Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thanksgiving means something special to me this year.  I've recently completed a genealogy of part of my family tree that as it turns out, harkens back to some of the first folks to come to America, the Pilgrims.  It was not only news to me but news to some member of my family as well.  It turns out that my 10th Great Grandfather, Edward Bompasse was born in England in 1605 and sailed to America on the Good Ship Fortune in 1622.  The Mayflower is of course the ship that we all think about when we think about the Pilgrims.  The Pilgrims of course, were separatists from the Church of England who were persecuted for their attempts to change the church (like asking for English translations of the Bible which was still read in Latin at the time) who fled first to Holland and then across the Atlantic to "The New World".The first colonists to land in Massachusetts came over on the Mayflower which embarked from England in 1620 and landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. 103 passengers set out on the Mayflower but only half of them made it through the first winter at Plymouth.  Along the way, they signed "The Mayflower Compact" which declared certain necessary laws and government offices:

In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the eleventh of November [New Style, November 21], in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Dom. 1620.
In 1621, the Pilgrims planted their crops in the spring and harvested them in the fall.  Once the harvest was brought in, they had a feast intended to thank God for the bounty they'd received and for the Providence bestowed on them with regards to the Indians.  Below are the only two primary sources of the story of the first Thanksgiving:

Edward Winslow, Mourt's Relation :

(In modern day spelling)
"our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others.  And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want,  that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."William Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation :

In modern spelling
"They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty.  For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees).  And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion.  Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports."
The stories both talk about the struggles that the Pilgrims faced in that first year. Reading more of the stories that these excerpts are taken from, you will learn that the Pilgrims dug graves for their friends and families upon their first arrival in America.  They buried their friends and family who'd died on the long journey from England across the Atlantic Ocean and set to surviving while the Mayflower returned to England with news of the landing and the loss of life.  The Pilgrims had limited supplies, had to build their homes from scratch and only a limited defense force to deploy against wild animals or Indian attackers.  The first harvest would determine the survival of the colony as Bradford writes in "Of Plymouth Plantation":
"They also found two of the Indian's houses covered with mats, and some of their implements in them; but the people had run away and could not be seen. They also found more corn, and beans of various colours. These they brought away, intending to give them full satisfaction (repayment) when they should meet with any of them, - as about six months afterwards they did.
"And it is to be noted as a special providence of God, and a great mercy to this poor people, that they thus got seed to plant corn the next year, or they might have starved; for they had none, nor any likelihood of getting any, till too late for the planting season."
Monument to the settlers of Marshfield
including Edward Bompasse
The first Thanksgiving was a feast intended to thank God for His Providence and also to celebrate the good that God had done for the Pilgrims.  It was also a prayer for future good to befall them and God delivered on his promise to protect them.  Days after the first Thanksgiving celebration, The Good Ship Fortune landed at Plymouth with the second wave of settlers including the necessary Tradesmen, families and the rest of the original settlers.  Among them was Edward Bompasse, my ancestor, who was among the original separatists and who was a farmer and land owner in America.  This refreshment of people and supplies ensured that the colony would not only survive but thrive and it's hard to imagine this taking place without the finger of God in support of the cause of the Pilgrims.  So when you give thanks today, remember to give thanks for God's providence in 1621.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fracking the Delaware River Basin

Listeners to Delaware's most popular local talk radio show, the Rick Jensen Show on WDEL (weekdays 1pm-4pm) recently heard Democratic Representative John Kowalko (Newark) go on a rant about fracking in the Delaware River Basin in which he insinuated some things that are, to be frank, simply untrue.  Before we get to Rep. Kowalko's comments, let me give you a little history on what we're talking about.  After the successful and uneventful fracking of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, energy companies have turned their attention to the rest of the 500 Trillion cubic ft of natural gas that is stewing among the rest of the shale.  Some of that oil lies in the northern end of the Delaware River Basin in Northeastern Pennsylvania and Southeastern New York.  Those plans could potentially affect not only N.Y. and PA but also NJ and Delaware.  So the issue of fracking was brought before the Delaware River Basin Commission which is a panel of the Governors from each of the Delaware River Basin states and the lead engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that meets to determine the potential impact vs. the potential benefits of any policy that affects the Delaware River Basin.  Once these companies began to look into the DRB and the DRBC began meeting about it, the environmentalists began their assault on fracking.

