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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Daily Drift

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Carolina Naturally is read in 199 countries around the world daily.   

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Today in History

1607 English colonists land near the James River in Virginia.
1648 Margaret Jones of Plymouth is found guilty of witchcraft and is sentenced to be hanged.
1779 The War of Bavarian Succession ends.
1846 The United States declares war on Mexico after fighting has already begun.
1861 Britain declares its neutrality in the American Civil War.
1864 The Battle of Resaca commences as Union General Sherman fights towards Atlanta.
1888 Slavery is abolished in Brazil.
1912 The Royal Flying Corps is established in England.
1913 Igor Sikorsky flies the first four-engine aircraft.
1944 Allied forces in Italy break through the German Gustav Line into the Liri Valley.
1958 French troops take control of Algiers.
1968 Peace talks between the United States and North Vietnam begin in Paris.
1981 Pope John Paul II survives an assassination attempt.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

That the CDC finds that women prefer having dogs to having babies
Why  science?
That Trayvon Martin is happening agian
And welcome to scarfolk...we hope you survive
That veterans languish and die on VA's secret hospital twist
That Democrats that move to the right lose elections
That privatized schools hurt poor kids
About re-segregation and the rollback of affirmative action
Why blogging and twitter are making us smarter
And yet, technological law will soon be re-shaped by people who don't use email
That this moronic creationist insists Noah had dinosaurs on the ark
That nearly 50 people have been busted for dancing on the subway this year
Why is the media so silent about mental illness?
These 24 species of shark that have killed fewer people than Jack Bauer
That Minneapolis renames Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day
About the NRA vs. moms
About the invisible warrior report:  easy to be hard
That a couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

Monica Lewinsky Destroys repugican Hopes of Using Bill’s Scandal Against Hillary Clinton

Monica Lewinsky is back, and she is debunking the talking points that repugicans are hoping to use against Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Rand Paul (r-KY) has been going around the country for months calling former President Clinton a sexual predator who abused his power.
On Meet The Press, Paul said,
Well, you know, I mean the Democrats one of their big issues is they have concocted and says Republicans are committing a war on women. One of the workplace laws and rules that I think are good is that bosses shouldn’t prey on young interns in their office, and I think really the media seems to have given President Clinton a pass on this.
He took advantage of a girl that was twenty years old and an intern in his office. There is no excuse for that, and that is predatory behavior, and should be something we shouldn’t want to associate with people who would take advantage of a young girl in his office. This isn’t having an affair. I mean this isn’t me saying he’s had an affair we shouldn’t talk to him. Someone who takes advantage of a young girl in their office. I mean really? And then they have the gall to stand up and say repugicans are having a war on women.
The repugicans like Paul are trying to paint her as the victim, but Monica Lewinsky tells a vastly different story. Vanity Fair has published excerpts from an upcoming story that was written by Lewinsky herself, “Maintaining that her affair with Clinton was one between two consenting adults, Lewinsky writes that it was the public humiliation she suffered in the wake of the scandal that permanently altered the direction of her life: “Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. . . . The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.”
I don’t think this is a path that any repugican should want to go down in 2016. The Lewinsky scandal stuff didn’t work in the late 90s, and it definitely isn’t going to work nearly 20 years later.
The interesting thing about Lewinsky’s quote above is that she is blaming both former President Clinton’s throwing her under the bus, repugicans, and the media for the fact that she has been branded for life. I believe that it is time to let Monica Lewinsky live her life. She wasn’t the first woman in history to have an affair with the President Of The United States, and she probably won’t be the last.
The strategy of using the Lewinsky scandal to tarnish Hillary Clinton is destined to backfire. The repugicans would only serve to alienate and anger more women if they chose to make what happened during Bill Clinton’s second term a focus of the 2016 election.
Monica Lewinsky’s own words illustrate just how wrong it is to bring this scandal up again. Rand Paul has no idea what he is talking about, and he will definitely regret it if he chooses to go there with Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Dear wingnuts: Thanks for Being Horrible

Plato said, "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." And so, conservatives, you deserve the nation's gratitude for being so horrible. There is no possible way people of reason can sit by and let you continue to gain power. Thank you for shaking America out of its apathy.
Your constant screaming grates on our nerves, conservatives. But instead of winning us to your side it has set us against you. Every day, there's yet another outraged right winger screaming on the television, on the Internet or on the radio. It no longer matters to us what you are screaming about, just that you are. That you are wrong is a given.
Oh, what's that? You need examples, conservatives? You don't see how you're wrong? Very well.
You rage against the government, exclaiming how much you hate it while trying to gain that same power for yourselves. You claim to want smaller government while trying to get it involved in every American bedroom. You expect us to believe a woman cannot make reproductive decisions by herself, but want everyone to be subject to whims of the corporate world.
You have shown us, over and over again, that American lives are not worth as much as the dollar. We see you explain why the schoolchild should not get lunch, why the sick and disabled must not get care, and why the poor are lazy. We see you tank the economy, blame someone else, and then cut lifelines for those you ruined with the decisions you can't take responsibility for.
wingnuts rail about wasteful government spending. But how many billions of dollars did you waste with your fruitless ACA repeals? How many more billions did you waste when you shut down the country when you didn't get your way? The only thing the least productive Congress in history can do is throw loud, expensive, and pointless screaming tantrums.
And what heroes you pick, wingnuts! An old, white, rich duck call maker, railing against LGBT Americans. An old, white, rich, draft dodging pedophile former rocker, threatening to kill your president after calling him "sub-human." An old, rich, white rancher, thumbing his nose at the government over fees he owes, rallying whack jobs with high powered firearms to his side to hide behind women until he reveals his blatant racism.
You whine that you aren't racists, but you laud them, and harbor hate groups in your midst. You cry that you're sick of the shrub being rightfully blamed for the mess the nation is in while you constantly scream it's "Obama's fault." You moan about being vilified while spitting "Liberal" at your opponents like a swear word.

