Friday, June 24, 2011

Is Obama Up To His Pay Grade? Will Boehner Buckle?

Has Erdogan seen the light and now realizes aligning with radical Arab and Muslim nations is not the way to go?

Meanwhile, is Netanyahu ready to accept sitting down with Hamas as payment for restoring relations with Turkey.

Turkey, on the other hand, might find itself engaged in battle with Syria and thus needs the support of both the U.S and Israel.(See 1 below.)
Food for thought: These are among the best sentences you'll ever read:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity, by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody, anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
Raising taxes before spending cuts is a neat way to avoid the heavy lifting politicians and particularly Obama, would like to avoid.

Now that Republicans have opted out of tying tax raises to lifting spending limits our president might finally be forced to get in the kitchen and dirty his hands something he has continued to avoid while, continually drawing his pay check.

Is Obama up to his pay grade and will Boehner buckle? Stay tuned. (See 2 below.)
Where is Ogden Nash? (See 3 below.)
Maybe it is Huntsman. Can he help Republicans capture the middle and pull back from their Far Right Social suicide issues?

He speaks two Chinese dialects and, as governor, solved problems in a methodical and practical way. Now that is refreshing. He should be able to run circles around Obama. Stay tuned. (See 4 below.)

Meanwhile Bob McDonnell, Virginia's Governor, writes Republican governors are showing the way and are doing it as I have maintained. They are cutting spending, then taxes and balancing their state budgets and eureka what happens - growth occurs. That too must seem novel to progressives who are so caught up in their ideological garbage they cannot understand the practical side of life that drives Christie.

Maybe 8 years of Huntsman practical problem solving followed by 8 years of Christie straight talk and then 8 years of Rubio freshness and America could be on top again.(See 4a below.)
The WSJ has rendered a public service in their lead editorial which gives the pros and cons of fracking.

We have the natural gas to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources but Obama is too busy paying homage to his party extremists . Thus, we are not drilling the energy resources we have and employing people in good paying jobs.

Foreign policy wise Obama is confused and lacks an understanding of how to employ power.

Domestic policy wise he is more interested in shoving unwanted legislation down our throats and running huge deficits in the process.

Add to the above the fact that he has lied, made boasts he either could not keep or never had any intention of keeping and this is why he will go down in deserved flames.
1)Turkey renews strategic ties with Israel ahead of showdown with Syria

After more than a year of strained relations, Turkey has decided to restore military and intelligence collaboration in the eastern Mediterranean with Israel as Ankara heads for a military showdown with Syria, according to military sources. The deal worked out between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also gives Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan a role in Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy and a chance to bring Hamas into the process.

The deal was discussed in a telephone conversation that took place between the US president and Turkish prime minister last Tuesday June 21, hours after Assad's hard nosed speech at Damascus University. The last ends were tied up when Israel's Deputy Prime Minister, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon, visited Ankara secretly last week and met Erdogan and Fidan Hakan, the head of Turkish intelligence MIT.

Obama and Erdogan agreed Bashar Assad's reign was over although both their intelligence agencies gave him another four to six months. To hasten his end, they decided on a two-part campaign: the US and Europe would step up sanctions on Syria and Turkey would raise the military heat.

This decision prompted US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to comment for the first time on a possible Turkish-Syrian military clash: "…we're going to see an escalation of conflict in the area," she said.

Saturday, June 25, Turkey began setting up a big new camps to accommodate an influx of 12,000 to 15,000 Syrian refugees at Apaydin 10 kilometers from the border, on the opposite side of which Syria's crack 4th Division is massing tanks under the command of Syrian Republican Guard commander Gen. Maher Assad, the president's brother.
The numbers of refugees continued to swell after soldiers again opened fire on tens of thousands of demonstrators who poured into the streets after Friday prayers, killing at least nineteen.

As Syrian-Turkish military tensions continue to escalate, Ankara saw the necessity of coordinating its air and naval operations with the United States and Israel in case the Syrian ruler responded to a border flare-up by launching surface missiles against Turkish military targets and US bases in Turkey. Obama urged Erdogan and Hakan to get together with the Israeli minister Yaalon to work things out, a move that would restore the old and close strategic bonds between Turkey and Israel ruptured over Israel's 2009 Cast Lead operation against Hamas in Gaza, the Turkish flotilla episode of May 2010 and other incidents.

