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Second Letter to Candidate Josh Feldman

Dear Josh,

Congratulations, you did maintain your position on the ballot after our challenge. But you have traded away your credibility and integrity in the process.

I read the courtroom transcript of your March 17, 2017 testimony, and on page five you stated under oath that you consciously falsely signed two affidavits. Even though you have only been an active attorney for a grand total of 78 days, surely you know that affidavits are the bedrock of our legal system. A falsified affidavit undermines everything our legal system stands on and stands for. The person who falsifies an affidavit is obviously unqualified to fill a judicial role. You are unqualified, Josh. Your own court testimony impeached your own credibility.

Additionally, you have run for this magisterial seat on the representation of being “the only attorney” among the candidates. But you only became an active licensed attorney on March 2, 2017, the day before you filed your first set of ballot petitions. On page three of your court testimony, you admit that you do not actually practice law and have no court room experience, having become “inactive” just one month after bar admission and having been “retired” from 2010 until this March 2nd.

Your attorney information page on the Disciplinary Board of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court says “I do not maintain professional liability insurance because I do not have private clients and have no possible exposure to possible malpractice actions.”

So your biggest selling point is actually flim-flam, a faint technicality. What is the point of electing an attorney who has no experience actually being an attorney, and who right out of the gate violates the most important election laws to try to get ahead?

Josh, how on earth could your lawyer have allowed you to take the stand in your own defense at the ballot petition hearing?  Do you not realize the self-damning testimony you gave in court?

Perhaps no one should be surprised, as your incompetent goofball lawyer Adam Klein now has yet one more loss to his credit.  You have learned an expensive but important lesson: Just because a lawyer is smug and arrogant does not mean he is seriously up to the task of effectively representing you.

Josh, I pledged $250 toward the outcome not as some sort of silly bet or wager, but as a principled statement about my belief in personal accountability.  My philosophy of government requires me to do this: I had put my name out there as a plaintiff in a formal complaint about your ballot petitions, and you stayed on the ballot. In that process we learned that you have poor character, your word means nothing, and you have greatly over-represented your qualifications.

So, Josh, you do get the enclosed $250 check, but you will get no apology from me, because when you took the stand in court you admitted to filing false affidavits on your ballot petitions. You impeached your own credibility.  If you cannot be trusted to file basic honest paperwork, then what do the voters expect of you if you become a magistrate and sit in judgment of us?  Your petitions were flawed, Josh, and remain so, even though they technically contained enough signatures to keep you cross-filed and on the ballot.

This whole experience is sad to me. You have hurt yourself through your own over-reach, and then you were further injured by poor legal counsel. I like the fact that you are a fellow small business owner, and I wish that you had earnestly run for office on that good qualification alone. People could respect you for that.

Sincerely,

Josh

Josh First

Harrisburg City, PA

May 12, 2017

Letter to Candidate Josh Feldman

Dear Josh Feldman,

It brought me no pleasure of any sort when I became the plaintiff in a court challenge against your Republican ballot petitions for the local Magistrate job here in Uptown Harrisburg several days ago.

The magistrate seat is currently held by Judge Barb Pianka, and she is seeking re-election. You are a declared candidate seeking to unseat Pianka, as you have a right to do as an American citizen. In fact, as an aside, I am glad you are running, in the sense that I think more people ought to run for all elected offices. Additionally, I am totally opposed to the current ballot petition process, because it artificially and unfairly favors incumbents and establishment political parties and their political machines, which works against individual citizens and against the collective interest of We The People, the citizenry.

America needs fewer career politicians, fewer elected officials who are simply owned by special interests who use government for their own personal/ private enrichment, and we need more solid citizens who view elected office as a temporary public service to their fellow citizens, not as a taxpayer-funded career.

So, in that broad, philosophical sense, I support your run for office.

And, I must accept and work with the specific ballot petition process as it is now, not as I wish it were (not).

Josh, you are challenging a judge whom I and many others in this area hold in good regard. Judge Pianka has not only done a good job, she has also not done the bad things that normally earn a sitting official a strong challenge. For example, no one has accused Judge Pianka of taking bribes, falling asleep in the court room, abusing people in her court room, malpractice, erratic behavior, or other typically disqualifying actions. Had she done any of that, you would probably have my emphatic support, or at least my tacit support, depending on other candidates in the race.

