Report Card for “Bri-Fi,” 2018

September 10, 2018

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As we know, the mid-term elections are fast approaching, so I thought now was as good a time as any to take a look at what our Wet Noodle 2.0 U.S. House Rep for PA-01 was up to (I’m referring to Brian Fitzpatrick of course).

To begin, it should be noted that Bri-Fi sought to burnish his “pro-life” bona fides by voting for a 20-week abortion ban (that and other votes are noted here – fortunately, as noted here, the ban was rejected by the U.S. Senate in January).

As noted here, though…

Nearly 99 percent of abortions occur before 21 weeks, but when they are needed later in pregnancy, it’s often in very complex circumstances. For example, severe fetal anomalies and serious risks to the woman’s health — the kind of situations where a woman and her doctor need every medical option available.

20-week bans are also highly unpopular throughout the country. 61% of all voters say abortion should be legal after 20 weeks. Plus, Democrats (78%), Republicans (62%), and Independents (71%) say this is the wrong issue for lawmakers to be spending time on.

Fitzpatrick also voted for a permanent ban on federal funds for abortions or health coverage that includes abortions (which is pointless because federal funding for abortions is already banned under the Hyde Amendment, named after a serial philanderer in Congress – more here).

When it comes to civil liberties, Fitzpatrick also voted to reauthorize warrantless spying under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA); Republicans managed to make it worse in the process according to some fourth amendment advocates (a group which should include everyone I realize).

As noted here

“Not only does the (reauthorized) bill say you have our blessing to collect communications that contain a target’s email address, it also endorses collecting communications that merely contain a reference to the target,” says Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security program at New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. “So literally if you and I sent an email to each other that had the word ISIS in it, if you and I send an email that talks about ISIS, under this bill the government is authorized to collect it.” (Assuming ISIS is a group that the NSA is specifically targeting.)

The bill does impose a warrant requirement upon the FBI, but the way it’s written appears to weaken privacy protections rather than strengthen them, says Goitein. Under the legislation, FBI agents need a warrant to search the Section 702 database when a criminal investigation has already been opened, but not when national security is involved. That means the FBI can query the database on nothing more than a tip. “It incentivizes doing searches earlier and earlier, when it’s less and less justified,” says Goitein.

Fitzpatrick also voted along with Generalissimo Trump (which he has done about 83 percent of the time according to Nate Silver) in the matter of disciplining VA whistleblowers (here).

Also, as noted here

The U.S. Government Accountability Office’s report says VA whistleblowers are far more likely than their colleagues to face discipline or removal after reporting misconduct.

The number of VA workers fired is up under President Trump. But congressional Democrats and the VA’s union cite VA data showing that the vast majority of those fired in the first five months of 2018 were low-level food service, laundry and custodial staff the majority of whom are veterans. In that same period, only 15 out of 1,096 employees fired were supervisors.

This report comes as the VA’s own inspector general has publicly clashed recently with the VA leadership over access to documents and information about whistleblower adjudication.

A recent NPR investigation showed a pattern of often vicious whistleblower retaliation at the VA in central Alabama and sidelining of whistleblowers in Indiana.

There’s also a news report this week that the VA, under Acting Secretary Peter O’Rourke, is aggressively reassigning or forcing out VA staff members thought to be disloyal to President Trump and his agenda for the agency.

I realize that we’ve had VA issues with both Democratic and Republican presidents (probably the result of too many damn wars and too many of our heroes getting maimed in our country’s service and putting a strain on available resources), but I don’t know of anyone being forced out for being “disloyal” to President Obama.

And speaking of Number 44, Fitzpatrick repeatedly attacked Obama-era rules, including a rule blocking states from defunding Planned Parenthood (here) as well as another rule requiring employers to keep better record of workplace injuries (here). He also voted to overturn a rule prohibiting labor law violators from eligibility for federal contracts, allowing these companies to underpay their workers once more and evade safety regulations (here).

Fitzpatrick also voted to overturn an Obama rule banning drug testing jobless applying for unemployment. As noted here

As things have long stood, states only had the authority to institute drug tests for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash welfare program. Thus far, 13 states have instituted such regimes. But what their experience has proven year after year is that the tests, while costly to administer, turn up very few positive test results. Out of about 250,000 applicants and recipients among these states in 2016, just 369 tested positive; in four states, exactly zero people tested positive for illegal drug use. In the states with positive results, they ranged from a low of 0.07 percent of all applicants to a high of 2.14 percent, rates far below the nearly 10 percent drug use rate among the general population.

