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Why I am voting for Paul Mango for governor, and not for Scott Wagner

When I stood out for twelve hours in the freezing weather four years ago, handing out Scott Wagner for Senate brochures at a polling place in York County, I was helping Pennsylvania elect someone to state government who promised to remain independent of political party leaders and the insider dealings that are the despicable hallmark of Pennsylvania Republican party politics.

Within a few months of Wagner’s historic upset win over a creaky establishment, I began to regret his obvious character flaws. And then six months later I had the unfortunate experience of having Wagner lie through omission to my face.

“Yeah, I know John DiSanto,” said Wagner.

What Wagner did not say was that he was aggressively promoting DiSanto as a would-be candidate for state senate. Fast forward another six months, and DiSanto was on track to be the state senator for the 15th district. He has been a huge improvement over the former senator, Rob Teplitz, a political radical out of place here in this region who was also dedicated to his constituents.  I have no real hard feelings about DiSanto now bearing the burden of serving in state government, as it comes with big personal costs that I realize I would not want.

But I saw then that Scott Wagner was not the straight-up guy a lot of us believed he was when we worked hard to get him elected.

Wagner has this habit of ascribing to himself full responsibility for his material and political successes. As a capitalist I applaud anyone who can and does leave to their son or nephew a running business and millions of dollars. And I also applaud those people who are strong enough to take those inheritances and build on them, instead of squandering them, as so many Americans do.

But it upsets me to hear Wagner take credit for these things when he was simply the beneficiary of other people’s hard work.

No, Mr. Wagner, you did not win that special election in York County all by yourself.

Rather, we, the hard working campaign volunteers won it for you, by getting fired up people out to every polling place in the district and demonstrating to the voters that we, the people, wanted you to be elected. Voters saw our passion and responded by handing the GOPe a tough and well-deserved loss.

No, you did not create that trucking business as you constantly claim, you inherited a good portion of it.

Two days ago at a dog-and-pony show press event, Scott Wagner released a phony “internal” poll result saying that he already leads in this primary race by 50.2% to Paul Mango’s 20-something percent.

Flanking Wagner was the chairman and the vice-chair of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, the same GOPe that Wagner once opposed but which he has now shamelessly joined. Wagner’s willingness to trade his political independence for political gain with the same old political insiders is another indication that he is not a straight-up guy. Rather, Wagner is just another aggressive political opportunist willing to sell his grandma and his former supporters to get ahead.

The message of having the two GOP political bosses next to him at the event is simple: “Vote for our insider stooge here.”

But if Wagner is already so far ahead in the polls, then why does he need the personal presence of political bosses at his press event? The whole thing is phony – the supposed poll (two other recent polls show a statistical dead heat between Mango and Wagner, with also-ran Laura Ellsworth in the single digits), the fake political endorsement, his supposed political independence. One thing is for sure, Scott Wagner is now yet just another political insider, trying to use every object around him to gain power and prestige. Just like he used and then discarded us campaign volunteers to get into the state senate.

Wagner’s political views have spanned the full spectrum, from great to crazy left, like his transvestite bathroom bill sponsorship.

Will the real Scott Wagner please stand up? Without screaming at anyone, please.

Contrast this chaotic mess to his primary opponent Paul Mango.

Paul Mango is about as exciting as watching the grass grow.

He is soft-spoken, measured, very smart and articulate on policy, and to me, mostly boring. Though he has gotten better at public presentations as time has gone on.

Is Mango the fiery revolutionary that Scott Wagner was four years ago? Nope.

Neither is Scott Wagner.

Is Mango the political trench warfare conservative that Wagner used to be, and which many of us wish for more each day? Nope.

Neither is Scott Wagner.

Mango is a work horse, not a show horse.

Instead of having all of Wagner’s drama and duplicity, Mango is a simple guy with true blue collar working class roots, who put himself through West Point and became a real-deal warrior in the US Army 101st Rangers, and who went on to build a career for himself that put him at the financial top of American society. Not to mention his all-American family. He is a US Army veteran who served our nation, thank you very much.

Mango is the all-American rags-to-riches story every American politician wishes to be, and which Wagner has tried to falsely claim he is.

This is why I am voting for Paul Mango and not for Scott Wagner.