Uptown Harrisburg is an oasis, and Midtown Harrisburg is becoming an oasis through continued investment and re-development. By oasis I mean these places are locations with bona fide residential taxpayers, businesses, relatively low crime, and a good quality of life, as opposed to a greater proportion of the city proper. Judge Barb Pianka is to a fair degree responsible for this status, because of her measured judicial approach in this district. So losing Judge Pianka could lead to a loss of stability and quality of life in these areas. Too many of us have homes and investments here to justify risking a change with a new, unproven magistrate.

Thus, I support Judge Pianka and will continue to support her until she develops a fatal flaw or faces a superior candidate. Neither of those conditions are in play now.

I am a Republican plaintiff complaining about your Republican (cross-filed) ballot petitions because as I have come to understand, those petitions are deeply flawed. I signed as a plaintiff with that understanding. If, in the course of the unfolding legal proceeding, your petitions are determined to be not faulty and are acceptable, then I will do the two following things: First, I will issue you a public apology. Though I am acting as plaintiff in good faith, I believe in taking responsibility for my mistakes. Second, I will contribute $250.00 toward your legal fees incurred while defending your petitions.

After all of this is settled one way or another, Josh, I hope that you will become more active in the city’s political and cultural landscape. Hopefully this first foray of yours is not your last. State representative Patty Kim has become far too comfortable, too partisan, too passive, and remains unproductive; we would all do well to see a change in that seat. Or perhaps city council would be a place to try out your political interests.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, and good luck in all things but your pursuit of unseating Judge Pianka.

 

Josh First

Citizen

 

The Sad Situation in Standing Rock

A person must be cold blooded to not at least feel sad for the Standing Rock folks.

This is a group of ancient people who have watched their culture, lifestyle, property, and land heritage melt away under the weight of newer tribes. They really don’t have much left, and now a pipeline threatens to take away even more.

The Dakota Access pipeline is important, heck, all the new pipelines are important because energy independence is critical to American political independence. The more America can rely on domestic energy, the less we need foreign sources of energy. The less we depend on those foreign sources, the freer we are to make tough but necessary decisions about domestic and foreign policy.

What saddens me is the win-lose situation in Standing Rock. The pipeline is presented as a take-it-or-leave-it outcome. Surely there is some other way to resolve this, other than ramming it through. After all, that has been a hallmark of the failed Obama administration and their legislative allies on so many other policy fronts, ramming decisions down everyone’s throats. It is a negative way to run government. It unnecessarily creates winners and losers.

Creating winners and losers is a recipe for serious problems down the road. Resentment runs deep. Grudges are created. Losses are forever mourned.

I know from experience that the Standing Rock situation presents us with an opportunity to create winners and winners.

How well do I recall sitting in a conference room at my office in downtown Harrisburg in 2001. Gathered around the table were representatives from Audubon, Sierra Club, recreational ATV riders, hunters, trail hikers, and the timber industry.

I had successfully negotiated the purchase of a privately owned 12,500-acre inholding in the huge Sproul State Forest from the Litke family. Donna Litke was a neat Pennsylvanian who loved her family’s rugged wilderness land in the northcentral country, but who also had a fiduciary commitment to her family to get the best financial results possible from any purchase. Her private land would become public land after we acquired it.

But Everyone wanted the whole property for their own interests. Or they wanted to block their political opponents from getting something out of it.

After hearing all the crabbing from all sides, left and right, environmental groups and industry, I decided that we would not acquire the property unless everyone got something out of the deal. Everyone needed to share in the success, or else we were not going to see the deal close.

So the day we sat down with a map of the Litke land, and began to discuss where certain activities could or would best take place, was the day we began to get to a win-win outcome. In the end every interest group got something out of the acquisition. Audubon and Sierra Club saw certain sensitive lands there set aside as natural and wild areas, where logging, road building, and gas drilling would not occur. We created a 1,400-acre ATV riding area on reclaimed and unreclaimed coal mining land there, too, the first one on public land in Pennsylvania, which today has generated substantial economic activity in ultra-rural Beech Creek.

Much of the Litke forest was set aside as “plain vanilla” State Forest, where people can walk, hike, camp, hunt, trap, fish, and cut timber. The streamside railway that came with it became an important rail-trail, drawing tourists (and their dollars) from far and wide.

