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Trump Great American Outdoors Act hits Conservation Home Run

Conservation is where I have spent my entire career, and it is where my heart resides day in and day out. So it is with great happiness that I see President Trump sign into law the Great American Outdoor Act, which will do the nuts and bolts environmental protection America needs, without the regulation that America does not need.

The fact that so many political appointees within the Trump Administration were cheerleaders for the GAOA says a lot about the political tenor there. So many people accuse the Trump Administration of being some kind of radical “right wing” blah blah, and the fact is that the entire administration is loaded with middle-of-the-road professionals, who hold a mix of political, philosophical, and ideological views. In past Republican administrations, there were plenty of appointees who would have blocked GAOA, or held it up. GAOA is a signature achievement for President Donald Trump, and it is a huge win for Americans.

GAOA fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the first time in a zillion years. It provides adequate funding for federal and state parks infrastructure updates, operations, and maintenance costs. These are the costs that are always deferred in every administration. It is a subject I wrote my master’s thesis on at Vanderbilt University, and it is a subject that has never gone away, until now: Federal recreational infrastructure has been woefully underfunded for decades. Many state parks across America are in even worse shape than that National Parks.

For example, in 2016 my teenage daughter and I hiked half of the Northville Placid Trail, which runs through the Adirondacks. At the end of our ninth day, as we waited out a looming thunderstorm in a rustic but comfortable lean-to deep inside designated wilderness, on a hike in which we had encountered only a few other people, my daughter sat looking at her dead iPhone. Like Gollum looking at The One Ring, only my daughter looked more disgusted and glum than happily mesmerized.

“I have to get out of here. I want to talk to my friends. I want to know what is happening in the world. We need to go,” she said, and picked up her backpack, jumped down onto the grass, then shouldered her backpack.

Oh, I tried to persuade her to spend the night and stay out of that coming downpour. But she would have nothing of it, and she set off by her own teenage self, going somewhere, maybe anywhere, and I was standing there watching her pick her way into the forest.

Hours later we emerged at Moose River Plains, what maps describe as a rustic New York State recreational area tucked away deep in the Adirondack wilderness. What we found was a boarded up main building, boarded up out buildings, no gate, and no official staff. Instead, a bunch of locals who regularly camp there had taken over the official duties of park rangers. Even the land line phone system was not working. It was a very kind local who drove us, each drenched to the bone and with sodden packs, to the closest village, where we could contact our driver and get back to our own vehicle parked at a Baptist church in Northville, so my daughter could get home and talk with a zillion friends simultaneously.

Turned out that Moose River Plains was victim to a New York State budget that prioritized funding illegal aliens, but not state parks.

The Moose River Plains experience was worse than our visit the year before to Saratoga National Battlefield, by far. But seeing Saratoga National Battlefield, where the brave fight for American freedom and independence was won, in such terrible disrepair and threadbare means, was frankly shocking. One expects the National Park Service to do so much better. And when we spoke with a park ranger there, she was clearly hurt, personally, as she explained the money constraints that park faced. NPS just could not get the job done.

All of this is to say that finally, money floweth in the right direction. The need out there for public infrastructure is almost beyond compute. It is about time that America invested in our national parks and forests, state parks and forests, local and county parks, and the myriad other adjunct little recreational areas, like Moose River Plains, so that Americans might enjoy our public outdoors.

And about that public outdoors thing: Public land is a public good. Public land is one of the very few things that government does pretty well. And even when government land managers fail, the outcome is almost always simple neglect; the land always remains, the wildlife habitat remains. Which means the opportunity for recreation, hunting, fishing, hiking, camping etc remains. It is not a real material loss when land managers screw up or there isn’t enough money to operate the park entrance gate house; just missed opportunities, and putting a frowny face on a public symbol.

Congratulations to President Trump for pushing hard for GAOA, for hiring the right kind of land management staff and public lands leaders, and for caring about our public lands at all levels – local, state, and federal. Trump understands Americans, and he knows how much we care about our public lands, our state parks. And he knows how important it is to constantly invest in those places, so that they don’t fall into disreputable disrepair, like Moose River Plains had fallen.

One of the parts of GAOA that is so very appealing to me is the public land acquisition funding. As development never sleeps, what were nice public spots to hunt or hike in suddenly find themselves cut off or surrounded or overrun by development. It is nice that states and local governments will finally be able to buy that ‘Mabel’s Farm’ the community always wanted, and could not afford.

There is going to be a lot of Mabel’s Farms bought with GAOA money in the next few years, a lot of Nature conserved, and a lot of communities and hunting places protected, as a result. Thank you, President Trump, conservationists everywhere appreciate your leadership on this important policy area.

With special people at Yosemite. Can we imagine America without Yosemite? It takes money to protect these special places.

My daughter at the unhappy lean-to. But still, it was a functional, dry lean-to next to clean water in the middle of ADKs wilderness

Our friends Mark and Amanda at Leonard Harrison State Park, overlooking the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon

My daughter at Cedar Lakes, a special moment that spurred her on to teach wilderness backpacking to kids. Now she can’t wait to reach the area of no cell reception

Response to PA Gov. Tom Ridge on Conservatives & the Environment

On April 22nd this year, Earth Day, The Atlantic published an opinion piece by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, about conservatives and the environment (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/environment-gop-out-touch/610333/). The Atlantic solicited responses to Ridge’s essay, and so I submitted one to them, but received back no indication they would publish it. They did not publish it, because liberals like those at The Atlantic accept and publish only liberals, and reject conservatives.  So here it is, my response to Governor Ridge’s essay about conservatives and the environment.