You make up your own mind on this race, and you should also know I made up my mind through direct experience with both candidates. Sometimes it isn’t just how great a candidate is, but also how awful the other guy is.

Mango is good enough, Wagner is awful.

Brown Shirts on the march…Who will meet them face to face?

Across America, especially at tech giants like Google and Facebook, and at university campuses, the brown shirts are on the march.

The original Brown Shirts were the early street thugs used by the Nazis to take control of German society in the 1920s and 1930s, from the streets to the families who walked on the streets, all the way to the top of the government.

Once in power, the Nazis imposed draconian speech and behavior codes, cowing the citizenry into obeying even the most horrendous, cruel laws that followed. Do we need to delve any deeper into the history of Nazism, and their mirror image, the Stalinists of Russia, to understand what is actually happening here in the Land of the Free?

Well, yes, you might take the time to read up on that history, because it is repeating itself here in America, with these “speech codes” at Google, Facebook, and college campuses.

These speech codes are often nebulous, hard to define, and aimed at eliminating the mere questioning of an extreme political and cultural perspective. Speech codes are purely political in purpose.

Both Facebook and Google have been in the news recently for summarily firing employees who even dare to question the politically correct beliefs at each company, who merely question the brown shirts values and behavior.

Another example is Ms. Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Washington State. Because she politely declined to make a custom floral arrangement for a same-sex marriage. She did this because of her religious faith. Agree or disagree with her, this is her right, but the ACLU and the State of Washington are using lawfare to drive this nice grandma into poverty. These two lawsuits against her, both commercial and personal lawsuits, one private the other “official,” are designed to crush this woman’s right to free speech and religious faith.

You would think Grandma Stutzman is protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, but to the brown shirts at the ACLU and those running Washington State’s government, they don’t care. What they care about is driving Grandma into submission, and gaining control of America through intimidation and threats of lawsuits that can bankrupt people for living a Christian life.

And you say there oughtta be a law! Well right there is a good example of where America needs a law, to stop these kinds of punitive, fake lawsuits.

Maybe the best example of the worst speech code is the assertion of “white privilege,” the single most racist statement you will encounter in a full year of your life. This ugly example of racism sums up all of the other, gentler version of speech control, and you can go find videos of people physically assaulting “white” people because of the color of their skin, because that skin color is inherently evil, and bad, and…racist.

Yes, the irony of beating people with the wrong skin color is lost on the people who are doing it, those being the racist members of racist groups like “Black Lives Matter.”

Even if you are not physically beaten, if you do not obey the speech code, then you are shamed, bullied, fired, expelled, and personally destroyed. Or at least people will try.

Recall that about six years ago here in Harrisburg, a non-profit “environmental” organization called PennFuture tried to get a local meteorologist fired from his news station, because he had the audacity to disagree with PennFuture’s assertion about climate change (well, back then it was “global warming”).

This is thuggery, pure and simple.

And just like the Brown Shirts did on Kristallnacht, American brown shirts go on violent, destructive rampages from Missouri to New York to Berkeley, California. This is also thuggery.

On the flip side, try to imagine a large group of conservative Americans similarly forming up to express their political views through the use of street violence, and public shaming, and firing, lawsuits, and personal destruction. This group would be roughly the size of the existing organized speech code groups like BLM and its friends, about 30,000-50,000 active activists.

This conservative group would be highly coordinated, highly organized, with well-implemented transportation anywhere in the country, ready to go where needed pretty quickly.  Just like the BLM, Code Pink, Occupy and other paid activists groups.

Just think about that, and ask yourself how such a group would be portrayed in the media. It wouldn’t be positive, that’s for sure!

And yet we do in fact have a highly organized, increasingly armed, well funded leftist militia engaged in controlling speech and behavior across America, working hand-in-hand with the media. Right now they are pretty much unimpeded.

The Brown Shirts are truly on the march, right here, right now.

Question is, what are we going to do about it?

Who is going to go meet them face to face, nose to nose, to defend our Constitutional republic?