Meanwhile, states collectively spent $1.6 million on drug testing, on top of the nearly $2 million spent during the previous two years, despite the apparent ineffectiveness of these programs. That’s money that could instead be used to expand welfare benefits or even drug treatment programs.

Another vote from Fitzpatrick to overturn Internet privacy rules allowed internet service providers, or ISPs, to sell “financial and medical information. Social Security numbers, web browsing history, mobile app usage (and) even the content of your emails and online chats,” according to Sam Gustin of the web site Motherboard (vote is here).

Fitzpatrick also voted to end federal checks preventing more than 167,000 veterans deemed “mentally incompetent” from keeping or purchasing firearms (H.R. 1181). This is part and parcel of Bri-Fi’s utterly craven voting recording in near-total fealty to the NRA. As noted here:

  • In February 2017, Fitzpatrick voted to block the Social Security Administration from sharing information with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System on people with mental disorders in order to prevent them from purchasing firearms.
  • In November, 2017 Fitzpatrick voted twice to block the establishment of a select committee on gun violence prevention.
  • In December 2017, Fitzpatrick said he supports concealed carry reciprocity which would force states like Pennsylvania to defer to the concealed carry weapon laws of more pro-gun states like Texas.
  • In February 2018, Fitzpatrick voted to kill consideration of legislation on gun regulations.
  • In March 2018, Fitzpatrick voted to block three bills to close gun safety loopholes including the gun show, internet sale, and classified ad background check loopholes to prevent the sale of guns without a completed background check.
  • Fitzpatrick also voted to prohibit Department of Justice (DOJ) settlements requiring parties to donate monies to outside groups. This may seem a bit obscure, but as a result, the following should be noted from here

    The decision (to distribute settlement funds only to those directly harmed by wrongdoing) by the Justice Department throws into question an upcoming $12 million settlement against Harley-Davidson. As part of the settlement, the motorcycle manufacturer agreed to stop selling illegal after-market devices that increase the air pollution emitted by the motorcycles.

    Harley-Davidson had agreed to donate $3 million to a project to reduce air pollution, the Justice Department said in August. With Sessions’s decision Monday, that settlement’s fate is now up in the air.

    Also, Fitzpatrick voted to get rid of financial protection regulations, otherwise known as the Dodd-Frank Act, put in place to increase financial stability and consumer protections in the wake of the 2008 recession. As Gregg Gelzinis of the Center for American Progress notes here

    The CHOICE Act also allows banks of any size to opt out of a suite of crucial regulations—such as stress testing, living wills, risk-based capital requirements, liquidity requirements and more—if they maintain a leverage ratio of 10 percent. And it repeals the Volcker Rule’s ban on risky proprietary trading bets. A 10 percent leverage ratio is not nearly enough capital to justify such drastic deregulation.

    Furthermore, the CHOICE Act shreds the authority and resources of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the council of financial regulators tasked with looking at risks across the financial system. FSOC would no longer have the power to address dangers that emerge outside of the traditional banking sector, putting taxpayers at risk. The bill also eliminates the Office of Financial Research, which provides data-driven research support to FSOC to help identify emerging risks.

    Tax Cuts_Bri-Fi3 (1)

    And speaking of money matters, Fitzpatrick also voted for his party’s so-called tax reform bill last December, which adds about $1 trillion to the deficit (which, of course, Republicans only care about when they’re trying to utterly gut the social safety net). The non-partisan Tax Policy Center found that after the tax plan has taken full effect in 2027, 80 percent of the benefits would go to the top 1 percent of earners in this country. When it comes to tax cuts, the top 1 percent will get an average cut of $1,022,120, while the middle 20 percent will get an average cut of $420, eviscerating any notion that the middle class are the key beneficiaries of the Republicans’ “Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code.”

    As noted here

    Should Trump-state Senate Democrats who voted against the tax bill, like Claire McCaskill (Missouri), Joe Manchin (West Virginia), Joe Donnelly (Indiana), and Jon Tester (Montana), really fear electoral backlash?

    Absolutely not, according to our analysis. In fact, they should highlight their opposition to Trump’s tax bill even in these red states.

    Most polling about the bill has been national, and it suggests broad unpopularity. Our analysis of exclusive national data to model state support for the tax bill suggests that Democrats have little to fear from the GOP law and should embrace progressive policies to mobilize opposition.

