Sunday’s Choice

Well, I’ve gotten suspended again on the Twitbox, can’t even say a few fuck yous to a couple of dipshits these days:

I’m so sick of all this…so let’s just see a few tweets and call it a day.

Hell yes to that! So click that link and check out the good things people are saying about our Hillary.

In other news:

Please remember…

On a personal note, I have become an Initiate in The Temple of Mary.

The mysteries of the Temple of Mary focus on the spiritual transformation of body, mind and soul. Through the study and understanding of symbol, metaphor and myth, we discover that human consciousness has been evolving through the ages, but the message of Love has always been a part of our sacred stories and even more importantly, that all stories contain the same archetypes, the same challenges and are in many ways, the same story – just with different names and cultures. 

-Hettienne Grobler

I came across Hettienne Ma, during the Walking with Mary month of contemplation. After this time, I started to study with her about the Black Madonna…Divine Femine, Carl Jung, Hindu and Buddhist spiritual stories, tarot, teachings of Anandamayi Ma…and so many others. It is ongoing, and fascinating. Here is some more information about Hettienne and the Order of the Dove:

I have reached a point where Hettienne has given me a spiritual name…Niranjana Maria Devi…and yesterday was my Namadiksha.

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𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐜𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐚 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐥𝐝… 𝐈 𝐚𝐦, 𝐍𝐢𝐫𝐚𝐣𝐚𝐧𝐚 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐚 𝐃𝐞𝐯𝐢 :: 𝐈𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐅𝐥𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐤𝐞𝐞𝐩𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐎𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐃𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐓𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐍𝐢𝐫𝐚𝐣𝐚𝐧𝐚, 𝐢𝐬 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐧𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐃𝐮𝐫𝐠𝐚 𝐌𝐚, 𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐊𝐚𝐥𝐢 𝐌𝐚 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐭 𝐦𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐬 ‘𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐧𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐮𝐥𝐥 𝐦𝐨𝐨𝐧’… 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐚, 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐇𝐨𝐥𝐲 𝐌𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐲… 𝐃𝐞𝐯𝐢, 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐤𝐫𝐢𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 ‘𝐠𝐨𝐝𝐝𝐞𝐬𝐬’… 𝐁𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐇𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐧𝐞 𝐌𝐚, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐦𝐲 𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐇𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐤𝐞𝐞𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬. 𝐀𝐯𝐚 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐚 #orderofthedove #templeofmary

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𝘎𝘰𝘥…𝘴𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘭𝘭, 𝘴𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘏𝘰𝘭𝘺 𝘔𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳, 𝘈𝘷𝘦 𝘔𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘢. 𝘕𝘪𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘫𝘢𝘯𝘢 𝘔𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘢 𝘋𝘦𝘷𝘪, 𝘍𝘭𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘬𝘦𝘦𝘱𝘦𝘳 𝘖𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘋𝘰𝘷𝘦 🕊𝘛𝘦𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘔𝘢𝘳𝘺

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If you are on Instagram and would like to follow this next 30 days of #walkingwithmary it starts on Monday:

https://instagram.com/walkingwithmary?igshid=8s0c0hco4ber

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Sri Anandamayi Ma says: "Open the door and step out. The path will become visible. Once on the way, you will meet other wayfarers who will advise and guide you as to to the path. Your job is to muster whatever strength you have to get underway. Thereafter, help is assured.". . ( Posted on 2nd February 2020, Sunday, 5:45am, AE/ ) . . . . . #selfrealized #selfrealization #jaijaima #AnandamayiMa #universalmotherhood #light #body #mind #heart #emotions #intellect #tools #to #reach #self #yoga #path #guru #shishya #relation #purify #yourself #by #contemplating #guru #eternal #eternity #India #eternal #love #blissfulmother #stayblessed💙

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Have a wonderful day.

This is an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: “Multicultural Affinity”

Well, hello…

Anyone know exactly what “multicultural affinity” means?

In advertising terms it is:

used to descibe the quality of people who are interested in and likely to respond well to multicultural content. referring to their affinity to the cultures they are interested in. based on affinity, not ethnicity.

According to my Facebook categories, I have African-American multicultural affinities.

They also say I’m “very liberal” …I wonder what gives them that idea?

The reason I came about this discovery was an article about Facebook ads targeting your political affiliation:

How to Change Facebook Ads Privacy Settings Targeting Your Politics – Thrillist

Unless you’ve managed to avoid your Facebook feed for the last year and half, no doubt you’ve learned a whole lot more about your friends’ and family’s political views than you ever cared to. And even if you’ve personally made a conscious effort to stay neutral or discreet about your leanings in the midst of the madness, the reality is that Facebook has a pretty good idea of your political preferences anyway.

That’s because included amongst the hordes of data Zuckerberg and Co. are constantly collecting about you in order to better serve up ads is an inference about how liberal, moderate, or conservative you might be. Here’s how to find out what you’ve been categorized as, and how to change it.

What I find interesting…is that on that political front, facebook does not have any sample ads for my “very liberal” political leanings:

 

But what is really funny….is that they have samples of ads for my African-American “multicultural affinity”:

 

Hmmmm, credit problems and burner phones? Okay….

But what is interesting is that Facebook has me “categorized” as a US soccer kind of person…not one who has an American Football affinity:

Damn, no sample ads for that either….but keep that tidbit of info handy because we will come back to it shortly.

Why does all this shit matter you may say?

New Facebook Multicultural Affinity Targeting: More Granular Segmenting Options for Brands – PerformicsPerformics

(Date on this link is from 12/2015)

The 2010 U.S. Census reported that Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans make up one-third of the U.S. population, and that number is growing rapidly. Reaching and personalizing to these audiences is an essential part of any brand’s marketing strategy. As such, Facebook recognized a need for more multicultural targeting across Facebook and Instagram.