Calling off Turkey's critical participation in the next big flotilla scheduled for this month set to break Israel's Gaza blockade indicated the ice was melting.

For the sake of opening a new chapter between Jerusalem and Turkey, sources disclose Netanyahu gave in to Obama's request to give Erdogan another chance to promote Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy – this time by bringing Hamas aboard. The Turkish prime minister believes he has a fair chance of altering Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal's inflexible resistance to recognizing Israel.

After meeting Meshaal's rival, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, in Ankara Friday, June 24, Erdogan said "Turkey would mobilize support to help the Palestinians achieve recognition and form their own state." Abbas replied: "There will be no turning back from the road to reconciliation [with Hamas]."

Abbas and Meshaal were both in the Turkish capital at the same time, although they denied meeting.

Confirmation that the Turkish prime minister had returned to the role of Israel-Palestinian broker, which he resigned in anger after Israel's Gaza operation in 2009, came from Jerusalem: Thursday, June 23, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told a visiting group of Turkish journalists: "We also accept and respect the fact that Turkey is a regional power with a great historic role."

As to Ankara's bid to broker reconciliation between Abbas and Meshaal and get them to sign a power-sharing accord, the Israeli official commented: "It is also in our interests that the Palestinians have unity. We know once they sign, they sign for everybody and we don't have to worry about this."

Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman obviously recognize that if the price for Israel-Turkish reconciliation and a return to strategic collaboration is accepting Hamas' presence on the Palestinian side of the negotiating table, it is worth paying. They have apparently conceded the long-held principle not to deal with a Palestinian terrorist group dedicated to Israel's destruction without seeking cabinet endorsement.
1)Fed-Up GOP to Obama: No New Taxes
By David A. Patten and Kathleen Walter

More ways to share... Mixx Stumbled LinkedIn Vine Buzzflash Reddit Delicious Newstrust Technocrati Share: More . . . A A Email Us Print Forward Article The breakdown in talks over raising the debt ceiling has put Democrats and Republicans back on a collision course with just 40 days remaining to meet a deadline that, if missed, could send financial markets and interest rates into a tailspin.

By pulling out of debt-ceiling talks after Democrats insisted on $400 billion in new taxes, GOP leaders said they intended to send a loud-and-clear message to President Barack Obama: No new taxes!

“We’ve known from the beginning that tax hikes would be a poison pill to any debt-reduction proposal,” GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared Thursday. “Those who are proposing them now either know this, or they need to realize it quickly.”

Leading Republicans protested Friday that Democrats have known from the beginning that tax hikes were a complete non-starter for the Republican caucus.

In an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview, GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, the influential chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said the dispute over taxes is precisely the reason Republicans pushed for a straight up-and-down vote one month ago on whether to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion, without corresponding spending cuts. That proposal lost by an overwhelming 318-to-97 margin, with more than 80 Democrats crossing the aisle to vote with Republicans.

“From the very get-go, the administration has known that this Congress is not going to raise taxes,” Upton told Newsmax. “That is not going to help us on the jobs front. If you raise taxes, it’s going to cost us jobs.

“So that is just not going to be part of the equation. We sent a message very early that a straight extension of the debt ceiling is not acceptable . . . I guess that message hasn’t been heard as loud as we thought it would when we had that vote last month.”

GOP Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor pulled out of the budget talks Thursday because they said they felt Democrats were trying to strong-arm them to accept tax increases.

With time running short for an agreement that would keep the government fully operational, Republicans and Democrats are calling for the president and House Speaker John Boehner to step in to get the negotiations back on a more realistic footing.

“I would expect to hear from him,” Boehner told reporters, adding that Cantor “has made it clear that these conversations could continue if they take the tax hikes out of the conversation.”