I felt compelled to respond to Governor Ridge’s essay, in part because I worked in his administration, and in part because I have met few Republicans who can articulate a truly conservative view of environmental policy, which Governor Ridge failed to do. I was also afraid of being seen as attacking someone I hold in high esteem, and I need to say that while I may disagree with Governor Ridge’s essay and some of his recent public stances, like supporting PA governor Tom Wolf’s covid19 lockdown, I remain impressed by Governor Ridge’s high character. I am proud to have served in his distinctively excellent administration.

Governor Ridge’s  essay slightly opens a doorway that I am both pleased and also reluctant to push all the way open. But it needs to be opened, all the way, because for far too long establishment Republicans have claimed to be conservatives, while acting like liberals.

Governor Ridge writes his essay “as a conservative,” and despite boldly leading by example in placing highly competent gays, women, and minorities in senior government positions literally decades ago, long before most Democrats followed suit, Governor Ridge was, in fact, a true conservative. His achievements in conservative policy are legion, including Pennsylvania becoming a shall-issue concealed firearm carry state and his administration’s brownfield land recycling program.

Nonetheless, the emphasis today is on he “was.”

Governor Ridge was a conservative, and by today’s standard, he is not. This is not because Governor Ridge has changed, but because what now defines a conservative has changed so dramatically since the time he was governor. The same holds true for liberals, by the way, in their own way (we see the Democrat Party now a totally, openly, violent, racist, anti-America Marxist organization).

And like so many, if not all other political elites, especially Republicans, and most especially establishment Republicans from the hide-bound, bunker-mentality Pennsylvania GOP, Governor Ridge has not changed with the times. Governor Ridge was a conservative, and today he often speaks like a liberal, and sides with liberals on policy disputes. He is not alone in this, but each Republican who does so still causes pain to us conservatives in the political trenches. It is frustrating as hell to experience a former Republican appointee or elected official try to speak with authority as some sort of representative of conservativism, when in fact, they are simply liberals. Or RINOs for short (Republican In Name Only – not conservative).

Probably the biggest indication that Governor Ridge is out of synch with today’s conservatives is how he encourages us to adopt a laundry list of liberal environmental policies in his The Atlantic essay. This means that his solution for conservatives to succeed is for us to adopt liberalism. Even though most of the “environmental” groups are simply employment offices for Democrat Party operatives pushing Marxist, partisan policies. Very few environmental groups today are even seeking solutions, because they are busy dreaming up new problems.

Most of the policies pushed by environmental groups today are by definition Big Coercive Government, Small Defenseless Citizen, anti-Constitution, disregard for private property rights, mountains out of mole hills, and so on. These groups are not about the environment, they simply use the subject of the environment as another avenue to push Marxism and the Big Government necessary to force it down our throats. Governor Ridge should know this, of all people.

What Governor Ridge failed to address is: How can we conservatives embrace the very same failed and inferior liberal policies that drove us to becoming conservatives in the first place? If we adopt liberalism, then we are abandoning conservativism, and failing as conservatives.

Every single environmental policy recommendation that Governor Ridge lists in his essay directly contradicts core conservative principles, like small government, less intrusive government, less spendy government, less activist government, less regulatory government, accountable government and accountable taxpayer-funded government employees. Literally every single policy he lists requires the government to intervene in a big, coercive way, often over trifling differences or demonstrably false premises.

Governor Ridge’s environmental ideas are not conservativism; they are quintessential big government liberalism.

Perhaps the centerpiece of his essay is that conservatives must concede at least a bit on “climate change.” Yet, for conservatives, this particular issue, more than any other, highlights the distinction between us and liberals. For conservatives to agree with the Marxist, disproven, and notoriously phony climate change religion would be to abandon basic, solid, conservative principles altogether….like Capitalism 101, solid math and science, and transparency. Again, we are unpersuaded the climate warming-cooling-change-whatever issue even exists, let alone that a government solution consistent with America’s Constitution could be found.

Governor Ridge writes “The Republican Party has largely abandoned environmental issues.” To which I and a host of other conservatives would respond, No, but many Republicans have abandoned the citizen voters and the forgotten taxpayers of America. Many careerist Republicans have embraced popular culture and its feel-good-now bubblegum policies. For Republicans to respect openly partisan “environmental” groups and embrace liberal nonsense like so-called ‘climate change’ and similar policies would only be one more betrayal in a long line of policy and political betrayals committed by the Republican establishment. Conservatives have perfectly sound environmental policies based on perfectly sound, all-American principles. If you but ask us, we will explain them. We conservatives didn’t abandon environmental issues, nor did we leave the Republican Party. The Republican establishment abandoned us.

Josh First is president of Appalachian Land & Conservation Services, LLC. He has worked at the US EPA in Washington, DC, The Conservation Fund, the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, and was Director of Environmental Education and Information at the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources in the Governor Tom Ridge administration.

