centuries in the name of fairness with themselves, of course, the sole arbiters of what is “fair”.

November 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm Comment (1)

Convert Oil Refineries To Process PA’s Marcellus Shale Natural Gas

 

Delta Airlines Buying Conoco Refinery Doesn’t Solve The Problem

 

Psst: Don’t tell anybody, but the worst-kept secret in  Pennsylvania is that the natural gas industry — the only economic salvation our dying state had— is leaving in droves, replaced by job loss, budget holes and despair.

 

Like most tragedies, this one was preventable. Only common sense and foresight were required. But those traits were pumped dry long ago, so instead of experiencing a booming economy rooted in the rebirth of American manufacturing, Pennsylvania is now witness to yet another long exodus of our best and brightest.  And the Commonwealth’s march toward permanent mediocrity is accelerating.

 

Natural Gas Industry Exiting PA

 

As with most things, our elected officials couldn’t see the forest for the trees, and now that the gas industry is packing up their mobile rigs and making for greener pastures, (or, more accurately, black pastures, as in Black Gold), the recently passed gas “impact” tax will be as impactful as Mitt Romney’s Position-du-jour.

 

Why is the gas industry leaving? Simple. They are losing money hand over fist, as natural gas is sitting at a ten-year low due to lack of demand.  So let’s get this straight.  We ignore cheap, abundant and clean natural gas while continually getting hosed at the pump from record-setting oil prices. And as a direct result of soaring gasoline prices, inflation is rising unchecked and true economic growth is vaporizing before our eyes.

 

Only in America — literally.

 

No other country on the planet would permit this kind of self-destruction, willfully sending hard-earned money to overseas adversaries while doing everything in its power to bite the (domestic) hand that feeds it. And that paralyzing incompetence comes from being fat, dumb and lazy while aggressive competitors do whatever is necessary to gain an advantage.

 

Because of this choice, the U.S. remains dependent on others for its energy needs.  In addition to the obvious national security concerns (we wouldn’t be expending blood and treasure in the Middle East if we drilled domestically), we are willfully engaged in the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind, as hundreds of billions go to China and Middle Eastern oil barons because we refuse to harness our limitless natural resources.

 

The way out of the recession — permanently — is to keep American petro dollars here.  And by the way, “here” doesn’t mean Canada, since it too is a foreign nation. So Republicans need to stop their grandstanding about the Keystone XL pipeline, which, if approved, would only re-direct American money to our Canuck friends.  By definition, that neither achieves energy independence nor creates large-scale American jobs. But never let the facts stand in the way of a good political gimmick.

 

America will never compete with Chinese labor costs, but the untold story is that we don’t have to.  We beat them by having the world’s cheapest energy costs, and that, along with reworked trade policies, would level the manufacturing playing field and get America making things again.

 

Just look at Proctor and Gamble’s manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania.  An energy bill in the tens of millions was virtually eliminated after the discovery of natural gas under the plant.  Saving that much money leads to company expansion, additional jobs, more service industries, and a larger tax base. 

 

But instead of embracing that kind of success, our leaders have punted the ball. Why haven’t all state buildings and vehicles been mandated to operate on natural gas? Why haven’t tax incentives been offered to private sector companies willing to invest in natural gas refueling stations? Why haven’t efforts been made to rescind job-killing and innovation-stifling regulations? Why weren’t the success stories of companies like Proctor and Gamble told and sold by our top political leaders? 

 

No vision, and no gameplan. And now it’s getting late in the fourth quarter.

 

Converting the refineries

 

But there is an opportunity that could provide the same type of boom on a much greater scale: convert the Sunoco and ConocoPhillips refineries in Philadelphia to process natural gas rather than the much more expensive crude oil.

 

(Note: While a Delta Airline’s subsidiary just bought the Conoco refinery to make its own jet fuel, we’ll see whether that high-altitude idea flies, since airlines have a hard enough time staying in the air financially.  An airline getting into the fuel business has the right idea, as lower fuel prices will make their bottom line take-off.  But given the industry’s track record, that type of diversification could send Delta into a tailspin, possibly ending in a crash-and-burn scenario. And that would occur for much the same reason that the oil companies themselves are divesting themselves of their refining operations — wild fluctuations in the price of oil and mindboggling regulations make it inherently unprofitable.)

 

However, if Delta really wanted to lower costs over the long-haul, it might consider retooling its refinery to convert abundant natural gas from 100 miles away to jet fuel —rather than relying on oil shipments in a volatile market from across the world.

 

Sure, converting a refinery to process natural gas rather than oil takes a significant investment, but it is one that would pay huge dividends given that America’s insatiable appetite for energy (and in Delta’s case, jet fuel) will only increase.  And that’s a good thing, because increased energy demand means companies are thriving, jobs are being created, people are traveling and the economy would be truly gaining strength (unlike the disingenuous “recovery” claims now made by government and the media).

 

How to do it? After the refinery conversion (and elimination of many energy-sector regulations that drive up costs), immense amounts of “dry” natural gas, primarily from northeastern Pennsylvania, would be piped down to the refinery, utilizing the right-of-way alongside the Northeast Extension of the Turnpike.

