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Our Future Belongs to the Young

After spending years running for office and fighting many political battles on behalf of the common citizen, I was excited to run for State Senate in 2015-2016. It was supposed to be “our time.”

Enter Andrew Lewis, a young guy newly back in the area after a ten year period of service in the US Army.

Some already know the story: In late November hunting season I fell, injured my left knee, and headed in to surgery.

Competing against wealthy land developer John DiSanto was going to be a battle royale I nonetheless felt confident of winning. But with Andrew undermining our campaign base in rural, wonderful Perry County, and with him making up for a lack of money with an abundance of energy and hard work in the door to door arena, it made sense to cut my losses and see if Andrew could get my own agenda done.

After all, I did not relish the prospect of a 33/33/33 result decided by a couple hundred votes in the end.  Our family time and money was worth more at home than on that uncertain kind of a campaign trail.

Andrew had already adopted a great deal of our campaign platform, and when he agreed to term limits and not taking unconstitutional perquisites, I endorsed him.

Here we are, a day out from Election Day.

I am asking you to vote for Andrew Lewis in the Pennsylvania State Senate 15th District race.

Andrew Lewis is a young conservative who represents the future of American leadership.

John DiSanto is a fine man I’ve enjoyed getting to know on the campaign trail, but he has two liabilities: First, his business by its nature has left a trail of unhappy people. That’s not a great selling point in an election where the same people’s votes are needed.

Second, John’s toughness may be an asset in the land development field, but it’s not a great skill set in politics. John’s performance during and after debates demonstrates he is uncomfortable being challenged. If he easily gets testy among a friendly Republican forum, how’s he going to come off in a death match with sitting senator Rob Teplitz?

The 15th senate district should be in traditional American hands, and Andrew has the charm, background, and articulate policy interest necessary to demonstrate to citizens of all political leanings that he has their interests at heart first and foremost.

Please vote for Andrew Lewis on Tuesday.

Farewell Senate Campaign Page, Hello ol’ Blog!

With the Pennsylvania Primary election just eleven days away, the time has arrived to go back to the blog and leave the campaign policies and pledges to candidates Andrew Lewis and John DiSanto.

The last blog post was in June 2015. How surprising it was back then to see the amount of traffic the blog received, and from all corners of the world. Most of our readers were from Harrisburg and Washington, DC, two government hot spots and centers for policy development. Wonks galore in those two locations. But then there were the places like Washington STATE, Louisiana, Upstate New York, and California, where many fewer dedicated policy weenies reside. Even recently a bearded Democrat said he missed this blog, “Even though I don’t agree with you a lot of the time, you are a good writer and you have interesting subjects.”

So we begin again. However, with the election just days away, you can expect some politicking to occur here. Welcome back, dear reader.

Why I am Suing Mayor Papenfuse

The following op-ed was published at www.pennlive.com, which is the new digital version of the former Patriot News newspaper. What I submitted  was edited a bit by the staff there, and they mis-spelled attorney Josh Prince’s name, among other mistakes or omissions. If you are interested in seeing the difference of thinking between liberals and conservatives, you are encouraged to read the comments section following the letter.  The conservatives keep on repeating the same basic, accurate facts, the same simple logic, and the liberals keep talking about their feelings, going off-topic, mocking and commenting on physical appearance.  This is one of those moments where taxpayers can get a glimpse of the failure of America’s educational system, where critical thinking has been thrown overboard in favor of teaching students to be politically correct on issues, like government overreach on gun ownership.

http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2015/04/heres_why_im_suing_to_stop_pap.html#incart_2box_opinion

Today’s talk with Dickinson College students

Thank you to Professor Andrea Leiber, among others, at Dickinson College, just about every year I am invited to come speak to a class about environmental issues.

Usually it is more enjoyable to go right into the Question & Answer period, because it’s there that we get the most essential points.  Usually stuff like “Statistically, most of you will get married and about half of you will become divorced.  Many of you will get fired from a job.  Don’t fight with your boss.  Pursue things that make you happy,” and so on.

These are college students who may not have ever heard facts and ideas like this before.

Today I brought a hand-out, below, that we went over before getting into the Q&A.  The students, naturally, found these items tremendously provocative, which is good.  That is the point.  The goal is to challenge them and get them to think hard, outside their comfort zones.  Kids, thank you for being so interested in our topics.  I appreciate at least not being ignored.

Here is what was handed out:

Dickinson Five points:

1) your generation is becoming infantile. Don’t be offended. That’s a cop-out. Engage the world. Debate people on substantive issues. “You offend me” is bullsh*t. Don’t deal in bullsh*t. Be real.

