Consider yourself warned

Our friend Brosephus is a mite grumpy today … and with good reason. Once republicans figured out the only way they could win is to cheat and disenfranchise those who are unlikely to vote for the ignoble republican candidates, they they did the inevitable — they cheated. And they are still at it today, even as the electoral college is verifying Joe Biden’s win. And down in Georgia … well, I’ll let Brosephus tell you why he’s grumpy today …

The Mind of Brosephus

I’m just a tad bit grumpy this morning. Maybe it’s due to cabin fever because of my current quarantine status. Maybe it’s due to other things. However, a tweet this morning from Jim Galloway pushed me over the edge and into that deep abyss where the Angry Black Man resides.

For a reference point, here’s three of Newt’s tweets within the past 24 hours.

Why, why, why? It’s a cold in Georgia this morning Newt, w so why don’t you enjoy a nice warm cup of Shut The F**k Up since we’re in a why mood. I’m tired of having to fight tooth and nail to protect my right guaranteed under the US Constitution from these a**holes. I’m also sick and tired of the media downplaying the dangers faced by my community.

This isn’t some new fangled GOP idea either. Remember this guy here?

Or, how about this guy here?

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In the News: Voting Rights Updates From Around America

Today, our friend TokyoSand gives us some important updates on how various states are working to ensure our right to vote, to have our voice heard and counted, despite the republicans’ best efforts to disenfranchise half of the country! Thank you, TS … great work!

Political⚡Charge

Our ability to vote is under siege by Trump and the Republican party. It’s critical that we pay attention to what is happening so we can push back when warranted, and celebrate the voting rights wins when they happen.

With that, here’s some recent voting rights news:

In North Carolina, a panel of judges denied the Republicans attempt to reinstate the voter ID law. Although some lawsuits are still outstanding, there will be no voter ID required for the November election.

Arkansas voters will see a ballot measure this fall which is seeking to establish an independent redistricting commission to redraw congressional and legislative district lines (which happens in 2021, following the census.) There is ongoing litigation that might take this measure off the ballot, but for now, voters will have the opportunity to vote for it.

In Georgia, two nonprofit organizations have mailed absentee ballot applications to…

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Snarky … puff puff … Snippets

More than a few times in the last week, I have found myself dreading to even log onto any of the news sites.  Blogging friend Brian, concerned for my emotional well-being, advised me to take an entire week away from the news, and while I so greatly appreciate him caring, I simply find that I cannot.  Every day brings a new abomination, and somehow, I feel an obligation to keep up.  In part, it is because I think part of the goal of Trump & Co is to overwhelm us to the point that we simply tune out.  I’m determined not to do that … I simply cannot.  A number of my friends and readers have at least partly tuned out, and I understand that … I really do … but I cannot.  Writing this blog is the catharsis that offsets, to a greater or lesser degree, the angst … I think.  Anyway … with that in mind, I can do nothing but give you yet another batch of … Snarky Snippets!


Two thumbs up …

To New York City for a positive move on homelessness.  While Donald Trump, on his visit to California earlier this year, complained that …

“We have people living in our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings, where people in those buildings pay tremendous taxes.”

Meanwhile, New York City is expected to pass a new bill in the coming week that will force developers of designated affordable-housing projects to set aside 15 percent of the units for the homeless.  This could ultimately add as many as 1,000 apartments for the homeless per year, almost doubling the 1,300 already in existence.  Many other cities have similar requirements, but none as ambitious as this one.

The homeless rate in the United States has increased in recent years, despite Trump’s claims that the economy is doing so great.  New York City alone has increased from 64,000 in 2014 to 79,000 in 2019.  The increase is partly due to stagnant wages … the low unemployment rate doesn’t address wages … and partly to the increased cost of housing.  The rent in my own small (1,190 sq ft) townhouse has increased from $625 when we first rented it in 1998 to $1,162 in 2019 – an 86% increase in 21 years, though nothing has been replaced, not carpet, linoleum, paint, fixtures or appliances, in that time.  And this is in a low-income neighborhood!  How a person earning minimum wage … which, by the way, has not increased since 2009, ten years ago … could afford even basic housing, plus utilities and food, is beyond me!


Disenfranchising more voters?

Earlier this evening, I saw a tweet by my least favoured representative, Warren Davidson, that called for stricter voting laws.  His comparison was ludicrous …

Warren-Davidson“Saying #VoterID laws suppress voter turnout is similar to saying background checks suppress gun ownership. All polling locations should require #VoterID just like all firearms dealers require a background check.”

Since I take great pride in harassing him at least once a day, I responded with an explanation of the difference between gun ownership and voting, and asked him if he was really that stupid, or if he was just pretending.

But, to the point … Donald Trump has had a very low approval rating for the entirety of his presidency, and now he is being impeached.  The republicans are getting worried about his electability … understandable, since they have tied their carts to his pony.  So, red states are trying to pass more restrictive Voter I.D. laws, and anything else they can do to disenfranchise the poor and minorities who tend to vote largely democrat.

The State of Wisconsin has taken an approach that I find absolutely disgusting.  In October, they sent letters to hundreds of thousands of voters, asking them to respond if they were still at that address or to update their registrations if they had moved.  Sounds innocuous enough, right?  Perhaps it was, in the beginning, but conservatives filed a lawsuit alleging that to avoid fraud, the commission should have thrown out the registrations of voters who did not respond to the mailing within 30 days!  The Election Commission had initially planned to throw out those registrations in April of 2021, after the election, if the people who didn’t respond also didn’t vote.

But, on Friday Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy ordered the state to take as many as 234,000 people off its registered-voter list who had not responded to the letter within the 30-day period.  Now, I can tell you that if I received such a letter, it would probably go straight in the trash, for I take such things with a grain of salt and don’t have time for such foolishness.  Turns out that the majority of those letters were sent to voters in districts that were won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 … coincidence?  I don’t think so.

See, here’s the thing … Trump won Wisconsin by a very narrow margin – less than 1%.  So, there is a push to ensure some of those voters who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, cannot vote at all in 2020.


A law unto himself …

Remember how there were a number of people who had heard Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, several of whom found the call deeply troubling, and one found the courage to become “the whistle-blower”, which has led to the impeachment that is almost certain to take place on Wednesday?  Well … the Trump administration has fixed that problem for any future phone calls.  According to CNN …

“Donald Trump’s senior aides have further restricted the number of administration officials allowed to listen to the President’s phone calls with foreign leaders.  Transcripts of Trump’s calls with world leaders are also disseminated to a far smaller group of people inside the White House, continuing an effort to limit the number of people with insight and information about the conversations.”

It’s rather like the child who, getting caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar, learns to make sure that next time, mommy is in the bathroom before dipping into the jar.  Well, it fits, doesn’t it, for we have a child in the Oval Office.

trump-phone-call.jpgMake of this what you will, but I find it deeply concerning.  It’s yet another attempt at covering up his actions, rather than promoting that ‘transparency’ he promised some three years ago.  Remember the ‘swamp’ he was going to drain?  That swamp was a rose garden compared to the swamp he has built.


Well, folks, that’s all I have time for tonight!  Enjoy what’s left of your weekend!

Trump-Barr

Disenfranchising Young Voters …

The percentage of college students who cast votes in 2018 was more than double that of 2014, the last mid-term election prior to 2018.  Why?  Two major reasons:  school shootings and the environment.  The February 2018 shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was a turning point for young people around the nation.  They were tired of seeing their friends die needlessly because of reckless, largely unregulated gun laws, or rather lack of laws.  A few activists from Parkland took the lead and motivated many more.

And then came a young girl in Sweden, Greta Thunberg, and she gained a voice that would be heard ‘round the world, and what she said with that voice was that we, the adults around the globe, have done a lousy job taking care of our planet, and that we have jeopardized hers and other young people’s futures and … she wasn’t going to take it lying down!  And her voice carried, touching the hearts and minds of young people in every nation, including the U.S.

