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The day after 9/11: First impressions are the most accurate

I remember the moment of 9/11, because I was giving testimony to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Environmental Resources Committee about the importance of conserving land for future generations of people that morning.

I had just gotten started, the committee chairman made some quip about the length of my presentation being measured by the inches thickness of my prepared notes, and then the room was cleared because of potential threats to public buildings. My mile-long testimony was entered into the record and I didn’t even have to say more than a few jokes and introduce myself (Also in the record, I used an old Jim Seif ice breaker that goes like this: “My name is Josh First, and it is tough to follow so many august and impressive speakers today. I feel a little bit like Zsa Zsa Gabor’s seventh husband. I know what to do, I just don’t know if I can make it exciting.”)

What I remember most about 9/11 is the day after the terror attack on the twin towers. Within 24 hours, a great deal of information about the attacks, the attackers, and the losses had been gathered. And yes, I am aware that some people believe 9/11 was an inside job committed by the CIA or some group of American security agencies. And I remain unpersuaded of that allegation.

Within 24 hours, literally the day after, the world discovered the cost of open American borders and of tolerating people who hate us living amongst us. Our first impressions were the most accurate understanding of the situation, the cause and the effect of the terror attack. Open borders and providing a safe home to people who want to murder us carries a very high cost. Only a nation that believes either it is bullet and bomb proof, and too big to fail, or that is asleep at the wheel, will permit these conditions to persist.

No nation is too big to fail. No nation is bomb proof. And any nation that is asleep at the wheel by allowing failed policies to persist is going to crash and burn and fail disastrously. And so we never learned the harsh lessons of 9/11, and we ignored our accurate first impressions to make way for ridiculous multiculturalism nonsense that continues to shape our national policies even now.

So today it is the day after 9/11, and a lot of Americans will understand when I ask: Have we Americans learned anything since the day after 9/11? Given that right now we have a wide-open southern border and millions of unknown people pouring over it, including lots of Middle Eastern terrorists, we all can say No. No, we have not learned that lesson we were so painfully taught on 9/11.

Because our biggest enemies are again living under our roof, it is just a matter of time before America experiences another 9/11-type attack. Only this time, the mass destruction mass -casualty attack will most certainly be a direct result of federal government bureaucrats and elected “leaders.” Of that purposeful culpability, there will be zero denial. They know exactly what they are doing.

Which makes us ask another question on this impression we get: Who are these American “leaders” and federal bureaucrats actually working for, if not us American citizens? They clearly don’t have our interests at heart, and they punish us when we try to put America and Americans first.

Charlton Heston – still my president

Watching the Ten Commandments, I’m reminded why Charlton Heston is still my president.

While NRA president, Heston set standards for inspirational leadership. While an actor playing Moses and Ben Hur, he set standards for inspirational acting and portrayal. Heston was a man of faith, inspired by the Master of the Universe, the giver of law and the inspirer of America’s founding fathers.

Because Heston believed in God, he led an exemplary life. He was dedicated to liberty above all else, as he proved by marching with Martin Luther King Jr for black voting rights, and also safeguarding our First Amendment and Second Amendment rights.

Leaders are hard to come by. In this age of empty Obama messianism, people like Heston become reminders of what we should expect, what we deserve.

Happy New Year!

Friends, here is to a happy next year, a new year, The New Year, 2014, for you, for all of us.
And thank you for being part of my past year, which was good in so many ways, thank God.
Make it count.

Forestry 101

“Clearcutting” forests has become a no-no idea, a bad word with most people. Whether it was environmental advocates or ripped off landowners who said it was wrong, it’s not clear.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. “Select cut” forestry is usually the worst thing you can do, because it takes the best and leaves the rest. Worst-first is the by-line of sound forestry. Clearcutting removes a great deal of the forest canopy so that other trees and plants may grow.

It’s true that I have seen failed clearcutting, but out west, where the thin soils, steep slopes, and dry conditions leave forests at risk from too much canopy removal. Those conditions rarely apply to the northeast or the south.

Recently I contracted Lyme Disease, for the third or fourth time. It’s my guess that ticks are growing in number and area because forest fires have been artificially suppressed for so long. Short of controlled burns, clearcutting is as close as we can get to mimicking the cleansing effect of a forest fire.

If you have forest land and you want to manage the timber, don’t be afraid to clearcut it, if the trees there support that management tool.