What is fracking?

Fracking refers to a method used to extract oil or natural gas from a well in which a substance called "fracking fluid" is pumped into the pipe and ultimately into the shale rock to stimulate oil and natural gas wells inside the shale.  During the practice, piping is encased in cement and drilled 6,000 feet into the ground.  The cement casing is in place to protect groundwater and to contain the fracking fluid.  The fracking fluid is composed of the following materials:
90%  Water
9.5% Sand
.5% Chemicals as follows - Sodium Chloride (used in table salt), Ethelyne Glycol (used in Windex), Borate salts (used in lipstick), Sodium Carbonate (used in detergents), Guar Gum (used to make Ice Cream) and Isopropanol (used in deodorant)

Environmentalist scare tactics often point out that more than a half dozen deadly chemicals are used in fracking and pumped directly into the groundwater.  In fact, this is the first of the outright untruths that Kowalko mentioned.  The reality is that unless salt, ice cream and water are deadly, the number is 3 chemicals (+ sand) and the fluid is pumped into the shale thousands of feet below the water table.  In fact, despite the propaganda in the film "Gasland", in all the fracking operations in Pennsylvania, there has been no proven affect to groundwater. 

Another favorite of the environmentalist scare mongers is that fracking causes earthquakes.  This is another absurdity that Kowalko was peddling on the Jensen show.  Earthquakes are caused by the sliding of tectonic plates.  Now, there is some debate over what causes the plates to move but the majority of scientists believe that the movement is related to the earths gravity, and the rotation of the Earth.  What's clear, is that explosions on the surface of the earth, or even thousands of feet below the surface do NOT cause earthquakes.  In fact, the USGS among other agencies around the world have experimented with detonating nuclear weapons below the surface of the Earth and they have found that even a 5 megaton nuke (5 times the size of the largest active weapon in the U.S. arsenal), detonated 5,000 ft below the surface couldn't cause an earthquake.

My Take

As a candidate for the Delaware State Senate, I believe that I should make my opinions known on the issue.  Given the factual evidence of the benefits and risks involved in fracking the ground in the Delaware River Basin, if asked, I would strongly consider the idea.  Should hard factual evidence of groundwater contamination or real danger to the water table be brought to my attention, I could consider a different position but given the current reality, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't look at safe ways to increase our domestic supply of many different sources of energy.

The simple truth is that the best, cheapest and most effective way to not only reduce our reliance on foreign oil but to boost our economy is to develop a sound energy strategy.  For all the talk about the outrageous "subsidies" for oil and natural gas, renewable sources take far more for far less output.  Renewable energy accounts for just 8% of all sources of energy in the United States and even the most optimistic outlooks only expect it to account for a maximum of 12% of U.S. demand in coming years.  Invest more money to grow them?  According to the U.S Energy Information Agency, in Fiscal Year 2010, Wind got $5 Billion in direct subsidies while oil and natural gas received $654 Million in tax write-offs.  Solar, received 33% MORE than wind energy did.  Let me just address the issue of subsidy type here, we're talking about direct subsidies vs. tax incentives.  Direct subsidies are cash payments to producers to make their product cheaper than it would normally be.  This can be done through loans or grants (the more common form) and is a way that government selects the companies and industries it wants to make profitable regardless of their market value.  Tax incentives are generally available to most businesses/individuals and in the case of the oil and gas companies they come in the form of write-offs for land depreciation.  It's simple, the land is worth a certain amount with a certain amount of oil on it. As you remove that oil, from the ground, the land devalues.  it's only practical to then allow that land owner to write-off the excess taxes on land no longer worth the original value.  The argument that oil and natural gas have had their own time of direct subsidies is also not valid.  There is no history of any direct subsidies to oil and gas companies, even when the industry was just getting started in the late 1800's.  In fact, even the tax write-offs didn't start until 50 years AFTER the industry was born.  Meanwhile, renewable sources have needed direct subsidies just to remain afloat and as we've seen with Solyndra and Fisker, even that is hit or miss.

