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.

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    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.

    Update 10/5/18: For the record, here is Fitzpatrick’s vote from December, and here is a recent vote to make the tax cuts for the rich permanent – heckuva job!

    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.


    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.

    Update 10/18/18: Sure enough, we received another disgusting mailer from Bri-Fi resurrecting, if you will, the charges refuted in this post (another zombie lie).

    Waiting a month or so to repeat the lie about Scott Wallace and kids doesn’t magically change that lie into the truth, Bri-Fi. It’s still a lie!

    And apparently, you don’t know the difference.


    A Letter To My Party

    June 12, 2017

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    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


    “Dershy” Dumps on the “Ellison Express” (Updates)

    February 24, 2017

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    I promised myself I wouldn’t wade into the whole business of Keith Ellison running for head of the DNC, but it looks like Alan Dershowitz is still acting like he’s going to leave if Ellison gets the nod (as noted here – in response, I’ll offer to hold the metaphorical door for Dershowitz and give him a nice kick in the ass on the way out).

    Dershowitz is entitled to his opinion and to make it public – I’m not arguing that. However, I’m tired of dealing with his metaphorical hand-wringing which, apparently, doesn’t take into consideration the fact that, y’know, politicians can actually evolve on issues and, once they make some kind of an utterance found to be objectionable many years ago (especially concerning Israel), they can NEVER, EVER BE FORGIVEN!

    Being a lawyer, I appreciate the fact that Dershowitz is fundamentally basing his case on facts (with at least one exception noted below). However, I would question the interpretation of those facts.

    And in response (as noted here)…

    “If Keith Ellison, who is a decent and good person, would be named head of the DNC, Hamas would support it and cheer … ” argued Dershowitz.

    Yeah, Ellison is so “good and decent” that he’s embraced by terrorists. What cowardly garbage from Dershowitz!

    “You can’t always judge a person by supporters (continues Dershowitz). What we are seeing in this country is a very dangerous development on both sides. We are seeing the Republicans move alt right and we’re seeing the Democrats move hard left. I have to tell you, the only thing the hard left and the hard right have in common, they hate Jews, they generally hate Israel, they generally hate America.”

    Ellison’s constituents in the Minneapolis Jewish community were appalled by both Dershowitz’s comparison and the avalanche of hate aimed at Ellison. “To try to create an equivalency between Keith Ellison and a vile miscreant like Steve Bannon is an act of immoral desperation. Keith Ellison represents the best of our constitutional democracy and the best of America. Steve Bannon represents its worst,” said Rabbi Michael Latz, who knows the five-term congressman well. Latz said that Ellison had attended his Shabbat services and described him as “an exquisite mensch, brilliant, a terrific community organizer who represents his constituency with great integrity.”

    Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Director of National Government Affairs for the Jewish social justice organization Bend the Arc, who has collaborated with Ellison on issues like voting rights and raising the minimum wage, concurred. ”He has been in Congress for a decade and we know who he is. We work very closely with Keith Ellison – he is an extraordinary leader. Anyone who would associate him with any kind of hatred hasn’t met him and certainly hasn’t worked with him.”

    Listen, at this point, confirm Ellison. Or Tom Perez. I don’t care at this point. Just pick somebody, for God’s sake!

    Update 2/26/17: Congrats to Tom Perez (here) – FINALLY!

    Update 2/28/17: Oh yes, Ellison is so “anti-Israel,” isn’t he? (here)


    Life In These United States, Donald J. Trump Edition (updates)

    January 28, 2017

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    So President Big Orange Cheetoh has been in office barely a week, and there are so many horrors and outrages that it’s practically impossible to catalogue them all:

    • Issued an executive order to underfund (and ultimately destroy) “Obamacare”? Check.
    • Issued an executive order to approve the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines? Check (see above…and by the way, is anyone out there besides me going to be impolite enough to point out that, last I checked, Trump was still an investor in Trans Energy, the company behind DAPL?).
    • Pull back $5 million of already-paid-for advertising encouraging people to sign up for health care through the Affordable Care Law by 1/31? Check (here is an update – good!).
    • Floated Supreme Court nominees who are almost certain to roll back provisions on worker safety, economic justice, minority rights, environmental protection and women’s reproductive health? Check.
    • Supported an alleged plan to rebuild our infrastructure which is nothing but a giveaway to the plutocrats who supported his campaign (here) and now comprise almost his entire gaggle of cabinet position nominees, including this soulless shill? Check.

