↓ Archives ↓

The “getting old sucks” saga continues

Yesterday, while trying to support local businesses that employee people, I tried out some bricks and mortar stores for size. Looking for a shower brush or large loofa, in several stores I was directed by the nice employees to the shelves containing the toilet bowl brushes. Not one to be easily deterred, I moved on to a store promisingly named “Bath and Body.”

In this store many women happily paused or even languished among pyramids of pretty soap bars, assortments of scented candles in all shapes and sizes, containers of liquid bath soaps and gels, including one in the shape of an elephant. Which I will admit caught my fancy. After I had bulldozed through to the back, without stopping to smell the roses, so to say, I asked a very nice lady employee wearing an apron where I could find such uncommon items as back scratchers, shower brushes, loofas and so on.

Quite seriously, she instructed me to go next door to Marshall’s, and she practically gave me the precise coordinates for what she promised would be the shelves containing exactly what I sought. I thanked her profusely and scurried next door, and followed her step-by-step directions to the correct shelf.

Being presented with the Pet Care products, which in the lady’s defense do contain an assortment of unique brushes and special pet tooth heavy tartar toothpastes for especially bad dog breath, I had to ask myself if, in my dotage, I now really do present a feral image. Or did that nice lady just have a wicked sense of humor. One thing for sure, getting old sucks.

Where men in their late fifties are now supposed to shop for personal care products: Marshall’s pet grooming and care section

My dream clothes washing machine is from 1999

In the past twenty years- plus, an aggressively misleading effort has been shoved down our American freedom-loving throats that the only home appliances we should ever want to own are so energy efficient and water efficient that they don’t actually achieve the results they are made to achieve.

Mostly we are talking about clothes washers (washing machines), although dishwashing machines, ovens, and even microwaves and toaster ovens have been bastardized on the false altar of “efficiency.”

What I miss most about washing machines are two things: A powerful agitator, and a manual override so I can select exactly the combination and level of functions I myself believe best fit the clothes I have placed in the clothes washing machine. I miss these two aspects that were basic to washing machines up until about 1999-2000, because absent them, it is now almost impossible to find a washing machine that actually and fully cleans my clothes.

All electronic/electric clothes washing machines sold today are extremely water efficient, and also extremely energy efficient. For those who struggle with what we are talking about here, neither water efficiency nor electricity efficiency will clean your clothes. You need lots of water and energy to clean clothes in a modern washing machine. Water and electricity efficiency means less of both key ingredients, and energy-efficient machines will not clean your clothes. High efficiency will result in your clothes being far less clean than they could be, were we using a real basic washing machine from 1999.

Today’s washing machines use so little water that the clothes bathing in it are essentially just getting dirty over and over again. Insufficient water is used to actually clean the dirt out of your clothes and hold it in suspension. And the low-electricity thing is just as ridiculous, because the impellers that have replaced agitators do absolutely nothing to actually clean your clothing. What agitators are available on the market are pathetic, limp-wristed little creatures.

Watch an old-fashioned agitator at work. The water is flying everywhere, the clothes are being pushed violently in the water, and your eyes can see that the clothing is being bathed in a lot of water that is also moving very aggressively. That is how clothes get clean.

Now go watch an impeller do its thing. An impeller kind of limp-wrists a pizza throw. It is a half-hearted effort to move whatever is on it. It hardly moves the clothing or the water. I have put folded clothing and sheets and pillow cases in our “deluxe” washer with an impeller, and with the alternative mini agitator, and after the longest possible wash cycle, the objects are removed just as neatly folded as they were when they were placed in the “washer.” Yes, they are wet, but they were not moved around, and the dirt that was lodged in them before they went into the washer is just as lodged as it was in the beginning. In other words, impellers do not work, and claims that they are just a more efficient type of agitator are BS. Your own eyes will tell you this, and probably your nose, too.

And today’s agitators are so small, with such pathetically short turns (guessing about ten degrees of arc) that they, too, do very little to wash the clothes surrounding them.

Why are Americans being fooled into buying electronic appliances that do not work? Because people who think they are smarter and better than us have strong-armed appliance manufacturers to provide “efficient” items that use less water and less electricity than prior models. Yeah, it is true that these dish and clothes washers use less water and less electricity, and it is also true that their amount of clothes and dish cleaning also drops about 90% for the same effort.

