pawatercooler.com

Obamacare couldn’t possibly derail this…

Good news for Western Pennsylvania:

Medical Device Manufacturer Selects W. PA for New Plant

A fast-growing manufacturer of components for medical devices and surgical instruments is expanding its business with a new operation in Cranberry.

Cadence Inc., based in Staunton, Va., said it will build a “clean-room” assembly area in leased space in the Cranberry Business Park.

The facility is expected to open during the first quarter next year and eventually employ about 60 workers. With special air-handling equipment and procedures, a clean room is used to assemble and package sterilized medical equipment.

“Pittsburgh was chosen for Cadence’s newest facility because of the availability of employees with specialized medical device knowledge and experience,” the privately held contract-manufacturing company said in a statement.

That’s nice to hear. I sure hope the Obamacare surtax on medical devices doesn’t kill this company before they get a chance to create some jobs.

Obamacare: bending the cost employment curve down.

November 29, 2012 at 9:36 pm Comments (0)

Barbecue Ban in Bellevue

You cannot make this stuff up. Seriously.

Here’s Bellevue. It’s a little borough northwest of Pittsburgh. It’s one of those nice Western Pennsylvania towns where Grandma lives. It is also apparently a town where the Borough Council has lost their freaking minds. The Council voted to ban barbecue grills within five feet of homes, any combustible material, or property lines. Got a wooden deck? Then you’ll either have to move your grill or teach it how to levitate. Otherwise you’re a criminal.

Fortunately, Mayor George Doscher chose to veto it because apparently his head is screwed on straight. Good for him. Not to be outdone, though, the Bellevue Council doubled down and overrode the veto! I sure wish I lived in a town where safe barbecuing was the most pressing issue of the day.

Obviously this is another case of the nanny state intruding where it doesn’t belong and the residents of Bellevue are standing up to the tin-horn overlords who claim to be governing in the name of “common sense”. The mayor and Councilwoman Kathy Coder (who is also running for the State House and you should totally check out her website and throw some cash her way) led a good old-fashioned civil disobedience event by holding a still-legal-for-now cookout in front of the Borough Building. The mayor even wore a chef’s hat. Rock on, Your Honor.

It kills me to see jackassery like this on the part of elected officials, but I do have some hope when I see people like Mayor Doscher and Councilwoman Coder standing up for liberty. I’m always an optimist–maybe the people of Bellevue will figure out that they need to pay attention to whom they elect to run their town and maybe the voters of the 16th District will see fit to promote Kathy Coder to the State Legislature.

We can only hope.

July 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm Comments (0)

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)

No Secret Ballot For GOP Endorsement Is Same As Union Card Check

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), commonly known as “Card Check,” is the misnamed legislation promoted by Organized Labor to stop the hemorrhaging within union ranks.  (From a high near 40 percent after World War II, union representation in the private sector has plummeted to just 7 percent today). It would make organizing a union infinitely easier by eliminating the current secret ballot vote used to determine whether employees wish to unionize.

Common sense tells us that whenever a secret ballot is not employed, many people will not vote their conscience.  Instead, they fall victim to intimidation and arm-twisting, and end up casting a ballot in favor of the person whom they are strongly encouraged —AKA “told” — to support.  The result is a rigged, Banana Republic election, anything but “Free Choice.”

The Republican Party, on both the state and national level, has vigorously opposed Card Check, not only because it is grossly unfair to companies, but much more important, because it would cavalierly discard that most fundamental American bedrock value: free and fair elections.  It is a right that has been held sacred in this nation, and has allowed the people to chart their own course and make their own decisions, free of outside influence and intimidation.

Given this, it seems extremely hypocritical that the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania — while opposing Card Check — jettisons free and fair voting for its own members by refusing to allow secret ballot votes on important issues, such as Party endorsements.

And now, on the eve of the meeting in which the Committee will vote whether to endorse a candidate for the U.S. Senate (or not endorse at all), that issue has become a firestorm that is only growing in intensity.