    And oh yeah, he threw a hissy fit about the actual size of the crowd at his inauguration, even asking a Park Service official to find a picture of an allegedly larger crowd (here), gave a political speech at a hallowed location at the CIA which was nothing but an insult to the memories of those who have given their lives in service to our country (here), confused visiting British Prime Minister Theresa May with a porn star (here), lied about alleged shooting victims at Former President Obama’s farewell speech (here), squelched reporting by government agencies funded by our tax dollars (here), told U.S. taxpayers that we’re supposed to go along with paying for that stinking, idiotic wall of his on the Mexican border (here), and NOW (as noted here), he signed an executive order banning Muslims from entering this country. And I know this list of all of his ridiculous antics is incomplete.

    And here is my question to anyone who supported this tiny brained, hateful egomaniac – why is this surprising to you in any way whatsoever?

    Oh, maybe it’s because you’re FINALLY focusing on “Donald Drumpf” since we’re no longer in a political campaign and that supposedly godawful Hillary Clinton isn’t in the news anymore. Maybe it’s because you’re FINALLY realizing that you’ve been played for a sap by our usual corporate media suspects and you’ve fallen for the “fake news” garbage from Breitbart, Infowars and other purveyors of this utter slime.

    You’re also apparently shocked, shocked I tell you that Trump is acting like a thoroughly ignorant, narcissistic, misogynistic clown as president. Again, what the hell else can you expect when he acted like nothing but a thoroughly ignorant, narcissistic, misogynistic clown as a presidential candidate?

    Gee, welcome back to reality, huh?

    Sucks, doesn’t it?

    And by the way, don’t think this means that I’m now head over heels with the toadies in the DNC political/media/industrial complex who do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for us except lose elections. While the marches last weekend and recently in Philadelphia were absolutely awesome, that did not take place at the behest of the clueless knuckleheads I just mentioned, not in any way whatsoever. Instead, team “D” seems to be preoccupied with this ABSOLUTELY INTERMINABLE contest between former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Dem U.S. House Rep Keith Ellison of Minnesota, and (I believe he’s still a candidate) former DNC head and presidential candidate Howard Dean (personally I prefer Keith Ellison) to head the Democratic National Committee.

    Note to the Democrats: I stopped giving a shit about this weeks ago. Just name Keith Ellison (or, if not, provide a damn good reason why) and be done with it, OK?

    Update 2/19/17: And in a related story, as they say, kudos to Laurence Lewis at Daily Kos for this.

    Update 2/22/17: Oh, for God’s sake, ENOUGH ALREADY! (here).

    Also, speaking only for myself, I’ve been inundated with requests to contact Sens. Bob Casey and “No Corporate Tax” Pat Toomey (as well as Repug U.S. House Rep Brian “No, I’m Not Really My Brother Mike, But Just Pretend That I Am And It Will Be Fine, Honest” Fitzpatrick) in response to just about every single bilious development concerning the tiny-handed man-child now taking up space in An Oval Office. And I’ll actually act on some of those requests, but don’t expect me to take the bait and spend the majority of my time calling/petitioning/whatever every single time “Fergus Laing” says, does, or tweets anything stupid.

    The election is over. And sorry if this sounds self-serving, but it’s not like I didn’t warn you (here).

    Update 1 1/28/17: I don’t know about you, but we regularly deal with people who, by all accounts, are good neighbors and friends and people who are really good at their jobs. And oh yeah, they’re Trumpsters too. But when Mrs. Doomsy and I describe these people, we end up having to add the inevitable suffix of “But (he or she) is a good person” or “But (he or she) is a good worker.”

