Sunday, April 25, 2010

History In Quotation Marks

“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” –Plato
“It is hard NOT to write satire.” - Juvenal Roman satirist (55-127 A.D.)
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”

“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them. - Thomas Jefferson
“Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.” – John Stuart Mill
"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." - Mahatma Gandhi
“We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace - business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.” Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1936

"...Out of this modern civilization, economic royalists [have] carved new dynasties.... It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction.... And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man...."

"These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power."

"Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power!"

"In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for." Franklin D. Roosevelt 1936
"The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life." - Adolph Hitler "My New World Order" - Proclamation to the German Nation, Berlin, February 1, 1933

“What good fortune for those in power that people do not think.” – Adolph Hitler
"Naturally the common people don't want war...but after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country." -Hermann Goring
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over,”

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” - Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda for Nazi Germany1897-1945
“Republicans take care of big money, for big money takes care of them.” - Will Rogers
“America's health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.” - Walter Cronkite
“The rule of law does not do away with the unequal distribution of wealth and power, but reinforces that inequality with the authority of law. It allocates wealth and poverty in such calculated and indirect ways as to leave the victim bewildered.” – Howard Zinn

“We need new ways of thinking. We need to rethink our position in the world. We need to stop sending weapons to countries that oppress other people. We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children. War is terrorism, magnified a hundred times.” - Howard Zinn
“The modern conservative is engaged in one of mankind’s oldest pursuits; finding a moral justification for greed.” - John Kenneth Galbraith
"I took an oath to the president, and I take that oath very seriously." White House political director Sara Taylor to the Senate Judiciary Committee (Under Oath) 7-11-07
“I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace.” - George W. Bush
"War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." – George Orwell, 1984
“How is it possible that “the world’s only superpower” is threatened by the likes of Iraq and Afghanistan? How can the US be a superpower if it is threatened by countries that have no military capability other than a guerilla capability to resist invaders? These “wars” are a hoax designed to enrich the US armaments industry and to infuse the “security forces” with police powers over American citizenry." - Who Rules America? - Paul Craig Roberts May 13, 2009

"Anyone who depends on print, TV, or right-wing talk radio media is totally misinformed. The Bush administration has achieved a de facto Ministry of Propaganda."

"The uniformity of the US media has become much more complete since the days of the cold war. During the 1990s, the US government permitted an unconscionable concentration of print and broadcast media that terminated the independence of the media. Today the US media is owned by 5 giant companies in which pro-Zionist Jews have disproportionate influence. More importantly, the values of the conglomerates reside in the broadcast licenses, which are granted by the government, and the corporations are run by corporate executives—not by journalists—whose eyes are on advertising revenues and the avoidance of controversy that might produce boycotts or upset advertisers and subscribers. Americans who rely on the totally corrupt corporate media have no idea what is happening anywhere on earth, much less at home."

"The American economic elite is hiding its treason to the American people behind "free trade." - Paul Craig Roberts, former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury (2/19/09)
“Most of all, I believe in this president. (Speaking to GWB) Now, I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias." - Stephen Colbert - 2006

“America has changed a lot in these four years. Back then questioning the president made you a traitor. Today it makes you a patriot.” – Stephen Colbert - 2009
"The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil."

"I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy"

"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." — Albert Einstein
From the New York Times/CBS News Tea Party poll: (April 2010)

“I just feel he’s getting away from what America is,” said Kathy Mayhugh, 67, a retired medical transcriber in Jacksonville. “He’s a socialist. And to tell you the truth, I think he’s a Muslim and trying to head us in that direction, I don’t care what he says. He’s been in office over a year and can’t find a church to go to. That doesn’t say much for him.”
“The question has been raised about whether or not our president is a socialist. I am sure there are some people here who believe it. But in the technical sense, in the economic definition of what a socialist is, no, he’s not a socialist. He’s a corporatist. And unfortunately we have corporatists inside the Republican Party and that means you take care of corporations and corporations take over and run the country.We see it in the financial institutions, we see it in the military-industrial complex, and now we see it in the medical-industrial complex.” Ron Paul , At the Southern Republican Leadership Conference
New York Times/CBS News Tea Party poll: (April 2010)

“That’s a conundrum, isn’t it?” asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. “I don’t know what to say. Maybe I don’t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.” She added, “I didn’t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I’ve changed my mind.”