Putin's Not Post-Communist, He's Post-Fascist

by Jan Fleischhauer
Opinion: Putin's Not Post-Communist, He's Post-Fascist 
Some like to idealize Vladimir Putin as the ideological successor to the left-wing Soviet leaders, but that's sheer nonsense. His speeches offer clear evidence that his points of reference originate in fascism.  More

Legitimate protest?

Legitimate protest?
A Maryland gun shop owner has dropped his plan to be the first in the United States to sell a so-called “smart gun” after a backlash that included death threats.
Andy Raymond, co-owner of Engage Armament in Rockville, a Washington suburb, said he was trying to protect his business by reversing his decision to sell the Armatix iP1 .22-caliber handgun, which electronically limits the ability to fire the weapon.
“I can’t have my shop burned down,” Raymond said on Friday. “I have people to look out for.”
I’m going with fucked in the head.

Corrupt Judge Tries To Protect repugican Scott Walker By Ordering Incriminating Evidence Destroyed

corruption scandal
In a stunning move, a sitting judge tried to have evidence for an active investigation against embroiled Wisconsin governor Scott Walker destroyed. 
On Tuesday May 6, 2014, Federal Judge Rudolph Randa ordered a halt to the investigation into Scott Walker’s campaign finance dealings. Randa, who has close ties to the Walker administration, took that order a step further by demanding that prosecutors destroy all the evidence they had collected during the investigation.
Attorneys for the Walker junta asked Randa to halt the investigation, claiming that authorities examining and collecting evidence of illegal activity is a violation of their right to free speech. The judge ruled in support of this ridiculous notion, basically saying that illegal acts should be protected from the process of investigation, under the guise of free speech.
Randa, who was appointed by the shrub and is an adviser to the extreme lunatic fring-wingnut Federalist Society, received a harsh reprimand from the 7th Circuit US Court of Appeals, who placed a stay on the judge’s ruling, less than 24 hours after it was handed it down. The three judge panel halted the order to destroy the evidence, saying it “effectively prevents appellate review.”
Randa reissued his order on Thursday, May 8, a move which blocks any further investigation into Walker’s illegal activities. The order does not reinstate his ruling that evidence in the case must be destroyed. The most absurd line from Randa’s latest ruling is this:
“As other histories tell us, attempts to purify the public square lead to places like the Guillotine and the Gulag.”
So what he’s saying here is that we should not attempt to stop illegal activity, because something bad could happen if we do? That is a frightening statement coming from a person who is appointed to oversee justice.
In addition to the state investigation, there is an ongoing federal investigation into Walker’s illegal activities. An earlier investigation led to the conviction of a half dozen members of Walker’s former junta.
Walker and his accomplices have attempted every possible tactic in order to squirm out of providing documents or testimony to investigating officers. Getting the case in front of a right wing judge with close ties to one of Walker’s lead attorneys, might have been luck of the draw, but it’s doubtful. Former US attorney Steven M. Biskupic, who was appointed by the shrub junta, is leading the legal team for the Walker administration. Biskupic’s wife just happens to work for judge Randa.
Even more questionable, Randa scheduled sessions to hear motions related to the case, but then cancelled both, before handing his ruling without ever having heard the arguments.
In spite of the massive amount of corruption in the state of Wisconsin, the citizens continue to demand that the truth be known. The decision of the appeals court panel will allow the investigation into Walker’s money laundering and illegal campaign finance activities to continue, as much as Walker and his corrupt group of co-conspirators don’t want that to happen.

The repugicans Freak Out as Some In FEC Want Faux News and wingnut media Treated Like PACs

The repugican FEC Chairman Lee Goodman is sparking a wingnut freak out by claiming that some in the FEC want to treat wingnut media such as Drudge and Faux News like political action committees.
In a piece that’s dripping with paranoia and hysteria, Goodman told the Washington Examiner:
I think that there are impulses in the government every day to second guess and look into the editorial decisions of wingnut publishers.
The right has begun to break the left’s media monopoly, particularly through new media outlets like the internet, and I sense that some on the left are starting to rethink the breadth of the media exemption and internet communications.
The picking and choosing has started to occur. There are some in this building that think we can actually regulate, then I am concerned about disparate treatment of wingnut media.
The truth that Goodman doesn’t want to face is that wingnuts already control the media. Newscasts are now corporate owned and monetized for profit. The top cable news network is repugican mouthpiece Faux News. The Sunday morning shows are all heavily biased towards repugicans. Talk radio is dominated by  wingnuts. The only media where liberal have an advantage is the Internet.
Wingnut media is mainly funded by the same people and corporations that fund the repugican cabal. Wingnut media should be treated as PACs because they are involved in daily partisan political activity. In contrast,  we do not accept any funding from any individual or organization, nor do we donate to/endorse any candidates.
The FEC is composed of six commissioners, who are appointed by the president. By law, no more than three commissioners can come from the same political party. At least, 4 votes are required for passage, but the commission is split between three repugicans and three Democrats, so there is a lot of deadlock.
What conservatives are most terrified of is the return of the Fairness Doctrine. Short of the FCC restoring the Fairness Doctrine, conservatives fear that the facade will be blown off of their propaganda machine, and they get treated like the political operatives that they are.
Faux News, Sean Handjob, and Lush Dimbulb aren’t news outlets. They are partisan talking point factories that are overtly involved in political activity. It’s simple. Any media outlet on the left or right that takes money to promote a political agenda, endorses candidates, raises money for/donates to candidates should be treated as a PAC.
If they are ever forced to report facts, it will be the end of wingnut media. Wingnut media is slowly dying of old age, but the end could come much sooner if their propaganda machines were held accountable.

Of Course The U.S. Is An 'Oligarchy' - We Keep Electing The Rich

People who care about American democracy have recently been paying a lot of attention to new research by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, which shows that for decades wealthy Americans and business interests have consistently gotten their way in public policy - even when their views conflict with what the vast majority of Americans want. These troubling findings have many observers asking urgent questions: Why do the rich have so much influence in politics? And is there anything we can do about it?
Many people have pointed the finger at two culprits. They point at the political participation problem that poor and working-class people vote less than wealthier and white-collar Americans. And they point at money in politics, at the billions spent on lobbying and political campaigns.
Those are important problems, but we also have to remember another big reason why the wealthy have more influence in politics: Wealthy people are the ones in office themselves.
If millionaires in the United States formed their own political party, that party would make up just 3 percent of the country, but it would have a majority in the House of Representatives, a filibuster-proof super-majority in the Senate, a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court and a man in the White House. If working-class Americans - people with manual-labor and service-industry jobs - were a political party, that party would have made up more than half of the country since the start of the 20th century, but its legislators (those who last worked in blue-collar jobs before getting into politics) would never have held more than 2 percent of the seats in Congress.  