 

The dry natural gas would then be converted to gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel — at a consumer price point that may well be under $2 per gallon.  Fuel that inexpensive becomes an instant win-win: the rebirth of manufacturing, big job gains, fewer foreclosures, and the satisfaction of knowing that national security is bolstered every time you hit the pump.

 

In addition to Philadelphia’s refineries being in an ideal location for disbursement of those refined products, there is yet another opportunity for economic growth.  To meet what would surely be increased domestic and overseas demand, a pipeline could be constructed down the Delaware River, terminating offshore so that tankers could safely take on their loads out at sea.

 

(A liquefied natural gas tanker explosion, whether accidental or deliberate, would be akin to a small nuclear weapon. While extremely unlikely, that possibility would nonetheless present huge political challenges in allowing large LNG tankers in the Delaware River.)

 

Refine Our Way Of Thinking

 

Despite their good intentions trying to save the refineries, some politicians have missed the boat by only pushing the idea of exporting natural gas from Philadelphia.  That won’t create jobs, as we would merely be shipping the gas to be refined elsewhere.  How ironic that would be, watching Pennsylvania export its lifeblood in the shadow of three refineries, any and all of which could keep all of the economic benefits here, and none of which will likely be profitable refining oil as currently outfitted.

 

Failure to convert the refineries may well kill off the gas industry altogether, making us ever more dependent on foreigners for our vital energy needs while prices continue to soar.

 

But if we rekindle that slumbering can-do American spirit and put America first for a change, the possibilities would be limitless, and we would no longer be bent over a barrel.

 

And what a gas that would be.

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

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May 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm Comments (0)

Blame Impotent Congress – And Yourself – For Gas Prices

 Americans don’t have enough holidays.

 

Unlike our Euro brethren, who take off all of August to refresh themselves after their grueling 25-hour work weeks, those in the U.S. can’t catch a break.  Sure, we have Arbor Day and Wildflower Week, but we need to celebrate more.  So it’s only appropriate to propose a holiday to which we can all relate, one that stays with us for more than just a day.

 

National Colonic Month.

 

No, not the colonic used to flush the body of evil red meat. That would be pointless since, according to a new study, just looking at a hamburger increases the likelihood of death by 900 percent.

 

National Colonic Month would be the collective feeling of having a gas pump forcefully inserted where the sun doesn’t shine by the United States Congress each time we refuel our cars, buy groceries, heat our homes, lay people off, lose our jobs, pull out our hair and contemplate “crimes of opportunity” (aka siphoning your neighbor’s gas tank), all in the name of making Arab sheiks the world’s first trillionaires.

 

Since America has perfected its current position of being bent over a barrel, its posterior wide open and ready to receive whatever comes, what better time for a national colonic of Middle Eastern petroleum?  And here’s the best part.  Given America’s insatiable appetite, National Colonic Month would just roll from month to month. So whether gas is $4 now, $5 in the summer, or $9 when the Washington braintrust strikes Iran, we will never have to worry about a shortage of colonic activity.

 

Of course, as with any procedure, there are side effects.  In our case, it hurts a lot more as the price goes up, hemorrhaging can occur, and decay and disease may soon set in. And since we are the only doctor in town, yet remain impotent to solve, let alone diagnose, the problem, the prognosis for recovery isn’t good.

 

Kind of reminds you of Fletch’s most famous line, “Using the whole fist, Doc?” 

 

In America’s case, it’s a lot more than a fist.

 

*****

It’s really tough to figure out who is dumber: Congress or the people who elect them.

 

Are people up in arms about skyrocketing gas prices? You bet.  My answer? Shut up and take your colonic.  It’s no one’s fault but your own, so deal with it.

 

Oh sure, there are renewed calls for drilling now that gas is $4/gallon — just like in 2008 when it hit $4.50.  But then the economy tanked, oil prices collapsed, and gas returned to “normal” (under $3).  Result? Back to complacency.  The only thing that got drilled was the people, but they were too ignorant to know better.

 

Now that prices have spiked again, we are looking for a scapegoat.  Obama is a convenient target, and while he is partially responsible, so are his blamers, namely the Republicans. Consider:

 

1) It was George H.W. Bush who implemented the moratorium on offshore drilling.  And it was Junior Bush who, rather than being proactive by opening up ANWR and reversing Dad’s mistake while he had significant majorities in Congress (and let’s face it — after 9/11, he could have had anything he wanted in the name of security), waited until gas spiraled out of control to call for drilling.  Too late, as the Democrats slammed the door in his face.

 

2) A local Republican congressman told me during a 2010 interview that he couldn’t introduce a drilling bill while in the minority. Uhh, sorry, but Civics 101 says differently. The bill may not make it out of a Democratically-controlled committee, but it absolutely could have been introduced.  And, by the way, that would have been a coup, since Obama made offshore drilling and nuclear power a cornerstone of his 2010 State of the Union address.  But the GOP response? He didn’t really believe that. 

 

Remember, this is the same president who just green-lighted the first new nuclear power plants since 1978.  A Democrat doing that is akin to Ronald Reagan calling for a ban of all handguns.  But rather than work with the President on a (yes—Republican!) issue, the result was bitter, partisan attacks. Hence, no offshore drilling.