Both Boehner and Obama figure to suffer politically, if either capitulates on taxes. Obama is on record calling for reducing what he calls “spending in the tax code,” a euphemism for getting rid of the Bush-era tax breaks for citizens and business owners earning more than $250,000 a year.

Also, Obama said in his budget speech in April that continuing to give tax breaks to those in upper income brackets, while cuts are made in discretionary spending for social programs, “is not going to happen as long as I’m president.”

That said, for an incumbent president to steer the government into a shutdown less than 18 months before seeking re-election would be a huge political risk. The Hill Associate Editor A.B. Stoddard recently told Newsmax that Obama’s safest route to re-election is to combine Medicare reform that would extend its sustainability with an extension on the debt-ceiling.

“He has this fantasy he’s going to wait until 2013, when he has a Republican Senate and a Republican House to go down in history and reform entitlements,” Stoddard says. “It needs to happen now.

“If he does it now, he wins independents. Mitt Romney nor anyone can go out and say, ‘He’s a budget-buster.’ Anything that he and John Boehner sign and agree to together, I mean that’s it, that’s the end of it. Unless the economy were in tatters, I think that’s the key to re-election is to work on Medicare reform that gets signed into law and solves this whole debt-ceiling issue. I think that’s the path to re-election for the president.”

If the president rejects that logic, it would be difficult to avert a shutdown because Boehner’s wiggle room within his own caucus is thought to be negligible. In April, he incensed tea party conservatives by agreeing to a deal with Obama that provided a continuing resolution to fund the government in return for what was described as $38 billion in cuts. That was already substantially less than the $100 billion Republicans had promised during the 2010 midterm campaign.

A subsequent Congressional Budget Office analysis, however, found the deal actually saved only about $352 million in 2011 spending. And when emergency military funding for the wars was added in, the CBO reported, federal government spending will actually increase by $3.3 billion this year. The speaker’s office has maintained that the cuts will save more than $350 billion over the course of a decade, but when the continuing resolution came up for a vote in the House, Boehner needed Democratic support to pass the measure because 59 members of his own caucus rebelled and voted against it.

History suggests that Boehner or any other Republican who votes for tax increases in this political climate could pay dearly for it in the next election cycle. And that is precisely the warning that conservative Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina fired across the bow of GOP politicos.

“Based on what I can see around the country, not only are those individuals gone, but I would suspect the Republican Party would be set back many years,” DeMint said in an interview for the ABC Subway Series. “It would be the most toxic vote. I can tell you if you look at the polls, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, they do not think we should increase the debt limit.”

In a recent exclusive Newsmax interview, GOP Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said he “understands the thinking” of Republicans willing to risk a partial shutdown of the federal government rather than raise the debt ceiling, unless the deal includes corresponding spending cuts and precludes tax increases.

“The Democrats in the Senate, they’ve decided for the second year in a row [to] not even bother passing a budget,” Ryan told Newsmax. “That means there’s no opportunity to get spending cuts other than the debt limit.

“We don’t want to see the country default,” he added. “We don’t want to see the country stop paying Social Security checks to recipients, or Medicare, or Veterans Benefits. We don’t want to see them stop funding our troops when they’re out fighting for us.

“What we want to see are real spending cuts and controls in conjunction with any debt-limit increase. So we see this as an opportunity in conjunction. And what we tell president, and we tell this publicly as well, is that, for every dollar of debt limit that he wants increased, we should cut more than a dollar’s of spending.”

As for the negative impact on bond markets if the United States is unable to reach a deal to raise its debt limit, Ryan said failing to rein in spending also could precipitate a crisis.

“Because what the credit markets would conclude is that the Americans are done: ‘The Americans have no fiscal discipline, they can’t get spending under control, so we bondholders are less likely to get paid in full because these Americans are reckless fiscally,” Ryan told Newsmax during an interview for a special feature for the August edition of Newsmax magazine. “So we believe that you can’t just raise it, a blanket check increase in the debt ceiling, you’ve to have real spending cuts.

“The problem up here is not the level of taxation,” Ryan said. “The problem here is spending, and that’s what we’re focusing on. The president is trying to get us to raise taxes. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to cut spending. And if he wants to raise the debt limit and prevent default, then he’s going to have to cut spending.”