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19th

Ah, April 19th. As we know, this is the anniversary of the beginning of the American Revolution. More relevant to these times, though, it is the anniversary of the Waco tragedy and by extension, the Oklahoma bombing by an American right wing terrorist.

I had a feeling we’d see some nuts coming out of the woodwork today. I wasn’t disappointed. As you may know, I am a supporter of our Second Amendment rights. And I support the rest of the Bill of Rights as well. But leave it to the Second Amendment to bring out the crazy in people.

There was Chris Matthews interviewing a couple guys from the pro-gun rallies in and near Washington DC. One of them was from Michigan and the other was Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America. Matthews was doing his usual schtick, trying to get the guys to define the right to bear arms as the right to carry a bazooka.

Then he asked them if Obama is a legal citizen and lawfully elected president. I give the Michigan guy credit for saying “Obama is my president.” Larry on the other hand, refused to answer the question and began spouting all the usual radical right buzz-words and talking points. In rapid sequence we heard "Alinsky”, “socialist", “hates America” and the usual Limbaugh claptrap. Pratt then accused Matthews of being a socialist, of course.

Now there may be several descriptive words on my list of what I would call Chris Matthews, but I have to say socialist is not on it.

Then it got interesting. Matthews asked Pratt about George W. Bush and his support for TARP and the auto bailouts. He asked, “Is Bush a socialist?” Pratt said, “Yes, he is.”

Well, there you go. We see the perfect example of reductio ad absurdum in the radical right mind.

So if Obama the corporatist is called a socialist, and George Bush the corporatist is called a socialist, why should anyone complain when they are accused of being a socialist by theses idiots?
They really don’t know what the hell they are talking about.

Their argument has been reduced to the absurd.


We mustn't let this post stand without adding a few more choice bits of special April 19th Reich Wing absurdities.

As much as the Tea Baggers/gun nuts want us to believe they are not extremists, their hatred and anger is obvious in both the signs they carry and the words they speak.

Rep. Paul Broun (R) Georgia : "Fellow patriots, we have a lot of domestic enemies of the Constitution and they are right down the Mall, in the Congress of the United States. And right down Independence Avenue in the White House, it belongs to us. It‘s not about my ability to hunt, which I love to do. It‘s not about the ability for me to protect my family and my property against criminals, which we have the right to do. But it‘s about—it‘s all about us protecting ourselves from a tyrannical government of the United States.”

Rush Limbaugh: "Let me ask President Clinton what words caused Timothy McVeigh to act? Name one. I want to know what words and who spoke them. All I‘ve ever heard is that Timothy McVeigh was outraged over the government invasion led by Janet Reno of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and the Murrah Building was blown up on that exact date two years later. McVeigh was inspired by anybody‘s words, he was inspired by Mr. Clinton‘s deeds."

And last, but not least, our special star wacko from this "April 19th" post.

Larry Pratt: "I look around. It is so good to see all these terrorists out here. Janet Napolitano, she figured as governor of Arizona that we didn‘t have a border problem. But she knows who the real enemy is.And Bill Clinton has been running cover for her, too. Watch out how you guys speak out there. You know, words can have consequences. Remember Oklahoma City? Yes, I do. And I also remember the Waco barbecue that your attorney general gave us. Thanks a lot. We‘re in a war. The other side knows they‘re at war because they started it. They‘re coming for our freedom, for our money, for our kids, for our property. They‘re coming for everything because they are a bunch of socialists.
I think we may have found the term to use for these dolts. Maybe we should call them McVeighniacs.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Conned-servatives' Socialist Menace

To most Teabaggers and other Reich Wing Republican American Conned-servatives, everyone who does not blindly believe radical right wing lying politicians like Cheney, McConnell, DeMint and Boehner, or radical right wing lying propagandists like Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity, are all Socialists. We unbelievers are also just as often accused of being Marxist, Stalinist or Communists as well. Obama, of course, is proclaimed to be the big Socialist/Marxist-in-Chief.

If anyone would ask one of those Ditto Heads, Fox Suckers or Beck-erheads what socialism actually is, or better yet, what the differences are between socialism and communism they wouldn’t have a clue. And why should they? They are true believers of the largest and most pervasive campaign of propaganda and indoctrination known to humanity. They cannot see a system of corporate media uncritically “reporting” on corporate lobbied politicians, who take corporate cash to run for office in a corporate controlled government, as Corporatism. In fact where can you even find the word “corporatism” in media? We can’t. Look for socialist, communist, Marxist, Stalinist and you’ll find them all over the corporate media.

