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Small success stories come in big, snoring packages

Sitting at lunch today with someone in his late 60s, we reminisced about how sparse bears and turkeys were 40 years ago in central Pennsylvania.

We also recalled how pheasants were in our back yards every morning, forty years ago, and how sad it is that they are now gone, victims of abundant raptors, foxes, coyotes, skunks, possums, raccoons, and loss of traditional farmland edge habitat.

Doug remarked that pheasants are not a native species, and that as much as he enjoyed hunting these colorful, beautiful birds, if he had to make a trade-off, he is happy with the outcome of surplus bears and turkeys.

While I wish I could have it all ways – abundant wildlife of all types, I agree with Doug.

Just to drive home how successful Pennsylvania’s bear conservation program has been, a friend texted me yesterday to say that the bear I had found sleeping under a log on his farm on the southern Lower Paxton Township line three weeks ago is still snoring away there.  He has set up a couple trail cameras around it to monitor its movements.  Although we did not hear any squeals of little newborn bear cubs then or this week, and we do not know its sex, it may have since given birth.  That long stay in that one place could be pregnancy, and would account for how long the bear has remained in the scraped out den-nest it made for itself.

What is amazing is that this deeply snoring bear is literally on the edge of suburbia.  Well, it is actually deep into suburbia, in a relatively small island of open space.  Think about it this way:  Bears used to be a symbol of wild places.  Now, they are often suburban dumpster divers.  That speaks well to the large population of bears still inhabiting the truly wild areas away from suburbia.  That original population of deep forest and mountain dwellers is obviously in very good health.

And on that same farm there are now roving bands of wild turkeys, something not seen since the mid-1800s, when wild turkeys were literally all eaten up in this region.

Conservation success stories are abundant, and here we have two – bears and turkeys.  We cannot take these wins for granted, however; we must safeguard what has been accomplished.  I hope that the Wolf Administration soon appoints the new Sportsmen’s Advisor.  That is a unique leadership position Pennsylvania can not afford to leave vacant.

 

A lot of work, buried under the Internet

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

Harrisburg City makes legal mistake after legal mistake

I am a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Mayor Eric Papenfuse and Harrisburg City, over his unwillingness to comply with longstanding state law and remove anti-gun ordinances from the city laws.

Papenfuse is a 1960s-1970s-style liberal, for whom ignoring the law, subverting the law, abandoning the law, undermining the law all represent some vague “Yeah, man!” hippie stand against laws he personally believes are wrong.

The problem with this approach is that once elected to office, a mayor cannot pick and choose which laws to follow or ignore.  The rule of law requires that all laws be upheld equally, or changed through the political process.

Being an elected leader means that you accept the legal and law-making process.  But then again, Papenfuse is an adoring fan of Obama, who also believes that he is a Government of One, able to do whatever he wants, rule by fiat, contrary to democratic norms.

Under Papenfuse’s hippie-fist-in-the-air don’t-have-a-care approach, Harrisburg City is making huge legal mistakes right and left in this lawsuit.

Two days ago, our attorney, Josh Prince, scored a default judgment against the city for $21,000 plus additional costs.  The city lawyers failed to file the correct paper work, failed to correctly fill out the paper work they did file, and missed key deadlines, and so the city failed on many counts to respond in court to legal documents presented to them.

While Papenfuse struts and preens to prove some undemocratic point, the city taxpayers are on the hook for ever increasing amounts of legal fees and judgments.  Eric fails, and the taxpayers here pay for his arrogant attitude.

If this is not failed government, then nothing is.

The day after

The day after Netanyahu’s historic speech before the US Congress, people who care about real things, for good or for bad, are doing 180-degree analyses of its impact, the merits of the policy he advocated, the audiences he addressed, the politics behind, surrounding, and in front of him, and implications of a nuclear Iran for America.

Shocking was the news blackout by the major TV networks and NPR/PBS.

