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Thank you, dear departed

Memorial Day is a big deal in a Republic like America. Without the sacrifices and daily risks of our armed service personnel, America wouldn’t exist. Our daily freedoms and liberties would be replaced by fear of an all-encompassing government.

Thank you, dear departed.

People we’ve lost, then and now, still shape us

Days ago, my next door neighbor was riding bikes with his son, and he had an accident. The trauma to his head was so significant that he died yesterday, never waking up from his injury.

Doctor Jerry Luck was a hell of a nice man, and I’m very sorry he is gone. Planet Earth is a much poorer place without Jerry among us. Our condolences to his wife Kathi and their two children.

Tonight I attended a regular meeting at the Duncannon Sportsmen’s Association, where club president Carl Fox pours his endless love, energy, and devotion to recruiting new hunters, fishermen, and outdoor enthusiasts. Sitting next to me was an elderly Mr. Foultz, a name I dimly recalled.

Turns out, Mr. Foultz is from Pine Grove Mills, a small village near where I grew up. Many summer days I walked barefoot from the deep farm country across the semi-developed farm country closer to State College, to play with friends in Pine Grove Mills.

Sitting on his porch there, forty years ago, was a grumpy, quiet old man we knew as Indian Joe. He was reputed to be an actual Indian, he certainly looked dark skinned and “ethnic,” and in a location as rural and frontier-like as that area was back then, he was as good and as real and as exciting as a person could be. Indian Joe was a touchstone for the old frontier days that we could still feel and see and touch, like when someone’s dad would find an old 1790s or 1820s flintlock rifle stashed away in a barn, and people would come to see it and hold it.

Indian Joe was a central feature of many Penn State homecoming parades on College Avenue, often dressed in a nice suit and a Plains Indian feather bonnet, riding in a convertible Cadillac behind Coach Joe Paterno. Indian Joe would grumble at me when I was a kid pestering him on his porch for stories of the old frontier days.

When I asked Mr. Foultz tonight if he knew Indian Joe, and what his real last name was, I received a long and flattering description of Indian Joe.

No, he was not Shawnee, nor Delaware, nor Conestoga, nor Onandaga, nor any other local tribe. Joe was Menominee, from Wisconsin.

Turns out, Old Joe had served in the American Armed Forces, met a young woman in Baltimore, married, and moved back to her home town of Pine Grove Mills. His real last name was something like Gonfer, as it sounded to me.

Pine Grove Mills was also the location of the first girl I had a crush on, Billy Jo. We hunted together as kids, and even then she was beautiful to look at, and kind. She was a hell of a shot, too, and killed deer sooner and faster than I did.

So elderly Mr. Foultz and I went on a memory spree tonight, naming places and people from decades ago. The Artz’s Arco, where I bought my hunting licenses from age twelve through twenty, was where he worked Saturdays as a teenager. And so on. Mind you, dear reader, Pine Grove Mills had a total population of about 250 people back then, and probably a bit more today. Still surrounded by farms and State Forest, it is the epitome of Small Town Pennsylvania, something I regularly celebrate.

So, kind thoughts to old Indian Joe, long gone from his porch and from Joe Paterno PSU homecoming parades down the middle of our quaint town, and sad but good thoughts to Doctor Jerry, whose kind and gentle demeanor will be hugely missed today and for decades to come.

Takeaway? People shape us constantly, from our earliest days to our hoary old age of fifty. It’s good and proper that we should be shaped, and honed, sharper and better, by the people around us, as time marches on.

Garden as metaphor, Part 3…or 4

Can anyone think of a better metaphor for life as a human than a garden?

All the planning, selecting, planting, nurturing, stoking, prodding, coaxing, frustration, re-planting, and finally, after all the work and with some luck, the harvesting of fresh food…this is all just like the bigger things in our lives.

Lately it has been difficult to ignore some generational changes afoot that simply cannot bode well for our nation, now or in the future.

Where debate historically involved logic, facts, and reasoning, a great deal of what is represented as debate is simple ridicule, mockery, dismissiveness.

Few things demonstrate the weakness of an argument more than the use of ridicule and mockery, or name-calling. Yet the Internet is full of this waste of time. Because of my own passion for and involvement in tough policy issues, I am really interested to hear separate points of view from people, and spirited debate, give-and-take, is part of that process. This process is what makes Western Civilization so unique and so precious.

Dismissiveness assumes all will be well, no matter what, irrespective of actions or behaviors across the landscape.

In my observation, the younger generations are much more inclined to forgo logic and facts, and are more inclined to leap into name calling and ridicule in their online debates. This just cannot bode well for American democracy, which is based on the use of logic, reason, and facts. How our citizens expect to hold on to their Constitutional rights and liberties, and yet allow debate to be dominated by juvenile behavior is not wild speculation. Already we have witnessed the erosion of individual liberties at the hands of judges who don’t care what the US Constitution says, or what their particular state constitution says; their basis for decisions making is purely personal, or political.

