News & Notes November 5, 2013

Today is election day, get out and vote.  You can’t complain if you fail to participate.

Thanks to Sen. Toomey for his vote on cloture regarding ENDA.  I know he was flooded with calls so thank you to everyone who contacted his offices.  You made a difference.

Congressman Jim Gerlach is one of those opposing ENDA in the House.  No one should be fired from their job simply due to their real or perceived sexual orientation.

We now have almost 20,000 homeless students in Pennsylvania.  Gov. Corbett is failing our children.

Because Gov. Gasbag refused to expand Medicaid for the poor many Pennsylvanians are going to go without needed health care.  It is a right because everyone deserves to live.  Governors who refused to participate fully under the ACA have contributed to the rollout problems because their residents must go to instead of state websites.  Another failure by our Governor.

Corbett rolls out his re-election campaign this week in a statewide caravan.  Even his fellow Republicans think he doesn’t deserve re-election.  No one has the guts to stand and run against him yet however.  You can call this campaign trek “Dead Governor Walking.”  He’s dead meat in 2014.

I love how the GOP keeps giving us such entertaining national figures about whom we can write.  Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz are their latest gifts.  Paul plagiarized Gattaca in a speech in Virginia then challenged Rachel Maddow to a duel (if it were still legal to do so) for calling him out on it.  Cruz is simply a blogger’s dream figure.  His father is even better material.

Food stamps were reduced last week.   In a time when failed conservative economic policies have thrown millions of Americans into poverty we shouldn’t be taking food from children and veterans.  While I’m against subsiding giant corporations such as Wal-Mart and McDonalds by providing SNAP benefits for their employees because these firms refuse to pay living wages let us not penalize or demonize poor, working Americans.

Donate to your local food pantries to help alleviate the burden.

Seventy five percent of the state thinks pigeon shoots should be outlawed.  Senate Bill 510 would make them illegal.

Katie McGinty is supporting Sen. Tim Solobay’s bill for expungement of minor criminal records.  If someone stays out of trouble for seven years minor misdemeanors can be expunged.  Senate Bill 391 is a good idea.

More bad news for Gov. Gasbag:  he’s spent $6.4 million of your tax dollars on outside legal fees thus far.  About half of that has gone to consultants for his lottery privatization scheme.  At least someone has hit the lottery…  The Voter ID law is also costing us bucks.  Meanwhile the state spent a million dollars advertising the law when it wasn’t even in effect for today’s election.

Superior Court Endorsement: Jack McVay

The election of a new Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge comes Tuesday.  The sole statewide election this year has been somewhat quiet but that doesn’t detract from its importance.  Superior Court is the source of all appeals from county courts not involving civil and criminal trials.  Government suits and workmans compensation cases go to Commonwealth Court.   Since so few cases are accepted by the state Supreme Court who we choose to hear these appeals on Superior Court is crucial.  We’ve had too much judicial corruption in our Commonwealth not to take these elections lightly.  

That is why I endorse Democrat Jack McVay for Superior Court.  His opponent Vic Stabile is a Republican Party hack.  I’ve always had an aversion to Party hacks regardless of their affiliation.

I had a long conversation with McVay recently regarding the election of judges versus merit selection.  I have n’t taken a position on the issue because I see advantages and disadvantages to both.  Election of judges can create obligations to those who heavily support a campaign financially.  This can lead to corruption.  On the other hand I’ve spoken to appellate judges who greatly appreciated being able to travel Pennsylvania and talk with voters and the public.  This personalization of the Judiciary is important.

Merit selection of judges also has a history of corruption.  You risk cronyism and incompetent judges beholden to the politicians who seat them.  The possibility of minority judges is slim to none in merit selection.

My solution would be to select judges based on a bipartisan, non political commission.  Then put them to a vote by the public.

Pennsylvanians Support Pigeon Shoot Ban

by Walter Brasch

Three-fourths of all Pennsylvanians want to see an end to live pigeon shoots.

A statewide survey by the Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Company reveals not only do 75 percent of Pennsylvanians want to see legislation to ban live pigeon shoots but only 16 percent of Pennsylvanians oppose such a ban.

Here’s another figure from that independent survey. Eighty-three percent-that’s more than four of every five Pennsylvanians-say live pigeon shoots are an unnecessary form of animal cruelty.

Here’s why.

Organizers of this blood sport place the birds into cages, and place people with shotguns only about 20 yards away. The spring-loaded cages open, and the pretend hunters open fire. The pigeons, many of them stunned, often having been nearly starved, are then blown apart.

But first they suffer. More than 70 percent of all birds are wounded, according to data compiled by the Humane Society of the United States. If they fall onto the shooting range, teenagers take the birds, wring their necks or use scissors to cut their heads off, and stuff them into barrels. Even if the birds survive strangulation, they will die from their wounds and from suffocation. If the wounded birds manage to fly outside the shooting range, most will die a lingering and painful death. The juveniles-disguised-as-adults consider the birds litter, and don’t pick them up if they fall outside the shooting range.