2) listen to Rush Limbaugh. Or Hannity. Or Glen Beck. Add diverse thinking to your daily dose of diversity. Or, stop deceiving yourself that you truly embrace diversity. Listening to ideas you’re new to or unhappy about gets you outside the box. Think outside the box. Political correctness is a box.

3) climate change is not a religion, or a cult, or a science, so stop treating it that way.  For 35 years we’ve been told a brand new, unproven, nascent science was already settled. Really? On what basis? By whom? Anthropogenic climate change is a corrupted political movement based on Marxism. It’s not science, yet.

4)  Learn the American Constitution. It’s the basis of your life whether or not you presently understand it. It’s under assault. Eg 2nd amendment is fundamental to a free people and gun control has zero to do with crime control, FEC FCC regulation of internet, NSA spying, IRS political assault on political speech, Hillary’s private emails to conduct national security, loss of religious conscience.

5) Islam is at war with western civilization. America’s next big war will probably be with orthodox Muslims over individual liberty and freedom. Do not allow political correctness to stop you from asking questions and from saying what you believe.

Are you against Christianity but ok with Islam? Why?

Are you upset about the Israeli “occupation” but are ok with the Arab occupation of Jewish and Christian homes, farms and businesses? Why?

Be brave or kiss America and your iPhone goodbye.

Get off Facebook, have a beer [or soda] and grilled hotdogs with your real friends, instead.

Grow a small garden.

Camp out often.

Be self reliant.

Don’t let others’ expectations shape your future.

Get a gun and learn how to shoot it and store it.

Don’t smoke pot. Facebook is pot. It’s already killing your brain. Don’t add more.

Don’t be a hypocrite or have double standards. Be real.

A lot of work, buried under the Internet

For about a year I wrote for watchdogwire.com, a professionally led citizen reporter-fueled website that exposed a lot of local issues the mainstream media will never write about.  Then the website changed, a few months ago, and my favorite editor, Jana, left to find another job.  All of the essays I wrote for Watchdogwire remain enshrined there, cryogenically frozen in some Internet deep-freeze visible only to those who really want to dig around.  Here is the URL to those essays.

Fun speaking engagement Tuesday, Veteran’s Day

Josh will be speaking at the Hillside Cemetery in Catawissa tomorrow, for Veteran’s Day. 11:00 am re-dedication of World War 1 field gun and memorial of WW1 superhero Herb McCarty. All invited. Come join us if you are in the mood for a supercharged dose of patriotic American spirit!

Perry County Ground Zero, Round II

Perry County Ground Zero, Round II

By Josh First

Perry County, Pennsylvania, may be a deeply rural and tranquil place with just two traffic lights, but it is Ground Zero for the latest battle over your Constitutional gun rights.

The results of this battle have enormous implications for all Pennsylvanians, irrespective of where they live, because any legal holding will eventually apply not just to one county, but all counties and all citizens.

Unquestionably acting on political goals, the three county auditors recently sued the county sheriff, Carl Nace, demanding that he provide the names and addresses of concealed carry permit applicants his office processes. Nace refused, citing state law which seems crystal clear on the subject.

Much has been written here and elsewhere about this lawsuit and its genesis, so I will not re-trace those steps, but it is valuable to report back on where things stand as of yesterday.

Yesterday a hearing was held in New Bloomfield, Perry County’s seat of local government, on the auditors’ lawsuit against Nace. The hearing was intended to give both parties an opportunity to argue their case before a judge. The three county auditors are the plaintiff, and Sheriff Nace is the defendant.

I sat literally front and center in the court room, accompanied by Carl Fox and Jim Lucas, among many other wonderful citizens, activists, and concerned citizens. Carl Fox is president of the Duncannon Sportsman’s Association, and Jim Lucas is an engineer and well known political activist. Both Carl and Jim are involved in supporting Sheriff Nace and determining the background to the lawsuit. Both men believe the lawsuit has political purposes and goals, and is not some innocent procedural cause in the interest of perfect auditing everywhere.

Attorney Joshua Prince represented Nace, and attorney Craig Staudenmaier represented the three county auditors. The auditors were not present, either at the court house, nor at the hearing. Nace sat with his attorney in the court room.

Judge George Zanic sat directly in front of me with a clear line of sight between us, and I hope he wasn’t put off by my large prescription sunglasses, which I wear to keep summertime migraine headaches at bay, even inside. With my new, white, grizzled beard, wrap-around sunglasses, and unkempt end-of-summer hair, several people I already know approached me to learn who I was. One asked me if I was there for “the opposition,” and then laughed out loud when he realized who I was. That beard is coming off today! And yes, this is an indication that I am having a hard time letting go of the fantastic, if exhausting, summer I spent with my wife, kids, and friends.