According to Facebook, Multicultural Affinity is “the quality of people who are interested in and likely to respond well to multicultural content.” This new targeting solution enables advertisers to more effectively reach and engage people of varying traditions, beliefs, aesthetics, languages and musical tastes. The targeting is based on affinity, not ethnicity. Affinity can be described as “a relationship, like a marriage, as a natural liking, and as a similarity of characteristics.” This means that ads can be targeted to people with multicultural interests.

Three audiences have been broken out in Multicultural Affinity: Hispanic, African American and Asian American affinities:

You can go to the link to read about the three audiences, the point to this should be highlighted here, cough…cough:

This targeting is very concentrated and it may not be the best solution for every advertiser or every campaign. To drive the best results, this targeting should only be used with a specific goal to reach a specific audience. Conduct a test to see how Multicultural Affinity targeting performs against existing targeting to determine its effectiveness.

However when you look more into the real reason for the breakdown, you can see what the real target is used for:

Facebook Lets Advertisers Exclude Users by Race — ProPublica

Oh, look at the date on this, Oct. 28th, 2016

Facebook’s system allows advertisers to exclude black, Hispanic, and other “ethnic affinities” from seeing ads.

Imagine if, during the Jim Crow era, a newspaper offered advertisers the option of placing ads only in copies that went to white readers.

That’s basically what Facebook is doing nowadays.

The ubiquitous social network not only allows advertisers to target users by their interests or background, it also gives advertisers the ability to exclude specific groups it calls “Ethnic Affinities.” Ads that exclude people based on race, gender and other sensitive factors are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment.

You can see the actual name of this feature was called “Ethnic Affinity”:

The ad we purchased was targeted to Facebook members who were house hunting and excluded anyone with an “affinity” for African-American, Asian-American or Hispanic people. (Here’s the ad itself.)

When we showed Facebook’s racial exclusion options to a prominent civil rights lawyer John Relman, he gasped and said, “This is horrifying. This is massively illegal. This is about as blatant a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act as one can find.”

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 makes it illegal “to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” Violators can face tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits the “printing or publication of notices or advertisements indicating prohibited preference, limitation, specification or discrimination” in employment recruitment.

Facebook’s business model is based on allowing advertisers to target specific groups — or, apparently to exclude specific groups — using huge reams of personal data the company has collected about its users. Facebook’s microtargeting is particularly helpful for advertisers looking to reach niche audiences, such as swing-state voters concerned about climate change. ProPublica recently offered a tool allowing users to see how Facebook is categorizing them. We found nearly 50,000 unique categories in which Facebook places its users.

Oh boy…go and read the whole thing, and then see the follow-up here:

Facebook (Still) Letting Housing Advertisers Exclude… — ProPublica

Yeah, the date here is Nov. 21st, 2017

After ProPublica revealed last year that Facebook advertisers could target housing ads to whites only, the company announced it had built a system to spot and reject discriminatory ads. We retested and found major omissions.

In February, Facebook said it would step up enforcementof its prohibition against discrimination in advertising for housing, employment or credit.

But our tests showed a significant lapse in the company’s monitoring of the rental market.

Last week, ProPublica bought dozens of rental housing ads on Facebook, but asked that they not be shown to certain categories of users, such as African Americansmothers of high school kids,people interested in wheelchair rampsJewsexpats from Argentina and Spanish speakers.

All of these groups are protected under the federal Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal to publish any advertisement “with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” Violators can face tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

Every single ad was approved within minutes.

The only ad that took longer than three minutes to be approved by Facebook sought to exclude potential renters “interested in Islam, Sunni Islam and Shia Islam.” It was approved after 22 minutes.

Under its own policies, Facebook should have flagged these ads, and prevented the posting of some of them. Its failure to do so revives questions about whether the company is in compliance with federal fair housing rules, as well as about its ability and commitment to police discriminatory advertising on the world’s largest social network.

Damn…that is surprising…ain’t it? (Snark is heavily insinuated here.)

Based on Facebook’s announcement, the ads purchased by ProPublica that were aimed at racial categories should have been rejected. The others should have prompted a screen to pop up asking for self-certification. We never encountered a self-certification screen, and none of our ads were rejected by Facebook.

“This was a failure in our enforcement and we’re disappointed that we fell short of our commitments,” Ami Vora, vice president of product management at Facebook, said in an emailed statement. “The rental housing ads purchased by ProPublica should have but did not trigger the extra review and certifications we put in place due to a technical failure.”

Vora added that Facebook’s anti-discrimination system had “successfully flagged millions of ads” in the credit, employment and housing categories and that Facebook will now begin requiring self-certification for ads in all categories that choose to exclude an audience segment. “Our systems continue to improve but we can do better,” Vora said.

About 37 percent of U.S. households rented in 2016, representing a 50-year high, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. On average, renters earn about half as much as homeowners, and the percentage of families with children that rent rather than buy has increased sharply in the past decade, the study said. Minority renters have long faced pervasive housing discrimination. A 2013 study by HUD found that real estate agents show more units to whites than to African Americans, Asians and Latinos.

Gee…innit that the three categories of multicultural affinity?

Facebook has been under fire for other aspects of its automated ad buying system as well. Two months ago, the company disclosed that it had discovered $100,000 worth of divisive political ads placed by “inauthentic” Russian accounts. And in September, ProPublica reported that Facebook’s ad targeting system allowed buyers to reach people who identified themselves as “Jew haters” and other anti-Semitic categories. Facebook pledged to remove the offending categories and to hire thousands more employees to enforce its ad policies.