PFSC op-ed in PA Outdoor News

This was printed in last week’s Pennsylvania Outdoor News:

“In a world filled with fake news, the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen and Conservationists hit the ball out of the park. PFSC announced the results of an “election” of new officers, but calling PFSC’s phony scam an election puts the anti-democracy Chinese, North Koreans, Cubans, and Venezuelans to shame. PFSC held a sham election that would be the envy of any of the countries listed above, plain and simple. It was an event designed to give the appearance of legitimacy to the most un-American, anti-democratic voting process I have ever witnessed. Throughout my career as a professional and as a board volunteer with many non-profit organizations, I have seen plenty of jockeying and vying for control of boards of directors, but I have never seen anything as shameful as what happened at PFSC.

First, the “election” was held on the first weekend of the covid19 lockdown, and people who wanted to participate could not, out of fear for their own health or for the health of their families. This automatically excluded many people from otherwise participating, but the organizers went ahead anyhow, showing no commitment to the opening the process to the members.

Second, the selection of candidates to vote for was run by a nominating committee that met in secret, whose members were not known, whose decisions had no minutes or transparency. It was run like the Adam Schiff impeachment hearings. The nominating committee arbitrarily picked some people to be voted on, and excluded other interested candidates, giving no choice in the matter. That is not an election, it is a selection.

Third, a grand total of 26 votes were cast for each position. For an organization that brags about representing 70,000 Pennsylvania sportsmen, this is a farce. No clubs voted, no individual members voted. Only a tiny handful of pre-selected people could even vote, and out of them only 26 voted. This is not representative democracy, this is a sham. Twenty-six total votes! For seventy thousand members! A sham!

Fourth, two of the people elected, Lowell Graybill (was president, then was treasurer, is now president again) and Chuck Lombaerde (was vice president, is now treasurer, had held other roles), have already served as officers for many years. During their tenure as PFSC executives, PFSC has gone from 1,500 clubs to 150 clubs today. Graybill and Lombaerde have been right there PFSC’s whole sad way down. Why would anyone reward them and knowingly vote for two people already strongly associated with the organization’s failure?

In January 2019, both Graybill and Lombaerde voted to remove the Second Amendment from PFSC’s mission statement. They failed because I raised hell, but what kind of proud sportsman would ever vote for someone like that to serve in a leadership role? Like hasn’t anyone noticed that the Second Amendment is under attack? Additionally, for years Graybill has pushed the PFSC board to support radical leftist environmental policies, like banning all gas drilling in the Delaware River watershed. Graybill’s views are contrary to those held by mainstream sportsmen.

The three new people serving as officers seem nice enough, but two have been associated with PFSC for maybe a year, and they were recruited by the PFSC executive director, Harold Daub. When an organization’s executive director packs his board of directors with chums and buddies, it is called feathering his nest. It leads to major organizational breakdowns because of a failure to provide proper board oversight and accountability. So even the new officers are contaminated, right off the bat.

A great deal of this scam election was organized by Brian Hill, the environmental officer at the Richard King Mellon Foundation. Brian Hill is a long time partisan Democrat Party activist, and his latest effort is focused on turning PFSC into a leftwing environmentalist  group. They want the camo without the guns. In 2018, the RK Mellon Foundation, via Brian Hill, paid a consultant who worked with Graybill to try to gut PFSC and turn it into something else unrecognizable to sportsmen. Some of us successfully fought that effort, and I was subsequently told that Hill was warning PFSC members not to support me in any way, or RK Mellon Foundation would not provide any more funding. With “friends” like Brian Hill, does PFSC need enemies? Like it did before, RK Mellon Foundation’s future “support” for PFSC will come with long, destructive strings.

As we have recently seen, leftists are taking over institutions across America – media, academia, the Boy Scouts, NASCAR, etc. Now they can add one more to their list, PFSC. If the new officers had integrity, they would resign and demand a fair and honest election be held, giving all PFSC members and clubs a vote, and all candidates for all board positions given equal opportunity.

For 22 years I have volunteered with PFSC, served on its board, manned the booth at the Outdoor Show, mowed the HQ lawn, given speeches, attended meetings on behalf of the group, etc. As far as I am concerned PFSC has little meaning any more, and this shameful last “election” was just re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, as it sinks.

–Josh First, Harrisburg, PA

PFSC Life Member, NRA Life Member, PA Trappers Life Member, FOAC Life Member”

Is Lowell Graybill purposefully destroying PFSC?

The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen and Conservationists (formerly Clubs) is a group with which I have had a relationship since 1998. It is a group, for which it stands, to which I have great allegiance. It represents a great deal of what I believe in, and care about. And its members are by and large salt-of-the-earth best people you will ever meet.

For many years I eschewed involvement in PFSC’s politics. It seemed like a lot of ego and petty personality stuff drove most of it. Very few policy issues were that hard fought amongst the membership.

But in the past four years, the group has really fallen on hard times, financially and politically. Time was, most PA elected officials didn’t say or do anything about outdoor sports (hunting, fishing, trapping) without consulting PFSC for guidance. Those days are long gone, with most elected officials today saying “P…F…See…whattt?”

They really have no idea who or what PFSC is, what it stands for, what it used to achieve. And yes, PFSC used to achieve a lot. As a 501(c)(4), PFSC was able to hit hard politically. People who comfortably held their elected seats could lose them almost overnight, having said or done something that egregiously damaged Pennsylvania’s hunting or fishing, or its natural resources and wildlife habitat. Those days are long gone. PFSC still claims to represent sportsmen and sportswomen, but its stature as that representative is sorely depreciated.

