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Archive → May, 2014

Simple things

America’s Second Amendment is not about hunting.

It is not about target shooting.

It is not about shotguns, single-shot twenty-twos, and bolt-action deer rifles.

Incredibly, it is about an armed citizenry being able to stand up to its own government.  It is a crazy idea, right? So crazy that only America, the world’s bastion of liberty, has it.

How frustrating is it to get into one Facebook debate after another with adults who not only have not bothered to research the Second Amendment, but who deliberately refuse to be educated once they are well into the debate.

Feelings are not a substitute for facts.  Debates about Constitutional law require facts, historical quotes, Founders’ intentions, etc.  Sure, I understand that lots of people are afraid of guns.  Why not?  They are dangerous.  But your fear cannot dictate my rights.

Veterans Affairs hospitals as metaphor

Warehousing sick humans is an image out of dystopian books and movies, and yet it is reality at the Veteran’s Affairs hospitals. Ironically, the sick Vets are being warehoused at home, not even at the hospital they’ve earned.

Why can’t our veterans just produce a card and get quality healthcare at any hospital?

Time to end the VA hospital system. But don’t count on it. The VA hospital system is what ObamaCare is. The VA system is the best case result from ObamaCare. It’s the metaphor for ObamaCare.

Grin, bear it, and drop your pants.


Veterans’ memorials are often the most beautiful workmanship

–Josh First

Some societies place plain wooden markers to mark their dead.

Most American Indian groups built death platforms lifting the deceased closer to Heaven.  After a couple of years, they collapsed, their wooden skeletal remains reminiscent of the human skeletal remains once upon them.  Such visual starkness says ‘Hallowed Ground’ more powerfully than most grave sites.

Like the European Celts and Picts, some Indians built small to incredibly large burial mounds, and we have two small ones on our hunting property.  Small or huge, they are still just plain piles of dirt.  Seven large mounds in a neat row line a remote hillside on northcentral State Forest Land I hunt, an evocative but peaceful reminder of who hunted there before me.  Yes, it is clearly a cemetery, but I feel very comfortable there.

Most European countries, and America, place great emphasis on ornate mausoleums, statuary, and finely detailed headstones marking the deceased.  Chiseled of hard granite, these are testimonies to either lots of money or lots of love among those left behind, but a big sign of respect, nonetheless.

In a nod to the less-is-more aesthetic, the United States military places simple marble crosses and Jewish stars on the headstones of fallen warriors.  While these appear plain, plain, plain to the careless eye, more scrutiny reveals careful craftsmanship; beveled edges, hollow grinds, stippling, and more.  Attention to refined details elevate these markers to the level of real workmanship, but avoiding ostentation.

And that is the fitting and well-thought-out purpose to our military cemeteries: Quiet, humble valor that even in death commands respect and appreciation.  Subtle statements that go beyond the initial visual “grab.” In their austerity, reminders of sacrifice and loss, and in their subtle details, the best, most careful workmanship for the best of our citizens.

Memorializing these fallen citizens requires us to do more than salute the Flag, eat a hotdog, or buy a new mattress at a low price, although these days saluting the Flag is a pretty bold statement (surely someone will call you a ‘racist’ for doing it).  Instead, go by a public cemetery and find the veterans markers, sit down at one or two head stones, and do an internet search (on your smart phone etc.) of the occupant in front and center of you.  See if anything can be learned about this person.  Or, if you lack a smart device, have a chat with the inhabitant, and thank them for their service.  Without their service, none of us would have the smart phones and hot dogs we now take for granted.

This is truly memorializing someone.  That is a worthy Memorial Day.

It’s what he says, not does, that counts

“Don’t you knock my man Barack,” a friend says.

“Barack obviously lied that you can keep your doctor, keep your healthcare provider. He has no intention of letting you keep anything that’s worked for you and your family the past ten years. And Barack has lied about the Benghazi deaths and subsequent coverup, not to mention the IRS and NSA government spying on and coercing Americans. And you’re still lovin’ this guy?,” I ask.


Something is afoot here that bothers liberals tremendously when conservatives do it: Taking something on faith.

Bible-believers, Americans whose faith instructs them to reject modern hedonism and novelty, they are sorely tested and mocked by liberals.

But liberals have no problems taking global warming on faith, or the current president. It’s not that the data runs contrary to the claims that’s important. It’s simply that a person wants to believe, MUST believe.

It appears to be a new religion. It has all the dynamics and starry eyed adherents.  Except here, acts don’t matter. Rather, it’s what is said that carries the weight, that is what is important. Not what is actually done.

And to think that liberals are intellectuals…. my, how America has changed.

Corbett’s Ten Percent challenge

Looking at the statewide vote results (votes Corbett received compared to votes Jim Cawley received) and at counties where Bob Guzzardi appeared on the ballot opposite governor Tom Corbett, it appears there’s about ten percent of Republican voters who are seriously disaffected with Corbett.