While Netanyahu was speaking, I dialed into WITF, the local NPR affiliate here in Harrisburg.  Instead of listening to Netanyahu speak, as any listener would normally expect if any other head of state were addressing Congress, I was treated to a sarcastic discussion about health care by advocates for ObamaCare.

NPR is already an especially egregious mis-use of taxpayer money, and this one latest example serves to illustrate how corrupt and intellectually bankrupt NPR, PBS, and their affiliate stations are, despite couching themselves as sources of real debate and substance.

NPR’s news blackout of Netanyahu is done for one reason: To serve the interests of the Obama Administration, which itself not only did not attend the speech, but also issued empty, juvenile statements immediately after Netanyahu finished.

If you are NPR and you are blacking out Netanyahu’s speech, then you are not a real news organization.  Rather, you are a political activist, an advocate, far from some kind of fair-minded arbiter of plain fact that you represent yourself to be.

Likewise, here in Harrisburg, the staff of the Patriot News has fallen all over themselves to protect Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse from the legal fallout of his decision to hold onto illegal anti-gun ordinances.

I am a plaintiff in a suit against the city over these illegal ordinances.  Yesterday our attorney Josh Prince scored a default judgment against Harrisburg City.

When people like Mayor Papenfuse engage in official lawless behavior, it’s not some sort of hip civil disobedience, it’s tyranny.  Government must absolutely live by its laws.  Papenfuse believes he is above the law, and that deserves a broadside by newspapers everywhere.  But like NPR and the mainstream media’s blackout treatment of Netanyahu, the Patriot News serves a different master – liberals at war with the foundations of Western Civilization. So Papenfuse gets away with legal murder.  Iran readies to commit nuclear genocide.

That is a hell of a thing to confront first thing in the day.

 

A man who loves his nation

How refreshing to witness a leader who loves his country speak passionately about protecting his people.

Netanyahu was speaking for Israel, and also for America, which is leaderless.

One just hopes that enough elected officials can get up enough steam to stop America’s current administration from facilitating Iran getting the nuclear bomb.

Otherwise, the next 9-11 attack won’t be about planes into buildings; it’ll be about entire American cities being vaporized.

Downton Abbey’s “field sports” Part II

Guess I shot from the hip, shot first and asked questions later, didn’t identify my target too well, or another euphemism you may enjoy applying to the lack of foresight I brought to yesterday’s analysis of Downton Abbey’s field sports.

Yes, I could have sneaked a peak ahead of the coming scenes, like many other avid watchers of PBS’s hit show do, but because I lack the time and the inclination to sneak anything, I just sat down in my easy chair and watched the show unfold last night without advance knowledge of its content.

My Sunday afternoon essay about the mediocre depiction of the field sports of Downton Abbey was written beforehand.

So, yes, there was a shooting scene last night, or more accurately, some scenes of wing shooting at driven partridge from bona fide shooting butts, using authentic guns and nice clothes, woven in and out of the story about the Scottish castle party.

But once again, there was more focus on the clothes on the people holding the guns than on the Purdeys, Rigbys, and other Best-quality side-by-side shotguns being used to down the birds.

In 1924, $150,000-then-equivalent Purdey shotguns do not get left with the menial help in the kitchen. They are fussed and obsessed over by their owners, kept locked in their rooms, cased with abundant hand-made accoutrements, labeled beautifully by their makers, and often proudly handed down from generation to generation and worn with traditional hunting clothes.

Scottish castles are loaded with arms and armor, and we barely got a peak at the edged weapons welcoming guests through the front door.

The wagons taking the hunters to the field were right, and a nice touch.  I have ridden in such wagons on traditional hunts, and they are today an unnecessary throwback.  But back then, they were a necessity through muck and muddy moors.

Shooting driven partridge from the butts was mostly done right, with gun loaders ducking to avoid being seen by the birds, and we did see some people bunched up waving white flags, but a real drive could have been filmed for full authenticity.  Actual dead birds could have fallen.  Smoke could have emitted from the barrels.  Etc etc.

Depicting the shooting sports in so briefly and so shallow a manner is the equivalent of dressing Lady Mary in a perfect 1920s top with modern hip-hugger blue jeans below. It is just wrong.  Don’t do that!

