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My comments to the PA Game Commission

The Pennsylvania Game Commission board of commissioners will be meeting this weekend, to set next season’s dates and bag limits. Like many other people, I submitted comments by email last week. From past experiences with this, I know that the commissioners read comments and requests from the public. Some of my comments, and those of my son, have received direct feedback from various members of the board.

A key to getting the commissioners to read and truly consider your comments is to submit them with plenty of time for the recipients to read them. If you submit comments a day or two before the meeting, it’s a very low likelihood of anyone having time to read them. Also, try to keep comments short, to the point, and sweet. Comments with prolonged bitching, whining, and playing biologist when you have no training or education or even a novice’s interest in wildlife biology, are all ways to ensure that your audience at best glances at your comments.

“Dear Commissioners,
Hunting should be fun, and therefore our small game seasons should run unbroken from their Fall opening to their February close. Whatever long gone reason for the on again-off again pattern of small game seasons, Pennsylvania must create opportunities for everyone. No biological reason exists for hiccup-style seasons. Few if any other states have this odd pattern. Let’s just let our hunters have fun and hunt.

In that vein, please consider allowing bodygrip traps on running pole sets in our most rural WMUs. The idea that a loose domestic dog is going to get caught in a trap in the middle of a state forest wilderness is preposterous. Same is true on private land. Same goes for allowing snares. We need all the tools we can get to manage coyotes. With now three years of crazy freeze-thaw-rain winter weather cycles, it’s impossible to rely on footholds. Cable restraints should be allowed throughout the whole season, and snares should be allowed on private land and or on public land in the Big Woods WMUs.

Finally, please put one of our Sundays on the day after the Saturday bear rifle opener, and another Sunday on the day after the Saturday deer rifle opener. This will create the most energy and excitement for our hunters. Even better, make bear and deer rifle concurrent!

Thank you for considering my thoughts,

–Josh”

National Democrats: “Burn down America”

Yesterday I got my teeth cleaned at a local dentistry office. Same place I have gone for about twenty years.

The dentist-in-charge is a gay woman and liberal, but as human chemistry proves once again, opposites attract and despite our differences, we enjoy each other’s company.  We are due to have a dinner date to hash out our political views (her idea). I think she is terribly naive and uninformed. She thinks I am a childish Neanderthal upset over someone bumping my tricycle (her words).

After all the cleaning was done by the hygienist, and the cursory inspection for cancer  etc was done by the dentist, we immediately got into our usual political discussion.

“Have you not seen the video of corrupt Joe Biden bragging about interfering in Ukraine’s politics to protect his son from being investigated with Burisma?” I asked her.

“No, I have not seen that,” she admitted.

“But then again, I don’t watch Fox News,” she tossed in, as if the sole and only source of non-leftist political narrative is somehow bad and unworthy.

And also, it seems that to her, something factual and important is unworthy if it is available from an outlet she simply dislikes. Does this make sense to you? It can’t make sense, because things are either factual or they are not factual.

I don’t watch any cable news/ TV, so I don’t watch Fox News, either. But I do avidly seek all kinds of information across the Internet every day, from all kinds of sources. Sometimes Fox News pops up as a source, and usually other outlets are the source, including political activism outlets like BBC and NPR.

But let’s face it, whatever big array of news/political outlets the dentist lady is watching or listening to, they form a huge echo chamber into which nothing different or contrary can enter. Against that huge array stands Fox News, Breitbart, TheGatewayPundit, and a few other places that Google tries to prevent people from locating.

What strikes me about this discussion between me and the dentist is how it is a microcosm of greater America’s current politics and debate. America is as polarized now as it has ever been before, some saying like before the Civil War, and while I enjoy blaming the Republican Party for anything they have done wrong, the truth is that the national Democrat Party is simply waging an all-out war for political control. Or to blunt someone else’s control.

The national Democrat Party is going to tear our national fabric and basically burn down America.

With their sham-peachment (a fake show-impeachment with no due process and that is based on political differences, not illegal behavior) of the deservedly very popular president, the congressional Democrats are willing to damage America’s robust economy, America’s overall happy sense that our nation is on a good trajectory, and our political fabric. America’s political fabric is strong, but it can be torn, as we have seen in the past.

And America’s political fabric is what makes America so special. It is the unique glue that binds us all together, both the liberal lesbian dentist and the conservative NRA Life small business owner who gets his dentistry done by the liberal lesbian dentist. Together. Americans both. But in this current political abuse and over-reach, America runs the risk of being badly damaged, to the point where people begin to ask openly if we can all live with one another. It sure seems like one side is demanding all kinds of harsh societal controls and limits on individual freedom, which by definition is going to push other Americans up against a wall.

The national Democrat Party bears all of the blame and responsibility for the negative environment we are in, as does the national establishment media, which is openly an arm of the national Democrat Party. With the one exception of Fox News, America’s media are overwhelmingly partisan political activists, cheerfully mis-reporting lies and burying inconvenient facts, in order to sustain a political narrative that helps the Democrats and hurts the Republicans.

And so long as Americans like my lesbian dentist are unwilling to listen to new information, and allow themselves to be used like puppets, this divide will only deepen and the national Democrat Party will be encouraged to burn down America in order to prevent someone else from controlling it.

In the spirit of much-needed spirit-lightening political humor, here is a meme I did from my discussion with Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf (D) yesterday. People who have seen it cannot believe it. We actually did share some laughs (and yes, I am desperately in need of a haircut, or rather, a shearing like sheep get). Enjoy:

Deer season is mostly over…now what happened?

Everywhere I checked, deer season (rifle) was just…off… this year.

The deer were off their usual trails, off their usual habits, patterns, just not cooperating. People hunting up in the Big Woods and down in the farm country all said that opening day was the quietest they had ever heard.

“When I was a kid, opening day sounded like a war zone,” says Ed, a product of west-central PA and lifelong hunter.

“This year, I heard nine shots all day. What the hell is that about?” he says emphatically.

And how could I not agree? Heck, I recall 2005’s opener, because I warned a flatlander non-hunting new neighbor that it was going to sound like “Bosnia” around their newly acquired country retreat. And it did. And it was a rewarding feeling looking up into the snow-covered mountains and seeing blaze orange dots sprinkled all over the landscape.

This year, we heard four or five shots on opening Saturday and maybe two or three shots on Monday, up in the Big Woods. And yet plenty of deer were moving. Talk about strange! Totally uncharacteristic.

Might be that our hunters are aging out in larger numbers than we anticipated, or that too many are part of the “professional whiners club,” never satisfied with the deer we have, but rather longing for the bad old days of over-abundant deer that we used to have. And therefore not participating in deer hunting, as a form of protest.

I don’t mean to pick on people, but it is disheartening and frustrating to hear the unfair abuse some Pennsylvania hunters heap on the Pennsylvania Game Commission and on anyone else who supports the PGC’s science-based wildlife management. No question, there are fewer deer…and so what is wrong with that?

And in fact, due to the hunters opting out because they say there are not sufficient deer to hunt, the deer numbers everywhere sure appear robust to me. They aren’t getting hunted very hard, so they are naturally reproducing quite fine. But the harvest numbers are down everywhere I hunt, in both the Big Woods and the farm country. Maybe we will be seeing longer deer seasons as a result.

–Some Reflections–

Deer drives: Like bear drives that are so popular the week before deer rifle season, deer drives are a necessity if hunters are going to see deer. Deer are adapatable, intelligent animals, and after 20 years of concurrent doe-buck hunting, they have changed their behavior. Gone are the days when a hunter could sit at Pap’s stand and expect to fill a buck tag. Now, the deer are moving around old stand sites, or staying hunkered down altogether. It takes a boot in their behind to get them moving, and once they are moving, deer begin to make mistakes. If hunters are ready enough, they can exploit those mistakes and start filling tags.

But just sitting is a very tough way to kill a deer any longer, under most conditions. So try deer drives. Even a two-man “leap-frog” drive is very effective. One hunter posts up in a good ambush spot, while the other slowly and quietly stalks into the wind or on some other trajectory, say for 300-500 yards. Then the driver becomes the poster/stander, and the former stander becomes the driver, moving around and ahead of the other hunter. Pennsylvania whitetails usually loop around and backtrack, so it is common to bump deer that will try to get around behind you. If you have a buddy standing back there, the deer will often present  a great shot while making their “escape.”

Deer scents & lures: If every other hunter is spraying a gallon of doe pee all over the landscape every time he or she goes hunting, what kind of effect do we think this will have on the deer we are targeting? If you think it is very confusing to the deer to be bombarded from every side by olfactory lures, then you are correct. Americans like everything BIG – guns, cars, trucks, competitive sports, homes, etc., and deer scents are no different.

A lot of hunters approach deer estrous scents like “Heck, if a few drops on a tampon hung in a tree branch is good enough, then a whole 2-ounce bottle should really do the trick!”

This is wrong thinking, because it is a total overdose. More is not better. Deer cannot handle the overdose. Now I am encountering hunters using “Buck Bomb” cans that are the size of a bathroom fresh scent can; that is, enough snoot material to wipe out a city. Problem is, deer are just single animals, and like humans, when they are carpet-bombed by too much estrous scent everywhere all of the time, they become confused, even spooked, and the scents lose their effectiveness.

So use your estrous scents sparingly, only at specific times, when the rut is at its highest. Like October 25th through the end of archery season. And maybe a few drops during the late season, because some does do come back into heat. The less you use, the more effective it will be.

Quality hunts: For better or for worse, right or wrong, killing a buck is the goal of most deer hunters. A buck is the ultimate symbol of hunting prowess, or good fortune, and the bigger the rack, the bigger the bragging rights. So far I have not killed a buck this season, and I doubt I will. But I am cheerfully accepting my fate, because I did take a big old matriarch doe on state forest land that sees little hunting pressure.

Long hike in and up up up, then a J-hook turn into the wind and sidehilling very slowly, carefully, trying not to fall loudly or too often in the wet leaves and rotten rock, brought me to a big old doe in her bed. She jumped up at the sound of a twig snapping under my boot, and ran around trying to figure out what it was. Within moments she was loping downhill at an angle, and at a rather longer distance than I had anticipated, I put a .308 150-grain slug through her lungs. No sign of the buck I was sure was hiding way up in that remote and vast wash, but the old doe was a pretty tough quarry, too. And so I consider this a real quality hunt, fairly won with hard work, good woodcraft and good shooting in a beautiful environment (Nothing like solo hunting the big woods. My favorite thing). This for me makes my season a good one, buck or no buck.

The memory of this hunt, the beautiful setting, the clear stream at the bottom of the steep wash, the two old mines I found, the soothing solitude … it will all carry me all year long. Just closing my eyes will take me back there. And as usual, I used a JRJ knife and the Ruger M77 RSI International in .308. No better mountain rifle in bolt action exists. Yes, a quick-handling double rifle could be an even better gun, but they are not made for the constant abuse that guns receive in this place.
It was also a good season because as a driver, often the only driver, I pushed many other deer to standers on our drives, some of whom connected. Last Friday, I got to be a stander, and a buck and a doe ran straight to me on a drive in a regenerating clearcut in Clark’s Valley. I couldn’t get good shots in the thick stuff, so I waited. Usually I shoot at 10-20 yards in those bramble and sapling thickets, and they were almost to me. They had no idea I was there. Suddenly a loud crashing  and a noisy rush through the brush comes from behind and below the deer, and a bear runs between them, spooks them, splits them. Mister Buck goes to my left, Missus Doe to my right, and both gone out of sight. The bear continues straight past me, now just walking, maybe five yards away on the logging road I’m standing on, apprising me in some grouchy bemusement, and then up the mountain he goes.
It was a good way to end the rifle season, and I hope you had a good one, too.
Flintlock season, here I come, wide misses and all!

See you all at the Great American Outdoor Show in early February, where I will be volunteering with the PFSC (Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen and Conservationists, formerly Clubs) a lot. Please come by and say hello.

Marc and Robb enjoy the fruit of a long day’s hunt in the Big Woods

Some thoughts on PA deer season

We are already halfway through our two-week deer season in Pennsylvania, and already many hunters are discussing the merits of the first-ever Saturday opener. Pennsylvania has had a Monday opener for many decades, and where I grew up not only did the schools close on that Monday, there was a festive atmosphere that was palpable for the week leading up to it.

Gotta say, both Saturday and Monday were the quietest first days of deer season that I have ever heard. Very few shots heard either day, an observation made by a lot of other hunters.

One cannot help but wonder if the holiday atmosphere and the special quality of taking a work day off to gather together with family and friends to hunt has been lost with the Saturday opener. Yes, it would be ironic, because the change was done to expand hunting opportunities, given that most people do not work on Saturday like they do work on Mondays. But for many hunters it seems that having deer season now begin as just another weekend event of many other weekend events caused it to lose its specialness.

We shall see from the deer hunting results!