The Maytag washer we mistakenly bought takes an hour and a half to do a “Normal” load of wash, and when it is done, we are lucky if the clothes don’t require a second wash. Maytag is not alone; it appears that all of the washing machines made today are just as weak and pathetic.

In other words, “efficient” washing machines are such bad cleaners that they require much more use (= more time, more water and more electricity) to achieve even a modicum of result. The now old fashioned washing machines kicked the crap out of our clothes in a large amount of water, and in about fifteen minutes our entire load of laundry was done. And in fact the formerly dirty clothes emerged very clean.

So my dream washing machine today is one from 1999. It has simple analog turn dials, very few gidgety-gadgety electronics or computer chips, and the entire thing is one big manual override. Every choice I make is because I want that choice and that outcome. The machine makes no choices for me. It is also a top-loading drum that holds enough water to actually wash the clothes that are placed in it, and it has a powerful enough agitator that sweeps far enough (at least a 30 degree arc, and 60 degrees of arc is even better) and aggressively enough to actually knock the dirt off of my clothes and push it into suspension in the abundant water.

That is how we clean clothes with a washer. Anything else is just getting the clothing wet.

When it comes to cleaning my clothes, I really don’t give a cr@p about water efficiency or electrical efficiency. I want performance. The job has to be done right, and whatever it takes to get the job done right is what should be put into the job. Lots of water? OK. Lots of electricity needed to push a powerful motor that churns a strong agitator? OK.

High efficiency? No thanks. I will take the very low efficiency and highly effective washing machine, please.

It is hilarious and also a little spooky that what used to comprise the most basic washing machine that cleaned the most clothing with the least amount of effort is now sold as a machine with “lots of bells and whistles.”

I can’t believe we consumers have to write things like this, because it all seems so self evident. Then again, literally everything surrounding us Americans has been hijacked for some “higher purpose” that ends up leaving us and our needs in the dust. Because the people who push this garbage are “better” than us and “smarter” than us, and they think we are dust, over whom they must exercise heavy manual control.

Funny how symbolically asymmetrical this all is. Like a washing machine that in the 1960s symbolized how advanced America was is now a symbol of how screwed up America has become, and all because of the Left’s extremist politics.

By the late 1950s and early 1960s, washing machines had reached their zenith of effectiveness

If I could get a “modern” and “high efficiency” washing machine to work half as well as this 1960 model, I would put on a dress and dance around, too

Imagine doing laundry dressed like you were ready to go out for dinner. Oh the painful irony that our grunge-dressing culture embraces crappy washing machines that in fact don’t get the grunge out of our clothing. Some things in Western Civilization were definitely much better in 1961 than now. Probably a lot of things.

 

DUNE 2 review

Dune captured my young imagination like no other book- not Tolkien’s trilogy, not Starship Troopers, and like Tolkien’s books and Starship Troopers, Dune shaped just about every subsequent sci-fi book, movie, comic book that followed.

Several attempts have been made to capture Dune’s magic in movie form. Prior to the latest two movies, the best known and best produced was the 1984 version with all-star cast Kyle MacLachlan, Sean Young, Sting, Jose Ferrer, Brad Dourif, Richard Jordan, Patrick Stewart, Jurgen Prochnow, Kenneth McMillan, Sian Phillips, Freddie Jones, Linda Hunt, Jack Nance, and other stellar actors. Look up any of these names and you find a talented lifetime actor with lots of real acting gigs to their credit. And as expected, the 1984 Dune movie was very well acted, much better than the latest versions.

Where the 1984 movie was deficient were some of the special effects, and yet some of its special effects were so good that they are repeated in the latest two Dune movies. Fact is, special effects have really improved since 1984, and of course this is where the 2021+2024 Dune movies shine.

If the 1984 Dune movie struggled to get everything just right and onto the screen in a logical flow, which sometimes left it congested, Dune 2 simply ignores certain critical story elements and throws scenes up on the wall, take them or leave them. There is a lot of character and story development in 1984 Dune that is absent in Dune 2.