Fast forward to today, and this spring PFSC held an election that can only be described as North Korean. It was a complete sham in every way. Today the Pennsylvania Outdoor News carried an opinion piece I wrote about that sham s/election.

Instead of getting new people running the organization, which had been run by the same people over and over and over for years upon years, PFSC held a star chamber “nominating committee” that gave 30 voters total the choice of one person to vote for. No real choice was offered, and no real votes were had. It was all inside game stuff, rigged and pre-wired.

Out of this sham s/election process a guy named Lowell Graybill once again became PFSC president. This is a role that Graybill has held at least once before, having held the immediate past treasurer position. As PFSC treasurer, Graybill was all but president of PFSC, often acting as president for the doddering guy who held it officially. Just two years ago, Graybill teamed up with the RK Mellon Foundation to run a kind of explode-your-organization-from-inside process.

Officially this was called a steering committee, but to many people involved it looked like the RKMF-funded consultant was trying to steer PFSC right over a cliff, or into a brick wall. The steering committee’s purpose was clearly destructive, and Graybill did all he could to strip PFSC of its 501(c)(4) status, to remove the Second Amendment from PFSC’s mission statement, and to have the organization adopt one radical environmentalist policy position after another. Any and all of these would have deeply offended self-respecting sportsmen, and further driven PFSC from the mainstream to the political fringe.

All of this was stopped because enough of us fended off one attack or another in 2018 and 2019. But now that Graybill is PFSC president again, we can expect it all to start again. And it is doubtful there are strong enough people on the board or especially the executive board to stop him.

During all the many years that Lowell Graybill has served on PFSC’s executive board in one capacity or another, at least twice as president, the organization has gone from about 1,500 clubs to about 150 clubs today. It is a precipitous drop that has resulted in the PFSC having little clout on Capitol Hill and little recognition among sportsmen.

The latest PFSC “election” won once again by Graybill was a demonstration of extreme strong-arm win-lose politics, whose machinations are beginning to become public discussion among discouraged sportsmen. If PFSC’s internal politics do not change after the PA Outdoor News expose, then the organization will continue to lose support and members, until it becomes what it almost is already, a shell organization funded by wealthy individuals and foundations whose actual objectives are out of synch with 95% of sportsmen.

The wise way to handle the different PFSC factions was to give a representative/ person with a different voice a seat on the executive committee. But the new executive director Harold Daub, and Lowell Graybill, are playing power politics. It is all or nothing, win or lose, and win at all cost. The cost of this win-lose (as opposed to win-win) approach is what we see today: Hurt, frustrated, upset people, who played by the rules, donated their time and money for the cause, who were dedicated and built up expertise and gravitas, who were then excluded from the process, cast aside, because someone just had to have all the marbles, couldn’t share the marbles. Lowell Graybill’s approach makes for unsteady, unhealthy organizations.

No one presently involved with PFSC’s board has had a longer association or held more positions than Lowell Graybill. Statistically speaking, Graybill’s correlation with PFSC’s demise is very strong. When we add up all of the evidence surrounding Lowell Graybill’s long association with PFSC, we have to ask: Is he purposefully destroying PFSC?

And why not ask this? The Left specializes in taking over organizations from the inside, or destroying them and then reconstituting them as centers of Leftist activism.

PFSC has suffered from bad leadership for a long time. But now we ask, has it been purposefully bad?

American Liberals: From Thoughtful Intellectuals to Parrot Puppets

Recent conversations with a number of liberals have me writing this essay. Because “shocking” is the only word capturing the breadth and depth of loss liberals have plunged since my youth.

In my youth, which is like a thousand years ago, liberals were the free thinkers, the unconventional open -minded intellectuals. Their willingness to think outside of the box on some issues helped America improve in a variety of ways on some key public policy areas.

For example, liberals led the way on environmental quality, understanding mental health and disability, and understanding and tolerating homosexuals. These subjects may have been taken to crazy lengths since their inception (e.g. demanding that everyone not just tolerate homosexuals and treat them with dignity, but be forced to accept homosexual behavior in place of religious belief or personal discomfort; or to force environmental quality to literally the trillionth part to the point where America has no economy).

Liberals were thoughtful intellectuals on a bunch of public policy issues, and they helped America become a more tolerant, comfortable place to live as a result.

What has happened since then, let’s say then being 1976, liberalism’s high water mark, is an increasingly faster rush to the bottom of intellectual rigor, honesty, consistency, and meaningfulness. Today’s liberals are by and large politically correct to the point where they adhere to the latest and strangest notion, no matter how out of bounds, dishonest, double standard-ed, inconsistent, or how high the price they and America must pay. The list of their self-destructive PC issues is a thousand miles long, but let’s just say that supporting BlacKKK Lives Matter violent cultural destruction, using official government offices to promote and implement unofficial policies that voters have not approved, etc.

Today, liberals are parrot puppets. Many are like the walking dead zombies in horror movies. They simply parrot platitudes and certifiably false claims they are fed by the politically partisan mainstream media, turning them into puppets.

A long time dear friend living in the heart of New York City made it clear to me the other day that she hates President Trump so much that she will endure having her businesses looted and destroyed, her neighborhood gutted, her livelihood set back twenty years. Donald Trump never did anything to her. He has done none of the things she says that she hates about him. She actually supports some of his domestic policies. When I pointed out that her visceral hatred for him is the result of her constantly imbibing mainstream media fake news that is designed to fill its readers and watchers with hate, and that she might consider reading or watching some different information sources, she responded that she only watches and reads those outlets “that are in line with my values.”

