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Archive → February, 2017

Anti-Jewish activity in your town? Thank Obama

Over the past week a spate of vandalism and bomb threats against Jewish community facilities and cemeteries nationwide have not only scared people, understandably, but brought out the very worst from within the American Jewish community. Hate to say it.

Yesterday morning I was walking into the Harrisburg JCC at about 10:00 am. It is two blocks from my home and I am a member there; at around ten in the morning the gym is practically vacant. It is perfect time alone for me to do physical therapy on my knee and do some body-wide muscle conditioning. After all, keeping off all the weight I lost in hunting season is only possible if I keep on moving. When the gym is empty, I can do my routine unimpeded.

As I walked into the building, staff told me to turn around and walk out as a bomb threat had been phoned in, and everyone was being sent outside.

What followed over the next twelve hours is simply shameful. Disgusting, really, and self-defeating.

Constant emails, texts, and FakeBook posts from members of the Jewish community flooded in to the newspaper, TV news, and Harrisburg residents, every single one of them blaming Trump and his supporters for the bomb threat. Even today the emails continue to fly, with people blaming “ethnic nationalism,” ie the patriotic pride people like me felt when trump ran and then got elected.

Even US senator Al Franken got in on it, headlining a Democrat fundraising email that somehow found its way to me. Sorry, goofball Franken, I won’t be donating.

There is no evidence that Trump or his voters have anything to do with the vandalism and threats, and yet so many American Jews keep publicly demanding that there is an association.

Folks, if you really want to upset people, keep poking them in the eye. Keep telling them how horrible they are, how racist they are, how antisemitic they are, how “intolerant” they are, when in fact they are none of those things, and in fact are the best friends Jews ever had. At some point you will burn out your fellow American and they will become tired of being unfairly maligned.

The overwhelming proportion of the people making these unfounded accusations are liberal Jews who emphatically embraced Obama, who overlooked all of his failures and bigoted associations. Obama was surrounded socially and professionally by a huge number of proud anti-semites. Not the least of which is his spiritual guide, Jesse Wright, who is also racist against whites.

During the past eight years, under Obama’s disastrous watch, the federal government willfully ignored federal law and allowed millions of illegal aliens to simply walk into America. Some fake notion of fairness was the public excuse, but the private purpose was to artificially bolster Democrat voter rolls with new recruits.

Well, among these illegal invaders are declared Islamic extremists associated with ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Hizbulla. All of these groups have pledged openly to bring destruction to America and to American Jews specifically. What happened over the past week is most likely a result of these kooks beginning to implement their plans. After all, Trump is incredibly supportive of Israel and Jews, and that upsets the kooks more than anything.

And Trump is starting to weed them out, and they know they have to act soon.

So if you are really looking for someone to blame for this spate of anti-Jewish activity, you can blame Obama, the guy who happily allowed the anti-Jewish kooks to walk right in to America.  Either as illegal aliens or as un-vetted refugees from Muslim countries torn apart by intolerance.

The problem is, most American Jews are so liberal that they are committed more to one single political party than they are to their own safety. So they will continue to protect their political allies like Obama, and blame their political opponents, and not their actual, known enemies.

Someone somewhere said Jews are smart. Sorry, I am not buying it. There is nothing more stupid than self-destruction.

UPDATE: At least eight bomb calls and several email threats to Jewish institutions around America were made by one guy, according to the FBI. A young man who was a former reporter is accused of a significant portion of those crimes. Was he a “Trumpie” as my lawyer friend Devon said he would be? Was a he a “white nationalist” as so many others said? The answer is No. The man is a super leftwing black Muslim anti-Trump activist. But hey, at least he votes, so he gets some credit there. But he also appears to be seriously disturbed. How many other threatening calls and emails come from leftists is unknown yet, but it is probably most of them.

How is sexualizing children “open minded”?

For about a decade proponents of “alternative” sexual identities have been increasingly promoting the ideas that sexual identity begins at age four, that government must use its coercive force to promote this, and anyone questioning it is a bigot subject to the greatest displays of public shaming since the Catholic Church’s Inquisition.

