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Fifty years of designated wilderness

Two weeks ago marked the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act.

It applies to federal designation of remote areas, not to states. States can create their own wild areas, and some do. States closest to human populations and land development seem to also be most assertive about setting aside large areas for people and animals to enjoy.

I enjoy wilderness a lot. Hunting, camping, hiking, fishing, and exploring are all activities I do in designated wilderness.

Every year I hunt Upstate New York’s Adirondack Mountains, in a large designated wilderness area. Pitching a tent miles in from the trail head, the only person I see is a hunting partner. Serenity like that is tough to find unless you already live in northern Vermont, Maine, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming or Alaska. It’s a valuable thing, that tranquility.

This summer my young son sat in my lap late at night, watching shooting stars against an already unbelievably starry sky. Loons cried out all around us. A gentle breeze rustled the leaves on the birch trees above us and caused the lake to lap against our rocky shore.

Only by driving a long way north, and then canoeing on a designated wilderness lake, and camping on a designated wilderness island in that lake, were we able to find such peace and quiet. No one else was anywhere around us. We were totally alone, with our camp fires, firewood chores, fishing rods, and deep sleeps in the cold tent.

These are memories likely to make my son smile even as he ages and grapples with responsibilities and challenges of adulthood. We couldn’t do it without wilderness.

Wilderness is a touchstone for a frontier nation like America. Wilderness equals freedom of movement, freedom of action. The same sort of freedoms that instigated insurrection against the British monarchy. American frontiersmen became accustomed to individual liberty unlike anything seen in Western Civilization. They enshrined those liberties in our Constitution.

Sure, there are some frustrations associated with managing wilderness.

Out West, wilderness designation has become a politicized fight over access to valuable minerals under the ground. Access usually involves roads, and roads are the antithesis of a wild experience.

Given the large amount of publicly owned land in the West, I cannot help but wonder if there isn’t some bartering that could go on to resolve these fights. Take multiple use public land and designate it as wilderness, so other areas can responsibly yield their valuable minerals. Plenty of present day public land was once heavily logged, farmed, ranched, and mined, but those scars are long gone.

You can hike all day in a Gold Mine Creek basin and find one tiny miner’s shack from 1902. All other signs have washed away, been covered up by new layers of soil, etc. So there is precedent for taking once-used land and letting it heal to the point where we visitors would swear it is pristine.

Out East, where we have large hardwood forests, occasionally, huge valuable timber falls over in wilderness areas, and the financially hard-pressed locals could surely use the income from retrieving, milling, and selling lumber from those trees. But wilderness rules usually require such behemoths to stay where they lay, symbols of an old forest rarely seen anywhere today. They can be seen as profligate waste, I understand that. I also understand that some now-rare salamanders might only make their homes under these rotting giant logs, and nowhere else.

Seeing the yellow-on-black body of the salamander makes me think of the starry night sky filled with shooting stars. A rare thing of beauty in a world full of bustle, noise, voices, and concrete. For me, I’ll take the salamander.

Scottish vote is instructive of changing identities around the world; is PA ready? Is USA ready?

A majority of Scots voted yesterday to not rock their world, not screw up their currency, not throw 300 years of cultural, financial, and military entanglement with Britain into a complete mess.

So although there was a sizable groundswell of independent-minded identity, about 45%, more Scots (55%) believed that the change was not worth the inevitable costs.  That 55% may indeed share the same cultural identity and passion for change as the 45%, but they believe that the price was too high.

Fair enough.  It is understandable.  Reasonable people can disagree about these things. After all, Scotland will still be Scotland, with a common language, culture, and identity.  And British lawmakers made clear concessions in recent days that will only strengthen and enhance Scotland’s sense of separate identity and self-determination, so the mere threat of separation gained new, valuable rights.

But Scotland goes to show that there is a sweeping change around the world, including in America, where changing identities are tugging at frayed social fabrics.  Eventually, these frays will become tears, whether we like it or not.

A good indication of this cultural change happened right here in America this past Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Constitution Day in America, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that American students could be denied their First Amendment right to wear shirts with the American flag on “Cinco de Mayo Day” in California.

