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Natural abundance right now

Natural abundance surrounds us now. Apples, chestnuts, corn, osage orange “brainfruit,” and much much more. We scramble every day to snag wild apples along road sides, pick up chestnuts up the street before the squirrels eat them, and toss a few funky looking “brains” from a Lancaster farm road into the truck bed.

All with the intention of planting them on rural properties we manage.

By introducing new seeds to a given piece of land, we increase the species diversity and DNA stock on that piece of land.  Like Johnny Appleseed of old, we kick open holes in the dirt and pat a seed or apple core into place.

True, turkeys, bears, deer, chipmunks, and squirrels will eat much of what we plant. But if we do enough, some will survive.

And from there they will grow into trees and shrubs, feeding wildlife and people in the future, thereby perpetuating nature’s abundance.

Perry County Ground Zero, Round II

Perry County Ground Zero, Round II

By Josh First

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The court room was about 85% full.

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

Here is my take-away:

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

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

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

 

 

Summer mode continues, sorry

Yes, I am still in summer mode here.  Things are moving slowly.  Please bear with us.

Happy Labor Day

It is true that the early labor movement was full of Marxists, socialists, pro-Soviet traitors, and more, But….today’s private local labor unions are not that way.

People have a right to collectively bargain in private unions.

Workers keep businesses running.

Businesses exist for business, but if the workers can unionize, they have that right.

Enjoy the freedom to unionize. It’s a rarity on Planet Earth.

Should I riot? Burn my neighborhood?

The other day a cop stepped out in front of my vehicle and motioned me to pull over.

“Explosives checkpoint,” he said, leaning into the truck cab and looking around.

“Got a driver’s license?” he asked.

Policemen stood all around, serious faces, thumbs hooked into gear belts, a dog, a strange looking machine pointed at the truck.

“Sure,” I said, digging through my Benjamin Franklin replica wallet for the ID. “Anything to help you guys.”

And I meant it, even while I did not like being pulled over for nothing. It feels like a police state.  And we hunt. The truck is full of high powered rifle rounds, shotgun shells, tools, knives. What happens if the police find these things? They’re not explosives, but in the context of their search, they might be alarming.

And consider that the bumper has NRA stickers, Don’t Tread on Me, etc. My politics might be provocative.  Who knows where that can lead.

A couple minutes later, a different officer walked over to the cab, handed me my license, and said thanks. He apologized for the inconvenience. We made chit chat about our kids, the high cost of college, and other stuff.

We parted ways on friendly terms.

Was I profiled?

Was it my pickup truck? My conservative stickers? My tough guy appearance?

Do they think I’m a “domestic terrorist”?

Should I get mad about this? Riot? Burn down my neighborhood?

I went and ate lunch. And forgot about this uncomfortable moment until now. Nope, I never took it personally

Like James Foley, I am an Islamophobe

Muslim terrorists beheading people with kitchen knives don’t survive in a vacuum. They don’t spontaneously appear from thin air.

They come from Muslim communities, Middle Eastern and Western. They have tremendous support across great swathes of a 1.2 billion person population. They are, in fact, executing and implementing Islam exactly as the Koran demands.

That’s why there is no Muslim peace movement.  It’s why there is no Muslim demonstration for Israel, Christians, or Yazidis. There are no Muslim-on-Muslim rumbles over jihad.

Instead, there are quiet supporters, indifferent bystanders, and active participants.

Reporter James Foley traveled to Syria to talk about the civilians there. Their challenges. Their aspirations. He was inclined to report on the daily atrocities by Assad’s forces and he was inclined to overlook the revolutionaries’ own barbarity.

Nonetheless, Foley was representative of Western civilization, so the Islamic activists took him prisoner, beat him, mistreated him, and finally cut off his head on video.

I watched his video. Foley was brave, even as his murderer lifted his chin and began sawing away with a knife. He tried to yell as the knife sliced deeply through his neck, it seems as a last act of defiance, because he still did not struggle. The video ends with James’ bloody head placed on his back besides his cuffed hands.

If you’re not phobic about this behavior, then there’s something wrong with you. Being phobic about Islam is a natural reaction among those who love life, justice, fairness, kindness, gentleness, mercy, and brotherhood.

Being called an “Islamophobe” is no bad thing.  It means you’re a sane person of good values. You stand for goodness above evil. Any normal American would be an Islamophobe; there’s zero in common between Islam and America. Nothing. Zilch.

I am an “Islamophobe,” like James Foley, God rest him, a brave American.

 

When the government just takes your land

About four years ago, Pennsylvania state government created a new regulation setting aside 150-foot buffers on waterways classified as High Quality and Exceptional Value.

This means that 150 feet from the edge of the waterway up into the private property, it’s designated as off-limits to most types of disturbances.

The purpose was to protect these waterways from the effects of development.

