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Some thoughts on MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech

Our family just sat down to watch Martin Luther King Jr. deliver one of America’s most powerful speeches, his 1963 I Have a Dream speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Thank you to YouTube for publishing this historically important footage.

We had a discussion about it, and here are some thoughts that resulted:

MLK’s face is clearly moved, the righteousness of his words providing a passion that cannot be ignored then, or now. How refreshing is that.

The causes of justice, freedom, voting rights, and integration were true tests of just how honest America was going to be, how accurately it was going to live up to its promises. Genuine race and fairness issues are almost gone today, due to that passion.

How refreshing it is to hear true righteousness, and dignity, and careful measure. Few leaders since MLK have been able or willing to lead listeners down different paths simultaneously.

In the context of Georgia Congressman John Lewis’s crazy comments about November’s election results, MLK stands out as a real outlier. Race hustlers like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are phonies, and Congressman John Lewis has been riding on his one real achievement from fifty years ago. Are there any honest brokers remaining on race issues? What I would give to have MLK back with us today. America could use his gentleness, his insights, his vision. His truthfulness.

After all, a great deal of the goals MLK put forth in his speech have been achieved. What has not been achieved could easily be ascribed to the destructive methods of Sharpton, Jackson, and now Congressman Lewis, whose personal attack on the president elect brought a swift and accurate rebuttal. American blacks are more the victims of their regressive “leaders” than they are of any racism.

One of my favorite bits of knowledge is that MLK was an ardent gun owner. He was not politically correct. Oh, I don’t believe he was a violent man, bitterly clinging to his Bible and guns in preparation for some racial Armageddon. Rather, he was a hunter, a target shooter, and a practical self-defense-oriented American who believed it was better to defend one’s home from violent intruders than it was to die unarmed.

Unfortunately, this great man left America far too soon, but like all righteous martyrs, MLK’s murder inspired great change in the greatest nation ever on Planet Earth.

Thank you for your many gifts to us, Martin Luther King, Jr. We thank you for the biggest one, your ultimate sacrifice that America might live up to its best hopes and dreams.

 

Is America like Samson?

Ancient Jewish hero Samson was so strong he could use the lower jaw of a donkey to fight against men who were using edged weapons. It was almost a dismissiveness to use such a low-tech tool under circumstances where failure was not an option. Because it meant death.

From where did Samson get his incredible strength? Obviously he was physically capable, meaning strong and cat-like quick. But he also had a deeper power, a power every human possesses. A spiritual power. It enabled him to rise far above his physical limitations and perform remarkable, superhuman feats of mortal combat.

Samson was a Nazirite, a person who denies himself physical pleasures like wine, meat, fancy clothes, and sex. By abstaining, Nazirites are able to disconnect from worldly distractions and focus on spiritual development. Samson’s strength was not just physical.

The town in northern Israel called Nazareth was evidently a city where many men took on the stringencies which guided them on their spiritual paths through an innately physical and material world. Like Samson before him, Jesus was also a Nazirite. The long hair and beard are famous symbols of the Nazirite oath.

The story of Samson is tragic, because he forgot who he was, forgot his vows of abstinence, and allowed himself to be led astray and into bed by Delilah, who was understandably attracted to his manly qualities.

Once Delilah had conquered Samson sexually, she took the symbolic step of cutting his long hair. Removing the symbol of his abstinence signified his end of being a Nazirite and the beginning of their physical relationship.

Samson lost his strength and was eventually captured by the Philistines not because his hair was cut. It was because his reason for existence had ended. His cut hair said he had lost his way, lost his focus, and lost his purpose. He had broken his vow, and the pain of his spiritual failure drained him of physical strength.

The Bible has always been the bedrock of American and Western civilization. After all, religion gives humans basic essential values. It informs how we make choices, how we relate to one another, how our societies function.

But biblical beliefs are lagging these days, with resulting cultural chaos. Americans seem to have forgotten who they are (independent citizens with individual liberty, not serfs), and their purpose (run their own government). This complacency has invited vile intruders to take advantage and control of our many freedoms. Like Samson before us, we have been led astray, forgotten our vows to our fellow citizens, and as a result we are greatly at risk.