A lot of non sequiturs occurred last night that really deprive the Downton Abbey audience of a full appreciation of the English field sport lifestyle, which actually reached its pinnacle in the 1920s (when cheap skilled labor was matched with newly superior steel and modern technology to create firearms that even today still command huge sums of money, not to mention the introduction and propagation of Asian pheasants to the English countryside), the time we are watching in the show.

I am sorry to criticize you, Julian Fellowes, because Downton Abbey is otherwise a great show, everything we want it to be. 

Last night was disappointing, because the rich details of noble Scottish and English hunting rites should have been indulged.  As a student of English history, you are missing a great, even important opportunity here to dig into a meaty subject which your audience will surely enjoy, even if it involves G-U-N-S. 

Maybe in January 2016 we will get a more thorough treatment of a subject that may be missing from Mr. Fellowes’ life today, but which was a nearly daily ritual for the actual residents of Downton Abbey and their peers in the 1920s.

Shoot straight, Downton Abbey!

Downton Abbey is my favorite TV show of all time.

Every in-season Sunday night at 9:00 we eagerly gather round the big screen, home made spiced popcorn by the bucketful for each family member, and we drink in the beautifully done details and attention to form and grace we might otherwise mock, but which suddenly doesn’t look so quaint nowadays.

Everything Downton Abbey is done just right: The clothes, the rooms, the landscapes, the attitudes, the horses’ braided manes and cropped tails, the food, the historic cars, the cobblestone walks, the Upstairs Downstairs separate lives of the nobles and their low-born helpers constantly saying “Yes, m’Lord,” and deferentially bowing.

That awesome acting!

For an award-winning PBS Masterpiece Theater show that has so carefully threaded the yarn of social commentary through the needle of the dramatically changing times of the early Nineteen-Hundreds and Twenties, it is bizarrely deficient on one count: The depiction or even the meaningful presence of field sports at Downton.

Field sports, like pick-up, informal, cross-country steeplechase horse races, formal horse-back fox hunts, weekly and near-daily hunts for driven pheasant, partridge, rabbits, stag, and red deer that for hundreds of years  made up the lives of real-life Downton Abbey residents and their peers until the 1970s, but still lingering on in remote places.

Not to mention salmon fishing with spey rods and picnic baskets filled with bottles of phenomenal Scotch!

Field sports were core to the luxurious but physically challenging lifestyle of the English landed gentry and nobility (and also to their Welsh, Scottish and Irish counterparts), and generated significant economic, technological, and cultural evolutions across the planet.

Downton Abbey’s second season delivered on the natural expectation among educated viewers that accurate depictions of field sports would be part of the rural landscapes designed around them.  And then, in one evening, Downtown Abbey did it right, to the hilt, as we expected.  As we had a right to expect.

Indeed, upon his visit to Shrimpie’s Scottish family castle, properly stocked with historic arms and armor, the most pedestrian Matthew (now dead) successfully stalked Highland stag, using period-correct clothing, ponies, and best-quality rifles, complete with attentive Ghillies nattily attired in the Hebrides’ best men’s skirts.  And he enjoyed it.  A lot.  How true that would have been.  How accurate it was to portray Matthew that way.

How normal that experience was, in real life, at the time Downton Abbey is set in, not only among the Scottish castle dwellers, but among the Downton Abbey residents, as well.

So then, inexplicably, we must wait another year and a half before we see even a brief hunting scene.  Sure there is a steeplechase, and Mary’s galloping sidesaddle was impeccable.  Exciting to watch, and viewers around the globe worried that she might fall; I did.  Jumping sidesaddle is a rare skill, which a gentlelady like Mary would have time to perfect.  Seeing it was, in fact, perfect to my eyes.

Well done!

But the hunting scene this season is awful.  It is shamefully bad, I am sad to say.