    And then I take a look at my phone to see what’s going on, and this is the first thing that pops up (tied to what I linked to above).

    You know what? I don’t give a crap about any “P.S.” remarks about these human beings any more, these utterly soulless, craven life forms who, when cornered, retreat to the inevitable fallback of “Oh yeah? Well, liberals this and minorities and welfare cheats that and unwed minority mothers this and Section 8 housing that and Clintons this and Ted Kennedy that, blah blah blah.”

    I’m sick of that garbage. The actions of this monstrous fraud in the White House are going to impact this country for generations. And aside from what Sen. Chris Murphy said here (which is entirely correct), it’s also going to hasten the “brain drain” in this country that we can ill afford (and by the way…).

    Wingnuts, you “built this.” At least have something like the courage and/or intestinal fortitude to own it yourselves.

    Update 2 1/28/17: Uh, yep…

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    The Candidates of the Trump Party

    October 10, 2016

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    For Bucks County, PA local folk…

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    This is Ryan Gallagher, running for state representative for PA-31. He is the candidate of the Donald J. Trump Party.

    To support Democrat Perry Warren, Gallagher’s opponent, click here.

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    This is Brian Fitzpatrick, running for the U.S. House of Representatives for PA-08 (more here). He’s the brother of Mike Fitzpatrick, current U.S. House rep who will not run for another term. It should be noted that Brian Fitzpatrick has said that he won’t vote for Trump (here), though he remains the nominee of the Trump Party.

    To support Democrat Steve Santarsiero, Brian Fitzpatrick’s opponent, click here.

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    And finally, this is Pat Toomey, running for another term in the U.S. Senate. Toomey is a member of the Trump Party, and while he has said that the Republican presidential nominee’s most recent words were “outrageous and unacceptable” (which should be obvious to any life form), Toomey as far as I know is still supporting Trump (as noted here).

    To support Democrat Katie McGinty, Toomey’s opponent, click here.

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    Update: HAHAHAHAHA!!!! – typical for Toomey (R-Elevator)

    Update 10/13/16: Couldn’t happen to a more deserving Repug this side of Ron Johnson (here)


    More AETNA Health Care Hijinks

    August 19, 2016

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    Let me tell you why I hate AETNA and believe that a dick move like this is totally in character for them.

    I made a job change last year, and I ended up having a gap between the expiration of my coverage from my prior employer and the beginning of coverage from my new employer; the gap period was a month. And I blame my prior employer; when I’d done this in the past, a long time ago I’ll admit, my prior employer would pick up my coverage for that month plus the next month – the excuse I got was that I’d given notice before the 15th of the departing month, so by the end of that month I was on my own.

    So I contacted the PA Exchange to inquire into coverage. And do you know what happened? I told the person at the exchange (the “navigator,” I think) what I was looking for in the way of coverage, who would be covered, the duration of coverage, etc. And the navigator connected me right away with AETNA, and I was told that a major medical plan would give me what I needed, and they gave me a quote. So the navigator connected me to someone from AETNA who got the process started.

    Well, it took a few days to process. A few days turned into a week. And a few more days. And another week, with repeated calls from yours truly all the while to AETNA Customer Service; you would think that, as opposed to inquiring into the state of what year I would actually be receiving my insurance cards, I was asking about whether or not I could purchase the Hope Diamond at Walmart.

    So, after about 2 ½ weeks (with my family and I on pins and needles over coverage and having to reschedule appointments like crazy while this was going on…and what about people with lousy or even NO coverage having to try and deal with this, I thought to myself), I called AETNA again and somehow landed with the billing department, which ended up being fortuitous. The very helpful person I spoke with said that all I needed was the Group Number, ID Number and RX Number (I’m pretty sure that was it), and I could make my own insurance and prescription cards to present to our pharmacy and health care providers. So that’s what I did, and everything ended up processing OK.

    Oh, and I FINALLY received my AETNA insurance cards with about five days to go in the lapsed month where I needed coverage.