The big question centers on whether the Party will endorse millionaire Steve Welch, a favorite among several GOP leaders, including Republican Governor Tom Corbett. The problem many have with Welch is that he voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary and supported former Congressman Joe Sestak, a stalwart liberal consistently to the Left of Obama. Welch claims he left the GOP out of frustration that it wasn’t conservative enough, leaving more than a few Republicans perplexed.

(In an email to PoliticsPA this week, Sestak wrote of his meeting with Welch: “He expressed support of me and what I stood for. He seemed nice and, separately, supportive of the Democratic Party and its efforts.”)

So would the Party really risk massive damage to itself by endorsing an Obama-voter, and make the sin mortal by doing so without a secret ballot?

They can’t be that dumb.

But this being Pennsylvania’s Republican Party, all bets are off.

Should they endorse Welch, it will be a double whammy, throwing the entire Party into a quagmire from which it would be difficult to escape.

State Committee would cement the perception that its endorsements are behind-the-scenes deals by inside powerbrokers hell-bent on executing individual agendas — the rank-and-file Party faithful be damned.  More damaging, it would play out — in full public view — exactly how ruthlessly efficient Card Check tactics are, making unions blush with envy.

How could Party leaders possibly explain with a straight face that the process was fair, and that no political pressure and intimidation took place — when Governor Corbett and certain State Committee leaders were openly pushing Welch?  Would it really be plausible to believe that the message “do it for the Party, and do it for your Governor — or else your political career stops here” wouldn’t be made loud and clear?

Even more telling, how could the Party explain Committee members’ change of heart in endorsing Welch after only one of five State Committee regional caucus straw polls voted for Welch as their candidate of choice? In other words, of the five regional “pre-election” votes that took place — voted on by the very same people who are now being asked to change their vote and endorse Welch — only one made Welch a winner. Significantly, Welch’s own Southeast Caucus refused to hold a straw poll, and Corbett was not even able to deliver his hometown Southwest Caucus for Welch.

 

This is by no means an indictment of Steve Welch. It has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with the Republican Party. Clearly, in this particular situation, the wisest course of action would be to ignore the Governor’s misguided endorsement and refuse to endorse any candidate.

 

In allowing grassroots Republicans across Pennsylvania to make their choice, free of Party endorsements, a civil war inside the GOP would be averted, and the best candidate — the people’s choice — would emerge to take on incumbent Bob Casey.  And if Welch wins a non-endorsement primary, his victory would not be tainted with the perception that he “bought” his way to the nomination.  Regardless of the outcome, no one can argue with the results if rank-and-file Republican voters make that decision.

Besides gaining immense credibility with many Republicans should it not endorse a candidate, State Committee could score a huge coup by then amending its bylaws to allow for that which is uniquely American: secret ballot elections.

Otherwise, it will become known as Republican State Committee, Local 666.

 

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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January 27, 2012 at 8:26 am Comments (0)

Republican Success Under the Radar

I’ve never really paid too much attention to County Commissioner races.

Apparently I should start. (h/t GrassrootsPA)

Here’s what the now-ubiquitous red/blue map looked like at 7:00 am on November 8.

Aaaaaand here’s what it looked like 13 hours later.

So a few things jump out at me.
1. Yeah, I know we lost Montco, and that sucks, but a thoroughly dysfunctional county committee will do that to you. It’s not like we didn’t see this coming.
2. We’ve FINALLY cracked the nut out west. Lawrence, Mercer, Westmoreland, and Murtha Cambria Counties are in Republican hands for the first time in ages, and it’s due to painstaking work by the grassroots. It can be done.
3. What the hell is going on in Cameron County? Knock it off.
4. A tie? Really? Only in Pennsylvania.

So it might not have been the best night, but it was still pretty damn good.
Clouds, silver linings, and all that.

November 17, 2011 at 10:35 pm Comments (7)

What they don’t want you to know about drilling in the Marcellus…

…it creates jobs.