As we have seen, Wall Street and insurance companies have bought their influence in the US Government to the degree we cannot get ANY effective regulation of big banks, or little more than insurance company profit expansion as so-called “health care reform”. More PUBLIC money has gone to prop up failed PRIVATE corporations than ever before. And this is what the Reich Wingers call socialism.

If a government is of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations it is Corporatism. And if said government embraces an aggressive, militarist foreign policy, along with judicially unrestrained surveillance and detention of citizens, we have fascism. Conned-servatives don’t want to be told the truth, of course. They have their finely crafted corporatist beliefs almost as deeply ingrained into their minds as a cult member’s unquestioning belief in the cult leader. Any outside ideas are despised and denied exactly as a cult member would refuse pleas from friends and family to leave the cult.

This is exactly why the Cult of Conned-servatism brainwashes its victims into believing any opposition to the corporatist agenda is something evil and frightening. The word “liberal” was once effectively demonized enough to do the trick. It has now failed, because as we have been told, the most “liberal” person in the Senate was elected into the White House. The corporatists needed new scare words. No longer do we hear about “Obama the liberal”. He is now Obama the foreign born Marxist/Stalinist/Socialist/Fascist. It doesn’t matter which term they use. The point is to cultivate ignorance and instill fear and anger. The propagandists have succeeded.

One poll reveals the extent of their success. This is one is provided by Daily Kos/Research 2000

39 percent of Republicans believe Obama should be impeached,
29 percent are not sure, 32 percent said he should not be voted out of office.
36 percent of Republicans believe Obama was not born in the United States,
22 percent are not sure, 42 percent think he is a natural citizen.
31 percent of Republicans believe Obama is a "Racist who hates White people" -- the description once adopted by Fox News's Glenn Beck.
33 percent were not sure, and 36 percent said he was not a racist.
63 percent of Republicans think Obama is a socialist,
16 percent are not sure, 21 percent say he is not
24 percent of Republicans believe Obama wants "the terrorists to win,"
33 percent aren't sure, 43 percent said he did not want the terrorist to win.
21 percent of Republicans believe ACORN stole the 2008 election,
55 percent are not sure, 24 percent said the community organizing group did not steal the election.
23 percent of Republicans believe that their state should secede from the United States,
19 percent aren't sure, 58 percent said no.
53 percent of Republicans said they believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president than Obama.

In the famous words of Bush/Cheney, “Mission Accomplished”. The contest for influence in our government is not between liberals and conservatives. It is between democracy and corporatocracy. Democracy is losing largely because corporate money is behind the dominant voices in the corporate media. Democracy can thrive under socialism. It perishes under corporatism.

For anyone still interested in reality, here’s a tiny bit of light shed on socialism. Emphasis added.


Published on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 by The Nation

Socialism? Not Quite, Say the Socialists
by John Nichols

My friend Myrtle Kastner, proud campaigner for peace and economic and social justice, has, she suggests, been "quite amused" by the health care debate that reached the end of the beginning with President Obama's signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23.

What's so amusing?

"As I understand it, we have taken over the country," says Kastner, who is a proud member of the Milwaukee local of the Socialist Party. [1] "The Republicans in Congress, the talk radio, all through the health-care debate, they've been saying its proof that the Socialists are in charge. Can you believe it?"

There really are socialists in America, unapologetic adherents of the social gospel of Norman Thomas and the "an-injury-to-one-is-an-injury-to-all" working-class populism of Eugene Victor Debs - and, of course, of the remarkable Milwaukee tradition that produced Socialist Mayors Emil Seidel, Dan Hoan and Frank Zeidler, as well as the nation's first Socialist congressman, free-speech champion Victor Berger.

Kastner celebrates the history of Socialism in Milwaukee, and keeps it alive with a steady schedule of meetings, lectures and, of course, the annual party picnic in a local park - No. 113, she notes, reminding any and all that the Milwaukee Socialists have been a steady presence on the American political landscape for more than a century. Maybe it was the early start that made the Milwaukee Socialists so successful - a success that earned international headlines one hundred years ago this April, when the party's endorsed candidates swept the city's 1910 municipal elections. Suddenly, the city that made beer famous had a Socialists school board, a Socialist city council and a Socialist mayor, Seidel, who appointed as his aide a young scribbler named Carl Sandburg.