    So, to sum up, the PA health care exchange worked like clockwork (for the benefit of you wingnuts out there tempted to yell, “See, that gol’ danged Obama and his big gumint health care takeover did it again!”). However, AETNA moved slower than shit through a straw.

    In my experience with employer-based coverage, AETNA is absolutely fine. However, based on this, you’re absolutely hosed if you have to deal with them yourself.

    And to me, that speaks volumes about how screwed up our health care is in this country and why letting bad corporate actors like AETNA pursue a merger to become nothing but a bigger and even worse corporate actor is the very last thing we should consider.

    Update 8/21/16: Curiouser and curiouser (here)…


    The Repugs’ Deadly Game Of “Hidin’ Zika” (Updates)

    August 4, 2016

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    Huffpo tells us the following from here

    WASHINGTON ― Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell delivered a letter to key lawmakers on Wednesday that explained exactly how their underfunded response to the Zika virus is screwing Americans over.

    President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion in February to deal with the impending outbreak of Zika in the United States. Congress finally began working on the request in May, with the Senate passing a bipartisan compromise that was about $800 million short.

    The bill got tanked in a partisan squabble last month after Republicans decided to add in contraception restrictions, a pro-Confederate flag provision, extra cuts to Obamacare, and a measure to exempt pesticides from the Clean Water Act, even though those pesticides don’t target Zika-carrying mosquitoes.

    They then departed for a seven-week break while sending a sternly worded letter to Obama, saying he should take aggressive action to battle Zika using the $589 million the administration transferred from other programs, taken primarily from the ongoing Ebola response. GOP lawmakers have also complained recently that the money is not being spent quickly enough, with nearly two-thirds still available.

    Wednesday, Burwell detailed how that money is being spent, and how key programs actually will run dry this month if Congress does not act.

    “Now that the United States is in the height of mosquito season and with the progress in developing a Zika vaccine, the need for additional resources is critical,” she wrote to the top members of the appropriations committees in the House and Senate. “Without additional funding as requested in the President’s request for an emergency supplemental, our nation’s ability to effectively respond to Zika will be impaired.”

    Yeah, I think that about says it. And because of political nonsense from the “party of Lincoln” (here)…

    Another apparently locally grown Zika virus case has been added to the list in Florida, state health officials said Tuesday, raising the number to 15 — all of them in the Miami area.

    “Active transmission” of the mosquito-borne virus, which causes microcephaly and other birth defects, is still going on in a 1-square-mile area of the Wynwood arts neighborhood north of downtown Miami, said health officials, who advised pregnant women to stay away.

    Overall, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 351 Zika cases in Florida, 336 of them involving people who traveled to the state from elsewhere, the state Health Department said.

    “We’re not seeing the number of mosquitoes come down as rapidly as we would have liked,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, told The Associated Press.

    The difficulty controlling the mosquitoes is “a reflection of the fact that, in this country, we really dismantled the mosquito monitoring and control infrastructure over the past few decades,” Frieden said.

    “We have blind spots where we don’t know where the mosquito populations are and what the susceptibility is to different insecticides,” he said.

    And how exactly did we get to this point? I think this post from the American Mosquito Control Association (yes, there actually is such a group, luckily for us) from some years ago clarifies things a bit…

    A recent (2013) AMCA nationwide survey found for 22 out of 25 (88%) state public health departments that responded that the current level of (Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) grants from the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD)) funding compared to peak funding several years ago is no longer adequate to support their state’s non-human arbovirus testing efforts in the lab, significantly jeopardizing their state’s ability to cope with arbovirus diseases. Furthermore, this funding shortfall cannot support arbovirus surveillance-and-monitoring activities in the field, where 100% of all respondents felt such information was critical for conducting mosquito control operations.

    Any economic savings provided by eliminating this funding will be insignificant compared to the potential healthcare costs to be incurred and, more importantly, the loss of life – both human and animal – if populations of mosquitoes that spread WNV and other exotic diseases are not monitored and suppressed in a timely manner.