“We’re adding additional layers of review where people use potentially sensitive categories for targeting,” Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch said during Senate testimony earlier this month.

After Stretch’s public statement, we wondered whether the ability to buy discriminatory housing ads had really been addressed. So we set out to buy an advertisement with the exact same targeting parameters as the ad we bought last year. The ad promoted a fictional apartment for rent and was targeted at people living in New York, ages 18–65, who were house hunting and likely to move. We asked Facebook not to show the ad to people categorized under the “multicultural affinity” of Hispanic, African American or Asian American.

(ProPublica generally forbids impersonation in news gathering. We felt in this instance that the public interest in Facebook’s ad system justified the brief posting of a fake ad for non-existent housing. We deleted each ad as soon as it was approved.)

The only changes from last year that we could identify in Facebook’s ad buying system was that the category called “Ethnic Affinity” had been renamed “Multicultural Affinity” and was no longer part of “Demographics.” It is now designated as part of “Behaviors.”

 

Go…yeah, go and see the actual screenshots of the ad placements. Remember that thing I mentioned up top about the soccer affinity?

Then we decided to test whether we could purchase housing ads that discriminated against other protected categories of people under the Fair Housing Act.

We placed ads that sought to exclude members of as many of the protected categories as we could find in Facebook’s self-service advertising portal. In addition to those mentioned above, we bought ads that were blocked from being shown to “soccer moms,” people interested in American sign languagegay menand Christians.

 

Just read the rest of the thread at the link, but wait there is more:

According to ProPublica, Facebook to Temporarily Block Advertisers From Excluding… — ProPublica

Uh…the date on this is Nov. 29th, 2017

The social network’s actions come after a ProPublica investigation revealed that Facebook failed to keep its promise to reject discriminatory housing ads.

Facebook said it would temporarily stop advertisers from being able to exclude viewers by race while it studies the use of its ad targeting system.

“Until we can better ensure that our tools will not be used inappropriately, we are disabling the option that permits advertisers to exclude multicultural affinity segments from the audience for their ads,” Facebook Sheryl Sandberg wrote in a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus.

ProPublica disclosed last week that Facebook was still allowing advertisers to buy housing ads that excluded audiences by race, despite its promises earlier this year to reject such ads. ProPublica also found that Facebook was not asking housing advertisers that blocked other sensitive audience categories — by religion, gender, or disability — to “self-certify” that their ads were compliant with anti-discrimination laws.

[…]

In her letter, Sandberg said the company will examine how advertisers are using its exclusion tool — “focusing particularly on potentially sensitive segments” such as ads that exclude LGBTQ communities or people with disabilities. “During this review, no advertisers will be able to create ads that exclude multicultural affinity groups,” Facebook Vice President Rob Goldman said in an emailed statement.

Goldman said the results of the audit would be shared with “groups focused on discrimination in ads,” and that Facebook would work with them to identify further improvements and publish the steps it will take.

Here are a few other articles on the matter:

Facebook disabling “multicultural affinity” group advertising tool – Axios

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said in a letter today to Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond that it is disabling a tool that allows advertisers to exclude “multicultural affinity” segments from their audiences. She also declared that Facebook is “determined to do better” on multicultural marketing.

Why it matters: Rep. Robin Kelly said in a press release earlier this month that Facebook’s “Ethnic Affinity” advertising option makes Facebook “complicit in promoting restrictive housing practices.” Sandberg said in her letter that Facebook would strengthen policies to prohibit discriminatory advertising, and that until Facebook can “better ensure that our tools will not be used inappropriately,” the tool is being disabled.

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  • The “multicultural affinity” groups are groups of people “whose activities on Facebook suggest they may be interested in ads related to the African American, Hispanic American, or Asian American communities,” per Sandberg’s letter.
  • Rep. Kelly calledFacebook’s decision “a positive step forward,” and said she will “continue watching the issue closely.”
  • Rob Goldman, Vice President, Ads Growth & Solutions, said in a statement: “People, businesses and organizations around the world use Facebook to advertise. It’s important we make sure they use our tools responsibly. And a key part of this is working to stop ads that discriminate against people. We have guidelines to prevent this and other types of abuse, and we’ve strengthened how we enforce those guidelines over the years. We’ve also made mistakes and learned from them. ProPublica recently found that safeguards we put in place earlier this year were not as comprehensive as they should have been. This was a failure in our enforcement. We must do better.”

Facebook suspends ability to target ads by excluding racial groups | Article [AMP] | Reuters

Sandberg said in the letter that advertisers who use Facebook’s targeting options to include certain races for ads about housing, employment or credit will have to certify to Facebook that they are complying with Facebook’s anti-discrimination policy and with applicable law.

Sandberg defended race- and culture-based marketing in general, saying it was a common and legitimate practice in the ad industry to try to reach specific communities.

I take it, those ads for burner phones and credit problems are legitimate practices…reaching a specific community…the multicultural African-American affinity community.

Alright…now for the fucking funnies!

 

 

By the way…if Mueller is fired…protest marches are already planned. To find the closest one in your area, text Mueller to Resistbot at 50409…the location of the nearest immediate protest march will appear with all pertinent information.

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Filth are my politics, filth is my life! 🇺🇸🗑 #divine #divineforpresident #trump #filtharemypolitics #stateoftheunion #babsjohnson #johnwaters #pinkflamingos

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And now the cartoons:

 

 

 

And that’s all folks!