Nearly 48,000 people have been hired in the last year by industries related to drilling in the Marcellus Shale, and 71 percent of those people were Pennsylvania residents. Nine thousand of them were hired in the first three months of 2011.

The average salary was higher than the statewide average.

And the rate of hiring is accelerating.

While there has been much talk of the economic impact of the Marcellus, most of it has been anecdotal, until the Department of Labor and Industry quietly published its most up-to-date hard numbers about two weeks ago.

Just for fun, before you click on the link, imagine what all the anti-Marcellus zealots are saying to refute this. Here’s what I came up with:

–All those jobs are just low-paying support jobs
–The money doesn’t make up for the environmental damage
–TAX THE DRILLERS! TAX THEM TAX THEM TAX THEM!
–The numbers in the report were made up by the Corbett administration
All those jobs are going to out-of-staters Oops. Sorry. That one’s no good anymore.
–TAX THE DRILLERS! IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN! DEAR GOD WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!?!?

OK. Now go to the comments section, which is apparently for Bolsheviks only, and see how many you got right. I was four for five the last time I checked. What you’ll see here is cognitive dissonance in action. The Marcellus-haters want the gas industry to fail. They want to see poor rural Pennsylvanians stay poor and rural. They want double-digit unemployment provided they’re not among the unemployed. The problem is that it isn’t happening. In response, the haters have begun moving the goalposts. The jobs may be here, but they’re not good enough. The gas companies may be paying taxes, but they’re not paying enough. We may not see environmental damage now, but trust me it’s there. Repeat ad nauseam.

Usually this is the part where I’d conclude by shaking my head and saying that they “just don’t understand”, but I think they do understand. I’ve been working in the environmental field for almost 15 years, and I’ve seen these groups in action over and over. There is a significant contingent of people who are anti-industry and anti-development. All their talk about taxes, jobs, and the environment is just a cover. The fact of the matter is that they don’t want to see productive enterprises thrive because it empowers the individual and disempowers them. If you have a good job and bright future, you don’t need a grievance group to do anything for you. The professionally aggrieved become irrelevant, and it drives them insane.

If you don’t believe me, ask yourself what exact conditions would have to exist before these groups would be satisfied. What would it take to shut them up? You could levy all the taxes and write all the regulations you want, but they’d still call for more. No amount of evidence will make them change their minds (see above). The only thing they’ll accept is an outright ban. They got a temporary one in New York State, and I predict that when that ban expires they’ll call for an extension saying that there hasn’t been “enough” study of the consequences of drilling. They want it shut down permanently, and nothing else will suffice.

At one time in history, Pennsylvania was the most productive place on earth. At that same time in history, Pennsylvania was great, and when I say great, I mean great-among-the-nations great. That is not a coincidence. We have the chance to be great again, and we owe it to ourselves to make sure that a bunch of power-hungry junior autocrats don’t stand in the way.

May 30, 2011 at 6:21 pm Comments (0)

A Case of Gas

The New York Times put out another hit piece on Marcellus Shale drilling. No, I will not link to it. GrassrootsPA has it if you really need your daily dose of left-wing enviro-pr0n. There is also a response by former DEP secretary and Marcellus-hater John Hanger in which he simultaneously calls out the NYT for shoddy reporting, half-truths, and sensationalism while adeptly covering his ass. Again: no link, GrassrootsPA, pr0n. You get my drift.

So we have plenty of innuendo regarding drilling in the Marcellus Shale, but where are the facts? Is there any significant danger to human health or the environment posed by drilling? Is shale gas as plentiful as is reported? Will it really bring jobs and economic growth to PA and for how long? Those are all good questions which deserve factual answers, not the politically motivated schlock offered up by the Times.

The Pennsylvania Coalition for Responsible Government is a fairly new grassroots organization headed up by Greg Wrightstone. Greg is the Director of Geology for a Pittsburgh-based natural gas drilling firm and is a petroleum geologist by trade. He knows what he’s talking about, and his view is that the anti-Marcellus crowd (he calls them “zealots” which is kinder than I would be) has it wrong.