And I did not learn how to do this cold. Rather, in 1995 to 1996, I had successfully used the same approach in the Middle East Peace Process agricultural projects in Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank when I was at US EPA, representing our agency in the diplomatic process.

Boy, you talk about competing interests! There was no shortage there, but in the end I was dubbed “Little Kissinger” for the sidebar negotiations I created, which got the overall projects back on track. Winners and winners.

My hope is Standing Rock will provoke the best in us. Barack Hussein Obama did nothing to help the folks there, until two weeks ago he made a purely political and symbolic decision against the pipeline. Obama has always been about winners and losers, heck he enjoys creating losers, so who can be surprised by his action here. Like everywhere else over his eight-year tenure, Obama squandered an opportunity to facilitate competing interests find common ground.

And that is what needs to happen at Standing Rock: Common ground.

Aren’t there potential solutions to this standoff that are win-win? I can think of three or four potential solutions that would probably be acceptable to the main parties.

We have a new president who understands the concept and importance of win-win outcomes. Hopefully President Trump appoints a solid and good-faith negotiator to resolve the head-on collision at Standing Rock, for everyone’s benefit.

Winners and winners.

 

A Million Pretty Butterflies, a Million Angry Hornets

Though many people see me as a tough guy, I am not immune to emotional pain and frustration, and the past two weeks have been filled with plenty of both, and so I have danced around the issues that keep popping up in order to avoid publicly dealing with these hurtful events.

Most events are Islam-inspired, Islam-directed, Islam-implemented murders in America and France.

The mass media and social media is run by hardened political partisans who will not discuss Hillary Clinton’s illegal actions or her illegal political whitewashing by the Obama administration, who will not accurately inform the public about who is committing violence against French citizens and American police officers, and who instead direct their efforts at undermining everything that Western Civilization has stood for, lo, these past thousand years, if not past three hundred.

For example, The Mirror, a major newspaper of record in Britain, continues to describe how a white truck drove through a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, France. No real disclosure of the fact that the young Arab man was a radical Muslim. Nope; the truck drove itself. Can’t admit those motives!

For example, a young African American radical, former member of the Nation of Islam, active Black Panther member, who murders three police officers and seriously injures another four in Baton Rouge is described as a Marine. Not a former Marine, but a Marine, as if he is an active duty Marine. As if Marines routinely murder police officers. Nope, they cannot correctly ascribe his insane motives, unless the media can smear the military.

For example, Black Lives Matter – inspired murderers are described as indirect-indirect-indirect victims of police brutality, not the radical, violent, anarchist traitors they are.

For example, racist Black Lives Matter violence is routinely described as non-violent protests, despite the fact that Black Lives Matter is most accurately described as “The Klan With a Tan,” because their members are the most racist, most bigoted, most violent activists presently on American streets, in public libraries, and in university buildings across America. And what does that say about their supporters and defenders? Bigots all, each and every one.

Last week I was in New York City, surrounded by a million pretty little butterflies, young people with multiplicities of tattoos, hair colors, piercings, uncommon clothes, impractical shoes, and other accoutrements they believe really set them apart as individuals.

They were walking, sitting, talking, protesting, many striking up dramatic poses with cigarettes, and arms akimbo, men striking angular body arrangements, usually with wrists dramatically flapping.

All this self-expression is based on an utter materialism at odds with the preponderance of their social behavior and leftist political views that demonize everything required to clothe and feed them.

Who cares, they think, they are living in a pampered un-reality of Twitter hashtags and imaginary grievances.

Such a slavish shallowness exists completely at odds with the hard realities surrounding these young people. But America’s material success has put these kids to sleep. Heck, material success has even allowed them to turn against America and blame her for a whole litany of imaginary and ridiculous crimes.

These kids are America’s future.

Meanwhile, it’s serious people in suits, in offices, and driving trucks and trains and planes that keep everything moving forward for the pretty little butterflies, content as they are to flit from one flowery cafe to another, dependent as they are on everything being made for and delivered to them by someone else.

What worries me is that buzzing around the edges of our comfy little world, and getting closer all the time, is a horde of a million angry hornets.

Hornets are incredibly carnivorous and aggressive, though some hornet species lay their eggs on the host body and fly away. A month or a year later, their eggs hatch and their little babies burrow inside, and then eat their way out from inside of the now-dying host.