This is an open thread…


State of the Union Live Blog

SOTU-Bingo-2014-1Tonight we’re watching the State of the Union address to see exactly what the last two years of the Obama presidency may bring.  It will be a tough few years given the group that was sent to Congress last fall.  We’re about to see a bunch of whackadoodle dandies go wild.  There are several rumors up on the internet concerning possible executive orders that will be announced to tonight.  Here is one of the more interesting ones.

It is being reported that one of President Obama’s surprises at the State Of The Union will be an announcement of an executive order that will take on the Koch Brothers and Citizens United.

Eleanor Clift of The Daily Beast reported:

Wednesday is the fifth anniversary of Citizens United, and reformers have been told that the president may announce executive action in his SOTU speech that would require businesses contracting with the government to disclose political contributions after contracts have been awarded. This would ensure that the contracting process is blind, but also give the public (and the media) the information needed to connect the dots to look for backroom deals or conflicts of interest.

Guess who happens to have multi-million dollar contracts with the Department of Defense? The federal government hatingKoch Brothers have tens of millions of dollars in defense contracts with the federal government. Rush Limbaugh also has a federal government contract that allows his showto be broadcast on the American Forces Network.

It is possible that the president will announce this executive order tonight, but he may also decide to wait and make a separate announcement. When/if the president does decide to make this announcement it will be a huge boost to transparency. The Koch brothers have a web of secret organizations that they route their money through, so most of their campaign spending will remain a secret, but it will become a bit easier to connect the dots and figure how much direct influence campaign donations are having on public policy decisions.

Ron Fournier of the National Journal  suggests we just the President’s agenda with this set of criteria.  Progress or Politics?

Republicans just seized control of Congress. President Obama’s job-approval ratings just jumped. Gas prices and the unemployment rate are down. The gross domestic product is up. Now what? Democratic and Republican leaders face a choice: Begin governing together, or treat this moment like just another stop on a perpetual campaign.

Unfortunately, both the White House and the GOP-led Congress seem focused prematurely on 2016. Republicans are sending to the White House legislation they know Obama will veto. The president is pushing an agenda he knows Congress won’t pass. It’s a recipe for more gridlock, more fighting, more courting of donors and ignoring the needs of a country in transition.

In other words: The state of the union is the status quo.

If you’re OK with that, stop reading. If you’d rather see progress than partisan gains, consider this: The State of the Union address is an opportunity for the president to chart a path toward consensus on issues like jobs, social mobility, education, infrastructure, energy, the debt, the environment, and terrorism.

Is Obama more interested in politics or progress? Here are five ways to tell from his address tonight.

SOTU 1Will Obama be effective?

Isn’t Obama a lame duck? After all, this speech comes after Republicans won control of both chambers for the first time this presidency. Here’s a trivia question: When was the last time a President gave his seventh year State of the Union to a Congress that wasn’t controlled by the other party? Answer: Franklin Roosevelt in 1939. Every other two termer had lost control of Congress by the last lap of his presidency. They all faced a steeper political terrain than Obama does. Dwight Eisenhower faced Cold War setbacks. Ronald Reagan spoke in 1987 right after the Iran-Contra scandal broke, and he had to lead the speech with a discussion and apology. Bill Clinton was in the middle of his Senate impeachment trial in 1999. And George W. Bush spoke at a time when we were losing in Iraq. He faced withering controversy over the “surge” of troops, which proved a good policy, but made for a challenging speech environment. Some of them had productive last two years; some didn’t. But there is much room for a creative president and Congress to achieve things, even by fighting.

For President Obama, the new party balance offers some unexpected benefits. In recent years, Congress has been paralyzed, polarized, and entirely dysfunctional. Now conservatives control it, but at least it might actually pass legislation. Obama suddenly will be more central, more relevant than he has been in domestic politics over the past year. His veto pen will be all that stands between the Republican agenda and enactment. He can draw lines, pick fights, or choose cooperation. In so doing, too, he will have the ability to make broad public arguments in the context of a real debate—on the economy, on the role of government, on contentious long-term issues such as climate change.

How can the President use this diminished but still potent platform?

So, grab the popcorn and let’s see if this year’s hostile audience pulls any big tricks.130212-sotu-bingo

President Obama is courting controversy with his decision to address a group that has become dominated in recent years by extremists.

Some have questioned the appropriateness of the President speaking to such an extremist group, especially because in the past it has issued threats against the United States government.

The SOTU will be streaming at CSPAN and on the White House Website if you want to avoid the District Puppetry errrrr Punditry.

 


MLK Holiday Reads

mlk-drawings-children-300x200Good Morning!

It’s our holiday to celebrate the contributions of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King!  No holiday celebration is complete without drawings by grade school children!!

President Obama will give his SOTU address tomorrow and will call for raising taxes on the wealthy to provide tax cuts for the middle class.   This is an interesting strategy and I’m sure the Republicans are planning on screaming “class war” for the next few days.

President Obama will use his State of the Union address to call on Congress to raise taxes and fees on the wealthiest taxpayers and the largest financial firms to finance an array of tax cuts for the middle class, pressing to reshape the tax code to help working families, administration officials said on Saturday.

The proposal faces long odds in the Republican-controlled Congress, led by lawmakers who have long opposed raising taxes and who argue that doing so would hamper economic growth at a time the country cannot afford it. And it was quickly dismissed by leading Republicans as a nonstarter.

But the decision to present the plan during Tuesday’s speech marks the start of a debate over taxes and the economy that will shape both Mr. Obama’s legacy and the 2016 presidential campaign.

It is also the latest indication that the president, untethered from political constraints after Democratic losses in the midterm elections, is moving aggressively to set the terms of that discussion, even as he pushes audacious moves in other areas, like immigration and relations with Cuba.