The truth be told

Congressmen ask ad companies to pretend SOPA is law, break anti-trust

A murder of Congresscritters and Senators have told Internet ad-brokers that they expect them to behave as though SOPA passed into law (instead of suffering hideous, total defeat); they want the companies to establish a secret, unaccountable blacklist of "pirate" sites. The group comprises Congressmen Bob Goodlatte and Adam Schiff, and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Orrin Hatch. This isn't just a terrible idea, it's also an obviously illegal antitrust violation, as Mitch Stoltz from the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out:
Letting commercial companies with their own competitive motivations decide which sites are "rogue" or "pirate" sites is a recipe for abuse. It means that site owners who comply with copyright law could still have their sources of revenue cut off when a company who might be a competitor asks for it. The legislators' letter doesn't define "online piracy sites," but most of the definitions we've seen lately focus on the number of takedown requests a site has received from copyright holders, or the number of requests sent to search engines about the site. Since just a few companies send out a large portion of the takedown requests, those companies would effectively have the power to control who gets deemed a "piracy site."
As a federal law, this scheme would have created serious First Amendment and due process problems. As a private agreement among competing ad networks, it could raise other legal problems. Under the Sherman Antitrust Act, companies that compete with each other aren't allowed to make a pact amongst themselves about who they will refuse to do business with, especially if the purpose of the pact is to squelch competition or punish a rival. It's called a "group boycott" or "concerted refusal to deal," and it can lead to big-money lawsuits and years of trouble. In some cases, groups of competitors sharing a list of companies that they deem to be bad actors, with a wink-wink understanding that no one in the group should do business with those companies, was deemed a violation of the Sherman Act1.
Claiming that an industry-wide refusal to deal is justified by "fighting piracy" doesn't necessarily avoid an antitrust jam. In 2003, the Motion Picture Association of America decided that its members, major movie studios who compete with one another, would no longer send pre-release "screener" copies of films to members of awards committees like the Motion Picture Academy. According to the MPAA, the group boycott of awards committees was needed to stop infringement of pre-release movies. But the group ban put smaller studios at a huge disadvantage in getting award nominations and votes. In just two months, a court decided that the MPAA's screener ban was likely illegal, and that loss may have precipitated MPAA head Jack Valenti's retirement a few months later.

The repugicans Try To Silence House Democrats By Kicking Them Out of a Taxpayer Funded Room

pelosi-fist Top House Democrats, including Leader Nancy Pelosi were supposed to be holding a Steering and Policy Committee hearing on the repugican refusal to extend unemployment benefits, but repugicans kicked Democrats out of their scheduled room.
House Democrats had to abruptly turn their hearing into a press conference, when repugicans refused to let them have a room to hold the hearing in.
According to a statement from Rep. Pelosi’s office, “House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Members of the House Democratic Caucus will hold a press conference today in the wake of House repugicans’ refusal to allow the stories of Americans severely affected by the loss of this vital lifeline to be heard. Leader Pelosi and House Democrats will call on Speaker Boehner and the House repugican leadership to end their callous indifference to the nearly 3 million individuals who have lost UI since the program expired on December 28 and to #RenewUI this critical lifeline.”
What happened was that Democrats had a hearing room scheduled, and at the last minute, repugicans told them that they couldn’t use it.
There is no limit to how low House repugicans will go to prevent the message that they are hurting 3 million Americans by refusing to extend emergency unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. Boehner and company will grant endless hours of time and as many rooms as needed for Benghazi, IRS, or any other number of conspiracy based hearings, but Democrats can’t even get a room for a couple of hours to talk about the plight of 3 million Americans who have been pushed into dire poverty because repugicans refuse to extend unemployment benefits.
House repugicans may hold the majority, but they don’t own the building. Those hearing rooms belong to the taxpayers. The repugicans have the right as the majority to control the scheduling, but their behavior is a slap in the face to the democratic process.
The American people want unemployment benefits extended. Every poll taken since before the benefits expired has shown that large majorities support extending the benefits. House repugicans are not only trying to silence Democrats. They are also trying to silence the American people.
John Boehner likes to refer to the House as “The People’s House,” but the people were denied a voice, and the needs are being ignored by a repugican majority that cares more about the Koch brothers than the millions of American lives they are destroying.

Missouri repugican cabal Shows a Special Degree of Stupid By Passing Kansas’ Worst Tax Cuts In the Country