Freedom takes a lot of hard work, and we’ve got ours cut out for us…

Here is the text I presented to the Tea Party Patriots two nights ago, and I have received much positive feedback on it. Take the fight to the enemy, folks.

Josh First………….www.joshfirst.com
At Tea Party Patriots, April 8, 2013

Amendment II: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Citizen disarmament is the civil rights issue of our time. Disarmament is enslavement, and America already fought one civil war over slavery.

o 2nd Amendment is NOT about hunting or sport shooting, it IS about citizen defense against tyrannical government that usurps citizen powers & rights. Thus, if the gov’t has it, we might need it ourselves.

o State militias, comprised of citizens, were supposed to outweigh then-new federal army

o 1776 militia muster rolls required privately owned military-grade long arm and some ammunition; modern equivalent of military musket is the AR-15. Hunting, self-defense, sport guns are ancillary uses.

o “Well regulated” in 1780s means totally different action than 2013. Then: Have a militia muster roll of able bodied men with working guns and know how to quickly assemble them to fight. Now: Regulate means government intervention and control.

o Federal acts regulating the Militias were passed in the 1700s and 1800s; US Supreme Court holdings danced around the issue, addressing citizens assuming quasi-military roles in public.

o State militias fell into disuse after the Civil War; different states now address them differently. My reading of PA law allows private citizens to create their own militias, so long as they do not claim to represent the government

o Gun prohibitionists long argued that the 2nd Amendment was a “collective” right. After the Heller and McDonald decisions, they now say they agree it’s a private right, but they want to INFRINGE it out of existence: CT, NY, MD, DE, CO, CA…. magazines, ammunition, guns, taxes, insurance, slippery slope

o Fight back:
a) “Gun Prohibitionists” are extreme, not mainstream, agenda-driven, put us all at risk
b) gun control is not about crime control; does not solve problems; infringes on lawful right
c) Gun control is the new Jim Crow…utopians fear threats to their big gov’t utopia control
d) Join NRA, GOA, local shooting club
e) Write op-eds, volunteer for pro-Constitution candidates, blog & social media
f) Buy guns, teach someone to shoot or hunt, give guns as gifts, buy a hunting license
g) Constitutional principles do not change over time to suit societal whims. The quill pen and the printing press became laptops and the Internet, horses became cars, and muskets became AR-15s
h) Regulating/limiting Constitutional rights is usually read expansively, not narrowly
i) Use historical references to frame gun control efforts: Frontier America had no gun control,
and Founders’ intent: “On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed,” (Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p. 322). “The whole of the Bill (of Rights) is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals…. It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of.” (Albert Gallatin of the New York Historical Society, October 7, 1789). “The right of the people to keep and bear arms has been recognized by the General Government; but the best security of that right after all is, the military spirit, that taste for martial exercises, which has always distinguished the free citizens of these States….Such men form the best barrier to the liberties of America” – (Gazette of the United States, October 14, 1789.) “No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” (Thomas Jefferson, Proposal Virginia Constitution, 1 T. Jefferson Papers, 334,[C.J.Boyd, Ed., 1950]). “The right of the people to keep and bear…arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country…” (James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434 [June 8, 1789]). “A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves…and include all men capable of bearing arms.” (Richard Henry Lee, Additional Letters from the Federal Farmer (1788) at 169). “What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty…. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.” (Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, spoken during floor debate over the Second Amendment [ I Annals of Congress at 750 {August 17, 1789}]). “…to disarm the people – that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” (George Mason, 3 Elliot, Debates at 380)

Patriot News Article on Eastern Outdoors Show Cancellation

“The British didn’t understand Americans in 1776, and they don’t understand us in 2013″…my favorite quote ever.

Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show CANCELLED

Reed Expo (or Exhibitions) just announced that the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show is being “postponed,” which means it is effectively cancelled.

Reed Expo is canceling because of the enormous boycott of the show over their new anti-Second Amendment policy. That boycott started with a call to me from one of the show’s vendors over ten days ago. I sent a statement which was rapidly shared across the sporting community, and the sportsmen’s community (PFSC, HUSH, WFE Foundation, NWTF) leapt into action. Before you knew it, Reed Expos was getting kicked in the teeth by hurt, angry American citizens. The betrayal was too much to bear.