UPDATE August 11, 2017: Last night, while reading a positive Washington Post article about violent anarchists, it occurred to me that something is in the air here. If a little-known blogger in Central PA is writing about it, and then the Washington Post is promoting it, then this is a timely subject. The Washington Post article was full of beautifully staged photos of the black-clothed anarchists, obviously trying to make them more personable, more understandable. In this article, everyone on the streets who is not an anarchist is repeatedly described as “right wing,” though none of the leftists, liberals, etc are ever described as left wing, though the Washington Post needs no analysis to uncover its hard-left bias and purpose. Legba Carrefour is photographed with a wooden baseball bat over his shoulder, posing like a badass tough guy. Whether he is or is not (I say he is not) a true tough guy, or if he only pretends to be a tough guy when he is surrounded by hundreds of rampaging violent packs of fellow fools, it is not important. What is important is that America has a growing problem with violent Brown Shirts clad in black, and their enablers all the way up to Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Barack Obama, all of whom say nothing negative about these violent thugs, but actually seem to encourage them. Meanwhile, on the other side, we have RINO Republicans everywhere at every level engaged in influence peddling, using government to enrich themselves, and essentially blocking patriots from safeguarding America.  Something has to give way.

UPDATE August 13th: If the awful violence in Virginia is any indication, the crazy, violent left has managed to provoke the right wing crazies, who for decades have been an embarrassing and irrelevant speck of dust on our national political stage. They are the other side of the Black Lives Matter coin- racist, ignorant, and spoiling for a fight. Until now, no one bothered with them, because they were meaningless. Intriguingly, Virginia governor Terry McCauliffe refuses to rebuke or condemn BLM or any of the other violent leftists who attacked police, peaceful protestors, and white bystanders long before the biggest violence broke out. McCauliffe is only condemning the two dozen Nazi flag waving idiots and the murderous guy who drove his car into the communist flag waving idiots who attacked his car. To Governor McCauliffe, violence is only bad when it’s not his people doing it. It’s just fine when his people do it.  President Trump correctly identifies all racism and all bigotry and all violence as unacceptable. And so we see what force is behind most of the political violence in America now: radical anarchists and their sore loser Democrat enablers. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are just as responsible for this violence as the goons in the street, because they could easily call for it to end. Although now I’m starting to wonder if they could reel it back in, even if they wanted to. They’ve set a forest fire decades in the making. Can anyone put it out….?

UPDATE August 15, 2017: As the actual facts begin to trickle out, mostly in the form of video of the march and the violence, and review of official Charlottesville city documents, one thing is clear: The mayor created the conditions for the violence to happen. The mayor knew exactly what he was doing when he arranged to have the previously permitted kook right march moved from Emancipation Park (formerly Robert E. Lee Park) to an open area, so that the kook left would surround the marchers on all sides. Also, the city police were instructed to contain the kook right marchers and only allow them to exit by walking through the violent throng of Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA thugs surrounding them. This meant that no matter what, physical contact between the two sides was guaranteed. On top of this, the city police were instructed to not make arrests. So the net result is a city administration that coordinates with street thugs and its own police force to bring terrible violence upon peaceful protestors. The neo-NAZI marchers may be morons, but they have a right to march peacefully, which they were doing until they were attacked by the moron leftists. The mayor is an accessory to the murder of the woman, and the US Justice Department should bring charges against the mayor for his direct role in guaranteeing violence and the suppression of the permitted marchers’ civil rights.

And even more to the point, the mainstream media has continued to act as a partisan political arm of one political party. I saw a screen shot of CNN actually writing “Trump defends racist marchers,” which is a complete and total lie. At a certain point these attacks on Trump are an attack on the political process, because these are undocumented political contributions to a political party. The Federal Elections Commission needs to start documenting these political contributions by political organizations formerly known as “media” and “the press.”

And even more to the point, where on earth are Obama, Clinton, and Sanders? Why are they not denouncing the leftist violence? Do they really want street battles reminiscent of Weimar Germany, when the kook left Communists and the kook right NAZIs battled each other across the country? Do we really want that kind of political instability? Dear liberal friends: You really do not want this kind of instability.

Gov. Wolf must pull Marcus Brown nomination

Governor Tom Wolf nominated Marcus Brown to be Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner.

Brown is a deeply, amazingly flawed candidate whose poor record literally involved recent malicious vandalism and theft. That is, the most basic, lowest form of law breaking. It’s behavior far beneath the dignity of any professional, and even farther, unimaginable, really, for someone representing the pinnacle of law enforcement. Brown is under investigation and will probably be charged soon with the crime. It’s an awkward scenario.