Because of these two things, young people today are far more invested in the political process, far more aware of what is being done, who will do things to improve the situation, and they are, most importantly, voting in numbers never seen before among their age group.  My hat is off to all those who are using their voice and their vote to do what we oldsters should have been doing for decades now.  But …

Not everybody is pleased by this new wave of political enthusiasm among the youth of the country. Young people, concerned about the proliferation of guns and the destruction of the environment, are typically more likely to vote for a democratic candidate, which has thrown the Republican Party into a tailspin and led them to find new ways to disenfranchise the young voters.

The Texas Legislature has outlawed polling places that do not stay open for the entire 12-day early-voting period.  Many college campuses set up temporary early-voting sites for the convenience of the students.  However, they have neither the funding nor the need to keep those sites open for the entire 12 days, and therefore will not be allowed to have them this year.  Many students who live in campus housing do not have their own transportation and may well find it difficult to get to the polls in order to vote.  In Texas, this will affect nine of the eleven campuses of Austin Community College, as well as six campus polling places at colleges in Fort Worth, two in Brownsville, on the Mexico border, and other polling places at schools statewide.

It isn’t only Texas … Republican politicians around the country are throwing up roadblocks between students and voting booths.  In New Hampshire, a Republican-backed law took effect this fall requiring newly registered voters who drive to establish “domicile” in the state by securing New Hampshire driver’s licenses and auto registrations, which can cost hundreds of dollars annually.  Six in 10 New Hampshire college students come from outside the state, a rate among the nation’s highest. As early as 2011, the state’s Republican House speaker at the time, William O’Brien, promised to clamp down on unrestricted voting by students, calling them “kids voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience.”  Say WHAT???

Florida’s State Legislature reinstated a 2014 law that the Courts struck down at the time, outlawing early voting sites at state universities, with an additional caveat that all early voting sites must offer “sufficient non-permitted parking” – something that is in short supply at most universities.

North Carolina Republicans enacted a voter ID law last year that recognized student identification cards as valid — but its requirements proved so cumbersome that major state universities were unable to comply. A later revision relaxed the rules, but much confusion remains, and fewer than half the state’s 180-plus accredited schools have sought to certify their IDs for voting.

Wisconsin Republicans also have imposed tough restrictions on using student IDs for voting purposes. The state requires poll workers to check signatures only on student IDs, although some schools issuing modern IDs that serve as debit cards and dorm room keys have removed signatures, which they consider a security risk.  The law also requires that IDs used for voting expire within two years, while most college ID cards have four-year expiration dates. And even students with acceptable IDs must show proof of enrollment before being allowed to vote.

Tennessee does not recognize student ID cards as valid for voting, and legislators have removed out-of-state driver’s licenses from the list of valid identifications.  Tennessee ranks 50th in voter turnout among the states and the District of Columbia. Only Texas’ turnout is worse.

In almost all of these cases, the excuse given for the tougher restrictions is that they are trying to cut down on voter fraud, but that argument lacks teeth, since widescale voter fraud has been proven to be virtually non-existent.  It is simple common sense that making voting convenient improves turnout.  When polling places are closed, hours restricted, photo IDs required, turnout will suffer.  What a message we are sending to our youth when we make it so hard for them to vote that many will throw their hands up in frustration and become lifelong non-voters!

One final thought.  The states where the barriers are rising fastest are in political battlegrounds and places like Texas where one-party control is eroding.  My thought is that if the Republicans have, as they claim to, the best ideas, the best platforms … then why do they need to cheat in order to win?

The young people in this country today are our hope for the future, for a future with clean air, potable water, arable land for growing food, and fewer guns in the hands of the wrong people.  If we discourage them today, what is the message we are sending?  Think about it.

Corruption Times Three …

The fine, upstanding people who represent We The People in one capacity or another seem to be finding themselves in just a bit of hot water these days!   And so close (62 days) to the all-important mid-term elections, too.  Awwww …

Three in particular are facing charges or under investigation. The first …

Chris Collins


Chris Collins is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the State of New York.

In January 2017, prior to the inauguration of Donald Trump, but after the 115th Congress had been seated, a firm push was made in Congress to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).  I wrote a post, Who Needs Ethics Anyway?, questioning if there were reasons that we didn’t yet know for them making this attempt.   Chris Collins is only one of the prime examples why this Congress was hoping to say “bye-bye” to the OCE.

