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2017-11-18 07:18 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 204 references
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Recall the caterwauling from various Senators related to Moore, candidate for Jeff Session's seat from Alabama.

The allegations against Moore have become ever-more salacious and ever-thinner in terms of evidence, however.  It even appears that one of the pieces of alleged "evidence" was intentionally tampered with -- that is, manufactured, and what's even worse is that one of the people making the allegations seems to have a personal reason to go after the guy.

But let's put that singular incident aside for a minute to discuss sexual harassment and even rape in the context of our Federal Government.  You see, our government is fantastic when it comes to finding ways to evade the very laws they impose on everyone else.  You can pretty-well define an action of Congress to be the exact opposite of its title; "PPACA" being one of the prime examples (Obamacare.)  Not only were there damn few protections in the alleged "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" there's nothing affordable about the 200+% rate increases some people are seeing this year.

Well, in 1995, which I remind you was right at the time Bill Clinton was playing with stinky cigars in the Oval Orifice, Congress decided to pass a law which can be properly called "Congressional Protection For Sexual Assault Act of 1995." Of course it's not really entitled that; it's allegedly called "The Congressional Accountability Act of 1995."

This law was debated and passed in the House 429-0.  It then went to the Senate and was passed by unanimous consent and was signed by then-President Clinton.

You got it -- not one "No" vote between either chamber.

This must have really been a good law, right?

Well, for Congress it was -- if they liked to diddle their sexatary, pages, or other people in their offices.

Gee, I can see why Bill Clinton liked that bill too!

Let's look at it.

The bill says that all these other laws (discrimination, sexual harassment, OSHA regs, etc) do apply to Congress.  Wow, what a subject for a bill!  I thought we had a 14th Amendment that guaranteed equal protection of the law already; for what purpose did we need this bill?

Well, that shall become clear, I suspect, in a minute.

You see, Congress just ignored laws it didn't like for itself, or exempted itself.  This is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment to the extent it prejudices someone's rights, for example, if a Congressional employee is sexually harassed or assaulted by a member of Congress.  But naw, we can't follow the Constitution so we pass this.

It provides more protection (which might be Constitutional) -- right?

Uh, no.

First, it shreds the Statute of Limitations for all such conduct, capping it at 180 days.  Period.  181 days, tough crap cookie, your complaint goes in the round file.

Second, you are then (as an alleged victim with a complaint) required to undergo "counseling" for 30 days.  No, I'm not kidding:

(a) In General.--A congressional employee alleging a violation of a law made applicable to the legislative branch of the Federal Government under this Act may request counseling through the Office. The Office shall provide the employee with all relevant information with respect to the rights of the employee. A request for counseling shall be made not later than 180 days after the alleged violation forming the basis of the request for counseling occurred.

(b) Period of Counseling.--The period for counseling shall be 30 days unless the employee and the Office agree to reduce the period. The period shall begin on the date the request for counseling is received.

That's right -- you have to attend "counseling", and it must be for 30 days.  Miss one, tough noogies, your complaint goes in the round file.

It doesn't end there.

If you're still unhappy (gee, you think you might be if you got harassed or assaulted?) you then must, within 15 days of the end of the counseling, file a request for mediation.  Said mediation must include the person who harassed or assaulted you, and goes on for another 30 days, which may be extended for 30 more.

I'm sure that spending 30 or 60 days in the same room with someone who harassed or assaulted you attempting to "mediate" your dispute, which incidentally doesn't include a right for you to have counsel present (unless you pay for it out of your own pocket at the going rate, likely $300/hour+), is going to be perfectly fine.

Let's say you jump through both of those hoops.  You now have a fork in the road in front of you.  You can ask for a "formal complaint" and hearing, or you can sue in district court.  Note that if you fail to complete both of the above steps to the board's satisfaction your ability to pursue the complaint ends before you get here.

Now let's say you go for the hearing.  It's non-judicial, but the results are supposed to be published.  Have you ever seen such a decision?  Neither have I.  Are you telling me there have been no such hearings?  Hmmmm...

That's good enough to get out the wood chippers, but it gets better.  Irrespective of the offense or severity the member involved is completely immune from any financial penalties or costs.

That's right -- the Congressperson in question not only cannot be financially penalized and the taxpayer is forced to cover the bill for their proved unlawful acts their legal fees, if any, are paid by the taxpayer as well even if they're found guilty!

(h) Remedy Order.--If the decision of the hearing board under subsection (g) is that a violation of a law made applicable to the legislative branch of the Federal Government under this Act has occurred, it shall order the remedies under such law as made applicable to the legislative branch of the Federal Government under this Act, except that no Member of the House of Representatives, Senator, any other head of an employing office, or any agent of such a Member, Senator, or employing office, shall be personally liable for the payment of compensation. The hearing board shall have no authority to award punitive damages. The entry of an order under this subsection shall constitute a final decision for purposes of judicial review under section 11.