This time Tom, Mary, and one of her suitors take a walk on the Downton grounds with best-grade shotguns to hunt up some hares for the house pot.  Incredibly, Tom hesitatingly walks out into the middle of an open field, where no self-respecting rabbit has ever lived or been shot with a gun or caught by a hawk, points his gun up at shoulder level, and pulls the trigger.

At which point we are supposed to believe, what, that a Monty Python-style King Arthur quest-rabbit-on-a-string slowly sailed up into the air and delivered itself to the careful arc of Tom’s staged, static, single shot?

Come on, Downton Abbey!  This is not right. Not only is it not technically right, it’s not naturally right, but most important, it’s not socially right.

Just think of the potential social commentary available to the writers about a radical Irish Socialist private limo driver who then becomes the family’s land manager.

From being against estates, he is now the arm of the Lord of the estate.  From opposing monarchy, he literally gets in bed with it and his (now dead) wife Sybil bears him a child born to wealth and noble high status.

Putting the equivalent of a $150,000 best-quality shotgun in Tom’s hands, and a $5,000 wool suit on his handsome frame, while he hunts on the estate with pure-bred gentry at his side, surely we could have been treated to some scenes of rabbits dying in the place of King Edward, in Tom’s mind’s eye, or some other subtle but visual tension as we have seen elsewhere in Downton, such as where Tom feels physically drawn to the material comforts of the life he once intellectually opposed.

One can only guess why this dearth of hands-on hunting, riding, and fishing is an elephant standing in the castle’s drawing room.

Is it that Julian Fellowes is like so many of England’s effete cultural elite, openly disdaining even rudimentary firearms like single-shot rifles and double-barrel shotguns, and so including them only of the barest necessity in Downton Abbey?  And what a shame this is, because even for liberals there is rich mining to be had, a wealth of opposites, a world of contrasts in the universe of noble field sports.

Reality is not scary, Julian, nor is it objectionable.  Reality is reality, and if you are going to be historically accurate for our viewing pleasure, reality must be shown and said.  And as your loyal fan, I am telling you that you can put rose tinted lenses on anything at Downton, and we will eat it up, including rabbit hunting and driven pheasant shoots.

I hope you do it right next time, and include more accurate field sports portrayals.  To be prosaic, make sure you serve the other course with our otherwise fulfilling meal, please.  It should be roast duck or pheasant, with a scattering of chilled lead six-shot picked out from the rear molar with a pinky nail or toothpick like any Lord or Lady would have happily done in 1927.

 

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.

What if concerned citizens blocked the FCC vote tomorrow?

What if concerned citizens went to the FCC headquarters and blocked the five members from meeting there and holding a quorum?

What if the American citizenry decided that they had had enough of Obama’s lawlessness, and they determined the only way to keep the FCC from taking over the Internet was to #OccupyFCC?

What happens when the FCC takes over the Internet, the FEC begins regulating what is posted on the Internet, and the government continues to dispense “waivers” to its regulations like it has with ObamaCare, except that in the case of the Internet the establishment legacy media are allowed to continue on in their partisan way, and everyone else must obey or be severely punished?

Will armed citizens storm the FCC building and take it over, or destroy the hard drives controlling the Internet, to get their freedom back?

These are dangerous times indeed.  A lawless takeover of America is rapidly occurring on many fronts, with government coercion and control behind all of it.  Americans in the past have not responded well to this sort of power grab.  And by bringing in a tidal wave of illegal aliens to vote themselves more of our hard-earned tax money, well, that is the recipe for war.  In fact, there are historic precedents for this throughout human history, where alien nations used surreptitious control from behind the throne to take over a competing nation they could not vanquish through warfare.

Obama did not love the America he became president of in 2008, there is no question about that.  He is seeking to fundamentally transform America into something else, completely deviating from its founding principles, the principles that made our nation great and a beacon of freedom and hope.

To be fair, Obama is being aided by the weakest group of elected officials in our nation’s history.  The Republicans in Congress are obsessed with their own personal power and prestige, their long careers, not with staying true to our Constitution, or to good government, or freedom of speech.

To quote many of my good friends, this situation is “unsustainable.”

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.