Topping the blog lists!

You made Thinking Out Loud one of the top ten conservative blogs on "Top Political Blog" site (on April 28, 2012) with an international audience. On February 18, 2013, we hit in the top 50 of ALL political blogs. (This changes all the time, so keep reading.) Thank you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Columbia Gas, PA DEP and the residents of Pike County clash at open hearing on compressor issue

Hello, everybody. I need to get three important items out there right off.

One. Its been a while since I posted to this blog. Not that I haven't had anything to say – that will be the day, eh – but I haven't had the time to devote to research on the topics I like to write about here in order to have properly formed opinions littered with facts and common sense. I hope to change that son.

Two. This should in no way be considered as a completely journalistic effort. True, it will have facts. But as my readers (hopefully) recall, this is called Thinking Out Loud for a reason. It is from my point of view and perspective. So the facts presented will mostly be commented and side commented upon.

Three. And this is MOST IMPORTANT to get out there at the outset so as not to be buried too deep.

ANYONE who has an interest in commenting on the Milford Compressor Station Upgrade (read “replacement”, as I will explain later), you need to send that NOW! And I do mean NOW! The comment period endsw on Tuesday September 2. Which is the day after Labor Day. Which means Monday is shot. And today is Wednesday. So you have to get it in the mail and overnighted, priority, next day . . . what ever will get your comments to the PA Department of Environmental Protection.

Here's the address:

Mark Wejksner, Air Quality Program Manager
2 Public Square
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701-1915

Okay. Got that out of the way.

So here's the deal with all of that. Columbia Gas (NiSource) wants to “upgrade” the compressor station in Milford. I use the parenthetical upgrade because it is essentially a whole new compressor station. They are tearing out the old and putting in the new.

Replacement. Simple enough to call it what it is.

Anyway, all this has a lot of people upset over it. There have been protests and letter writing campaigns and what not. You can't really blame them. This new compressor, if it uses gas powered units has the potential to spew quite a bit of toxins and produce a bunch of noise. All of which is not good for an area that is mostly nature and parks and wildlife, and derives its economic engine from this fact. Hell, Milford is home to the American Conservation movement.

So, you can't really blame people for not wanting this thing to be built where it will negatively impact the environment, the economy, health, well being . . . all of that. The area is home to numerous falls and beautiful clean rivers and streams . . . which took lots of people many years to make happen.

Now here comes this nasty corporate giant wanting to barge in and do what they want. The President said they could. In his errant quest to make it look like he is doing anything about energy independence.

But I digress, the President and his tyrannical view of his job is not at issue here. SO lets move on.

See, here is the thing. The equipment there is really old. Goes back to the 50's. And it really doesn't meet the environmental standards of today – even though the company has been replacing this part and that valve over the years to keep it up to snuff. So they really do need to replace it.

Do they need it that much bigger? Well, eventually, with all the gas being piped through their line and the Tennessee gas lines . . . probably. And any mention of the fact that this is coming the fracking of western Pennsylvania just muddies the issue. There are those that add this into the argument, but they are wrong to do so. So this will be my only mention of it. Boom! Done.

But Columbia Gas needs to make this a better compressor that it is.

The gas powered engines are NOT the way to go, however. And they know this. But their corporate bottom line dictates that they have to be responsive to the shareholders and do things as inexpensively as legally possible. Which means not using electric motors and gas recapture technology. Forget that this is the Best Management Practice. Forget that this would pay for itself in just a few years. Forget that it is the BEST for the environment, for the health, etc, etc of the residents, wildlife, water and fauna in the area.

These things are not their concern.

Don't get me wrong, the people in the company may have their own opinions and desires – hell, they mostly have families and children and care about the environment as much as the next person. But they have a corporate responsibility.

Now, along comes the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) and their responsibility to the people. Columbia Gas had to get an air quality permit from them for this compressor station in order to begin their work. Part of a multi-step process involving lots of different governmental agencies.