Separately, Pennsylvania now has a both a new trespass law and a new private land boundary marking law. Private land can now be marked “POSTED – NO TRESPASSING” by simply painting a vibrant purple paint stripe at least eight (8) inches long and one inch wide every 100 feet along the boundary of any private property. Seems that I am not alone in having my Posted signs ripped down by jealous jerks. Seems like I am not alone in working really really hard to create good whitetail deer habitat on my land, only to have some jealous people decide that it is so unfair that they can’t take advantage of all my hard work and also hunt there. So they rip down Posted signs and help themselves to my land and the land of many, many other private property owners.

Last Saturday we experienced a hunter trespassing on us, along with his young son. Why they would expect to be allowed to pass through the middle of our property, a place we hardly ever go because it is a deer sanctuary, is beyond imagination. They literally walked right through a long line of Posted signs, as if they did not exist. Their thinking seemed to be “So what if we ruin your hunting? We are simply trying to have a good hunting experience ourselves.”

But someone’s good hunting experience should never come at the expense of someone else’s hunt, especially if it results from trespassing on their property.

Think about it this way: A property owner spends all year toiling to make his property attractive to deer, and he creates sanctuaries around the property where not even he will go beginning in September, so the deer can relax there and not feel pressured. And then someone else who is not invited decides that they either want to hunt on that same property, or they want to pass through it to get to some other property, like public land. When they pass through, they disturb the deer and greatly reduce the quality of the hunting there.

Is this OK behavior?

As someone who works hard on his property to make it a quality hunting place, I can say that it is not OK behavior. It is a form of theft; trespassers are stealing from private property owners.

Dear trespassers – do you want people stealing from you? No? OK, so then you know how we feel when you steal from us. Don’t do it!

It will be interesting to see how the new trespass law and the new boundary marking law begin to change one of Pennsylvania’s least desirable cultures – the culture of defiant trespass. That just has to change.

Hope everyone has a productive, fun and safe rest of the season. When it is over, we begin our trapping season and small game hunting.

 

 

Thank you Sunday Hunting activists!

Despite many last minute bold-faced betrayals and stabs-in-the-back by the PA Farm Bureau that delayed and delayed and delayed the passage of SB 147, which allowed for hunting on just three Sundays, the bill finally passed the PA House today.

It now goes to the PA Senate for a concurrence vote.  It has already passed the PA senate once before, thanks to the bold leadership of Senator Dan Laughlin from Erie, so this should be a perfunctory and symbolic vote, some time in the next few weeks. After that it goes to Governor Wolf, who has said he will sign it.

Unfortunately, because of the PA Farm Bureau’s vindictive approach, where they knew they were going to lose this issue so they tried to delay its implementation for as long as they could, to deny hunters the pleasure of more hunting time afield with our children, we will not get Sunday hunting this big game season. It will have to come into play in the spring of 2020.

As some of you know, my son and I do not hunt on Saturdays. This put us at a disadvantage with other hunters who do hunt on Saturdays. We would happily trade our Saturdays for the following Sundays, but that was never considered by the PA Farm Bureau, who simply demanded that everyone goose-step in unison and follow their marching orders.

So Isaac and I very much appreciate those Pennsylvanians who empathized with our plight these many years, and who felt our pain when official state law excluded us from participating equally with all other Pennsylvanians in something we love to do, and who stood with us and advocated for our equal rights all this time.

Rosa Parks did not NEED to sit at the front of the bus, but she wanted to, and she deserved to have that choice. For at least three days next year, my son and I will not have to sit at the back of the hunting bus.

Thank you to all who got this done.

Special appreciation goes to Robb Miller, the Governor’s Sportsmen’s Advisor and a long-long time professional politico who has championed Sunday hunting through thick and thin for at least twenty years; to Kathy Davis Gehman, who founded HUSH (Hunters United for Sunday Hunting) and led the legal charge and associated fundraising, in which I was one of the plaintiffs; to Harold Daub, who picked up the HUSH gauntlet when the rest of us were dispirited, donned his armor, and led the next political and social charge; to Kevin Askew and Jahred Klahre, two young guys who joined Harold at HUSH and really put the fine touches on the public outreach that became so effective. National Shooting Sports Foundation staff, the NRA, Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, PFSC – the PA Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs (now Conservationists), United Bow Hunters of PA, and many other groups and individuals also helped in both big ways and small to get this passed.

In these politically divided days, it is important to note that this effort took hard work from professional political partisans in both the Democrat and Republicans parties, and also from generic registered Republicans and Democrats at the grass roots level. It is truly a bi-partisan issue, and it took members of both political parties working together to get it this far. In the sense that America and states like Pennsylvania are well served when diverse people find common political ground to solve big issues, this is a victory.

Above all else, this is a victory for individual liberty over Big Government.

And if you don’t like Sunday hunting, you do not have to hunt on Sunday. That is your choice, your freedom.

God bless America.

PA senate floor scrap is microcosm of GOP vs Dems nationwide

If you pay attention to politics, and why else would you be one of the three readers here on this blog than you are a political junkie, then you know that one hoax after another has been trotted out against the president since he took office, in an effort to blunt his presidency.

If one hoax doesn’t work, like the “Russia collusion” thing that the chief “investigator” himself (Mueller) torpedoed in public, then another one is tried. Latest and greatest hoax is this Ukraine thing where one political party tries to cover up their corruption in the Ukraine by accusing the president of doing something wrong when he literally calls for an investigation into the corruption.

As ridiculous as this is, there is an arrangement that has taken shape in Washington, DC, and across America. Basically one political party is at war and uses anything available to them to advance that war, at any cost, and the other political party is kind of dumbfounded like a deer in the headlights.

One political party is throwing dust up in the air and running around screaming, or allowing ANTIFA Brownshirts to attack peaceful protesters while the city police are illegally told to not protect the peaceful protesters, while the other political party stands there slack-jawed, incredulous that anyone would abuse our governmental system so badly. That the DOJ is AWOL on ANTIFA and anti-civil rights mayors who enable their violence does not help.

If you want to watch all of what is happening in Washington, DC, and Seattle and Portland and Minneapolis and Charlotte, in a nutshell, then watch a fascinating fight on the Pennsylvania senate floor (below) where the Democrats throw the law and senate rules right out the window, and in response the Republicans mill around like a bunch of confused and rattled little school girls while one of them barks repetitively for a very long time about how the Democrats WILL follow the rules and hand over that microphone right now.

Which the Democrats do not do, of course. Instead, they do exactly what they want to do, which is to take control of the senate through lawless chaos and anarchy. They have zero respect or use for the law, or the rules, because at the moment neither suits their purpose. Wait until the rules and the law finally DO suit their purpose, and then watch out! They will bring a hammer and a sickle down on anyone standing up to them.

So, like what happens in DC, the Pennsylvania senate Republicans here are basically standing there flat-footed, dazed, confused, addled, with Jake Corman barking “Point of order! Point of order!”  like a worn out old dog whose angry bark is all it has. He has no bite.

Sad thing to me is that Jake is not a small guy, physically. He should have some confidence to stand up to his political opponents. I wanted to fist fight him a few years ago, but he wouldn’t stoop to it, and now here he is facing off with a real live Democrat insurrection, and he can’t even muster the courage to storm the podium and wrestle back the microphone and control of the senate floor. What a loser!

Jake, you are a weak kneed little girl, because all your career you have had everything handed to you. When you are needed most, you don’t have the strength of character to stand up and fight.

Lawless Democrats, confused, spineless Republicans, just like across America and in DC.

By the way, this lawlessness is exactly how the Communists took control of eastern Europe, because the good guys/better guys were too proper, followed ‘the rules’ even when there were no rules, and thereby failed to assert themselves when their leadership was most needed. The good guys lost.

Here is the amazing video.

[Screen grab] Pathetic and weak career politician Jake Corman barking like an annoying little lap dog at the mean Democrats who have stolen control of his precious senate floor process. Corman is surrounded by a bunch of little school girls dressed like men, who mill about confusedly. This is a snapshot of what is happening Across America as lawless Democrats take control while mystified Republicans stand around and ineffectively say “Hey, you can’t do that, you’re not allowed to do that.”

Somebody Primary RINO US Sen. Pat Toomey

Few personality types bother guys more than weak, weasely, whiny men, and US Senator Pat Toomey is all that in spades, and much more, or less. It stinks to have an elected “leader” like Toomey demonstrate so little leadership quality, and even worse, to publicly flout his less-than-manly characteristics. Always appearing in public with some kind of fakey senatorial bearing, Toomey’s speech is similarly a fake serious tone, a kind of deeply thoughtful grasshopper. What a show. He reminds us very much of another phony RINO, congressman Charlie Dent, now thankfully gone from public life where he also did so much damage to the American people.

Pat Toomey is one of the great RINOs of today’s Republican Party. For the uninitiated, RINO means “Republican In Name Only,” which really translates into a liberal. Not a conservative. In it for the money. Not committed to freedom or liberty or the US Constitution.

Toomey exhibits weak-kneed indecision and back-stabbing liberalism traits pretty much every day on the job. He does not have the president’s back, but much like another RINO senator, Mittens Romney, Toomey seeks to falsely burnish his credentials by actually blocking, damaging, or criticizing the one person who is trying to right the American ship, President Trump. As if Toomey is so, so thoughtful and carefully considerate.

Toomey has been a real go-getter on disarming law abiding citizens, hatching one gun-grabbing scheme after another, always punishing the law-abiding and never, ever being tough on actual crime and real criminals. The other day he was one of a few US Senate RINOs to vote with the anti-America Democrats against the president’s border emergency wall, as if there is no border crisis, no illegal invasion crisis.  Toomey might as well join AOC down at the border handing out taxpayer-funded sombreros and bottled water to illegals on their way into the taxpayer funded haven of America.

And on this new Trump-Ukraine phone call fake scandal, where a rogue spy within the American defense system filed a fake “whistleblower complaint,” Toomey says the President’s phone call may have been “inappropriate,” but not impeachable. Since when was the effort by the US President to bring to justice a treasonous and corrupt American, Joe Biden, inappropriate? America and Ukraine have an anti-corruption treaty that the president was implementing, as is his job. Toomey should have pointed to admittedly corrupt Joe Biden as the subject of this scandal. Biden used his previous Vice President position to blackmail Ukraine and to enrich his family.

Is Toomey against bringing Biden to justice?

Even worse, several US senators from the Democrat Party actually visited the Ukraine and wrote a letter, directly threatening Ukraine leaders, saying they would vote to withhold promised US defense funds if the Ukraine actually DID investigate Joe Biden’s son. How is that for hypocritical and bald-faced lying irony?

And yet, where is Pat Toomey on all of this? He says nothing about his senate colleagues blackmailing Ukraine and is ho-hum about the US President just doing his duty as president.

Like just about every other Washington, DC political hack, spineless career politician Pat Toomey remains purposefully and deeply insulated from reality, and yet he has so much negative impact on the real lives the rest of us lead. If there is one solid RINO candidate for a strong primary opponent, it is Pat Toomey. The guy has no fight in him, not for us, and it would be easy for a good primary opponent to simply tick off the laundry list of assaults Toomey has led against citizen rights and needs over the years he has inhabited this seat. Someone please primary this bad guy. You will get a lot of support from real Republicans. That is, patriots and conservatives.

Chief Weasel and RINO king, Pat Toomey, begging for a primary opponent

SB 619 captures tug of war between big government and the citizenry

SB 619 is PA state senator Gene Yaw’s fix to a problem that should not even exist. And yet, this bill is being greeted by so-called environmental advocates as some sort of “attack” on environmental quality and environmental protection.

Senate Bill 619 is about one simple thing: Making Pennsylvania state government regulators spell out exactly what is, and what is not, an environmental spill that is so bad that it contaminates waterways and is a violation of our state “clean streams” law.

You would think that in late 2019, 243 years after the founding of America, all state governments would be run by responsible adults who are committed to the wellbeing of their fellow citizens first and foremost. A commitment like that would first and foremost be to the rule of law and the due process rights that undergird and frame everything that is American representative government. Simply put, the government cannot willy nilly decide for itself, based on ambiguous, general, opaque, undefined, arbitrary standards, what is an environmental contamination, and what is not an environmental contamination.

In representative government, We, The People are entitled to know our boundaries, where the borders are to our behavior, and where the government gets to step in and correct us. This understanding keeps us from making decisions in good faith that end up getting us entangled with government enforcers who hit us with fines and penalties for making an incorrect decision.

Presently, and unbelievably, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has no clearly defined standards for what qualifies as a reportable spill and contamination into a waterway. PA DEP’s entire standard is, get this, for real: “We will know it when we see it.”