Most hunters agree live pigeon shoots is cruelty. Most hunters rightfully say this is not fair

chase hunting. Most hunters want to see this practice come to an end. And they have every right to want this to happen-pigeon shoots make a mockery of everything legitimate hunting stands for, and gives anti-hunting activists a huge target.

None of the birds can be used for food. Nor is there any way to make fur coats from their feathers.

Pennsylvania’s trap and skeet shoots attract many of the best shooters from around the country, and are a justifiably family-friendly sport. In contrast, pigeon shoots attract an assortment of barely-mediocre shooters, most of whom mix shooting and drinking, and openly violate the state’s gambling laws. Ted Nugent, who justifiably lives up to his “Motor City Madman” label, actively promotes pigeon shoots.

More than a century ago, the International Olympic Committee banned pigeon shooting as cruel, and declared it wasn’t a sport. Almost no country allows pigeon shoots. Pennsylvania is the only state that officially condones this practice.

So, if three-fourths of all Pennsylvanians want to see a ban on pigeon shoots, who doesn’t?

The Pennsylvania legislature doesn’t. In almost three decades, the leaders have blocked almost every attempt to put legislation up for a vote. The last time there was a free-standing bill was in 1989.

And why has Pennsylvania’s often-dysfunctional legislature not followed the will of the people and banned this cruelty?

It’s an easy answer. Politicians are ruled not by the people who elect them but by who spreads money and fear onto their souls. In this case, the NRA executives-not the membership, almost all of whom believe in fair chase hunting, but the executives-don’t want to see the end of pigeon shooting. They stupidly and wrongly claim that banning pigeon shooting violates the Second Amendment. They stupidly and wrongly claim that banning pigeon slaughter is a slippery slope to the overthrow of gun rights.

Pennsylvania’s part-time legislators who receive full-time pay buy into this because they have been bought by the NRA-and they are afraid if they get even a grade of “B” from the NRA it might affect their chances of re-election.

This legislative session, Sen. Pat Browne (R-Allentown), the Senate’s majority whip, sponsored a bill (SB 510) to ban pigeon shoots. He has 22 co-sponsors; among them are Sen. Dominic Pileggi (R-Glen Mills, Pa.), the majority leader; Sen. Jay Costa (D-Pittsburgh), the minority floor leader; and Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia), the minority caucus chair. Browne also has the support of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, the ASPCA, and the Pennsylvania Federation of Humane Societies.

Even if the Senate passes the bill, the vote in the House will be contentious-its leaders have been the primary blocks to keep the bill from a vote.

If our Jello-spined legislators will look at the will of the people, they will stand up to the NRA executives, vote for Sen. Browne’s bill to ban pigeon shoots, and bring Pennsylvania into line with all other states that can make a distinction between Second Amendment rights and animal cruelty.

[Walter Brasch, an award-winning journalist, for more than two decades has been covering the controversy surrounding pigeon shoots. Dr. Brasch is also the author of 18 books; his latest is Fracking Pennsylvania, which explores the financial and political connections between state politicians and the gas and oil industry.]


Fudeman Runs From Questions

Republican Common Pleas Court candidate Madelyn Fudeman ran from my questions this morning.  It’s a heck of a way to “run” a campaign.  She advertised her appearance at Fairgrounds Market on her facebook page so Daddy Justice and I went to see her.  We ran into her in the market pushing a shopping cart as quickly as she could to get away from my questions.  DaddyJustice has that all on video, we’ll be publishing it soon.

Fudeman may run from our questions about her integrity but she cannot escape them.  Susan Morrision of Chicago gave her $101,000.  Why does someone from the Midwest drop that amount of money into a Berks County judicial race?  Is she related to former Reading mob boss Abe Minker?  The Fudemans were some of Minker’s key henchmen back in the days when they ran the City of Reading and owned the Sheriff.  Ironically Berks County Sheriff Eric Weaknecht was there by her side this morning.

As seen in videos below Fudeman has been caught lying about various things.  The only question of mine she finally responded to concerns her television claim that Sen. Judy Schwank endorsed her candidacy.  She dares me to get the Senator on video denying it.  I’ll do that Sunday morning.  Interesting that Fudeman chose to answer (in her pathetic way) that question but none about the mysterious contribution or about the mob.  Is the Morrison contribution mob money?  We don’t know because Fudeman won’t tell us.  Her refusal leads me to think it may be.

Here DaddyJustice captures video of me trying to question Ms. Fudeman:

Update:  I spoke with Sen. Schwank this morning (Sunday) and asked her for a response.  She says she has not endorsed any of the candidates for Common Pleas Court Judge: