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The McCain in my soup

What seems like a hundred years ago, in the summer of 2000 I served as a volunteer at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.

Staying with my old Philly friends Mark and Bill in their back bedroom, I was able to easily access the convention center by foot.

Being a burly lad, I was put on “security,” which involved wearing a special yellow or red shirt, standing at certain choke points and doorways in the convention center, checking credentials before allowing people to pass to some next destination, and answering questions about the location of bathrooms.

Most of my security role was done at the entrance to the main stage, where speakers and media activists (“reporters”) entered and exited. From this doorway, the speakers walked out onto the stage to speak from the main podium, and the media things sauntered, pranced, sashayed their ways to nearby desks set up to look at the podium and speaker.

Cameras were set up to capture both the speaker and the media commenters looking at the speaker.  Sitting en banc like a panel of judges, the media personalities were represented as a real-time source of expert analysis and useful commentary. Of course, that is exactly the role the mainstream media plays at a Republican convention: Judge, jury, and executioner, heavy-duty criticism. At Democrat conventions the same media people are giddy cheerleaders.

Why anyone thinks that these celebrity personalities add anything useful or valuable to the experience is beyond reckoning, except that the mainstream media have done a very good job of arranging their own roles at these conventions. The political parties do not necessarily need them there. The Republicans would do well to not have them at their conventions.

Anyhow, three distinct memories of that 2000 Philadelphia convention stand out in my head, all of them from my unique VIP security role at the entrance on to the main stage.

The first memory was NPR activist Cokie Roberts. Like all the other VIPs at that stage entrance, my job was to walk from the stage entrance and get her at the far end of the tunnel where a temporary FBI office was located in a small room. Police officers and FBI agents populated this end of the tunnel, providing heavy protection for the VIPs. From there I would then accompany her back down the tunnel to the stage entrance. Once there, the protocol was to look around and make sure everything was clear, no unpermitted people around, and then point the VIP toward their destination: the main podium, or, with Cokie Roberts, the press desk ahead and slightly off to the left.

Sharing the same physical space as Cokie Roberts is unpleasant. Her smug self-importance sucks up all the energy in the immediate vicinity. Cokie was like a saucy queen, and the air was full of expectation. I felt diminished in her presence. Yet I stayed close to her, walked her to the doorway, pointed her to the media desk, and there she sat, lips pursed, looking feline, watching her prey through slitted eyes.

OK, that is one memory.

The second memory is of that same exact location and security role. I walked Bob Dole down the tunnel to the stage entrance, looked around, and sent him out to the podium. I had never been in Dole’s immediate space before, but true to form he was clutching a pen in his damaged hand. Dole took a bit extra direction, and I had to step out onto the stage apron and take him by the elbow so that he was fully oriented toward the podium.

Dole spoke, and began walking back toward the doorway. I took a step forward and extended my hand to help him feel comfortable, and out of the corner of my right eye I saw a strange looking man slowly and very carefully edging his way toward us. I have no idea how this guy previously evaded my view, or how he even got there, given how well secured the back stage was. I am a keen hunter and my eyes miss almost nothing around me.

And yet here was this white haired but not terribly older man suddenly materializing out of nowhere and now bearing down on a frail Bob Dole. Dole was now a couple steps into the tunnel and heading back up toward the FBI office, where he would get an armed police escort to his next stop.

Like out of a movie, the white haired guy’s arm shot out toward Dole and the guy was suddenly hurtling through the air in a complete and very athletic dive towards Dole that did not match his somewhat older appearance.

Well, the old wrestler automatically took over in me, and just as the guy’s hand was about to grab Dole’s arm, literally just a few inches away, I was all over the guy. He was strong, but I was stronger, and within a couple seconds I body slammed him flat onto the concrete floor, his outstretched arm locked painfully sideways by my left arm, my legs intertwined with his and his struggling body splayed out and largely immobilized in a classic wrestling move.