After our 2012 primary campaign for state senate, in which the PA GOP gerrymandered me out of the senate district at the last second, and the state supreme court put me back in at the last second, and we went on to do extremely well and change the outcome of the race, a lot of us spent time on FakeBook lamenting the outcome but enjoying the policy debate shift in our direction.

One of the policy subjects was sexual identity, which in that debate quickly was posed as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition by one side. Anyone who similarly stuck to their guns on the other side, usually due to religious beliefs, was mob attacked and accused as a “bigot.”

In that debate, one unanswered question kept coming up, and that was why so many activists believe it is necessary to discuss sex with little kids, tiny children, not their kids but the children of other people, who traditionally have been shielded from sexual subjects for obvious reasons.

This question is up front again, in light of a recent National Geographic magazine cover that invaded our home a few months ago, and in light of recent comments by reporter Chris Cuomo.

National Geographic magazine recently posed a small child on its cover, with the title that sexual identity is fluid and begins at a very young age. How this pertains to geography is a question unanswered by NatGeo.

Last week Chris Cuomo stated matter of factly on public television that if a twelve year old girl does not want to see a penis in the locker room, then “she is not open minded enough.”

Added into the mix here is the recently debated idea that men, women, children should all share the same bathrooms simultaneously, taking hold in some places and being soundly rejected in others.

I cannot help but ask: Why do children now have to be sexualized?

How is this being construed as being open minded?

Why is there no safe space for little kids to retain their innocence?

What does someone truly need in all this, or is it just an adult fantasy playing out as a legitimate policy issue?

Sexuality is powerful, it is potent, it is dangerous, and it can be toxic when misused. Why are some adults getting away with sexualizing our children in the name of being “open minded”?

And how are protective parents like me ‘bigots’ if we reject this notion as anything but poorly masked pedophilia?

I am a protective parent because I love my children. Like all children, mine deserve to be kids, to have kid thoughts, to be left alone from the adult world of politics, especially identity politics. Yes, I understand that many gay people felt different at pretty young ages, usually around twelve or thirteen, and I have two gay friends who did not know they were different until they were eighteen years old. But what does this have to do with someone else’s kids?

Do you really believe that your interest in my kid’s welfare is greater than my interest? And do you really believe that this entitles you to talk to my children about sex, graphic sex?

I have to admit that this whole idea makes me angry, because I feel like I am watching mass pedophilia unfold in front of my eyes, and the force of political correctness is so strong that normal, healthy, good people, good parents, are being damaged and mowed down by bullies in control of government force, while simply trying to protect their children’s (my children’s) innocence.

If a tolerant guy like me is starting to feel this way, then I can only imagine that a lot of other Americans are feeling a lot more upset. This does not bode well for true and honest tolerance for adult behavior among consenting adults, which has unfortunately become part and parcel of an open war against childhood innocence and on children. Either you stand with the kids, or you stand against them.

National Geographic and Chris Cuomo are against all kids, against my kids. Duly noted.

Tyranny by Ten

This Tuesday, two and a half days ago, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals created a new law about guns and gun ownership in America out of thin air and completely contradicting recent US Supreme Court decisions the lower courts are bound to follow

If you want to see why citizens’ faith in the judiciary branch has declined, this bizarre decision is the best latest example.

It is gross over-reach far exceeding the court’s authority, and nullifying all of the judicial precedent litigated and decided before by the highest court.

Recall that judges cannot make up law.

They are fully bound by precedent.

They cannot make up policies.

They cannot come to a conclusion that is outside the subject of what has been litigated in front of them.

They cannot second-guess Congress.

They cannot ask what personal motives were behind a president’s executive order.

It does not matter what a judge personally thinks. None of this is supposed to enter into a judge’s ruling. When it does, the ruling is meaningless garbage.

Judges can only interpret the laws that are passed by Congress and signed by the President, or the state equivalent. That is it. That is their sole scope and ability.

At their most precise and honest moment, judges simply determine if a law is Constitutional, or not, or if it needs to go back to the state or federal legislative branch for re-work.

Brazen activism like this week’s decision serves only to undermine the judiciary, not strengthen it, because people will either utterly ignore these wayward judges, or they will seek to have them removed from their office, for good cause. Or both.