So go grow a garden, fellow citizens. Tending even a small garden helps us work physical and mental muscles that atrophy easily. It builds small but important personal traits that are needed on a much bigger scale. Tending, cultivating, and nurturing all build basic skills necessary for us to function well as individuals and for our civilization to succeed on the whole.

The alternative – relying on everyone else for everything else we need, and ridiculing the rest – is a recipe for disaster.

Three seats open on the PA Supreme Court, three women to fill them

Rebecca Warren, Cheryl Allen, and Anne Covey are three outstanding people. All are candidates for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. All are attorneys. Cheryl and Anne broke gender barriers to become judges; Cheryl may have broken a skin color barrier. Rebecca is breaking a philosophical barrier that seeks to keep Constitutionalists out of jurisprudence. Note the bizarre role of the PA Bar Association in this election.

All three women I’ve met and spoken to at length, each more than one time. All three impress the heck out of me. They are real people, plenty smart, and plenty experienced. The citizens of our Commonwealth deserve to have these kinds of minds running our legal branch.

I’m voting for all three of these amazing, inspiring women on Tuesday, which is Primary Election Day. Hopefully, you will, too.

Are PA’s vaunted wild turkeys in trouble?

Pennsylvania lead the way reestablishing wild turkey populations back in the 1960s and 1970s.
Well do I recall the grainy film footage of catch-and-release population building during my Hunter Education course in 1974. By 1976 wild turkeys were being successfully hunted in my neck of central Pennsylvania. Twins Jim and Joe Harpster brought to school the impressive long beards and spurs they called in, inspiring me to take a fall hen with my 20-gauge shotgun.
Fast forward a few decades, and a bunch of us up north are now wondering if this past harsh winter decimated the flocks that were brimming with birds just six months ago. After all, I and quite a few other friends in north central PA have hardly heard much less seen turkeys the past two weeks.
And we have all seen plenty of predators, like coyotes and bobcats.
One person told me yesterday there’s talk among the PGC biologists that the regional turkey population may have been knocked back ten years.
Wouldn’t that be a shame?

Hunting…it ain’t about killing

How often do we hear the line “Hunting- it ain’t about killing”?
It’s common because it’s true.
Boy is it good my family isn’t depending upon me for food through hunting…
This spring gobbler season has been very slow up north. It’s as if the turkeys suffered a severe blow from the long winter.
So far I’ve had a pure white coyote run up to me, been stalked by a bobcat that wouldn’t take No for an answer, had a raccoon molest the decoy, nearly been overrun by a sluggish porcupine that wouldn’t take No for an answer, and I’ve been entertained by the antics of a mouse. Watching deer munch on trees I’ve nurtured, well, that’s a different feeling.
One thing about hunting is true: It’s about being out in Nature. Sometimes success there is measured in mouse antics, and not in trophy long beards.
I love it.

Good luck spring gobbler hunting tomorrow

Tomorrow is the spring gobbler hunting season opener here in PA.
People from all around PA and beyond are drawn to our forests and farm fields to try their hand at enticing a strutting long beard into shotgun range. It is probably the hardest form of hunting, because little is left to chance; nearly the entire process depends upon the lone hunter’s skills.

Those skills involve calling, sure, but they also involve understanding a turkey’s habits, its habitat, the local and larger terrain and topography, weather, and the impact of other predators, both human and four-legged on how a gobbler might respond to the seductive crooning of a the faux hen.

Turkey hunting is one of the least productive, most frustrating pastimes possible. And yet it is so popular.

Good luck out there tomorrow, ladies and gentlemen. Be safe (do not stalk turkey sounds), carefully shoot for the gobbler’s neck area between the head and the body, and enjoy the unfolding of springtime all around you as the dawn magically lights up the woods.

The Bob Weber Trail takes on a whole new meaning

The Bob Weber Trail up between Cammal and Slate Run in the Pine Creek Valley is a well-known northcentral Pennsylvania destination. Along with the Golden Eagle Trail and other rugged, scenic hiking trails around there, you can see white and painted trilliums in the spring, waterfalls in June, and docile timber rattlers in July and August, as well as large brook trout stranded in ever-diminishing pools of crystal clear water as the summer moves along.

Bob Weber was a retired DCNR forester, who had spent the last 40 years or so of his life perched high above Slate Run in a rustic old CCC cabin. That is the life that many of the people around here aspire to, and which I, as a little kid, once stated matter of factly would be my own quiet existence when I reached the “big boy” age of 16. Except Bob had been married for almost all of his time there. He was no hermit, as he enjoyed people, especially people who wanted to explore nature off the beaten path.