See a metaphor here, dear reader?

Western civilization is filled to the brim with soft, gentle, kind, clueless little pretty butterflies. They gently fly and float from one soft spot to another, incorrectly believing the whole world is like this. New York City just has a concentration of them.

Meanwhile, misdirected leaders in Western Civilization have allowed the horde of angry hornets to come inside our cozy little home, and they refuse to spray the cloud of angry hornets buzzing furiously around us with deadly bug spray, before we all get stung. Most of our leaders are themselves sweet little butterflies, living in a cocoon of armed guards and high fences, while themselves denouncing private gun ownership and strong walls keeping our tax-paying citizens safe.

Human civilizations come and go. History demonstrates they always do. Today’s powerhouse nation becomes tomorrow’s lunch for a more powerful opponent. Refugees stream from one place to another, fleeing bloody murder and rapine and slavery. That is history, but it is also happening right now in the Middle East and North Africa, places run by Muslims.

That stuff is coming to Western Civilization.

The million angry hornets will eat the million gentle, pretty little butterflies.

The empowered, independent feeling of eating less and doing much more

After ten days hiking through the Adirondacks’ most remote wilderness areas with our 18 year-old daughter, I had plenty of take-aways and contemplative thoughts that came home with me.

One of which was the empowered feeling of eating far less than I usually do, while performing at a far increased level than normally challenged. More on this in a moment.

Another take-away was that I am never too old to make mistakes, and one of the mistakes I made was taking an incredibly heavy pack on a rugged through-hike, where every extra ounce can make or break the trip.

My damned pack weighed 70 pounds and had everything but a Democrat in it. Some of that extra weight was due to Nina’s unusually specialized diet, due to a disease she has had all her life.  We had to plan for every food contingency, within the constraints of great dehydrated trail food I make at home. Dehydrated means it weighs a lot less, keeps longer, and is limited to certain meats, fruits and vegetables. Nonetheless, the extreme weight really beat on my feet on the rugged downhills, and it slowed us down.

About that food: As I have typically experienced in all of my past days afield, hunger feels a lot different at the end of a tough day. A handful of salty nuts and a handful of sweet dried fruit is usually sufficient to make me feel full and put me soundly to sleep in the tent. Breakfast is usually a large cup of dark sweetened tea and either oatmeal with dried fruit and brown sugar, or the same cold dried fruits and nuts. Then I am off with my kit, about to burn another 10,000 calories.

The meals I eat on these trips are at most a couple hundred calories, so there is a tremendous imbalance between output and input. That results in an extreme burn of body fat, among other positive effects.

So I wonder why I feel the need to eat so much more, so much that is physically unnecessary, when I am at home, or at work, and I am not churning through huge caloric burns?

As I stink at pop psychology, not venturing into the guesswork of why any person, particularly Americans, enjoy over-eating / binging will prove a relief to us all.

But I will say this: What an empowered feeling it is, what a sense of independence I had, from hardly eating a thing, while literally moving a small mountain on my back many miles each day. Each day I was able to successfully plow through the East Coast’s most remote wilderness on just a handful of home-made jerky, some salty nuts (salt is a necessity for our bodies), and some home-made dried fruit.

In the spirit of Independence from want, or mere feelings of want, I am committing to eating a hell of a lot less every day than I used to, not because it makes me look better, but because it makes me feel a hell of a lot better, more empowered, more in control, like I have achieved more with less than expected. That is a very good feeling.

 

 

The spy on my trusty old laptop

Microsoft Windows may be the industry standard for personal computers, but with the advent of the much-hated Windows 10 operating system, the company has sought to join the data spying craze afflicting nearly every digital user.

This forced spyware is driving users batty.

Who wants to click the “YES – SPY ON ME” Windows 10 install button? Not many people. At least not people who value their privacy.

One of the reasons cell phone users are going back to flip phones is because they are tired of being spied on by the various software companies that run the “smart phones” like iPhone.

Likewise, I am joining the growing number of non-Internet-connected PC users.

A personal computer is a valuable tool, an effective tool, and between the spreadsheet and writing software on it, it does a lot for my life and business. However, once connected to the Internet, that same PC becomes a spy turned back on the connected user.  Some of the hacking involves using the PC’s camera to surreptitiously watch the user. For that reason a small piece of sticky note pad paper covers the never-used camera on my PC.