 

3) But Mr. Obama doesn’t get a free pass. He recently ridiculed those who advocate “drill, drill, drill” to lower energy prices. Well, not to be a stickler, but if you produce more of something, the price will, in fact, drop.  Yes, we should all be more energy-conscious. That’s common sense. And alternative energy resources should be developed so long as they are market-feasible. But let’s be real. Oil is the unrivaled king of the energy world. Since that will not change for decades, if ever, it’s time to remove our heads from the colonic area and do what we all know has to be done: drill domestically.

 

Obama delayed the Keystone XL Pipeline, which was a mistake.  But what damn near everybody is missing is that, save for a relatively small amount of product from North Dakota, the oil is all Canadian.  Granted, getting oil from our Canuck friends is certainly better than relying on Middle Eastern nations, but it misses the point entirely.  Why are we not responsibly drilling on our own turf, keeping the jobs and revenue stateside?

 

4) Natural gas just hit a ten year low, while oil (and gasoline) are soaring. Go figure. So the wells that should be tapping the unlimited, clean-burning natural resource literally beneath our feet are being capped, killing jobs and entire industries.  Well, except for colonics.

 

5) Most disturbing is that our local congressional representatives are spending their time holding hearings on the closings of the Sunoco and Conoco-Phillips refineries. No, that’s not a joke. Congressman Pat Meehan and Senator Bob Casey are looking for answers as to how the closings will affect oil prices and impact national security.  (This should be no surprise, as Congress routinely holds hearings on weighty matters such as how the College Football Bowl Championship should be decided).

 

Perhaps I could save a boatload of taxpayer cash by releasing the results of a poll conducted of a sixth-grade class I teach.  The closings will be bad. Very bad. Prices will continue to rise, since if there is less of something, its cost will increase. And we will be less secure. Next hearing?

 

When did we start prioritizing national security anyway? Congress cares infinitely more about the national security of Middle Eastern sheikdoms than it does America, despite some of those nations funding anti-American terrorist groups with our petro dollars.  And all for one reason: their oil.

 

Here’s the bottom line: as long as we refuse to domestically drill, American soldiers will continue to die in Muslim lands.  And no amount of hearings, protests, or political rhetoric will change that. And let’s be honest. Our men and women are not “fighting for our freedom,” nor are they “keeping the war over there.” They are simply doing the bidding of a Congress —and the people who elect them — who are too complacent, or worse, impotent — to do the responsible thing: protect America by harnessing our vast and unparalleled domestic energy resources.

 

And there’s no colonic to cleanse the soul from the blood we all have on our hands.

 

So to be crude, stick it in and fill ‘er up, Sheik.

 

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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March 21, 2012 at 7:04 am Comments (2)

Under Obama’s Plan, Electricity Prices Would Necessarily Skyrocket

And this is how it happens.

GenOn will close three area power plants

GenOn expects to deactivate 3,140 MWs of generating capacity in PJM between June 2012 and May 2015 because forecasted returns on investments necessary to comply with environmental regulations are insufficient.

Let me translate that: It will cost way too much to comply with the new environmental regulations coming down the pike, so we are just going to shut down. This is the fruit of Obama’s radical environmental policies. Lost jobs, loss of tax revenue to towns where these plants are, and more expensive electricity during a time when people are struggling to pay their bills.

Incidentally, GenOn has already spent a boatload of money on environmental upgrades, so spare me the corporate polluter schtick.

Environmental Capital Expenditures Since 2000: GenOn has invested approximately $2.4 billion in environmental controls for the existing plants expected to remain in GenOn’s fleet after the deactivations. Compared to 1990 emission levels, 2011 NOX emissions were reduced by 78% and SO2 emissions were reduced by 90% for those generating facilities. In addition, GenOn expects to make further improvements by investing $586 to $726 million over the next ten years for major environmental controls at some of its generating stations to meet air and water environmental regulations.

Still, apparently, three billion-ish dollars is not enough. The EPA wants MOAR! and if GenOn can’t pay, then that’s too bad.

Outrageous, yes? Not to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette! Don Hopey, their in-house tree-hugger, thinks this is absolutely fantastic.

The Sierra Club hailed the closures as a “victory for clean air.” The pollution emissions reductions will prevent more than 179 premature deaths, 300 heart attacks, and 2,800 asthma attacks, according to data from the Clean Air Task Force, a national environmental clean air advocacy group.

“Above all, this is a win for public health and for families who have been breathing polluted air from these outdated plants,” said Bruce Nilles, senior director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

“GenOn has recognized that operating outdated, dirty coal plants just doesn’t make economic sense anymore, especially in a time when constructing a wind farm is now cheaper than building a new coal plant. What matters now is ensuring that GenOn does the right thing and transitions these workers into the growing clean energy sector.”

That sharp pain you feel in your temple is an aneurysm. It will either pass or sweet sweet death will take you. You’re a winner either way, trust me.

If you dare read the article, you’ll see that the PG didn’t bother quoting anyone from GenOn. Maybe Don Hopey’s afraid they’ll tell the truth and through some twisted dedication to journalistic ethics he’ll have to publish it. You’ll also see that there’s no mention of the people who will be out of work, the potential devastation of families, or the difficulty in finding blue collar jobs in this economy. Nothing. Just smug scolding from the enviro-nazis and a paean to the fictitious clean energy sector.