That Bob had contributed so much to the conservation and intelligent development of Pine Creek’s recreational infrastructure is a well-earned understatement. He was a quiet leader on issues central to that remote yet popular tourist and hunting/fishing destination. The valley could easily have been dammed, like Kettle Creek was. Or it could easily have been over-developed to the point where the rustic charm that draws people there today would have been long gone. Bob was central to the valley’s successful model of both recreational destination and healthy ecosystem.

A year ago, while our clan was up at camp, Bob snowshoed down to Wolfe’s General Store, the source of just about everything in Slate Run, and I snapped a photo of my young son talking with both Bob and Tom Finkbiner, one of the other long-time stalwart conservationists in the valley. Whether my boy eventually understands or values this photo many years from now will depend upon his own interest in land and water conservation, nature, hunting, trapping, and fishing, and bringing urbanites into contact with these important pastimes so they better appreciate and value natural resources.

Bob, you will be missed. Right now you are walking the high mountains with your walking stick in your hand, enjoying God’s golden light and green fields on a good trail that never ends. God bless you.

Israel’s Independence Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day, So Where are We Today?

Israel Independence Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day are here.

Obviously these two milestones are related in the sense that out of the ashes of the European genocide against Europe’s Jewish minority (not to be confused with the similar and nearly simultaneous Muslim Arab ethnic cleansing of the Jewish minority once living in the Middle East, now presently applied to Christians there) arose the modern state of Israel on the soil of the ancient state of Israel.

Here in America most Jewish communities spend a full 24-hour period on Holocaust Remembrance Day reading the names of Nazi victims. By reading their names, they are in some small but meaningful way not forgotten. And by remembering them as people, larger society is supposed to remember what happened so that people, and government, do the necessary things so genocide does not happen again.

This is all sound logic to me, although it is questionable whether it works, or not.

Why am I sounding a bit skeptical here? Because the evidence isn’t supportive that this approach works, in the sense that it does not inspire humans around the globe to treat one another better, much less treat Jews any better. The evidence in front of us demonstrates that Holocaust Remembrance Day, with all its universalist activities, primarily appeals to Jews, their friends, and liberal-minded news reporters. Meanwhile, plenty of genocide is going on ever since, namely in Rwanda, Bosnia, Kurdistan, and now once again in the Middle East, where Muslim Arabs are sadistically rampaging among the religious and ethnic minorities among them.

And Israel has been under sustained and increasing attempted genocide from the day it was founded in 1948. Every libel, slander, lie and contrivance has been drummed up to delegitimize Israel and to justify the ceaseless murders of unarmed Jews within and outside Israel. Boycotts, divestment from Israeli companies, and sanctions against Israeli academic institutions and the government of Israel are proof that Israel, and Jews, receive an incredibly harsh and unjustified treatment from a world that really ought to know better.

Making things even worse, and totally odd to me and to most people I know, is the overwhelmingly liberal mindset American Jews maintain. Their liberal political views, on a policy-by-policy basis, are completely contrary to the Torah (the Bible) to which their ancestors swore loyalty and which created Western Civilization.

Abortion-on-demand and as a form of birth control, faith in big government, rejection of religion’s role in good government, gun control, you name it, every single one of the politically correct issues that liberal Jews believe in are at odds with their own founding document, the Bible.

One would logically conclude that a group of people who had recently undergone such incredibly painful and devastating attacks, round-ups, shot on sight, murder in the street, painful medical experiments, gassing, bodies burnt to hide the atrocity, and so on, you would think that the survivors and heirs would adopt a more self-preserving view. That is the conclusion that their friends have arrived at and said is needed many times, and asked why Jews don’t, for many years.

You know, why do most Jews vote for people and policies that are against their own interests? Like for Obama, or against gun rights?

That American Jews are overwhelmingly supportive of intense gun regulation is without question. Public surveys show it. Even more to the point are the lists of leaders on gun regulation; nearly all of them are Jews – Past and present US Senators Feinstein, Schumer, Metzenbaum, Lautenberg, Boxer – joined by an endless list of Jewish members of Congress, and not to mention the actual leaders of gun regulation, Josh Sugarmann, Shira Goodman, to name but a few, and not to mention the Jewish donors to anti-gun rights groups, like Bloomberg and Hechinger, to name but a few.

More locally, two years ago I sat in on a meeting between my then-newly elected state senator Democrat Rob Teplitz and a group of citizens gathered at a local Harrisburg synagogue. As the morning Boy Scout function there was the drawing attraction, and not everyone there was Jewish, there was one group of men who had just completed their prayers and who had then gathered to join in the following meeting with Senator Teplitz. Either the first or second question of the event came from a man in that group, who asked Senator Teplitz when he was going to become an ardent and active advocate for serious gun regulation. Heads nodded in agreement around the table, and Teplitz responded that he would be neither “too pro gun nor too anti gun.”