© Newsmax. All rights reserved.
3)There once was a pervert named Weiner
Who had a twisted demeanor
Forced from the Hill
For acting like Bill
Now Congress is one Weiner leaner
4)A 'Conservative Problem-Solver' The latest GOP presidential candidate talks about cutting defense to better compete with Asia.

No Republican presidential candidate stirs more curiosity than Jon Huntsman. "What about Huntsman?" You hear it all the time. Who is Jon Huntsman and where is he coming from? On the morning after he announced his presidential bid in front of the Statue of Liberty this week, we hitched a ride on his campaign plane to South Carolina, seeking answers.

Mr. Huntsman is addressed as "governor" because he was the two-term governor of Utah. Lots of governors run for president. What causes curiosity about Mr. Huntsman is that he has accumulated a remarkably full and intriguing biography in his 51 years. Mr. Huntsman became fluent in Mandarin Chinese during two years he spent in Taiwan as a young Mormon missionary. He worked in the Reagan White House. In the George H.W. Bush administration, he worked first on trade matters and then as Mr. Bush's ambassador to Singapore.

For the second Bush presidency, he was deputy trade representative. In 2004 he was elected governor of Utah, re-elected in 2008 and then most famously and curiously, accepted President Barack Obama's offer in 2009 to be the U.S. ambassador to China.

His father is Jon Huntsman Sr., the now-billionaire founder of Huntsman Corp., a chemical company. His father's first company, Huntsman Container, hit the jackpot by creating the "clamshell" burger box, which was adopted by McDonald's.

It's no surprise that a man with this résumé, notably similar to that of George H.W. Bush, would—what else?—run for president.

"I'm a conservative problem-solver," Gov. Huntsman said over the engine roar of his campaign charter, on which the reporters in back were outnumbered by family members filling the aisles—his wife, four of their own children (most of them grown) and two younger adopted daughters.

If there's a short version of Mr. Huntsman's core message, it is that America needs to start competing again, and aggressively, in the global marketplace. "We need to get back in the game," he says, citing the lapse of free-trade momentum as a primary failing of the Obama years. "If we don't do it, China will move ahead with free-trade agreements as they are in Latin America, built around procurement practices that benefit Chinese companies."

In step with the other candidates, Mr. Huntsman wants to downgrade our military commitment in Afghanistan, but here, too, the argument is linked to regaining the U.S.'s competitive edge:

"Now we have one out of every six defense department dollars going to Afghanistan. We've achieved much of what we set out to do. We've been able to rout the Taliban from power. We've been able to disrupt to a large extent al Qaeda. We've had free elections going back to 2004. And we still have 100,000 troops on the ground. The future well-being of the United States is likely not going to be fought on the prairies of Afghanistan. It's likely to be the result of our ability or inability to compete competitively across the Pacific against the rising giants."

He adds he is "not suggesting pulling out completely" but would "leave behind a very capable fighting force that is appropriately positioned given the asymmetric threat that we face—the intelligence-gathering capability, the special forces capability, the training of Afghan forces capability, and the ability to work with friends in the region who believe as we do that those who are coming after us, we should go after very aggressively."

He is preoccupied with Asia: "I've seen the rise of Asia as a business guy, I've seen it as a diplomat. I think every day how we're going to better position ourselves to compete in the next century with the likes of China and India."

Mr. Huntsman believes the answer to this grand challenge lies in Utah. Not Utah alone, of course, but in the 50 individual states. Nothing he said in our conversation, at least, suggests he has grand plans for Washington: "I think the appropriate role of the federal government is to carefully measure out the nation's competitiveness. When are taxes too high and making us less competitive than our major trading partners? When do we reach the point of onerous regulation and have to throttle back so we can maintain a competitive posture?"

The states, he says, know how to compete and like to compete: "As a country we should maintain a level playing field for the states. Equip them with what they need to survive and be competitive and then be attentive enough to learn from them when it comes to possible national models," for example, health care. Mr. Huntsman says he favors repeal of the Obama health-care law—"this behemoth."