He’s put out the first of several white papers giving the facts on the Marcellus shale. Here’s an excerpt:

Estimates for the recoverable reserves from the Marcellus Shale are that it will produce ~489 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF). Recent corporate press releases reported extraordinary per well recoveries in southwest PA and northern WV and may suggest that these previous estimates are likely conservative. To put the size of the resource in perspective, some facts are presented:

1. The United States consumes some 22 TCF per year – the Marcellus may provide more than 20 years of consumption for the entire country
2. The largest conventional natural gas field in North America is the Hugoton Field of Kansas with “only” 81 TCF, about 1/6 the size of the Marcellus
3. More than 450,000 wells have been drilled in the Appalachian Basin over the last 150 years and they have produced “only” 47 TCF, less than 10% of the projected production from the Marcellus

[...]

Approximately 75% of the projected fairway of Marcellus production is located in Pennsylvania, meaning that a possible 13.5 million acres of the Commonwealth are located in the highly productive “core area”. Using moderate assumptions of reserve size and $5.00/MCF, the full development of the Marcellus may yield more than $600 billion in direct royalty payments to the parties that own the oil and gas rights including citizens, communities and the Commonwealth. An additional $54 billion in lease signing bonuses are likely to be seen in addition to the royalties paid.

For the individual landowner, it is projected that a typical Marcellus well will yield royalties in excess of $4 million per well drilled, or approximately $45,000 per acre.

$45,000 per acre. 75% of it is under Pennsylvania. $600 billion-with-a-“b” to citizens and the states. Even if they’re projections are high by a factor of two, it’s still breathtaking. It truly is the biggest thing to hit Pennsylvania since steel.

Read the whole thing. It’s pretty detailed, but facts are like that. More to follow.

February 27, 2011 at 8:23 pm Comments (0)

Only in Pennsylvania…

Jefferson Hills, my almost-hometown, has just made it on to Drudge. Unfortunately, it’s for this.

Dozens of people packed a Jefferson Hills borough meeting.

The borough laid off Fritz, its K-9 officer, for 2011, but the community wants the dog back on the force.

“No other officer on our force can match him when it comes to running, locating drugs or finding people,”

OK, I get it. Police dogs can do things that humans can’t, but “no officer on our force can match him”? Really? Don’t you think we could use a little, uh, perspective here?

January 6, 2011 at 9:46 pm Comment (1)

GOP’s Chances To Unseat Bob Casey? Good Luck

You would think that with Pennsylvania’s Republican roots, which have run especially deep over the last several decades, freshman Democratic senator Bob Casey would be vulnerable in 2012. 

You would be wrong, and the reason is simple civics.  Incumbents don’t lose unless they’re challenged by viable, first-tier candidates, as the senate elections in Nevada and Alaska proved.  And, as of now, there are none to challenge Casey. Whether that changes in the next year is anyone’s guess, but the mere fact that the GOP finds itself in this position speaks volumes about how it builds its “bench.”  Translation:  it doesn’t.

*****

Pennsylvania’s Republican power was on full display when Ronald Reagan chose three cabinet officials not just from the same state, but the same county! Montgomery County produced Drew Lewis (who fired the striking air traffic controllers), Alexander Haig, and Richard Schweiker.  Since then, it’s been all downhill for the Montco GOP, with infighting and strife resulting in minority status in the state’s third largest county.

In 1994, Pennsylvania could boast that it was the most Republican state in the nation.  The GOP controlled the two U.S. Senate seats, the Governorship, both chambers of the state legislature, all the statewide row offices, and a majority in the congressional delegation.  But the Party lost its way, and, by running untenable candidates, gave up huge chunks of the political landscape— all reasons the state hasn’t voted Republican in a presidential election in what will be, at the minimum, a quarter-century.

In a resurgence that culminated last month, however, the Keystone State was one of the epicenters of the GOP political wave.  Five congressional seats flipped, Republican Attorney General Tom Corbett became Governor by trouncing Democrat Dan Onorato by ten points, the state senate stayed firmly Republican, and the State House, which had been Democratic, saw an almost incomprehensible thirteen seats move to the GOP, giving them a ten-seat majority.