    I would tend to agree (by the way, the post was written in response to the outbreak of West Nile Virus, though you can just as easily apply it to Zika also – basically, we’ve been behind the proverbial curve on this for a little while as far as I’m concerned).

    This is part and parcel of underfunding the CDC by congressional Republicans, as noted here; their cheapskate approach to funding for disease prevention helped give rise to an Ebola crisis in West Africa, as well as “the serious emerging viral infections in the US like Enterovirus-D68, chikungunya and dengue, as well as overseas MERS and bird flus, and natural disasters,” as documented in the 2014 post.

    To return to Zika, though, for a minute, I just want to emphasize that, for the sake of trying to rob money for women’s contraception through (wait for it…) Planned Parenthood, ignore a bipartisan resolution banning Confederate flrags at U.S. cemeteries, and exempt pesticides from the Clean Water Act, we are currently in a position where at least one area of this country has to be quarantined from a Zika outbreak, and more are likely to follow.

    And by the way, I’ve wondered how all of the “pro-lifers” out there are reacting to Zika. With that in mind, Dana Milbank of the WaPo penned this recent column in which he told us the following (Florida Repug U.S. House Rep Vern Buchanan stands out as a commendable exception, though)…

    ..there’s quiet from the antiabortion lobby. Groups I checked with haven’t taken a position on the Zika response, other than a few that have said laws against abortion should not be loosened in Latin American countries because of the virus.

    National Right to Life published an argument in March questioning whether Zika causes birth defects and citing a study that said only 1 percent of babies born to mothers with the infection have the brain condition called microcephaly. “Abortion advocates would have had us believe the risk of microcephaly was much higher,” it said.

    Typical for those disgusting hypocrites (of course, as noted here, all the evidence they would need about that already existed “south of the border”)…

    But Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Post editorial board meeting Tuesday that “I can almost guarantee you” that the rate of birth defects is higher than 1 percent; another study puts it as high as 29 percent.

    You know what? I think it’s time for a little “shock therapy” for those NRL cretins; get a load of this (here)…

    At least 12 babies in the United States have already been born with the heartbreaking brain damage caused by the Zika virus. And with that number expected to multiply, public health and pediatric specialists are scrambling as they have rarely done to prepare for the lifelong implications of each case.

    For children born with the worst of the brain defects caused by Zika, there will never be any miracle stories. No “the doctors said she would never walk, but … ” scenarios. These children will never walk. Never talk. Never laugh. Never play with a toy. Never feed themselves. Never even know that they are loved. They will only cry, and never be comforted.

    They heard ophthalmologist Camila Ventura of Brazil, the epicenter of Zika in the Americas, describe how extremely irritable, even inconsolable, the newborns with microcephaly are.

    “The babies cannot stop crying,” she said.

    The parents of these children face not only day after day after day of bleak despair, but also crushing financial burdens.

    Many of Zika’s littlest victims, diagnosed with microcephaly and other serious birth defects that might not immediately be apparent, could require care estimated at more than $10 million through adulthood.

    “National Right to Life,” huh? Whose “life,” I wonder?

    At least one voice of sanity on this is here (kudos to Dem VP Nominee Tim Kaine).

    And by the way, if this isn’t a reason to vote out the Republicans in Congress responsible for this funding mess, among others (and elect Democrats like this guy), then I don’t know what is.

    Update: Do you think this is “yuge”? I do.

    Update 1 8/5/16: This amplifies some of what I’ve pointed out, but it definitely bears repeating.

    Update 2 8/5/16: And of course, Heaven forbid that Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao would pull his thumb out and do something (here).

    Update 8/6/16: And I had a feeling that this wasn’t helping one bit either.

    Update 8/7/16: This garbage must play well in “the Sunshine State” because, last I checked, Rubio was still leading in the polls (more here).

    Update 8/9/16: And I would say that this is the loudest voice yet.

    Update 8/11/12: At least that “Kenyan Muslim Socialist” gets it (here – h/t Daily Kos).