One model he has in mind is Utah under Gov. Huntsman. "I'm not running from my record," he says, letting his interlocutor figure out who in the race he thinks is. The record he cites is a new, 5% flat income tax ("We took 30% out of the income tax"), a lowered sales tax and a robust, high-growth state economy. Anticipating the inevitable observation that governing Utah isn't the same as running, say, Texas, the governor offers an analogy: "Sure it's a state with only three million people, but Singapore is a country of only five million people and it tops the world's best over and over again in terms of how to compete."

Over the next few months, Mr. Huntsman is going to try a national version of the problem-solving approach he used in Utah: "Gather together stakeholders who have something invested in our economic well-being, whether small business people, bankers, traditional investors. I want to gather them together as I did in the election of 2004 when I ran for governor. Our economy was OK, but it was tired, and our entrepreneurs weren't deploying their capital in our market. We went through a very rigorous exercise in 2004 before the election and did a very specific 10-point plan, and after the campaign I said, 'This is our bible. Don't try to sidetrack me; it's the most important thing for the state.' We went through all 10 points."

He wants to move that approach "to the national stage, with businesses West Coast to East Coast. I want to know in specific terms what needs to be done on day one, so there is no misgiving about how we revive this economy and get it moving forward in a sustainable direction."

Mr. Huntsman says, "Our priorities need to revolve around ensuring that we have a competitive environment that speaks to the attraction and aggregation of capital, the deployment of capital." To that end, he cites three policy goals: tax reform, regulatory reform, "and I want to mention a third I think is going to be extremely important for our economy long-term, and that's energy independence. It's a low hanging fruit." What comes next isn't quite what one expects. He's talking about natural gas.

"Everybody wants more sun, everybody wants to use more wind," for which they had special zones in sunny, windy Utah. "But it's going to take years and years to perfect those technologies and distribution systems. We're going to need a transitional product to get us from here to the decades of the future when these things will be more viable. I can't think of a better product than natural gas."

He thinks the recent natural gas finds in the U.S. "completely change how we operate and how we view our economy. I believe this is just revolutionary." He favors drilling to get it. "Why not take advantage of something we control, when it's derived from our reserves, it employs our people and enhances our economic base?"

He qualifies the "energy independence" goal: "Look, we're never going to be totally energy independent. You can talk in those terms but we're always going to be accessing raw materials from elsewhere in the world. But we can do better than 60% of imported oil."

Subsidies for energy? "I don't like subsidies. I'd like to see us phase out all subsidies. Maybe a nudge in terms of a tax incentive like we did in Utah to convert cars to natural gas." A great enthusiast of natural-gas-powered vehicles, Mr. Huntsman argues that his tax credit for them was a huge success in Utah: "They were in demand in such numbers that car dealers couldn't find any more natural-gas cars for sale in the U.S."

He'd block-grant Medicaid back to the states. "Let states determine what the percentage of poverty levels are, and let public officials rise or fall on how local citizens feel about those decisions. They're in a much better position to understand their vulnerable populations than at the federal level."

Our conversation keeps coming back to Asia. When I sat down, I brought the former ambassador to China news that the Chinese said they were releasing dissident artist Ai Weiwei. "That's good," he says. "Now at least 500 more to go." Mr. Huntsman talks animatedly about how we "need to redefine what it means to be a friend and ally of the United States." Looking beyond the traditional allies of Japan and South Korea, he thinks there are "other countries in Southeast Asia, in South Asia and perhaps in the Indian Ocean who would want to shore up a relationship that would constitute a new model going forward." I suggest, India? He answers, "Vietnam?"

What would China think? "They are not going to like that at all. Any move we make on their periphery, they are going to take as a step toward encircling them. . . . But our longstanding commitment in the Pacific region is to keeping the sea lanes open first and foremost, from which the Chinese have benefited enormously." He thinks "we have an opening there because of the concerns people have about China's military."

I ask what this means for his thinking on the role of the defense budget in the spending debates. "I'm consulting with some of the experts on exactly what a reconfigured asymmetric posture would mean to overall defense spending," he replies. That said, it sounds like defense cuts would be in the mix: "If you're willing to look with a critical eye at every aspect of government, whether we're talking about entitlements or were talking about the defense department, we can't take one off the table and say you can't touch this. It's intellectually indefensible."

