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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.

Why I am Suing Mayor Papenfuse

The following op-ed was published at www.pennlive.com, which is the new digital version of the former Patriot News newspaper. What I submitted  was edited a bit by the staff there, and they mis-spelled attorney Josh Prince’s name, among other mistakes or omissions. If you are interested in seeing the difference of thinking between liberals and conservatives, you are encouraged to read the comments section following the letter.  The conservatives keep on repeating the same basic, accurate facts, the same simple logic, and the liberals keep talking about their feelings, going off-topic, mocking and commenting on physical appearance.  This is one of those moments where taxpayers can get a glimpse of the failure of America’s educational system, where critical thinking has been thrown overboard in favor of teaching students to be politically correct on issues, like government overreach on gun ownership.

http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2015/04/heres_why_im_suing_to_stop_pap.html#incart_2box_opinion

PA Leadership Conference gets better and better every year

Thanks to the hard work of Lowman Henry, Dan Mosel and others, the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference was a resounding success.

Scott Davis did the straw poll (I have not been emailed the results; I voted for Cruz and Ben Carson), and despite running around on a million errands, he managed to keep a chipper air.

Chris Liliks was center stage Mister Organization, and USMC Col. Frank Ryan gave the most convincing Pledge of Allegiance ever.  Frank and I were opponents in the 2009-2010 four-way congressional race for the then-Tim Holden seat, now gerrymandered into something unrecognizable.  Frank is a great guy and it brought me a lot of pleasure to see him again and shake his hand.

Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste had endless patience discussing with me the dynamics and aggravations of the establishment versus the grass roots, and although he was dead wrong on every single thing, he still kindly sat with me and provided great company (as well as thereby serving as the genesis of some great political rumors…).

Business guru Fred Anton provided opening remarks that impressed everyone at our table, as he succinctly hit on every hot political and economic issue in a Spartan speech that artfully blended politics and economy without sounding so dullingly or partisanly political.  Vote for PA Supreme Court candidates who are going to fill out their full ten-year terms, Fred told us.  That’s not bad advice. But remember that the legislature is considering raising the mandatory retirement age for judges, so candidates who might only serve for two years now could get on the court and then serve seven years, which is plenty long enough.

Rick Santorum gave a heartfelt, moving, extemporaneous speech about Iran that brought inspired tears to the eyes of many audience members. It was a stellar performance that reminded everyone in the packed ballroom why Santorum is still in the political leadership mix – he operates from the heart and from principle, not from from some shallow, meaningless political calculation.  Iran’s danger to Western civilization was the topic of Santorum’s speech, where he pointed out that both Republicans and Democrats are failing to lead on this critical security issue.  He also hit the Republican Party hard for not incorporating working people into their mantra of money and prosperity, suggesting that if the R’s miss this much more, then maybe it is time for everyone to become Independent or some other third party.  Ouch! And he is 100% right, as can be seen from the machinations in the PA 15th Senate District, where yet another super-rich businessman with the articulate capabilities of a junk yard dog is the “chosen one.”  If you ask me, and who am I to criticize (;-D), this looks like another one-dimensional effort to lose the seat to the Dems once again.

Senator Pat Toomey gave one of his trademark understated policy speeches where you’re half-way into it and falling asleep before you realize “Oh My God this is serious stuff.” Although I do not agree with Toomey that the senate Democrats should have been allowed to exploit all of the procedural niceties they did not allow the Republicans for five years.  Recall that as US Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid conducted “the nuclear option” and dismantled 150 years of Senate procedural rules designed to let the minority have some say and have some votes.  Recall that for five years there were something like a total of 16 actual votes on the Senate floor, a historic embarrassment and indication that American democracy was held hostage by the Senate Democrats.  Despite suffering under Reid’s mismanagement, Toomey believes in being “nice” now with his Republican majority, somehow proving that the Republicans are nicer than the mean ol’ Democrats.  I think he is mistaken.  But I am not a US Senator, so I have little to say about it but what I write here.  Let us not take away here from Senator Toomey his outstanding and laser-like focus on Iran’s nuclear threat to America.

Everything went as smoothly as possible, with the only unusual thing the large walk-out by a significant portion of the audience when Grover Norquist took the stage.  A couple things struck me about Mister Jihadi Norquist.  One, he is remarkably small in stature and frame, almost child-size with a squeaky high voice, like the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. This may explain his need for a larger-than-life personality and desire to dominate everyone.  The second unusual thing I noticed was how Norquist required all kinds of security guys, and a big limo, and superstar treatment, in contrast to Santorum, Toomey, and other well-known speakers who just walked right in to the Radisson with a “Hey How are Ya?” attitude and hallos and handshakes and other casual chit-chat on their way to the podium.

It seems that Mister Muslim Brotherhood Secret Operative Blow Up America From The Inside Grover Norquist requires lots of marching band accompaniment to look and feel good. I was happy when I looked around and saw the steady stream of audience members heading for the doors with me, while my colleague remained behind at our front-and-center table “so I can say I got to hear Grover lie in person to a whole room of people.”  In other words, it does not appear that Mister Ollie Snackbar Nukem Norquist enjoys much political cover any longer.  He was asked to suspend himself from the NRA board of directors four days ago, an indication that his weaseling ways and sneaky days are numbered.

So that is my brief round-up and I could write so much more, but why should I? Really, you should come to next year’s PLC and see how grand it is for yourself.