Let’s hope America has a spiritual renewal that strengthens our resolve to live by the divine laws spelled out in our Constitution, and not by the whims and laws of mere men.

Obama kicks land conservation in the n*ts

Despite having spent my career in environmental protection, conservation, and especially land conservation, I am always non-plussed when someone waves a magic wand, declares some government-managed public land off-limits, and then calls it “conservation.”

I love land acquisitions for public parks, forests, and hunting areas. Adding to the existing roster of public lands gives us more flexibility with existing areas, more chances to explore multiple use.

In the past couple of weeks lame duck president Hussein Obama has waved a magic executive wand over millions of acres of federally managed lands out west, and declared them national monuments. Obama did not work with land trusts or ranchers to purchase conservation easements or fee simple land out west, thereby adding to the total acreage available for public use. No, instead, Obama did there what he has basically done in the Middle East.

He dropped  a turd in the punch bowl, and left the party.

Except Obama is so arrogant, he claims it is a big success.

Nothing damages land conservation more than unilateral actions by Washington, DC, about resource-rich lands specifically purchased to support and benefit the American people. All of them. The magic wand executive-heavy procedure just alienates so many people, you have to wonder if it is by design.

After all, recall that under Obama, the IRS made war on land trusts and conservancies. Silly rules and regulations were enacted making land purchases and tax-exempt gifts and appraisals much more difficult to do across America. My own belief is Obama hates most Americans, and especially people with land, whom he equates to colonists of some sort. So he set out to punish them. All those rich land trusts run by wealthy white people…mmm mmm mmmmmm, no good. Waaaayyy too much “privilege.”

And so as much as Obama is giving a black eye to real land conservation, he is actually doing this to hurt the people he mistakenly equates with the racist notion of “white privilege.”

He is also doing what he did best, which is rule by fiat, like the tyrant he wanted to be and like those he relates to best elsewhere, like Cuba, and Saudi Arabia. Waving the executive magic wand is ruling by fiat. In this day and age, every acre of federally managed land out west has some political land mine under it. You only start kicking it around if you want to stir things up. What a coward and home wrecker he is to stir it up and walk away.

I think Obama enjoyed kicking land conservation in the n*ts. Regardless of the damage it does to land trusts and valuable land conservation programs down the road. It is part of his scorched earth legacy as he leaves the White House.

 

Did Liberals become Lawless by Nature? Or Habit?

Part of the 1960s counter-culture and protest fuel was a strong sense that ossified American culture and morality were “just, because.”  To counter-culture activists, the war in Vietnam was perhaps the best example of this inconsiderate mindlessness. It became a galvanizing centerpiece in the display of Everything That Is Wrong With America.

So both bras and draft cards alike were burned as acts of moral or legal defiance became part and parcel of the movement.

Fast forward fifty years, and the liberal culture is deeply rooted in brazen acts of defiance and protest. Sit-ins, occupations of offices, “die-ins,” stormy public protests are all regular scenes as liberals make their point public.

Somewhere underlying the actions is that old sense that ‘because these things I oppose are immoral, I can engage in immoral and illegal acts of protest’.

Or said another way, ‘I vote the right way, so my actions are infallible’.

Half a step away from this thinking is the idea that whatever politically correct issue du jour is up next, illegal and violent acts are a necessity or at least justified. Heck, people even argue they are the cause. Could be the candidacy and then election of Donald Trump “causing” demonstrators to destroy private and public property, assault fellow Americans, bully co-workers, and accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being violent, hateful, etc.

And here is where a lot of Americans are lost and confused, including me.

Protesting is understandable. Violent protests are not (think of the many recent cry-bully protests against displeasing electoral outcomes).

Strongly disagreeing with someone’s politics is understandable. Assaulting someone over it is not (especially when the assailant claims to be “for love” and “against hate”) (think of the mass violence by liberals committed against Trump supporters for the past year).