I myself do not feel bound by this illegal decision, and I will not comply with it no matter who says I must. These ten judges-gone-wild do not outweigh the collective decisions of the populace. If this court wants my guns, the authors of this decision can come to my home and try to take them away.

Come and (try to) take them!

In this particular instance of judicial malfeasance, ten of the court’s fourteen judges decided on their own that a new legal test was needed, a test that had never been used before by Congress, by the framers, the Constitution, or prior courts.

These ten judges decided to call it the “weapons of war” test, and they simply state that the Second Amendment never intended for American citizens to possess “weapons of war,” which according to these judges include the basic AR-15 rifles that are commonly used to hunt coyotes every week across the nation. Never mind that this new test would have eliminated from their personal possession the very military grade guns the American Patriots used to defeat the British.

But obviously logic is not of concern to these judges. The language of the majority decision and supporting decision is florid, full of political and emotional hyperbole, uses sophomoric logic and impolitic language (“the American people deserve a break”), and is simply disconnected from Constitutional text or legal precedent.

It is the equivalent of my kids saying “So, there!” in an argument.

But wait, there’s more!

Beyond being merely political, the majority bizarrely state that the decision is consistent with the US Supreme Court’s Heller decision, when it is in fact completely contradictory. Talk about shades of Orwell’s “1884,” where up is down, black is white, etc.

This is not a legal decision, it is a political decision.  It is a bold, defiant “I dare ya!” act by ten radical politicians wearing sombre black robes. And it is not just about guns. This decision is about rogue, out-of-control judges destroying the fabric of our Republic, which was not designed to turn over all issues to the judiciary, as if they make our every decision for us. This court throws the whole delicate machine of democracy out of kilter.

These judges are anti-democracy, plain and simple. They want a certain policy outcome, and because they cannot get it legitimately, legally, through the established legislative process, they simply want to wave a magic wand and make it so.

As much as this illegal decision shocks me, I do have to thank these judges, because they have outed themselves. By engaging in such egregious over-reach, illegally reaching deep into the realms of policy and law, they have willingly exposed themselves as frauds deserving of the most serious correction our system of government allows for – removal from the bench.

Now it is up to those American citizens who want to ‘drain the swamp’ and reclaim American government so that it serves We The People, to remove these anti-democracy activists from their sacred judicial roles. We can push to have them impeached or removed administratively.

Either way will do. Tyranny by ten cannot stand. We the People demand our rights.

 

Milo for Prez

One of the enduring qualities of the opposition is they forget everything wrong, bad, unethical, immoral and illegal that their own people have committed, while aggressively holding their political opponents to the very highest standards.

Our side has allowed this unequal, asymmetrical relationship to endure for decades. It is like fighting with one hand tied behind your back.

Traveling in a car with a Democrat friend yesterday, he surprised us both with his admission that he was unaware that Hillary Clinton had cheated during the primary and general election debates. He did not know or recall that CNN staff had actually helped Clinton cheat, or that DNC leaders had helped Clinton cheat. He just honestly didn’t remember.

Not that he is a huge Hillary fan. But can you imagine a Republican presidential candidate getting caught cheating on his landscaping, much less during a presidential debate? My God the world would end, the calls for his/her incineration, termination, public execution at dawn etc would be overwhelming. How Un-Presidential would that be! But noot a chirp from the media or a mea culpa from Hillary, the DNC or her supporters. Nope, nothing but closed ranks in the pursuit of success.

Enter into our political contest the flamboyant, flippant provocateur Milo Yiannapoulos, an indefatigable champion of free speech, neon feathered boas, and deliberately push-button words and phrases meant to challenge toxic Political Correctness at every turn.

Milo has made his mark on American politics by fearlessly challenging stupid sacred cows and meaningless PC no-go zones. Everyone who believes the First Amendment means what it says owes him a big thanks.

Milo’s enduring qualities are not always his most endearing, in that he frequently chooses to be bombastic bordering on absurd. That opponents of free speech\ proponents of government speech control get wound up tight and publicly explode in fiery riots is evidence that Milo’s approach is correct.