Missouri Show Me State
Stupidity is a lack of intelligence, understanding, reason, or sense that can either imply a congenital lack of capacity for reasoning, or a temporary state of daze or slow-mindedness. Author James F. Welles defines the term stupidity as “designating a mentality which is considered to be informed, deliberate and maladaptive to act in their own worst interest by choice, specifically to prevent adaption to new data or existing circumstances.” The height of stupidity is carefully observing actions that are proven failures and repeating them knowing full well the results will produce the same outcomes. The repugicans in Congress spent two full years observing austerity economics fail miserably in Europe, and then promptly enacted austerity in America upon taking control of the House in 2011 knowing it would thwart economic recovery. Missouri repugicans are stupider than congressional repugicans because they carefully studied Kansas repugicans’ economic policies that created a budget nightmare for the state and its people, and immediately followed suit because they want to “keep up economically with neighbor Kansas and its expansive tax cuts it passed two years ago.”
The repugican-controlled Missouri legislature passed Sam Brownback-style tax cuts for the rich and corporations again that Democratic Governor Jay Nixon promptly vetoed saying the “Report from Moody’s Ratings demonstrates real dangers of fiscal experiments like SB509 that should be a wakeup call for the Missouri legislature.” Nixon was referring to Moody’s recent downgrade of Kansas’ credit citing a huge budgetary shortfall, sluggish recovery, and risky tax cuts that cost the state over half-a-billion dollars thus far in the fiscal year. The “show me state” repugican legislature voted to override Nixon’s veto despite Missouri’s current job growth and site selection for construction projects are much better than originally forecast. It takes a particularly special kind of stupid to tell Kansas repugicans to “show me” how to create a half-a-billion dollar shortfall in less than a year and then replicate it despite their state’s economic growth and job creation success.
Missouri repugicans argued vehemently that tax cuts for the rich and corporations “are desperately needed for Missouri to keep up economically with its neighbor Kansas’ more expansive tax cuts it passed two years ago.” Tax revenue in Kansas has decreased by $508 million compared with this point last fiscal year, and is expected to at least double next year. The lost revenue was welcomed by Brownback and repugicans who claim the budget shortfall is further proof the state must make more drastic cuts to education, transportation, jobs, and social services for the disadvantaged and continue the tax cuts for the rich and corporations to grow the economy. Kansas repugicans passed tax cuts taking from the poor to provide for the rich that Brownback gladly signed in 2012 and 2013 that an economic report released by the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors showed is responsible for Kansas trailing the nation and neighboring states in most economic categories.
Kansas Governor Brownback and repugicans claim the tax revenue shortfall is the result of, whom else, President Obama’s crushing tax hikes and stifling regulations and not huge tax cuts for the rich. Brownback said, “The failed economic policies of the Obama administration are affecting states throughout the nation. It is more important than ever that we continue our focus on growing jobs and creating a business-friendly environment that benefits Kansans.” Nick Jordan, the repugican Secretary of Revenue said the state’s tax revenue drop had nothing to do with two straight years of tax cuts for the rich and corporations and was instead “an undeniable result of President Obama’s failed economic policies of increasing taxes and over-regulation.” The absurdity of repugican assertions that state tax revenue losses have anything remotely to do with non-existent tax hikes or regulations at the federal level was not lost on Kansas Democrats.
Kansas’ House Minority Leader Paul Davis said, “I think this is really further proof that the Brownback tax plan is failing.  It is drying up state revenue that is needed to fund the public schools and deliver the critical state services the public counts on.” The executive director for the non-partisan Kansas Center of Economic Growth, Annie McKay, questioned repugican leaders’ claims and noted that that the governor’s office framed April’s $92 million shortfall as a sign the tax cuts were working as advertised. McKay disputed the governor’s analysis that the decrease in revenue could be attributed to anything other than the state’s own tax policies. One of the Democrats on the joint budget committee, Senator Laura Kelly, said the Legislature created the crisis when it passed what she considered to be radical tax cuts two years in a row. Another Democrat, Representative Annie Tietze, said “it’s time for Kansas lawmakers to take responsibility for their own policy decisions rather than blaming Washington. Doesn’t there come a time when they say the great experiment is not working, that things really are bad in Kansas?” Apparently, Missouri repugicans see how bad things really are in Kansas and will override Governor Nixon’s veto to bring Missouri’s economic growth, including a wealth of jobs, to a screeching halt and wait for a credit ratings agency to downgrade the show me state’s borrowing power.
So, what drives Missouri repugicans stupidity is not so much covetousness of Kansas’ credit downgrade, lack of funding for education, roads, and state services or the lack of jobs, but their overly-generous largesse to the rich and corporations; regardless the revenue loss will certainly bring the state’s economic fortunes to a grinding halt. Likely, when the state’s economy tanks because repugicans are desperate to “keep up economically with its neighbor Kansas” they will blame President Obama because when things go wrong for white guys it is always the Black guy’s fault; especially when he is in the White House.
Interestingly, Democratic states that resisted repugican demands to steal from the poor to provide tax cuts for the rich are thriving such as California where a voter-approved a tax increase brought the state back from economic demise resulting from 8 years of repugican tax cuts put on credit. California is projected to end fiscal year 2014-15 with $5.6 billion in reserve despite increasing funding for education, transportation, and social services, as well as boasting one of the nation’s most robust environmental regulatory programs. Sam Brownback’s incredibly stupid assertion that federal tax and regulatory policies are responsible for state tax revenue loss is bovine excrement on the same level his claim the state’s very substantial budget shortfalls “are a sign the tax cuts are working.”
The repugicans like Brownback and Missouri’s repugican legislature may be stupid, but they are also heartless and mean-spirited to deliberately cost their respective states tax revenue to enrich the wealthy and corporations. It is truly beyond stupid for Missouri repugicans to look to Kansas as a model for how best to create budget shortfalls when the state is outperforming its neighbor in every possible economic category, but apparently that is why Missouri is the “show me state.” The repugicans say show me a repugican state deliberately losing revenue, jobs, and new businesses we can emulate because that Democrat Governor Jay Nixon reminded us that Missouri ranked 1st in our region for new facilities and expansions, but we want to be like Kansas at the bottom of the rankings.