Citing fears that Hispanic gangs in certain California government-run schools would see the American flag as intolerant of their Hispanic identities, an instigation to violence, a school principal, and subsequently one of the highest courts in the land (ain’t that the truth) decided that American citizens must be barred from wearing the flag of our nation, America, on their clothes.

On just that one day.

Needless to say, that an American court would conclude such a violent attack on our free speech rights is OK in the first place is incredible, especially when it involves wearing our national flag.

That a court would cite potential violence by criminals, many of whom are not American citizens, as a reason to deny American citizens their free speech rights is a whole other thumb in the eye.  It is not legal reasoning but rather giving in to mob rule.

That the court decision was given on Constitution Day really highlights the symbolic meaning and significance of this event.  The court is either tone deaf or purposefully showing its disdain for our guiding light.

It really marks a widening cultural identity gap increasingly growing in America, as it is growing in parts of Spain (Basques), France (half the planet is still French-occupied), Syria (Kurds, Sunni vs Shia Muslims), Iraq (Kurds, Sunni vs Shia Muslims), Turkey (Kurds), Argentina (Falklands, occupied by Britain), and so on.

In each of these locations, there are large groups of people who believe that the present government is actually working against their interests, not for their interests.  They want a government that they believe is representative of them, their needs, identities.

Come what may of these various separation movements, many of which have turned into open civil war, what concerns me is what this portends for Americans.

One poll this week shows that one in four Americans support some sort of secession or breakup of America.

Some states, like Alaska, Montana, and Texas, already have large secessionist movements or large population segments who want Republic status either restored, or instituted.

At some point these different intellectual disagreements will result in actual, physical disagreements, usually known as civil strife or civil war.  As much as this terrifies me and anyone else who enjoys the relative tranquility and opportunity America now enjoys, it is a fact that such events are part of human history.  They are probably inevitable.

When the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals hands down a patently ridiculous ruling like this one, to satisfy some small group of people who threaten violence against otherwise Constitutional behavior, you can be damned sure that a much larger group of actual Americans take notice, and they begin to see their nation a lot differently than they did, say, on Tuesday of this week.

If threats of violence by alien invaders can suppress our Constitutional rights, then what the hell does our Constitution really mean? Has it now become meaningless? Will threats of violence by other groups, alien or native, gain sufficient legal traction to suppress other Constitutional rights, too?  Will or could threats of regional insurrection or violence against alien invaders result in similar court holdings that the Second Amendment no longer has standing there?

Can anyone imagine what that would then mean to tens of millions of law-abiding American citizens, whose otherwise legal ownership of plain vanilla firearms had suddenly overnight become criminalized.  Like people using the Internet to promote their ideas, those Americans would use their guns before they would lose them.  Surely here in Pennsylvania that is true.

America’s Constitution is what binds us all together.  It is the great equalizer, the super glue that keeps America’s different, pulsing forces together.

Behind this week’s 9th Circuit decision is a morally relativist, multiculturalist mindset that places first priority on vague feelings of separate ethnic pride above and beyond the limits on government and expansive freedoms for citizens granted in the Constitution.  To this court, government is an enforcer for grievances and hurt feelings; the Constitution is irrelevant in how that enforcement is carried out.

Pennsylvania is undergoing quiet but dramatic demographic change, similar to many other states, including California and New York.  These same sorts of issues and questions are about to descend upon us.  Do we Pennsylvanians have the quality leaders necessary to keep us bound all together in one identity?

Or do we have elected leaders and courts who are willing to inject anarchy and civil strife in the name of a perverted sense of justice, what Hell may come as a result?

Obama & Bill Clinton officially embrace imperialism, then poormouth liberty, independence, and freedom

As anyone paying any attention to politics already knew, neither Barack Hussein Obama nor Bill Clinton are committed to liberty, freedom, or independence, and like the good power-hungry statists they are, they openly embrace imperialism and military occupation.  When it serves their interests.

Today the mainstream media prominently ran two statements, one by each man.

Each statement began with a dissembling lie about how neither Obama nor Clinton really have anything to say about Scotland’s wish for independence from the mis-named “United Kingdom.”

You know, kind of a disarming warmup for the dagger-in-the-chest that is coming right behind it.