In August 2016 Collins purchased 4 million shares in a pharmaceutical company, Innate Immunotherapeutics.  He also allegedly convinced Tom Price, who would later become Secretary of Health and Human Services, to purchase a large number of shares in the company.  Mr. Collins’ son also invested heavily.  Why?  Because Collins had ‘inside information’ that the company was on the verge of a breakthrough for a drug that would cure multiple sclerosis (MS).  This experimental drug, still in the testing stages, was the only product of Innate Immunotherapeutics.

However, in the summer of 2017, while attending a function on the White House lawn, Mr. Collins received a disastrous phone call from Innate Immunotherapeutics … the test of the product had failed its scientific testing … the drug did not work … it was no good.  The company had put all its eggs in a single basket and lost.  Stockholders stood to lose every penny they had invested.  But not Mr. Collins or his son!  Within minutes, Collins called his son Cameron who immediately sold his stock, avoiding losses of more than $570,000.  There is a name for it … it’s called ‘Insider Trading’ and it is illegal.  It is what the infamous Martha Stewart went to jail for.

On August 8th, Collins was arrested for wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, seven counts of securities fraud, and lying to the FBI.  Last Wednesday, a federal indictment was handed down in New York, accusing Mr. Collins of insider trading and lying to federal agents.  Chris Collins is running in the November mid-term elections.  Any bets as to his odds?


The second …hunter-1Ahhh … Duncan Hunter.  Name sound familiar?  It should, for I’ve written about him no less than three times between January 2017 and August 2018.  If Chris Collins was one reason the republicans in Congress tried so hard to gut the OCE in January 2017, Duncan Hunter is the personification of why we need the OCE more than ever now.  Hunter is just about as dishonest as they come.

His evils are many, including calling for the U.S. to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea a year ago, but the thing for which he is in trouble today, just two months from the mid-term elections, is using campaign funds to support his lavish lifestyle.  But wait … do you want to hear the absolutely most gutless thing?  Mr. Hunter has sought to blame his wife for the corruption charges, saying in a Fox News interview that she was responsible for the couple’s finances. “Whatever she did, that will be looked at, too, I’m sure. I didn’t do it. I didn’t spend any money illegally.”  Oh … oh … oh oh oh … that is royal!!!  What a sorry excuse for a ‘man’, yes?  Mind you, it is true that his wife is complicit, but for him to say he did nothing wrong and it was all her fault???

In the interest of conserving space, I won’t go into Hunter’s many mis-uses of campaign funds, for I did so in my post titled The Face of Dishonesty and you can refresh your memory if you need to.

bunnyThe federal indictment against Hunter is 47-pages long and outlines years of allegations that Mr. Hunter and his wife spent almost a quarter of a million dollars of campaign money on personal expenses, on everything from vacations to fast-food meals, even a plane ticket for their pet bunny.

Hunter says he is determined to stay on the November ballot. And in a heavily Republican district, running against a first-time Democratic opponent who is the son of an Arab father and Mexican mother, most agree that, despite the corruption charges he still maintains a strong chance of re-election.  Welcome to the Era of Trump, 2018-style.


And finally …

Kris Kobach

Dis many!

You no doubt remember Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who served as the vice chairman of Trump’s short-lived presidential commission on voter fraud.  Kobach has so many scandals in his past that he nearly defines the word.  Most pertain to his imaginary claim of “massive” voter fraud.  Kobach is running for Governor of Kansas in November.

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that a grand jury must be convened to investigate whether Secretary of State Kris Kobach intentionally botched voter registration in the state in the 2016 elections.  The accusation that brought forth the suit accuses Kobach of “destroying, obstructing, or failing to deliver online voter registration” during the 2016 election.  The petition also calls for an investigation into whether the office had fake or altered registration books that prevented people from voting or was “grossly neglectful with respect to their election duties.”