One scene I was hoping to see is where Fayd Rautha is confronted by the last three Atreides warriors in his gladiator ring, and one of them is not drugged. That fighter just about kills Fayd in the knife fight. In the book that scene takes time to play out, and one gets the impression that Fayd is too used to mock-fighting drugged opponents who cannot possibly bring their full skills or physical power to bear against him. In Dune 2, Fayd just rolls right over his opponents 1-2-3, and there, it’s done. No suspense, no close calls, no embedded darts being painfully but artfully used as improvised armor against Fayd’s quick blade.

The Mentats are pretty much nowhere to be found in Dune 2, which is odd. Dune makes it clear up front that computers and artificial intelligence were banned from human possession, because the computers tried to kill off all the humans and take over their planets. Which gave rise to the Mentats, human computers whose loyalty is first and foremost to fellow humans. Dune 1984 does an outstanding job showing the central role of the Mentats, whereas Dune 2 has none.

One of the biggest deficiencies in Dune 2 is the final battle between Paul and the Fremen, and the Emperor’s forces. Little of the battlefield set-up is explained in Dune 2, and the action just kind of rolls along. The sand worms show up, but not grandly. Maybe the director expects the audience has prior knowledge of the storyline? Plus there are way too many lasers used in Dune 2, because as we do already know, if a laser hits a personal shield, an atomic explosion happens at both ends, killing both parties. Thus, knives and swords were much more handy. I guess lasers look too cool on the big screen to pass up, even if they are not in keeping with the book.

Or Dune 2 could have incorporated the original “weirding” voice module, the Atreides’ secret weapon that is both super high tech and weirdly organic. Dune 1984 did a great job showing how the weirding module greatly enhanced the Fremen fighting ability, thereby enabling them to take on the fully armed Harkonnens. None of this is in Dune 2, strangely.

The 1984 movie ending is far, far superior to the ending of Dune 2: Paul’s raw power is displayed in his fight with Fayd Rautha, whereas in Dune 2 a lot of stuff just doesn’t make sense. Like how does Fayd stab Paul so many times, and why doesn’t the scene follow the book, which is so good, and why doesn’t Paul cut loose after killing Fayd, crushing him and the stone floor with just his voice, thereby demonstrating his overwhelming physical/mystical messianic power…instead of just kind of standing there looking over his defeated enemies….? Curious minds want to know.

Nothing in Dune 2 shows Paul’s slow discovery and then development of his messianic powers, despite that being the entire purpose of the Dune story. Nine hundred generations of careful breeding and genetic modification were supposed to result in the messiah, who could bend space and time on his own, and in Dune and the 1984 Dune, those responsible for creating Paul are amazed that he actually happened. I am amazed that Dune 2 shows its audience almost none of this important part of the overall story. Paul’s emergence and ascent as the universe’s messianic all-powerful super-being leader is the entire point of Dune. How did it evade the producers of Dune 2?

Dune 2 should have just taken the 1984 film and used every scene, every prop, every script and line, and simply updated the actors and the special effects. Oh well. Opportunity missed.

Well, I paid fourteen bucks to go see a Hollywood movie. First one of 2024 and probably going to be the only Hollywood movie I see this year. Regal Cinemas now has assigned seats, which in theory is a nice thing, and which in the theater itself bore no resemblance to the seating map offered on the computer screen when buying my ticket. I did get to sit up front and enjoy the effect of a full size movie screen, which is a lot of fun. It is a shame the movie was not what I expected, or what it could have been, or should have been.

Nice consolation is that I can watch my 1984 Dune DVD at home, as well as watch the excellent cut scenes on YouTube. Hate to say it, Dune 1984 is in many ways much better than today’s Dune 2, but Dune 2 is worth seeing, if you have any affinity for the Dune story. It’s all fun.

Fayd Rautha (Sting) having fun biting Paul (Kyle MacLachlan) in the 1984 Dune last knife fight

Easter & Passover = Time for American Renewal

America as a representative, constitutional republic run by The People is being purposefully killed by the Biden Administration. In case the horrible inflation and scary economy and ATF cold blooded murder-execution of Bryan Malinowski in his bedroom did not grab your attention recently, maybe today’s headlines will: Joe Biden declared today to be a “transgender day of visibility,” despite today actually being Easter.