Recently Milo gleefully made his usual off-the-cuff remarks about sex, including gay sex, that nearly sounded like he was endorsing pedophilia between men and teenage boys.

“Nearly sounded” because as Milo has pointed out, his words can be easily parsed to create that conclusion, which he says he rejects.  Naturally our political opponents are asserting that this is exactly what he meant, because they know that this is exactly what Milo’s own supporters cannot stand. It does not matter that the Left couldn’t care a whit about pedophilia and in fact promotes it at every turn. Take actress Meryl Streep’s recent public defense and promotion of child rapist Roman Polanski. Now THAT is promoting pedophilia, but Hollywood, the media establishment et al all rallied around her without question or remorse. But if Milo can be smeared with the accusation, it’s a huge pile-on, and not even Milo is enjoying it.

Hey, wake the hell up.

If we advocates of truth and freedom are going to be throwing our own soldiers overboard every time there is some sort of blood spilt in the battle, then we will lose the battle. David Horowitz pointed this out yesterday: Conservatives are always purging their own ranks at the slightest impression of incorrect act, while our opponents couldn’t give a hoot what they do (US Congressman Barney Frank ran a gay prostitution ring out of his home and possibly his congressional office, apparently involving underage boys, but never was even challenged by his own party for it, or even by the media, and thus he happily stayed in office for many years thence). And that right there is why they keep winning the culture war. They are in it to win.

We seem to be in it to pull the Monty Python public mass suicide act just before winning the battle.

I myself am in it to win for my side, which is the side of liberty.

I do not believe Milo is a pedophile nor do I think he condones pedophilia. I have kids and if I thought he advocated for pedophilia, I’d drop my support for him. Rather, I recognize that Milo is a major target of the Left, and they will seek to destroy him just as they destroyed General Flynn and are seeking to destroy other Trump supporters and staff. They use his strengths and weaknesses against him.

Forget it. We need Milo. he’s a good guy. Support him. I am.

When Living Inside the Wall Hurts

The past four weeks have seen more press and media activity and political activism than in all eight years of Obama’s presidency.

Nothing Trump does goes unanswered by media activists and political interests, who have thrown up a wall of fire around the new administration and even his supporters and family members.

Trump’s presidency threatens a whole array of comfortably long established way of doing things, as well as an entrenched bureaucracy exercising increasing amounts of undue, unauthorized decision making authority.

Reading online comments by friends and article readers makes one thing clear: The universal agreement that is Political Correctness has severely damaged some people’s ability to act, think critically, think creatively, problem solve, empathize, sympathize, or recognize cold reality.

Examples abound, such as the savagely violent anti-Trump, anti-free speech riots that are described as “peaceful protests” by the mainstream media. Or the willful unwillingness of the mainstream media to discuss or pass judgment on Hillary Clinton’s debate cheating, aided by senior CNN employees, a historic event that should be in every American history book going forward. By cheating, Hillary stole the Democrat nomination from Bernie Sanders, and what she couldn’t win with cheating she got through un-elected “superdelegates” owned by Hillary’s financial buddies.

All of this should have been front page news every day of the campaign, but the mainstream media and their friends in academia hushed it all up, ignored it, hid it, declined to talk about it. Instead, they spent all their time shooting at Trump.

For the average Hillary supporter on the ground, everything appeared to confirm their views. They naturally self-selected to only hear and read the information they wanted to hear and read, and so they became confused when the election worked out so differently. The mainstream media and academia remain even now closed loops, playing and replaying the same information over and over.

That right there is a liability, that wall of disinformation surrounding and entrapping so many Democrats. Some call this an “echo chamber,” while others call it “drinking the Kool Aid” meant to dupe the mindless followers, and thus becoming duped oneself. Any way you look at it, Political Correctness has severely damaged about half the nation’s ability to see and understand reality. It is a liability that should be eliminated, in the interest of an educated, informed electorate.

Oh the rich irony of pseudo intellectual Noam Chomsky decrying the “manufacture of consent,” when it is his own political chums who have manufactured the false consent artificially driving Hillary’s followers.