The president’s plan would raise $320 billion over the next decade, while adding new provisions cutting taxes by $175 billion over the same period. The revenue generated would also cover an initiative Mr. Obama announced this month, offering some students two years of tuition-free community college, which the White House has said would cost $60 billion over 10 years.

The centerpiece of the plan, described by administration officials on the condition of anonymity ahead of the president’s speech, would eliminate what Mr. Obama’s advisers call the “trust-fund loophole,” a provision governing inherited assets that shields hundreds of billions of dollars from taxation each year. The plan would also increase the top capital-gains tax rate, to 28 percent from 23.8 percent, for couples with incomes above $500,000 annually.

Those changes and a new fee on banks with assets over $50 billion would be used to finance a set of tax breaks for middle-income earners, including a $500 credit for families in which both spouses work; increased child care and education credits; and incentives to save for retirement.

The initiative signals a turnabout for Mr. Obama, who has spoken repeatedly about the potential for a deal with Republicans on business tax reform but little about individual taxation, an area fraught with disagreements.

“Slapping American small businesses, savers and investors with more tax hikes only negates the benefits of the tax policies that have been successful in helping to expand the economy, promote savings and create jobs,” said Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and chairman of the Finance Committee. “The president needs to stop listening to his liberal allies who want to raise taxes at all costs and start working with Congress to fix our broken tax code.”

Republicans have already referred to it as “trolling” given that they run both houses of the US Congress and will pass neither one.  This does, 6a00d8341cc08553ef010536e23afe970c-800wihowever, have very bad optics for them.  It puts them squarely in league with the uberwealthy.

“It’s not surprising to see the president call for tax hikes, but now he’s asking Congress to reverse bipartisan tax relief that he signed into law,” said Don Stewart, deputy chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Stewart said that “Republicans believe we should simplify America’s outdated tax code; that tax filing should be easier for you, not just those with fancy accountants; and that tax reform should create jobs for families, not the [Internal Revenue Service].”

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, also criticized the proposal.

“This is not a serious proposal,” said Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck in a public statement. “We lift families up and grow the economy with a simpler, flatter tax code, not big tax increases to pay for more Washington spending.”

937882789_34faf345d5Plan details include hitting big banks and inheritance taxes.  These suggestions really go at the types of tax cuts that incent gambling and increase financial wealth rather than industrial and business wealth that create jobs and economic growth.

During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Barack Obama will lay out a plan to extend tax credits to the middle class by hiking taxes on wealthier Americans and big banks, according to senior administration officials.

Under the plan, the capital gains tax for couples with income over $500,000 per year would be raised from its current level of 23.8 percent up to 28. The plan would also strip a tax break, known as a “step-up,” that allows heirs to avoid capital gains taxes on large inheritances.

In addition, the plan would institute a new tax on the biggest financial institutions, basing the fee on liabilities in order to discourage risky borrowing. The administration says the fee would hit the roughly 100 banks that have assets of $50 billion or more.

The president’s plan would use revenues from those tax code changes to finance credits aimed at the middle class, officials said. That includes extending the earned income tax credits to families without children, which would benefit an estimated 13 million low-income workers, while also tripling the maximum tax credits for child care in low- and middle-income homes.

“This proposal is probably the most impactful way we can address the manifest unfairness in our tax system,” an administration official said.

The tax hikes on capital gains would run into heavy opposition from Republicans in the GOP-controlled Congress. Other elements of the president’s plan, however, have enjoyed some degree of bipartisan support. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has proposed a similar tax on big banks, and many Republicans favor the idea of broadening the earned income tax credit.

According to officials, the capital gains tax reforms would impact “almost exclusively” the top 1 percent of earners, carving out the majority of middle-income families from the hikes.

scan0002[17]Here’s an essential  outline for the items up for revision in the President’s plan. Is it his Piketty moment?  This one is my personal favorite but they’re all good.

Raise the top capital gains tax rate from 23.8 to 28 percent. This is straightforward enough. Money you get from investments is taxed less than money you get from, you know, actually working, and while that might be good for the economy, it’s not good for a basic sense of fairness. Not when the top 400 households are getting 16 percent of all capital gains, and the top 0.1 percent are getting half of them. That’s why, as theCongressional Budget Office (CBO) dryly puts it, “preferential tax rates on dividends and capital gains provide almost no benefit to households in the bottom four quintiles, but provide notable benefits to households in the top quintile”.

So Obama wants to push the top capital gains tax rate, which only applies to couples making more than $500,000, up from its current level of 23.8 percent to 28 percent, where it was when Ronald Reagan left office. In all, the White House calculates that increasing the capital gains tax and getting rid of step-up basis would raise 99 percent of its money from the top 1 percent, with 80 percent of that coming from the top 0.1 percent.

This is one of the items that has really drawn money out of doing business and into stock market gambling.  Why work when you can day trade your life into a lower tax bracket as a wealthy person?

Here’s a few political things sure to give you some fits and giggles.  Lady Lindsey is said to be considering a run at the Presidency. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham acknowledged on Sunday he’s seriously exploring a bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” if he had started polling voters about his chances in 2016, Graham said he is not polling, “but we set up a testing-the-waters committee under the IRS code that will allow me to look beyond South Carolina as to whether or not a guy like Lindsey Graham has a viable path.”

“I don’t know where this will go, but I’m definitely going to look at it,” said Graham, the senior senator from South Carolina.