Now I have a cheap PC for Internet use, a PC with nothing on it but basic software. And then another PC with my data and files.

I found a way to stop Windows 10 from installing, and it’s actually easy to do. I highly recommend it. Reports over the past year about Windows 10 are not flattering. It is designed simply to turn your PC into a spy, to pick apart and report on not only your online habits, but your personal software uses and writing content.

And Microsoft is allowed to spy on you because you hit the YES – SPY ON ME install button.

Every action leads to opposite reaction

As anti-freedom gun-grabbers continue on in their march for government supremacy over the citizenry, they seem surprised when that same citizenry reacts.

Take Barack Hussein Obama, for example. Like Rapist-In-Chief Bill Clinton before him, Obama’s anti gun crusading has driven millions of Americans to either buy guns for the first time, or to buy even more guns and ammunition than they had before.

As the federal government and its Big Government allies in the mainstream media, academia, and activist groups amplify their assaults on citizen liberties, the citizens begin to coalesce into like-minded groups. In the beginning of America these were known as militia. Today they are simply loosely knit groups of advocates for the First Amendment, Second Amendment, and Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution. They are reacting to the illegal and unconstitutional pressures being brought to bear on them collectively and individually, pressures under the color of “law.”

Today I watched as Shira Goodman and a bearded man with her walked around the crowd in the Pennsylvania State Capitol rotunda, where the annual Second Amendment rally was held. Shira and I have debated on live TV before. She represents CeaseFirePA, an anti-freedom and Big Government group. I imagine she was counting the number of people at the rally. It is true that the number of people at any given rally are an indication of the political strength they represent.

The place was packed. From top to bottom, side to side, you could barely move. Between 1,000 and 2,000 people today. Contrast that with the 25 people who showed up for CeaseFirePA’s rally two weeks ago.

Shira looked sallow and grim faced. The bearded man with her looked frightened, and he tightly clutched some case he was carrying.

We rally participants were fired up, and when one of the speakers (Rep. Daryl Metcalf, I think) pointed out that today we had shown up unarmed, and rue the day when we do show up armed, we loudly roared our support.

The political Left has been on an anti-America warpath for so long that it appears they do not realize how far they are pushing so many citizens. For decades normal Americans have conceded little and big victories to the Left, often with a sense of resignation that “things are changing.”

What is different about the gun issue, now, and different about now versus twenty years ago, is that an entire two generations of Americans have watched the Big Government Left practically swamp the average citizen.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen. The less our liberties and freedoms, the fewer our rights.

In a nation like America, based on laws and citizenship, the Left’s policy wins are increasingly perpendicular to the trajectory of America the nation and most of its citizens.

That is “the silent majority.”

Yes, it is true that millions of invaders have been ushered in by treasonous Federal servants, in an effort to tilt the vote balance forever in the favor of one Santa Claus after another, dispensing free things paid for by hard working taxpayers.

But the real result is a deep and building undercurrent of resentment. Call it the “Tea Party,” conservative movement, whatever, it is a groundswell of formerly free citizens fearful of losing the America they love and worked hard to create.

Statists like Shira Goodman and her friends at CeaseFirePA are so completely devoted to Big Government that they cannot comprehend a citizen rebellion. Like a horse, their blinders are so big that they cannot see what is happening around them. Sure, Marxists like Mark Potok at the Southern Poverty Law Center, another anti-freedom, anti-Christian outpost, are constantly cited by their Left friends in the Washington Post and other mainstream media outlets. But that cat is out of the bag, and putting it back in is not going to happen without a hell of a fight and lots of scratches.

One wishes that all these crusading pushers would leave the citizens alone, so that we can go back to our lives, liberty, and pursuit of our happiness. But it ain’t gonna happen. These guys will just keep on pushing until the citizens have nowhere to turn.

And then look out.

Our dear friend, Don Heckman

Don Heckman needs little introduction in the sporting circles of Pennsylvania and the East Coast.

A founding member and long time leader of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Don’s cheerful, generous and kind personality and locomotive work ethic helped re-establish wild turkeys to Pennsylvania in the 1970s, when the conventional wisdom said it was impossible.