A more grotesque and purposefully evil statement could not be imagined, but then again, what evil haven’t we seen with Joe Biden. Sorry to the transgender people out there, but today is a major Christian holiday, and to flaunt hypersexual nonsense at the expense of America’s founding belief system is a major slap in the face of all Americans.

If Biden’s bizarre effort to outright ignore Easter and flaunt hyper sexuality seems to you like a big political risk for very little political gain, you are correct. What you are forgetting is that Joe Biden stole the 2020 election and has not felt accountable to voters ever since. This first-ever bizarre day of trans whatever nonsense is what politicians do when they believe they are not going to experience electoral pushback. And if you steal elections, you don’t feel accountable, and you just do whatever crazy crap you want to do. Like tyrants everywhere else.

America is in huge trouble. Enormous trouble. Who the hell ever saw a president so deeply committed to destroying the foundations of America, as well as its national defense, the rights of its citizens, its economy, etc? Joe Biden is not some aberration, he is being inflicted on America in order to destroy us as a people and as a nation. Joe Biden’s constant assault on America is not sustainable, and you should not think that America is too big to fail. You are watching America be failed on purpose right in front of  your face.

Easter is based on Passover, which is right around the corner. Easter is more theological and Passover is more about national identity, and I think this year, these two holidays can, and must, together, mark an American spiritual, cultural, and political renewal that is borne out at the ballot box this November. Christians can pray that a free constitutional America rises again, and Jews can pray that a lawlessly brutal and sadistic federal government is defeated by The People, so that The People can go free and live their American lives as was envisioned from the beginning in 1776.

Hopefully enough Christians and Jews recognize that Easter and Passover of 2024 are uniquely placed to prompt them, you, us, to have a spiritual and national renewal, and that such a renewal allows us to throw off Joe Biden’s slave chains, so that we Americans can be a free people once more. This renewal must be implemented at the ballot box this November. The rejection of Joe Biden’s bizarre un-American/ anti-American values must be so overwhelming that there is no hope of his election cheating again this November.

Avoiding payment scams is easy

Last year, some local person took a picture of a check I had written to a local business, and they used that picture to create several fake checks written against my bank account. Because I bank locally with a relatively small bank owned by local people I know and trust, and because I have personal relationships with the bank staff, the forged/fake scam checks were caught right away.

I looked at that check, and then the next one, and the next one, and just I knew that there was no way that Josh First was writing them. They are ridiculous on their face. I mean…flowers and gourmet cat food? No! No way. I knew that is not Josh. Chainsaws, yes, could be, I could be fooled by that if someone tried it, but gourmet cat food, no, flowers hell no“, said the local bank branch manager with a big smile.

Because the bank manager knows me and my business personally, he was easily able to discern the fake checks from real ones. He saved me a lot of heartache. And so I recommend to you that you use your local banks, that are owned and run by local people. Unlike the big banks like Chase, these local people get to know you, know your face, and are accountable and connected to the community around them.

A month later I got a call from a sweet and very distressed woman in Arizona, who had shipped off five thousand dollars worth of product from her small business based on a check written in my name. No, I assured her, I had nothing to do with it. I had no need for marketing products, and certainly not her particular products. This nice lady and I had a long conversation about how much America has changed in our adulthood, and not for the better. She said the scam had really hurt her financially.

Fast forward almost a year and I recently got a call from a nice young man in Alaska. A check bearing my business name had been used to purchase thirty-five hundred dollars of beauty salon hair and nail products from his friend in Florida, and the proceeds had been sent to Alaska to help him purchase a home there. Only days after he had deposited the check in his account was he informed that the check was bad, and that in fact he did not have the money. His friend in Florida was cheated out of her salon products.

I would say the common thread I have seen across all of these check scams is that the person getting scammed does not really look into the check they have received. For example, why would a buyer of beauty salon products in Florida pay with a check from a business in Pennsylvania that does land and timber work? This obviously makes no sense, and the young man admitted it.

And when I spoke with the nice lady in Arizona last summer, she too admitted that this same issue had given her pause. To which I asked her “Why didn’t you call us with your question before taking the check? We could have easily protected you from committing this mistake.”

Scams are everywhere: Email scams asking for money, phone calls asking for money, malware and phishing scams by email and text (DO NOT CLICK ON THEIR CONTENTS and links), phone calls about getting a low cost mortgage on your penis enlargement, updating your nonexistent home warranty/ extended car warranty/ computer warranty etc etc etc. We are inundated in this garbage.

