Three Commandments for Every State Capitol

    by Walter Brasch   The Oklahoma Supreme Court this past week ordered the legislature and the executive branch to remove a six-foot tall Ten Commandments granite monument from the front of the state house. The monument was placed there in January and is a direct violation of the First Amendment. The response by dozens of legislators, most of whom may be illiterate about the Constitution, was to call for the impeachment of the justices. The state’s attorney general who, presumably, took Constitutional Law in college, said he would appeal the decision. He, and many legislators, are also thinking of repealing the part of the state constitution that prohibits the use of public funds for religious purposes. The only … Continue reading

A Journey to Mississippi

In the summer of 1994 when I was 15 years old my father and I went down to Mississippi to visit my uncle and his daughter; a cousin of mine I had only seen in photos. I was excited and at the same time scared out of my mind to go to Mississippi. I was born and raised in Detroit Michigan. My father’s side of the family is from a small southern town in Alabama called Marion. I went to several family reunions in Alabama and had a great time. The people were nice and acted as if they knew me my whole life. Mississippi however, was a whole other animal in my mind. I had heard the story of … Continue reading

Whoopin’ and a-Hollerin’ for the Plantation Life

  by Walter Brasch   Judge A. Joseph Antanavage, with shotgun in hand, stood before a modified Confederate battle flag, and looked as if he had planned to defend whatever it is that the Confederate flag stands for. But, this wasn’t in the South. This was at a pigeon shoot near Hamburg, Pa. Pennsylvania is not only where the only legal organized pigeon shoots still exist, but where it’s not unusual to see shooters waving the Confederate flag or wearing clothing that features the flag. Pennsylvania is the Keystone state, the state where the Declaration of Independence was written, and the Articles of Confederation approved. It is where Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on Nov. 19, 1863, four months … Continue reading

Losing the White Democratic in the Deep South

    Democrat Mary Landrieu lost her Senate seat to Republican Bill Cassidy in a runoff election in Louisiana. As of 2015 there will be no white Democratic elected officials in the Deep South at the federal or state level. I lived and worked in Alabama for six years of my life. I’ve also traveled several times to Georgia and Mississippi. Honestly, I love the Deep South. The people are some of the most welcoming, thoughtful people in the world. I interned for the Alabama Democratic Party. I traveled across the state and met some of the most dedicated Democrats, both black and white. In 2008 Barack Obama became this country’s first black President. In my last two years in … Continue reading

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