The FBI guys came flying down the hallway and covered me in what is now called a dog pile. I was immediately suffocated beneath a steaming pile of heavy bodies smelling of dry cleaned suits and shoe polish. Whatever people may think about FBI agents today as a result of the corruption by Comey, McCabe, and Stzrok, those agents were super physical and aggressive. I loved it and hated it all at the same time. Loved it because the bad guy was stopped dead, hated it because I could not breathe, and then again happy to know the weird son-of-a-bitch underneath me was being turned into a pretzel by all the hands reaching around me. Within about twenty seconds I was pulled off by three FBI guys, while a uniformed cop and two other agents were cuffing the weirdo hand and foot.

The white-haired weirdo guy was trussed like a hog and quickly carried up to the FBI office. I, too, was hustled up there, pushed from behind as a wall of guys swarmed the tunnel and then pushed the weirdo and I into the little FBI room.

Once in the room, the guy was cuffed to a chair and the questions started flying. Within a minute or so he was identified as a Polish national who had a long history of stalking Bob Dole and trying to assault him, all around the world. The guy was an obsessive kook and already known to law enforcement.

I was asked my version of events, congratulated on stopping the weird guy, with one of the big Irish cops giving me a big smile and saying how much he enjoyed watching me slam the guy down so hard. A couple of the FBI agents said they didn’t know anything was amiss until they heard the guy’s body smack the concrete so hard.

During the melee just a couple feet away, Dole had shrunk back against the tunnel wall, still clutching his pen, looking scared (why not) and two agents took him by the arms and hustled him back up the tunnel. That was the last I saw of Bob Dole.

From the little FBI room, I was accompanied back down to my spot at the stage entrance, patted on the back, and instructed to stay vigilant. Hey, I was never so important before or again!

The third and last distinct memory I have of that convention also involved the VIP entrance, because it was from there that I got to watch Senator John McCain deliver an emotional speech about wanting the presidential nomination so badly, and yet being denied it.

McCain delivered an interesting and very personal speech. He had just been through hell, with the Bush team pulling a lot of dirty tricks to eventually stop McCain’s momentum late in that hard-fought primary race.

From my view at the edge of the stage, I could see in McCain’s adam’s apple a huge lump had appeared while he spoke. I actually watched it grow. I had never before seen such an enormous lump in someone’s adam’s apple. This moment was obviously much more emotional for McCain than I would have expected from such a battle-hardened candidate, and I doubt that the many TV cameras there captured it.

What that huge lump in his throat brought home to me was how heavily and personally invested McCain was in his pursuit of the presidency. As opposed to Senator Bob Dole, who had torpedoed the 1996 Republican challenge to Bill Clinton by insisting that it was “his turn” to run, despite his lack of emotion, lack of energy, lack of passion.

John McCain is now dead, and with him goes a large part of strange era in Republican politics.

Like a lot of American conservatives, I retain mixed feelings about McCain. He was good and bad. He was both patriot and sell-out, warrior against and enabler of our domestic enemies, and so on. I had supported him in 2000 and 2008, but in recent times I had really disliked the guy for his policy sell-outs. He was the fly in my policy soup.

But when I think back to that huge emotional lump in his throat at the 2000 Republican Convention, I think of a man passionate about America and his cause to protect and improve it. Whatever his reasons for taking such strangely contrarian, incongruent positions in the past couple years, McCain remains in my mind as a once-principled all-American who at one time had my strong support.

Rest in piece, Warrior McCain.

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?

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.

Is it time to recall PA AG Kane?

In 2012, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane campaigned on being fresh, new, unconnected to party politics.  She challenged the ultimate Republican insider, and crushed him by a good 15%.  Kane became Pennsylvania’s first Democrat AG only because so many Republican voters defected from the GOP and voted for Kane.

Within six months into her four-year tenure, signs were evident that she was not this politically dispassionate, politically disconnected professional and fair-minded arbiter she represented herself to be.