With the outcry and letter writing, mostly from the Milford Township Supervisors – the municipality where the compressor station resides – the PA DEP had a public hearing. This hearing was held at the Delaware valley High School last Monday (August 18). It was a chance for local residents to let the DEP know they should not grant Columbia Gas their permit unless they use electric motors. (Unbelievably, no one mentioned the recapture technology at this meeting.) It was a time for the people who live here and are opposed to having their environment, their health and their economy impacted by this new compressor to stand up and be counted. To have their say before the people whose job it is to listen.

Out of over 50,000 Pike County residents, 1800 from Milford Township alone, can you guess how many showed up? Oh come on, you've all been here before in this process where the people get to have their say. Go ahead. Guess.

I'll give you a hint. There were people here from all over the county. There were even some from neighboring states.

Got a guess? No?

Some people have the count as low as 141, others as high as near 200. And of those present, 40 people spoke. Even though at the end, the DEP media rep, Colleen Connolly asked if anyone else not on the list wanted to speak. Two of those 40 were of the last minute variety.

But that is it.

The people opposed to having the negative impacts this new compressor represented are all hoping that the quality of the content of the speakers will outweigh the quantity in the eyes of the DEP.

And there was definitely quality to those who argued against the compressor and called for electric motors.

There were those, like Linda Klee who has asthma and Ruby Willis who is recovering from a traumatic brain injury, that spoke about the negative impact to health the gas powered engines represented. People who already suffer from one illness to another would be exposed to even higher levels of toxins. Within current DEP guidelines. But not future ones. And not the desired levels of residents, for whom any emissions will effect them.

There were those from local government and activists who cited various legal reasons that DEP should deny the application. Such as Kevin Stroyan of the Milford Township Planning Commission, Don Quick and Gary Clark, Supervisors with Milford Township and Anthony Magnotta, the Milford Township Solicitor. They called on the DEP to force Columbia Gas to use electric motors. They strongly requested Columbia Gas / NiSource come in for a conditional use hearing. They reminded the gas company of their own words at the beginning of the meeting saying they intended to adhere to all state, federal and LOCAL ordinances. They demanded the company be the “good neighbors” they insisted they were and have been in the past.

There were those who spoke to the issue of the economic destruction this compressor could wreck upon the area. People such as Nancy Shandley who said that “Milford's economic growth and survival depends on tourism.” She said further that people come up here to get away from the crowds and pollution and noise, and breath in the clean air. But what she and visitors don't want is to “breath in toxic air . . . drink contaminated water . . . or worry in fear of possible explosions.”

“I find it ironic,” Shandley concluded. “That the birthplace of the conservation and forestry movement is sitting precariously and in danger of the very thing it stands for – preserving the natural and pristine environment.”

Then there were those that reminded, both in word and action, who the gas company and the DEP are up against on this issue. Spoken with great alacrity and passion was Sean Strub, owner of a local hotel and someone I don't always see eye to eye with.

Strub reminded the people from Columbia Gas / Ni Source that the people here were the same people who have fought, and won, on environmental issues in the past.

“This is the community,” Strub said forcefully. “that a century ago provided the leadership to fight the timber trusts and railroad trust that led to anti-trust actions, that led to protection of our forest . . . this bis the community that half a century ago took on the Army Corp of Engineers – had one of the first mass acts of civil disobedience protest in the environmental issue stopping the Tocks Island Dam project . . . this is the community that did that!” He ended up saying that this is the community that twenty five years ago stopped real estate interests from building a shopping mall and degrading the Sawkill.

So, bottom line, the next step is up to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. They will a) approve the permit as it stands, b) deny the permit as it stands, c) decide to have a full hearing on the matter or d) approve the permit conditional – with that condition being electric motors.

My thought is that DEP will want to just go ahead and approve the permit, because that would be the easiest thing for them to do. No harm, no foul, is how they will look at it. Hell, the residents couldn't even show up in any number that would represent a majority of the voting public. Its this apathy among people who live here that will be the downfall of this drive to protect the environment.