USA: The World's Newest Third World Nation

And the newest third-world country is....America!
That's right. America looks a lot more like a third-world nation than the wealthiest country in the world.
As CJ Werleman points out over at Alternet, while America is the wealthiest nation in the world, and has the most billionaires in the world, not a single U.S. city ranks among the world's most livable cities.
Meanwhile, despite our nation's vast wealth, 14.5 percent of U.S. households were "food insecure" as of 2010, and as of 2011, 1.5 million American household were struggling with "extreme poverty."
If you want even more proof that America is in the steady decline to third-world status, take a look at the American middle-class today.
For over 30 years, under both Democratic and repugican leaders, we've been hooked on Reaganomics policies that have helped the wealthy elite and those at the top, but screwed over everyone else.
Reaganomics has gutted the middle-class, and destroyed the strong and vibrant economy that we once had.
The income gap in America has widened exponentially since Reagan took office and implemented the so-called "Reagan Tax Cuts."
Between 1947 and 1980, income gains were shared fairly equally between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else.
But then Reagan came to Washington and everything changed.
The wealthy elite began to take home more of our nation's income gains, while income gains for everyone else began to stay relatively stagnant.
In 1980, the top 1 percent of Americans controlled 10 percent of annual U.S. income.
As of 2007, the top 1 percent controlled 23.5 percent of annual U.S. income; the highest it's been since the Great Depression.
Between 1979 and 2012, the percentage increase in salary growth for the median American worker was just 5 percent, while growth for millionaire and billionaire executives was off the charts.
As result, the share of the nation's income going to the middle-class has been in a near nosedive for the past three decades.
Similarly, since the Great Recession, nearly all of our nation's economic growth has been eaten up by the wealthy elite.
Incomes for the top 5 percent of American households were up just over 5 percent between 2010 and 2012, while those households at the bottom of the income bracket had losses in income during the same time.
And, 95% of income gains during the first three years of the Great Recession recovery were taken in by the top 1 percent.
Meanwhile, as you might expect from these numbers, the American middle-class is no longer the richest in the world.
An analysis done recently by the New York Times found that our neighbor to the north, Canada, actually has the wealthiest middle-class in the world, dethroning America after decades at the top of the list.
And, estimates suggest that the Chinese middle-class is now larger than the entire population of the U.S.
Whether conservatives in Washington like it or not, the key to having a strong economy and a strong nation is having a strong middle class.
It's not just a coincidence that during a time when the American middle-class is the smallest it's ever been our economy is also in the gutter.
That's because middle-class consumption is the demand engine that drives an economy.
Fortunately, while America might look more like a third-world nation today than a global power, there's plenty of time to turn things around.
And that starts by saying enough is enough to 33 years of failed Reaganomics, and putting in place the economic policies that will allow the middle-class to grow and thrive.
From our trade policies to our tax policies to our labor policies and to the way that we handle big business and banksters, we need to roll back the Reagan Revolution.
Only then will we have a strong economy and a strong and developed nation.



The repugicans React to Climate Change Report With Denial and Hatred

When the White House released a regularly-scheduled scientific report awash in empirical data that climate change is a real and present man-made danger, it was little surprise that the repugicans denied it …
climate change effect
Empiricism emphasizes evidence in the formation of ideas as discovered in experiments over the absurd notion of innate ideas or religious traditions. Empiricism is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, religious superstition, or revelations from god. Empiricism is the polar opposite of tradition, superstition, or something a person wants to believe is true, or is told is true by interests attempting to mitigate empirical data for profit, power, and control. The repugicans, the dirty energy industry, and evangelical christians detest empiricism like it was Satan or bubonic plague because it eviscerates their strongly held “beliefs” whether they are borne of religion, economic fallacy, or greed. It is why repugicans, evangelical extremists, and dirty energy hates science and spends an inordinate amount of time and money portraying science and scientific research as inherently evil.
One area religious sycophants, the dirty energy industry, and repugicans are in complete agreement and denial over is global climate change, and why America as a global leader in science and technology should continue discouraging clean and renewable energy sources and oppose actions to reduce emissions responsible for climate change. When the White House released a regularly-scheduled scientific report awash in empirical data that climate change is a real and present man-made danger, it was little surprise that the repugican and Koch brothers’ media outlet Faux News disparaged the report as a distraction from Faux and repugicans’ debunked Benghazi distraction. It is not the first, or the last, time Faux dutifully dismissed climate change as part of its contractual commitment to perpetuate whatever repugican cabal and Koch lies will scam their audience. One thing is clear though; they may have difficulty convincing some Americans who experienced the very real consequences of climate change that the scientific report detailed and warned will get much, much worse is a hoax.
What the White House report revealed that other scientific research only predicted was the effects all Americans experienced from extreme weather events whether it is extreme droughts, extreme flooding, extreme rains, and intense heat devastating major areas of America. The report also detailed rising sea levels, melting glaciers and Arctic sea ice, and increased ocean acidity, but those Earth shattering effects are outside the cognitive abilities of the people most likely to claim global climate change is a hoax. What is not a hoax are the economic consequences Americans have already felt from extreme weather events like more powerful tornados and hurricanes, extreme heat, and devastating droughts that are predicted to drive food and drinking water costs out of reach of many Americans.
One of the purposes of The National Climate Assessment compiled by the US Global Change Research Program is revealing the economic as well as environmental threats to America now and in the future; White House special advisor John Podesta hoped the latest assessment would convince repugicans to take the climate change threat seriously. Podesta’s hope is altruistic, but he confuses repugicans with politicians that care about the economic, environmental, and health concerns of the people because repugicans will not change. The repugicans are wingnuts that are innately resistant to change; particularly when their evangelical voting bloc and dirty energy funding machine demands they continue thwarting efforts to reduce global climate change’s effects on Americans.
Obviously, the dirty energy industry could not care less about the effects of global climate change and in fact, go to extreme lengths to oppose measures to reduce carbon and methane emissions responsible for the warming oceans. At the behest of the Koch brothers and ALEC, House repugicans passed a bill that strictly forbade the Environmental Protection Agency from inspecting or regulating dirty energy polluters in the states. The Kochs have spent tens-of-millions of dollars, and ALEC has written hundreds of pieces of model legislation, to eliminate clean and renewable energy standards in the states and provided funding for ballot initiatives in California to eviscerate the state’s environmental protections and clean air standards. It is not that the Kochs, or any dirty energy interest, cannot afford to meet clean air standards, they just want unimpeded profits; destroying the climate and environment is a consequence they are happy to live with. For the religious right, reducing the effects of climate change has nothing to do with money and everything to do with god.
The religio-wingnuts fully understand that man-made climate change is a serious threat to the economy, environment, and well-being of Americans; especially those in the bible-belt that have felt climate change’s full effects the scientific study reported were already happening. However, one faction is convinced that either god controls the climate and climate scientists are apostates to claim extreme weather is man-made, or that god will destroy the Earth on his own terms during end times just over the horizon. In fact in a study last May entitled “End-Times Theology, the Shadow of the Future, and Public Resistance to Addressing Global Climate Change,” researchers found that support for governmental action on climate change is woefully lacking because “believers in christian end-times theology are unlikely to support policies designed to curb global warming than are other Americans.” The study’s authors provided empirical evidence that evangelical fanatics resist policies trading short-term costs for hypothetical long-term benefits because god is destroying the Earth shortly so why bother.
Overall, Americans are less inclined to care about global climate change than residents of the top 13 richest developed nations in the world according to a Pew Research Study finding the majority of Americans (60%) are skeptical that climate change is a dire issue or a threat to the nation. This is in spite of the effects of human-induced climate change being felt in every corner of America with severe droughts and water scarcity, torrential rains in wet regions, severe heat and longer summers becoming commonplace, increasingly worse wildfires, and entire forests dying from drought and heat loving insects. Only 40% of Americans think climate change is an issue worth addressing and it certainly is a result of the dirty energy industry, repugican, and religio-wingnut’s perpetual harping that climate change is an Atheistic  America-hating hoax perpetrated by godless scientists and socialists panting to destroy the dirty energy industry and by extension the United States of America.
According to the climate change report, empirical data proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” and there are no Americans who have not experienced, firsthand, the effects the research reported is already affecting the country economically and environmentally.  It hardly matters whether it is evangelical freaks waiting for god to smite Earth, dirty energy sycophants demanding an end to environmental protections, or inherently stupid Americans unable to reconcile what they experience with empirical data proving climate change is the culprit, this country will do nothing to reduce climate change.
Despite the religio-wingnut or profit-driven dirty energy industry climate change deniers culpability in obstructing attempts to reduce the effects of climate change, it is Americans’ arrogance that because America is exceptional, it has no accountability or responsibility to reduce the damage this country is responsible for. If nothing else, the simple fact that the devastating report was issued from the White House with a Black man in residence will automatically incite the entire wingnut movement to dismiss it out of hand and redouble their efforts to thwart any attempt to save this country from environmental devastation that man made and god cannot rectify.