    And for anyone out there who may have bought into the “trickle down” lie still after all this time, I give you the following (here)…

    In the first six months after the Trump tax cuts were passed, corporate investment in equipment declined, America’s projected long-term deficit swelled by nearly $2 trillion, and wages for the vast majority of American workers fell on an inflation-adjusted basis.

    And there is no sign that reality will start comporting with the GOP’s predictions any time soon. As the Washington Post’s Heather Long notes, Morgan Stanley reported last month that America’s businesses are planning less future capital spending now than they were a few months ago. And that finding is bolstered by a recent survey of 393 businesses from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the audit firm RSM, which found that only 38 percent of those firms plan to increase investment over the next three years.

    Instead of channeling their profits into productive investment, S&P 500 companies are on pace to plow a record-setting $800 billion into buying back their own stocks. The point of such “stock buybacks” is to increase a firm’s share price (and thus, in many cases, the performance-based pay of its CEO) by reducing the supply of shares on the market.

    Oh, and for good measure, it should be noted that, according to Nate Silver, Fitzpatrick voted no to impeachment resolutions against Trump at least twice (I realize this isn’t shocking given that they’re in the same party, but it should be pointed out for the record).

    By himself, as far as I’m concerned, Brian Fitzpatrick hasn’t done nearly enough to merit another two years in the U.S. Congress. Worse, he’s part of a majority that has done nothing whatsoever to rein in a calamitously unqualified individual currently taking up space in An Oval Office.

    Given that, I see absolutely no alternative than to vote for Scott Wallace for Congress from PA-01 on November 6th.

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    Bri-Fi Dishes Weak Wallace “Sauce” in PA-01

    August 23, 2018

    Here is my link to a typically disgusting attack ad by Brian Fitzpatrick against Scott Wallace in the PA-01 U.S. House race:

    I apologize for inflicting that on you, but I had to do so to point out the two pernicious pieces of misinformation that must be noted (purposely conflated in the ad in a way that I’ll point out).

    First, at 11 seconds, the ad shows pictures of crying kids along with a quote from Wallace that there’s “no such thing as a victim’s conduct being off limits.”

    That quote came from a New York Times story about a 1988 trial where Matthew Solomon was accused of murdering his wife Lisa, and the remark about victim’s conduct had to do with Lisa having a temper and allegedly frequenting bars. I realize there’s nothing whatsoever that is illegal about having a temper and going to a bar, but that typically vile ad by Fitzpatrick suggests at about 11 seconds that Wallace was referring to kids, when in fact he was referring to an adult.

    Wallace, by the way, said this when he was the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ acting executive director and legislative director…you know, an advocacy group for defendants (as the story tells us).

    And do you know what else Wallace said in that same New York Times article from 30 years ago?

    As far as the victims’ movement is concerned, Mr. Wallace said, ”We’ve had little skirmishes where the clashes come into the courtroom and actually affect the trial, but so far the movement seems to be confined to showing greater compassion for victims – involving them in the process, giving them notice of when a suspect is caught and providing them with compensation – and we’re all for that.

    Wow, what dastardly pinko propaganda that is (OK, snark mode off…).

    And why are kids included here? Well, at 15 seconds, the ad claims that Wallace has “a history opposing laws that protect victims of sexual abuse.”

    From this Fix Noise article, we learn the following:

    In 1990, (Wallace) slammed a Supreme Court ruling that upheld laws protecting sexually abused children from having to testify face-to-face with the accused in open court and instead be allowed to testify and be cross-examined at another location.

    Wallace said the decision could open the doors to false accusations and allowing other emotionally traumatized witnesses not to face the accused. “This decision increases greatly the chances of a false accusation not being discovered and increases the risk of an innocent person being convicted and sent to prison,” said Wallace, according to a 1990 Newsday article, adding that the ruling “may send a signal to experiment with other kinds of witnesses where there is a likelihood of serious emotional trauma.”

    Again, Wallace said this nearly 30 years ago in his capacity as acting executive and legislative director for a defendants’ advocacy group.

    But of course, this is “proof” that Scott Wallace hates kids, isn’t it?

    From the same Fox article, we learn the following:

    Zoe Wilson-Meyer, communications director for Wallace’s campaign, didn’t deny the funding for the legal advocacy group or address whether Wallace still shares the views he expressed in the past. But she stressed that he is supported by law enforcement.

    “Scott Wallace worked with Republicans and Democrats on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, writing tough new crime laws, including the Missing Children’s Act and laws to help runaway and homeless youth. Wallace is endorsed by law enforcement because he has the experience to fight in Congress to keep our communities safe,” she wrote to Fox News in an email.