Rather, it became clear that she was politically correct (dogmatically liberal) and willing to use the AG office to score partisan political points, going so far as to choose not to enforce or defend state laws with which she personally disagrees.  That right there is pretty much the end of democratic government, when elected officials stop enforcing laws they personally disagree with.  Democracy only works if everyone agrees that whatever the law is, it is, and it is the law of the land until it is changed.

Kane’s icing on the cake was to cold-stop an investigation of four Democrat elected officials in the Philadelphia area.  Kane does not deny that the four had been caught on tape or video taking bribes. One of the officials can be heard saying “Well, happy birthday to [me]!” as he pockets a wad of illegal cash.

In what stinks of political favoritism, Kane simply made up a lame excuse and stopped the ongoing investigation of obvious official corruption.

When Kane was called out about it by the Philadelphia Inquirer, a newspaper unused to criticizing Democrats, she showed up to a meeting with the paper’s board with her libel lawyer in tow.  A subsequent show of legal force and more open threats of a lawsuit against her critics, by Kane, has only made things worse for her.  But she is not backing down.  Mind you, the Inquirer merely reported the facts; the paper did not ascribe motive or allege that Kane herself was part of the cash scandal.  So it is hard to see what kind of libel suit this elected official thought she was going to actually win.  Intimidation was her first and last approach, however, which tells you all you need to know about her very low quality as an elected official.

Additionally, Philadelphia City DA Seth Williams, a Democrat, has criticized Kane for ending the investigation.  Seth and I were close friends while students at Penn State, and yes, he is an active Democrat, and he is also a straight shooter.

Now, Kane says she supports another newspaper’s open records effort to get the documents about the terminated investigation.  Well, actually, after opposing it, Kane only now supports releasing “certain” documents; you know, the documents that support her position.  The investigation’s documents that will cast her political activism in a bad light, well, they should remain sealed, she says.

Governor Tom Corbett may well be a one-term governor, which presently it appears is his sad destiny, if the polling data is even close to accurate.  Well, folks, let’s make this Kathleen Kane a half-term AG.  She is incompetent, she is politicizing Pennsylvania’s established laws, and she is using blunt force legal intimidation to blunt honest criticism of her official job performance.  Let’s start a recall of AG Kane, and get someone in that office who is a plain vanilla enforcer of The Law, as that role is supposed to be.

In an ideal world, party affiliation should not matter in the AG office.  I myself am partial to the potential AG candidacy of Ed Marsico, Dauphin County’s present District Attorney.  Marsico is an honest guy, a hard working guy, and has shown few partisan inclinations in his day to day work of making Dauphin County a safe place to live and work.  Marsico would be a big enough improvement over Kane to warrant a recall effort against her.  Surely there are other professional-grade DAs out there, too, who also would qualify to fill out the remainder Kane’s term.

Let’s get that recall effort started and Pennsylvania’s law enforcement back on track.

UPDATE: How on earth could I forget? Kane is having some difficulty investigating the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, where cash gifts and other toxic ethics violations have occurred recently.  Now….why would Kane have such a tough time bringing to bear her full weight on such obviously corrupt violations of Pennsylvania laws?  Why, it would not perhaps happen to be the presence of KANE TRUCKING contracts with the PLCB, right?  The KANE TRUCKING contracts with the PLCB are worth millions of dollars to Kathleen Kane, personally.  Got it.  Fox guarding the henhouse here.  Good old fashioned corruption, at least on the face of it.  Time to end this sick experiment, and send Mrs. Moneybags Kane home.

 

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kane actually drops investigation against her political buddies

An overwhelming number and percentage of Pennsylvanians voted for a new PA Attorney General in 2012, to the point where a record spread was achieved.

Democrat Kane beat Republican Freed by 15%, an unheard of, unimaginable number.