Writing a letter to the editor, like Bob Quarteroni did a few weeks ago here in the Patriot News is all-American. Go for it. But trespassing, vandalizing and stealing private property, and threatening landowners with physical harm to make a vague political point, as Mr. Quarteroni gleefully admitted to in his letter, is not OK.

Asking a young lady yesterday to please stop at the stop sign in our neighborhood, and not barrel through it as she did, because two small kids play at that intersection, netted my son and I this response: “I did stop at the stop sign”

“No, you did not, we watched you drive right through.”

“I’ll bet you voted for Trump,” said the dashing young lady, who then gave us the finger and marched on in to the Wells Fargo bank to get her money. Apparently Trump made her drive recklessly.

And then there is the sanctuary city thing, a naked play for votes by one political party that seems to always need a permanently angry underclass. Illegal aliens will do for them, never mind that the rest of America wants them to follow the law.

If a bunch of gun owners decided to ignore gun laws in one of these sanctuary cities, because they believe the gun laws are unconstitutional, punitive, unfair, backwards, and causing crime rather than limiting it, you just know what the city fathers would do: Lock ‘em up!

It is interesting, isn’t it, that neither Barack Hussein Obama nor Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders asked their rampaging supporters to stop…. The liberal political leaders actually encouraged the illegal and violent behavior. And in fact, in state houses and the US Congress there is one political party whose elected members continue to hold illegal “sit-ins” and other forms of partisan protest in public, taxpayer-owned places.

So what happened here?

When did liberals go from staking out some intellectual or moral high ground, to destructive, illegal, and criminal acts as a matter of daily behavior?

Somewhere, that old sense of just cause got blurred. All of the burned draft cards and other little illegal acts of defiance morphed into a culture of perpetual violence, destruction, and openly flouting the law (when it suits them).

I know a lot of liberals. How could I not, having graduated from America’s flagship Quaker school? Our high school class grew up together and we are like a big family, so we stay in touch. And of course I continue to maintain relationships with as many liberals as will have me as their friend (apparently not easy for PC people, a subject for another essay).

I look at these otherwise great people about whom I care a great deal, and I wonder, did they willingly and consciously allow their nature to become corrupted and lawless? Did they get here by habit?

Are their goals so pure that any means are justified, no matter the unfair high cost, the immorality, the injustice, the personal loss by innocents? That was a Lenin and Stalin thing. Not that American liberals would ever follow in those paths….nahhh.

I cannot answer this question, and I wish liberals would.

Amidst Obama’s Scorched Earth Exit, Trump Dept. of Interior Pick a Huge Bright Spot

As one might expect of a spoiled, petulant, over-indulged man-child, Barack Hussein Obama is not following traditional presidential transitions.

Instead of spending his time talking about the greatness of America, its promise, its successes, its opportunity, and peacefully transferring power to his successor, Obama has gone on a wild spree of destruction and mayhem across America and in the international community.  Aided and abetted by the mainstream media, which share his anti-Western Civilization agenda, Obama has not been held accountable.

“Monkey-wrenching” might be the right term for this bizarre display of poor-loser behavior.

Dozens of useless but expensive new regulations with no basis in reason or science are being rammed through the executive branch. Same for executive orders. Nearly a thousand violent federal prisoners are being released, having obtained clemency from Obama; these scary men will surely bring unlimited suffering and horrors to American citizens over the next couple years. Like the Guantanamo Bay jihadists released by Obama for the AWOL traitor Bo Bergdahl.

Internationally, Obama has abandoned Ukraine to Russia, Iraq to Iran, Syria to Russia and ISIS, and Israel to its insane neighbors plus all of the anti-Jewish bigots around the world. Failing to veto a bizarre attack on the Jewish state at the useless United Nations last week, the Obama administration left the tiny island of democracy to its own devices while empowering the most radical, evil, violent anti-Western foes attacking Israel today, and America tomorrow.

This destructive scorched earth retreat from a failed eight years is the best that Obama can do. It just highlights his hatred for Western Civilization, Christianity, Jews, hard working normal American tax-paying citizens, goodness.