In other words, my dear liberal friend will only encounter information outlets that reinforce what she already thinks. So her mind is a closed loop. She is now a parrot puppet. And she is not alone.

The exact same formula is at work on a host of other liberals I encountered and spoke with over the past week.  Information outlets that do not directly and strongly reinforce what they already believe, or what they want to believe, are forbidden. Because their minds are so tightly closed, they cannot think of anything but hate and disrespect for people who disagree with them.

Talking with liberals is like watching crack addicts shoot up, snort, and smoke a toxic drug all at once. They start out knowing it is bad for them, but they willfully engage in self-destructive behavior because their high is so good. The high being that false sense of floating enlightenment and perfection of being totally correct about all things, always. And this hard drug analogy would seem to explain why liberals are now going so far as to embrace self-destructive policies that are so clearly going to damage their own personal lives, and their children. Like accepting the false outrage of BLM and begging forgiveness for crimes committed by different people hundreds of years ago.

If I were confronted by a BLM loon and told to get on my knees, I would turn the table and demand the same of him, maybe even have him get on all fours and give me twenty five push-ups, because his cannibal ancestors enslaved and ate a bunch of white AND black people just a couple hundred years ago. Oh, the racism! Oh the injustice! Of the horror! The shame that BLM jerk should feel for his cannibal, slave-owning ancestors should just crush him flat, and shut him up. It really is his fault. All of it. Including the indigestion that followed his ancestors’ unholy meals.

I digress.

It is sad to see so many people with native critical thinking capability toss it overboard. America is losing some of our best and brightest to liberal political correctness. An entire generation or two of Americans cannot think their way out of a wet paper bag because of PC and being parrot puppets.

In case you have any inkling of open mindedness left, you are encouraged to take a walk on the wild side, to cross the DMZ, to go to no-man’s land, to put your very life in jeopardy and read through some of the articles posted at www.thegatewaypundit.com, or www.breitbart.com. Just try it. It might be like trying mint chip ice cream for the first time, when all your life you thought you just always wanted plain vanilla. Maybe you will discover something new and rewarding.

Maybe you will become an intellectual once again.

Happy Independence from Tyranny Day

America was conceived in liberty, unlike any nation before or since, and tomorrow we mark our declaration of independence from Britain’s tyranny in 1776. As a result, America is the greatest nation, with the greatest amount of opportunity, for the greatest number and variety of humans, ever.

This weekend I will be reflecting on what personal liberty means today, in 2020, and the new forms of tyranny we face.

In some ways it is the same as 1776, in that we still today enjoy a list of personal rights that our government may not infringe upon. But in other ways, we are back to 1775, fighting for recognition of our basic God-given human rights. Like the right to be free of government intervention and oversight and meddling in our personal lives. Like the right to walk down the street free of fear, whether it is fear of being attacked for our political or religious beliefs, or fear of rogue mayors and police forces that purposefully block us from living out our civil liberties, because they disagree with our pro-freedom political views. These are all forms of tyranny over us.

Just about every major American city is lawless, failed, corrupt, and violent (and run by the Democrat Party). Government failure is written into law – no police protection for law-abiding citizens, and no, citizens may not own the means of protecting themselves. People living and visiting these places might as well be taking a trip to a far off distant land torn by war and pestilence. Tyranny.

I will also be reflecting on the absolute horseshit that is “Black Lives Matter.” Nothing is racist about America, except for BLM. BLM is the Ku Klux Klan With a Tan. BLM alone is the sole force for racism and racial hatred in America. Tyranny.

If the Marxist BLM hoodlums are really angry about slavery, and they really want to travel back in time, then they should pay a visit to their native western Africa, from which their ancestors were taken by OTHER Africans. Yes, the African slaves who came to America were enslaved and sold by other Africans, the descendants of whom are even today still involved in slavery. Tyranny.

So to attack America over history, while ignoring the history of the history, is a double standard purposefully driven towards the heart, the actual existence of America. And so it is nonsense, made-up, fake, part of this false grievance factory that constantly produces new types of fake victims daily and buckets of false outrage to go with each one. Tyranny.

I will be reflecting upon the results of all this false hysteria – the false outrage, the false finger-pointing, the undeserved demands, confrontational behavior, the violent destruction and murder. The result is the ruination of sixty years of inter-racial work and progress. So many normal every-day tax-paying Americans are shocked by what they are seeing and hearing that they are retreating. These are the same “white” people who voted joyously for Marxist Barack Hussein Soetoro Obama, twice. Now they are having major second thoughts about what is going wrong with our great nation. And no, they do not blame themselves for the illegal behavior of others, because that would be accepting tyranny.

A few weeks ago one conservative rural “white” guy said to me about the violent BLM riots “they sure aren’t helping their cause with this behavior.” His kids are half-black, half “white.” Not a racist molecule in his body, and not a pro-BLM molecule, either.

I will also be reflecting on how our fake two-party system has brought us to this point, because voters must make a choice between two evils. No other democratic nation has only two political parties forever and ever. Well, for whatever reasons America has two gigantic bureaucratic political parties that are like two gangs fighting each other behind the scenes. Where that leaves We, The People is a big question, isn’t it? Tyranny, for sure!