The primary reason that so many Republican voters voted for Kane was that she was seen as clean, fresh, a new antidote to the deeply insider Freed and the same-old-gang of Good Ol’ Boy Republicans who had controlled that office since its creation in the early 1980s.  The Penn State – Sandusky scandal really hurt the Republicans in so many ways, and Kane was seen as the snake oil potion that would solve all of the problems, aches, worries, unfairness, baldness, and gout that was then plaguing Pennsylvania and Penn State.

Enter Kane the politician.  Wow.  If you had any questions about her political abilities and inclinations, wonder no more.  She has proven herself to be as adaptable as a chameleon, and as trusty as a rake left tines-up in the grass.

Last Friday (never a strong day for media, so always a strong day for government news releases seeking minimal coverage of their actions), Kane officially terminated a three-year-long investigation of a bunch of obviously corrupt elected officials in Philadelphia.  Caught on tape and camera taking bribes, these officials set the gold standard for how to make a great city fall to pieces.

But only days after she announced an indictment against a black state senator from the Philly area, Kane determined that there are “too many African Americans” involved in this sting, and that it is therefore racially biased.  No kidding.  Obviously, any future mob take-downs will be thrown out because too many white guys are involved, right?  This is both an embarrassing example of the bad government caused by Political Corrrectness, and an embarrassing example of the corruption of AG Kane.

Look, lady, either someone behaves legally, or not.  Either someone breaks the law, or not.  Skin color has zero to do with it.  And if skin color becomes the new standard for applying laws, then the country is going down the tubes, quick, because there’s a lot more Caucasian people overall, and more crime committed by Caucasians, than anyone else.  Allowing all that crime to move forward because we want to apply some vague, bizarre notion of “fairness” will allow crime to take over.  What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Kane has proven herself to be just as political, just as capable of bad decisions as anyone else could have been in the AG seat.  That honeymoon was short.

 

The Angry President, The Angry Citizen

Reports across the media spectrum describe Obama as “angry,” because the US Senate shot down lousy, unconstitutional proposed legislation yesterday. Guns are bad, goes that silly narrative.

If Obama is so angry about lousy policy, is he willing to get into the current trial of Dr. Gosnell, the Philly abortionist who professionally killed (murdered) perhaps dozens of children born fully alive, many of whom were crying or making other sounds associated with childbirth as the sharp objects were inserted into their skulls?

The same trial that the mainstream press has steadfastly refused to cover from Day One, as if that refusal to report itself is not a clear indication of an active agenda to suppress information and facts contrary to the beliefs and values of the reporters supposedly leading the charge for a more transparent America.

The disgust I feel for Dr. Gosnell is only slightly more than I feel for a president who refuses to acknowledge what his policies have lead to in Philly. In fact, it makes me plain angry. Guess I am in good company, or lousy company, as it may be judged…

Political Correctness …Not Your Grandfather’s Values

How Political Correctness Is Breaking Western Civilization
© Josh First
August 11, 2011

Recent orgies of violence in America and England demonstrate the sickness of the politics of victimization and entitlement, and how it corrodes our basic institutions of civilization. Amplifying it have been law enforcement failures in both nations that reveal how decades of moral relativism and coddling of criminals has destroyed the rule of law, which is at the core of western civilization.

It has been eight months of infuriatingly shocking photos, videos, 911 calls, but limited reporting in the mainstream press, about anti-white beatings, flash mobs, and race riots across England and America. From Michael Chambers in western Pennsylvania, to Chrissy Polis in Maryland, to families attending the Wisconsin State Fair, to shoppers and business people caught on the streets of Philadelphia and Chicago, to people lounging in public parks in Milwaukee, to stores in Las Vegas, St. Paul, Kansas City, and New York, to bystanders, homeowners and shop owners in London, Tottenham, Manchester, and other British cities, groups of “wilding” young blacks have openly targeted whites, Hispanics, and Asians for savage beatings and robbery. Mostly, these are sadistic beatings of defenseless individuals, with laughing and taunts by the kids as they run down another hapless victim. Robbery seems to be a byproduct of the supine victim’s inability to hold on to their scattered personal belongings. In a scene that you could not create in a horror movie, except maybe the purposefully demented A Clockwork Orange, at one picnic pilfered food was wolfed down while the beatings continued, providing the kids with sustenance for their hard work.