Idiots among us

Supreme Court OKs city council meeting to serve as forums for christian prayer

From the "What could possibly go wrong" Department:

"Once it invites prayer into the public sphere, government must permit a prayer giver to address his or her own god or gods as conscience dictates, unfettered by what an administrator or judge considers to be non-sectarian." - Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Town of Greece v. Galloway. (LA Times)

Wide Majorities Losing Faith In John Roberts' Supreme Court, Want Term Limits

An overwhelming majority of voters would support sweeping reforms to the Supreme Court, as trust and confidence in the institution has eroded in recent years, according to a new survey by the firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.
Wide majorities disagree with the recent 5-4 party-line rulings that have upended a century of campaign finance law and tilted the rules in favor of the extremely wealthy and major corporations. The landmark Citizens United ruling was opposed by a whopping 80-18 margin. The more recent McCutcheon decision, which lifted caps on total giving, was said by a 51 percent majority to be likely to create more corruption, while 8 percent suggested it would lead to less.
By a 60-36 spread, those surveyed said that Supreme Court justices were more likely to be carrying out a personal or political agenda than working to render a fair and impartial judgment, an opinion that cut across party lines. John Roberts swore before Congress during his confirmation hearings that he had great respect for precedent. But once confirmed as chief justice, he embarked on a remarkable run of wingnut judicial agitation that has favored the wealthy while undermining affirmative action and protection for voting rights.
Overall approval of the Supreme Court has been falling since its 5-4 shrub v. Gore decision handed the presidency to the shrub in 2000, according to Gallup.
Big majorities in the GQR poll said that Supreme Court justices should no longer be appointed for life, that cameras should be allowed in the courtroom and that justices should disclose financial conflicts of interest and be bound by ethics rules.

The tea party’s False Founding Fathers Mythology

 by Sean Everett

Why the Founding Fathers Fetishists Need a History Lesson

Founding Fathers
The continued existence of the Tea Party movement, the constant drivel coming from American christian wingnuts, and the latest absurdity surrounding the Cliven Bundy situation have prompted me to provide conservatives with a little history lesson. Three of the main contentions of today’s wingnuts, that the founding fathers wanted a strictly limited government, that the founding fathers were in favor of spreading christianity to all Americans, and that the United States is a christian nation founded on christian values are all flawed in different ways. In the end, it is the task of the historical record to speak for itself.

Myth #1: The Founding Fathers Wanted a Strictly Limited Government

The old tea party standby, the idea that the founding fathers were violently opposed to central state authority, is, historically-speaking, nonsense. Although there were many conflicting opinions at the time, the enactment of the Articles of Confederation provided a real-world answer to the question of whether or not a Federal authority is necessary. When farmers in Massachusetts rose up in opposition to the actions of the state government it became clear that decentralization was not the right way to go.
In 1786, a wave of farm foreclosures had only worsened the economic status of those in western Massachusetts. Difficult measures enacted by the state legislature to pay for back war debt had left many strapped for hard currency. Many farmers began to take up arms against the state.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court finally declared the movement to be “seditious”. Daniel Shays, a Revolutionary War veteran, raised a militia of some 700 men and marched on the Supreme Court, taking over the state house. They also took over the prisons, releasing debtors whom they hoped would join the uprising.
An army was raised by the state to make war on the rebels. Resistance continued for several months. When the rebels moved to take the Springfield Armory, General Benjamin Lincoln met them with a force of some 3,000 men (mostly privately-hired militia), firing grapeshot from cannons and wounding over twenty of the rebels. The remaining resistance faded quickly and two of the rebels were subsequently hanged for treason.
In the minds of many lawmakers, this rebellion showed the significant weaknesses of a government under the Articles of Confederation, which gave more power to the states. In doing so, the Federal Government was not able to efficiently cope with significant challenges to its authority.
Oh, and another thing: Mr. All-American founding father Samuel Adams himself requested that the prosecutors of the rebellion be given the death sentence for their resistance to the state. The truth of the matter was that once the revolution was over, many of those who had become figureheads of resistance quickly became entrenched in the new system and did not seek to overturn the order once again.
The Whiskey Rebellion gives yet another example of the founding fathers’ dedication to the preservation of their new state, in spite of the resistance of its own citizens. It had been a common practice of the time for farmers in Pennsylvania to use their leftover grain in the production of whiskey, which they would then often sell.
In an effort to raise funds for the new cash-strapped American government, Alexander Hamilton had proposed and enacted a tax on the proceeds of said whiskey sales. This was seen as part of a much larger set of reforms wherein the Federal government would assume the Revolutionary War debts of those states who could not afford to pay them.
In the interests of maintaining a stable central authority, Hamilton saw these taxes as necessary. Many farmers resented the measures, however, and in 1791 they rose up in revolt. Many of the rebels were veterans of the Revolutionary War and saw these taxes as being against the values of the revolution.
George Washington, the man whom many tea party-goers use as the masthead for their anti-government ramblings, gathered a federal army and marched into western Pennsylvania. The rebels, seeing that their destruction was assured, disbanded and returned to their farms.
Once again, this rebellion succinctly shows that in no way were the founding father “idols” of today afraid to swiftly and viciously put down a rebellion. The flaw in the wingnut thinking of today resides in the idea that these men were always committed to anti-government values, when in reality, these values served different purposes at different times.

