Newsmax's Root Falsely Blames Obama For High State Taxes Topic: Newsmax
Wayne Allyn Root misapplies the lessons of Ayn Rand in his June 21 Newsmax column:
The central plot of "Atlas Shrugged" is that in response to being demonized, overtaxed, over-regulated, and punished for success, America’s business owners were disappearing and refusing to work 16-hour days to support those unwilling to put in the same blood, sweat, and tears. They were going on strike. Because of that, the original proposed title of "Atlas Shrugged" was “The Strike.”
They were going on strike to teach that civilization cannot survive when people are slaves to government. If you punish the wealthy, the risk-takers, and the innovators, you kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. In Obama’s America, fiction is becoming fact.
The lesson of "Atlas Shrugged" is that without the $100,000 earners paying into Social Security, there are no pensions for the poor and lower middle class.
Without the wealthy owners of million-dollar mansions paying $25,000 and $50,000 annual property tax bills, there is no funding for public schools. Without the wealthy paying into Medicare, there is no “free” healthcare for the elderly.
Without capitalists motivated by profit, there are no discoveries to eradicate polio or create miraculous cancer and AIDS drugs. Without capitalists motivated by profit, there are no jobs, period!
Ayn Rand was warning the looters that there are consequences to their overzealous actions. She was warning that if the productive classes felt used, demonized, ripped off, and taken for granted, they would go on strike.
The latest census proves Ayn Rand right. Under Obama the wealthy are striking, voting with their feet. They are moving to low-tax red states in droves, escaping from high-tax blue states where they are being demonized and punished by the millions.
The census proves that Obama’s tax and spend philosophy is a dismal failure, an economic disaster killing jobs.
But it's not Obama raising taxes in those "high-tax blue states" -- it's the states themselves. Obama has no control over state tax rates.
And moving to "low-tax red states" is hardly the same thing as the total work stoppage depicted in "Atlas Shrugged." Going to Florida or Texas is not "going Galt" if the person is otherwise employed.
CNS Does Another Afghan Body Count -- Then Attacks Obama For Withdrawing Troops Topic: CNSNews.com
This time around, CNSNews.com's Edwin Mora couldn't wait until the end of the month for his monthly body count of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan. Presdient Obama's speech on withdrawing some troops from Afganistan spurred Mora to write a June 22 article declaring that "The average monthly casualty rate for U.S. military forces serving in Afghanistan has increased 5-fold since President Barack Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009." For added insult, Mora also threw in a list of U.S. troops killed so far in June.
Unmentioned by Mora, of course, is the word "Iraq," since that would undercut his attack on Obama. As we've detailed, the U.S. casualty rate in Iraq at the peak of the Iraq war was much higher than it has ever been in Afghanistan.
Mora's story, however, was weirdly accompanied by another CNS article attacking Obama for doing things that would presumably lessen the casualty rate.
A June 23 article by Patrick Goodenough complains that Obama's withdrawal plan ran counter to that of Gen. David Petraeus, who wanted even more troops in Afghanistan:
With Petraeus’ support, McChrystal advocated an aggressive counterinsurgency plan in Afghanistan and sought an additional 40,000 troops when the administration was reviewing its options in late 2009. Obama that December announced the deployment of 30,000 extra troops, and indicated that a phased withdrawal would begin in July 2011.
When Obama announced the start of that drawdown on Wednesday night – 10,000 troops out by the end of this year, a total of 33,000 by September 2012 – Obama did not mention Petraeus by name.
But the president did imply that the counterinsurgency strategy designed by the outgoing ISAF commander was on the way out, as he stressed the Afghan government’s responsibility for “opening markets and schools” and for securing its people.
CNS can't simultaneously attack Obama for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and allowing troops to get killed. Pick a petty, politically motivated talking point and stick with it, people!
WND editor Joseph Farah takes it upon himself to fill the void and go Godwin in his June 23 column:
The American political and media elite have determined, for whatever reason, that the Constitution's eligibility requirements for the presidency are not important.
That is the only conclusion one can draw from the misinformation, disinformation and disinterest they have shown to the serious questions swirling around not only the unique case of Barack Obama but also to the definition of "natural born citizen" in future presidential elections.
It's not unprecedented that failing republics dumb down eligibility requirements for the presidency. It's not unprecedented that failing republics ignore or obscure eligibility requirements for the presidency. It's not unprecedented that failing republics make tragic mistakes in permitting non-qualified candidates to serve in the presidency.
It happened in 1932 in Germany with a candidate named Adolf Hitler.
Needless to say, Farah doesn't want you to think he's linkening Obama to Hitler:
I can almost visualize the reaction to what I am saying here: "Farah is comparing Obama to Hitler!"
No, I am not.
Hitler is in a unique historical class of tyrants and fiends and mass murderers. There's Hitler and Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong. Together they are responsible for the deaths of more than 100 million people.
For perspective, Obama has merely contributed to the economic and moral degradation of the greatest country on earth.