And yet, with all that momentum, there is no first-tier, “go-to” frontrunner candidate to challenge Casey.

Why?  Because much more often than not, the GOP has chosen its candidates not on merit — as in, who can best defeat the Democratic opponent —, but instead, on whose “turn” it is.  In the mold of choosing Bob Dole and John McCain, Pennsylvania’s nominees may look great to Party insiders, but fare dismally when put before the voters.  Just look at the last several elections for governor, treasurer and auditor general.

And because there has been little effort to groom candidates for the future, and absolutely no effort to stop the hemorrhaging from Philadelphia, where Republican statewide candidates routinely face half-a-million vote deficits, the Party is now in the strange position of sitting on massive gains, but potentially passing on the Casey seat.

The subject of that race was one of the hot topics discussed at last weekend’s Pennsylvania Society gathering in New York, the annual event in which the state’s premier political and business elite exchange thoughts, predictions and gossip, most of which has no basis in reality.

To cut through the insider-speak, Freindly Fire turned to longtime Pennsylvania political observer Michael O’Connell for his thoughts on how the GOP got itself into its current position, and what it could do to be viable in 2012 — when there will be races for U.S. Senate, Attorney General (which has never been held by a Democrat), State Treasurer, and Auditor General (an open seat).

“Pennsylvania Republicans are at a generational turnover, just as they were in the late seventies.  There is scarcely any bench of obvious statewide candidates, although there are any number of talented Republicans holding office.  The next several years will see more than a few of them try to make the always difficult transition from the General Assembly or local office to the big time.”

*****

Depending on the speed and efficiency of GOP Party-building efforts, made infinitely easier after the recent gains, several quality candidates may arise from the ranks, but currently, the field is weak, and the list short.  Following is a brief analysis:

First-tier:  None.

Second-tier: Congressman Jim Gerlach, who has defied the odds by winning in the Democratic waves of 2006 and 2008.  But Gerlach will be under pressure to not vacate the seat, as 2012 will be a tougher year for the GOP.  And given that he is now back in the Majority, how realistic is it that Gerlach will leave an almost-sure thing for a difficult race in which the odds are not in his favor?  Slim.

Third-tier: State Senators Jake Corman and Kim Ward.  Both are well-respected legislators, but are completely unknown outside their districts.  Given that neither represents a large population center, they would have to show a remarkable ability to raise money in order to increase name recognition statewide — not an easy task, since federal rules limit contributions to $2400, a far cry from the state level where there is no limit.

 “Both are prototypes of what I mentioned,” O’Connell stated. “Talented players in offices largely out of the public eye, who will have to demonstrate that they can move on to a brutally difficult statewide contest.  There is no training school for that–it is a credential one only earns by running and winning a race.”

Often-mentioned but no virtually chance: Congressman Charlie Dent.  Dent was reelected by a wide margin, and will clearly enjoy serving in the Majority, which is exactly where he’ll stay for one simple reason: he is pro-abortion, and in Pennsylvania Republican primaries, that’s a killer.  The only remote shot Dent would have is to be part of a five or six candidate field, with all his opponents splitting the Pro-Life vote.  Otherwise, he’s not going anywhere.

There are wildcards, to be sure. Former congressmen Phil English and Melissa Hart, while neither has publicly expressed intent, would match up well with Casey.  Both of these seasoned pols hail from western Pennsylvania (compared to Casey’s northeast base) and both served effectively in Democratic-leaning districts, though they lost tough races in the Democratic waves of 2008 and 2006, respectively.  But don’t count on either one taking up the challenge.

Interestingly, perhaps the candidate with the best chance for victory would be …..

