Friday, November 17, 2017

And this won't surprise you

Although it might well piss you off.
The 1995 law that first required Congress to follow federal workplace standards also created a special U.S. Treasury fund, using taxpayer dollars, to quietly and discretely settle sexual harassment claims made against federal lawmakers. Almost every other federal agency is required to pay lawsuit damages and legal fees from their own office funds.


While sexual harassment is an under-reported crime in most workplaces, making claims against a member of Congress or their staff requires the accuser to consent to a lengthy process that includes submitting a written statement within 180 days of the incident, 30 days of counseling and then another month of mediation.

And while the employer is immediately notified, the lawmaker’s identity remains confidential throughout the entire process, which is overseen by a special congressional office charged with trying to resolve the cases out of court.
In other words, there's a boatload of shit under the rug.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Trickle down fantasy

A Bank of America-Merrill Lynch survey this summer asked over 300 executives at major U.S. corporations what they would do after a “tax holiday” that would allow them to bring back money held overseas at a low tax rate. The No. 1 response? Pay down debt. The second most popular response was stock buybacks, where companies purchase some of their own shares to drive up the price. The third was mergers. Actual investments in new factories and more research were low on the list of plans for how to spend extra money.

Yeah, where's the "raise employee wages" part?
The results of the Bank of America poll show a very similar pattern of corporate behavior to what happened after the 2004 tax repatriation holiday when U.S. companies spent the majority of their money coming back home from overseas on stock buybacks. It was a payday for Wall Street investors that generated little benefit to the middle class and wider economy.
Precisely. It's not like we don't already know what really happens when corporations get big tax breaks. (We already knew that in 2004 because we'd had eight years of Reaganomics not too long ago.)

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

How does this picture make you feel?

Yes, that's Trump's treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin and his wife.  You know, this one:
Louise Linton, a 36-year-old Scottish-born actress, also lashed out at critics saying she and her husband have “suffered” more because they pay more in taxes.

Linton flaunted her lavish lifestyle in a Monday social media post, sharing a photo of herself and her husband leaving a government jet.

“Great #daytrip to #Kentucky!” she wrote in the photo’s caption, sure to note labels including Tom Ford, Hermès, Valentino and Roland Mouret.


“Glad we could pay for your little getaway #deplorable,” Jenni Miller wrote – she is a mother of three from Oregon, according to The New York Times.

It was Linton’s belittling response that further fueled the fire.

“Awe!!! Did you think this was a personal trip? Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol,” she began her comment. “I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.”

Don't judge them. They sacrifice.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Has he not seen this yet?

A new Fox News poll shows former President Barack Obama is more popular in Alabama than President Trump.

The poll, conducted from Monday to Wednesday and released Thursday, shows Obama with a 52 percent favorability rating in the state, compared to Trump’s 49 percent.

  The Hill
Yes, I know. The Hill is fake news in 3...2...

But this was a Fox News poll.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

War Crimes doesn't quite capture what's happening in Yemen

Three cities in Yemen have run out of clean water because a blockade by a Saudi-led coalition has cut imports of fuel needed for pumping and sanitation, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday.


Other cities, including the capital Sanaa, are expected to be in the same situation within two weeks, ICRC said in a statement.


As a result of the development in Taiz, Saada and Hodeidah close to one million people are now deprived of clean water and sanitation as Yemen emerges from the world's worst cholera outbreak in modern times, the ICRC said.

Emerges from? How about "continues to suffer".
The coalition closed all air, land and sea access to Yemen on Nov. 6 following the interception of a missile fired towards the Saudi capital, saying it had to stem the flow of arms from Iran to its Houthi opponents in the war in Yemen.


Already 7 million people are in "famine-like conditions", and the U.N. has said that number could rise to over 10 million if Yemen does not get food and nutritional supplies fast.
"Famine-like." They have to use that term because they haven't done an official survey in Yemen.

Locker room contrails

If you have been wandering around Washington State’s Okanogan County lately and thinking, wait, do I see a giant dick drawn in the sky? your eyes have not deceived you. And the United States Navy, specifically the naval air station at Whidbey Island, is very sorry about that.

h/t pourmecoffee

Are we sure it's not just a self-portrait?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Happy Birthday Luke Kelly

But he was just the "coffee boy"

George Papadopoulos claimed last year [to two Greek journalists] that Donald Trump telephoned him to discuss his new position as a foreign policy adviser to his presidential campaign and that the two had at least one personal introductory meeting that the White House has not acknowledged.