And speaking of tyranny, how about these stupid Wuhan Flu lockdowns in Pennsylvania, Michigan, California, New York, New Jersey, etc? There is no good reason for them, or the fake, unnecessary face masks that go with them. Instead of standing on the plain meaning of our federal and state constitutions and standing up for We, The People, judges are standing up for their fellow liberal bureaucrats, and upholding the various lockdowns and government efforts to stamp out religious practice. Tyranny!

Folks, as we drink cold beer and grill our food and spend happy time with people we love this weekend, take time to reflect on what Independence Day means for you, and what you want it to mean for you. Because if we simply wait for someone else to serve it up, we will be sorely disappointed, and bereft of options to rectify the situation.

Do not accept any tyranny in your life, except that which is brought by your spouse or parents. That is one form of tyranny we signed up for.

The boys of summer

In 1984, which was the best decade since 1884, Don Henley wrote a fabulous song called “The Boys of Summer.” The song is about teenage and early twenties summertime love, amidst the sunny outdoor environment in which so many American teens ONCE spent their summers, either as lifeguards, or as laborers, learning how to work. Socializing after working hours, the kids would sit around beach campfires showing off their deep tans, their touseled hair, their fit bodies, talking, sharing, competing, loving, opening up, becoming friends.

The song is about how the end of summer is coming, and how it arrives, and the singer just wants the girl to know that he loved her then and will love her again, even after the boys of summer have gone home, back to school.

So evocative is the music and the lyrics of this song, you can play it and immediately bring a room full of fifty-somethings to a standstill, as each person stops mid-sentence, mid-thought, mid-action, and immediately drifts back to fond summertime memories from their youth. There they will sit, as if frozen, deep in the best of memories, until the song ends.  Doubt me? Here – listen to this song, and then report back on how the song affected you.

And so it is with me now, as I watch the boys of summer in the mountains, the fields, the back yards. No, these are not human boys. These are bird boys, specifically the male neo-tropical migrants who flew here, to central and northcentral Pennsylvania, from Venezuela, Costa Rica, southern Mexico and Guatemala, southern Florida, and other tropical places.

These migratory tropical birds have been migrating northward since the end of the last ice age about 10,000 years ago. And they probably migrated during the prior ice ages, too, only retreating from the repeated massive ice fields over 100,000 years, and then, as now, following the glacial retreat northward.

Some birds go as far as the Arctic Circle, nesting on cliffs and on tundra, where they compete, entice, mate, lay eggs, and hatch chicks before heading far back south to raise their young chicks into mature members of their own species. While most of this migratory behavior has to do with finding food and comfortable environmental conditions, it is nonetheless a magical time. When you see it, you can feel God’s presence with your eyeballs.

What my own boys of summer song is about, in my head, is how I already miss the springtime displays put on by the male members of these migratory songbirds. They are so impossibly vibrantly colorful, they look like little jewels in flight. Bright reds, yellows, blues, purples, greens, they are most incredible variety of natural creation. Who could create such a beautiful and tiny creature? And why, if not for our own viewing pleasure?

Almost every spring time Saturday will find me sitting on the front porch, bird book and binoculars in hand, a Thermos of coffee to my right, watching the incredible display that happens in swoops, rushes, ground-level and tree-top height courtship displays, and brief landings. One particular morning this spring I was sitting at a second floor window and saw a scarlet tanager, an indigo bunting, and a variety of yellow-to-golden birdies (warblers as well as multiple male goldfinches in one small space) all in the same immediate area. It was a huge visual delight. Magic, really.

And so as summer settled in, these colorful animals retreated to their own hidden responsibilities of feeding the chicks they had hatched, teaching them to fly and to eat, and then perhaps having another clutch or two. Depending upon how many of the first clutch were eaten by bluejays and crows.

I miss the spring time display of these songbirds, mostly the more-colorful males. A scarlet tanager or Baltimore oriole in a tree top is reminder of how beautiful the world really is, even though bad people in our cities have managed to make it as ugly as sin.

I miss my boys of summer.

Oriole by thebernebirdnerd

scarlet tanager

yellow warbler, wikipedia

goldfinch by Sarah Lynn

indigo bunting, wikimedia commons

Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day, the day we celebrate our dads, the people who helped us grow into young men and women. For thousands of years, fathers have been the protectors and providers for their families, and they have traditionally been the source of life-saving wisdom and decision making. The lessons and skills they teach their children, especially their sons, are essential for living life properly.

Thank you to my dad, for teaching me to use a chainsaw and an axe from a young age. For giving me the childhood chore of splitting and stacking firewood all summer long, so that our family would have heat and comfort all winter long. Other chores included weeding the garden and shooting pests like chipmunks, squirrels, and groundhogs, all of whom could easily do tremendous damage to the garden in just minutes. And while these chores trained me in self-reliance, hard work, and planning ahead, it was the one thing that dad would not let me do that probably shaped me the most.

Although my dad comes from a hunting family, he himself did not and still to this day does not hunt. Oh, he appreciates wild game and will eat it over everything else, given a choice. But when I started taking my BB gun on deer hunts with neighbors at age eight, my dad always told me I had to get close to the animal to shoot it. As I grew into a young Indian or frontiersman out there in the wilds of southern Centre County, I was prohibited by dad from topping my rifles with scopes. Only open sights were allowed. He said using only open sights taught me woodcraft, requiring me to get close to the wild animals I wanted to harvest, before taking their lives.