 

 

Aggressive timber management necessary in the Northeast

When I tell some people how aggressively we try to manage standing timber (forests), they often recoil.  It sounds so destructive, so environmentally wrong.

It is not environmentally damaging, but I will be the first to admit that the weeks and months after a logging operation often look like hell on the landscape: Tops everywhere, exposed dirt, skid trails, a tangled mess where an open woods had stood for the past sixty to eighty years just weeks before.  No question, it is not the serene scene we all enjoyed beforehand.

This “clearcutting” gets a bad name from poor forestry practices out West and because of urban and suburban lawn aesthetics being misapplied to dynamic natural forests.

However, if we do not aggressively manage the forest, and the tree canopy above it, then we end up with tree species like black birch and red maple as the dominant trees in what should be, what otherwise would be a diverse and food-producing environment. Non-native and fire-sensitive species like ailanthus are quickly becoming a problem, as well.

When natural forest fires swept through our northeastern forests up until 100 years ago, these fire-sensitive species (black birch, red maple) were killed off, and nut trees like oaks, hickories, and chestnuts thrived.  Animals like bears, deer, turkey, Allegheny woodrats, and every other critter under the sun survived on those nut crops every fall.

Without natural fire, which is obviously potentially destructive and scary, we must either set small prescribed fires, or aggressively remove the overhead tree canopy to get sufficient sunlight onto the forest floor to pop, open, and regenerate the next generation of native trees.  Deer enjoy browsing young tree sprouts, so those tasty oaks, hickories, etc that lack sufficient sunlight to grow quickly usually become stunted shrubs, at best, due to constant deer nibbling.  Sunlight is the key here.

And there is no way to get enough sunlight onto the forest floor and its natural seed bed without opening up the tree canopy above it.  And that requires aggressive tree removal.

Northeastern forests typically have deep enough soils, sufficient rainfall, and gentle enough slopes to handle aggressive timber management.  Where my disbelieving eyes have seen aggressive management go awry is out west, in the steep Rockies, where 1980s “regeneration cuts” on ancient forests had produced zero trees 25 years later.  In fact, deep ravines had resulted from the flash-flooding that region is known for, and soil was being eroded into pristine waterways.  So, aggressive timber management is not appropriate for all regions, all topography, or all soils.

But here in the northeast, we go out of our way to leave a huge mess behind after we log.  Why? Because how things appear on their surface has nothing to do with how they perform natural functions.  Those tangled tree tops provide cover for the next generation of trees and wildflowers, turtles and snakes, and help prevent soil erosion by blocking water and making it move slowly across the landscape.

Indeed, a correctly managed northeastern forest is no place for urban or suburban landscape aesthetics, which often dictate bad “select cut” methods that work against the long term health and diversity of the forest, as well as against the tax-paying landowner.

So the next time you see a forest coming down, cheer on the landowner, because they are receiving needed money to pay for the land.  Cheer on the loggers and the timber buyers, the mills and manufacturing plants, and the retailers of furniture, flooring, and kitchen cabinets, because they all are part of a great chain of necessary economic activity that at its core is sustainable, renewable, natural, and quintessentially good.

Partisan politics challenges common sense

Governor Tom Wolf’s support for PA AG Kathleen Kane is a political mistake. Commitment to party more than the people causes these types of errors. Tom Wolf campaigned as a non partisan leader, above politics, solely at the service of the citizenry. Kane is obviously a lawless, corrupt politician who abandoned the pursuit of justice the minute she walked into the AG’s office. What a shame Wolf is expending his political capital on such a waste. I had much higher hopes for him.

Japanese swords — caveat emptor

Taking breathers from political screeds may be rare here, but this is an oddball necessity. One cannot see bloodthirsty fakery and sit silently.

To wit: A lot of guys collect old militaria. Swords, bayonets, guns, helmets, etc. Cool stuff. Inspiring. Evocative of sacrifice and bravery.

Most of this rusty old junk is tough to fake, and even more to the point, pointless to fake, as the rip-off scheme costs more than the item is worth.

Except in the world of old Japanese swords.

The iconic katana and wakizashi have been sought after for decades as both extremely appealing for a red-blooded man to look at, and as artwork; refined craftsmanship that’ll easily cut off an arm. What normal guy wouldn’t be attracted to such art?!

For the past ten years or a bit more, a certain well known, popular, big auction site on the internet has been filled with many obviously faked Japanese swords and daggers. There were and still are some for sale in the past week and presently, hawked as “gendaito” in shingunto mounts. These would be valuable hand-made art blades holstered in relatively rudimentary war-time (WWII) scabbards that saw service in the field. If they were actually old and authentic.

But these are not authentic, historic blades. They were made recently and are being sold as old.

So sad to see such obviously faked signatures, and faked blades, set into authentic WWII mounts and carriers, with blazingly brand-new shirasaya! It’s an obviously winning combination, as buyers pay thousands of dollars for something worth a few hundred at most.

C’mon guys. Use your heads. Do your research. How many gendaito blades really made it out, after WWII? So many that individual sellers seem to constantly, endlessly pull them out like white rabbits from black hats?

Alarm bells not going off?

If your hearts weren’t telling you Yes, your eyes would be telling you “FAKE!”

Run. Run away fast from these too-good-to-be-true bargains with new handles, purposeful minor scuffs, and signatures so clearly punched in by a modern Chinaman, not a Nipon-To maker sitting cross legged eighty years ago.

If nothing else, demand NHTK papers with each sword. Or consider your investment wasted. Sorry to say.

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