Folks, I am not exaggerating, I am not making this up. This is how much infinite latitude the state government has now and wants to maintain. This means that literally every time something – a cup of coffee, a can of paint, a bucket of mine sludge, or any miniscule part thereof – falls from its original container into the environment, and into or next to a waterway, it must be reported to PA DEP. And PA DEP reserves the right to fine whoever is responsible, irrespective of whether or not that spill involved anything dangerous, toxic, or at such a small dilution that it is de minimus in its effect.

In practice, this means that PA DEP both chases its tail going after ridiculously unimportant “spills” that pose no threat to anything, which underserves the citizenry who underwrite PA DEP’s budget, and that the agency also holds a huge arbitrary hammer over the head of every single citizen, contractor, and industrial or commercial operator in or passing through the Commonwealth. While being arbitrary is bad enough, reports from the field – you know, the little people who actually work outside getting stuff done for the rest of us consumers – is that plenty of PA DEP staff use that arbitrary standard in capricious ways. These PA DEP staff are, simply put, empowered to be vindictive and petty little tyrants whenever they want to be.

To their shame, the opponents of SB 619 are acting as if the bill is some sort of assault on environmental quality, when it is not, not even close. The PA Fish & Boat Commission is actually on record opposing SB 619 because it allows for “interpretation” in the law. This is embarrassingly bad government to say things like this. Needless to say, the private sector opponents of SB 619 say even worse and less accurate things than the PFBC has written.

Can you imagine something so horrid as there being two sides to a story, some “interpretation” about what happened, and not having just one omnipotent government agency position, take it or take it, because you can’t leave it, because the government agency has 100% of the say in what happened, and you can’t figure it out until some government employee tells you? Is it really so terrible to rein in our government agencies and require them to live by defined standards like the rest of us have to live? Like our Federal and State Constitutions require? Like a whole bunch of other states already have?

SB 619 simply asks PA DEP to establish criteria and standards so that the citizenry and the industries they work in can know when they are following the law, and when they are not. It asks government employees to live by the rules everyone else must live by. It asks government to not engage in arbitrary and capricious behavior, which undermines everything our Republic and our Commonwealth are about. You know, that liberty and freedom stuff that seems so insignificant to the self-appointed guardians of environmental quality. One thing is clear: My fellow environmental professionals may care about the environment, but they do not care about democracy or good government.

This bill is not about environmental quality, it is about democracy, the role of government, good government, government transparency and accountability, and limits on government power. It represents the tug of war going on nationwide between people who want unfettered big government power, and those of us who want government to live within the Constitutional boundaries everyone else lives in.

SB 619 needs to be implemented now.

(c) 2006 Bonnie Jacobs

is Penn State for real?

I know, I know, PSU alum are not supposed to criticize our Mother Ship, Penn State University. But the cold hard facts are material, and it is important to at least raise one’s voice about important things.

For the record, I do not hate Penn State, though I have severed my commitment to PSU football because of the brutally unfair way the PSU board treated my hero and universally admired icon  coach Joe Paterno. No, the opposite is true, I care very much about PSU.  I am grateful for the stellar undergraduate education I received there. In fact, I received as good or better an education at PSU as or than available at supposedly elite Ivy League schools. That is because PSU is so large, has so many facilities and professors, that anyone who really wants to be educated, to talk with their professors, to spend time debating and studying with like-minded students, can spend all their time as a student being educated. If they but want to.

Which is pretty much what I did there. I served on the Student Senate, ran for student body president, engaged in all kinds of political activism, and studied, studied, studied. My professors, notably Art Goldschmidt, Jackson Spielvogel, Jim Eisenstein, and especially Ed Keynes, helped me grow as only a devoted educator can do. I served many of my best professors as a teaching or research assistant. They each studied me, saw my strengths and weaknesses, and challenged me in ways and in areas where I needed to grow the most, and where that growth would matter the most to my eventual debut as an educated adult.

On the other hand, my impression of Ivy League schools is that they are so one-dimensional and politically correct, that one must only gain entry and then spend four years parroting and agreeing with one’s professors to get out with a degree. No growth, no challenge, no self-development at the Ivy league schools, just indoctrination by the staff and parroting back by the students. Where is the value in that?

So what the hell is going on at Penn State with the sky-high tuition? At $38,000 a year IN STATE tuition, PSU ranks right up there with many private schools as well as public universities OUT of state.

Being run now strictly as a profit-loss bottom-line business, as opposed to an educational institution, PSU sets tuition fees that are affordable only to wealthy students, crazy parents, foreign students backed by foreign governments, and  the children of PSU employees.  Ye olde regular American or Pennsylvanian family simply cannot afford the Pennsylvania STATE university.