Another Tiger Beat on the Potomac exclusive says that Sarah Palin is the only Republican with less popularity than Chris Christie.MLK picture_thumb[1]

A new CBS poll shows 29 percent of Republicans would like to see Christie run for the Republican nomination for president. But 44 percent say no. CBS points out “Only former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s numbers are more underwater: 30 percent of Republicans say they’d like to see her run, but 59 percent disagree.”

Fifty-nine percent of Republicans would like to see Mitt Romney jump into the 2016 race, while 26 percent believe he should stay out.

“Fifty percent of Republicans would like to see former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on the campaign trail as well, while 27 percent disagree,” pollsters said. “If both Romney and Bush run, analysts expect them to wage a competitive battle for the allegiance of the Republican establishment.”

Numbers for some of the others often mentioned:

– Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: 40 percent of Republicans urge him to get in, and 29 percent say stay out.

– “Twenty-seven percent of Republicans would like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul to mount a bid, but 34 percent disagree. Twenty-six percent would like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to run, while 19 percent would not. Twenty-one percent want Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to run, while 25 percent want him to not run.”

– Gov. Rick Perry of Texas: 21 percent yes, 29 percent no.

– Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana: 14 percent yes, 20 percent no.

– Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin:  22 percent yes, 12 percent no.

Maybe winning isn’t everything after all. “Republicans, by a 61 to 35 percent margin, believe it’s more important to have a nominee who agrees with them on the issues than a nominee who can win the general election,” according to the poll.

Eeeshhh.

Well, that’s it for today!  We’ll see you with a live blog for the SOTU tomorrow!! Have a great holiday!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: Leon sells cartoon balloons in town…

Intellicast – Current Radar in United States

Okay, so the storm is not called “Levon” but “Leon.”

It’s just that I had substituted the name Leon in that Elton John song as it “played” in my head, all day long yesterday…

Uh, Good morning!

Find the latest on the weather system the weather channel is calling Leon:

Winter Storm Leon Forecast: Major Snow, Ice From Gulf Coast to Georgia, Carolinas, Virginia – weather.com

Winter Storm Leon: 12 Inches of Snow?

Winter Storm Leon: Live Updates on Southern Snow, Ice Storm – weather.com

This storm is kicking the South’s ass…But this is no laughing matter: State troopers headed to schools where students, teachers are… | www.ajc.com

Shortly before midnight, about 50 students were still aboard Atlanta Public School buses, a spokeswoman for the district said. In DeKalb County, at least 20 vehicles were involved in a pileup on U.S. 78 eastbound, past Hugh Howell Road. All lanes were blocked around 1 a.m. Wednesday.

These kids are stuck in buses, some are stuck overnight in schools: State troopers to help with security at schools where stranded kids are spending the night | AccessNorthGa

Gov. Nathan Deal says state troopers are being sent to schools where students are stranded because they could not make it home on clogged roads caused by Tuesday’s snowstorm.

The governor spoke at a news conference at he State Capitol late Tuesday night.

Deal also said that state and local officials will try to rescue those stranded along highways that are at a standstill. Normal 30-minute commutes have turned into hourslong odysseys for thousands.

A winter storm that would probably be no big deal in the North all but paralyzed the Deep South, bringing snow, ice and teeth-chattering cold, with temperatures in the teens in some places.

Gridlock continues as unspeakably horrible commute home… | www.ajc.com

The winter storm has mostly moved into the Carolinas, but metro Atlanta traffic remained gridlocked at 4 a.m. Wednesday as Tuesday’s afternoon rush hour from hell stretched into hour 16.

Traffic was still bumper-to-bumper and barely moving on several Atlanta interstates, including on I-75 north of downtown, on I-20 west of downtown and on the top-end Perimeter.

Imagine those people stuck on the road without medicine…and running out of gas.

There were warnings…I don’t understand why the schools did not close or plan for a delayed opening. My kids almost did not make it home from the bus themselves, the snow hit so fast and hard. We could not believe how close the school board cut it this time. It really amazes me how many people got caught up in this mess.

In Atlanta, the gridlock was so bad, a baby girl was delivered alongside Interstate 285, said Capt. Steve Rose, a spokesman for Sandy Springs police in suburban north Atlanta. He said an officer made it to the mother and her husband in time to help with the delivery, which he described as “flawless.” There were no complications and the family was taken to a hospital.

That is something, eh?

Yesterday was the SOTU: Full text: State of the Union | Al Jazeera America

President Obama’s 2014 address was his fifth in office. Read the entire transcript here, all 6,777 words

What does it mean if I did not watch the speech live, nor did I watch a taped version, I haven’t read any commentary or summaries, and the thought of reading all those 6,777 words makes me want to throw up everything I ate this evening.  Even the possibility of nodding off during the speech was nothing to look forward to…

SOTU cheat sheet: Everything you missed

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sits among the other justices during President Obama's address.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sits among the other justices during President Obama’s address.  Win McNamee, Getty Images

• Did Justice Ginsberg fall asleep? Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 80, was trending during Obama’s speech, with viewers speculating that she had fallen asleep, or at least was in full head-bob mode. We may never know for sure if it was a slump or a nap.

It would not be the first time she nodded off…But WTF is this all about?

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., left, and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., share a sign as they take their seats for the president's speech.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., left, and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., share a sign as they take their seats for the president’s speech.  Charles Dharapak, AP

You know, that is pretty close to the sign for vagina (when I took ASL in college…from what I remember) could it be code for an anti-woman PLUB agenda? Or is it some little “I heart pussy” thing? Perhaps they were making reference to this:

The State of the Uterus (video)

To whet your State of the Union pallate, I give you: “The State of the Uterus.”

state-of-the-uterus

The State of the Uterus is a fun new video – it literally just went live – about a serious issue, women’s rights in America.