But there is also a chance that DEP will look at this as an embarrassing moment, because they will be called out onto the mat for approving something that will indeed harm the environment. Which means they would go through the process of holding a full hearing. This will only be the case if there is enough public outcry to embarrass them into this.

Less likely is that they will either deny the permit or allow it with the condition of using electric motors.

But you have to remember that no matter what their mission is, they are a government agency, an agency that sits under the leadership of a man who has one of the most atrocious environmental records of any Governor in recent memory. And they not only don't have a lot of sympathy for the public, they have even less for a public how is obviously apathetic.

And to tell the truth, aside from the people who protest these things on a regular basis, the majority of the community are lazy and apathetic and – unfortunately for the rest of – don't really care about anything but themselves. And in the end, they will be the ones who cry “why wasn't anything done about this” when their property values drop, the wildlife dies off, the trees turn gray and the ir children get sick.

It is a typical response for Americans these days. They either listen to an espouse the ideologies of the far left or right but do nothing of consequences, or they simply blame everyone else for their troubles.

Agree with me or not, it really doesn't matter to me. Go out and look at all the facts, make your own decisions on the facts or merits of the case. Don't listen to me. This is just me, thinking Out Loud.

Have a great day.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Government shutdown . . . SMH

This was apparently an email that was sent out recently. Someone posted it on Facebook. Take a look.

From: Barack Obama
Subject: This has gone too far

Friends --

This has gone too far.

House Republicans are threatening to shut down the government -- and potentially default on our bills for the first time in history -- because they want to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

Well let me state this as clearly as I can: I won’t let the Republicans prevent 30 million people from getting health insurance, and I won’t let them inflict economic pain on millions more just so they can make an ideological point.

But I need you standing with me. That’s why I’m asking you to step up before this fundraising deadline and help me defend everything we’ve fought for together:

Click here to give $3 or more today and your donation will be triple-matched.

House Republicans are promising to roll back all the hard-earned economic progress we’ve made.

I need you to show them that you won’t stand for it.


Barack Obama

It truly baffles me how people can make (minimum $172,000 a year - for Obama its $400,000 a yr just from his job as President, although he is reportedly making in the million range) will ask hard working Americans to donate money so they can do their job. Don't they make enough to spend on themselves to "do their job". And really, we don't elect them to be intractable with each other, we elect them to go and represent us to work with those that millions of others elect to work with each other and so on. Dividing us on this point or that point is counter to their job description. If we went to work and were intractable with our co-workers and asked our bosses to give us even more money so we can be this way, plus we get our bosses to argue with each other, how long would we keep OUR jobs? yes, the President is right. This has gone too far.

And the link attached with the FACEBOOK posting took you to the website, "Democrats for 2014".

Here is what it asked for on this website.

"Support President Obama's Agenda
Will you chip in right now to help us fight back against Republican attacks and support President Obama's agenda?

The average gift today is $23.12

Your Contribution to DCCC
$ (fill in the blank here with what you are willing to sacrifice so they can stay in office)

(Disclaimer Note – that last part not in Italics I threw in.)

Then it has the gall to ask how many contributions you want to make. Its like you're renting or leasing a car. Instead, its renting or leasing a political party, a political candidate or a political ideology.

"Make this contribution...
Each month for the next months"

Don't get me wrong. The other side has done this for just as long and is just as bad.

But don't blame them. We did this. We made them this way. We allowed this type of person to hijack OUR government. A government that is supposed to be of, by and for the people. But our collective apathy has led them to think they can do whatever they want, pull whatever wool over our eyes they feel like and trample whatever facet of our country's history that doesn't fit with their personal agenda, or the agenda of those manipulating them.

We have allowed them, through a lack of our own understanding of how this country was formed, through our caring about ourselves and each other.

Let me step back just for a moment to head off some of the objections to my last statement that will most assuredly be forthcoming.

The cries will ring out “If you cared, you wouldn't object to Obamacare, unemployment extensions, (fill int he blank for entitlement programs of your choice here).”