They ran things so well that, for most of the next five decades, the good burghers of Milwaukee kept putting Socialists in charge until, finally, the last of the Socialist mayors, Zeidler, voluntarily stepped down in April, 1960. (A year later, an aging Sandburg, would read his poetry at the side of the nation's new president, John F. Kennedy, who like most presidents of the 20th century did not mind fraternizing with Socialists.)

It has been almost exactly 50 years since a capital "S" Socialist last ran a major American city, let alone anything more major.

But, now, a bemused Myrtle Kastner notes that her party appears to have taken complete charge of the U.S. government - or so House Minority Leader John Boehner, various and sundry sulking Republican politicians, and their amen corner in the media (led by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity) would have us believe.

What surprises Kastner is not merely the fact that the party, which sometimes has a hard time filling all the chairs at its meetings, organized the takeover without informing her - or, to her knowledge, any other Socialists.

What seriously surprises her is that the health-care reform legislation that's been passed by Congress would be characterized by anyone who knows anything about economics or politics or history as "socialist."

"I'm afraid it's not socialized medicine," she says of the plan, which maintains private health-insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and nursing homes - most of which saw their stock values rise after the legislation was enacted.

Indeed, the Socialist Party stands in opposition to President Obama's approach.

"This is not a healthcare reform bill," says Socialist Party USA co-chair Billy Wharton, "It is instead a corporate restructuring of the American healthcare system designed to enhance the profits of private health insurance companies disguised with the language of reform".

As the Socialists note:

"The bill passed by the House (March 21) would mandate all Americans to purchase health insurance coverage or face a fine. It would also create health insurance exchanges, an idea crafted by the right-wing Heritage Foundation, where people would purchase insurance from private companies. Those not eligible for Medicaid but who still could not afford to purchase insurance would receive public funds from the federal government to purchase bare bones coverage insurance plans from private insurers.

(Socialists) opposes this restructuring on the grounds that the mandates allow private insurers to use the coercive power of the state to enhance their private profits. Insurance credits will serve as a public subsidy to private companies. It is yet another case of public money that could be used for necessary social programs being funneled towards companies that engage in practices that are abusive and detrimental to the overall society."

Wharton argues, as would any self-respecting Socialist, that "public funds would be better spent in creating a national single-payer system. Democratic socialists see such a system of open access to care as one part of a larger transition toward making health-care a guaranteed human right for all."

That's a far cry from anything the Democrat in the White House has proposed. Indeed, as Wharton wrote in his recent Washington Post piece -- titled "Obama's No Socialist. I Should Know" -- "The funny thing is, of course, that socialists know that Barack Obama is not one of us. Not only is he not a socialist, he may in fact not even be a liberal. Socialists understand him more as a hedge-fund Democrat -- one of a generation of neo-liberal politicians firmly committed to free-market policies."

So Myrtle Kastner is amused, and perhaps a little thankful to Limbaugh, Beck and the others who keep talking about "socialism." She's hoping that young people, in particular, will want to learn more.

And what will she tell them?

"I know they call Obama's plan ‘socialist,'" says Kastner. "But if the point is to make sure everyone has health care and that costs are kept down, Socialists really could have come up with something better."

Obama's No Socialist. I Should Know.
By Billy Wharton Washington Post Sunday, March 15, 2009

It took a massive global financial crisis, a failed military adventure and a popular repudiation of the Republican Party to make my national television debut possible. After 15 years of socialist political organizing -- everything from licking envelopes and handing out leaflets to the more romantic task of speaking at street demonstrations -- I found myself in the midtown Manhattan studio of the Fox Business Network on a cold February evening. Who ever thought that being the editor of the Socialist magazine, circulation 3,000, would launch me on a cable news career?

The media whirlwind began in October with a call from a New York Times writer. He wanted a tour of the Socialist Party USA's national office. Although he was more interested in how much paper we used in our "socialist cubby hole" than in our politics, our media profile exploded. Next up, a pleasant interview by Swedish National Radio. Then Brian Moore, our 2008 presidential candidate, sparred with Stephen Colbert. Even the Wall Street Journal wanted a socialist to quote after the first bailout bill failed last fall. Traffic to our Web site multiplied, e-mail inquiries increased and meetings with potential recruits to the Socialist Party yielded more new members than ever before. Socialism -- an idea with a long history -- suddenly seemed to have a bright future in 21st-century America.