You know, they support the “united Kingdom” that was only united through Britain’s imperialism, deceptive diplomacy, military conquests, occupation, land theft, genocide and ethnic cleansing, and religious totalitarianism.

After the blase disclaimer, each man then goes on to say that Scotland should not become independent from its longtime foe, occupier, and vampire-like neighbor, England aka Britain, home of the Britons (not the Scots).

Both Clinton and Obama provide generic and vague sentimentalist goo as their supporting argument.  Both rely on some version of “We know you don’t like it, but it really is best for you, the little people.”

See, Scotland owns a lot of oil and gas fields that will instantly give it financial independence from Britain, which in turn may become the weak sister, not the domineering exporter of bad TV and cute Cockney accents it is now.

I vote for freedom for Scotland.  I vote for independence from Britain, like we Americans have. I vote for liberty from Britain’s insane laws that have turned justice upside down.

If anyone from Scotland reads this, please know that we Americans love our independence from the damned British, and we hope you do, too.

Some Westerners still adore Imperialism despite their protestations

If there is one hotbed of kooky political extremism in Western Civilization, it’s England.

As it was in the 1920s and 1930s, England is full of self-proclaimed “peace” activists and anti-imperialism yellers and screamers.

Their weak righteousness brought on World War II, and paved the way for massive treasonous infiltration of English government at all levels.

Many Soviet Russian spies were warmly welcomed by these activists to set up shop and undermine the individual rights and liberties that mark the strongest European democracy.

Anti-British sentiment ran and still runs quite deep in Wales, Ireland, Scotland, the Falklands, and many other far-flung places unassociated with England proper.

Yet where were those activists then, when those nations next to England yearned for their own self-determination? Sure, the activists accused everyone else (America, Israel, the actual anchors of Western freedom and tolerance) of vicious imperialism, but they themselves loved the unfair, artificial, imperialistic, forced notion of a UK. Scotland, Ireland, Wales were independent places with unique languages, cultures, and religions. They were hardly “united” with England by choice.

The Falklands? WTH?!

Why now that Scottish citizens are finally waking up to their own freedom are the British trade unions, left wing activists, and self-appointed bosses of equality silent on Scotland’s chance for true opportunity?

I’m not Scottish, Welsh, nor Irish, I am an American, but I do know that my country fought British imperialism many times, and that Americans greatly benefited from their Constitutional republic’s individual liberties.

It is time for Britons to act in a consistent, civilized way, and set aside their imperial self-interests.

As a former Scottish freedom fighter once said on film, FREEDOM!

People ask me why

For some people, politics and political activism are their bread and butter.  Politics pays their bills.  With the right clients, they can make millions of dollars out of politics as a business model.

For me, politics is about personal liberty, freedom, opportunity and many other inspiring principles behind the founding of America.  It is also about the little freedoms we have that emanate from the bigger ideas:  The freedom to drive or walk somewhere without having to prove that you belong there, the freedom to choose where to live, the ability to select from a wide assembly of fresh food, to name a few popular ones.

Call it an innate sense of justice and right and wrong, which family and friends have said I’ve had since I was a little kid, or call it a lack of patience, an inability to watch, participate in, listen to, or tolerate BS/fluff/empty slogans/lies/self-interest, whatever it is that motivates me, I am passionate about good government.

Good government has been a passion of mine since I was a teenager, when I first got involved in political campaigns.  Back then, I was horrified at the way abortion-on-demand was changing our culture, I was against gun control, and nuclear missiles scared me.  Later on, watching police beat non-violent pro-democracy marchers in South Africa motivated me to put my voice behind change there (note that now the monumentally corrupt and un-just African National Congress government there is hardly better than the overtly racist apartheid government it replaced).  Age, paying taxes, and work experience have a way of shaping political views for normal people, and I was no exception.

So here I am, living a life that has meaning for me, trying to shape Pennsylvania and American politics in ways I believe are healthy, necessary, and just.  The citizens and taxpayers who are supposed to be served well by their government (of the people, by the people, for the people) are not being well served today.  This is why I am involved in politics.  That is why I will not go away, at least not until things are fixed to my satisfaction.

The war on Christianity, at home and abroad

With all these “wars” going on, you know, against poverty, drugs, Liberalism’s war on individual rights and liberty, Hillary Clinton’s war on women, it is hard to find room for one more.