Brown’s many other flaws are notorious and even kind of crazy, like shutting down an entire highway and having Maryland state police go car-to-car with their guns drawn. That’s insane. It’s patently unconstitutional behavior and obviously tyrannical.

Brown is a man who has gotten away with all kinds infractions and law-breaking his entire career. He’s got a huge sense of entitlement. He is not cut out to be any sort of law enforcement officer, need we say the head of the PA State Police.

I know what it’s like to be a nominee running into an opposing state senator. I’ve been there and it can be an unfair fight, especially when the senator will tell no one what his objection is. Nevertheless, that same state senator is now joined by many others in formal opposition to Brown’s nomination, for good reasons that are a matter of the public record, not some personal vendetta.

Wolf doesn’t need this headache. There are going to be worthy disputes and tests with the legislature aplenty in the next four years. Wolf should choose his fights carefully, and in my experienced opinion, this is a bad one for him to stand on. He’s not going to win. And he’s promoting someone, Marcus Brown, who is unworthy of any support at all, much less a taxpayer-funded job, based on his historic and recent law breaking.

PA Office of Open Records – the battle for control

Erik Arneson is never going to win awards for public relations savvy, but he does deserve to hold on to the job of director of the Office of Open Records he was appointed to by outgoing governor Tom Corbett back in December, 2014.

Incoming governor Tom Wolf immediately “fired” Arneson and sought to put someone else in his role.

Arneson and the PA senate Republicans sued Wolf, claiming that the job holds a six-year term and that’s it.  It is not a political appointment to serve at the whim of whichever governor is in office at the time.  To do so would place the office squarely in the middle of politics it is supposed to be above.

Showing up to his January lawsuit press event in a Green Bay Packers-marked ski cap and satin jacket, Arneson alienated every Steelers and Eagles fan around, not to mention us PSU Nittany Lions fanatics.  Plus, he did not look real professional, either, dressed up like he was going to a November football game, and not into a high stakes legal battle.

Maybe his rumpled look and out-of-synch team clothing choice represent a kind of idiot-savant mentality, which I would find refreshing.  You know, a guy who is so focused on doing his job so utterly professionally that he walks around with his zipper open, his hair touseled, his head involved in important things, not mundanities.

More likely is that Arneson has spent so long in the ultra-insulated world of the professional party functionary system (Republicans and Democrats alike have this alternate dimension), that he is unaware that his appearance in public matters to the public.   He may not even care.  Accountability in that party functionary world is non-existent, and professionalism is not always what taxpayers would or should expect from the people they pay.

But the fact is that Arneson was duly appointed to a six-year term, which itself strongly indicates an independent position above the whims of politics, such as incoming new governors wishing to make government in their image.

Nearly all of Pennsylvania’s commissions and boards involve six or even eight year terms; some are four years, but they tend to be the ones where the governor alone makes the selection.  At least that is my sense of things, having been involved in the selection process for the PA Game Commission and the PA Fish & Boat Commission.  Both of those commissions had eight-year terms until last year, when they were changed to six years, which is still sufficient time for a board member to ride out political changes that might corrupt their otherwise professional and detached judgment.

For those people complaining about Arneson’s politically partisan credentials, ahem, we did not hear your voice when the first occupant of the office was selected, Terri Mutchler.

Terri Mutchler is a very nice person whom I knew a bit when we were students at Penn State, way back in the 1980s.  She was professional and diligent, way back then, and again during her tenure as the first director of the Office of Open Records.  And in that new role she feuded just enough with then-Governor Rendell to lend credibility to her claim of being above partisanship.

But recently Mutchler has come forward and admitted that she was a tool, literally, for partisan politics in past jobs, even in one of her most sensitive jobs as a senior reporter and news editor.  [those of us already long ago jaded by the mainstream media are unsurprised by her admission; we just wish current political activists posing as news reporters at NBC CBS ABC NPR NYT etc. would be as honest]

In other words, Mutchler was a nakedly partisan Democrat, perhaps like Arneson would be a partisan Republican.