(i) Funds.--There shall be established in the House of Representatives and in the Senate a fund from which compensation (including attorney's fees) may be paid in accordance with an order under subsection (h) or as a result of judicial review under section 11 or a civil action under section 12. From the outset of any proceeding in which compensation may be paid from a fund of the House of Representatives, the General Counsel of the House of Representatives may provide the respondent with representation.

Oh, and unless the actions of this board are clearly arbitrary or an abuse of discretion, or procedure wasn't followed, you cannot recover in a suit following such a decision either.

Now let's say you decide to sue instead of going before this "board."  You can do that too (but not both), however the same rules apply when it comes to judgments.  The member of Congress or his/her staff cannot be compelled to pay anything, no punitive damages can be awarded and the member's legal fees are covered where yours are "possibly" awardable if you win.

Incidentally if you're not well-versed in civil law the odds of you obtaining a fee judgement to cover your legal costs in nearly all civil actions are approximately equal to the odds of being hit by an asteroid as you retrieve your mail this afternoon.  Got $50,000 or more for counsel you can afford to see go "poof" like a fart in a Church?  That's the opening bid on costs, by the way -- in a civil action with discovery and such at $300/hour it's not hard to wind up with a $100,000+ legal bill which you have to be able to pay yourself, with the likely retainer ask being anywhere from 20 to 50 large up front?  If not?  No lawyer for you!

Oh, and if that's not good enough?  Counseling, mediation and hearings are all confidential.  The public has no right to know.  At all.  The only exception is of course if you sue, since courtrooms are open and anyone can show up and watch.

Now let's review.

This law can best be described as the "Assault Your Secretary And Get Away With It Act of 1995."  It prohibits a member of Congress or his or her staff from being held personally responsible for their unlawful conduct.  It dramatically shortens the Statute of Limitations (unconstitutionally) for anyone who works for Congress in regard to these actions, it forces someone who has been violated by a member to mediate said dispute in their presence, it places absolute bars on filing suit unless you have first been "counseled" and "mediated" to the satisfaction of said board and finally, it forces the taxpayer to pay for all costs the member incurs, including legal fees and judgments if found responsible, while the person who brings the complaint is entitled to nothing, must hire their own counsel and pay them with their own money with a near-zero chance of recovering anything, ever.

Oh, and by the way, despite all these roadblocks this fund has actually paid out some $15 million anyway (in other words, after all those hoops some people have won) yet there is no public record, anywhere, of which Congresscritters got nailed, for what, and what the penalty imposed that the taxpayer picked up for each of them was.

You can talk about to me about "outrage" in Congress in regards to sexual harassment or even outright sexual assault when this crap law is repealed, the 14th Amendment is enforced with respect to all laws regarding sexual assault, harassment and employment law in general and every member of Congress, in either the House or Senate, who was present in 1995 and thus voted for this unconstitutional piece of crap that effectively authorized systemic sexual assault and harassment against anyone working for a member of Congress resigns, forfeits their pension and all other federal benefits and then drinks a can of Drano on television in public.

Until then, ladies and gentlemen in Congress, whether present in 1995 or not, you can all **** off.

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2017-11-17 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Federal Government , 276 references
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Let's cut the crap, shall we?

Tax cuts have never resulted in any sort of material improvement in the living standard of the ordinary America -- which I define as everyone other than the top 1% of earners.

It has simply never happened.

The last time the tax code was "reorganized" you got more buy-backs and stock options issued to executives.

The same thing happened with all the other tax cut packages since.

Further, when we had the so-called "Reagan Tax Reform" Tipper (yes, that's intentional; I'm speaking of the former Speaker as you got way more than just the tip!) promised to cut spending in order to make them deficit neutral.  He did not do so; no reduction in spending was ever delivered and the deficit exploded.

This will be no different.  In fact, unlike the Reagan-era game nobody is even claiming to intend to reduce spending.

The chimera of "tax cuts" being "good for business" is nonsense as well.  Almost no corporation actually pays the tax rate claimed, especially large firms.  They all cheat -- Apple has been caught in the "Paradise Papers" and others have as well.  The claim of "repatriation" leading to some sort of boom in investment and wages is nonsense as well.

The answer to corporate tax cheating is quite-simple, yet will never be implemented.  It's simply this: You pay US taxes on all economic activity that is directed toward sales and services delivered in the US.  Period.

If you put a call center in the Philippines and it takes US calls the employees there are subject to US employment taxes and all of the economic activity generated aimed at US consumers is taxed as US income.  It matters not where the work is performed -- what matters is where it is directed.

If you cheat and get caught you not only pay the back taxes you pay them twice plus interest as a penalty, and those inside your firm (or otherwise, such as auditors) who expose it get 10% of whatever they cause to be recovered.  That'll make it plenty worth it for them to rat you out.