So in the end, we need to be smart as a nation and Delaware can ill afford even higher energy costs.  The Marcellus Shale and other shale formations give America a distinct advantage and a real opportunity at not only energy independence but also to reduce the cost of energy.  Lowering costs to businesses and consumers would create jobs, lower the burden on families and increase our safety and security.  The danger of soap, water and sand thousands of feet below the surface is minimal given the positive economic impact that would result from the fracking.

I'll give the final word to the EPA:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Protestors Only Have Themselves to Blame

We’ve all seen the Occupy Wall Street protests on the news.  Whether it is the images of college aged children prancing through tent cities, marches with hundreds and thousands of protestors or even the riotous actions in places like Oakland, reactionto it has been mixed and has cut across party lines.  What began as a seemingly homogenous ball of anger has now begun to define itself.  Their demands are as mixed as their support though and it continues to feed the idea that they are a disorganized band of rebels.  That comes in part, from the MANY factions involved and in part from the fact that most of them are radical groups.  The images themselves lend us to wonder, where do we stand while the many different demands are perplexing as well.

But what it really all comes down to is this, these Occupy Wall Street folks are protesting the wrong thing.  They should be protesting…themselves.
Huh?  I know, stay with me here.
What is it the Occupy Wall Street crowd is consistently saying?  It’s all the fault of those greedy Wall Street bankers and the corrupt corporations right?  They’re consistent in saying that this banking crisis is due to Wall Street greed.  That the banking crisis we have today is because of Wall Street greed. 
So we’ve established that the problem, at least in their eyes, is greed mixed with corruption, right?  And what’s the leading cause of greed and corruption?  A lack of ethics and morality is the answer to that question.  Clearly, if Wall Street was ethically and morally grounded, there wouldn’t be deliberate over speculation intended to drive the price of products up, loans made without proof of income, residency or identification and you wouldn’t see mortgage backed securities packaged in those Credit Default Swaps.  You wouldn’t see these things, all labeled as the culprits of the fall of the market in 2008 because quite simply, they’re not ethical or moral.  You wouldn’t see Fannie and Freddie aligning with the Unions and ACORN to send thousands of protestors to stand on the lawns of bank CEO’s and managers chanting to make more risky loans and you wouldn’t see the bankers cutting a deal with Chris Dodd and Barney Frank to ensure their losses on these risky mortgage loans would be covered with taxpayer dollars.  And what, of all things, is the largest driving factor of positive morals and ethics?  The answer is clear again, religion and faith.  You can argue about individuals here and there buy by and large, of the hundreds of millions of Americans who believe in God and who truly live that lifestyle out, you will see morals and ethics prevail.  And who are the leaders in the fight to get rid of faith and push God out of the way?  The same people at Occupy Wall Street...
So these same people who have destroyed morality and ethics in America by attacking faith and trying to destroy God, are now protesting the fruits of their own labors!  You’d think they would be happy with these results since they were the only possible result of their battle against God.  You would think that the folks protesting this greed and corruption would be those who have been fighting FOR faith and FOR God but instead, those people, many of whom found themselves at home in the TEA Party where morals and ethics are at the forefront, have largely come out AGAINST the movement whose means are over the top and misdirected at best or mean-spirited and evil at worst.  These people, who created a culture of corruption, are now upset at the corruption.  Hard to wrap your head around it until you realize that…creating the crisis was the whole point to begin with. 
Yanno, like tear down capitalism, the American Republican and our financial system and replace it with One World Socialism.