I have an idea. Instead of GenOn transitioning these workers into faux green jobs, they should pay for college courses in economics and political science for each of the newly unemployed so that they can understand why their jobs disappeared. And then they should pay for a free shuttle to the polls in November. There’s a polling place at the Elrama Fire Hall–just up the street from the old power plant.

February 29, 2012 at 9:52 pm Comment (1)

Freindly Fire’s Biggest Losers Of 2011

 

Although Freindly Fire has never been known for sarcasm and negativity, it feels compelled as a civic duty to point out this year’s biggest losers. 

So with very little pleasure (okay, maybe a little), here are some of 2011’s notable wankers: 

Philadelphia Phillies

A colossal failure. Period. End of story.

But this being Philadelphia, further explanation is, of course, warranted. Yes, they won the (ridiculously weak) National League East Division for the fifth time in a row. Yes, they set a franchise record for regular season wins. Yes, there was one World Series Championship three years ago. And yes, they will probably win the Division again in 2012. So what?  All meaningless. 

And for anyone who actually believes any of those achievements mean squat, well, you’re delirious from being an Eagles fan.  

The team — the only one in the nation’s top four markets which does not share its city with another franchise — was billed as having the best rotation in baseball history and a powerhouse lineup of battle-tested veterans.  But when you enter Yankee territory, as they claimed they did, anything short of a Championship must be viewed a total failure, as there are no points for second place.

The blame should be laid at the feet of the players, several of whom refused to hustle and play fundamental baseball, and more importantly, the coaches who didn’t address those problems.

So while the Phils are still a dangerous team, their window of opportunity is closing fast. Time to lose the ‘tude and play ball the way Little Leaguers and consistent World Series Champs do. Otherwise, Charlie Manual will become the city’s next Andy Reid. (Alright, that’s a stretch. Andy’s in a class by himself.) 

NBA

Speaking of sports, shame on the NBA for ending the lockout.  If they really cared about Fan Appreciation, they would have continued the impasse for the next decade. It was leaps and bounds more exciting than anything the 12 people watching a typical NBA game will see.

Jerry Sandusky, His Wife Dottie, Penn State, Tom Corbett, Joe Paterno, and Mike McQueary

At the very least, all failed the test of moral leadership, permitting small, defenseless children to live a nightmare from which they may never awaken — because no one would help. How could Happy Valley seem more like Yemen, where child sex trafficking and molestation is an accepted fact of life?  Even if Penn State turns into the State Pen for those who may have done wrong, it will be little solace to the victims.

And all the folks on this list, whether directly or indirectly, have blood on their hands. For shame.

Mitt Romney

Is Romney the most intelligent candidate running for President? Probably. Is he a successful businessman? Undoubtedly.  But what does it tell you when, after campaigning for five years and spending hundreds of millions, Romney still can’t even muster 30 percent of the GOP base? In other words, seven of ten Republicans simply don’t like him.

And it’s not rooted in his issue positions (though his Romneycare law in Massachusetts doesn’t help), but that he has no core convictions on…anything.  The man is the very embodiment of an articulate politician without a soul, one who will say whatever it takes to get elected.   So prevalent is his flip-flopping that he couldn’t even decide whether to campaign in Iowa. Contrast that to Congressman Ron Paul, whose support is surging for the opposite reason — because he has been steadfastly consistent throughout his entire political career.

It’s a lesson totally lost on Mitt.  He’s so out of touch that he doesn’t understand the peoples’ yearning for a leader who stands for something and sticks to his guns.  Instead, Romney’s “be all things to all people” approach has him foundering, and will make him an inviting target for Obama should he win the GOP nomination.

Romney is the best Christmas present the GOP could give the Democrats. 

Hollywood Movie Studios

Fewer Americans went to the movies this year than at any point in the last 16 years. Sure, the economy is in the toilet, tickets are expensive, and you need to take out a second mortgage to buy Raisenets, but they are all symptoms of a much greater illness: Hollywood’s product continues to decline.

Most flicks are flat-out horrible, but Hollywood execs don’t care. Their formula of hiring a star and throwing in some special effects is enough to dupe Americans into opening their wallets.  And despite the dismal box office numbers, don’t look for that to change anytime soon.  As long as they can make enough money to get near breakeven in North America, they’re still be laughing all the way to the bank because the foreign box office is providing the big haul. In fact, it was a record year for overseas profits. Which means that folks in Indonesia who are still starstruck will ensure more of Hollywood’s mediocrity for the foreseeable future.

Or here’s an idea: maybe Hollywood could stop looking for the easy way out of making remakes of remakes and using the same musical score ad nauseam —just listen to Pirates of the Carribean (2003), Gladiator (2000), and The Rock (1996) — and reinvent itself.  Sure, it takes effort to be creative, but that’s what made Hollywood the most powerful force in the world.

Most people couldn’t name one U.S. Senator, nor do they care.  But when Hollywood produces a creative, classic movie, it touches the soul, inspires, motivates, and enlightens (Remember the Titans meets all that criteria and then some).  It makes people think in a way they normally wouldn’t, and more often than not, produces a smile.  When was the last time Congress did that?