Reed Expos is a British company. Britain was once a great nation, and the British were once a great people, but they have decided to disarm themselves and to criminalize self-defense. Failed gun control of every sort is de rigeur in England, and Reed Expos took the dubious but very British position of banning from the show the one gun that most symbolizes the Second Amendment: The AR-15.

That upset their core audience. That core audience just fought back. And wait until the breach-of-contract lawsuits start flying against Reed Expos. The company will probably lose tens of millions of dollars. They may go bankrupt. That would be their own fault, however, because at every step over the past two weeks, they were asked to reconsider their policy change. Neither vendors nor paying visitors wanted to miss the show. Reed Expos stuck to their guns, and has suffered the consequences.

Message to businesses: If you stand with us, we will stand with you. And if you stand against us, we will stand against you.

Next stop: Hollywood, the least principled, most hypocritical, most destructive location on Earth. It’s like that one place is the epicenter of a continual tidal wave of crap that splashes all over the planet. It’s time to financially punish empty-headed actors like Danny Glover, who profited enormously from using guns in his movies, but who now says that the Second Amendment was designed to protect slavery.

Three cheers to the American sportsman: You did it. You united. You had an effect. You should be proud of yourselves.

Republican Reconciliation or Irrelevance?

Reconcile the Republican Party & Republican Voters

By Josh First

December 11, 2012

Things are not all good here in Republican land. Mitt Romney received fewer votes than John McCain received in 2008, even as attack dog Obama also received far fewer votes than his all-positive 2008 campaign. Despite Obama’s catastrophic economy, foreign policy failures (Benghazi), gaffes (“You didn’t build that”), corruption (Solyndra), and bizarre running mate (Biden), Republican enthusiasm for Romney was actually lower than Republican enthusiasm of four years ago. So even with all that was on the line, Republican voters were unwilling to go to the polls.

Recriminations abound about what caused Mitt Romney to lose: Incompetent staffers, inaccurate polling, a prolonged primary, poor ground game by complacent Republicans, uninspiring and flaccid moderate Republican, etc. Rather than re-hashing excuses and assigning blame, here’s one thing we can change for the next big race: Fixing the increasingly broken relationship between many Republican voters and the Republican Party establishment that is becoming an open contest.

The Republican Party ‘establishment’ includes the careerist elected officials, party bureaucrats, pollsters, financers, lobbyists, apparatchiks, consultants, and other functionaries and rock star groupies whose often low-risk, insulated careers and financial interests comprise the don’t-rock-the-boat wing. Registered Republican voters and principle-driven tea party activists, the “grass roots,” are not necessarily included in this group.

Because the Republican Party here is run as an enterprise, this contest has been cast as profit vs. principle. The Tea Party emerged from Central Pennsylvania, as fiscally conservative voters increasingly demanded responsible habits by the Republicans they had volunteered for, contributed to, and voted for, and across Pennsylvania and the nation it’s rapidly becoming a battle between them and the Party establishment, forget the Democrats.

Hitting the nail on the head back in February, Lehigh University professor Frank Davis said “There seems to be a struggle within the Republican Party between the traditional leadership and the conservative grass roots individuals and groups that are probably more mobilized now than they were a few years ago….the Republican Party has used these grass roots individuals to further the party establishment’s interests, and I think these people may want to [now] choose their own representatives, rather than rely on the leadership.”

Running a gazillionaire for president during the worst economy in 70 years, where his wealth contrasted with citizens’ daily reality, made sense early to the Party establishment, which was long ago greasing the skids for Romney staffers into county Party offices well before the primaries ended. Sure, I like Romney, admire his business acumen, donated to his campaign, went door to door for him, blogged for him, and voted for him. But someone more blue collar, more authentic is going to be more believable, more welcomed by Middle America.

Republican grass roots candidates lost several recent US Senate races, which establishment candidates would have had no greater chance of winning, but the establishment demanded they step aside. Here in Pennsylvania, candidates hand-picked by Republican Party leaders were also disastrous failures, from the primary to last month’s general election. These candidates made perfect sense to insiders. But when trotted out into the public venue, voters shot these perfect candidates down in flames. Does either camp have a corner on the market?

The onus for reconciling the two groups is fully on the Republican Party establishment; the “professionals.” Many Republican Party leaders have engaged in high-handed, controlling behavior that has alienated a growing number of registered Republicans, even the most dedicated. Republican voters and volunteers have been treated as wind-up toy soldiers, turned in a direction and told to march. Party intervention in primary races is one of the worst abuses. No matter how much the establishment may want Yes men to support the establishment’s intertwined political and business interests, the cost of alienating the base is too high. If the Party stays out of primaries and gives the people a voice, they’ll be rewarded with more inspired voters, more volunteers on the ground, more elections won.

