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Partisan politics challenges common sense

Governor Tom Wolf’s support for PA AG Kathleen Kane is a political mistake. Commitment to party more than the people causes these types of errors. Tom Wolf campaigned as a non partisan leader, above politics, solely at the service of the citizenry. Kane is obviously a lawless, corrupt politician who abandoned the pursuit of justice the minute she walked into the AG’s office. What a shame Wolf is expending his political capital on such a waste. I had much higher hopes for him.

Un-Citizen Kane. Time to go

Nothing is tougher to accept than a corrupt public official, and the higher the office the harder it is to accept. So it is with Kathleen Kane, PA’s Attorney General.

Now the Philly Inquirer has published a significant investigative report on AG Kathleen Kane and her constant intercessions on behalf of known, convicted, and or suspected crooks from the moment she took office.

The first one the public learned about was Kane’s shielding of ultra corrupt politicians from the Philadelphia area. Philly DA Seth Williams took issue with Kane’s dropping of cases against the bad guys, and he battled her for control of the cases. Williams resurrected the charges and successfully implemented his n her job: People paid big fines, went to jail etc.

Now it turns out that Kane has been using her position to drop or stop investigations right and left across the Pennsylvania landscape. Again, these cases were against wealthy, politically connected people. Her staff at the AG’s office strongly disagreed with her. Some left their careers there because of Kane’s ….questionable….decisions.

Last week Kane lost a case at the PA Supreme Court, which allowed a special prosecutor to continue investigating Kane for her obviously corrupt and illegal behavior on OTHER issues.

In the totality, Kane is surrounded by her own bad judgment, bad decisions, illegal decisions, stupid decisions, corruption, really, over which she will now be charged, in addition to lots of petty politics like hiring her own sister into the AG’s office.

It is time for this catastrophe of a human being to do us taxpayers a favor, and resign. Save her and us from even more shame and pain and public expenditure to follow through on the obvious need for justice. Kane is corrupt. Please leave public life, Un-Citizen Kane.

A Father’s Pride

I admit that I am feeling mighty proud this morning. It cannot be helped.

A big milestone in Central Pennsylvania life was achieved last night when my son passed his Hunter & Trapper Safety Education course and received his orange certificate.  He’s now permitted to purchase a hunting license and begin hunting and trapping as his own self-directed person.  Yes, he is young and he must be accompanied by other, older hunters for some years to come, which makes sense.  Nevertheless, he studied hard, attended the classes after school, and passed the exam with a 100% on his first try.

Along with my boy were 70 other students at the Milton Grove Sportsmen’s Club, which is standing room only.  Thank you to the club for providing the venue and thank you to the educators who donate their time to help recruit the next generation of hunters, trappers, and safe gun owners.  Lowell and Tracy Graybill did an especially fine job, which should not be a big surprise given that Lowell is presently president of the PA Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and the two of them have been a major power couple on conservation and sporting issues for decades.

Honestly, there were a couple of awkward moments in the two nights of training, some opportunities for improvement.  There’s got to be more hands-on and more demonstration of how the different firearms work.  I recall when I was a ten-year-old kid taking the same exam, we all got called up to the front of the room so we could handle the different actions and see for ourselves how they operated.  In a room as big as Milton Grove Sportsmen’s Club’s main meeting room, it must be impossible to see the guns much less imagine how the unfamiliar actions work from the middle and back of the room.

Another awkward time was at the very beginning, when a very nice local Deputy WCO made the opening remarks.  He had a pleasant demeanor and seemed easy to talk with, so he elicited a lot of audience questions and back and forth on the PGC regulations book handed out with all licenses.  He referred to WCOs as “game wardens,” an appellation every WCO I know has tried hard to shed.  He also seemed unfamiliar with basic regulations, like shooting above roadways and public trails.  To his credit, his lack of familiarity seemed to stem from the fact that he appears to pursue charges for serious wildlife crimes and not penny ante, picayune mistakes.

The winner of awkward moments, however, was when one of the educators, Tim, stated that semi-automatic shotguns can only be used for small game and waterfowl hunting, and not for deer hunting.  When it was pointed out by an audience member that semi-auto shotguns can be used for deer in the Special Regulations area around Philadelphia, Tim demurred, openly irritated.  When the audience member tried to hand Tim the regulations book, opened to the page stating that semi-auto shotguns are allowed for deer in that one area, Tim snapped “I don’t care, and I don’t hunt in the Special Regulations area.”