You have to care about yourself enough to stay on guard and defend your interests. One little mistake can cause you a lot of grief and cost you a lot of money.

The best ways to protect yourself from being victimized are: 1) Ask yourself if this is a service or product I really have? 2) Is this phone call or email a normal way for a real bona fide service provider to communicate? 3) Why is there a company name from far away on this check? And you can always call that company whose name is on the check and ask them if they wrote the check.

Had that happened in the most recent scam, I would have said “I have nothing against dudes who use girl makeup, but I will also say that I am the last man on Planet Earth who would do so, and so there, you have your answer: The check is bad.”

You just gotta ask a question or two if you want to stay out of scam trouble.

 

Biden is Hamas is Iran is hate America

Lots of Americans are wringing their hands and wracking their minds over Joe Biden’s abandonment and betrayal of Israel to the corrupt and anti-America UN the other day. The UN voted to support a ceasefire in Gaza without mentioning why a war is raging there in the first place, without mentioning the Israeli hostages, without mentioning daily Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, without mentioning the hundreds of thousands of displaced Israelis whose homes and businesses and schools are wrecked by Islamic terror rockets, and…. Joe Biden’s America abstained from voting.

A ceasefire without holding Hamas accountable is a reward to Hamas. It will allow Hamas to survive and continue to attack Israel. A ceasefire without the return of the Israeli hostages rewards Hamas’ bloody Islamic terrorism. Joe Biden allowing the UN to punish Israel for defending itself is rewarding Islamic terrorism, and weakens the West.

In the 76-year-long alliance between America and Israel, America has only failed to back Israel in the increasingly hostile UN twice: Once in the Obama administration, and now a second time, arguably in Obama’s third term.

Given all of the financial and material support Obama and Biden have given Iran, all of the political cover and even secret intelligence about what Israel is doing to try to stop Iran from having a nuclear bomb, it should come as no surprise that Joe Biden is now supporting Hamas. Hamas is an arm of Iran, after all, and because Biden is loyal to Iran, he is also loyal to Hamas. Joe Biden is an arm of Hamas.

This is why Joe Biden is trying to strong-arm Israel from fully defending itself in Gaza, where Hamas has created and perpetuated an artificial “humanitarian crisis” it now tries to pin on its victim, Israel. Biden’s allowing Hamas to survive keeps pressure on Israel, which must spend much more time, money, and the blood of its citizens defending itself against Hamas.

This is why Joe Biden and a great many elected Democrats are trying to force Israel’s elected prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, from his office. Netanyahu may have overstayed his welcome in elected office, and he may have made his political career mostly about himself and holding power, but he keeps getting re-elected by Israel’s voters because there is a nationwide consensus that faulty though he may be, Netanyahu is nonetheless the best defender and unifier that Israel has. Netanyahu is also best able and willing to resist outside meddling in Israel’s national security decisions.

This is why Joe Biden, Iran, China, and Hamas want Netanyahu out of office: While Netanyahu is power hungry, his political opponents like Lapid, Gantz, Golan, and Bennett are even more so, while simultaneously bringing much less strength to the job. Lapid held the PM job for six months and managed to give away Israel’s northern natural gas field to Lebanon/Hizb’alla for zero in return; Bennet held the PM job for just a few months and managed to make every foolish decision possible, at great cost to Israel; Gantz and Golan would give away everything Israel has for brief media adulation, leaving Israel in even greater peril than it is right now. Etc. et al. So Israeli voters see these career politicians for the lame-os they are, and grudgingly vote for Netanyahu again and again, simply because they know he has their best interests and national survival at heart.

If Netanyahu is pushed out of office, Hamas will be rewarded with a so-called “palestinian” state outside of Jordan, where such a state already exists, and outside of Gaza, where such a state has existed for the past 17 years. This is what the Democrat Party wants, what Hamas wants, Iran wants, China wants, etc. Because it will leave Israel even weaker than it is now, and it removes a great block to Iran’s nuclear goal.

Now, who wins the most if Israel is greatly weakened and if bloody Islamic terrorism is rewarded and if another terror-supporting Muslim Arab nation is created? Iran.