“It is only fair,” he said. “You can’t just assassinate unsuspecting wild animals from hundreds of yards away. If you hunt, you must be a real hunter. You must get close and take the animal with skill, on its own terms, where it can see, hear and smell you. That is fair.”

And so last deer season, on a steep hillside deep within the Northcentral PA state forest complex, all of those lessons and preparation came together in one quick, fleeting second. I did the Elmer Fudd thing all alone, quietly sidehilling into the wind, trying to live up to Dad’s dictum. One cautious, slow step at a time. Eyes scanning ahead, downhill, and especially uphill. Ears on high alert for any sound other than the wind in the leaves. Big bucks that are bedded down high above where the puny humans might slip, stumble, and walk, are most likely to flee to higher ground when one of us Pleistocene guys shows up too close for comfort. Deer might hear or smell us coming a long way off, or they might see us at the last second because we are being quiet and playing the wind right, but they know that within a hundred yards or so, we can kill them. So they flee uphill, and in stumbling up against gravity and slippery things underfoot they give us shot opportunities we would not otherwise have.

And so when the strange <snap> sounded out ahead of me, just over the slight rise that led into the large bowl filled with mature timber and rock outcroppings, and an odd looking animal bolted down hill almost bouncing like a fisher, I quickly backpedaled.

Anticipating where the deer would emerge about 130 yards below me, I quickly and also carefully walked straight backwards to where a natural slight funnel in the ground provided a clear enough shooting lane down through the forest to a small stream bed. Anything passing between me and the stream would be broadside at moments, providing a clear shot through heart and lungs if I took careful aim.

And sure enough, the big doe filled one of those spaces so briefly that I don’t even recall seeing her. All I do recall is how the rifle butt fit carefully into the space between the backpack strap over my shoulder and the thick wool coat sleeve, and how the open sights briefly aligned with her chest. The thumb safety had been snicked off already without thinking, and the gun cracked. I fired the gun instinctively.

Quickly raising the binoculars to my face, the doe was clearly visible way down below me, lying fully outstretched on the forest floor just above the stream bank, like in mid-leap with her front hooves and rear hooves completely extended ahead and behind, except she was not moving. She was laying still, her neck fully stretched out on her front legs like she was taking a nap. I watched her tail twitch a few times and then knew she was dead.

Sliding on my butt down to her was more challenging than climbing up to where I had been still hunting her. Northcentral PA mountainsides are the most difficult terrain for humans, in my experience. It is topped with a layer of slippery leaves, then wet twigs and branches waiting underneath to act like oil-slicked icicles, ready to throw a boot way ahead of one’s body. If the wet leaves and branches don’t make you fall down, then the rotten talus rock waiting underneath the leaves and twigs will slide, causing you to either do an extra-wide wildly gesticulating split, or fall on your butt, or fall on your back.

So I scooted downhill to the doe, tobogganning on my butt on the slick forest floor, cradling the rifle against my chest, keeping my feet out ahead of me to brake against getting too much speed and hurtling out of control.

Arriving at her body, I marveled at how she resembled a mule. Her long horse face and her huge body were anything but deer-like. Her teeth were worn down, and she must have been at least five years old. The single fawn hanging around watching me indicated an older mother no longer able to bear twins or triplets. This old lady had done her job and had given us many new deer to hunt and watch over many deer years.

Normally, in such remote and rugged conditions I will quickly bone out the deer, removing all of the good meat and putting it in a large trash bag in my backpack, leaving the carcass ungutted and relatively intact for the forest scavengers. But this doe was so big that I just had to show her off to friends, and so after putting the 2G tag on her ear, I ran a pull rope around her neck and put a stick through her slit back legs, and began the long drag out.

This hunt has stayed with me almost every day since that day. I think about it all the time, because it was so rewarding in so many ways, and emblematic of being a good hunter. Not the least of which was the careful woodcraft that led up to the moment where the smart old doe was busted in her bed and then brought to hand with one careful shot as she loped away, far away. Just as easily I could have been a hunter clothed in bucksin, using a stick bow and arrow five thousand years ago.

Thanks, Dad, for all the good lessons, the chores, the hard work, the restrictions and requirements that made me the man I am today. Without your firmly guiding hand back then, I would not be the man I am today. And what kind of man am I? I am a fully developed hu-man; a competent hunter with the skill set only a dad can teach a son, even if it takes a lifetime.

[some will want to know: Rifle is a 1991 full-stock Ruger RSI Mannlicher in .308 Winchester with open sights. Bullets in the magazine were a motley assortment of Hornady, Winchester, and Federal 150-grain soft points, any one of which will kill a deer or a bear with one good shot. Binoculars are Leupold Pro Guide HD 8×32 on a Cabela’s cross-chest harness. Boots are Danner Canadians. Coat is a Filson buffalo check virgin wool cruiser. Pants are Filson wool. Backpack is a now discontinued LL Bean hunting pack, most closely resembling the current Ridge Runner pack. Knife is a custom SREK by John R. Johnson of Perry County]

US Supreme Court “conservatives” abandon the American People

If you are a politico, then you watched and were amazed by the four decisions issued by the US Supreme Court this morning. If you are not a political animal, who devours everything political 24/7, then you should know that the Court is run by liberals. It is official now, in case anyone was wondering. The liberals have the majority, and so-called conservatives like Roberts and Gorsuch are no-such. They are RINOs.