Don was also a powerful advocate for the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsman’s Clubs, the National Rifle Association, and many other similar groups to which he was a devoted life member.

He was a persuasive advocate for the continued success of the Pennsylvania Game Commission on the whole, and its land acquisition and science-based habitat management programs in particular.

Don was both an incredibly good hunter, and at times also exasperating to hunt with. This is because of his own unique standards: He refused to shoot a gobbler (male turkey), unless it was both strutting and gobbling at the same time. Sneaking toms, peeping toms, cautious toms, running or flying toms he would not shoot, no matter how close or in range of his gun. None of those were sporting birds, in his estimation. Only a completely unaware longbeard was worthy.

Don and I turkey hunted together a number of times over the years, mostly in the central Pennsylvania farmland we both love. While it would be easy to regale Don’s skill as a caller and hunter, two instances come to mind that sum up the attraction of having Don as your hunting partner.

First was his wry humor. He meant it with love, of course.

“Mmmmmm, uh huh. That sounds like a turkey,” was a frequent back handed compliment from Don as I was scratching away on a friction call, mostly slates.

He wouldn’t care that my calling had actually lured in a nice longbeard to within range. That was no inoculation against the compliment. For Don, it was important to remind me that my calling could always improve, whenever he had the chance. And he was right, of course, as much as I do not like to admit it.  That’s what good teachers are about. He was, after all, a many time champion caller whose skill I could only marvel at and never hope to replicate.

And just to prove his point by spiking the ball, Don might decide to stand up and switch locations even as the gobbler was determinedly marching across a cut corn field directly to us.

Watching the alarmed bird take wing and sail to the other side of the valley, the now standing Don said to my sitting figure, “Yeah, he must’ve seen you move.”

Movement is the biggest no-no of all in turkey hunting, and rookies move a lot. Even veterans get caught moving their eyeballs by wary gobblers fifty yards out. To attribute the alarmed and rushed exit of a wild turkey to a hunter’s movement is a gentle way of saying “Your hunting skill needs some work.” Even if it didn’t at that very moment.

And then there was that truly exasperating standard of his, the one where he would only shoot a gobbler in full strut AND gobbling. That performance is like looking up in the sky and seeing the sun and moon align, because a longbeard gobbler that is both strutting and gobbling is completely in the moment. He feels no fear or wariness that usually accompanies most alluring hen calls by hunters.

As I am not ever going to approach Don’s skill as a turkey hunter (he has racked up more annual grand slam turkey hunts species-wise and across multiple states than anyone else I know), I feel fortunate to shoot any gobbler, strutting or not.

And it is a fact that my poor skill as a turkey caller usually results in birds sneaking in, peering in, or darting in for a quick look before running like hell to get out of Dodge, or “putting” (turkeys make a putt-putt alarm call when they are suspicious enough to flee) from 40 yards out, so that most of the gobblers I have killed were shot mid-stride to the next county.

Not in full strut AND gobbling, like Don would have.

One morning in Dauphin County about four or five years ago, Don and I were lying in a field while I called to turkeys below us. They came well within range, but the lead gobbler, a huge bruiser boss bird, stopped gobbling and was “only” fanned out and puffed up, strutting. Such an impressive performance was insufficient to move Don’s trigger finger backwards, despite my harsh whispers of expletive-laced encouragement.

Nope. Instead, Don stood up in plain view of the flock, maybe thirty yards away, with his shotgun trained on the head of the strutting gobbler, and he began simultaneously calling with his mouth diaphragm call.

Wild turkey hunters know that at the sight of a man standing up within two hundred yards, let alone thirty, wild turkeys scatter like dust in a hurricane. They are gone in the blink of an eye.

Not these birds. Don’s calling was so good, so realistic, so enticing that the entire flock turned to look at us with concern for the grossly misshapen hen addressing them, and then they calmly walked away.

Don never shot, though he would have easily bagged any of the gobblers there. He just said “Oh, well, let’s go try another spot.”

Don is now in another spot, a turkey chaser’s dream spot, I am sure. He was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor in late January this year, and he rode it out with the help of his devoted wife, Sandy, for the next few months, until he died on the night of May 17th, in the central Pennsylvania region he loved so much.