One person close to Papadopoulos told POLITICO that his claims about personal interactions with Trump were untrue, but declined to elaborate. The two Greek journalists were skeptical as well, saying Papadopoulos was prone to self-promotional exaggeration. “Everyone knows I helped him [get] elected, now I want to help him with the presidency,” Papadopoulos said in one text message published by the newspaper.

But they also reported that Papadopolous reveled in the benefits of his newfound fame — at least in Greece — as an adviser to a major party nominee for the U.S. presidency. “He had acquired a new status in Athens,” wrote the newspaper, Kathimerini, which noted that Papadopoulos had been “bestowed with awards, wined and dined by prominent Athenians and even appointed to the judging committee of a beauty pageant on a Greek island.”

A prime target for Russian and FBI interest.
Among Papadopoulos’s claims to a Kathimerini reporter and editor was that Trump called him personally in March 2016 after he had been tapped for Trump’s foreign policy advisory team.

During an “informal” five-minute phone conversation, Trump made small talk and invited the young campaign aide to travel from his Chicago home to Washington to attend his March 21 campaign event at Trump’s still-unfinished Pennsylvania Avenue hotel several days later, said Marianna Kakaounaki, an investigative reporter for the well-regarded Greek language daily.


Papadopoulos wasn’t just one of the five [campaign foreign policy advisers] named by Trump, he was also the only one singled out with a personal endorsement.

“He's an energy and oil consultant,” Trump told the editorial board. “Excellent guy.”

From that day on, the two Kathimerini journalists would write in several articles, Papadopoulos exploited Trump’s personal endorsement, and his unpaid position on the National Security Advisory Committee, as much as possible.


Because some of their articles were for the Greek-language edition of the paper, they never reached a wider audience. And the journalists never published some key details of what he told them about his role on Trump’s campaign and presidential transition team.
So has Mueller's team talked with the reporters yet?

What The Most Notable Loser said can't be proven, but whether he phoned Papadopoulos can be.
Two weeks before the election, Papadopoulos informed the journalists that he had “left the campaign” because he had “done his piece.” A week later, however, he said he had come back to the campaign, but that he had to follow the campaign directive that no one was to talk about anything but the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
That seems weird.
Earlier this year, as Trump prepared for his inauguration, Papadopoulos boasted to the reporters that he had Trump's ear, was on the transition team and that Trump had written him a "blank check" for whatever position in the administration he wanted.
Maybe not.
After serving the next eight years in the Trump administration, he said, he planned to move to Greece to work on energy issues of mutual interest to the U.S. and Greece.
His next eight years might instead be served in prison or maybe just under house arrest since he turned FBI informant.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

House passes terrible tax plan

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

2017: The year of sex scandals revealed

Maybe not the best year for it, considering the state of the world, but, let 'er rip.
Six former Florida Democratic Party staffers and consultants say that current party Chairman Stephen Bittel [multi-millionaire South Florida commercial real estate developer] has created an unprofessional workplace environment for women that includes persistent inappropriate comments, leering at young women and even inviting them on his private jet.

The women, who were reached independently by POLITICO and insisted on anonymity out of fear for their jobs, said Bittel never inappropriately touched or threatened them. But he made them feel so uneasy that they didn’t want to be alone with him due to his body language, suggestive remarks and even the breast-shaped stress squeeze-ball he has been known to keep on his desk.


“There was a lot of boob stuff in his office,” said a woman who was a fundraiser years ago and had to interact with him. “I was told by other women not to go into his bathroom. I was warned.”


Bittel didn’t dispute the women’s accounts and acknowledged he had the breast-shaped stress balls. But, he said, they were a gift “from a former female general counsel of his company years ago as a joke for his birthday. He keeps them in a drawer with other gag gifts.” Bittel also apologized.

Of course he did.
“Every person, regardless of their gender, race, age or sexuality should be treated with respect and valued for their hard work and contributions to our community and if any of my comments or actions did not reflect that belief I am deeply sorry,” Bittel said. “I have much to learn, but my goal is and has always been to make sure every member of our party has a safe environment in which to succeed. It seems I’ve not been successful in that goal, and I will do better."
“The biggest thing I will say is that it became a policy that women, especially junior staff, were never to be left alone with him in his office, plane or house,” said a former party staffer.


“He’s just so f----ng creepy,” said a former female party staffer.