That was in front of the whole class, early on the first night.  It undermined Tim’s credibility and made him look foolish.  He never went back to correct his mistake that night or the second.  It raised the question about qualifications for teaching these courses, not just knowledge, but personality.  Nearly all of the audience members and students were from the southeastern region and quite a few probably do hunt in the Special Regulations area around Philly.  They are entitled to an expectation that they will be provided only accurate information, and that their teachers will have the strength of character to admit when they have mis-spoken or made a mistake.

And no student or audience member should be treated disrespectfully or belittled by a teacher.  It damages the entire purpose of the course.

All that said, it was a wonderful experience for me and my son.  We sat together both nights, and watching him soak up the knowledge was pleasing.  Only forty years have lapsed since I was in his seat….and to me, his rite of passage was much sweeter than my own.

It was also pleasing to see more girls than boys in the student body, as well as many single women and married mothers.  Women are the largest and fastest growing demographic in hunting and firearms ownership.  Now, what would really be exciting would be to see a class like this in downtown Philadelphia, filled with young African American kids and their fellow citizens.  Who will take up that gauntlet, men?

Justice in Palestine, by way of Harrisburg, PA

Palestine may never have been a country in history, and there may never have been a “Palestinian people” before 1968, but by God, there are a lot of calls for Justice in Palestine, and this past week, we finally got a good dose of it.

Benjamin Blutstein was the kind of young guy who pushed just about every button I have.  He wore his hair long, he had huge discs pierced into his ear lobes, he may have had a nose stud or nose earring, he wore frayed hipster clothes that mocked everyone around him, and he was a little arrogant, like I had been (maybe still am a bit?) when I was 20.

While I had watched him grow up, I did not know Ben well.  But I know his parents well, Dr. Katherine Baker and Dr. Richard Blutstein, an interesting and intellectual couple here in Harrisburg.  Katherine and I share an interest in environmental health, and Richard is our family pediatrician.  Richard has come a long way on the gun control issue, and many other political issues, over the past few years, and I enjoy his company a lot, while Katherine and I typically quickly deviate from environmental issues into taste testing Scotches and fine bourbons with many a toast and Brogueish “To Your Health”s.

When our home became one with the Susquehanna River and flooded in September 2011, Katherine and Richard took in our family for over a week.

These are great people, and while Ben may have been typical for his age and education, he was unusual in that he was a committed religious person who was also skilled with ear-splitting music that won him a surprising amount of respect among his peers.

A month after I had been sitting and talking with Ben, he was dead, killed by a large steel bolt blasted from a pipe bomb and which tore a hole through his jugular vein and killed him (and many others in his presence) instantly.

He had been sitting in a college cafeteria in Israel, with other American students.

Ben was the victim of a Muslim Arab terrorist affiliated with the Palestinian Authority, a successfully corrupt and semi-official terrorist organization backed by the European Union, Quakers, liberal Jews, American idiots, and bigots everywhere.

This past week a jury rendered a verdict in the murder case Ben’s family and nine other victims’ families had brought against the PA: Guilty as sin, you murderous bastards.

The award? Six hundred million US dollars, which even by today’s devalued standard is still a lot of money.

While much legal wrangling remains, the fact is that the scumbag terrorists at the PA are on the hook for a lot of money, much of it likely to come from US  and European taxpayers, ironically, to cover the costs of its peaceful religion.

In a region where nearly every single Jew was subject to the usual Muslim Arab Apartheid and forcefully ejected, between the 1920s and the 1950s, from their farms, their homes, their lands and their businesses — all still today under a violent, illegal, and uncompensated Muslim Arab occupation*, and can we now please admit that the regional Christians are also undergoing the same systemic Muslim Arab Apartheid treatment, we finally have a shred of justice.

For once, I say Thank God for Justice in Palestine!

__________________________________________

*The irony of the one million Jewish refugees from Muslim and Arab countries is pretty rich, because as soon as they landed in Israel, much of it purchased by Jews and Christians, the same people who had just torched their homes and stolen everything they had actually accused them of being guilty of the crime of occupation and, now rounded up into the Middle East’s only ghetto, named Israel, the Jews once again became a scapegoat and the sadist’s favorite target, an unjust political farce continuing to this very moment.

Medical cannabis – the time is now

Medical cannabis is the active ingredient from the marijuana plant, used in a responsible way for strictly medical purposes, like treating severe pain and seizures.

Presently the well-earned stigma of “weed” prevents medical cannabis from being used as an alternative to addictive, dangerous drugs from barbiturates and opiates.

Prescription pain killers are becoming a huge menace to American society, not just because of the addictions and ruined lives following in their wake, but because of the car accidents and violence that result from their over-use and misuse.