Kobach’s office claims the allegations are related to a period of time when certain online voter registrations malfunctioned.  Hmmmm … right … blame it on the machines.  I have long said that perhaps we should return to the days of a paper ballot …

Kobach’s history on voting rights make this case seem credible, for he has persuaded the Kansas legislature to enact “the nation’s most rigorous voting restrictions and to give him special authority to enforce them.”  Just this past June, a federal judge struck down one of his restrictive voter ID laws that would have required voters to produce either a birth certificate or passport in order to register to vote.


So, there you have it folks … a sampling of the illustrious people from the Republican Party who are tasked with representing us.  62 more days until the mid-terms.  Make sure your registration is up to date, so you can vote these fools out!!!

When Is ‘Immediately’?

“I think ‘immediately’ is kind of open to interpretation.”

Wow.  I always thought ‘immediately’ had rather a sense of urgency behind it, like “RIGHT NOW”! I wonder if it lends itself to interpretation for us all, or only for those in positions of power?

Kris Kobach

Dis many?

You remember ol’ Kris Kobach, right?  Kansas Secretary of State … he’s the one who swore (wrongly, as it turned out) that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election, called for voter ID laws, and also a registry of all Muslims in the country.  An investigation of the ‘voter fraud’ he claimed in his state (Kansas) netted nine convictions, most elderly white republican males who misunderstood and thought they could vote in two venues.  He was the Vice-Chairman of Trump’s failed Commission on Election Integrity, which lasted only a few months before being disbanded.  That, however, hasn’t stopped ol’ Kobach who is still claiming to have ‘proof’ of widespread voter fraud, though he has never produced said proof, and is working very hard to disenfranchise as many voters as possible.

Kobach got his hand slapped by a federal judge last Tuesday.  His restrictive voter ID laws in Kansas include the requirement to provide a birth certificate or other ‘proof of citizenship’, far more than is required by most states.  Judge Julie Robinson not only struck down the proof of citizenship law in Kansas, but also ordered Kobach to attend six hours of continuing legal education classes!!!  The judge said, in part …

“The court finds no credible evidence that a substantial number of noncitizens registered to vote. Instead, the law has acted as a deterrent to registration and voting for substantially more eligible Kansans than it has prevented ineligible voters from registering to vote. This trial was his opportunity to produce credible evidence of that iceberg, but he failed to do so. The court will not rely on extrapolated numbers from tiny sample sizes and otherwise flawed data.”

But then on Thursday, it was reported that county clerks throughout the state had been ordered to continue demanding proof-of-citizenship from anyone registering to vote.  Kobach’s spokesperson, Danedri Herbert, when questioned said that the judge was not clear in her directive …

“I think ‘immediately’ is kind of open to interpretation.”

Seriously???  No, ma’am, I am pretty sure the judge meant to suspend the requirement right then and there.

Since the law went into effect in 2013, thousands of voters have been denied the right to vote in Kansas because they could not produce a birth certificate.  Many Indigenous People living in remote villages were having a hard enough time producing a photo ID, for most do not have driver’s licenses.  And to add insult to injury, thousands of provisional ballots (estimated 8,864) in the 2016 election were thrown away uncounted because election officials said that there was no record that those residents were registered voters.  Excuse me?

Personally, I hope Mr. Kobach ends up keeping Mr. Manafort company in prison for his blatant disregard of the law.  There are many, many challenges to voters in the upcoming mid-term elections:  gerrymandering, unchecked Russian interference, overly-strict voter ID laws, limited polling hours and polling places.  Most of these challenges are designed to keep the poor and minorities from being able to vote.  Poor and minorities have every reason to vote for a democrat, given the treatment they have received and are receiving at the hands of the republicans.  Does something smell funny here?

Voter Suppression – 2016

vra-1The Voting Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on August 6, 1965, aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote under the 15th Amendment (1870) to the Constitution of the United States. The act significantly widened the franchise and is considered among the most far-reaching pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history.