While there is no let-up in the partisan mainstream media circus surrounding Trump – did he look up? Did he look down? Did he say the instead of that, and does it mean he is Satan, or just plain old evil  – true intellectuals, free thinkers, open-minded Americans can easily free their chained minds by reading from alternative information and opinion sources. This open-mindedness is what once captured hearts and enervated a free speech movement at the University of Berkeley, California, decades ago. Yes, the same place that is now home to PC students who are quoted in the news as telling conservatives and independents to “leave here, because we are all about diversity here. You don’t belong here.”

And that young lady doesn’t understand the joke is on her, as millions of Americans recoil in disgust. Her political movement is hurt by the appearance of universal agreement, when in fact it is really just the mainstream media and academia as the little men behind the curtain, and a whole other world of exciting ideas and accurate facts await the open-minded outside the wall.

Judge Barb Pianka: Savior of my Universe

If all politics are local, then there is nothing more important to the voters than the person dispensing the most justice in their neighborhood and immediate community.

Here in Pennsylvania, and in most of the country, district magistrates handle dog law violations, jay-walking, etc. The “little stuff” that can either clog up a justice system, or in the alternative, be ignored, thereby clogging up society with evil malcontents wreaking havoc on peaceable citizens.

Here in Uptown Harrisburg, we have an oasis. In our cozy oasis there is a historic neighborhood with beautiful stone homes, some big, some small, Italian Lake Park, wide streets, lots of mature trees, and friendly people who work for a living. Back yard gardens, manicured flower beds, big trees. It really is a small universe, in which so many of us toil for the benefit of the larger community. After all, it is this kind of neighborhood that is home to real, live, breathing taxpayers. In a school district like Harrisburg City, run by the state, home values are typically depressed as people with money flee so their taxes are not stolen and misused. So Uptown is rare, and worth shielding and protecting.

But what happens if we see a district magistrate elected who believes up is down? Who believes in politicizing basic judicial decisions? Who believes in using the seat as a bully pulpit for bigger issues. It has happened before, and when it happens, equal justice suffers. Then, those who can afford to flee, flee.

And this is why Judge Barbara Pianka is so important to Uptown Harrisburg, and why she must be re-elected. Presently she is in a primary race against two or three other candidates.

Barb Pianka is a level-headed, steady, non-political professional, and a known commodity here in Uptown. Barb has taken a firm hand with the appropriate people when it is called for, and she has relented and been lenient when she sees an opportunity for the perpetrator’s personal growth.

Dispensing justice the right way, as Barb does, keeps our community safe, and Uptown specifically.  Barb has done a great job, she has never been accused of malfeasance, and she should win her primary election race.

Citizens here cannot afford a change, and we cannot afford the two alternatives seeking to unseat Pianka. Let’s be honest about these two young men: One of them is a total newcomer to Harrisburg, which makes him seem like a political opportunist in this race. Where has he been the past ten years? He has no ties or roots here, and he has no measurable commitment to our community.

The second candidate is someone who runs a dog care business in Midtown. While I admire almost anyone who runs a business, this young man has had very little professional experience, and he appears to me to embrace radical politics. The last thing we need or deserve here is radical politics, where the dispensation of justice is racialized, warped, and filtered through a world view where everyone “black” is a victim, and everyone “white” is an oppressor.

Barb Pianka is a steady hand at the bench. Let’s re-elect her this Spring and protect our little universe here in Uptown Harrisburg.

 

The Lure of a Two-Barreled Rifle

Double rifles are becoming all the rage now. Once the province of the geekiest of gun nerds and the quietest collectors of oddball firearms, double rifles are now being rapidly bought up around the world, and especially in America. Once the top producer of top quality rifles, Britain is now hemorrhaging nearly all its best rifles to America.

With an abundance of bolt action (Remington Model 700), lever action (Winchester 94), and pump action (Remington 760) rifles shooting up to five bullets in a dizzying array of calibers available to North American big game (deer, elk, moose and bear) hunters, why would a rifle with just two shots be more attractive?

It’s that last word that probably lures more men, especially, into owning and hunting with double barreled rifles: “attractive.”