Jon Huntsman, a discursive talker, brings a lot to the table. What remains to be seen is how he presents it all in a way Republican voters will want to buy. He's been pegged as the man running toward the middle—with past positions in favor of cap-and-trade regimes (now repudiated) and gay civil unions. But to win, he still has to pull votes from the conservative base. How?

"When people look at what we've done," he says, "they're going to say, 'He's a conservative problem solver.' I'm going to point people in the direction of what we've done as governor. I'm pro-life, strongly pro-Second Amendment. I think there are enough voters who will say, 'I may not like everything, but there's enough here to like.'"

It's time to let the governor finish a sandwich before he visits a TEC outdoor-grills factory in Columbia, S.C. He adds a final point on his own behalf: "I'm not trying to make things up as we go. I'm drawing from my own experiences, where I've seen it work. I want to make sure that what we advocate and say we believe in can be tied back to real-world experience. So when people say, 'What do you stand for, what do you want to do?' I can say, 'Here, 1,2,3, here's what I did as governor of a state.' I think that's going to help people to connect the dots."

Mr. Henninger is the deputy editorial page editor of The Journal.

4a)GOP Governors Are Showing the Way
State Republicans are tackling the issues voters want addressed. That will be a major asset for the party's presidential nominee in 2012.

Democrats say otherwise, but Republican governors and their records will be a major asset to the GOP in 2012. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's monumental achievement this week in passing a bill to reform his state's public-employee benefits is a prime example. As Gov. Christie said Friday, underfunded pension and health-care obligations are "the core problems of government spending in the country."

This is the kind of leadership Americans want right now: straight talk about the fiscal mess we're in and a plan to solve it. The good news is Gov. Christie is not alone among Republican governors.

When I became governor of Virginia in January 2010 we faced two historic budget shortfalls totaling $6 billion. The proposals to close these shortfalls spanned the philosophical spectrum. Shortly before leaving office, my predecessor, outgoing Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine, put forward a massive $1.8 billion income-tax hike as one of his solutions.

I knew that in an economy struggling to recover, raising taxes was a nonstarter. So we set forth on a different path. We balanced Virginia's books by reducing state spending to 2006 levels, putting in place a hiring freeze in state government, making conservative revenue estimates and incentivizing state employees to save taxpayer dollars. The result was a budget surplus just a few months later.

Since February 2010, 67,400 new jobs have been created in Virginia and our unemployment rate has fallen to 6% from 7.2%. Virginia's unemployment rate is more than a full three points below the national average and the third-lowest east of the Mississippi. It's not surprising that a majority of Virginians surveyed now believe the state is headed in the right direction, compared to 31% who think the nation is moving in the right direction.

These results can and will be duplicated in other states. This year, 18 new Republican governors took office, and many confronted budget deficits similar to or worse than what we faced in Virginia last year.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker plans to sign a budget this weekend that will turn a $3.6 billion deficit into a projected $300 million surplus. Already, the business community has responded favorably. In six months, 25,000 private-sector jobs have been created and 88% of the state's business leaders say the state is headed in the right direction.

In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich is on the verge of passing his Jobs Budget, which would close an $8 billion budget deficit while preserving an income tax cut for all Ohioans.

In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder has reformed the state's tax structure, eliminating the anticompetitive Michigan Business Tax that taxed gross receipts, and balanced his budget by reducing spending by nearly $1.2 billion.

In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a record $615 million from the state budget, enacted a corporate income tax cut and added millions to the state's rainy-day fund. It's no coincidence that the state's unemployment rate has dropped every month that he's been in office.

In politics, it's not where you are that matters, it's where you're headed. My experience in Virginia, along with the similar experiences of leaders like Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and former Michigan Gov. John Engler, suggest that the hard choices Republican governors have made this year will pay off at the polls.