And who has hundreds or even thousands of military age men illegally here in America, ready to die for Allahu Akhbar with an Iranian atomic bomb smuggled over the wide-open American border? Iran.

This is why a strong Israel is such an important block to the Democrat Party’s open war on America and Western Civilization. This is why even if you are an American or a Westerner who hates Jews and Israel, you still want a politically strong Israel and a guy like Netanyahu in the PM job. Like it or not, Israel is America’s best defense.

Turns out Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is much more pro America than Joe Biden and most of the elected Democrat Party.

Then again, Benjamin Netanyahu represents a nation where each voter gets only one vote; Israel can’t have the stolen elections that America has, because Israel has solid voting laws like voter ID.

Imagine living in a country where a coffee shop has this sign outside, telling its patrons they have a bomb shelter because Islamic terrorists routinely drop bombs on the area

Good rally to make

The annual Pennsylvania 2A rally started in either 1999 or 2000. It was then-Melody Zullinger’s idea, as an act of the PA Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs. Within months the event had been taken over by then-state representative Daryl Metcalfe, and then by Firearms Owners Against Crime’s Kim Stolfer. Kim was the annual face of the rally for close to twenty years.
Now that Kim is gone to hang out with his Marine buddies in the sky, the rally is being promoted the most by Gun Owners of America, a relative newcomer to Second Amendment rights. But GOA is as aggressive as the NRA is tired, and it appears GOA is now claiming ownership of our annual 2A rally.
The political football aspect involved in “owning” this important event says much about the pro-freedom movement’s many faces and facets. What is important is that YOU show up, because irrespective of which person or organization lays claim to this, it is ultimately about YOU and your personal rights.
Hope to see you there.

Interesting choice of special prosecutor ya got there, Biden

Special Prosecutor Robert Hur, China’s man on the ground with the Biden Crime Family

Over the past few months those Americans paying attention to the hijacking of America have watched as Resident Joe Biden illegally avoided scrutiny for illegally hiding top secret national security documents in his private residences. And then his attorneys admitted he had them, but it was just a simple mistake.
Never mind that Joe Biden never held any official position that allowed him to possess such classified information. President Trump was president and thus able to de-classify whatever documents he wanted to and could take them with him to wherever he wanted to take them.
Unlike Joe Biden, who stored his illegal caches of classified documents haphazardly in unsecured garages, bedrooms, offices, etc, President Trump kept his in a locked room that he had shown to the FBI when they inquired.
Mind us all, the FBI has never before inquired about the documents taken home by a president, nor shown the intense interest in them after the president had declared his candidacy again. Curious. And on second thought, not curious, but brazenly lawless behavior by the FBI, then and especially now a partisan and armed arm of one political party that illegally uses its law enforcement powers to punish its political opponents.
So now much is being said about the special prosecutor who interviewed Joe Biden, and who despite repeatedly saying that Biden has dementia and is feeble minded, also declined to press charges against Biden for doing much worse than anything Trump has been accused of.
If you study even cursorily the ways of China, from thousands of years ago to the present, we will find a common practice of humiliating enemies and allies alike, wherever possible. And it is in this tradition that special prosecutor Robert Hur both denigrated the openly doddering Biden  and also let him off the legal hook. You see, Special Prosecutor Robert Hur is China’s man overseeing the management of China’s biggest asset, Resident Joe Biden.
How does it feel, Mister and Missus America, to see our biggest enemy operating so brazenly on our soil, running our corrupt leaders like they are little toy soldiers?

Pitfalls and pratfalls of primary elections for candidates and volunteers alike

While digging through old stuff in my office recently, I encountered a bag in a corner with a bunch of campaign tee shirts made for volunteers who had helped me run in the 2010 primary race for congress here in central PA. Seeing the pinned-on names on each shirt, I felt embarrassed that somehow I had neglected to get these tokens of appreciation into the hands of those dedicated volunteers. They had donated their time to me, to a campaign they believed in, and it is absolutely incumbent upon all candidates to express appreciation, and show it if they can, to their volunteers, win or lose. Here was evidence that I had failed to do that fully with these several people whose names appeared on the tee shirts, and it made me feel badly.