These are the voters who could not bring themselves to vote for Corbett, even while voting for other Republicans, or who actively wrote in alternative names.  York County has a surprisingly high number of about 25%.

Are these the angry Penn Staters, whose murky ghost has been hovering in Corbett’s background since the fictional Louis Freeh report sank the beloved institution known as Joe Paterno, and took down his creation (PSU), too?  Corbett seemed to join in the blaming of Paterno for the predations of Jerry Sandusky, or at least his actions and statements left many Penn Staters wondering if he did. 

Or are these voters associated with some of Corbett’s better known “Oopsy” moments, like personally standing at a lectern, reading glasses and pencil in hand, roll-call strong arming the Republican State Committee into reluctantly endorsing Steve Welch for US Senate. Republican voters later overwhelmingly rejected the very urban, effete Welch, and embraced muddy boots, down to earth coal miner Tom Smith.

Maybe these are voters affiliated with people who were once close to Corbett, but who did not see ‘promises kept’ at the personal level.

It’s impossible now to know exactly who these voters are, and whether or not they can be brought back into the Republican fold in time for November’s general election.  Plenty of polls, voter surveys, and canvassing are going to occur in the coming weeks, in search of the necessary mix of voters to get Corbett into his second term.

One thing is for sure: In Democrat-heavy Pennsylvania, Corbett wins only with a fully unified Republican party behind him. Right now, he’s got real work to do to achieve that.


Today is Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania, and in many other states, too.

I’m working a poll for state senate candidate Scott Wagner, an independent-minded Republican. Across America volunteers like me are working to get fresh faces and new people into office, so we get better government.

Good luck to all those good candidates today!

Voter Access, Public Funding of Private Elections…

I so totally agree with the gist of this opinion piece by our local newspaper of record, the Patriot News:

By Matt Zencey, May 15, 2014

Tuesday is Primary Election Day, and every year when it rolls around, I’m reminded of this unpleasant fact: Tax-paying Pennsylvanians who don’t belong to a political party are forced to help pay for an election in which they are not allowed vote.

You can’t vote for candidates Tuesday unless you are a registered member of a political party that has candidates on the ballot.

I wrote a column last year complaining about this injustice that is inflicted on politically independent Pennsylvanians. It’s a system that isn’t going to change anytime soon, because the power-brokers who make the rules are the same people who benefit from taxpayer subsidies of their party’s candidate selection process.

In last year’s column, I wondered whether this arrangement violates Pennsylvania constitution’s requirement of “free and equal” elections. What’s “equal” about an election, funded by tax dollars, where a duly registered voter has no say in which candidate wins?

Now it’s true, as I wrote back then, that the U.S. Supreme Court clearly says political parties have a First Amendment right to determine who may vote in “their” political primaries.

The question is whether political parties [THAT ARE PRIVATE ENTITIES] have a First Amendment right to force you [THE PUBLIC] to pay for their candidate selection process.

I don’t think so.

If you are going to participate in a primary election that you help pay for, you are forced to affiliate with a political party. That violates your First Amendment rights.

Pennsylvania’s closed primary election delivers a tax-subsidized government benefit to two preferred political organizations – the Democratic and Republican parties.

All of us are paying so they can pick their candidate who will enjoy a huge government privilege – one of two guaranteed spots on the general election ballot. (Pennsylvania law also makes it extraordinarily difficult for a third-party to get its candidates on the ballot.)

It doesn’t have to be this way.

California recently adopted a much fairer primary election system by voter initiative.

All candidates of all parties appear on a ballot available to all registered voters within the relevant district. The top two vote getters move on to the general election in the fall. The winners could be two Republicans, or two Democrats, one of each party. A so-called minor party candidate might even win a spot on the fall ballot.

This way, taxpayers are not forced to subsidize a process that’s stacked in favor of two political parties. And it’s clearly constitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has explicitly saidthat a non-partisan primary that is open to all voters and allocates spots on the general election ballot falls squarely within the First Amendment.

But good luck getting such a system here in Pennsylvania. Unlike in California, the poo-bahs who hold political power in Pennsylvania have denied voters the power to pass their own laws by statewide initiative.

On this one, we have to try to persuade legislators and the governor to do the right thing and reform a system that has put them in power and keeps them there.

I’m not holding my breath.

Matt Zencey is Deputy Opinion Editor of Pennlive and The Patriot-News. Email mzencey@pennlive.com and on Twitter @MattZencey.


Limbaugh wins award, “open-minded” educators show their best censorship

Last night, Rush Limbaugh received the Children’s Choice Book Award for author of the year, for his book “Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims.”

Limbaugh defeated big-name writers Veronica Roth, Rick Riordan, and Jeff Kinney, who wrote “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” which my kids have all enjoyed for years.

Enter the “open-minded” educators across the web, who have much to say about this award going to Limbaugh.