In 2013, the Supreme Court declared that voter discrimination was no longer a problem and effectively struck down the only portion of the act designed to stop discrimination before it affects an election. The court let stand the provisions of the act that allow lawsuits after a discriminatory law takes effect, but unfortunately, the United States has learned the hard way that there is no satisfactory cure for discrimination after an election occurs.

vra-2Under the 1965 law, jurisdictions with a history of discrimination had to submit changes in voting practices to the Justice Department for review. But in 2013’s Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down the trigger used to determine which jurisdictions would be subject to preclearance, effectively removing this safeguard. In 2015, U.S. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, and U.S. Representative John Conyers introduced the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015 which would apply preclearance evenly among all 50 states. Under the new law, any state or jurisdiction that demonstrates a consistent pattern of discriminatory voting practices would be subject to preclearance. When the discrimination stops, the jurisdiction would automatically be freed from the requirement. This bill offers a modern and thoughtful response to voter discrimination that ensures the minimal possible federal interference in state elections. Unfortunately, despite the legislation having more than 100 co-sponsors, Congress still has not acted on it.

vra-3Which brings us to today, less than a week from election day, and in seven southern states alone, some 868 polling locations have been eliminated, thus ensuring that in the areas where polling places were closed, voters will have longer distances to travel and longer lines to stand in.  Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa County (coincidentally home to controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio) slashed the number of available polling places from 200 to 60, calling it a “cost-effective” move. In the March primary, this county saw voters waiting in line for 5 hours, many turning away rather than wait, and some polling places ran out of ballots.  There was, in Maricopa County, approximately 1 polling place for every 21,000 voters.

poll-closings

# of polling locations closed in 7 southern states = 868

More than a few times in the past year, I have stated my belief that when it comes to civil rights we are moving backward rather than forward.  The fact that 868 polling places closed in a mere 7 states, all southern states, seems to validate my belief.  It isn’t just in the south, either.  Rhode Island cut 66% of its polling places, as did some counties in Indiana where hundreds of voters were turned away after the polls closed.

In March 2012, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed into law one of the most restrictive Voter ID laws on the books.  Republicans praised the bill as a measure to prevent voter fraud, while Democrats accused them of trying to disenfranchise minority, elderly and urban voters. Three months later, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai was caught on videotape saying, “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: done.”

This year in North Carolina, GOP leaders launched a meticulous and coordinated effort to deter black voters, who overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. The law, created and passed entirely by white legislators, evoked the state’s ugly history of blocking African Americans from voting. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of the Appeals for the 4th Circuit recognized the legislature’s discriminatory intent and struck down the law. Republican Governor Pat McCrory tried to appeal, but the Supreme Court refused to stay the lower court’s order, thus the law will not be in effect for this year’s election. Score one for justice!

Federal courts have also struck down new voting restrictions in Texas, Wisconsin, Kansas and North Dakota. In all cases, the laws were enacted by Republican legislatures and governors. And in all cases, discriminatory impact on minority voters is at issue.  What’s next … literacy tests?  Poll taxes?  This whole thing reminds me of trying to blow out those trick candles that keep re-lighting themselves on a birthday cake … you think you’ve blown out all the candles, then another starts burning again, then another.  Just when we thought we had fairness and justice for all in voting rights, fires keep popping up, trying to deprive U.S. citizens of their Constitutional right! 

Federal Judge James Peterson, who struck down a series of voting restrictions in Wisconsin this year, wrote: “The Wisconsin experience demonstrates that a preoccupation with mostly phantom election fraud leads to real incidents of disenfranchisement, which undermine rather than enhance confidence in elections, particularly in minority communities. To put it bluntly, Wisconsin’s strict version of voter ID law is a cure worse than the disease.”.

We elect people to represent us in our counties, our states, and in Washington.  We elect these public servants with the expectation that they will be fair and honest and do the best job they can to represent all the people of the United States, not just people with light skin or European ancestry! All these attempts by the GOP to keep African-Americans from voting this year indicate one thing:  Republicans do not have faith that their candidates can win an honest election. To disenfranchise African-Americans, Hispanics, and other groups simply to win is an abomination! Are we, as a nation, truly willing to reverse the strides in equality, gains in the democratic process, that were made more than 50 years ago?  If we are, then perhaps we deserve what we get. Think about it.