I use the Hitler illustration only to demonstrate there are real-world consequences to bending the rules in constitutional republics for political expediency.
Indeed. Why else would WND feel the need to make such a comparison on such a depressingly regular basis?
Farah seems blissfully (or deliberately) ignorant of the fact that explaining away his comparison doesn't matter; he's discredited himself by making it at all.
UPDATE: Salon's Alex Pareene points out one little flaw in Farah's analogy: Hitler was never elected president of Germany.
Childish Noel Sheppard Criticizes Jon Stewart For Being Childish Topic: NewsBusters
Noel Sheppard whines in a June 22 NewsBusters post:
Real men know how to apologize for their mistakes, especially when made on national television.
Apparently we can't put Jon Stewart in this category, for after acknowledging that the fact-checking organization PolitiFact found his statement to Chris Wallace concerning "misinformed" Fox viewers false, he proceeded to childishly spend three minutes listing all the times PF determined FNC's comments were likewise[.]
This is how a child admits a mistake, not a grown man, especially as Stewart chose not to address the error he made the previous evening when he falsely accused Wallace of saying Fox doesn't tell both sides of the story.
Instead, he chose to further belittle the organization that he twice inaccurately besmirched in so many days.
CNSNews.com tried to audition yet another attack on President Obama, which seems to have failed like so many others.
A June 14 CNS article by Fred Lucas highlighted Obama saying that Obama said Democratic National Committee chairman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is "charming" and has a "cute smile."Of course, in full context, Obama also said that Wasserman Schultz is "tough as nails," adding, "Don’t mess with Debbie. We are so glad of her leadership."
Lucas followed that up three days later with an article claiming that "Conservative women’s groups see a double standard in the reaction--or lack of it--from the media and liberal feminists to President Barack Obama using terms such as “cute” to describe Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz" and that "the National Organization of Women has been mute on the matter."
Lucas and CNS, meanwhile, are exhibiting their own double standard. Just a week before Obama made the "cute" statement Lucas purports to be so offended by ,conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh was reminiscing about how his radio show used to screen, rate and catalog the pictures of women who called into his show.
And just today, Limbaugh called Hillary Clinton the "sex-retary of state."
Will Lucas be chatting up those same "conservative women's groups" to find out how they feel about Limbaugh's sexism? Given the history of his employer, the Media Research Center, of turning a blind eye to any comment Limbaugh makes, no matterhow offensive, we're guessing the answer is no.
Farah Launches Overblown, Misleading Attack on Anti-HIV Trial Topic: WorldNetDaily
Joseph Farah's June 21 WorldNetDaily column was a massive tirade about a field trial of an anti-HIV-transmission gel in South Africa -- "a joint project of the British government, the U.S. government and population-reduction advocate Bill Gates" -- which he portrayed as a modern-day Tuskegee experiment. He rants:
Last year, the experts were boasting about the gel showing a 39 percent effectiveness rate. I want you to think about what that means.
A 39 percent effectiveness rate when you are dealing with the transmission of a deadly virus means a 61 percent failure rate. Worse yet, the control victims received a placebo gel – one that could not protect them from HIV at all, just like the Tuskegee victims, meaning 100 percent were told to have sex with their HIV-infected partners with no chance of protection.
Is an experiment a success when 61 percent of the healthy patients die as a result of following the advice of doctors funded by the U.S. government, the British government and Bill Gates? Should experiments like that even be permitted, let alone tax funded? Shouldn't people be going to jail for participating in experiments that would make Josef Mengele proud?
Knowing all we know about past efforts to use human beings as guinea pigs, how is it that experiments like this are once again receiving taxpayer funds, accolades from the scientific community and no scrutiny or criticism whatsoever – until the publication of this column?
Farah offered no evidence he read anything about this study beyond a newspaper article about it. They're not hard to find -- they're all right here, at the website for Caprisa, the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa. If he had, he might have educated himself a bit more.
The study itself explains the population among which the field trial was conducted:
CAPRISA 004, a two-arm, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, was conducted from May 2007 to March 2010. Women were enrolled at an urban and a rural clinic in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, but the study was not designed to assess the effectiveness of tenofovir in each clinic separately. Urban women were enrolled at the CAPRISA eThekwini Research Clinic, adjacent to an STI clinic located in the Durban city centre. Rural women were enrolled at the CAPRISA Vulindlela Research Clinic, adjacent to a comprehensive primary health care clinic in Vulindlela, a rural community of approximately 90,000 people, about 150km north-west of Durban. Prior to the CAPRISA 004 trial, feasibility studies were conducted to assess HIV incidence and sexual behavior at both sites. Extrapolated HIV incidence rates from prevalence studies in the urban (19) and rural (20) sites were 15.6% and 11.2% respectively. Reported anal sex rates were substantially lower at these two sites than we had observed in previous microbicide trials (21) in female sex workers in this region. Data from these feasibility studies were used as the basis for selecting these sites for the trial as well as for the design and sample size calculations for the CAPRISA 004 trial.