Here’s a portion of their press release:

We all know the State of the Union is strong, but what about the State of the Uterus? On this most ceremonial of days in the nation’s capital, a uterus is taking up that question and will deliver a live address moments after President Obama’s Speech and the Republican Party responds.

“Madam Uterus” (UTOUS) for so she shall be addressed — will talk at length about the state of the uterus, and the vagina, in a country where state legislatures have variously deemed that women are pregnant before they are pregnant, have magical powers to deactivate rape sperm, and must be forced to carry stillborn babies to term.

“The state of our uterus is in the hands of so many,” Madam Uterus will say, according to the text of her prepared remarks. “As the old saying goes, behind every successful uterus is a man calling her a whore while cutting her pay.”

So here are a few links on the SOTU speech:

Dak, Boston Boomer and others live blogged it here…and here.

State of the Union by Political Cartoonist Bruce Plante

143671 600 State of the Union cartoons

SOTU POTPOURRI | Gin and Tacos

The best of the worst: Right-wing Twitter reacts to the State of the Union – Salon.com

We Got Your Back | BobCesca.com | News and Politics Blog and Podcast | We Cover the World

After the speech there was this: Rep. Grimm Threatens NY1 Reporter Following State of the Union – NY1

Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm physically threatened NY1 political reporter Michael Scotto at the conclusion of an interview in the Capitol Rotunda following Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

 Grimm’s threats came at the end of a brief interview in which he discussed the president’s speech, calling the address “divisive.”

Scotto then tried to ask the congressman about the ongoing federal investigation into his 2010 campaign fundraising:

Grimm told the reporter:

Grimm: “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I’ll throw you off this f—–g balcony.”

Scotto: “Why? I just wanted to ask you…”

[[cross talk]]

Grimm: “If you ever do that to me again…”

Scotto: “Why? Why? It’s a valid question.”

[[cross talk]]

Grimm: “No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”

Hmmm…taking some pointers from Christie? Or did he watch that movie A Few Good Men? Or perhaps he was listening Divine on his iPod during the speech:  You Think You’re A Man Lyrics – Divine

You will notice in the video…there are a lot of boys being tossed over balconies.

Digby had this nugget of news at her site: Hullabaloo

Iceland’s big problem: bringing 4% unemployment down to 2%

by digby

At one time there was a big debate about whether or not Iceland came out on top during our current depression, largely due to it’s hard core treatment of its banks. It was always pretty obvious that they made the smarter decision.  It looks even more obvious today:
Iceland let its banks fail in 2008 because they proved too big to save.

Now, the island is finding crisis-management decisions made half a decade ago have put it on a trajectory that’s turned 2 percent unemployment into a realistic goal.

While the euro area grapples with record joblessness, led by more than 25 percent in Greece and Spain, only about 4 percent of Iceland’s labor force is without work. Prime MinisterSigmundur D. Gunnlaugsson says even that’s too high.

“Politicians always have something to worry about,” the 38-year-old said in an interview last week. “We’d like to see unemployment going from where it’s now — around 4 percent — to under 2 percent, which may sound strange to most other western countries, but Icelanders aren’t accustomed to unemployment.”

It doesn’t sound strange to me, it sounds fucking awesome!

The island’s sudden economic meltdown in October 2008 made international headlines as a debt-fueled banking boom ended in a matter of weeks when funding markets froze. Policy makers overseeing the $14 billion economy refused to back the banks, which subsequently defaulted on $85 billion. The government’s decision to protect state finances left it with the means to continue social support programs that shielded Icelanders from penury during the worst financial crisis in six decades.

We, on the other hand are making nearly 7% official unemployment (along with many millions not even being counted) the new normal. And we’re slashing our meager safety net, even food assistance. But our megabanks are doing very well which is what matters.

Geez, I really want to move to Iceland…to hell with this country’s right-wing assholes who have taken over everything. I mean, how can we even be at the point where the dicks are actually debating this shit…

Texas GOP Lt. Gov. Candidates Agree: More Religion Needed in Science Class – Little Green Footballs

Submitted without comment other than to notice how several of the candidates refer to evolution in schools as being part of a “politically correct” conspiracy.
From left: Sen. Dan Patrick, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson
Texas GOP Lt. Gov. Candidates Agree: More Religion Needed in Science Class

Oh…can someone get me outta here? I can’t take it anymore!

This is all I can bring myself to write, y’all go ahead and give it up in the comments below.

Oh yeah…

Enjoy your day…


Lagniappe for All!

cartoon marco rubio vp gopThere was something for every one in the State of the Union Speech tonight.  Even the Republicans clapped and stood up for the idea of comprehensive immigration reform. But, what about raising the minimum wage or climate change or universal preschool?  Will they go for that?

We’ll find out shortly when Rubio and Paul rebut SOTU. It’s a Republican Grudge Match!!!

Republicans will offer not one, but two responses to the president’s speech. The first will come from Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who will aim to offer an alternative vision to Obama’s agenda. The second will come from tea party-favorite Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who will offer an alternative to the alternative. Confused? Welcome to the GOP.

Rubio, of course, is on the unofficial short list of presidential candidates for 2016. (Time magazine last week dubbed him the savior of his party.) The affable 41-year-old will represent what is presumably the mainstream wing of the fragmented GOP, which, as no shortage of pundits have pointed out, is suffering from a serious public-relations crisis. Rubio — young, charismatic, well-spoken — will aim to change America’s perception of the party on Tuesday evening, taking advantage of his time on the national stage. He will respond to the president’s stance on jobs, the federal debt, immigration and gun control, and his overall demeanor will depend largely on the type of ammunition given to him by Obama himself.