    Pat Toomey’s Greatest Hits

    July 18, 2016

    Pat_Toomey

    Well well, it looks like PA’s U.S. senatorial mistake is running for re-election, for the benefit of anyone who didn’t know that.

    What has he been up to over the last six years? Well, let’s consider the following:

  • Remember the deadly Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia in May of last year? Well, as noted here, Toomey…

    …has campaigned (for years) to delay a multibillion-dollar railroad safety technology, calling it an “exorbitantly expensive unfunded mandate.”

    But safety officials say the technology would have prevented last week’s deadly train crash in Philadelphia. And Democrats argue that the railroads were starved of the money necessary to finish it.

    Interviewed two days after the crash, Toomey abandoned some of his budget-cutting bombast of years past. He’s dropped his sponsorship of legislation that would postpone the safety system rollout for several more years. And he says the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority that he was trying to protect from unnecessary spending no longer needs a delay.

    Asked whether he thinks there should be any further delay in the positive train control system rollout, Toomey replied: “No.”

    Of course, 8 people were killed and over 200 people were injured (here), which, I suppose as far as Toomey is concerned, is a small price to pay to maintain his Teahadist bona fides.

  • Also, as noted from here

    After voting for sending our military to war in Iraq, Toomey voted against every – every – single Department of Veterans Affairs appropriations bill up to last December – as well as voting against the $21 billion standalone Veterans Health and Benefits Bill that would have helped at-risk veterans.

    Toomey voted against the standalone Veterans Jobs Act three years ago that would have helped returning Iraq and Afghanistan warriors find jobs at a time when their unemployment rate was higher than the unemployment rate of civilian Pennsylvanians. Toomey voted against the act even after it included a provision he requested for a jobs website.

    He has voted to defund Veterans Business Outreach Centers, which provide veterans with services that help them open businesses such as training, counseling, mentoring and referrals for eligible veterans who own a business or who want to start a small business. He’s voted against funding for the post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which helps veterans go back to school so they can learn new skills and get jobs.

    But of course, that doesn’t prevent Toomey from saying the following on his web site (here)…

    Senator Toomey is proud of our men and women in uniform who are currently serving to protect the United States. The son of a former U.S. Marine and representing a state with one of the largest veteran populations in the country, he is also acutely aware of the nation’s commitment to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed to preserve our freedom. He understands how important it is that we continue to provide quality medical care and other benefits to veterans, both to those who served a generation ago, and to those just returning from fighting in the war against terrorism.

    What a dick.

  • In addition, I’m sure no one doubts that Toomey is allegedly “pro life,” but did you know that Toomey invested in Yorktown University, a for-profit college that “pushes an extreme, anti-woman ideology and preys on vulnerable students, including veterans”?

    As noted from here

    Yorktown has long been criticized for lacking appropriate accreditation, offering courses of questionable academic value, and preying on veterans who receive government tuition assistance. The revelation of Toomey’s involvement with the shady business venture comes as he throws his support behind Donald Trump, who is currently under investigation for defrauding students with his Trump University business scheme.

    “Sen. Toomey has voted to ban abortion and block access to basic health care for Pennsylvania families, so it’s unsurprising that he’s been secretly profiting from a school that teaches nostalgia for the Dark Ages,” said James Owens, states communications director for NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Sen. Toomey has fought against Pennsylvania families in Washington and now we learn he’s personally profiting from a Trump-style scam university that takes advantage of hardworking students. Sen. Toomey may be trying to hide his allegiance to Donald Trump, but it’s pretty apparent they both have no problem disrespecting women and the families they support while scamming hardworking Americans, including our veterans, who are just trying to get ahead.”