Perhaps the most vexing of the Court’s decisions today was its unwillingness to pick up any of the ten gun lawsuits that have worked their way through the courts all over the country. The Court simply did not have four justices who wanted to hear any of the gun cases. Nearly all of the gun cases involve state and local laws that contradict the plain meaning of the 2nd Amendment, or lower court decisions that contradict the Court’s Heller decision. It is this second group of lawsuits and decisions that is most alarming, because every liberal judge is now an open activist, issuing judicial decisions that directly conflict with Heller, rendering Heller ineffective.

If the US Supreme Court will not intervene to set lower courts straight on precedent, then its own decisions mean absolutely nothing. A court’s holdings are only as good as people’s willingness to abide by them. And the conundrum that law-abiding citizens face here is that we follow the law; we follow the Court’s holdings. If we lose, we shrug our shoulders and keep marching forward; win some, lose some.

Liberals behave totally differently. They never lose!

If they don’t agree with it, they simply ignore the Court’s holdings at every level of government and at every level of court. Liberal judges have become such aggressive activists that they issue decisions they claim apply nationwide, when in fact their own jurisdiction only covers one state. Liberal judges and liberal bureaucrats keep pushing their own agenda, the law be damned, court decisions be damned.

What happens to a society where some of the people follow the law and the other people don’t follow the law, but instead use it to both simultaneously suppress and oppress their political opponents, and never apply it to themselves?

Is this situation sustainable? Can any nation that is constituted like America have a permanent imbalance wherein one side repeatedly gets away with political murder, and the other side can’t even make the smallest mistake without having their lives, careers, and families destroyed? Well, the easy and correct answer to this question is No, no nation can carry this operation for long. Not even America. We are not too big, nor too rich, nor too powerful to fail. What is happening now with the US Supreme Court’s decisions is a guaranteed hard-wire of FAILURE into the nation.

Oh, and in case you didn’t know it, the Court majority also engaged in tons of legislating from the bench, on gay and transgender issues that the larger society is wrestling with through the political process. The Court majority, including a bunch of “Republicans,” just threw America’s constitutional and legislative process out the window and issued their own updated policy versions of “Roe v. Wade.”

Which brings me to the end of this sorry tale. So many people wondered aloud why I ever ran for office. They could see that my heart was in it, but that I really did not feel like making it into a career. I ran for the policy issues, for the jolt I could help give to the public. I feel even more strongly now, after this morning’s Court decisions, that America is in serious trouble.

It is not enough for people to vote. Yes, you must vote in November. But you are also needed as a volunteer for President Trump’s campaign, as a campaign volunteer for good local and state candidates. You yourself should run for office. Run against an entrenched politician, especially the RINOs that plague us unto death, like justices Roberts and Gorsuch do on the Court.

From tonight until November, every day counts. Lend a hand to the Trump campaign. Put up signs, distribute literature door-to-door, make phone calls. Etc. Every thing you do helps bring America one step back from the edge it now teeters on. Do not expect “other people” to take care of these problems. Both political parties have abandoned the American people, and now so have the supposed conservatives on the US Supreme Court.

We, the People, are all that we have left. Just us, ourselves. Either we fix this problem ourselves, or America is destined for real problems. Unimaginable problems. Don’t let that happen.

 

No cop, no gun

For decades liberals have been working overtime to disarm the American people. Every conceivable argument, legal maneuver, public stunt, lie, deception, logic pretzel, you name it, anti gun activists have done everything possible to remove even the most rustic, rudimentary firearms from private hands.

Now we have a movement to outlaw the police. Yes, to defund your local police department. No more police. No more law enforcement. The Only Black Lives Matter imperialist racial group has taken liberals into true Anarchy Land with the idea that there just should be no police, no law enforcement.

So, what does a society get when we have no guns at home so we can protect ourselves from bad people, and there is no one to protect us from law breakers?

Why, we get victims, lots and lots of victims! Wahoo!

This defund-the-police thing sure sounds like a purposeful recipe for disaster, or at least for ending civilization as we know it. The people pushing it have to know this. Why, you could almost swear people were trying to turn America into a land of petty tribalism and constant violence, certainly not the same successful nation we have been for a really long time. Now why would that be? Is it some secret goal to make everyone equally unhappy, in the name of a bizarre notion of equality?

Just adding up the No Cops plus No Guns gives us a result of two Hell Nos. Factor in the reverse-racist drumbeat, the demand for widespread inequality, the aim for ending capitalism, and hey, whaddya know, you got yourself the makings of another Rwanda, massacres and all. Sure seems like a good return on all that recent effort expended burning stuff down.

So sure, nice working Democrat People, go and thoughtlessly vote again for that wonderful family ending, career-ending, business-ending, nation-ending liberal candidate you always supported before. Keep mindlessly voting Democrat and before you know it, you will have no one protecting you and no way to protect yourself, endless crime in the name of “it’s our culture,” and then you will know that the long-promised liberal Utopia has arrived.

Sounds like fun! See ya, have a nice trip to CHAZ!

But those of us who choose to keep our guns and to willingly pay local taxes to pay for law enforcement will continue to enjoy our stable, happy lives; we will not be on your boat to Hell. Don’t be jealous of us, you have Utopia.