But you know what? Donald Trump is giving us hope every day for all of the great and positive things his administration will begin doing in three weeks.

My favorite two choices by the incoming Trump Administration are the selection of outsiders at EPA and the Department of Interior.

At EPA, Scott Pruitt is the right guy to take the fight over fake “climate change” directly to the religious fanatics promoting it.

I know EPA well.

It is where I started my career after graduate school at Vanderbilt University, and where I spent exactly seven years vainly trying to figure out liberalism and bureaucratic obstructionism. Oh I did some amazing jobs at EPA, and I had a big impact. But I grew tired of the liberal culture there among the staff. I grew tired of policy battles initiated by unaccountable bureaucrats at war with capitalism (yes, this is a straight up true fact from my own amazing experiences at EPA).

For me, changing EPA’s name to Department of Environmental Health would signal the correct staff culture change and professional alignment. “EPA” connotes a certain outsider status and identity, which suits radicals and gives cover to bomb-throwers in the taxpayer-funded ranks.

At Interior, Congressman Ryan Zinke is a perfect fit, and actually pretty inspiring from what I have read about him.

Zinke is a former Navy SEAL. Need anyone say more….a selfless, patriotic hero, basically. Thumbs up.

But Zinke is also a conservative conservationist, a rarity in my experience.

He’s a hunter. Thumbs up.

Way too many Republicans and conservatives actually oppose environmental protection and wildlife conservation, because in a certain simplistic view, these things get in the way of unbridled, maximal development. And if a bunch of Marxist econuts say one thing, then the truth must automatically be the exact opposite (not…why do conservatives always allow the Left to define the green battlefield?).

It is embarrassing, no, make that humiliating, to hear some Republicans slavering over the opportunity to liquidate public lands. This is proof that the Left does not have a total lock on policy insanity.

America’s public lands are a beautiful treasure, a dowry, a gold mine of recreational opportunity and personal exploration, a huge temple in which to worship God from desolate mountain tops to silent, tranquil remote valleys. I am blessed to have been able to really explore many, many national and state parks and forests from Maine to California over my 52 years, and God willing, I have plans for a lot more exploration of new places across America the Beautiful.

Camping, hiking, fishing, trapping, hunting in far-flung wilderness places are all favorite activities for me and for tens of millions of other Americans.

Being from Montana, Zinke innately understands the personal connection  healthy-minded Americans have to their scenic public lands.

Yes, it is true that public lands are a big government footprint in some places. But they are also one of the very few things that government seems to be able to do pretty well. Though I would suggest eliminating the Bureau of Land Management, as its original charter has long since expired and its staff culture sucks. And I would also look into creative ways to resolve some of the longstanding conflicts over natural resource management and extractive activities on public lands. And multiple use policies require some fine tuning. Like allowing hunting and trapping in the remote areas of most national parks.

I speak from experience here, too, having directly worked with the National Park Service, US Forest Service, and staff from other federal resource agencies.

Not all of these challenges, or problems (yes, they are problems when they threaten to destroy entire pristine watersheds) require an either-or decision or black-and-white policy view. A lot of nuance can be brought to bear. Zinke seems like the guy to do that, which is incredibly refreshing.

See? The clean fresh breeze is blowing out the stench already. Despite the evil darkness of the Obama years, the penetrating shining light of the incoming leaders lightens and cheers my heart, gives me hope from the change.

Zinke and Pruitt cannot be confirmed soon enough.

Let’s make America great again.

A question and a wish

First the question. Is there a reasonable explanation for Brooklyn lawyer Dan Goldstein’s aggressive harassment of Donald Trump’s daughter yesterday?

After all, the young mother was sitting in a plane with her three kids, minding her own business. Bystanders credited her with being cool under fire, while Goldstein and his partner were escorted off the plane for their disruptive behavior

Goldstein’s partner, Matt Lasner, joked about it on Twitter, then deleted his Twitter account altogether.

What is it about two gay Jewish guys from New York that they have missed out on the meaning of life, the meaning of the holidays, and the joy that comes with treating people nicely?