The slogan of the G4 network is playing “Movies That Don’t Suck.” Since that list is growing thin, let’s hope Hollywood regains its footing and returns to its glory days by putting blood, sweat and tears ahead of the easy buck.

 Jim Matthews, Joe Hoeffel, and Montco Residents

Even in its most creative mode, Hollywood couldn’t have scripted this soap opera. Four years ago, the GOP won control of the County Commissioners, but Jim Matthews forsaked loyalty for power and sided with Democrat Joe Hoeffel, giving the Chairmanship to himself and power, effectively, to the Democrats. Top vote getter Bruce Castor was left out in the cold.

So (in)effective was the dynamic duo of Matthews-Hoeffel that both got the boot from their respective Parties and were forced into retirement.  And for the first time ever, the Democrats took control of Montgomery County.  So once again, Castor will be the only voice of reason as the Dems will most certainly raise taxes and get cozy with the unions.

But in a most fascinating twist, Matthews was recently arrested on perjury and false swearing charges for allegedly lying to a Grand Jury about his relationships with county vendors.  The Grand Jury found that “Matthews lied with such ease and frequency, that he acted as though, as Chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, he is above the law.”

When you’re arrogance knows no bounds, what goes around comes around. And for Jim Matthews, the red and green colors of the season may well turn to jumpsuit orange.  So in the spirit of giving, Freindly Fire will send Jim a belated Christmas present, just to be safe: Soap-On-A-Rope. 

Pennsylvanians

Maintaining the status quo simply isn’t good enough when the state has an effective unemployment rate above ten percent. So to solve that problem, what did Republican Governor Tom Corbett and the GOP-controlled legislature achieve? Pretty much zilch.

Sure, the budget wasn’t increased, but that wasn’t due to political courage but the fact that the federal stimulus funds had evaporated. And yet, despite many good programs going on the chopping block, the “fiscally conservative” Republicans still spent money on a lavish union deal, the Yankees’ AAA stadium, a bailout of the Philadelphia Shipyard to build ships with no buyers, and —while not ultimately spent — a grant to Jerry Sandusky’s Second Mile Foundation.

What of the signature issues that will be ignored in the upcoming election year? School Choice? Dead as Marley’s Ghost. Liquor privatization? Forget it. Reducing the second highest corporate tax in the nation — a certified job killer? Not going to happen.

And how about the virtually limitless cheap natural gas under Pennsylvania? It still hasn’t dawned on the Governor to mandate that state buildings and vehicles utilize that gift — which would be an economically and environmentally sound policy.

So because the demand for natural gas remains so low, the industry will cap their wells and move out of state, and we won’t have them to use as a convenient punching bag anymore. Brilliant.

So Pennsylvanians will suffer as more opportunities to bring the state into the 21st century are squandered.  The politicians change, but the dismal results stay the same.

Happy New Year!

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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December 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm Comments (0)

Freindly Fire’s Biggest Winners Of 2011

It’s that time of year when Freindly Fire heaps praise upon those most deserving.

So in the spirit of consistency, the Biggest Winner of 2011, just like every year, is illegal immigrants. They are granted driver’s licenses, free education – in some cases all the way to college – and free first-rate health care. Not only do they pose a national security threat, but a personal one, as many are criminals released back onto the streets because the government refuses to deport them. Their presence has forced the closure of hospitals, ripped jobs away from American workers, depressed wages and caused taxes to increase sharply.

And let’s not forget that many illegals are voting in our elections. How’s that for irony: foreigners deciding American elections. Maybe that’s why both Parties pander to illegals, including leading GOP candidates Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.

 And every time the illegals win, the American people lose.

Iran

For a country so incompetent that it took a quarter-century just to build a simple subway in its capital, and equally as long to construct the Tehran airport, Iran sure knows how to gain international attention. Year after year, Iran successfully extorts the West, and the U.S. continues to play the Iranians’ game. Now, Iran is threatening to cut off the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway through which one-sixth of the world’s oil supply passes.

And what does America do?  Prepare for yet another armed conflict — with yet another Muslim country.  That would make Iran the eighth — yes, eighth! — Muslim nation the U.S. has attacked since the Clinton Administration — truly a bipartisan debacle. Despite the insanity of this possibility, in which oil could spike to $200 per barrel and decimate whatever is left of the world economy, some talking heads continue advocating such military intervention. Going to war with random Middle Eastern oil nations isn’t sound foreign policy. It’s lunacy.

Here’s an idea. Maybe if we got off our duff and stopped kowtowing to radical environmentalists who offer no solutions, we could pursue energy independence with the virtually unlimited resources literally at our feet.  And guess what happens when we start producing $2 gasoline and diesel? We wouldn’t give a damn about Iran.  Or Iraq.  Or Libya. Or….

 

Rick Perry

Who’d have thought another Texas Governor could be so entertaining?  From taking 12 hours to come up with a response to Mitt Romney’s $10,000 bet, to shrinking the size of the government (apparently, we have only eight Supreme Court Justices and no Department of Energy), Perry has been in a class by himself.

Of course, not knowing the date of the election nor the correct voting age, while priceless, won’t help Perry stay in the race. But his significant campaign cash just might, which would undoubtedly provide more “Oops, I Did It Again” moments. So hats off to the only politician who could make George W. Bush look like Daniel Webster.   