But if you don’t like Arneson for this reason now, where were you for the same reason back then, when Mutchler was appointed?  Critics of Arneson cannot have it both ways – happy to have Mutchler’s partisan role back then, but opposed to Arneson’s presumed partisan role now.  That is inconsistent, and therefore undeserving of respect.

Inconsistency is the hobgoblin of good government,and if there are two words that define what Americans expect from their government, it is good government: Professional, a-political, non-partisan.

So, Arneson must stay on, despite his frumpy appearance, his poor taste in football teams, his deafness to Lion Country’s football preferences, and despite the nakedly partisan calls for him to step aside for a Wolf Administration selection.

But I will say this: His beard, that damned scraggly beard, it looks incredibly unprofessional and unkempt; if he keeps that for one more day, then he does deserve to be fired immediately.  And tie your shoes, Erik, dammit.

Tom Wolf….you’ve got to tell us your plans

Tom Wolf may be a heckuva nice guy, and an ethical boss. By all accounts these are true.

But he has cruised to a lead for Pennsylvania governor on these two assets alone, and they’re insufficient.

On nearly every other political issue he is evasive, or committed to regressive actions that will harm Pennsylvania. Taxes is one of his evasive issues, and I’m not alone saying we are all taxed enough.

I’d like to hear Wolf make concrete commitments to lower business taxes equally if he seeks to raise a five percent gas drilling tax. Otherwise, he’s trying to kill the golden goose instead of patiently waiting for her to lay one golden egg at a time. Gas drilling has saved our economy, hands down.

My suspicion is that Wolf will remain evasive until the very end, and voters will move toward Corbett as a result. The election is likely to be a three point spread: Corbett by 1% or Wolf by 2%. The “Dewey beats Truman” mindset has already taken hold among Wolf’s supporters, and a huge upset is likely in the making if that continues.

My take on tonight’s Corbett – Wolf Debate, and Tom Brokaw’s Plea for Control of Our Lives

Like a few thousand other attendees at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce dinner tonight, I sat in the audience and watched Governor Tom Corbett and Democrat nominee Tom Wolf debate each other, with reporter Dennis Owens moderating.  Dennis was outstanding.  I also stayed for the Tom Brokaw speech afterwards.

Here are the highlights as I see them:

1) Corbett beat Wolf hands-down, in substance, poise, accuracy, and humility.  And damned if I am not still surprised.  Given how insipid the Corbett campaign has been to date, I expected the worst performance from him tonight.  That did not materialize.

2) While overall the debate was Dull vs Duller, and neither man was exciting or inspiring, the amazing fact is that Tom Corbett found his voice tonight.  Tom Wolf talked in circles, kept stating that he is a businessman (six, seven times), mis-spoke (“the vast majority of married Pennsylvanians file separate tax reports”), spoke in vague generalities bordering on fluffy clouds and flying unicorns, and addressed none of the substantive issues pegged by moderator Dennis Owens or by Corbett.

3) Wolf seemed to play it safe, venturing nothing new, nothing specific.  He did not even respond the to the Delaware Loophole questions posed to him.  He simply ignored them.  If he persists in this evasiveness, Corbett can catch up and beat him.  Voters can now see it, and it ain’t pretty.  Corbett may be The Most Boring Man in the World, but Wolf looked completely unprepared to be governor.

4) Wolf’s “I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it” response to policy and finance questions is not acceptable for a candidate to run a state government.

5) Corbett actually ate some humble pie, admitting that he is not a good communicator.  Understatement, yes, but he is not a guy who likes to admit he’s wrong.  So that was big.  Again, expectations for Corbett were super low, and he started out looking and sounding defeated.  But even he recognized that he was beating Wolf, and his performance picked up as the debate went on.

Brokaw:

1) Ancient establishment reporter Tom Brokaw has a great voice, and lots of stage presence.  He’s good looking for a guy that old.  He wrote a book about The Greatest Generation, so he must be a pretty great guy.  That is the marketing, anyhow.  His ideas run the gamut from standard liberal to downright contradictory and mutually-exclusive confused, to pathetic control freak.

2) Although Brokaw started talking about the Tea Party, and he complimented its members for getting involved in the political process (which he said is necessary), he never said or recognized the American Constitution as core to tea party’s goals, values, principles, or guiding role. So although he talked about it, it didn’t seem evident that he understands or has thought about the Tea Party much.