Further confusing many Americans is how vociferously anti-Israel so many American Jews have become. Whether by strongly supporting an obviously anti-Israel Obama or by actively participating in anti-Israel actions and activities, lots of American Jews clearly are at war with the one nation designed to protect them should the very things they are remembering now begin to happen once again.

Why would a tiny group of people, who have experienced such awful tragedies and injustices over and over again, seek to both disarm themselves and their fellow citizens in favor of big government, which has never anywhere been a friend to Jews or liberty, and also disarm and undermine the one country capable of protecting Jews should the you-know-what hit the fan?

Folks, I know you are moved by recalling victims and inured to maintaining victimhood. It is practically the Jewish identity to the point where “Holocaust worship” has been decried by the more religiously observant Jews; you know, the Bible believers.

If you really want to remember the European Holocaust and say “Never Again!” in a way that means something, then be able to defend yourself. Get a 12-gauge pump shotgun, learn to use it with buckshot and store it safely, and support a strong Israel capable of easily defending itself against all attackers. That’s it.

Otherwise, you just make people ask “Do Jews today really remember what happened, and do they really understand how important Israel is to them?”

In other words, people just must ask “are Jews really so smart?”

Exercise the power of the People to impeach and remove bad judges

Both the United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution make plain that American and Pennsylvania state governments derive their power from the People.

But my, oh my, have we not seen a tremendous erosion of privacy and basic individual rights and liberties over the years as government power to regulate and surveil expands. Much of this starts with local law enforcement.

Over and over again we read with amazement how some official government regulatory or law enforcement arm commits another over-reach deep into some poor citizen’s life. And then with even greater amazement we read how some judge, especially federal judges, uphold what would appear on its face to violate the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.  Here are some headlines:

“Ohio Court upholds police forced entry into private home over failure to signal at traffic light…”

“New Jersey Federal Court Upholds The FTC’s Authority To Regulate Data Security”

 

“Judge Upholds Police ‘Code of Silence’ Ruling…U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve decided Thursday decided not to toss out part of a jury’s decision that found Chicago police operated under a “code of silence,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Last month, a jury found the police department obstructed the investigation into the beating death of bartender Karolina Obrycka at the hands of off-duty police officer Anthony Abbate in 2007.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve decided Thursday decided not to toss out part of a jury’s decision that found Chicago police operated under a “code of silence,” according to the Chicago Tribune.”

“Police can forcibly take DNA samples during arrests, judge rules”

 

“Federal Judge Upholds Warrantless Hidden Surveillance Cameras On Private Property”

 

“Court upholds dismissal of ticket quota lawsuit”

 

“Utah Cops Arrest Teen for Recording, Judge then Orders Teen to Admit Guilt before Trial”

 

“Law-Breaking Judges Took Cases That Could Make Them Even Richer

Federal judges aren’t supposed to hear cases in which they have a financial stake. Dozens do it anyway.”

And the granddaddy of them all, a truly unbelievable case in which a federal judge recently decided the police can simply take over your home and eat your food without any reason whatsoever:

“The Nevada case of Mitchell v. City of Henderson still slogs through the Nevada Federal District Court. This case has one unusual feature. It accuses police in two cities of quartering themselves in two private houses without the consent of their owners. This would breach the Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which deals with quartering of soldiers. The defendant city officials say police officers are not soldiers. But the Mitchells actually have a thirty-two-year-old precedent on their side. That case says one need not be an active-duty U.S. armed service member to be a “soldier” under the Constitution………………….the police in Henderson wanted to “stake out” the Mitchells’ neighbor. They forced the Mitchells (and Anthony Mitchell’s parents) out of their homes, moved in for the time of their stakeout, and helped themselves to whatever was in their refrigerators and pantries. They even arrested Anthony and Michael for obstructing the police. Those charges could not possibly stick, so the city dropped them. But the Mitchells are still suing, on every ground they could possibly cite.
The Third Amendment portion of the Mitchell complaint has been dismissed as of February 2015. The judge held that police officers are not soldiers for the purposes of the Third Amendment; he also expressed doubt that occupying the property for less than 24 hours would constitute ‘quartering’, although he did not specifically rule on that aspect.”

And so on.  You can do your own Internet search on this subject and read the stories behind these headlines and many more.  The purpose here is to call attention to the problem of judges who clearly allow unconstitutional government behavior to proceed.

And what is to be done with US Supreme Court justices who lie under oath in their nomination and confirmation hearings, in order to be confirmed, and then begin ruling exactly the opposite of what they testified to in the US Senate?

In all these instances, the People – us, the voters, taxpayers, and citizens of America – should take the necessary steps to legally remove these failed public servants from their benches.  These are no longer judges in the essential sense of the term, and they certainly no longer look out for the basic rights and liberties of the People. 

So they must be impeached or recalled.