This situation is exacerbated by a so-called professional caste of elected officials, state representatives and state senators, who tell us all the time that they are professionals and they know what they are doing. What they are doing with PSU is constantly shoveling into its gaping maw more and more taxpayer money, with zero strings attached. No special scholarships for highly qualifying Pennsylvania students. No accountability to the taxpayers, no service to the Pennsylvania public.

And for those who justify this unfair situation because PSU is a big research station, OK, you name the program and let’s look into it. Some are pretty good, and some are worthless. For example, PSU has its own breeder reactor, so we know the PSU students of nuclear physics are probably getting cutting-edge education from nuclear physics researchers there. On the other hand, fake “climate researcher” Michael Mann was just hugely discredited in a court of law, and ordered to pay big legal fees as a result. Mann could not produce in court the data he used to make his name peddling phony science. As we all know, science is totally about reproducability, the ability to reproduce experiments and outcomes that other scientists have claimed. Mann cannot do that. Mann has been a political activist first and foremost, and has besmirched PSU’s good name as a research institution.

Maybe Mann can be now sued by Pennsylvania taxpayers for his fraud, and compelled to create a scholarship fund with his many ill-gotten gains.

We can call it the “Penn State Real Science Scholarship Fund.” And if it has only five bucks in it, it will still be a hell of a lot more than PSU has so far designated to supporting qualified in-state students who want to study real subjects.

 

Pennsylvanians deserve an open primary

“I don’t want some unaffiliated voter determining the nominee in my political party,” goes the overused and unpersuading assertion for why closed primaries, where voters can only vote for who is in their particular political party, and not across party lines. Independents cannot vote for Republicans or Democrats, only for Independents and so on etc.

Pennsylvania has a closed primary election.

If there is one thing that the two main political parties can agree on, it’s that they do not want to share power with anyone else; certainly not the voters! So many cozy deals between the Democrats and Republicans – dividing up the spoils of elected office – have been revealed over the years (the biggest most recent is the PA Turnpike Commission scandal) that is it any wonder why this happy and very lucrative lovefest between the two political parties is being protected at all costs…

The thing is, both the Republican and the Democrat parties are private organizations. I found this out first hand in 2009 when I ran for congress, against the wishes of the PA Republican Party. I was one of those first-in “Tea Party” candidates who declared after just six months of Obama’s treasonous communism and the GOP’s complacency. Except that neither I nor the other similar grass roots candidates knew that we were in the “Tea Party.” We were just mad as hell at both political parties, neither of which seemed interested in helping us, the working people of America, and were rather devoted to the constellations of money-sucking special interest leeches circling about each of them. Elected officials, party hacks, and party functionaries in both political parties did just fine in that scenario, even if the rest of America was falling apart.

And when we began to push our own GOP, we learned that they were accountable to no one, because they were and remain a private entity.

A couple years ago another independent-minded candidate ran in a Dauphin County Democrat primary, and learned the same lesson from his own party. Nope, no transparency for you, you little peon citizen!

Both political parties answer to absolutely no one in the public, because they are private corporations. They can play all kinds of money games, and rumor whispering games, and endorsement games, and information hiding games, because they can; and no one can do anything about it.

So why are we taxpaying voters footing the enormous annual election bills for these two private entities, so that they can hold on to power and keep us citizens at bay, fending off change and accountability?

Why do the Democrats and the Republicans alone get to determine so many important outcomes in our government, when we taxpayers are the ones who are paying for how these two political parties are elected in the first place, let alone all of the expenditures they feed to themselves and their chums? In other words, we voters pay for everything and are told no, we can get only a small portion of what we should get in return, in terms of determining the political outcomes that affect us.

If the two parties want to remain private, and also want to have closed primaries, then let them pay for all of the election expenses in Pennsylvania. We taxpaying voters owe these two private entities nothing, as they owe us nothing (they tell us).

It is well past time to open up our primaries. That flexibility is the true representation of freedom, the freedom to choose, which is the core of representative government. And in Pennsylvania’s particular case, that freedom to choose is about political parties sharing something with the taxpayers who pay for all of the elections of which the two parties are, so far, the sole beneficiaries. It is not right, it is not good, it is not fair.

Open up and let us in!

Awesome fist courtesy of Lee Vanden Brink