3) Brokaw said “I leave it to you determine if the Tea Party is good for America. I’m just a reporter, I just report the facts. You have to come to your own conclusions.”  As if he was not passing judgment on the Tea Party.  Yet, he asked the question and obviously thinks the Tea Party is bad for America; that is his hint.  Given that Brokaw is a liberal at war with America, this is a big cue to conservative activists: Keep it up, the liberal media establishment is scared of you.

4) He called for “filtration” and a “filter” of the internet, and talked about the “simple people” who manage his Montana ranch and get news from the Internet, which he disavowed and sees as unworthy.  This is the kind of intellectual region where Brokaw makes no sense.  On the one hand, the big establishment media is all over the Internet, so if people get their news from the Internet, and not TV chatterheads or fishwrap newspapers, then there’s no real problem with the Internet as a news source.  What Brokaw seemed to be challenged by is the fact that Breitbart and citizen reporters (think Watchdogwire, or my own blog) are circumventing the establishment media.  He does not understand or care that the ‘simple’ masses are hungry for unfiltered news, for real news, for facts and not liberal agenda.  How his imagined filters jibe, square, or conflict with the First Amendment was not mentioned; I am unsure it even occurred to Brokaw that purposefully filtering information is censorship.  But he is a guy who believes in sixty years of past liberal censorship, so I guess he has to stay consistent today.

5) Brokaw implied that the establishment media are the source of accurate information and “big ideas,” and that alternative news and opinion sources are not.  He said he doesn’t believe what he reads on the internet.  He is clearly bothered there’s now no difference between establishment media and bloggers and citizen reporters in terms of equal accessibility. He’s having a tough time letting go of controlling the message Americans receive, which is really his objection: Liberal media elites are losing the propaganda war because they no longer have a choke hold on the information flow; ergo, the Internet is full of bad information.

An indication of just how undeveloped his thinking is: Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon…for Liberals, Nixon was the High Priest of Done Bad in Government.  It does not seem to occur to Brokaw that Nixon’s crimes pale in comparison to the lawless tyranny Obama has inflicted upon American citizens. E.g. NSA spying and IRS crushing of political dissent.

6) On the other hand, he’s into high tech and the future of technology.  Very impressed by Google staff and all of the “big minds” gathered at tech conventions.  Brokaw doesn’t reconcile his adulation with his view of information flow on the net.  I am guessing here that he’d be OK if Google ran all the news on the Internet, because Google is made of liberals who share his political agenda.  “Good” liberals and “bad” conservatives is what he is after.

7) Annoyingly, Brokaw dropped names all over the place, as if to impress us with how important he is: Jon Stewart, the NFL commissioner, et al. “I was emailing with ____ _____, and he says ‘Tom..’.” “My books.” “I’m on the board of…..” This seemed self-conscious and actually undermined his standing, because truly great people never look at themselves this way.  They simply Are Great.

8) Finally, he called for a new form of foreign service corps, some hybrid of the Peace Corps, Americorps, and the military.  It was terribly confused, but it was also the kind of Big Idea he admires others for having, so evidently he must have one, too, even of it makes no practical sense.

Court testimony proves criticism of Corbett natural gas policy is partisan, unfair

If you have been following the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Fund lawsuit against the Commonwealth, over its natural gas policies on public lands, then you’ve no doubt been reading the testimony of former political appointees from the Pa Gov. Ed Rendell administration.

The lawsuit is being ably reported in the Patriot News.

Former DCNR secretaries DiBerardinis and Quigley have testified that their boss, Governor Ed Rendell, was the one who dropped the natural gas extraction bomb on the State Forests in his gluttonous rush to gain as much money as he could to fund his wild history-making over-spending.

I won’t bother to repeat their testimony here, but it is not pleasant.  They are not covering up for their former boss.  Instead, they are laying it all out there, describing how the public interest was subverted by greed and political malfeasance.  These are two good men, devoted to the public interest.  Kudos to them.

Here’s the thing: Rendell is a Democrat.

Here’s the thing: Then, and now, Rendell was not roundly criticized for his public land gas drilling policies by the very environmental groups who represent themselves to the public to be non-partisan, fair-minded, honest brokers on environmental policy and issues.