The professional class of Republicans say they know what they are doing and everyone just needs to move out of their way and let them do their job. Maybe it’s true that the new grass roots activists lack credentials, but the professional class suffers from an inspiration gap, often pushing bland, plain vanilla, pre-fabricated, cookie cutter candidates who are “supposed” to win, but who fail after spectacularly expensive investments. The Republican Party does actually need Republican voters to get their candidates across the goal line, so will the Party leaders listen to the Party voters? For good reason, Democrat analyst Patrick Caddell recently asked “Can the Republican Party Avoid the Fate of the Whigs?”

Let us get an honest answer here: Is there sufficient humility among our Party leaders to learn from these mistakes, to look inside themselves, and take the necessary steps to reconcile?

If Republicans want to win elections, they need to be the Party of Opportunity, allowing the more conservative, independent-minded members to have a shot at full participation. If we are all in this together, then let’s start acting like it. Otherwise, factionalism and political irrelevance are staring us in the face.

Stay in the conversation at www.joshfirst.com and on our political Facebook page

My Flight 93 Crash Site Experience, In a Nutshell

Why We Must Protect Flight 93’s Landscape
September 6, 2011

By Josh First

From October 2001 through October 2003, I led the effort to conserve the Flight 93 crash site for an eventual national memorial. At that crucial time in its development, I was working for a national non-profit land protection group, and the National Park Service asked me to help out, just weeks after September 11, 2001.

During that formative two years, I took a lot of criticism for targeting a relatively large area that needed to be protected. It’s nice now to see the Flight 93 memorial taking shape around those boundaries, not just because I feel personally vindicated, but because it’s unquestionable that the American public expects our national monuments and memorials to be fully representative of greatness, including that of Flight 93.

People have asked me why the memorial needed to be such a large area, roughly 2,200 acres, and my response used to be “Go to Gettysburg battlefield and see what kind of an experience you would have there, standing on just six acres.”

In other words, can the importance and mechanics of something that occurred on a large scale be boiled down to its essence in a physically small area? My answer is No, it cannot, and I think that anyone who is interested in what happened at Gettysburg or at any other famous American battlefield will agree. At each location, the local story unfolded across a landscape, and in each landscape certain facts occurred. These places become important to the public because the interplay between the facts and the landscape are important. They tell a story that represents heroism, determination, American grit, qualities that we all want to recognize and immortalize. These qualities and symbols make us quintessentially American, and we are proud of them.

At Gettysburg, Antietam, Yorktown, Pearl Harbor, and Flight 93, heroes defended America. What took hours, days, or weeks at some took only seconds at Flight 93’s final resting place. Having interviewed all of the landowners at Flight 93, each one offered me a different recollection of the plane’s final seconds. We all know now that those final seconds were a frenzied battle for control of the cockpit, led by Americans who knew that their nation was under attack and who were determined not to let their plane become a missile to hit the Capitol or the White House. Phone records and the recollections of family members who spoke with their loved ones point to a truly heroic effort that the passengers knew was likely to be suicidal. Nevertheless, they broke into the cockpit and duked it out, American style.

Flight 93 landed upside down after yawing and veering wildly across the landscape. It nearly clipped a large oxygen tank that fueled hand-held torches used to dismantle junk metal, and the workers below involuntarily fell to their knees as the enormous plane roared by, just feet above their heads. We all know that the last living views of our heroic passengers was Pennsylvania’s green countryside, the bowl-shaped landscape that surrounds the crash site. That area is now mostly protected, and it gives current and future visitors the opportunity to visualize and memorialize for themselves what happened on Flight 93. No homes, motels, or theme parks will ever press against this hallowed ground.

Again, if you’ve ever been to Gettysburg battlefield, and you’ve looked from Little Round Top across to Devil’s Den, and visualized the brave soldiers who fought there, then you know why the immediate landscape around Flight 93’s resting place must be conserved. Future generations of Americans deserve the same inspiration that we now take for granted. Just as past generations protected Gettysburg’s landscape for us, long before it became a pressured commercial area, so we must also do in Shanksville for generations of Americans to come.