To the contrary, I care more than you do. I say that because you want to hand out and hand out and hand out – simply because it makes you feel good. I want to help up, empower and shuttle people on their way because it is good for them, for me and for America to have useful, contributing members of society rather than useless, unmotivated leeches draining from the rest of us. I want REAL healthcare reform that will address the REAL problems our country faces, not just a smattering of nice pieces here and there bundled in with all the stinking parts. I want doctors to treat patients for reasonable fees so they can provide for their family. I want enough insurance companies providing insurance to fill EVERYONE'S needs no matter what they do or where they live. I want an end to irresponsible and frivolous people who think they will get rich off of a lawsuit (one of the top three ways Americans think they will get rich) and who think they are ENTITLED to something without having to work for it.

I want jobs for people - in THIS country. I want companies to act responsibly, pay their employees and offer them reasonable benefits. I want unions to revert back to their original function of making sure workers are not taken advantage of, rather than the current situation where THEY take advantage of the workers, destroy the companies and cater to politicians all in the name of solidifying a power base of their own.

I want kids to get an education. And I want them to be able to further their education after high school IF THEY WANT without having to contract their first born child to indentured servitude. I want industry leaders to realize an educated workforce is better for them and their bottom line of profit so they combine forces to help fund education in this country.

But I also want other things. And this is where both the bleeding heart, liberal idiots and the right wing extremists and I part ways.

But lest you think that the rhetoric being bandied about is a concern about government shutdowns – the very plea the President and others are blitzing out there on the airwaves, beltways and cyberwaves. It isn't. Because it (looming shutdowns) happens all the time.

In fact, threats of government shutdowns happen ALL THE TIME throughout our history. And there have been 17 times it actually happened. (

Before the 70's, arguments and late passing budgets happened all the time, and most people didn't care because it didn't affect them. But President Carter's Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti, passed a legal opinion saying that government workers could not report to work until Congress passed a budget. Thus leading to the modern phenomena of shutdown threats and all the political posturing associated with them.

Which is what they are, posturing. They are political maneuvering for one side or the other to get what they want.

All to dupe the stupid voter into feeling relieved when a shutdown is either averted or finally ended. Politicians count on your gullibility, naivete, ignorance and apathy to use these shutdowns to score political points.

For which I say “Shame on you, Washington! Shame on you, Mr. President! Shame on you Senate and House leaders! And shame on you America for constantly voting in these frauds, these charlatans, these dissension-makers, these greedy, power hungry jerks year after year after year after year.

So who is to blame? Civiletti? Carter? Obama? Congress?

Not really. We let them think they could do what they want. We fall under their “spell” and become outraged by what they TELL US to be outraged about.

Therefore, its our own fault.

Personally, I'd say let it shutdown. Then maybe people will realize we need to vote them ALL out of office and become more educated with the people we elect to serve us. Maybe we'd be more in tune with WHY we are SUPPOSED to be sending these “representatives of the people” to Washington for in the first place.

I'd say that, but I'd know it would never happen. Americans are too lazy. Americans could care less about each other except where it makes themselves feel good, or gain something from it. Americans deserve what they get. And God help us all because we have to live with the stupidity and general haplessness of the American majority.

But you know what, you can agree with me or disagree with me and that is your free choice. In fact, I want you to check things out for yourself before believing anything I or ANYONE else tells you so you can be truly informed about what is really going on in this country. So its no skin off my nose if you agree or not, because this is just me, Thinking Out Loud.

Have a great day.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Been a while, but this bugged me

I know its been a while. I have been busy trying to do work that will pay the bills. Although I love doing this blog, it really doesn't pay the rent, phone, electric, car, etc bills. But this article by one of my mainstream colleagues kind of peeved me. I started to write a comment reply and it ended up getting to long. So here I am responding via blog.

Olivier Knox over at Yahoo News! wrote and article entitled "Everyone knows politicians lie. Why don't reporters say so?"

In the article Knox asks if it is an important question. "Does it matter?"