But yes, there is another war going on, and it is purposefully un-reported by the mainstream media, for evident political reasons.

That war is the war on Christianity, in America, Europe, and across the Middle East.

Despite being the bedrock of American values and institutions, American Christianity in all its variations somehow turned into a target, somewhere in the 1960s.  Those versions of Christianity offered as an acceptable alternative were far-left politicized versions with no basis in Christian texts, with Jim Wallis a good example.  The modern day Quakers are another good example, as they are as America-hating, pro-tyranny, pro-totalitarian as any far-Leftist could ever hope for.  These became the “good Christians.”

It is practically illegal to be a professing, witnessing, practicing Christian today in America.  If you stand up for your religious rights, as guaranteed by the US Constitution, you are immediately labeled as a racist, a bigot, a mean person, a threat to others, and so on.  You might even get sued for refusing to violate your own rights.

A wedding cake, wedding photography is somehow more important than religious beliefs.

Somehow, being opposed to the PUBLIC SUBSIDY of private birth control became another reason to hate Christians.  Do you recall Sandra Fluke, the young lady who demanded that the public taxpayer pay for her to avoid pregnancy?  Why Sandra Fluke just could not engage in abstinence, engage in behavior that would not lead to pregnancy, or pay for her own birth control were all public policy questions to which lots of Christians had the common-sense answers.

But because they are Christians, their common-sense views were somehow unacceptable, an establishment of religion…yeah, right.  Christians founded America and wrote the laws that protect minorities.  It is the Biblically-inspired US Constitution that was designed to protect minorities.  The worst faults of America’s Christians pale, pale, pale in comparison to the depredation, cruelties, mass murder and sadism practiced by “liberated” minds in Fascist and Communist countries, which is to say, most of the world.

Across the Middle East Christian refugees are increasingly fleeing their ancient homelands in the face of Islamic supremacism.  To its credit, the mainstream media is slowly reporting an increasing number of insane incidents of “convert-or-die” experiences these believers face at the hands of their Muslim abusers.  There are many more Christian refugees from Muslim lands than there were “Palestinian” refugees seventy years ago, but who do you hear about day-in, day-out?

In Europe, Christianity is all but dead, having been relegated to the shadows of cultural and political life, its own leaders having embraced their own demise as the ultimate symbol of self-sacrifice.  Britain is home to Anglican leaders who openly endorse the use of Muslim Sharia Law in lieu of British law in some areas.  That is, the supplanting of British law by Sharia law.  Bizarrely, when Christians object to the removal of Christian-based law, in favor of Islamic law, they are accused of being bigots.  Said another way, British Christians are being forced by their own leaders to accept the imposition of another religion, or face accusations of sticking up for their religion…

This is the “logic” of the Left, and it is utterly illogical.  At best it is morally relative, if not morally bankrupt.  For to give up equal protection under the law in favor of Sharia-approved brutal family honor killings of young women, even little girls, by fathers and family members, is to turn Western Civilization upside down.

This is why American Christians must rediscover their roots, rediscover their original texts, rediscover their traditional prayers, and simple values, and re-assert themselves politically.  America is depending on Christians.

Western civilization was primarily built by Christians, and if they abandon it, the whole enterprise will come crumbling down.

Onward, Christian soldier.

 

Cantor loss is shocking only to those who are not paying attention

Yes, yes, yes, Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA) was an important man, high up, famous, powerful…blah blah blah.  And he lost his five-million dollar primary campaign to a grass roots candidate who spent a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Hey, Republican establishment folks, are you now paying attention?

Do you maybe now understand what so many of your own voters have been telling you for years?

To wit: America is worth saving, and it can only be saved by breaking from the creeping Big Government identity of “moderate” Republicans.  That means No on amnesty, No on gun control, No on universal background checks aka gun owners database, No on ObamaDon’tCare.

In other words, Hell Yes on freedom and liberty.

Cantor failed on these issues, and his voters punished him for it.