Look at all of the rusty junk that guys accumulate around them as they stultify through life.  These are objects “highly attractive” to guys, like all sorts of edged weapons, and especially knives, and guns. They are attractive not just by how they look, though many have been carefully and artistically engraved and adorned, but also because each object feels right when hefted in the hand. That feeling is translated into the aesthetics of weapons, but it comes from a place deep inside a guy’s pea-sized brain.

Not that the average guy needs 367 knives, but the caveman hunter in him will not let him ignore yet another perfected blend of form and function immediately evident to the grip-hand of so many top-quality knives. So he must have it, and he will buy it, because it feels right, and it looks right. And so it is with guns, especially hunting guns, especially the apex of hunting guns – double rifles, are where the felt symbolism goes beyond imaginary defense or opening bills after dinner, but rather toward feeding the family and tribe.

A North American hunter puts in more work, more effort, more time, and more money chasing big game than he or she will see in return, in terms of financial value. For all the money a good gun and even a “free” day afield on Game Lands, you can buy 20 pounds of prime steak at Giant.

This is because hunting, with a good gun, creates that rare combination of core purpose plus purpose-made tool in hand to carry through the core purpose. In today’s tepid, desultory, video game-infested, lazy, fat, low-T western society, few opportunities exist to feel so alive as this moment of hunting. The knife is a short term substitute, when you can’t get out and hunt. But when you do get out and hunt, it actually feels good to have kit you know is up to the task. Double rifles are innately attractive because they feel ready for use.

A double rifle is the most purpose-made gun you can find. Single shots are the least so, despite a crazed following of late-to-the-party buffalo hunters and Civil War reenactor sharpshooters running amok today in period clothing.

A double barreled rifle is clearly made for a no-fail hunt, where that all-important first shot has an immediate followup that should not err. With your cheek firmly welded to the stock, your eyes follow the quarry through the thick timber as it tries to put distance between it and you. You might have over-shot the first time, but you didn’t have to lift your head from the gun to reload, or to try and see where it went. Rather, your eyes stayed glued on it the whole time, and you pulled the rear trigger….

Hey, you, why are you so close to a wild animal? Why not use a plastic stocked stainless steel rifle with a 600X magnification scope, and just snipe your quarry from a mile away? I won’t do this, and you should not do this, because it is not hunting. This sort of activity is really just an assassination. Actual hunting involves good woodcraft, knowledge of your quarry, and hard work. Using a basic mechanical rifle requires you to get close to the animal, close enough to scare it away. Close enough to make a careful shot under pressure, and actually earn the kill.

Sure, lots of double rifles were from bespoke makers, made to custom order for wealthy men and women, but even 125 years later they still function flawlessly, which tells us everything we would ask about the quality of “Best” grade firearms. They are not effete, or wimpy. The nicest ones have loads of engraving and are beautiful to look at, art in steel and wood.

But in the end, it is feeling that honed purpose of the second immediate shot that is so alluring, the knowledge that by staying steady on the second shot, if not on the first, it will earn one an honest meal and a lot of genuine satisfaction as a real hunter.

And that is why Americans are squabbling over antique guns now. They want to get back to having a satisfactory hunt and experience afield.

“Jews For America”! Have the cavalry arrived?

Occasionally someone else’s writing gets posted here, either because it should be seen more, or because I could not say it better myself. Here is a unique one, a statement from the group “Jews For America.”

Think on that. That some American Jews even see the need to say this about themselves is quite a statement, and it is happy evidence that not all is lost in the American Jewish world.

Jews For America

Immigration Statement

For Immediate Release

Contact: Rabbi Aryeh Spero 

(212) 252-6861  rabbispero@yahoo.com

New York, February 6, 2017 — Rabbi Aryeh Spero, spokesman for Jews For America, stated today:

“We support and commend President Trump for following through on his campaign pledge to protect the American people by stemming migration into this country from high-risk places posing a security threat to America and Americans. Beyond doubt, it is the first and most important duty of a President, or any leader, to protect the lives of a country’s citizens, especially where a possibility exists of terrorists being embedded within a particular immigration flow.