Part of the answer is that we don’t necessarily know when someone is lying — meaning when they knowingly pass along something that isn’t true with the intent to deceive.
One official told me Clapper’s assertion that the NSA doesn’t collect information about millions of Americans was technically true because the intelligence community definition of “collect” means that an analyst has reviewed the information. So the NSA could scoop up millions of phone records and that wouldn’t technically count as “collection.”
More broadly, there is the thinking that if someone believes their statement to be technically true, it doesn't meet the definition of lying — at least for reporting purposes

This article splits way too many hairs. Although it is not always necessary to label something a "lie" or someone a "liar", it is certainly incumbent for the media - mainstream or otherwise - to make the public aware of the falsehoods. To ignore that the President has told one or more of these falsehoods gives the public a false sense of security in their commander-in-chief when he does not deserve it. It IS important to point this out. When a government official lies because of incompetence (he didn't mean to tell a lie, he just doesn't know what is going on), the media needs to be the eyes and ears of the public and let them know. So many elections are accused of failing to focus on the issues but the truth is the media isn't giving them the information they need to BE INFORMED. The only poignant and true thing this reporter tells about the media is that they fear losing "access" for their next story. It should be government officials and politicians who fear losing access. The media should be the disciplinarian here when it comes to access, not the supposed public servant. If an official lies - or misrepresents the truth due to "technicalities" or "incompetence" - it should be they who fear the media for shining that light on their lie, incompetence or misrepresentation. The media, as the fourth estate in this country, has a responsibility to the public to not only report but investigate and report on government, industry, the public.

Well, thats my bit. Anyone who has read my blogs before knows how I feel about the reponssibility of the media to the people. I know this won't be my last complaint about the whole argument of media access to government officials or government activities. It surely won't change if these two things never happen.

1) The media does have to stop being "pansies". ("“I do think the blogosphere is too quick to say ‘You guys are pansies 'cause you won’t say lie,’” Ron Fournier, the National Journal writer who worked for years at The Associated Press, told Yahoo News.") I think Fournier is a little sensitive on this issue. If they would step up no one would be quick to call mainstream media "pansies". But since they won't step up AT ALL, the label sticks.

2) Politicians need to understand that their actions and words, whether an outright lie or a incompetent repetition of unsubstantiated information they are passing along as fact, have consequences. They lie or they unknowingly pass along a lie, their credibility with the public MUST be called into question. It must be they who fear losing the media and the public.

Anyway, thats my thoughts. You can agree or not, its all good. Don't take my word on it. Look at all the information from all sides and make your own decision. An INFORMED decision. Think for yourselves and avoid the spin. But, hey, this is just me, Thinking Out Loud.

Have a great day.


Monday, May 13, 2013

74 lashes? Really? Morons.

This is why I am totally against ANY kind of despotic type ruling body - governmental or not, religious or not.

I am in no way, shape or form a fan of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's over-the-top, oft times megalomaniacal President. He constantly seeks to thwart any attempts by the rest of the world to play nice. And his threats to other countries (yes, we are talking mostly Israel and the US here) are beyond sane.

But him going to the registry office with his protege to file for the upcoming election being a violation of election law? Seriously? He can't run. So who cares if he goes with the guy?

The asinine, despotic Islamic leaders do, thats who.

Anyone who thinks that this "crime" deserves 6 months in an Iran jail or 74 lashes is delusional. I know that many Americans might think that our own politicians who violate various election laws would deserve this, but thats just mean spirited thinking. They really don't actually want that to happen.

(And for those who say "oh yes we do" aren't thinking about how different jail is in Iran than the cushy life most American jails offer their inmates. But thats a topic for a different conversation.)

It is a despot ruled country that would actually do this. I don't care if that rule is religiously based - as this one is - or secularly based. I hate all despots.

So to all those "Islam is not so bad" blatherers out there, hear this: Its not Islam that is the problem. Its the people in charge of various factions of the religion that are. There are plenty of Muslims out there who practice their religion and go on with their life happy and content. But there is a perverted form out there that is the cause of nearly all the world's current woes. Cut out this disease and the world goes to some sort of sanity and we can all move forward in science, culture, art, peace - you name it - happily.