Read the rest and post a comment at Philadelphia Magazine’s Philly Post:

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2010/12/14/gop%e2%80%99s-chances-to-unseat-bob-casey-good-luck/

 

Chris Freind 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 nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a guest commentator on Philadelphia-area talk radio shows, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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December 14, 2010 at 11:06 am Comments (0)

Marcellus Shale: Not An NBA Player, But Key To PA’s Future

First in an ongoing series examining all aspects of developing the Marcellus Shale.

Stories keep rolling in about the booming economy in a faraway land.  Tales of jobs, new construction on every corner, more jobs, hotels booked for a year, office space — long vacant — now renting for the highest prices ever fetched, and even more jobs.  Yet despite years of growth, the influx of foreign capital hasn’t subsided, but in fact, continues to exponentially increase. Combined, all these things have created a climate so healthy that taxes haven’t risen in eight years.

As with Doubting Thomas, something this good must be seen to be believed.

So as my trip was being arranged, I was asked the duration of my flight to China, and how long I’d be away.  As to the second question, the same day.  I can’t answer the first, because it’s based on a false assumption.  I was, most definitely, not going to China.

Although solid growth and low taxes are now virtually nonexistent in this country, I had a mere three hour drive to behold the only thing that can bring Pennsylvania — and maybe the nation — back from the edge of the abyss.

Time to get up front and personal.  Time to meet Marcellus Shale.

*****

Pop quiz.

Which of the following is true:

A)    Bon jour, monsieur. I present to you Marcellus Shale, ze best French wine this side of ze Seine River;

B)    Meet Marcellus Shale, the new Philadelphia 76er who might help the NBA team win more than 10 games;

C)    Welcome to the Marcellus Shale, one of the largest natural gas fields in the world, and centered in Pennsylvania, where 60 percent of the state sits atop the reserves, whose liquid gold is conservatively valued in the hundreds of billions.

Unfortunately for vinophiles and the impotent Sixers, the answer is C. 

But unbelievably, there was almost an asterisk.  If lame duck Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and his protégé, failed gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato, had their way, the Marcellus Shale industry would have died before ever getting off the ground.  Those politicians wanted to impose a severance (extraction) tax on natural gas, as high as ten percent.  Rendell’s rationale?

Oil companies needed to pay their fair share.

Thankfully, Governor-elect Tom Corbett, with a No-New-Tax promise being the cornerstone of his campaign, trounced Onorato. In doing so, he slammed the door shut on the catastrophic failure that will forever be known as the Rendell Legacy, and opened a portal to opportunity not seen in Pennsylvania for generations.

*****

Corbett and Onorato were like night and day on a number of issues, but none more important than how to proceed with the Marcellus Shale. A severance tax, especially the one proposed by Rendell/Onorato, would have undeniably been the death knell of what is a mobile industry.

While Pennsylvania is blessed with a sizable portion of the highly-profitable Shale, our competitors are not far behind: West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, New York and up into Maine and Canada.  And Michigan, with the second highest unemployment rate in the nation, is making lucrative offers to the industry to extract Shale gas from beneath the Great Lakes.

In his attempt to make Pennsylvania competitive again — dare we say viable —, Corbett innately understood two things that were lost on Rendell.  First, if you want less of something, tax it.  Second, you can’t tax your way out of a recession and into prosperity.

But what about the “fair share” that the industry allegedly doesn’t pay?  Pure election year theatre, orchestrated in a shameless attempt to close the $5 billion budget deficit created by the reckless former Governor.

The real story?

The natural gas companies in Pennsylvania, just like all other corporations, are saddled with the second highest corporate net income tax (CNI) in the nation (10 percent), along with an onerous capital stock and franchise tax and the country’s most hostile legal system.  And this horrid picture doesn’t even include the world’s second-highest national corporate income tax rate (40 percent).

Put another way, the proposed severance tax…

Read The rest and post a comment at Philly Mag’s Philly Post:

 http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2010/12/02/marcellus-shale-is-not-an-nba-player/

 

Chris Freind 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 nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a guest commentator on Philadelphia-area talk radio shows, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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December 2, 2010 at 2:29 pm Comments (0)

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