Judge Zanic boiled down the entire argument to two points, one in each set of motions filed by each party. Zanic appeared most curious and skeptical about attorney Craig Staudenmaier’s assertions and claims about the need for the information, and the deficiency he says the county audit suffers from without the applicants’ names and addresses. More questions were asked of Staudenmaier than of Prince, and those questions for Staudenmaier were more pointed than those posed by the judge to Prince.

The judge was clearly having trouble understanding the plaintiff’s demand, or the need for the demand in the first place.

Citing general auditing standards, Judge Zanic referred to his own experience as a professional and as a former district attorney. Zanic disagreed with Staudenmaier about what information is necessary for any audit, let alone a county audit that was successfully completed by another firm when the auditors failed to do their own.

Prince did an excellent job in all respects, demonstrating a clear and quick knowledge of the governing statute, related laws, and the facts. Prince was articulate, clearly well prepared, and he stayed with Nace after the judge departed; both men answered questions from citizens and reporters.

Staudenmaier was often halting in his explanations, seemingly confused at times, and he argued in circles, often failing to directly answer the judge’s pointed questions. Some of his answers were rudimentary and elicited grumpy mutters from the audience. As soon as the judge left, Staudenmaier shot out of his seat, grabbed his papers, and fled out the back of the court house, through a hallway and door off limits to the audience. He took no questions from anyone in the court room, nor from anyone outside the court house.

Channels 43 and 27 were there, as was the Patriot News. Kudos to reporter Dennis Owens for pointing out that the auditors were not present at their own hearing, which is unnecessarily costing the county taxpayers a lot of money.  Their absence raises questions about just how seriously they take all this mess they have created.

Uniformed sheriffs and deputies from at least 15 counties were in attendance, in support of Sheriff Nace.

The court room was about 85% full.

“I hope to have a decision for you very soon,” said Judge Zanic.

Here is my take-away:

1) A person can draw their own conclusions about the quality or necessity of elected officials who take taxpayer money, who initiate unnecessary and expensive litigation, and who then do not show up in public or even at their own hearing. You cannot kick the hornet’s nest without getting stung, and then complain about it, but that is what these three auditors are doing. What they have said, and what their spokesman attorney Craig Staudenmaier has said, is that these three feel unhappy about the negative reactions their citizens have had over this lawsuit. Some counties do not have auditors, and it seems that the three in Perry County have proven they are either unfit or not needed. Perry County should either eliminate the office of county auditor, or vote these three out of office.

2) Perry County should do everything it can to determine who is behind the auditors’ lawsuit, including determining who paid Staudenmaier. This should be done to determine what political forces are in play (CeaseFirePA? Bloomberg? Soros? The Democratic Party of Pennsylvania? A local elected official?), and why they are present, and also let’s see if the people who started this expensive mess can then be held accountable and pay for it out of their own pockets.

3) Perry County should prepare to recover any costs or legal fees associated with this lawsuit, whether from the three auditors or from someone else who may be accountable. I think that Joshua Prince is representing Sheriff Nace for free, but no one should have to spend time defending someone from a frivolous lawsuit at their sole expense.

 

 

Remembering neat people, Part 1

A lot of neat, interesting people have died in the past year or two, or ten, if I think about it, but time flies faster than we can catch it or even snatch special moments from it. People I either knew or admired from afar who changed me in some way.

There are two men who influenced me in small but substantial ways who I have been thinking about in recent days. One of them died exactly ten years ago, and the other died just last year. Funny how I keep thinking about them.

It is time to honor them as best I can, in words.

First one was Charlie Haffner, a grizzled mountain man from central Tennessee. Charlie and I first crossed paths in 1989, when I joined the Owl Hollow Shooting Club about 45 minutes south of Nashville, where I was a graduate student at the time.

Charlie owned that shooting club.

Back before GPS, internet, or cell phones, the world was a different place than today. Dinosaurs were probably wandering around among us then, mmm hmmmmm. Heck, maybe I am a dinosaur. Anyhow, in order to find my way to the Owl Hollow club, first and foremost I had to get the club’s phone number, which I obtained from a fly fishing shop on West End Avenue. Then I had to call Charlie for directions, using a l-a-n-d l-i-n-e, and actually speaking to a person at the other end. You’d think it was Morse Code by today’s standards.