But until this blight on the face of the earth is eradicated - and this thing with Ahmadinejad is a prime public example of the ridiculousness of these fatheads who don't really believe in the same religion that Mohammed did - than we are in for some tough roads ahead.

Anyway, I'll get off the old soapbox and remind you that you can agree or disagree. No problem. I just want people out there to think for themselves, come tho their own conclusions and not be swayed by anyone else's opinion - including mine. Just use that grey matter stuffed between your ears and THINK for god's sake - and your own. But hell, this is just me, Thinking Out Loud.

Have a great day.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Do you even KNOW what a reporter does?

Its so annoying when people try to sound smart and just end up being idiots. Especially when they do so in such a way that those who don't know any better just nod their heads.

I wholeheartedly have to disagree with this Yahoo article. Both in its conclusion (though not necessarily its initial assertions) about the number 2 dying career, and their alternative suggestion of Public Relations Specialist.

The article states that that the #2 Dying Career is Reporter. It says "They say a species must adapt or die, and with the trend of the Internet replacing print journalism (you are reading this on the computer, after all), media folks who don't adjust might not survive too much longer."

With this I agree. In part. The part where reporters have to play the web and social media cards. They need to adapt to this new format. Just like when they had to adjust to going from the old typesetting and inkwells and every manner of technical changes have come along over the ages. This idea is nothing new. Its just a new medium to get used to. Some make it, some don't. Just like in the days when they had to adjust from radio to television.

"In short, many reporters could be going the way of their typewriters soon." In short . . . this is a ridiculous assertion on the article writer's part. Some will, obviously, not be able to adapt. But reporters have made the jump from inkwell to typeset to print to radio, television and digital pretty well.

And for anyone that brings up "citizen reporters" into the mix saying that these people will replace the experienced writer because they are cheaper have not seen the comings and (mostly) goings of venues that use them exclusively. Companies such as the publishers of The Examiner that created online venues using these "citizen reporters" found that quality over quantity was of great importance, even in the plethora of junk that is often the makeup of the internet. No one would put stock in poor writing, poor reporting and obviously slanted journalism. The cream rises to the top, they found, and began to tinker with how they, pick, maintain and assist with quality the writers they have.

The second assumption in the article is that a good alternative for a reporter is the career choice of Public Relations Specialist.

Really? Reporter to public relations??? Have they really met any reporters?

The author (and oh boy do I use that term loosely here) states "In the new world of Facebook, Twitter, and all things Web, the public image of a company has never been more important." And I agree. Even to the point of saying that in this new age, a reporter is essentially their own company when it comes to social media. Sure, papers and news shows and online venues have their own ways of publicizing in these arenas. But it is also incumbent on the reporter to do so also. But that is an adaptation in effect, not the be all and end all of what reporters do.

Now if you ever actually met a reporter or even just know what it is that reporters do, can you really seeing Woodward or Bernstein "evaluate advertising programs, write press releases, and communicate with the media and public to promote a company's public image"?

I am sure I cannot. Making people look good is so not the job of a reporter. Reporting the news is the job of a reporter. Informing the public of things they need to know about their government, businesses, the economy, American and worldwide society and culture, thats the job of a journalist. But making someone or something look good - well, that is just not their job. And saying this is an alternative career for a reporter is just plain naive.

I would have told this to the writer (Terence Loose) of this little bit of fluff on Yahoo's Education channel. But there is no place for comment. Nor is there a way to send them a little missive. And this bit of oversight is just the thing that a reporter in today's media needs to do in order to adapt. The reader feedback is a valuable asset to today's reporter, just as much as "Facebook, Twitter and all things web", as Loose makes a point of highlighting. So I am guessing we may not be hearing much from this writer.

You can agree or disagree with me on this, because that is your right to do. But its okay. I don't mind. Because, as the title of this blog states, this is just me Thinking Out Loud.

Have a great day.