    Sen. Toomey has pushed legislation that would drive taxpayer dollars to disreputable educational institutions like this scam-university in which he is invested, despite findings that such institutions provide substandard academic quality while shackling students with debt. Yorktown University pushes a radical conservative agenda and describes pop music, modern art, and the modern discipline of psychology as “signs of serious cultural disturbance.” It pedaled a course that referred to the Enlightenment—the burst of discovery and knowledge that created the intellectual framework for the Declaration of Independence—as a “failed moral revolution.” Toomey’s investment in Yorktown has supported “professors” like Lawrence Roberge, who taught fanatical, anti-woman conspiracy theories such as the debunked claim that tetanus vaccines cause abortions. The revelations about Sen. Toomey’s shady educational deals comes amid the scandal surrounding Trump University, the scam university that Donald Trump is accused of using to defraud students.

    And oh yes, as long as we’re talking about the all-but-named Republican nominee for president, I should note how Toomey is trying to have it both ways; as noted here, Toomey felt that he had some kind of a right to lecture Trump on being a uniter, not a divider, or something (remember that one?), but when asked if he would support Trump for president, Toomey couldn’t even be bothered with mentioning the name of “Fergus Laing.”

  • Let’s see now…when it comes to filibustering President Obama’s nominees, Toomey opposed CIA director John Brennan (here – not going to shed tears much for that, though), Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy (the last 3 here – Murthy must’ve offended the NRA by calling for treating gun violence as a public health issue as well as for a ban on assault weapons), and Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland (here).
  • Continuing, the following should be noted from here (harking back somewhat to the Amtrak accident):

    Sen. Toomey Personally Introduced Budgets That Would Require “Massive New Cuts” to Transportation and Infrastructure Funding. CBPP reported that Toomey’s FY 2012 budget “cuts funding for nondefense discretionary programs by nearly $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years…In 2021, it would impose a 30 percent cut in this category – which includes transportation and infrastructure.” Toomey’s FY 2013 budget would “make massive new cuts in non-defense discretionary spending, which funds everything from veterans’ health care to medical and scientific research, highways.”[CBPP, 5/25/11, 5/09/12]

    Sen. Toomey Repeatedly Supported House Republican Budgets That Threatened “Severe Cuts” to Transportation Infrastructure. Between 2011 and 2013, Toomey voted for the House Republican budget proposals. CBPP reported that the FY 2014 and 2013 budgets would threaten “severe cuts” for road and bridge planning, construction and rehabilitation. CBPP stated, “Cutting federal support for these projects would shift costs to states and localities, which would have to choose between raising more revenue or reducing their transportation investments and absorbing the indirect cost to their economies and quality of life.” ThinkProgress reported that Ryan’s FY 2012 budget “would strip more than $1.4 trillion from public investments in education, infrastructure.” [CBPP, 3/27/13, 12/05/12; ThinkProgress, 4/17/11; SCR 8, Vote #46, 3/21/13; HCR 112, Vote #98, 5/16/12; HCR 34, Vote #77, 5/25/11]

    Just Last Year – Sen. Toomey Voted for “Big Cuts” to Transportation Infrastructure. In 2015, Toomey voted for the Senate Republican budget proposal. CBPP reported that the budget would cut transportation and infrastructure funding by $123 billion, or 22 percent, over 10 years. CBPP reported that the budget would “result in significantly smaller highway and transit programs at a time when many urge more investment in infrastructure.” [CBPP, 3/27/15; SCR 11, Vote #171, 5/05/15]

    As noted here, though, this is in line with budgetary practices by Toomey that were considered to be harsher than Mr.-Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv in the U.S. House here.

  • Toomey also introduced an amendment which would increase the threshold for bank examinations by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from $10 billion to $50 billion. Since most banks don’t meet that asset threshold, 99 percent of all banks in the nation would have no federal regulator ensuring that they followed consumer financial protection laws. Of course, this is typical for Toomey, who has done all he can to derail the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as noted here.
  • Toomey abstained from voting for an amendment which would have reversed the $125 million cut in Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) funding to help retrain workers laid off by unfair foreign trade practices (S Amdt. 633 to HR 2832 – here).
  • Toomey also voted against the Clean Power Plan, which establishes the first-ever national standards to limit carbon pollution; the Plan will lead to climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030, including avoiding 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, according to the EPA (yes, I know the Supreme Court basically put all of this on hold, but that doesn’t change Toomey’s awful vote as far as I’m concerned – here).
  • Oh, and did I note that, according to an analysis from Buzzfeed News, Toomey missed 80 percent of Senate Budget Committee Hearings (to which Toomey belongs) since 2013 (here)?
  • And lest I forget, I should note that Toomey was one of 47 U.S. Senators who signed a letter telling Iran to ignore the nuclear deal negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry; speaking only for myself, I believe these 47 lowlifes are guilty of treason (here).
  • We have a golden opportunity to send Pat Toomey packing this year; let’s not waste it (to support Toomey’s Democratic opponent Katie McGinty, click here).