That's it.  No more "Isle of Man" garbage, no more fancy-pants intellectual property deals, no offshore call centers to eliminate employment taxes on the people answering the phones, etc.  Nope, nope and nope.

Then the small US company is on the same footing as the large multinational.  It's the only way to make it happen.

Further, there is utterly no reason to allow capital gains rates to be taken by money managers and hedge funds.  That one's simple too: You can only take a capital gains rate if your personal funds are at risk in earning the return.  Thus the Hedge Fund folks pay ordinary income rates on those earnings, because it's not their money at risk -- it's yours.

Like most things of this sort there are reasonably-simple and elegant fixes, but there are also an army of lobbyists employed in making damn sure none of their favorite folks get hammered by any of them.

The only thing I see that's good in the proposed changes are the doubling of the standard deduction which is a definite positive for everybody, especially those in the middle class -- most of whom do not itemize.  In fact virtually nobody does with under $100,000 of income because it makes no sense to do so.  In addition, where the individual mandate to get struck (which I rate as having about a 1 in 100 probability) that would be a great thing from a standpoint of freedom -- but it will certainly crash the rest of Obamacare should it occur.

We should also get rid of all interest deductions for both individuals and corporations.  Deducting interest is a scam in that it promotes excessive leverage and punishes thrift, whether the target is a person buying a house or a hedge fund levering up to buy businesses and dismantle them.

Are any of the good things going to happen?  No.

Do I thus find the theater worth following on a minute-by-minute basis?  No.

Do all these Congressfolk on both sides of the aisle and irrespective of House or Senate deserve to be hit by an asteroid this afternoon for the bullcrap they're running on you here, will run tomorrow and continue to when it comes to this issue?

Yes.

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2017-11-16 15:03 by Karl Denninger
in Small Business , 55 references
[Comments enabled]  

HomeDaemon-MCP has now had added to it's bag of tricks an interface to Amcrest IP cameras.

It can now "sense" motion or other events (as defined on the camera) and trigger events on HomeDaemon.  Among other things Amcrest is nice enough to expose a simple HTTP-based API that allows you to move the camera to a given preset and take pictures.

This makes trivial interfacing and extending HomeDaemon's existing capabilities in providing an "alarm" service to include taking of pictures, using the camera's motion sense capabilities as a "trip" and, of course, securely copying them to your private file storage on or off your local network.

This functionality should work with all Amcrest camera devices on the market of reasonably-recent vintage and firmware. I have verified that it is fully functional with both the 1080p (one revision back) and 2k (current) models.

There is no longer a need to trust anyone else with said images other than yourself, ever.  It is trivial to, for example, have the system take images on a timed basis and upload them somewhere, whether that "basis" is predicated on an event (e.g. motion detected somewhere, not necessarily in the immediate area of the camera), to take a picture once a day of your pool water level and email it to you (nice if you are worried about evaporation being a problem so you can ask the neighbor to come turn the hose on for a couple of hours, etc) and more.

See here for more information.

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2017-11-15 13:25 by Karl Denninger
in Corruption , 4347 references
[Comments enabled]  

Jesus, it's that obvious and CNN ran this crap?

People need to go to ****ing prison for this.  NOW.

Yes, including Gloria Allred.  The yearbook is an obvious forgery and she peddled it on national television; that needs to be good for disbarment and prosecution.

The original tweet from CNN can still be looked at.  We'll see how long it is before they try to take it down.  (Update: It appears one of Getty's photographers shot the original photo; it's been linked in the comments, and I checked it.  It's pretty-clearly the image CNN used and it was also clearly shot in color as it includes portions of the people holding it in the picture....)

I took the image on the right side of their tweet, brought it into Photoshop and increased the size.

I will swear under oath that I did nothing to tamper with the color or tone and in fact did nothing other than increasing its zoom level to 400% because it would be impossible to tamper with the image at said greatly enhanced zoom level without causing visible artifacts in the background and periphery of the letters.  There is also a gradient in the paper caused by a B&W photo being in part of the area where the signature is, which again will cause visible artifacts if I were to try to tamper with it.  In other words I did this to add irrefutable proof that I did not in any way tamper with the image itself.  I also saved the extract from the tweet as a "PNG" which is lossless from my desktop to yours; no compression so there are no artifacts added in my process either; whatever CNN put forward, that's what I (and you) have.

Those are clearly different inks for everything after the first name.

Was the original signature Roy or was it Ray?

Whatever it was, someone added "Moore DA", the date and "Olde Hickory House" in a different ink color.

By the way, the claimant says that Moore knew she had a boyfriend "and offered to give her a ride home" when he assaulted her.  Was the boyfriend's name RAY?

This must be criminally investigated right ****ing now as attempted federal election tampering.  Jeff Sessions, you claim to be "for the rule of law", let's see a search warrant for that yearbook to perform forensic testing of the ink, and if the latter part of the "signature" is not 40 years old indictments must issue right now for everyone involved in this crap or you are a lying, sniveling sack of ****.

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