 

Barack Obama

See “Rick Perry” above.  This election is the GOP’s to lose — and they are well on their way to doing so.

 

 

Occupy Movement

Give credit where it’s due.  The Occupy Movement was able to dupe the media (admittedly, not a very hard thing to do) into providing nonstop coverage of…pictures of tents and filth. How newsworthy.

It was bad enough that Occupy had no organization, no spokesman, and absolutely no message.  But for the media to cover, night after night, lazy hippies who thought it cool to camp out, not work and get free things from idiots who thought it politically correct to patronize hobos was nauseating.

So incompetent was the Orgy — I mean Occupy — Movement that it took the media to inject its own rationale for why the “protests” were occurring — income inequity. Well, here’s a newsflash: there is, and should be, income inequality. As in, the person waking up every day at 6AM to work a 12 hour day, should makes more money than a sloth looking for a handout. 

In the immortal words of The Big Lebowski: “Your revolution is over… Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did — get a job, sir! The bums will always lose!”

 

Andy Reid

Despite commanding an uber-hyped team whose spectacular failure was surpassed only by the Phillies, the best three-quarter coach in football — and the one who game after game commits bush league mistakes that an eighth-grade coach would never make — will absolutely, put-it-in-the-bank-guaranteed be back leading the Philadelphia Eagles next season. Where he leads them is equally predictable: not to a Super Bowl Championship.  Reid has simply been in Philadelphia too long, and has settled into a comfort level where winning The Big One, while nice, isn’t an imperative. He seems content with the moniker of being the winningest coach in franchise history along with all the other superlatives that don’t mean a bloody thing in a town that bleeds Eagle Green.

Reid has proven his value at turning around a franchise, but that is where his usefulness ends. The Eagles should, but won’t, bring in a closer to seal the deal and get the job done — like Jon Gruden did with Tampa Bay. 

So Reid will win another season where his mediocrity will be on full display, and, this being Philly, will undoubtedly be making this list again next year for all the wrong reasons.

 

Archbishop Wood Football

Their season was full of confidence and hope, a fourth straight Catholic League title and a state championship in their sights. Yet Archbishop Wood stumbled in their opener, losing that crucial first game. Many teams would have folded, finding excuses as to why the season was slipping away (READ: 2011 Philadelphia Eagles). But Wood rebounded, and dedicated their efforts to the memory of former legendary coach Skip Duffy, who lost his battle with cancer in September.

And the rest is history. Wood rolled out fourteen straight wins, racking up average margins of 38 points in the regular season and 41 points in the playoffs, culminating in the total evisceration of perennial powerhouse Bishop McDevitt, 52-0 to win the State Championship.  In doing so, Wood has earned a place as arguably the best Class AAA football team ever.

Perhaps Andy Reid and Company should be taking notes from Wood — not plays and calls, but the intangibles that always, always win Championships. Dick Vermeil’s character in the Vince Papale movie Invincible said it best. ”The team with character will find a way to beat a team with talent…great teams weren’t just playing for themselves. They played for a city. The people of Philadelphia have suffered…You are what gives them hope.”

And in times like these, hope is needed more than ever.  Congrats, Archbishop Wood for demonstrating what so many professionals have long ago forgotten — that character still means something.

 

Freindly Fire’s Biggest Losers Of 2011 will appear tomorrow.

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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December 29, 2011 at 9:33 am Comments (0)

Save Sunoco Refineries? Get Politicians Out Of The Way!

Part 1 of a series on saving refinery jobs and getting America working again 

For the tens of thousands whose livelihoods depend on the Sunoco and Conoco-Phillips oil refineries in Philadelphia, Marcus Hook and Trainer, the Grinch arrived early this Christmas, announcing that all three facilities would be closing in the near future.

But unlike the Grinch who delighted in causing misery for the sake of misery, the oil companies seemed to have no choice.  Their hand was forced by a combination of market forces that saw them losing millions every single day.

And now, short of the companies finding buyers, those workers will be thrown out into the cold, unemployed in an America that is plunging further into the abyss. An America that doesn’t make a bloody thing anymore.  An America with the highest corporate taxes in the world.  And an America with trade policies that sell out its own citizens.

Making matters worse, most of the workers will be seeking new jobs in Pennsylvania, one of the least competitive states in the nation when it comes to attracting new companies.

Doom and gloom? No, just the hard truth.  And here’s another one. Short of packing up and moving to refinery-laden Louisiana, most of the laid off workers will never find a job in this region close to the pay scale and skill level which they are leaving.

Welcome to The New America, one that too often puts the interests of its competitors — and even its adversaries — ahead of its own citizens.

Compounding the problem even further (if that’s possible) is the unwanted involvement of those who caused our economic mess in the first place — the politicians.  And, as they continue to demonstrate, they don’t have the slightest clue as to how to right the ship.

Politicians need to be taken out of the equation. Pandering for votes by holding pointless meetings with refinery and union officials isn’t solving anything.  It only gives false hope (while providing them with 30-second sound bites).