Fast forward fourteen years, and I have just learned by doing an internet search that a political candidate I had contributed real time and effort to had dropped out of the race last Thursday. This person and I had exchanged many emails and texts for the past month, I had drafted a press release for her, and gotten her about forty ballot petition signatures to help get her on the April 23 ballot. Despite all my time and effort on her behalf, I did not qualify for the email the media says she sent to her supporters, announcing her bowing out of the race. I felt like all my time and effort dedicated to this person was not appreciated or valued, which makes one feel badly.

Dear political candidates, you have to express your appreciation to your volunteers! Volunteers are how every campaign runs, whether it succeeds or fails, and showing your appreciation to the people who make up the campaign is your duty to those people who take time away from their families, their businesses, jobs, etc to help you get ahead. Failing to express appreciation hurts not just your own reputation, but it also leaves your volunteers wondering if they should ever volunteer on a campaign again for anyone else.

I have seen other candidates cold-drop their volunteers when the campaign ends, and even drop their campaign staff. This is usually due to the exhaustion a candidate feels at the end of the race. Campaigns are all brutal exercises, all-out sprints over a relatively short amount of time, and at their end usually everyone involved is feeling tapped out and emotionally drained. It is tough to sustain that high energy after the race ends, but again, dear candidates, you absolutely owe it to your volunteers to say Thank You. An email, some text messages, some cards to the people who put in the most work and hours. Tee shirts if you made them.

What took out this latest candidate I was helping was Pennsylvania’s archaic ballot petition process. Depending upon the office sought (state house, dog catcher, US senate, congress etc) candidates for office in Pennsylvania are required to collect hundreds or even thousands of registered voter signatures on complicated forms where the slightest mistake, mis-spelling, or poorly written word can result in a disqualification. There is an entire arcane process surrounding the screening, challenging, and defending of the ballot petition signatures. The only people who benefit from this are the attorneys who specialize in this arcana, and the two main political parties.

If enough of the candidate’s ballot signatures get disqualified, then the candidate does not achieve the minimal threshold of signatures, and does not qualify to be on the ballot. A lot of hard work and volunteer hours can get flushed down the drain if insufficient signatures are obtained to keep the candidate on the ballot.

PA’s complicated ballot petition process is designed by and for the political parties, which have the experienced volunteers, lawyers, and updated voter lists necessary to get far more signatures than are needed. It is designed to keep political outsiders out of office, and political insiders in.

According to this now un-candidate’s statement in the news article, the attorney who challenged her ballot petition signatures had also threatened to bury her campaign in a pile of legal costs if she tried to fight her way through all the nit-picky challenges. All indications are that US Senate candidate David McCormick is behind this challenge and threat. This is really about a billionaire bully booting pesky candidates out of his way on his path to self-serving elected office.

Yuck.

Pennsylvania voters want choice, and we do not benefit from the current ballot petition process, which was once described to me by a Dauphin County Republican Committee Woman as a necessary precaution to prevent “unqualified people” from running for office.

Said I, “Why don’t we just let anyone run who wants to run? Shouldn’t all citizens have a right to run, aren’t we all qualified?  Isn’t that the heart and soul of the democratic process, to keep it as open and accessible to The People as possible?

Said she, “That sounds like too much democracy to me.

And so we see yet another victim of this ridiculous gatekeeper process, which both political parties can agree must be kept intact so they can retain maximum control of who gets to run, and who does not. It is really about control, not democracy.

Yuck.

These are some of the pitfalls of running for political office here in Pennsylvania, and while some are unavoidable, it is best to work hard to avoid the pratfalls: Campaign volunteers and supporters will always appreciate and fondly remember a kind word, a nice email or text message saying thanks. And also will they remember that their hard work went unnoticed and unremarked in the end, and so they will feel used.

Double yuck.

 

Two Steps to Political Heaven

Much talk going on now about how President Trump is supposed to get a stranglehold on the lawless and insubordinate federal bureaucracy if he is elected to a third term this November. As a former seven-year federal policy bureaucrat who fled the belly-of-the-beast US EPA in Washington, DC, in 1998, here are my suggestions. These are based especially on my witnessing the changing of the Senior Executive Service (SES) guard from the Bush I administration to the Clinton administration, and all of the cascading management changes that followed.