Myth #2: The Founding Fathers Were in Favor of Spreading christianity

Many modern American wingnuts contend that the founding fathers had exactly the same evangelical tendencies as the preachers of today do. There is a serious fallacy in this thinking. Many if not all of the founding fathers were concerned primarily with creating a stable society, not promoting the interests of any one religion, especially not christianity.
Benjamin Franklin, while not overtly hostile towards christianity, saw its function within society to be incredibly varied. In many cases he saw those who allowed their faith to stand in the way of progress and reason to be a part of the problem. In Poor Richard’s Almanac he would often publish snarky quips. He writes in one issue, “Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.
Thomas Jefferson, an outspoken advocate for the liberty of the people (Setting aside the whole slavery thing) writes in a letter to Horatio Spofford (1814), “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”
The complete separation of religion from the law here is key. Religious systems existing outside of the legal code have no means to compete with one another on the political stage. In separating these entities, the people are spared from participating in evangelism.
The founding fathers were also not necessarily “theists” themselves. Many of them were in fact “deists” which is, in many ways, akin to Agnosticism in that they do not point to a direct link between god and man; they affirm the existence of a God (this is where they differ from Agnosticism), in so far as he has created the universe and set it in motion, but do not go so far as to say that he is able to act on the world as it is now. This view characterized many of the intellectuals of the day as it is, at least logically, an easy way to skirt difficult questions (Evil, sin, etc.).

Myth #3: The United States is a christian Nation

The final tea party fallacy is one of the most infuriating. Wingnuts argue that the United States was founded on the principles of the christian religion and that the state policies of today should be directed on those grounds. This is also probably the most absurd historical argument in the wingnut arsenal.
The founding fathers were wholly against the implementation of religion in the state structure. In a letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper (February 10, 1814) Thomas Jefferson writes that, “christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.” In the Treaty of Tripoli John Adams also writes, “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the christian religion…”
Writing in a letter to F.A. Van der Kamp (December 27, 1816) Adams expresses his concern at the inherent violent historical influences on christianity and its possible danger to a free population. He states, “As I understand the christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both jewish and christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?”
James Madison saw the christian influence on society in much the same way that Thomas Jefferson did. He writes of ecclesiastical influence in A Memorial and Remonstrance (1785), “What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In no instances have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries.”
Thomas Paine writes of religious persecution sanctified through the state system in The Rights of Man (1791), “Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”
Many of the founding fathers understood what institutionalized religion had done to Europe throughout the centuries. Many thousands had been slain in the countless religious wars and conflicts that had erupted over more or less arbitrary cultural grounds. This was not the vision they sought for the United States.
These three myths form the backbone of much of the political spew coming from many of the not-so-educated wingnuts and tea-partiers. My hope is that these facts become common knowledge so that the next time some gun-toting self-proclaimed militiaman “defender-of-the-republic” type decides to rifle off nonsensical ideas on the history of their nation, those who are better informed will be able to put them in their place.

Boehner's tea party Challenger Loses Job Over 'Electile Dysfunction' Ad

House Speaker John Boehner's (r-OH) primary challenger has lost his job as an adjunct professor at a small christian university in Cedarville, Ohio over an ad in which the challenger, J.D. Winteregg, said Boehner suffers from "electile dysfunction."
Winteregg had been an adjunct professor at Cedarville University in Ohio over the past three years. He finished teaching his last class and, according to the university, is not scheduled to teach any future classes.

The U.S. Is One Of The Only Countries In The World Where Maternal Deaths Are Rising

Deaths related to pregnancy and childbearing have increased in the United States over the past decade, putting maternal mortality at nearly its highest rate in a quarter century, according to a new study published in the Lancet. The U.S. is one of just eight countries where maternal deaths increased between 2003 and 2013; the other nations in this dubious category include Afghanistan, El Salvador, Belize, and South Sudan.
According to the researchers, for every 100,000 births in the U.S. last year, about 18.5 women died. That doesn't stack up very well with the mortality rates in other nations. A woman giving birth in America is more than twice as likely to die as a woman in Saudi Arabia or China, and three times as likely to die as a woman in the United Kingdom.
It's also evidence that this issue is getting worse. Back in 1990, the United States' maternal mortality rate was 12.4 women per 100,000 births. In 2003, it was 17.6.
The Lancet study is just the latest data point in a mounting pile of research about this country's maternal mortality problem. Despite the fact that giving birth in the U.S. costs more than anywhere else in the world, that's not guaranteeing a better quality of care for women in this country - particularly for women of color. African American mothers are more than three times as likely to die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth than their white counterparts.
Last year, the pharmaceutical company Merck brought its maternal health program, which was initially developed to help save women's lives in impoverished nations, here to the United States. At the time, the company's chief executive explained that Merck was turning its attention to the U.S. because this country's rising maternal mortality rate is "appalling" and "something we ought to be ashamed of."
It's not entirely clear why the United States is lagging so far behind, but researchers agree it probably reflects a lack of access to health care and a high rate of unplanned pregnancies. Many women are dying from chronic health issues that are exacerbated by their pregnancies because they didn't receive adequate care to manage their conditions beforehand. Other women lack the resources to prevent pregnancy if they're not financially stable enough to have a child. And many expectant mothers struggle to get the prenatal care they need during their pregnancies.