Obama Care!!  Climate Change!! Gun Control OH MY!!!!!!

“Mr. President, I still live in the same working class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren’t millionaires. They’re retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They’re workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills. They’re immigrants, who came here because they were stuck in poverty in countries where the government dominated the economy. The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families. It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs. And it will hurt seniors because it does nothing to save Medicare and Social Security. So Mr. President, I don’t oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors.”


Live Blogging SOTU

Tonight’s State of the Union address is Obama’s first of his second and last term in office.  Speculation is rampant about the focus and tone of theimages speech given the changes apparent in the inauguration address to the nation.  We’ve already seen that many of the invited guests tonight will victims of gun violence.  Another guest of FLOTUS will be the 102 year old woman who represents voting rights in America.   Ensuring the right to vote may be central a central them in tonight’s address to the nation.

President Barack Obama will announce a bipartisan presidential voting commission to focus on improving the Election Day experience, The Huffington Post has learned from two sources outside the White House with knowledge of the plans.

The commission is one of a number of efforts the Obama administration is making to address the problems that plagued voting on Election Day 2012. The commission, which will focus specifically on Election Day issues and not broader voting reform, will likely be co-chaired by one Republican and one Democratic lawyer, according to one of the sources.

The White House announced Tuesday that 102-year-old Miami resident Desiline Victor will be a guest of first lady Michelle Obama during the president’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night, during which Obama is expected to discuss voting reforms. Victor is a naturalized U.S. citizen who stood in line for three hours at a local library on the first Sunday of early voting until workers told her to come back later that evening. A crowd of thousands of people erupted in applause when she emerged with an “I Voted” sticker, the White House said.

The FLOTUS guest list may hint at other themes. It includes many women including soliders, pay discrimination activists, and teachers. It also includes scientists.

  • Dr. Jill Biden
  • Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President
  • Sergeant Sheena Adams (Vista, CA) – Team Advisor & Lead Instructor, Female Engagement Team
  • Alan Aleman (Las Vegas, NV) – DREAM Student
  • Jack Andraka (Crownsville, MD) – Winner of the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
  • Susan Bumgarner (Norman, OK) – Early Childhood Educator
  • Deb Carey (New Glarus, WI) – Small Business Owner, New Glarus Brewing Company
  • Sergeant Carlos Evans, USMC (Cameron, NC) – Wounded Warrior
  • Tim Cook (Cupertino, CA) – CEO of Apple
  • Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel A. Pendleton Sr. (Chicago, IL)
  • Menchu de Luna Sanchez (Secaucus, NJ) – Registered Nurse, NYU Langone Medical Center
  • Bobak Ferdowsi (Pasadena, CA) – Flight Director, Mars Curiosity Rover
  • Bradley Henning (Louisville, KY) – Machinist, Atlas Machine and Supply
  • Tracey Hepner (Arlington, VA) – Co-Founder, Military Partners and Families Coalition
  • Peter Hudson (Evergreen, CO) – Co-Founder and CEO, iTriage
  • Governor John Kitzhaber (D-OR)
  • Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers (Avondale, AZ)
  • Amanda E. McMillan (Jackson, MS) – Pay Discrimination Victim
  • Lee Maxwell (Wilton, IA) – Graduate, Kirkwood Community College Wind Technician Program
  • Lieutenant Brian Murphy (Oak Creek, WI)
  • Lisa Richards (Arlington, VA) – #My2K Participant
  • Kaitlin Roig (Greenwich, CT) – 1st Grade Teacher, Sandy Hook Elementary School
  • Abby Schanfield (Minneapolis, MN) – ACA Beneficiary
  • Haile Thomas (Tucson, AZ) – Let’s Move! Champion
  • Desiline Victor (Miami, FL)

nugent bubbleDraft dodger and confessed pedophile gun nut Ted Nugent is coming as a guest of nutty Texas Rep Steve Stockman.  The Nuge is well known for threatening the president and calling women leaders misogynistic slurs.

NUGENT: I was in Chicago last week. I was in Chicago and said, “Hey, Obama you might want to suck on one of these you punk.” Obama, he’s a piece of shit, and I told him to suck on my machine gun. Let’s hear it for him. And then I was in New York. I said, “Hey, Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch. Since I’m in California, how about [Senator] Barbara Boxer [D-CA], she might want to suck on my machine gun. And [Senator] Dianne Feinstein [D-CA], ride one of these you worthless whore. Any questions? [Ted Nugent via LiveLeak.com, accessed 10/1/12]

Our hope is that some one will come to their senses and disinvite him.  You’ll probably see him surrounded by the Capitol Police and the Secret Service.  Here’s hoping he’s ignored by the press.

An enhanced version of the SOTU is available from the White House and will include stats and charts.  The channel is on now with a lot of interesting historical background on the address, on previous presidents, and on the event itself.  There’s also a chance to get on a mail list plus an after speech chat with a group of white house policy experts.  You should look at it just because it’s really interesting and has some interesting background on the speech writing process too.

So, the speech starts tonight and can also be watched at the C-SPAN site.

Tonight, C-SPAN brings you President Obama’s fourth State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress. Our coverage begins at 8pm ET with comments from Frank Newport of Gallup and reporters from National Review and Huffington Post.

At 9pm ET, C-SPAN & C-SPAN Radio broadcast President Obama’s address and the GOP response from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). (Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at 10pm, C-SPAN.org). Then, viewer reactions via calls, Twitter & Facebook.

This post kicks off the first part of our live blogging sessions.  Please join us through out the night!