After getting Charlie on the phone, and assiduously writing down his directions from our phone conversation, I had to use the best map I could get and then drive way out in the Tennessee countryside on gravel and dirt roads. Trusting my directional instincts, which are good, and trusting the maps, which were pretty bad, and using Charlie’s directions, which were exactingly precise, I made my way through an alien landscape of small tobacco farms and Confederate flags waving from flagpoles. Yes, southcentral Tennessee back then, and maybe even today, was still living in 1865. Not an American flag to be seen out there by itself. If one appeared, it was either directly above, or, more commonly, directly below the Confederate flag. The Confederate flag shared equal or nearly equal footing with the American flag throughout that region.

Needless to say, when I had finally arrived at the big, quiet, lonesome gun range in the middle of the Tennessee back country, the fact that I played the banjo and was as redneck as redneck gets back home didn’t mean a thing right then. Buddy, I was feelin’…. Yankee, like…well, like black people once probably felt entering into a room full of Caucasians. I felt all alone out there and downright uncomfortable. And to boot, I was looking for a mountain man with a deeeeep Southern drawl, so it was bound to get better. Right?

Sure enough, I saw Charlie’s historic square-cut log cabin up the hill, and I walked up to it. Problem was, it had a door on every outside wall, so that when I knocked on one, and heard voices inside, and then heard “Over here!” coming from outside, I’d walk around to the next door, which was closed, and I would knock again, and go through the process again, and again. Yes, I knocked on three or four of those mystery doors before Charlie Haffner finally stepped out of yet one more doorway, into the sunshine, and greeted me in the most friendly and welcoming manner.

Bib overalls were meant to be worn by men like Charlie, and Charlie was meant to wear bib overalls, and I think that’s all he had on. His long, white Father Time beard flowed down and across his chest, and his long, flowing white hair was thick and distinguished like a Southern gentleman’s hair would have to be. And sure as shootin’, a flintlock pistol was tucked into the top of those bib overalls. I am not normally a shy person, and I normally enjoy trying to get the first words in on any conversation, with some humor if I can think of it fast enough. But the truth is, I was dumbfounded and just stood there in awe of the sight before me.

Being a Damned Yankee, I half expected to be shot dead on sight. But what followed is a legendary story re-told many times in my own family, as Charlie (and his kindly wife, who also had a twinkle in her eye) welcomed me into his home in the most gracious, witty, and insightful way possible.

Over the following two years, I shot as much as a full-time graduate student could shoot out there at Owl Hollow Gun Club, which is to say not as much as I wanted and probably more than I should have. Although my first interest in guns as a kid had been black powder muzzleloaders, and I had received a percussion cap .45 caliber Philadelphia derringer as a gift when I was ten, I had not really spent much time around flintlocks. Charlie rekindled that flame in me there, and it has burned ever since, as it has for tens of thousands of other people who were similarly shaped by Charlie’s re-introduction of flintlock shooting matches back in the early 1970s, there at Owl Hollow Gun Club.

Charlie died ten years ago, on July 10th, I think, and I have thought about him often ever since: His incredible warmth and humor, his amazing insights for a mountain man with little evident exposure to the outside world (now don’t go getting prejudiced about mountain folk; he and many others are plenty worldly, even if they don’t APPEAR to be so), his tolerance of differences and willingness to break with orthodoxy to make someone feel most welcome. Hollywood has done a bad number on the Southern Man image, and maybe some of that negative stereotype is deserved, but Charlie Haffner was a true Southern gentleman in every way, and I was proud to know him, to be shaped by him.

The other man who has been on my mind is Russell Means, a Pine Ridge Sioux, award-winning actor, and Indian rights activist who caught my attention in the early 1970s, and most especially as a spokesman for tribal members holed up out there after shooting it out with FBI gunslingers.

American Indians always have a respected place in the heart of true Americans, and anyone who grew up playing cowboys and Indians knows that sometimes there were bad cowboys who got their due from some righteous red men. Among little kids fifty years ago, the Indians were always tough, and sometimes they were tougher and better than the white guys. From my generation, a lot of guys carry around a little bit of wahoo Indian inside our hearts; we’d still like to think we are part Indian; it would make us better, more real Americans…

Russell Means was a good looking man, very manly and tough, and he was outspoken about the unfair depredations his people had experienced. While Means was called a radical forty years ago, I think any proud Irishman or Scottish Highlander could easily relate to his complaints, if they or their descendants stop to think about how Britain had (and still does) dispossessed and displaced them.

Russell Means played a key role in an important movie, The Last of the Mohicans. His stoic, rugged demeanor wasn’t faked, and he was so authentic in appearance and action that he easily lent palpable credibility to that artistic portrayal of 1750s frontier America by simply showing up and being there on the set. Means could have easily been the guy on the original buffalo nickel; that is how authentic he was.

Russell Means was representative of an older, better way of life that is disappearing on the Indian reservations, if that makes any sense to those who think of the Indian lifestyle that passed away as involving horses and headdresses. He was truly one of the last of the Mohicans, for all the native tribes. Although I never met you, I still miss you, and your voice, Mr. Means.

[Written 7/23/14]

Harrisburg politics as usual from someone we should not expect it from

“Politics as usual.”

That is a statement, a curse, a wry observation, an accusation, a vexation to the free citizen, and most surely, it is a threat to good government.

Wherever there is “politics as usual,” we find double standards, empty promises, hypocrisy, a lack of forethought, an absence of careful or diligent thought, and an act of putting political gain ahead of citizen gain. And please don’t kid yourself that only “their” political party does it.  Both main political parties engage in politics as usual, and even some of the fringe political parties are awash in it, because for their single issue cause to succeed they must overlook tons of contrary evidence to keep selling their purist issue.

This past week saw a classic example of politics as usual, and it disappointed me, because the person who engaged in it ought to know better.  I certainly believe that he is better than that, and that he has a capacity to act bigger than his silly politicized statement.

What happened was that Governor Tom Corbett line-item-vetoed some “legislative” funding (that is taxpayer dollars used by the legislature for their office coffee, cars, walking-around-money, and parking on Capitol Hill), and state senator Rob Teplitz claimed that it would damage Harrisburg’s recovery plan.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, because that money vetoed out of the budget belongs to taxpayers and has zero to do with Harrisburg’s recovery.  Only an overly creative imagination can find some vague link between the loss of cheap cash for legislators and the loss of economic advance for Harrisburg City.

Making it worse is that Senator Teplitz voted against the state budget to begin with.  If he votes against something, how can he then claim that someone else shouldn’t vote against it, too?

The simple reason that Teplitz said this is for cheap political gain, a lame attempt to damage Corbett among voters in Harrisburg City. This qualifies as politics as usual, and it is destructive of the political process because it cheapens the political process.  It dumbs it down.  Instead of talking about Big Important Issues, we end up talking about nonsense that has nothing to do with anything material or substantial, and voters walk away from it.

When voters walk away from the political process, America is damaged.  Maximum voter participation is needed for the nation to function properly.

Teplitz should know better than to do this.  He is a bright guy, and I think he is a good guy.  Although principled, he is overwhelmingly partisan, and that is why this kind of silly waste of time came naturally to him.  Like all other partisans, Democrat and Republican, Teplitz only really cares about the party enterprise.  He forgets about the citizens, their Constitutional rights, their personal money they remove from their pockets and place in the state coffers.

It is no secret I hope to be the Republican nominee in 2016 for the 15th PA senate district.  If he runs for re-election then, Teplitz will be my opponent.  I have no problem publicly singing his praises where he has earned them, and I can attest to several good things he has done for me and other people in the district.  If Teplitz has had one strength so far, that I have seen, one truly laudable characteristic, it has been his willingness to wade into bad government, force a meeting or two, confront recalcitrant bureaucrats, and represent well a constituent’s interests. That is a real skill, and we should all recognize it.

That is why Teplitz disappoints so badly with his spurious attack on Corbett.  I just know he can be bigger and better than this politics as usual.

 

Good move by Gov. Corbett

If I hear one more false accusation that Tom Corbett is short changing government schools, I am gonna buttonhole that next person who says it.  It is not true that government school funding was or has been cut by the Corbett administration.  Like so many things that former governor Ed Rendell had done, those previous annual education budgets were temporarily bolstered by one-time FEDERAL money.  That funding was never intended to be continuous, and if it is not continuous, then it is in Barack Obama’s hands, not some governor who has zero control over federal spending.

Whatever your beef with Tom Corbett may be, and Lord knows, people have legitimate beefs with him, he is not responsible for “cutting education funding.” That is a lie.

Today, Corbett did the right thing by signing the legislature’s proposed budget, but using his line-item veto power to exclude the state legislature’s hoggish claim to some $72 million taxpayer dollars.  I have seen the state legislature hog over $100 million, and even higher, for their pet projects that the careerist leaders and their “pets” use to spend on projects to buy votes and get re-elected.

Corbett is angling for the legislature to return and fix the state pension crisis.

Good move, Tom Corbett.