Look no further than growing and diverse Texas, a state Democrats targeted in 2010, where data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that under Gov. Rick Perry's leadership the state has created more jobs over the last decade than the rest of the states combined. That's a record of job creation the Obama administration can only dream about.

Next year President Obama will have to campaign on his record—trillion-dollar deficits, skyrocketing debt and massive tax increases that have failed to adequately rein in unemployment. Meanwhile, Republican governors will have delivered balanced budgets without raising taxes and the entitlement reforms they made will have actually saved jobs.

The low popularity of Democratic governors facing re-election in 2012 tells us quite a bit about how the public regards the policies and work done by the president's party in the state capitals. The president and the Democratic National Committee have cause for concern. Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire announced last week that she would not seek re-election, after being dogged by dismal approval ratings. North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue's approval rating is bogged down around 30%—not a good sign for the Democratic ticket in a state the Obama campaign has declared a top priority.

There's a reason that no Republican governor seeking re-election has lost a general election since 2007, while three Democrat governors have fallen in that same period. Voters expect their state executives to make tough decisions with future generations, not weekly polls, in mind. That's exactly what Republican governors have done and what President Obama has failed to do. And that contrast will make a difference at the ballot box in November 2012, to the advantage of the Republican presidential nominee.

Mr. McDonnell is governor of Virginia and vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
5)The Facts About Fracking
The real risks of the shale gas revolution, and how to manage them.

The U.S. is in the midst of an energy revolution, and we don't mean solar panels or wind turbines. A new gusher of natural gas from shale has the potential to transform U.S. energy production—that is, unless politicians, greens and the industry mess it up.

Only a decade ago Texas oil engineers hit upon the idea of combining two established technologies to release natural gas trapped in shale formations. Horizontal drilling—in which wells turn sideways after a certain depth—opens up big new production areas. Producers then use a 60-year-old technique called hydraulic fracturing—in which water, sand and chemicals are injected into the well at high pressure—to loosen the shale and release gas (and increasingly, oil).

The resulting boom is transforming America's energy landscape. As recently as 2000, shale gas was 1% of America's gas supplies; today it is 25%. Prior to the shale breakthrough, U.S. natural gas reserves were in decline, prices exceeded $15 per million British thermal units, and investors were building ports to import liquid natural gas. Today, proven reserves are the highest since 1971, prices have fallen close to $4 and ports are being retrofitted for LNG exports.

The shale boom is also reviving economically suffering parts of the country, while offering a new incentive for manufacturers to stay in the U.S. Pennsylvania's Department of Labor and Industry estimates fracking in the Marcellus shale formation, which stretches from upstate New York through West Virginia, has created 72,000 jobs in the Keystone State between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2011.

The Bakken formation, along the Montana-North Dakota border, is thought to hold four billion barrels of oil (the biggest proven estimate outside Alaska), and the drilling boom helps explain North Dakota's unemployment rate of 3.2%, the nation's lowest.

All of this growth has inevitably attracted critics, notably environmentalists and their allies. They've launched a media and political assault on hydraulic fracturing, and their claims are raising public anxiety. So it's a useful moment to separate truth from fiction in the main allegations against the shale revolution.

• Fracking contaminates drinking water. One claim is that fracking creates cracks in rock formations that allow chemicals to leach into sources of fresh water. The problem with this argument is that the average shale formation is thousands of feet underground, while the average drinking well or aquifer is a few hundred feet deep. Separating the two is solid rock. This geological reality explains why EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, a determined enemy of fossil fuels, recently told Congress that there have been no "proven cases where the fracking process itself has affected water."

A second charge, based on a Duke University study, claims that fracking has polluted drinking water with methane gas. Methane is naturally occurring and isn't by itself harmful in drinking water, though it can explode at high concentrations. Duke authors Rob Jackson and Avner Vengosh have written that their research shows "the average methane concentration to be 17 times higher in water wells located within a kilometer of active drilling sites."

They failed to note that researchers sampled a mere 68 wells across Pennsylvania and New York—where more than 20,000 water wells are drilled annually. They had no baseline data and thus no way of knowing if methane concentrations were high prior to drilling. They also acknowledged that methane was detected in 85% of the wells they tested, regardless of drilling operations, and that they'd found no trace of fracking fluids in any wells.