These two guys are a minority of a minority of a minority. You’d think they would be the most sensitive to not bullying other people. They’re highly educated (which actually probably explains some of this event, given the low quality of most PC academia). They’re financially secure. Where did they leave their manners?

I have a theory: So many urban elites are so completely cut off from the rest of the populace that they really cannot relate, and their disdain simply pours out when they do make contact. After decades of indoctrination by academia and liberal activist media, these folks are so filled with acid hatred for others that they cannot control themselves. In short, they are bigots.

If you want evidence that liberalism is failing, this is a good example. If your beliefs cause you to behave in inhumane ways toward innocent people, then you have bad beliefs.

Dan Goldstein and Matt Lasner are most likely atheists, so it’s tough to say what their core beliefs are or could be. But they make their aggressive liberalism clear to everyone, and that includes being vile and disrespectful to moms with kids minding their own business.

Gentlemen, Daniel and Matthew, if I may be bold enough to call you gentlemen, maybe you can take a hint here for how to treat everyone you meet over the next week, if not your lifetime: Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and have a wonderful New Year!

Is censorship American?

Wasn’t calling someone a “censor” one of the worst things you could do, way back when?

After all, the First Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits infringements of free speech, guaranteeing to all citizens the right to speak our minds.

Enter the mainstream media, captured by one political party since the 1960s and now an unabashed arm of that single political party.

For so long has the mainstream media been an integral part of just one political party and its agenda, an orthodox culture has developed around it.

Deviation from the script, the narrative, the talking points of that orthodoxy and media results in huge amounts of flame, vituperation, scalding attacks. Even worse, two generations of Americans have not been taught critical thinking skills. Oh, that narrative is drilled into their heads by the media, Hollywood, their high school teachers and college lecturers. But the ability to discern correct from incorrect, false from true, accurate from inaccurate is a skill that has been purposefully cast aside.

Now that the media has been thwarted and bypassed by alternative modes of communication, the ultimate result being the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, a new effort is under way to reestablish control over the information flow. Information must flow with the orthodoxy, the narrative, the agenda. So when new voices, critical thinking voices, bubble up from the huddled masses and serfs below, the media strikes back.

“Fake news,” is what the media calls irony, sarcasm, and also honest, factual reporting that does not fit with the media’s established agenda. Now FakeBook is working hard with a cadre of “fact checkers” funded by billionaire anti-American activist George Soros and staffed by hardened politicos, to censor news and information that does not fit the agenda.

Even the ACLU has embraced this move to shape public opinion. Once upon a time, the ACLU was against censorship, but now that power and control might be lost to the exercise of free speech, even that once vaunted group has thrown in with the censors. We cannot have those puny serfs making up their own informed minds!

Is it American to be a censor, to censor what people can read, or to block or shape what information Americans can obtain? I don’t think so. I believe it is fundamentally un-American. The great irony of all this is that the LA Times, the Washington Post, New York Times, NBC, CBS, BBC, NPR et al all routinely publish news and information that can only be called fake. This information is grossly inaccurate and at best a misrepresentation of some fact the media do not like.

Who would have thought that in 2017, the protected establishment media would be seeking ways to silence alternative sources of information, so that they can maintain their hegemony over the flow of information, ideas, and public opinion?

Among some Americans today, being a censor is the proudest thing they can be, and that is sad. How do we get our nation back?

 

The Sad Situation in Standing Rock

A person must be cold blooded to not at least feel sad for the Standing Rock folks.

This is a group of ancient people who have watched their culture, lifestyle, property, and land heritage melt away under the weight of newer tribes. They really don’t have much left, and now a pipeline threatens to take away even more.

The Dakota Access pipeline is important, heck, all the new pipelines are important because energy independence is critical to American political independence. The more America can rely on domestic energy, the less we need foreign sources of energy. The less we depend on those foreign sources, the freer we are to make tough but necessary decisions about domestic and foreign policy.

