Cowardice Plagues Pa. House of Representatives

  by Walter Brasch The Institute for Legislative Action of the National Rifle Association (NRA-ILA) gives politicians Defender of Freedom awards. The award, accompanied by a glowing press release, has little to do with freedom; it has everything to do with legislators advancing the NRA agenda. Usually, the award goes to someone who managed, sometimes against great odds, to ramrod legislation that advances gun rights. However, for 2014 the award should go to someone who not only prostrated himself before the NRA lobby, but in a “two-fer” single-handedly blocked an animal cruelty bill. Pennsylvania State Rep. Mike Turzai is the House Republican majority leader and chair of the Rules Committee. Both the House and Senate are Republican-controlled; Gov. Tom Corbett … Continue reading

Pennsylvania’s Politics of Virtue

  by Walter Brasch   The Pennsylvania Senate, possibly for the first time in its history, stood up against the NRA leadership and extreme gun-rights groups, and voted to ban pigeon shoots. The senators correctly called the ban a matter not of gun rights but of eliminating animal cruelty. The International Olympic Committee in 1900 banned pigeon shoots because of their cruelty and never again listed it as a sport. Most hunters and the state’s Fish and Game Commission says that pigeon shoots are not “fair chase hunting.” Pennsylvania is the only state where there are active pigeon shoots. The vote in the Senate was 36–12. Voting for the bill were 21 Democrats and 15 Republicans. Before the Senate could … Continue reading

The Politics of Animal Cruelty

  by Walter Brasch   Pennsylvanians can still butcher, braise, and broil their pet cats and dogs because a murky mixture of politics has left a critical bill on the table in the state senate. Residents may also continue to use cats, dogs, and other animals as targets for what some erroneously call “sporting events.” Although there are no documented cases of cats and dogs being thrown into the air at these shoots, there is a long history in Pennsylvania of pigeon shoots. Pennsylvania is the only state where such shoots occur legally. The remaining shoots are in the southeastern part of the state, in Berks and Bucks counties near Philadelphia. However, this past week, an undercover investigator for SHARK, … Continue reading

NY Times Editorial: Federal Government Should Repeal Ban on Pot

In an editorial in today’s NY Times, the editorial board called on the federal government to repeal the ban on pot, citing that in the “more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana,” the ban has inflicted “great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.” The NY Times editorial board noted that they reached the conclusion that the federal government should repeal the ban, “after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws.” The editorial states, “There are no perfect answers to people’s legitimate concerns about marijuana use.” But neither are there such answers about … Continue reading

Federal Judge in California Rules State’s Death Penalty is Unconstitutional

I’ve never been a fan of the death penalty. Needless to say, today’s ruling by a federal judge in Orange County, California, that the death penalty is unconstitutional, comes as good news in my opinion. U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney said today that “the state’s death penalty has created long delays and uncertainty for inmates, most of whom will never be executed.” He noted that more than 900 people have been sentenced to death in California since 1978 but only 13 have been executed. “For the rest, the dysfunctional administration of California’s death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution,” Carney wrote. An interesting aside on … Continue reading

Governor Patrick Offers to Help Children Crossing South Western Border

Unlike governors in some states who are turning their backs on the child refugee crisis in the south west, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick stepped up today and said he wanted to help the child refugees that have been crossing the border into the U.S. from Mexico.  In comments to a reporter today, Patrick recalled a situation during the Holocaust when the U.S. turned away a ship full of Jewish children: “My inclination is to remember what happened when a ship full of Jewish children tried to come to the United States in 1939 and the United States turned them away, and many of them went to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps,” Patrick said when a reporter asked how he … Continue reading