    “Civility” For Thee, But Not For Me?

    March 15, 2016

    BF_ebf9087262

    We learn the following from today’s issue of the Bucks County Courier Times (here)…

    A Bucks County Republican candidate for the 8th Congressional District came out vehemently against a rival’s call to sign a civility pledge for the duration of the campaign. Fellow GOP candidate Brian Fitzpatrick issued the pledge to campaigns on both sides last week, amid controversy over a parody website and accusations of Hatch Act violations.

    “It is one of the most insulting documents ever presented to me as a candidate,” said Andy Warren, a former county commissioner seeking the Republican nomination in the April 26 Pennsylvania primary. “I’ve never said one disparaging word about any candidates. I’ve been issue-oriented from the beginning.”

    andy_warren
    Oh, and speaking of Andy Warren (What is he this week? A Democrat? A Republican? Try flipping a coin.), as far as I’m concerned, you can’t say much about him without a nod to this legendary post on Warren from Above Average Jane, in which we learn (among many other things) the following…

    “It’s more difficult to build [roads] in Bucks because if Newtown says it’s Wednesday, Lower Makefield says, “No, it’s not. It’s the day before Thursday,” said Warren. “And you can substitute any two municipalities in Bucks for Newtown and Lower Makefield.” …. “You don’t have that in places like Lackawanna County,” Warren said.

    Yep, ol’ Andy is prone to what you might call the “incendiary quote” himself from time to time; he may be technically right about not insulting other candidates, but he’s not exactly acting in accordance with Emily Post here, either (you can Google it). And I never did find out what is behind his apparent preference for Lackawanna County.

    Fitzpatrick_Mike_CV_20110131112837
    Returning to the story…in typical fashion, the Courier Times mentions possible Hatch Act violations committed on Brian Fitzpatrick’s behalf, but fails to point out that the possible violations were carried out by none other than Brian’s brother, our departing wet noodle rep himself, “Mikey the Beloved” Fitzpatrick.

    Specifically, as noted here…

    Last year, long after GOP Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick announced he would retire, the Philadelphia-area representative began calling Republicans in his district to pitch them on a perfect successor: his brother.

    But Brian Fitzpatrick, a FBI agent and Mike’s younger sibling, was still working as a federal law enforcement official when the calls began, according to two sources with knowledge of Mike Fitzpatrick’s efforts, one of whom received a call personally. That could prove a problem: The below-the-radar persuasion campaign may have violated a law that prohibits federal employees, or surrogates acting on their behalf, from running for partisan office or making preparations to do so.

    Only a couple weeks after his campaign launch, Brian Fitzpatrick drove another leading GOP contender out of the race. He secured the endorsement of the local Republican Party soon after, as the field cleared. But a campaign law expert says his brother’s legwork beforehand may have run afoul of the Hatch Act — specifically the part which forbids federal employees from even “preliminary activities regarding candidacy,” including preparation by proxies.

    So am I the only one out there who thinks this whole “civility” thing is nothing but a ruse to try and deflect attention from the Hatch Act issue?

    Oh, and for the record, the parody web site aimed at Brian Fitzpatrick and linked to the Steve Santarsiero campaign is small potatoes by comparison when you consider this that was perpetrated by Brian’s brother (or, at a minimum, Mikey’s NRCC supporters without a word of reprimand against them) in 2012.


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