“Securing a country’s borders until a more fool-proof method of vetting is established is unassailable and vital, especially in light of how in Europe and here in America lax vetting has resulted in horrendous explosions and deaths of dozens of innocent people as seen, for example, in Orlando, St. Bernardino, Columbus, Paris, Nice, Berlin, Boston, and Barcelona, as well as other places infiltrated by terrorist plants within certain immigrant groups.  Some unvetted or poorly vetted migrants or their offspring may possess ideological and religious hostility to Americans and our way of life and our laws. Saving lives of American citizens is a religious, historic and civic duty.

“There is no parallel between the Jews who fled Europe in the 1930s, who were, as Jews, specific targets for death and Nazi concentration camps, and many today wishing to escape civil war and turmoil in their Mideast countries. There were no Nazi agents embedded within the fleeing Jews nor did any of the Jews harbor a cultural or religious ideology wishing to sew physical destruction on the American people. There were no rabbis in the 1930s sending forth commands worldwide to destroy the ‘infidels’.

“Many initial roll-outs are subject to some confusion and mishaps; however, we believe that protecting a country’s borders and thereby its citizens is an age-old and reasonable imperative as demonstrated in Scripture, which warns of the need to be wary ‘Lest those that may be your enemy enter your domain and become thorns in your sides and pins in your eyes’.

“Hopefully the situation will one day change, but until then, we applaud President Trump for doing what is in the best interests of the American people.”

The Pope is Your Man

If you live in Europe, North America, or South America, you are greatly influenced by the Pope in Rome.

Whether you know it or not, the Pope is usually going to bat for you every day. You don’t have to be Jewish to like rye bread, and you don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate and value the Pope, who fills a unique role for all humans.

While it is true that Roman Catholics have a special role for the Pope/Papacy in their theology, a role that non-Catholics find tough to accept, the fact is the Pope is the West’s leading voice on morality, charity, gentleness, kindness, and the other positive little acts that knit together our civilization.  At his best he is a public advocate for all the important little things between people that are right and true, necessary for happiness on our planet. In that way, the Pope is your man.

Over the past 1,500 years popes have played varying roles in politics and the advancement of civilization as we have come to know and treasure it today. Some were better or worse than others. A few were truly bad, and quite a few were truly great leaders.  The Church built much of Europe’s civilization (some of it built with money stolen through the Inquisition, the Church’s darkest time), and we all have gratitude for that stable society we now enjoy.

The pope we have today is pretty controversial, and I will admit I am not his biggest fan right now. Oh sure he says a lot of things that are important for all humans to hear, and I value that. But he also says things publicly and quietly does a lot within the Church that are contrary to how our civilization works.

Gentle critics ascribe this to his South American slum “liberation theology” and his Jesuit training. Harsh critics, including some of my most religiously observant Catholic friends, are much more blunt about their dis-satisfaction. I won’t repeat any of it here, but I will admit to missing very much the somewhat recently departed Pope John Paul, a really inspirational leader and powerful voice for goodness and right action across the planet.

Dear Pope, I hope you find your voice, because it is a voice for all of us. I am not Catholic, but I am a human who benefits from you when you are at your finest. Hurry up, please.

A Murder of Crows

My two greatest thrills in the outdoors are native wildflowers, like the trilliums and pink ladyslippers, and native birds, like grouse, turkey, woodcock, wood ducks, and various migratory songbirds.

All of these flowers and birds are under pressure under the best of circumstances, and in many places they are succumbing to that pressure because of artificial factors.

Native wildflowers are naturally browsed by deer, and increasingly collected by people who sell rare plants (and animals). If deer herds are balanced with the carrying capacity of the landscape and surrounding habitat, then the plant colonies can sustain the browsing. The collecting is usually illegal, involving sneaky trespass on private property and violating state law and regulation when done on public land. It is totally unsustainable.

When it comes to my favorite birds, the usual pressures of predation or hunting are hardly a factor in their population success. What is a growing factor is the impact of ground mammals on ground nesting birds, including all of my favorites above and others like more common ducks.

Ground mammals like raccoons, possums, skunks, fox and coyote have a natural place in the natural world, but humans have so greatly altered that natural world that some of these animal populations are disproportionately growing and having disproportionate impacts on other wildlife.