The end result is an obviously uncompensated taking of private property by the government. When the government takes a tape measure and marks off your own private land and says you can’t do anything with this huge area, or a road is going through, you’re simply taken advantage of. You’re robbed. It’s Un-American.  It’s unconstitutional.

Pennsylvania is a great state. I love living here. It’s saddening to see such top-down, command and control, clunky, one-size-fits-all regulations in this day and age. We can do so much better than this approach.

To start, create incentives for landowners to go along. Give tax credits and write-offs for land taken by government.

Do we all want clean air, soil, and water? Sure. Breathing, eating, and drinking clean air, food, and water are necessary to surviving. But that’s not the question.

The question is HOW we pursue those goals.

Requiring American citizens to simply give up their investments, with no compensation, creates losers in a system that was originally designed to make everyone a winner.

Instead of pitting government against the citizens, we need policies and laws that help and serve citizens, that are fair to citizens. That is by definition good government.

This current 150-foot buffer regulation is by definition bad government.

Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight; bring goats

It is a fact that forest owners and land managers are increasingly engaged in a gunfight of sorts with noxious invasive weeds.  Ailanthus, mile-a-minute, multiflora rose, barberry, Japanese honeysuckle, Russian olive, Asian bittersweet, Angelica, and new non-native invasives are in many ways taking over and altering Pennsylvania’s native forest.

If you think this sounds like a bunch of environmental hooey, then stop using paper goods right now.  No more toilet paper for you!

Paper is a product of pulp trees like black birch and red maple.  Once upon a time, these two aforementioned tree species were the scourge of well managed forests.  With little seed to feed wildlife, and little valuable wood to make furniture or flooring, these trees displaced the oaks, hickories, hard maples, poplars and cherries landowners have historically relied on to pay for their land and which consumers have relied upon for everything wooden they take for granted.

Now, the formerly “junk” trees we waged war against seem positively benign when compared to the newcomers.  Foreign invasive weeds and trees not only bring nothing of nutritional value, nor anything of economic value, they rapidly displace those native trees we rely upon to feed deer, turkeys, bears, and on which America depends for furniture.

Herbicides like Glyphosate 41 have worked for me for many years.  But I am now finding myself running around playing catch up with these pesty plants in too many places, more than anyone can keep up with.  Like many others in my role, I feel like I am losing the battle.  When I see yet another thicket of ailanthus and mile-a-minute, I feel like the guy who showed up at the gunfight with a knife – outgunned, helpless.

It is time to trot out the goats.

Goats eat pretty much everything, including the invasive plants we abhor, with relish.  Goats are not cheap initially, but a $100 goat can earn its keep in displaced herbicide expenses in about three or four days.

Goats take more time to maintain than a spray pack and wand.  At night they must be penned up, or they will be eaten by a bear or coyotes.  They must be tethered in one place and then moved every few hours, or they can quickly damage the native trees and shrubs we want.

The big benefit of goats is that they can be eaten at the end of the project.

I will report back to you on the success of the goats at the gunfight.

“Full service,” re-defined

If you get gasoline in New Jersey, you can’t speed up the process and put the gas in your car at your own speed.

By statute, only station employees can dispense gas.

Its called “Full Service.”

In ages bygone, that meant full service, as in oil check, tire pressure check, window wash. You’d tip the guy fifty cents. It meant something.

Try asking for those services today. You’ll get a laugh from the young Sudanese guy working the pumps. He moves at his own pace. Fast but not quick.

And so here you are, a hostage in your car, ready to pay, ready to leave, but by law stuck waiting on the guy at the service end of the spectrum.

It’s just a bit assymetrical. It’s not what you’re paying for. It’s not what you need, or want, or used to get.

But, by God, it’s what the government is giving you, and you’ll take it. Or else. Check out the reports of irate drivers serving their own cars gas. They actually get arrested. Big crime!

New Jersey is one of the most liberal states in America. Expect more models of the Garden State’s “full service” to creep into your life in nearly every aspect of your life.

This is freedom, redefined.

Fellow Americans, enjoy your summer!

Dear fellow Americans, we got it good here. Summer time is for gardens, BBQ with friends, travel with the family, loafing by the pool, fishing, and so on.

Summertime in America is truly a serene time. We are blessed in this.

Don’t take it for granted.

The hoops and links and tethers that kept the world’s nations mostly stable over the past sixty years are broken. Entire arrangements of human life across enormous landscapes are changing. Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, all are in significant play. Iraq and Syria both have lost control of their borders.

Think this doesn’t effect you or your life?  You’re wrong. Energy, trade, security, violent jihad, and more are all in flux, and changes are rippling across the globe.

America is a strong nation. Be prepared to be challenged, because it’s going to take all we have to succeed.

On that happy note, enjoy the hot dogs and cold beer!