It is now time to allow medical forms of cannabis – NOT pot/weed/ dope/ hash/ MaryJane – to be used on a strictly controlled medical basis for pain relief and controlling seizures.

The risks of medical cannabis are known to be very low, the side effects are low, while the benefits are known to be very high.  When compared to the high risks, high side-effects of current prescription painkillers, medical cannabis looks positively like a miracle wonder drug.

Anyone with a shred of compassion for others in pain wants to give them safe ways to treat their affliction.

So, what the heck is the wait?

Let’s pass Senate Bill 3 and give our fellow Pennsylvanians the medical relief they need and deserve.

And no, I am not talking about legalizing the recreational use of marijuana leaf.  Recently a supporter asked me my position on this subject, and I believe it is a generational thing, with younger people more comfortable with recreational use of marijuana than us older folks.  Growing up in the late 1960s and 1970s, I saw marijuana used and abused recreationally, and while it may not have the negative side effects of alcohol or hard drugs, it still is not a great thing to have legally at hand.

America needs fewer recreational drugs, not more, but medical cannabis is not a recreational drug, and even if it were considered a drug, it would displace many much stronger, truly dangerous drugs.  Its time has arrived.

 

A Severance Tax, now?

Talk about an addiction to spending other people’s money.

Yesterday in southeast PA, far away from the communities where this issue is most important and the citizens might not be so welcoming, Governor Tom Wolf staked out his position on creating a new 5% “severance tax” on natural gas from the Marcellus shale feature.

Right now, natural gas is selling at historic low prices, especially here in Pennsylvania.  The financial incentive to drill more or spend more money to get more gas is very low, and drill rigs have been disappearing from across the region for a year.

The Saudis began dumping oil months ago, in an effort to punish competing oil producers Iran and Russia, with the secondary effect of dropping gasoline prices so low that the natural gas industry got hit from that side, too.

So now is not only a bad time for the gas industry, it is also a time of greatly diminished returns on investment and on royalties received.  Scalping 5% off the top of that is punishing to everyone, including gas consumers, who will see their rates increase proportionally.

Here’s the biggest problem with a severance tax: Pennsylvania already has a 3% impact fee on Marcellus gas, and a Corporate Net Income Tax of 9.99% (let’s call it ten percent, OK?).  Most of the other gas and oil producing states have no such additional taxes; their severance taxes are the one and only tax their oil and gas producers pay, not the multiple high taxes and fees drillers in PA pay.

Pennsylvania government is therefore already reaping much higher revenue from the gas industry than other gas producing states.  That means that the companies doing business here are already burdened much more than elsewhere.

So adding a severance tax now, at this economically bad time, without commensurately lowering other taxes, or the existing Impact Fee, makes no sense.  Unless the people promoting this have an infantile view of how America and business work.

And that right there is the problem.  Way too many advocates for tax-and-spend policies like an additional severance tax have a Marxist view of business; essentially, to them, business exists to pour money into liberal schemes.

And speaking of spending, who believes that spending more and more and more taxpayer dollars on public schools, public teachers unions, and public teachers’ pensions, actually equates with better education?

So many studies disprove that (see the Mercatus Center), but it is a liberal mantra that taxpayers must spend ever more of their money to support public unions that support political liberals.  And both parents of students and taxpayers alike now correctly see that system for what it is – simple, legalized political graft to fund one political party.

Public schools are mostly a disaster, yet teacher’s unions and their political buddies continue to pound on the table for more and more money.  Homeowners are essentially now renting their houses from the teacher’s unions, and proposed laws like Act 76 seek to fix that unfair situation by removing the vampire fangs from homeowners and letting the larger society pay for its expenditure.

Going door-to-door for political races year after year, property tax has been the number one issue I have encountered among elderly homeowners.  So many of them can no longer afford to pay the taxes on their houses, that they must sell them and move, despite a lifetime of investing in them.  This is patently un-American and unfair.

So Tom Wolf is moving in exactly the opposite direction we need on this subject, and instead of trying to fix the tax situation, he seeks to make it worse.  To be fair, Wolf campaigned on raising taxes.  He just needs to remember that he did not get elected by voters who want higher taxes, they wanted to fire former governor Tom Corbett.

 

I am a happy PA Game Commission partner

For the past ten years, we have enrolled 350 acres in Centre County with the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s public access program.

We pay the taxes on the land, the PGC patrols the land, and the public hunts and traps on the land. From personal items left lying on the ground, like underpants and beer cans, it is clear that some members of the public are using it in more creative recreational ways.