Whom did we have to thank for this moment in the spotlight? Oddly enough, Republican politicians such as Mike Huckabee and John McCain had become our most effective promoters. During his campaign, the ever-desperate McCain, his hard-charging running mate Sarah Palin and even a plumber named Joe lined up to call Barack Obama a "socialist." Last month, Huckabee even exclaimed that, "The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may be dead, but the Union of American Socialist Republics is being born."

We appreciated the newfound attention. But we also cringed as the debate took on the hysterical tone of a farcical McCarthyism. The question "Is Obama a socialist?" spread rapidly through a network of rightwing blogs, conservative television outlets and alarmist radio talk shows and quickly moved into the mainstream. "We Are All Socialists Now," declared a Newsweek cover last month. A New York Times reporter recently pinned Obama down with the question, "Are you a socialist, as some people have suggested?" The normally unflappable politician stumbled through a response so unconvincing that it required a follow-up call in which Obama claimed impeccable free market credentials.

All this speculation over whether our current president is a socialist led me into the sea of business suits, BlackBerrys and self-promoters in the studio at Fox Business News. I quickly realized that the antagonistic anchor David Asman had little interest in exploring socialist ideas on bank nationalization. For Asman, nationalization was merely a code word for socialism. Using logic borrowed from the 1964 thriller "The Manchurian Candidate," he portrayed Obama as a secret socialist, so far undercover that not even he understood that his policies were de facto socialist. I was merely a cudgel to be wielded against the president -- a physical embodiment of guilt by association.

The funny thing is, of course, that socialists know that Barack Obama is not one of us. Not only is he not a socialist, he may in fact not even be a liberal. Socialists understand him more as a hedge-fund Democrat -- one of a generation of neoliberal politicians firmly committed to free-market policies.

The first clear indication that Obama is not, in fact, a socialist, is the way his administration is avoiding structural changes to the financial system. Nationalization is simply not in the playbook of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his team. They favor costly, temporary measures that can easily be dismantled should the economy stabilize. Socialists support nationalization and see it as a means of creating a banking system that acts like a highly regulated public utility. The banks would then cease to be sinkholes for public funds or financial versions of casinos and would become essential to reenergizing productive sectors of the economy.

The same holds true for health care. A national health insurance system as embodied in the single-payer health plan reintroduced in legislation this year by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), makes perfect sense to us. That bill would provide comprehensive coverage, offer a full range of choice of doctors and services and eliminate the primary cause of personal bankruptcy -- health-care bills. Obama's plan would do the opposite. By mandating that every person be insured, ObamaCare would give private health insurance companies license to systematically underinsure policyholders while cashing in on the moral currency of universal coverage. If Obama is a socialist, then on health care, he's doing a fairly good job of concealing it.

Issues of war and peace further weaken the commander in chief's socialist credentials. Obama announced that all U.S. combat brigades will be removed from Iraq by August 2010, but he still intends to leave as many as 50,000 troops in Iraq and wishes to expand the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A socialist foreign policy would call for the immediate removal of all troops. It would seek to follow the proposal made recently by an Afghan parliamentarian, which called for the United States to send 30,000 scholars or engineers instead of more fighting forces.

Yet the president remains "the world's best salesman of socialism," according to Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. DeMint encouraged supporters "to take to the streets to stop America's slide into socialism." Despite the fact that billions of dollars of public wealth are being transferred to private corporations, Huckabee still felt confident in proposing that "Lenin and Stalin would love" Obama's bank bailout plan.

Huckabee is clearly no socialist scholar, and I doubt that any of Obama's policies will someday appear in the annals of socialist history. The president has, however, been assigned the unenviable task of salvaging a capitalist system intent on devouring itself. The question is whether he can do so without addressing the deep inequalities that have become fundamental features of American society. So, President Obama, what I want to know is this: Can you lend legitimacy to a society in which 5 percent of the population controls 85 percent of the wealth? Can you sell a health-care reform package that will only end up enriching a private health insurance industry? Will you continue to favor military spending over infrastructure development and social services?

My guess is that the president will avoid these questions, further confirming that he is not a socialist except, perhaps, in the imaginations of an odd assortment of conservatives. Yet as the unemployment lines grow longer, the food pantries emptier and health care scarcer, socialism may be poised for a comeback in America. The doors of our "socialist cubby-hole" are open to anyone, including Obama. I encourage him to stop by for one of our monthly membership meetings. Be sure to arrive early to get a seat -- we're more popular than ever lately.