Instead, in extreme contrast, since even before his first day in office, Governor Tom Corbett has been vilified, excoriated, badmouthed, cussed, maligned, and blamed for everything that is wrong, and right, with the public policies he inherited from the Rendell Administration.

And this gets to the point here: A lot of the heat that is created around environmental policy issues is accompanied by very little light.  That is because most environmental issues are innately politicized, and partisan, before a valuable discussion about their merits can be had, in the public interest.

In other words, the by-now old narrative goes like this: Republicans always stink on green issues, and Democrats are always blameless little innocent blinking-eyed babes on environmental issues, even when they are wearing the red devil suit and sticking Satan’s trident deep into the public’s back.

In the interest of good policy, this partisanship must end.  The mainstream media, run by liberals, is only too happy to carry on this unfair, inaccurate narrative.  But conservatives can overcome that if only they will cease ceding the battlefield to the partisan groups who roam it at will.

Instead of cavalierly writing off everyone who cares about environmental quality as an “environmental whacko,” which is the standard conservative reaction, and it is wrong, recognize that environmental quality is important, but what is also important is how one goes about achieving that goal.  This critical policy nuance seems to be lost on most conservatives.

Also, call out the Statists/ Socialists who mis-use environmental policy as a means to achieve their larger Marxist goals of wealth redistribution.  These people are not ‘environmental whackos’, they are anti-American socialists who have hijacked an important issue and commandeered it to suit their larger purposes.

Want to win?  Want good government?  Want fair coverage of political issues?  Then fight back!  Meet these folks on their own battlefield, and defeat them using good policy that is grounded in science and public-interest goals.  The Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Fund lawsuit court room testimony is an excellent place to begin this fight.  It is loaded with ammunition in the interest of honesty, accuracy, and fairness.

 

Tom Wolf, you confuse me

Tom Wolf is a candidate for Pennsylvania governor.

He appears to be the front-runner in his party’s primary race.  For a number of reasons, he has the greatest amount of voter name recognition and support.

Why candidate Katie McGinty is not taking off, I don’t know.  Katie is charismatic, maintains a million-dollar smile, and knows how to effectively communicate with people.  She is both infuriatingly liberal and also, in my direct experience, surprisingly capable of being pragmatic and non-ideological.  McGinty’s A-rating from the anti-freedom group CeaseFirePA hurts her; Wolf got a C from them, which helps in freedom-friendly Pennsylvania. Why he didn’t get a D, and then really strut his individual liberty credentials, is confusing.

Wolf lacks charisma, but seems to make up for it with his honest-to-goodness aw-shucks folksy way.

Here’s what really confuses me about Wolf: He is a business man who advocates for policies that are bad for business, like an additional tax on over-taxed natural gas.

Tom Wolf, you will probably challenge Tom Corbett for governor.  I am a small business owner and I want to see more from you that is business friendly.  Otherwise, I remain confused by you.

PGC: Great, Old Agency Unused to Modern Limelight

If there is one take-away from my many years in federal and state government jobs, it is that agency staff cultures change slowly.  In Pennsylvania, a great example of this is one of my favorite agencies, the Pennsylvania Game Commission.  PGC is an agency that is used to doing things the way it wants, often relying on its impressive history as evidence for its present day independence and independent culture.

PGC is presently in the headlines because of a $200,000 payment to its former executive director, Carl Roe, now very recently departed of the agency.

I thought it was an amicable departure; maybe not.  PGC staff say this is a settlement to avoid a possible lawsuit.  Critics of the payment include the governor’s office, the PA Comptroller, the PA attorney general, and many elected officials.  They say this is a sidestep around the state’s prohibition of severance payments, made between a board of directors and an executive director who were actually very cozy with one another.

This is sad, because PGC is a storied agency, a trend-setter in the area of wildlife management, wildlife science, habitat management, and public land acquisition.  Something I like is that PGC has uniformed officers who stand in front of Hunter Trapper Education courses filled with 10-18-year-old kids, and tell them that they have a Second Amendment right to own firearms.  Few states in America have such a wonderful role for their uniformed law enforcement officers.  We are fortunate to have this agency with this culture, and it is for this reason that I oppose merging PGC with DCNR.  Ranger Rick and Smokey Bear are not going to purvey that valuable message.