I heard laughing as they were beating everybody up. They were eating chips like it was a picnic,” said 22-year-old Shaina Perry, one of several picnicking Caucasians badly hurt in the assault at Wisconsin’s Kilbourn Reservoir Park, according to the July 6th Journal Sentinel.

Three years ago, Harrisburg had its own bout with teen pack violence, with victims being badly beaten on the street for the sheer fun of it all. I had my own run-in with one of the roving youth groups, in my Uptown neighborhood. That Saturday afternoon my dad and I were walking on the Front Street River Walk, and after being cornered by the group and then escaping, I was hit in the leg with a rock as the kids followed us and then milled about in front of our home. We witnessed our neighbors go through the same thing the year before. It’s scary. What is also scary is that I was carrying a pistol, and I would have been within my rights to use it.

What has caused this insanity is the insanity of decades of failed social policies that lock generation after generation of poor blacks into mental ghettos. Victim identity and victimization ideology is rampant, with supposed leaders like the reverends Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, and Jesse Jackson all reinforcing grievances, separatism, radicalism, and militant action to recoup long-standing demands for reparations and social paybacks. The message that has been instilled by these reverends, and even by more mainstream academics like Cornel West, and now evidently refined to a perfected mindset and action, is that blacks are universally victims and universally owed something by anybody who isn’t black.

The success of the drug culture and the failure of the family haven’t helped, either.

But that isn’t the whole of it. Law enforcement, which is supposed to keep civilization civilized, has fallen down on the job. Here are some examples of how poor leadership has resulted in a muted law enforcement culture in the wake of these terrible events.

On August 10, 2011, after days of unimpeded thuggery and wholesale destruction across the streets of Britain, and howls of protest by taxpayers and burned-out homeowners over limp police action, Theresa May, Britain’s Home Secretary, told the British media “The way we police is by consent.” Video of the British police’s pathetic, timid attempts at consent-based crowd control are available on-line.

I have asked several people to tell me what Ms. May means by her statement, and no one can come up with an explanation that makes sense. Does she mean “Consent by the lawbreaker,” because that’s how it appears. She sure doesn’t mean that British police will enforce the law any time this week. Her police stood by and watched from mere feet away as hoodlums looted, burned, and beat people, not to mention the unrequited attacks on the police, themselves. Repeated empty threats of using water cannons and rubber bullets seemed to actually encourage the rioters.

Here in America, we were treated to a local police analysis of the Wisconsin State Fair mobs, as of August 10th, that went something like “We aren’t sure, we don’t know, we can’t say.” Despite overwhelming evidence of the racism inherent in the mob attacks, the police have been afraid to call it what it is. But if it were white kids running around beating the heck out of blacks, we all know that the police would call it racism and start filing hate crimes charges left and right.

Whether it is fear of the uncomfortable or a politically correct double standard, if trained law enforcement personnel and their political leaders will not explicitly identify a problem and try to fix it, then the problem will grow worse. None of us want to contemplate what that “worse” means in this context.

That is why Philadelphia’s Mayor, Michael Nutter, is now so important. In a widely played speech from last Sunday, he has opened a door into a subject that has been taboo among decision makers for too long. Joining Bill Cosby, Larry Elder, and other black leaders who have previously demanded accountability and responsibility among black youth, Nutter authoritatively scolded the wilding young people and their parents from his church’s pulpit. While criticizing their violence and sloppy physical appearances, his one line hit the nail on the head: “Parents, get your act together….You need to get hold of your kids before we [the criminal justice system] have to.”

Amen, brother, because if you don’t turn things around at the family level, with help from plain speaking black leaders, then it appears that western civilization is headed towards its demise. No one else here has the strength of character to turn the ship around.

Copyright Josh First, originally published at and licensed to www.rockthecapital.com