    Yeah, this is more chicken nonsense from our Wet Noodle 2.0 Repug U.S. House rep, who has proven that he’s even more lowdown than his brother.

    I guess this is what happens when you’re a member of the Trump Party who has voted in favor of “Dear Leader” 83 percent of the time, as noted here.


    Up, Up and Away, Trumpsters!

    August 10, 2018

    Space Force Again
    Kind of bringing this site back a little bit for this item (more here)…

    I saw an item from our local news station on Twitter that had a poll about which logo design was most popular for the Trumpian “space force” recently announced here (my contribution to that appears above).

    However, I think asking people about a logo only misses the point a bit. I mean, for such a stirring initiative such as a “Space Force,” don’t you think a “fight song” should be included? You know…something rousing to get the blood going? The whole “spirit of adventure” thing, and like that?

    Well, with that in mind, here is my contribution:

    Space Force, fly in the sky
    Far from Mueller’s legal “reach”
    Or the Manafort trial
    While Rod Rosentein’s impeached
    Here’s to changing the narrative from children in jail
    And Butina, FSB, NRA “fail”
    While our country wonders “Why?”
    Fly, space force fly!

    Space Force, fly in the sky
    Far from Wilbur Ross, a thief
    While Trump’s new Twitter feud
    With LeBron beggars belief
    Is this just a new stunt for Congress to save
    From voter disgust and the coming “blue wave”?
    Could this be just one more lie?
    Fly, space force fly!

    (I got a kick out of the way MSNBC reported this with the caption “Guardians of the Galaxy” under Mike Pence while he was giving a speech about it. Yeah, I’d say the whole damn thing is pretty cartoonish also.)


    Meet Me Tonight In Atlantic City

    September 11, 2017

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    OK, I feel like I need to tell you where I was recently.

    We were in Atlantic City, NJ for the last few days for (believe it or not) the Miss America Pageant. This is because Mrs. Doomsy’s niece was one of the contestants. Believe me when I tell you that we’re both very proud of her for competing, and I’d love to tell you which one she was, but I haven’t spoken with her about posting on this subject, so I don’t know if she’d appreciate a mention (she was one of the 15 finalists, but did not win – that’s all I’ll say).

    I really hadn’t planned to say anything about this because, if not for the family connection, normally I wouldn’t give a fig about the Miss America contest. Not because of anything against the contestants whatsoever, but because of how the whole damn thing is packaged (mainly how they do their best to turn it into something like “American Idol” or “reality” TV in general, which both sicken me to tell you the truth – yeah, I know…just me I guess). Having been at the show live, though, I should point out that they actually do make it a pretty good, involving live event.

    Anyway, for the uninitiated, they eliminate all but 15 of the 50 contestants at the beginning of the show, then (for this year, anyway) they have the remaining 15 parade in two-piece swim suits, then 3 get eliminated, then they have the talent competition (2 more off I think), then the evening wear (3 more off), and then 2 rounds of questions (the second round was new this year apparently…more on that shortly) to pare down the list to 5 finalists (I don’t think I have this sequence exactly right, but it went something like that).

    Anyway, I want to say something about the second set of questions. This Chris Harrison person (the emcee) and the lady who co-hosted whose name escapes me (don’t watch much TV normally – sorry) said that usually the first round in years past had some light-hearted questions, but this year, they wanted to make the second-round questions tougher and more topical for the 5 finalists.

    The questions asked about concussion risk for school-age football players and climate change were good I thought, but other than that, I honestly wished they’d left the politics out of it. Not because these women should not have been allowed to express their opinions (they should), and not because they were probably more erudite than most men on these subjects (they struck me that way anyway – here), but because I just wished they hadn’t “gone there” – I just think there are other forums for that stuff, that’s all (such as here?).

    And speaking of the questions, someone asked a contestant (can’t recall which one) if they thought Trump colluded with Russia on the election and, if so, what should be done. I thought it spoke volumes, unfortunately, that, when the contestant said she didn’t believe a case had been made or proven yet, the vast majority of the audience cheered (you poor, dumb, deep-fried, corn bread saps, I thought to myself). However, when she finished her answer and said that, if a case were made, those involved should be punished (fair enough, I thought), then the cheering had definitely subsided.