Cleaning up these things is part of the burden we bear to provide the public with nice places to hunt and…”picnic.”

Because our land is surrounded by State Game Lands, it made sense to open it to the public.  We were approached to lease it as a private hunting club, and we have resisted that for all these years.  We recently sold 100 acres to PGC, and we wanted it to be a seamless experience for the public, used to walking in on a gated road and immediately hunting.

Overall our experience has been positive.  Yes, we get frustrated by people leaving trash behind, when they could easily put it in the vehicle they brought it in with. But we take great satisfaction knowing that the majority of visitors are exhilarated to be there, and they use the land respectfully.

Our family is proud to help other Pennsylvanians have a beautiful place to hunt and trap, so that these ancient skills can be passed on to younger generations.  We are proud and pleased to partner with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

 

Bad guys are on the run around Harrisburg

Toldja so.

Last year, several critical essays I wrote about PA AG Kathleen Kane were widely published, long before other people felt safe enough, I guess, to jump on the band wagon.

Kane’s incompetence and corrupt behavior were evident within a few months of her arrival in the PA Attorney General seat.  She only got worse and worse, and was on a downhill slide to the point where she has now been indicted by a grand jury.  Imagine that.

I feel vindicated.  Sadly.

Harrisburg’s top cop may go to jail, or be fined, disbarred, and barred from holding public office.  It says a lot about politics, that her Breck Girl smile and slow-motion hair tosses were enough for  her to get elected.

For the record, I believe that if Pennsylvania absolutely must have a Democrat AG, then Katie McGinty would be the right person.  McGinty is every bit as liberal and political as Kane, but Katie is also way too smart to let it show or implement it so egregiously.  So, we’d end up with a partisan professional and not the corrupt political hack we have now.  That’d be an improvement.

An even better improvement would be Ed Marsico as AG.  Ed Marsico is the stellar DA for Dauphin County, and he is so a-political that the Republican establishment has passed him over in the past.  Can you imagine, an AG who simply does the job of prosecuting bad guys?  How refreshing that would be.

On to Harrisburg City, my home town and my family’s home since at least 1745.  It’s a place I care about a lot.  We moved here from Washington, DC, to enjoy the high quality of life, easy commute, and low cost of living.  I love living in Harrisburg.

Yes, the city has problems.  OK, that is true and I think people are genuinely working to solve them, even as many of the same people have worked to exacerbate them because they stood to make money from them (think: Public Parking).  But that is another story.

Here’s a story that is just now unfolding: Harrisburg has decided to hold on to its illegal anti-gun laws.  Harrisburg City remains happily and blatantly in violation of two state laws barring any PA municipality from passing gun laws.  The city has been served notice that they may get sued over this, a costly loss because the city will have to pay money damages and legal fees to the winner.

And of course, the gun laws they have do zero to punish criminals or limit crime.  They are designed to punish law-abiding citizens and turn them into criminals, because the zealot prohibitionist crusaders pushing these laws are against guns per se.

Late last Friday night a deranged man attempted to forcefully enter my home through the front door.  He was banging away at it, working over the handle hard, and shouting at us.

My wife and kids cowered on the kitchen floor, with Viv talking with a surly 911 dispatcher (who actually yelled at me over the phone); our guests were in the basement.

I stood with a pistol pointed at the door, waiting for the guy to come barging through.  Every warning I shouted to him through the door elicited a curse-filled response and harder efforts to get through.

Even I was scared.  Someone trying that hard to break into your home is going to do damage once he gets inside.

Ten minutes later the Harrisburg police arrived and caught him, two doors up the street.  They were professional and friendly to us taxpayers, and they used force to capture the crazy man because he was violent.  I watched him fight with them and try to kick their police dog, Bo.  He had some white powder drugs on him and acted like he was insane.  Case in point here: Drugs are bad, m’kay?

Without my gun, immediately accessible, our family was a sitting duck for this guy.

We were lucky that he did not come through a ground floor window.  Sure, I would have shot and killed him had he entered our home, but who needs that?  And what about the other citizens who are neither armed nor prepared or able to defend themselves effectively against intruders?

Let’s ask the obvious question: What about “when seconds count the police are only minutes away” do you not understand, Mayor Eric Papenfuse?

Why are your illegal, ineffective gun laws more important than the safety of my family?

What makes people on the Left so cocksure about their illegal behavior? It must have something to do with the tradition of Leftist protests always being “right,” a mentality that undergirds everything they do.

We will see you in court, Mayor Papenfuse, because you may not inflict your illegal laws on the safety of my body.