But here’s the good news.  There is hope, more than can be imagined. Those refinery workers could not be sitting on a better spot on Earth to reap the rewards of a massive opportunity — the correct utilization of the Marcellus Shale natural gas bonanza. If the politicians do their most important job — and the only one they should be doing — of cutting bureaucratic red tape and slashing stifling regulations, the free market will take hold, creating jobs and wealth of unprecedented proportions.

But that’s a tall order.

*****

Former Governor Ed Rendell, while certainly an affable chap, was never mistaken for a genius, especially when it came to getting Pennsylvanians working again.  His mentality was that a paternalistic government knows best, derived no doubt from the fact that he virtually never held a private sector job in his life. Thus, he was wholly incapable of understanding the difficult decisions that businesses must make to maintain profitability.

So it was no surprise when, in 2009, Rendell inserted his nose where it didn’t belong, publicly excoriating Sunoco for its decision to lay off some of its salaried workforce.  Sunoco officials had stated the move was geared towards remaining competitive, as the company was anticipating a “more difficult economic reality” moving forward.

Taking his criticism even further, Rendell flatly rejected the decision-making of Sunoco’s Chairman and CEO Lynn Elsenhans, arrogantly saying he couldn’t take her at her word. Incredibly, he went so far as to state the “real” reason for the layoffs: “They are solely intended to make a profitable company more profitable and helping pad the dividends paid to shareholders.”

So if Ed was correct (which is always the case – just ask him), Sunoco’s recent decision to shut down its refineries — permanently — must be because it’s just making too much money. 

Or…

Maybe the folks at Sunoco had a slightly better idea than Ed Rendell of the deteriorating market conditions coming down the pike, and maneuvered accordingly to keep its head above water.  Despite their best efforts though, Sunoco did not meet with success, as the closures clearly indicate.

Now the big questions loom — can the refineries be saved, will a buyer be found, can they be converted to refine natural gas, and, of course, what will be the fate of the thousands of families whose livelihoods depend on the refineries?

While Rendell is out of the picture, the involvement of other elected officials still leaves a lot to be desired.

Earlier this week, members of Congress emerged, extremely frustrated, from a meeting with refinery officials, complaining that the company wouldn’t reveal details about highly confidential strategic negotiations with potential buyers.

Earth to Congress: Have We Met? Who do these guys think they are that Sunoco owes them an explanation for anything, let alone sharing privileged information of the highest magnitude? And do we even have to mention that Congress hasn’t been able to keep anything secret in 200 years?

And last month, a bipartisan congressional delegation called on the U.S. Energy Information Administration (along with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) to conduct an impact analysis on the potential of the refineries’ closure.

Uh, here’s a not-so-humble message to each member of that delegation: your proctologist called.  He found your head.

Are they serious? Another Blue-Ribbon study to tell us what any sixth-grader already knows? 

It will be bad.  Very, very bad. Jobs will be lost, families thrown into chaos, houses foreclosed, businesses shuttered.  The refining capacity for the East Coast will suffer tremendously (not helped, of course, by the fact that we haven’t built a new refinery in America since 1976). Prices will increase. Volatility will spike. And America will, yet again, find itself bent over the barrel, spending billions more petro dollars buying oil from hostile nations because we (READ: Congress)  will not do the obvious — implement a policy of energy independence.

So let’s save the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on an absolutely meaningless study, and do something novel: solve the problem!

And to reiterate Step One, the politicians woefully short on private sector experience and who lack the necessary vision to turn an unfortunate situation into a positive one need to get out of the way and let business-savvy entrepreneurs do what they do best: create opportunity.

Energy is the single most important industry in getting America back on her feet again.  And retooling the refineries here in our backyard —the right way, for the right product, to fulfill the right vision — is the blueprint to make that a reality.

And what a Christmas present that would be!

(Part Two will specifically examine what should be done to save the refineries and their jobs).

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

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December 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm Comments (2)

Fracking is Safe, Penn State is Incompetent, and the Sun Rises in the East

Fracking is safe and environmentalists are crushed. That’s not what the headline says, but it is what the headline means.

Lab error negates findings in well water (h/t: Grassrootspa)

A lab error led state researchers to mistakenly connect shale gas drilling with raised levels of bromide in well water, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, an agency of the General Assembly, said in a notice issued this week.

State-funded researchers from Penn State had recommended stronger protections for people who have drinking water wells within 3,000 feet of well operations, but now their entire report is under review, according to the center. Bromide increased in only one water well near a drill site, not seven, as first reported, the agency said.

You know as well as I do that hard-core anti-drilling activists are devastated that hydraulic fracturing might be safe. That’s because they don’t want drilling to be safe, they want it to stop, and the consequences be damned.

Oh, and look! More incompetent environmental research from Penn State! I wonder if Michael Mann wrote that report.

November 25, 2011 at 12:18 pm Comment (1)

Marcellus Shale Protestors = Lobbyists For Middle East Oil Barons

And there they were, in all their glory, basking in the attention gained from protesting Marcellus Shale drilling.

Sure, those who were angrily denouncing the gas industry during the Marcellus Shale Coalition Conference in Philadelphia got the attention of the local media. But by far, their biggest cheering section, the folks who were happily paying the closest attention, weren’t even in Pennsylvania.

They’re in the Middle East.