The flip side of the culture is what is often described as a “bunker mentality” among the agency’s staff, and this payment to Roe probably fits in with that view.

Most agencies are careful to avoid controversy, especially controversy that does not have a strong basis.  This payment does not appear to have a strong basis, so it is an unnecessary controversy that is likely to damage the agency’s standing among lawmakers and executives, as well as the general public and hunters who otherwise happily buy hunting licenses to support their favorite agency.  It comes at a time when the agency is already under the gun from oversight legislation (HB 1576, which does not address actual problems, but rather imagined problems unrelated to PGC and PA Fish & Boat Commission).

Don’t get me wrong, I like Carl Roe, and PGC has also driven me nuts at times.  I clearly recall the day he was brought on to the agency as an intern.  Me, then PGC executive director Vern Ross, PGC biologist Gary Alt, Carl Roe, and senior PGC staffer Joe Neville drove together up to Bellefonte to participate in the swearing-in of a new PGC commissioner.  Carl struck me as a bright, quantitatively-oriented, inquisitive, experienced manager.  Over the years since that day I have had many opportunities to meet with Carl, and he has always impressed me as a stalwart and intelligent promoter of PGC, hunters, trappers, and wildlife conservation.  This huge payment lightning rod situation just does not make sense in that context.

But on second thought, this payment does make sense if the insular agency culture managed to eventually penetrate into Carl’s otherwise solid judgment.  That has been a phenomenon witnessed among other new PGC staff; the broad “something-is-in-their-water” observation that people’s personalities changed dramatically once they joined PGC. Other evidence of an insular culture was recently brought to my attention: Four of the agency’s biologists (all of whom have some or all of the deer program’s oversight) have graduate degrees from the same school and they studied at the same post-graduate field station.  And no, they ain’t from Penn State, or any Pennsylvania university, for that matter, dammit.

I fear for PGC, because at a time when the agency is already under scrutiny from HB 1576, this new payment debate threatens to add fuel to the flames, and add a straw onto the camel’s back.  Part of the culture driving these problems is the same kind of culture that can cause the roof to suddenly come down.  Careful there, boys, careful.

*******UPDATE:

So, as has happened before, these essays get read, and I get phone calls and emails.  People calling me usually do not want to post on the blog, being afraid of attribution, and frankly, what some other people want to post here is not always worth keeping.  So here is the gist of what came over the transom in the past half hour: Things between Carl Roe and the PGC board were not chummy.  The payment to him is seen as a real money-saver.  I am unsure how an at-will employee like an executive director has any real legal recourse, unless he is fired for his religion or political views, things that are a) hard to prove and b) unlikely.  Also, I neglected to mention that Roe had, indeed, given away about $300,000 in agency funds to Hawk Mountain (GREAT PLACE, but not necessarily deserving of big PGC money) and other groups. This unaccountable and unapproved largesse caused real friction between Roe and the board, not to mention the rest of the stakeholders whose donations to and purchases from PGC are expected to be spent in a pecuniary fashion.

It’s official: Sunday hunting in VA

Two weeks ago the Virginia state House passed a Sunday hunting bill out of a committee that had bottled up similar bills for decades before. It was a surprising statement that it actually got through committee.  Then it passed the full state House, which surprised even its most ardent sponsors.

Well, today the Virginia state Senate passed the companion bill.  It allows hunting on private land on Sunday, a private property rights win if there ever was one. If you pay property taxes, say on a remote mountainside property, and you are deprived of 14.2% of your full use of that property for some vague reason, you might get frustrated.  It is your property.  You can shoot 1,000 bullets at a target on Sunday, but you cannot shoot just one at a squirrel.  Laws like this are by their definition arbitrary, the bane of democracy.

Virginia’s governor says he will sign the bill into law.

Welcome to the modern era, Virginia! We are envious of you.

Kudos to Kathy Davis of PA-based Hunters United for Sunday Hunting (www.huntsunday.org), who has devoted the past two years of her life to this issue, and who helped a great deal with getting the Virginia law passed and the lawsuit filed there.  The lawsuit compelled the state legislature to act, before a judge ruled against the state and the entire state was opened up.  While I would like to see public land open for Sunday hunting, I am satisfied with private land as a start to implementing it state-wide.  This really is an issue of the most basic American rights.