Step One: Enter the White House with a clear and specific staffing plan and the prospective personnel to implement it. Ground Zero is the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which processes all federal personnel hiring and firing. From 2017 through 2020, OPM infamously held up a high percentage of Trump’s selected future staff to be seeded across the bureaucratic horizon, where they were supposed to implement Trump’s agenda. But many of Trump’s prospective picks had their paperwork deep-sixed and “lost” in obscure file drawers throughout OPM, their hiring process dragging on so long that they had to find other jobs after having put their current employers on notice of their imminent departure for the Trump Administration. When you control OPM, you can get all of your staff quickly seated and working throughout the bureaucracy. If you don’t control OPM, well, your hard-won third term won’t add up to much.

Step Two: Take no prisoners. Treat every at-will federal position as the at-will position it really is, and work hard from there to drill as deeply as possible. Treat all management positions as targets for immediate change. On Day One be prepared to immediately terminate every single SES and political position and have in hand their loyal replacements, with OPM processing them at record speed. The marching orders for all new loyal SES employees is to replace as many senior staff as they each can, as quickly as they can, with extreme prejudice. Which goes something like this:

New SES manager: “Hi Mary. Good morning. You have been a division chief in this agency for, gosh, twelve years. And yet here I find you late to our meeting this morning and dressed unprofessionally. I am issuing you two written warnings right now, one for each infraction…

Division Chief Mary: “What are you talking about? I was only one minute late! And I have had a casual dress policy here since…

New SES manager:Mary, being unprofessional and insubordinate to your boss is a third violation of the OPM standards of conduct. I am writing you up right now with a third warning, which means that I am now beginning your termination and separation process from the agency as soon as we are finished here. You have three minutes to pack up your personal items and then Officer Jones here will see you out of the building.”

This “direct action” between new senior executive and entrenched senior managers must happen at every level throughout every federal agency, every day, until every senior manager has been replaced with a loyalist (loyal to the new administration and thus loyal to the Constitution). And each new, loyal senior manager will have the same directive for dealing with DC Swamp subordinates down to the bottom of the civil service staff barrel.

Anything less than this admittedly tough hands-on style means that the enormous communist rat warren continues to host a zillion rats, each one quietly gnawing away and illegally stopping the implementation of your presidential agenda and the will of the American People.

How well do I recall an EPA biologist sitting on a huge stack of biological tests done to study the effects of Chlorothalonil, a highly useful insecticide. He personally disliked and opposed the company that owned Chlorothalonil, and so he just sat on their studies. He was unwilling to meet the statutory deadline for agency review and approval or rejection. And his superiors did nothing to compel him to act. And so the company’s expensive research went nowhere, floated in purgatory, and their expensive chemical unnecessarily languished outside of the market. This story times a million is the lawless ball and chain wrapped around America’s throat right now. This must end, and if it doesn’t end by 2028 or sooner, then American government is no longer of, by, and for the American People; it will have become something utterly of by and for itself.

An autonomous, unaccountable federal bureaucracy is the end of representative government. The bureaucracy itself is not  democracy, as so many DC Swamp Rats proclaim. Rather, the bureaucracy is now a stale and outdated exercise in representative government that must be dramatically changed. Democracy is the process in which We, The People hold our representative government accountable. And as the American Declaration of Independence states, The People not only get their rights from God, and not government, but The People have the right to abolish government and create a new one whenever they so choose.

Where America is at right now, with its out of control, lawless, unelected and unaccountable federal bureaucracy (i.e. heavily armed IRS SWAT teams like feudal tax collectors of olde), is the myriad federal bureaucrats have come to really enjoy their centralized power and artificially high pay. And they also don’t want to be told what to do by anyone who is not one of them. For America to adhere to democratic norms, this federal bureaucracy must be greatly reduced in size and scope, at least.

For those who might shed tears about all the sad Marxist bureaucrats being cut loose to find jobs in the private sector they mocked, hamstrung, and crapped on from their artificially protected positions, cry me a river. No bureaucrat is owed a job. They have these public service jobs solely at the will of The People and their chosen chief executive, the President of The United States. With OPM under new management and this tough love approach to running the federal government, that is the Constitutional democracy the DC bureaucrats say they are so worried about protecting.

A version of this essay was published here at the American Thinker.