The hate-filled, bigoted comments about author Rush Limbaugh say everything about the commenters and zero about Limbaugh.

“Hate-monger,” “fear – monger,” “foul-mouthed,” “bigot”…

From where do these folks get these ideas about Limbaugh? They have nothing to do with Limbaugh, but they sure appear to describe the commenters, who on every website seek censorship of Limbaugh and his political ideas, because they disagree with them.

Hey, folks, have you actually listened to Limbaugh or actually read his books? Are your opinions about Limbaugh based on what others have told you about him, say, political ideologues who oppose his beliefs? Why don’t you develop an opinion about Limbaugh that is based on your own experience?

And to the lady who wrote that kids are not rushing into her book store to buy the Rush Revere book, but rather it was adults buying it, let me ask you a question:  How many kids actually buy their own books?  Most children’s books are purchased by adults for the kids in their lives, a well-worn tradition by both the liberals and conservatives in my own family who want kids to enjoy reading.

Why are so many liberals so intolerant, and so incapable of allowing other people to speak?  Congratulations to Rush Limbaugh, a guy I agree with and disagree with.

For You, Land Dedication this Sunday

This Sunday at 1:00, in Clark’s Valley, Dauphin County, a wonderful ceremony will be held to dedicate a mile-long stretch of Clark’s Creek to the public.  Sold by Flemish Down LLC at a bargain sale price to the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, the pretty property was then flipped to the PA Fish & Boat Commission so that the public can fish and hunt on it until the next glacier comes through.

I had a hand in it.

I remain confused by fellow Americans who see land conservation as some sort of sinister plot, a “land grab,” and other negative epithets.  These same people have no problem with open land being converted to concrete, a permanent alteration of an otherwise functioning system that spews clean air and water without anyone lifting a finger.  If converting to concrete is good, and maintaining as a functional system supporting human life is bad, then I have to say that logic and reason are not behind the opposition.  These are mutually exclusive perspectives.

Put another way, if open land is bad, and developed land is good, from where do we get our food, water, and air?  Is land really only good and valuable if it has been developed?  Can humans replicate the free air- and water-producing services of open land?  No?

Other benefits of this land protection include stable stream banks, wildlife habitat, scenic beauty, public recreation, and so on.  Thanks to the generous Blum + Cameron family, the public now has a quiet place to picnic, fish, hike, and look at.  Last year we documented dozens of native wildflowers there, and to me, they alone are reason enough to keep this property open; I have yet to meet a human (common, easy to find) who looks or smells as good as a pink lady slipper, trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit, or bluett (all uncommon, hard to find).

BLM giving open land a black eye

The Bureau of Land Management was established as a temporary holding entity, dealing more with water management than common natural resources and the plants and animals living on the land under its care.

Now, BLM has become the poster child of Big Government Gone Wild, using armed force and the threat of lethal force, let alone more prosaic forms of terrifying government coercion, to achieve dubious policy goals.  Many of these policy goals grate on the public, who perceive them as being at best ancillary to BLM’s mission, if not at odds with the multiple-use land management models the agency is supposed to implement.

Citizens, who own their American government, chafe at official signs that say “No Trespassing – BLM Property,” as though the very taxpayers underwriting BLM are alien invaders upon that government-managed ground.

Job #1 would be to actually communicate with the citizenry about the agency’s policy goals, the underpinnings and purpose of its policies, the reasons for protecting some landscapes from vehicles.  Certainly, BLM can achieve better ways to manage environmentally sensitive land, and perhaps asking the citizenry for ideas would take the agency into new, good places.  Many users of federally-managed lands are actually savvy about Leave No Trace, and most others at least care, even if they do not yet know how to minimally impact an area.

BLM’s heavy hand in the supposed name of environmental quality is giving all open land a black eye.  As a result of BLM’s foolish behavior, all kinds of questions are being asked about public land, not just about how it is managed, but why it even exists.  Perhaps it is a good discussion to have, and I certainly stand on the side of having those public spaces, but so far the BLM is just pouring gasoline on the fire, which threatens to overtake all public lands.

Part of any discussion should include What Next about BLM.  The agency has clearly outlived its established purpose.  My instinctive thinking is to divide up its lands among the agencies best suited to manage each piece – National Park Service for this heavily used area, National Forest for this timbered area, and so on.  And no, conveying some of these lands to states is not a bad thing, so long as the deeds carry perpetual stipulations that the lands cannot be sold to private owners or converted to some other use.  Mining, timbering, preservation of historic artifacts, water management, passive and active recreation, scenic beauty, ecological purposes…states can do many of these as well as a federal agency, and all without having snipers in fatigues pointing guns at citizens.

If nothing else, getting rid of BLM to get rid of its ridiculous snipers and armed thug culture is a worthy step.  Not only is that insane behavior unworthy of a representative government, it is unrelated to the purpose of protecting open land in the first place.