    (Again, please don’t think I’m criticizing the contestants. We got a little insight over the past week as to what these women go through for this show, and to say it’s a tortuous grind is an understatement. I thought they all handled themselves amazingly well throughout the show – and in the end, never forget that we’re talking about a TV show here, people – and any answer they gave was incredibly well articulated and showed more forethought than most of us normally display. Any one of them would have been a worthy winner aside from the one chosen.)

    And speaking of Cara Mund, the winner (Miss North Dakota – again, a worthy choice), I hope the conventional wisdom won’t be that she won just because she jabbed Generalissimo Trump on climate change. I’m sure that answer didn’t hurt her (as well as her line about anyone potentially winning from any state or small town, or something…true). It also didn’t hurt her that she did a dance number with this pretty crazy move leaping from a chair that she positively nailed.

    Overall, as a somewhat interested bystander, I would say that the whole thing was fun (also a contest unto itself watching the women in high heels in front of the Convention Center trying to keep their shoes from getting stuck in the slats of the Atlantic City boardwalk). However, I don’t care to go through it again anytime soon. And of course, congratulations to all of the contestants.

    And of course, I couldn’t help but think of this song.

    Update 9/13/17: And gee, this sure was predictable, wasn’t it?

    Update 1/26/18: Apologies for lateness with this update – fits, unfortunately, as much as I can tell.


    Bad Behavior By Guv in Jersey? Sure!

    July 8, 2017

    Christie_GI_19642463_10155351937667457_3821717955912103337_n
    Makes me recall this TV show (a little late, I know – more here)…

    Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale
    A tale of a fateful slip
    From this buffoonish governor
    Who’s clearly lost his grip
    His fate is the lowest approval rate
    In states from shore to shore
    And he just played NJ for saps
    Like every time before – like every time before

    He just shut down the government
    To hurt Dems, I suppose
    And if not for the humor of these online memes
    The beaches would stay closed

    No tunnel train nor bridge to cross
    Not a transit “luxury”
    Like every rich Republican
    He’s primitive as can be

    His ship of state’s aground again
    On this well-traveled isle

    Chris-Christie-in-a-baseball-uniform-3-377x400

    With “Gilligan”

    Trump_RtRoXIX

    The “Skipper” too

    Adelson_RTR30L21

    The billionaire and his wife

    ML_110401meatloaf1

    The faded rock star

    And all the rest*

    Christie_Beach_Deserted_DDxEZAsWsAEjnB3

    On Chris Christie’s Isle

    I’m waiting for the “meme” of Christie in the beach chair on the moon (any day now, I’m sure).

    *-Ending of the theme for the first season

    Christie_Moon_483

    Update 8/2/17: YEEEEAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!


    A Letter To My Party

    June 12, 2017

    Putin $ co_C3328mBWYAAa1oJ

    Dear Democratic U.S. House “Leadership”

    Though I don’t agree with it of course, I have come to accept the comparatively few instances of principled opposition from you to the unceasing kleptocratic garbage from our Problem-Child-In-Chief and the other feckless miscreants who populate this outlaw presidential administration. At least the U.S. Senate Democrats have voted basically en masse against the cabinet nominees of Generalissimo Trump, so that is progress of a sort, even though those people were almost all confirmed.

    However, I am writing to you now to point out that, with the notable exception of Rep. Al Green of Texas, you have shied away from using the “I” word at every opportunity concerning the individual who managed to ascend to the White House aided by the considerable influence of a foreign hostile power. Donald J. Trump has committed what, in all likelihood, are provable violations of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, to say nothing of dereliction of duty in that he has failed to safeguard classified information that has potentially put our own personnel at risk as well as those of other countries; and now, recently, based on the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey (fired by Trump over Comey’s investigation of Russia’s meddling in our election), it has come to light that Trump obstructed Comey over that very investigation.

    Now, this story tells us that Trump’s attorney is refusing to rule out the possibility that Trump may fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is looking into Russia’s influence and related business dealings involving past and current members of this administration (a la former President Richard Nixon firing Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox).

    If that happens, I demand that every member of the Democratic U.S. House caucus call for the immediate impeachment of Donald Trump. This country deserves a thorough investigation into exactly what role Russia played in last year’s election and what past and current members of this administration did to facilitate that country’s actions, as well as learning what they stood to gain for doing so. Any attempt by this president to thwart this activity should call for nothing less than his immediate removal from office.

    Sincerely,

    A Loyal Democrat

    Update 1: What I said above was intended to cover anyone working for Number 45 as well as President Big Orange Cheetoh himself (here).

    Update 2: More like this



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