What saddens me is the win-lose situation in Standing Rock. The pipeline is presented as a take-it-or-leave-it outcome. Surely there is some other way to resolve this, other than ramming it through. After all, that has been a hallmark of the failed Obama administration and their legislative allies on so many other policy fronts, ramming decisions down everyone’s throats. It is a negative way to run government. It unnecessarily creates winners and losers.

Creating winners and losers is a recipe for serious problems down the road. Resentment runs deep. Grudges are created. Losses are forever mourned.

I know from experience that the Standing Rock situation presents us with an opportunity to create winners and winners.

How well do I recall sitting in a conference room at my office in downtown Harrisburg in 2001. Gathered around the table were representatives from Audubon, Sierra Club, recreational ATV riders, hunters, trail hikers, and the timber industry.

I had successfully negotiated the purchase of a privately owned 12,500-acre inholding in the huge Sproul State Forest from the Litke family. Donna Litke was a neat Pennsylvanian who loved her family’s rugged wilderness land in the northcentral country, but who also had a fiduciary commitment to her family to get the best financial results possible from any purchase. Her private land would become public land after we acquired it.

But Everyone wanted the whole property for their own interests. Or they wanted to block their political opponents from getting something out of it.

After hearing all the crabbing from all sides, left and right, environmental groups and industry, I decided that we would not acquire the property unless everyone got something out of the deal. Everyone needed to share in the success, or else we were not going to see the deal close.

So the day we sat down with a map of the Litke land, and began to discuss where certain activities could or would best take place, was the day we began to get to a win-win outcome. In the end every interest group got something out of the acquisition. Audubon and Sierra Club saw certain sensitive lands there set aside as natural and wild areas, where logging, road building, and gas drilling would not occur. We created a 1,400-acre ATV riding area on reclaimed and unreclaimed coal mining land there, too, the first one on public land in Pennsylvania, which today has generated substantial economic activity in ultra-rural Beech Creek.

Much of the Litke forest was set aside as “plain vanilla” State Forest, where people can walk, hike, camp, hunt, trap, fish, and cut timber. The streamside railway that came with it became an important rail-trail, drawing tourists (and their dollars) from far and wide.

And I did not learn how to do this cold. Rather, in 1995 to 1996, I had successfully used the same approach in the Middle East Peace Process agricultural projects in Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank when I was at US EPA, representing our agency in the diplomatic process.

Boy, you talk about competing interests! There was no shortage there, but in the end I was dubbed “Little Kissinger” for the sidebar negotiations I created, which got the overall projects back on track. Winners and winners.

My hope is Standing Rock will provoke the best in us. Barack Hussein Obama did nothing to help the folks there, until two weeks ago he made a purely political and symbolic decision against the pipeline. Obama has always been about winners and losers, heck he enjoys creating losers, so who can be surprised by his action here. Like everywhere else over his eight-year tenure, Obama squandered an opportunity to facilitate competing interests find common ground.

And that is what needs to happen at Standing Rock: Common ground.

Aren’t there potential solutions to this standoff that are win-win? I can think of three or four potential solutions that would probably be acceptable to the main parties.

We have a new president who understands the concept and importance of win-win outcomes. Hopefully President Trump appoints a solid and good-faith negotiator to resolve the head-on collision at Standing Rock, for everyone’s benefit.

Winners and winners.

 

Bear and Deer Seasons in the Rearview Mirror

The old joke about Pennsylvania having just two seasons rings as true today as it did fifty years ago: Road construction season in the Keystone State seems to be a nine-month-long affair everywhere we go, a testament to how not to overbuild public infrastructure, if you cannot maintain it right.

And the two-week rifle deer season brings out the passion among nearly one million hunters like an early Christmas morning for little kids (I doubt the Hanukkah bush thing ever took off).  All year long people plan their hunts with friends and relatives, take off from work, spend lots of money on gear, equipment, ammunition, food, and gas, and then go off to some place so they can report back their tales of cold and wet and woe to their warmer family members at home. These deer hunts are exciting adventures on the cheap. No bungee jumping, mountain cliff climbing, jumping through flaming hoops or parachuting out of airplanes are needed to generate the thrill of a lifetime as a deer or bear in range gives you a chance to be the best human you can be.

Both bear and deer seasons flew by too fast, and I wish I could do them over, not because I have regrets, but because these moments are so rare, and so meaningful. I love being in the wild, and the cold temperatures give me impetus to keep moving.

One reflection on these seasons is how the incredible acorn crop state-wide kept bear and deer from having to leave their mountain fortresses to find food. Normally animals must move quite a bit to find the browse and nuts they need to nourish their bodies. Well, not this year. Even yesterday I was tripping over super abundant acorns lying on every trail, human or animal made.

When acorns are still lying in the middle of a trail in December, where animals walk, then you know there are a lot of nuts, because normally those low-hanging fruits would be gobbled right up weeks ago.

After still hunting and driving off the mountain I hunt on most up north, it became clear the bear and deer were holed up in two very rugged, remote, laurel-choked difficult places to hunt. Any human approach is quickly heard, seen, or smelled, giving the critters their chance to simply walk away before the clumsy human arrives. All these animals had to do was get up a couple times a day, stretch, walk three feet and eat as many acorns as they want, and then return to their hidden beds.

This made killing them very difficult, and the lower bear and deer harvests show that. God help us if Sudden Oak Death blight hits Pennsylvania, because that will spell the end of the abundant game animals we enjoy, as well as the dominant oak forests they live in.

The second reflection is how we had no snow until Friday afternoon, two days ago, and by then we had already sidehilled on goat paths, and climbed steep mountains, as much as we were going to at that late point in the season. With snow, hunting is a totally different experience: The quarry stands out against the white back ground, making them easier to spot and kill, and snow tracking shows you where they were, where they were going, and when. These are big advantages to the hunter. Only on Friday afternoon did we see all the snowy tracks up top, leading over the steep edge into Truman Run. With another two hours, we could have done a small push and killed a couple deer. But not this year. Maybe in flintlock season!

And finally, I reflect on the people and the beautiful wild places we visited.

I already miss the time I spent with my son on stand the first week. He was with me when I took a small doe with a historic rifle that had not killed since October 1902, the last time its first owner hunted and a month before the gun was essentially put into storage until now.

And then my son had a terrible case of buck fever when a huge buck walked past him well within range of his Ruger .357 Magnum rifle, and he missed, fell down, and managed to somehow eject the clip and throw the second live round into the leaves while the deer kept moseying on by. When I found my son minutes later, he was sitting in a pile of leaves where the deer had stood, throwing the leaves around and crying in a rage that we needed to get right after the deer and hunt them down. The boy was a mess. It was delightful to watch.

I miss the wonderful men I hunted with, and I miss watching other parents take their own kids out, to pass on the ancient skill set as old as humankind.

It is an unfortunate necessity to point out that powerline contractor Haverfield ruined the Opening Day of deer season for about three dozen hunters by arriving unannounced and trespassing in force to access a powerline for annual maintenance in Dauphin County. We witnessed an unparalleled arrogance, dismissiveness, and incompetence by Haverfield staff and ownership that boggles the mind. I am a small business owner, and I’d be bankrupt in three days if I behaved like that. Only the intervention of a Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer saved the day, and that was because the Haverfield fools were going onto adjoining State Game Lands, where they also had no business being during deer season.

Kudos to PPL staff for helping us resolve this so it never happens again.

Folks, we will see you in flintlock season, just around the corner. Now it is time to trap for the little ground predators that raid the nests of ducks, geese, grouse, turkey, woodcock, and migratory songbirds. If you hate trapping, then you hate cute little ducklings, because the super overabundant raccoons, possums, skunks, fox, and coyotes I pursue eat their eggs in the nests, and they eat the baby birds when they are most vulnerable.

 

“Black Shoes. Basic Blues. No Names. All Game”…. gets me back in the game

Congratulations to the Penn State football team on its defeat of Wisconsin for the Big Ten conference title last night.

How strange that Ohio State is in the running for the national title, when they neither beat Penn State in the regular season (OSU lost to PSU), nor did they win their conference (PSU won it last night).

We are back in the familiar conundrum of old, where PSU got and still gets no respect. How many decades did PSU go winning, winning, and winning, but frequently blocked  from playing for the national title?

It is time to stop this unfairness and give to PSU what is their due: A shot at the national title. This requires making the OSU guys feel bad, which is nearly always what happened to PSU in the past. Sorry OSU, enjoy a shot of your own medicine.

After coach Joe Paterno was railroaded and publicly humiliated at PSU by a weak board and a weaker CYA-run administration that made former assistant coach Mike McQueery a wealthy man, my interest in PSU everything pretty much dropped to zero. I stopped watching the games, stopped caring, stopped donating to the university, and basically dropped PSU from my life. The cataclysmic Paterno auto de fe signaled a break from the core values and principles I had grown up with and identified with. I was no longer Penn State Proud.

That said a lot, because I grew up in the State College area, graduated from PSU, my mother has her PhD from PSU, and I attended PSU home games from the time I was seven until I left for Vanderbilt to pursue my career as an academic.  Plenty of our family have graduated from PSU, and watching Penn State football together during the holidays was a family tradition. I went to school with two of the Paterno kids and still maintain contact with one of them, the one I was closest to and spent the most time with. Time spent in the Paterno home listening to Coach Paterno recruit players shaped my own life. He was all about clean living.

Last night’s win over Wisconsin was meaningful to me not because PSU is back in the winning game, but because the fans, the alumni, the board (more on that pathetic, worthless PSU board of trust-less-ees in a moment) and the administration have given Coach Franklin the breathing room to resurrect the destroyed team from the ashes of annihilation at the hands of State Senator Jake Corman, disgraced pedophile Jerry Sandusky, the NCAA, former FBI head Louis Freeh (a great fiction writer), PSU administrators, and the worthless PSU board.

Coach Franklin needed the space and time to breathe new life into a program that always was and always should be top ten quality. He needed the kind of space and patience Paterno had received. Getting the damned names off the jerseys, and getting back to the no-frills basics of Black Shoes, Basic Blues, No Names, All Game. Getting this space marks somewhat of a return to normalcy, where professionals are allowed to be professionals. Professionalism was one of the former hallmarks of PSU football. Staid dedication and loyalty were once a hallmark of PSU administrative culture. The former players’ conservative, humble, and respectful approach to playing football always contrasted with the weak hotdogging that plagues the NFL and most college teams.

Shades of Coach Joe Paterno here. Might we be touching greatness again? I am looking.

So I am now finding myself maybe interested once again in PSU football. But not all football, because I am still boycotting the NFL – not one NFL game watched this season – due to the league’s support of anti-America player Colin Kaepernick. Thank you, PSU folks. This could be rewarding to me, as leaving PSU football was a sad time in my life.

Now, about the PSU Board of Trustees, that worthless aggregation of empty names that supposedly runs Penn State University.

Last week, Harrisburg businessman Alex Hartzler was appointed to the PSU board by Governor Wolf. Alex and I attended PSU together, and we were both active in politics there. We have stayed in touch for the past fifteen years. Alex’s entrance into the snake den is a bright spot, because simply put, Alex don’t give a sh*t about whatever crybaby weak stuff the other members are bringing in as fodder for their continued presence there.

Alex and I differ on almost every policy subject. He is one of the few Democrats I know to ever emerge from Lancaster County, and a farm boy at that. I am a Constitutional conservative who thinks the Republican Party is worthless, and also from Pennsylvania farm country. While Alex has maintained his partisan loyalty to one party, even as it was going over the cliff, he has always displayed a sharp and incisive intellect and tough attitude that brooks no bullcrap. I think Alex Hartzler is exactly the kind of person to help PSU get its act together. Yes, he will want policies on climate change junk science, same-sex bathrooms, and a bunch of other PC issues that I believe are unworthy of consideration let alone debate, but at the end of the day, I expect to see lightning bolts from the moribund board. Thank you, Alex.

Let’s get the PSU show back on the road.