While the NRA lost out to Gun Owners of America in this race, probably no group was more closely identified with Cantor, and the Republican establishment around him, than the Republican Jewish Coalition, a nice group I have had some exposure to.  Sadly, RJC mishandled Cantor’s loss in a gargantuan way that may spell the organization’s descent or even demise.  In many ways, Tuesday night’s RJC is emblematic of the larger Republican establishment, which also seems determined to drive itself over a cliff.

Late Tuesday night, 11:26 PM, to be exact, the RJC issued a brief lamentation about Cantor’s electoral loss and how great Cantor was and blah blah blah.

Did RJC acknowledge that REPUBLICAN voters had spoken?  Nope.  Did RJC congratulate the winner, economics professor David Brat?  Nope.  Did RJC publicly stake out hopes for Brat to follow closely in Cantor’s pro-Israel shoes?  Nope.

Instead, RJC came across as soundly rejecting the wisdom of REPUBLICAN voters in Cantor’s former district, and failing to acknowledge the Big Government issues of a) gun (citizen) control and b) illegal aliens, who are destroying American democracy, disenfranchising American voters, and robbing American taxpayers.

RJC may be a small group with great intentions, but Tuesday night, they were the lost voice for the entire Republican Establishment.  And it shows just how out of touch the establishment is with the American citizen.  Every conservative activist who reads the RJC statement will wonder what the hell is in the DC Beltway water, because it sure isn’t anything they’d want to drink.

The folks who ran and funded Cantor’s campaign, who issued public statements for him, who stood by him when he wafted in the wind on critical issues, and who bewailed his loss, are incredibly out of touch with the actual voters, taxpayers, citizens, moms, dads, students, and out-of-work-car-won’t-run Americans who are slowly, surely, awakening to the crisis we are in, and who are not not shocked that Cantor lost.

But the experts…they are shocked.

What does this portend or mean to Pennsylvanians? Here is one suggestion: Political parties are supposed to represent the voters and stand for principles. Once the PA GOP returns to that model, winning elections will be easy.

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.

Participated in 2nd Amendment Rally; where was NRA?

Just in from the field.

PA Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, Kim Stolfer of Firearm Owners Against Crime, and Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America organized and led a wonderful pro-freedom rally just now at the Pennsylvania Capitol steps in Harrisburg.  Dozens of state and local elected officials, from both parties, Democrat and Republican,  stood in the rain to show their appreciation and support.  State Senator Tim Solobay (D), an ass-kicking big guy and the senate’s official “Walking Refrigerator,” proudly wore his Western PA gun rights hat.  State Senator Scott Hutchinson (R), stood tall in the rain and cheered on the speakers.

Constitutional rights should not be a partisan issue.  Sadly, too many Democrats make gun ownership an issue, when it has zero to do with crime control.

Missing from action was the NRA.  No official presence, no speaking role, no unofficial presence.  What is going on here with my favorite organization?  Organizational snafu?  Too much pride?

Citizen, activist, and elected official speakers alike championed America’s unique freedoms, quoting often from their own life experiences and from America’s founding fathers.  Each speaker pointed out the hypocrisy of anti-freedom gun-grabbers, who are more comfortable in a feudal hierarchy than in the free Republic we have fought so hard to keep from tyranny.

Standing at the top of the steps, looking out over the sea of rain-soaked citizens, with their American flags, Don’t Tread on Me banners and similar hand-held signs, I was choked up with emotion.  As every past year, I feel honored and fired up to have participated in this year’s annual PA Second Amendment Rally.

Happy Easter – Rebirth

Easter falls during Passover week, an effort by the early Church to compete with the parent faith.  While Passover marks human liberty, Easter marks birth and rebirth, a compelling concept for a world that too often focuses on simple physical comforts and novelties. Humans obsessed with physical luxuries have an opportunity to reflect more, to contemplate better ways of living.

How meaningful, then, that the showdown on the Bundy ranch in Arizona happened on the eve of Passover and Easter. A rebirth of freedom has followed that showdown.  Growing numbers of American citizens are realizing how empowered they are, how many kindred spirits there are in the quest for keeping government power limited, how united they are in their commitment to liberty.

How the Bundy facedown will ultimately play out is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure: It will not be another Waco (21 years ago today) or Ruby Ridge. And that’s a great thing.  We can thank our Judeo-Christian Biblical heritage for that.

Happy Easter, America.