Exhibit A is low density suburban sprawl type residential home development, relatively large home lots in the one to five -acre range.

Low-density suburban sprawl residential development is now the ground zero for artificially high numbers of skunks, possums, and raccoons. Sprawl development provides perfect backyard habitat for these predators to breed and den, but these back yards are too small to hunt or trap effectively or legally.  So these burgeoning and unchecked predator populations keep pulsing out into surrounding farmland and forest. In those more stable habitats, these artificially high predator numbers wreak havoc on the other species who live there, notably my favorite birds, which happen to be ground nesters.

Ground nesting birds are highly susceptible to nest disturbance and egg loss when they are surrounded by artificially high populations  of skunks, raccoons, and possums. In many areas ground nesting birds are experiencing dramatic population declines because they simply cannot nest long enough to hatch a brood of chicks, or the chicks cannot survive predation long enough to develop flight, so they can escape from otherwise slow moving predators like skunks and possums. Adding to the challenge for ground nesting birds is the dearth of brush and young forest which provide the best places to hide a nest on the ground. Most farms today are devoid of brush, and “select cut” high-grade logging has ruined most private forests, while anti-conservation activists decry aggressive forest management on public lands. Brush and young forests are nearly a rarity today, despite serving as nature’s best habitat.

Yesterday I got into one of those internet debates most normal people avoid. It centered on allegedly real photos of a flying mature eagle with a talon stuck in a foothold trap, posted on Lancaster Online. Lancaster Online is run by politically partisan legacy media staff, and it is a huge source of fake news and alternate facts. So when I saw there the photo of a completely closed foot hold trap, with not even a tiny jaw spread to accommodate the eagle’s foot, it looked like yet more fake news and I posted comments.

As you might imagine, a murder of crows of sorts descended upon the article, and upon me, and upon any other poster who either questioned the facts as presented in the article, or who promoted trapping.

Crows are natural enemies of eagles and other raptors. Crows are huge nest raiders, eating baby bird chicks whole right out of the nest. In the context of the Lancaster Online article, the crows took human form: Animal rights promoters, PETA advocates, anti-trapping and anti-conservation voices.

Like with a surrounding pack of crows (called a “murder”) wildly harassing a lone eagle in a tree, the loudly hysterical anti-trapping commenters immediately invoked emotional appeals, personal attacks, lies, advocacy for trespassing, leash-less dogs, and private property theft and destruction. None of them made any sense. None were based on fact, though it is true that occasionally an animal in a trap gets hurt (never mind that every single one of those hypocritical commenters has a direct hand in wildlife death and destruction).

I responded frequently there, and was answered by a surrounding murder of crows, loudly cawing, squawking, screaming, wildly flapping their wings and leaping from tree to tree. Pretty funny to watch, because not one commenter there debated wildlife biology, habitat, etc. Only emotional appeals mostly based on lies and fake news were presented. Lots of hysteria, not much reasoning.

And that right there is why I trap, dear reader.

There are too damned many cantankerous crows, skunks, possums and raccoons eating all of the really cool, cute, useful little birds I enjoy so much. I haven’t sold a pelt since I was a kid. Instead, today I trap to thin out the populations of the destructive ground predators so that the defenseless animals they eat have at least a sitting chance.

As for the eagle photographed flying around Lancaster County with its talon caught in the foothold trap, I have pledged fifty dollars toward its rehabilitation, if it is caught alive. And I want to personally inspect the trap rig, because what is seen in the photos makes no sense. One commenter, a trapper, noted it appeared to be an illegal trap specifically set to catch a raptor, like the eagle, in which case this subject isn’t about trapping, it is about illegal wildlife poaching.

But you’d never know that from the deafening screaming and cawing and flapping from the uncaring, unthinking, hostile, mob-like murder of crows.

UPDATE: 2/8/17 4:30 pm “Just received a call from PGC Director Matt Hough. Matt informed me that the eagle/trap incident was a true event. Fortunately, PA Game Commission officers were able to capture the eagle and remove the trap. There was no damage to the talon. The eagle was released and flew away with no impairment as a result of the incident. Matt did not have any information as to the individual responsible for the trap,” from an email sent to me this afternoon.