Pennsylvania Society: If not then, why now?

Pennsylvania Society: Great idea, wrong time, wrong place

Every year in early December, Pennsylvania’s glitterati and politicos hobnob in Manhattan.

This gathering is known as the Pennsylvania Society, and it’s mostly invitation – only, or you can pay big bucks to throw your own event.

As fun and as useful as this gathering is, and yes, a lot of political sounding boards get twanged, plucked, drummed, and thumped here, it is still at the wrong time and the wrong place.

If you’re a Pennsylvanian, by God, you’re out deer hunting the second week of December. You’ve got no time for more chit-chat in black tie and bow tie inside yet another building (and with due respect to those people who spend their time indoors: Get outside. It’ll do you and everyone else a world of good). You’d prefer to be stalking some steep mountain ledge or sitting overlooking an oak flat, waiting for a deer to jump up or stroll through.

And Manhattan at Christmas time is great. Our family goes every year. Our kids have been raised on Fifth Avenue window shopping and everything that goes with it. Heck, movies have been made about this, it’s so special. It’s a fantastic time for anyone, and if the gathering was fit in to that experience, it’d make sense.

But that best time is at Christmas time. The week before and the week after. Not weeks before. So the Pennsylvania Society is missing the boat there, too, with timing that just doesn’t make sense.

But more to the point, aren’t Philadelphia and Pittsburgh pretty great cities, too? Why can’t we keep the Pennsylvania Society in Pennsylvania? Rotate it around the state, or at least switch between east and west.

I know the folks who really made the Pennsylvania Society take off, and I’m not picking on them. They’re good people, with great ideas. This is just a question of timing, if not venue. And if the venue stays, then change the timing, so our politicians conduct their off-line business in the atmosphere of holiday cheer, giving, forgiveness, and merriment.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

A win for the little guy

Government’s role is to serve the people.  America is a people with a government, not a government with a people.  The people – their needs, their interests, their rights – come first in all things.  Our Constitution prohibits government behavior that is arbitrary, capricious, abusive, or uncompensated taking of private property, among others.

Any American who loses sight of these limitations has fallen into the easy trap of promoting government over the people.  People in both main political parties fall into this trap, because both main parties have largely lost touch with the US Constitution (and the Pennsylvania Constitution) and its daily meaning for American citizens.

Last night the Pennsylvania state senate passed HB 1565, which amended through law a procedural environmental rule issued in the last days of the former Governor Ed Rendell administration, in 2010. The rule created 150-foot buffers along streams designated High Quality and Exceptional Value, and removed that buffer land from nearly all uses.  No compensation to the landowner was provided.  Allowing the landowner to claim a charitable donation for public benefit was not allowed.  Higher building density on the balance of the property was not allowed. The buffer land was simply taken by government fiat, by administrative dictate, totally at odds with the way American government is supposed to work.

And the appeal process afforded to landowners under the rule was onerous, extremely expensive, and lengthy.  It was not real due process, but rather a series of high hurdles designed to chase away landowners from their property rights.  Everything about this rule was designed to make the government’s job as easy as possible, and the private property owner’s rights and abilities as watered down as possible.

The 150-foot buffer rule represented the worst sort of government, because it did not serve the people, it quite simply took from the people.  The 150-foot buffer rule was blunt force trauma in the name of environmental quality, which can easily be achieved to the same level myriad other ways.  The rule was the easy way out, and it represented a throwback to the old days of the environmental movement and environmental quality management when big government, top-down, command-and-control dictates were standard fare for arresting environmental degradation.

That approach made sense when polluted American rivers were catching fire, nearly fifty years ago.  Today, a scalpel and set of screwdrivers can achieve the environmental goal much better, and fairly.  Supporters of the rule claimed that voting for HB 1565 was voting against environmental quality, which made no sense.  Environmental quality along HQ and EV stream corridors could have easily been achieved with a similar, but innately fairer, 150-foot buffer rule.  It saddens me that my fellow Americans could not see that simple fact, and instead sought to stay with a deeply flawed government process until the bitter end.

I know the people who both created and then championed the rule.  Some of them are friends and acquaintances of mine.  Their motives and intentions were good.  I won’t say that they are bad people.  Yes, they are mostly Democrats, but there were also plenty of Republicans involved in designing it and defending it, including former high level Republican government appointees.

Rather, this rule was a prime example of how simply out of touch many government decision makers have become with what American government is supposed to be, and it adds fuel to my own quest to help reintroduce the US and Pennsylvania constitutions back into policy discussions and government decision making so that we don’t have more HB 1565 moments in the future.