The Duke study did spotlight a long-known and more legitimate concern: the possibility of leaky well casings at the top of a drilling site, from which methane might migrate to water supplies. As the BP Gulf of Mexico spill attests, proper well construction and maintenance are major issues in any type of drilling, and they ought to be the focus of industry standards and attention. But the risks are not unique to fracking, which has provided no unusual evidence of contamination.

• Fracking releases toxic or radioactive chemicals. The reality is that 99.5% of the fluid injected into fracture rock is water and sand. The chemicals range from the benign, such as citric acid (found in soda pop), to benzene. States like Wyoming and Pennsylvania require companies to publicly disclose their chemicals, Texas recently passed a similar law, and other states will follow.

Drillers must dispose of fracking fluids, and environmentalists charge that disposal sites also endanger drinking water, or that drillers deliberately discharge radioactive wastewater into streams. The latter accusation inspired the EPA to require that Pennsylvania test for radioactivity. States already have strict rules designed to keep waste water from groundwater, including liners in waste pits, and drillers are subject to stiff penalties for violations. Pennsylvania's tests showed radioactivity at or below normal levels.

• Fracking causes cancer. In Dish, Texas, Mayor Calvin Tillman caused a furor this year by announcing that he was quitting to move his sons away from "toxic" gases—such as cancer-causing benzene—from the town's 60 gas wells. State health officials investigated and determined that toxin levels in the majority of Dish residents were "similar to those measured in the general U.S. population." Residents with higher levels of benzene in their blood were smokers. (Cigarette smoke contains benzene.)

• Fracking causes earthquakes. It is possible that the deep underground injection of fracking fluids might cause seismic activity. But the same can be said of geothermal energy exploration, or projects to sequester carbon dioxide underground. Given the ubiquity of fracking without seismic impact, the risks would seem to be remote.

• Pollution from trucks. Drillers use trucks to haul sand, cement and fluids, and those certainly increase traffic congestion and pollution. We think the trade-off between these effects and economic development are for states and localities to judge, keeping in mind that externalities decrease as drillers become more efficient.

• Shale exploration is unregulated. Environmentalists claim fracking was "exempted" in 2005 from the federal Safe Water Drinking Act, thanks to industry lobbying. In truth, all U.S. companies must abide by federal water laws, and what the greens are really saying is that fracking should be singled out for special and unprecedented EPA oversight.

Most drilling operations—including fracking—have long been regulated by the states. Operators need permits to drill and are subject to inspections and reporting requirements. Many resource-rich states like Texas have detailed fracking rules, while states newer to drilling are developing these regulations.

As a regulatory model, consider Pennsylvania. Recently departed Governor Ed Rendell is a Democrat, and as the shale boom progressed he worked with industry and regulators to develop a flexible regulatory environment that could keep pace with a rapidly growing industry. As questions arose about well casings, for instance, Pennsylvania imposed new casing and performance requirements. The state has also increased fees for processing shale permits, which has allowed it to hire more inspectors and permitting staff.

New York, by contrast, has missed the shale play by imposing a moratorium on fracking. The new state Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, recently sued the federal government to require an extensive environmental review of the entire Delaware River Basin. Meanwhile, the EPA is elbowing its way into the fracking debate, studying the impact on drinking water, animals and "environmental justice."

Amid this political scrutiny, the industry will have to take great drilling care while better making its public case. In this age of saturation media, a single serious example of water contamination could lead to a political panic that would jeopardize tens of billions of dollars of investment. The industry needs to establish best practices and blow the whistle on drillers that dodge the rules.

The question for the rest of us is whether we are serious about domestic energy production. All forms of energy have risks and environmental costs, not least wind (noise and dead birds and bats) and solar (vast expanses of land). Yet renewables are nowhere close to supplying enough energy, even with large subsidies, to maintain America's standard of living. The shale gas and oil boom is the result of U.S. business innovation and risk-taking. If we let the fear of undocumented pollution kill this boom, we will deserve our fate as a second-class industrial power.

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