Daily Comic Relief


Another reason we need stronger gun control

Standardized testing and schools as factories

    My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!
    - Louis C.K. (@louisck) April 28, 2014
Louis CK is the latest high-profile voice to join the chorus against the US educational Common Core and the educational system's emphasis on standardized testing. A great New Yorker piece explores the movement against standardized testing and one-size-fits-all pedagogy.
I think it falls short of the mark, though. The rise of standardized testing, standardized curriculum, and "accountability" are part of the wider phenomenon of framing every question in business terms. In the modern world, the state is a kind of souped up business. That's why we're all "taxpayers" instead of "citizens." "Taxpayer" reframes policy outcomes as a kind of customer-loyalty perk. If your taxes are the locus of your relationship with the state, then people who don't pay taxes -- people too young, old, disabled, or unlucky -- to be working are not entitled to policy outcomes that reflect their needs.
"Taxpayers" are the shareholders in government. The government is the board of directors. School administrators are the management. Teachers are the assembly-line workers. Kids are the product. "Accountability" means that the quantity and quality of the product has to be quantified and reported on every quarter. The only readily quantifiable elements of education are attendance and test-scores, so the entire educational system is reorganized around maximizing these elements, even though they are only tangentially related to real educational outcomes and are trivial to game.
The vilification of teachers and teachers' unions go hand-in-hand with this idea. At the heart of teachers' unions' demands is the insistence that teaching is a craft that requires nonstandard, difficult-to-quantify approaches that are incompatible with factory-style "accountability." The emphasis on the outliers of teachers' unions -- the rare instances in which bad teachers are protected by their trade unions -- instead of the activity that constitutes the vast majority of union advocacy -- demanding an educational approach that is grounded in trust, respect, and individual tutelage -- the "taxpayer" types can make out teachers as lazy slobs who don't want to jog on the same brutal treadmill as the rest of us.
    Some observers, among them Arne Duncan, the Education Secretary, have been quick to dismiss parental critiques of education policy as whining. Duncan may have apologized for sneering about "white suburban moms" who find that after exposure to the Common Core "their child isn't as brilliant as they thought they were," but that he expressed the thought in the first place is telling. It's easy to make fun of privileged parents who can see no fault in their charmed offspring; one can even imagine Louis C.K. doing it.
    But the issue identified by Louis C.K., and by other less well-known but equally furious parents, is not that the material children are expected to learn is too hard. It isn't unreasonable to expect kids to have learned to multiply and divide numbers up to a hundred by the time they leave third grade-and in all likelihood, Louis C.K.'s child will have done so by June, if she hasn't already, and be the better for it. The greater problem lies with the ways in which the achievement of those standards is measured. An emphasis on a certain kind of testing has become a blight upon the city's classrooms. "The teachers are great," C.K. tweeted. "But it's changed in recent years. It's all about these tests. It feels like a dark time."

Louis C.K. Against the Common Core [Rebecca Mead/New Yorker]

Walmart heirs pour more than $1 billion into reshaping American education ... and not for the better

Walmart isn't just reshaping work in America. The company's largest shareholders, members of the Walton family, are also pouring money into reshaping how future American workers are educated, promoting and funding everything from individual charter schools to charter-friendly policies, voucher policies and legislative attacks on teachers:
    In addition to giving grants to right-leaning think tanks like the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, the Walton foundation hired an education program officer who had worked at the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative business-backed group. Walton has also given to centrist organizations such as New Leaders for New Schools, a group co-founded by Jon Schnur, a former senior adviser to President Obama's transition team and to Arne Duncan, the secretary of education.
    In 2013, the Walton foundation spent more than $164 million across the country. According to Marc Sternberg, who was appointed director of K-12 education reform at the Walton Family Foundation last September, Walton has given grants to one in every four charter start-ups in the country, for a total of $335 million. [...]
    Although the foundation's leaders say they are focused on helping children in poverty or stuck in low-performing schools, some of their actions support concepts regardless of whether poor children benefit. In 2012, for example, Walton gave $300,000 to the Douglas County School District in Colorado to help it fight a lawsuit brought by opponents of a voucher program. The median income of families in the district, where the public schools are high performing, is more than $99,000, according to census data.
Walton money has been behind the drive to close Chicago public schools while the city expanded charter schools, and has gone to attacking New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for having the nerve to turn down a handful of applications by charter schools to take over space in public school buildings.

Busybody Idaho citizen calls police over public banned book giveaway to high school students

by Tom Boggioni
Police in Meridian, Idaho, were recently dispatched to a public park after a concerned citizen reported a high school student distributing free copies of a book recently banned by the local school board.
According to KBOI, Junior Mountain View High school student Brady Kissel was distributing free copies of Sherman Alexie's award winning novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian to students who had signed a petition protesting the board's recent decision.
An hour after Kissel started distributing the books the police showed up.
According to police, they received a call from someone concerned that the teenagers were picking up a copy of the book without permission from their parents. After speaking with Kissel, police left her explaining that they found nothing wrong with what she was doing at the park.
In early April, the school board voted 2-1 to remove the winner of the 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature from the 10th grade curriculum following complaints from some parents concerned that the book contained sexually charged material and mocked the Christian religion.
Following the ban, two Washington women held a crowd-sourced fundraiser to purchase copies of the book to distribute to the 350 students who had signed the petition protesting the board's move. Working with a Boise bookstore, the women were able to purchase enough copies for all of the students with the publisher donating an additional 350 copies to be given away at a later date.

Coming Tomorrow

Coming Tomorrow
  • There is water in the core of the Earth
  • The hardest meteor hits in history
  • Multiple Alaskan tsunamis over thousands of years
  • 9 droughts dwarfed 'Dust Bowl' in past 500 years
And more ...
This koala is our Animal Picture, for today.