Like all of his friends and acquaintances, I will miss Don Heckman enormously. Sitting in a turkey blind I cried yesterday, thinking about his loss. Don died way too young, barely into his retirement, and not in time for me to prove to him that really, I can get a gobbler to strut AND gobble in range. But that is what I will continue to do, to aspire to, in Don’s memory, as representative as it was of one of the last great generational wildlife conservation leaders in Pennsylvania and in America.

Bye, old friend, boy do I miss you.

 

Invasives & Sustainability

Invasives present a challenge to sustainability because they quickly fill gaps where natives take longer to grow and thrive. Natives evolved in their environment over long periods of time and they perform certain key services and functions that are necessary for the overall system to function properly.

As non-native invasives proliferate, they choke out the natives and reduce their ecosystem services. Almost always, the non-native invasives perform limited or no services, despite showy appearances. Their presence is totally unsustainable and is ruinous if left unchecked.

A day or so ago while walking on my favorite rail-trail, it was impossible to ignore the sickly sweet smell of Japanese honeysuckle, a huge invasive nearly everywhere in Pennsylvania. For whatever reason, Japanese honeysuckle has spread like wildlfire in the past few years. My only neighbor’s property is like Ground Zero, so whatever fight I am carrying on at my place is limited in effect by the invasive sanctuary across the boundary line. Like a shrub explosion.

Sure, the ruby throated hummingbirds benefit from honeysuckle, and who doesn’t like watching the gentle, delicate little birds flit around?

But this much honeysuckle is quickly crowding out native trees that benefit our native wildlife. Occasionally deer will browse the tender tips of a honeysuckle shrub, but after the first inch it’s just tough woody debris that deer won’t eat. So it grows pretty much unchallenged. And boy does it ever grow!

Along with Japanese honeysuckle comes barberry, multiflora rose, and autumn or Russian olive, often all popping up unannounced in large clumps. Interesting, isn’t it, that they all appear together? Once in a while a nasty ailanthus (“Tree of Heaven”) will push its way in among the other invaders.

After years of battling these non-native invasives, I have come to rely on pulling up the barberry by hand, usually with the aid of a length of re-bar, and spraying the smaller olives, honeysuckle, and multiflora rose with glyphosate. Sawing substantially into the larger honeysuckle shrubs and spraying the cut with glyphosate usually does the trick; it works much better than trying to spray the whole big shrub.

Intriguing, don’t you think, that the biggest advocates of fighting non-native invasives are the ones most aggressively pushing non-native invasives in the form of lawbreaking illegal border crashers?

Recently I was on the West Coast, in an area in the grip of a Biblical-size drought. Water scarcity is becoming a serious problem. Public demand for water far outstrips supply. A drive through the Central Valley revealed apocryphal “Dustbowl” conditions, with signs everywhere warning about the consequences of poor water management.

It is not a sustainable situation. Yet this area also holds the greatest number of illegal invaders in America, who put an unsustainable demand on other public services besides water. Public transportation, public schools, roads, highways, sewage treatment, public spaces like parks, police, fire and hospital services are all stretched way beyond capacity by the presence of the non-native, non-tax-paying  invasives.

And yet the voting citizens of Los Angeles and California continue to aggressively vote for unsustainability.

Boggles the mind.

Cruz Quixote

Ted Cruz was my candidate until he was clear he’d rather be used by the GOPe to block Trump than stand on his principles, do or die.

Now with another Super Tuesday primary election behind us and boosting Trump, with zero chance of a Cruz win, Ted Cruz has decided to go on a Quixotic anti Trump jihad.

Cruz has made damaging Trump his top principle. Not defeating Hillary. Not promoting an overhaul of the GOP. Nope. Hurting Trump is now Cruz’s raison d’etre.

Pathetic. And unpatriotic.

At this point, a real American would step aside and cheer on the front runner. A real American would consider the national interest before his own.

Not Cruz. Being an obstructionist is now his highest and best use. This is sad to me, as I had thought he was bigger than this juvenile behavior.

It’s so bad that some Pennsylvania Cruz -aligned delegates are talking openly of going to the Republican convention just to work against Trump.

Donald Trump still does not represent my values very well, nor do I trust him to be the warrior in office he is now.  But Trump is a damn sight better than Benghazi Billary, and he’s now our standard barer, for better or worse.

Time to let go of personal ambitions in the greater interest of America. Or maybe move to Canada and just get out of our way.