The leaders of those oil nations could not be more thrilled to have such a passionate cadre of protestors, who do everything in their power to ensure the United States remains bent over the foreign oil barrel.  And as an added bonus, American petro dollars are used to fund extremist anti-American programs in those very same Middle Eastern nations, resulting in a new generation of well-funded terrorists.

About the only thing missing is the Middle Eastern oil barons not paying the protestors to be their registered lobbyists, because that’s exactly what they are.

*****

We are witnessing the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind as America needlessly sends trillions to China and the Middle East.  The standard of living in those countries continues to rise, as does their global power, while the United States slowly devolves into a second-world nation with — at least for now — a first-world military.

And here’s the part no one wants to admit but is unequivocally true: it will never again be the way it was, and the American way of life simply cannot improve until the people remove their heads from their derrieres and demand that we utilize our own domestic energy resources.

Absent that, the demise is unstoppable.

A look at any port tells the story: tankers and freighters come to America fully laden, but leave U.S. shores virtually empty. And the reason is simple. We make nothing.  No nation can survive, let alone prosper, if it abandons its manufacturing base. But that is exactly what we did.

Of course, we will never be able to compete with the lowest labor costs in the world. So the only way to offset that is to have the lowest energy costs in the world.  And more than any nation on Earth, America can do that.  How? By utilizing the greatest concentration of energy resources on the planet — a level which dwarfs that of any other nation.

There are vast — almost immeasurable — yet untapped oil reserves off both coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico, in Alaska (especially in the ANWR), under the Rocky Mountains, and in the Bakken Formation in North Dakota.

And that’s just for starters.

America has also been blessed with an overabundance of natural gas, including the Marcellus Shale, which just happens to be the second largest gas deposit in the world. Ironically, many of the gas protestors who describe themselves as “environmentalists” (whatever that means) are opposing the cleanest fuel available.

Natural gas produces virtually no emissions, which not only is good for the environment, but its low price and limitless supply are lessening use of more emission–producing fossil fuels.  It’s a no-brainer.

And since it is less than half the price of gasoline, the wider utilization of natural gas can power the economy in an unprecedented way.  As companies like UPS have realized, lower fuel costs give them a competitive edge, and that means greater commerce and more jobs.

And speaking of jobs, take a look at just one glowing example right here in Pennsylvania of how natural gas can get the economy moving again.  Proctor and Gamble has a substantial manufacturing plant in the state, and as with any such facility, energy costs are always one of the priciest budget items.

Upon discovering natural gas under the plant, the company invested in several gas wells on the property — money that was quickly recouped since their energy bill is now dramatically less.  Businesses in that situation can now take the millions in savings and expand operations, hire more workers at good salaries, and keep its manufacturing doors open in America.

But that’s just the beginning.  It’s all the ancillary effects that result from gas that can jumpstart the economy: homes are built and bought (driving down foreclosures), restaurants thrive, many small businesses no longer face closure, and untold new businesses spring to life.  Estimates are that 100,000 jobs have already been created because of Pennsylvania’s (fledgling) gas industry, and billions in tax revenue have filled municipal and state coffers.

And that is but a mere preview of what’s to come.

Yet the protestors would rather kill all that off, content to keep the status quo of $4 gasoline, rising inflation, and a stagnant economy. Oh, and one more thing: their actions jeopardize the safety of every American by keeping the nation in a state of begging, totally reliant on foreign oil. To say our national security is weakened would be a gross understatement.

Here’s the bottom line. Two plus two always equals four, whether or not one chooses to believe that.  Likewise, black gold and natural gas are the lifeblood of every economy, and that unequivocally will not change for scores of decades, if ever.  Those countries with petroleum resources thrive, while those reliant on rival nations for their energy needs are always at a substantial disadvantage.  It is survival of the fittest, and no amount of fairy-tale fluff will change that fact.

The most ignorant aspect of Shale protestors is that they only harp on the “horrors” of natural gas and oil (most of which are easily debunked myths, but that’s another column), yet offer no alternatives — at least none grounded in the real world.  If they ever do, they will be taken seriously.  But until then, they will be laughed off as extremists trying to achieve a relevance that is simply unattainable.

Solar? Wind? Hydro? Love them all.  And we should continue to utilize them so long as they are cost efficient.  But they do not make even the smallest dent in meeting America’s energy needs. Attempts to argue the contrary are folly.

Nuclear is a different ballgame, and we should be doubling our plants, but in the wake of Japan’s (avoidable) crisis, combined with zero political leadership from either Party in Washington, that’s a pipe dream.

Which brings us back to gas. If not gas and oil, then what?  More reliance from hostile foreign nations while out global competitors gain yet another foothold on America? That’s not a solution. It’s a death sentence.

Natural gas, and the industry itself, are not perfect, but they are most certainly the best option we have to keep our communities safe and prosperous, and our people’s dignity intact.  Criticism for the sake of criticism — with no viable solutions — is simply irresponsible.

Of course, so is cooking one’s meal with propane stoves while protesting a natural gas conference — as some hypocritical protestors actually did.  And that says it all.

It’s high-time the United States of America stops using Chinese as its official language and asking permission from Middle Eastern oil barons.

So come up with something better and get your fracking facts straight, or go pass gas somewhere else. 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Friend is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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September 8, 2011 at 10:42 am Comment (1)

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