A coitally-related dosing strategy was selected to achieve high adherence, based on in-depth consultations with the communities involved. Sexual behavior data showed that women in the key study population had infrequent high-risk sex with migrant partners.
The study also stated:
The trial (NCT00441298) was approved by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Biomedical Research Ethics Committee (E111/06), Family Health International’s Protection of Human Subjects Committee (#9946) and the South African Medicines Control Council (#20060835)
What approvals were required for this trial to get underway?
The trial underwent extensive and rigorous review, by South African regulatory authorities, the Medicines Control Council, and the ethics committees of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and FHI. In addition, both sites that conducted the trial had a local community advisory board to facilitate community involvement in the trial.
Did all women in the study provide informed consent?
Each woman was provided with detailed information on the study. The informed consent process ensured that the women understood (1) the study’s procedures as well as the risks and benefits of the study; (2) the need to practice safer sex behaviors regardless of which study group they were assigned to; (3) the importance of adherence to the study’s treatment regimen; and (4) the potential medical risks associated with participation. The women were under no obligation to participate and could leave the study, without consequence, at any time. Once a woman completed the study information session, she was asked to answer a comprehensive quiz about the key concepts of the trial. Women who answered all questions correctly were then asked to provide written informed consent prior to both screening and enrollment, using forms translated into isiZulu, where necessary.
Farah's ranting to the contrary, this field trial is nothing like the Tuskegee experiment. Unlike the Tuskegee victims -- who were never told they had syphillis and were allowed to die from it without receiving treatment, with the purported goal of finding out if syphillis affected blacks differently than whites -- those who took part in the Caprisa trial were fully informed about the study's risks and were instructed on the need to practice safe sex in addition to using the gel, with the goal of seeing if a gel designed to prevent HIV transmission works in real-world conditions. Farah doesn't mention that to his readers -- again, because he seems more interested in ranting than researching what he's ranting about.
The study also states that those who contracted HIV, whether on gel or placebo, engaged in more risky behavior such has not using condoms or sex with "migrant men" in a community that the study describes as the epicenter of South Africa's HIV epidemic. Farah didn't mention that, either.
Farah also claims that study participants "were told to have sex with their HIV-infected partners" by those who conducted the study -- something for which he has no evidence for, and something the study itself never claims. Does Farah really think that people in South Africa -- which HIV is spread mostly by heterosexual contact -- is knowingly having sex with HIV-positive people?
Farah offers no evidence that he attempted to contact anyone who took part in conducting the study to address his concerns. He's just hurling accusations without bothering to verify anything he wrote. That's the height of laziness.
MRC Still Thinks Live Action Attack on Planned Parenthood Is Credible Topic: Media Research Center
When the anti-abortion group Live Action released undercover videos intended to entrap Planned Parenthood employees in a fake sex trafficking scheme, the Media Research Center repeatedlypromoted it, despite the whole entrapment angle and the fact that Planned Parenthood actually contacted the Justice Department immediately after the visits from the Live Action actors -- undercutting the entire scandal thing.
Well, the MRC certainly has no interest in letting the truth get in the way of its agenda, so it's still promoting this non-scandal as recently as the past month.
Catherine Maggio wrote in a June 2 MRC Culture & Media Institute article attacking celebrities for coming to Planned Parenthood's defense that "In February, the pro-life group Live Action released a hidden-camera video of a New Jersey Planned Parenthood employee giving advice to a man posing as a pimp about obtaining abortions and birth control for the underage foreign prostitutes he traffics." Maggio didn't mention that Planned Parenthood contacted the Justice Department immediately after those visits.
In bashing CNN's Eliot Spitzer for giving a supposedly softball interview to Planned Parenthood chief Cecile Richards, Matt Hadro wrote in a June 16 NewsBusters post: "He did not mention conservative activist group Live Action's report earlier this spring that documented multiple cases of clinics telling Live Action that they did not offer mammograms – despite claims to the contrary by Richards."
Hadro gets the smear wrong -- Live Action actually accused Planned Parenthood of not providing mammograms despite claiming that it does. That's nothing more than a silly semantics argument: Planned Parenthood provides mammograms by referring patients to outside organizations who actually conduct them.
NEW ARTICLE: Aaron Klein's Guilt-By-Association Smears: A Case Study Topic: WorldNetDaily
The WorldNetDaily reporter wants you to believe that a respected scholar who has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom is a radical Muslim who's working to undermine America. Read more >>
CNSNews.com apparently doesn't want to explain to its readers why its attack on Michelle Obama mysteriously disappeared, but it's more than happy to fall into its old pattern of obsessing over specific words President Obama says or doesn't say.
A June 20 CNS article by Jerad McHenry carries the headline "Obama Omits ‘Creator’ When Citing ‘Inalienable Rights’ of LGBTs":
In a statement released Friday, President Barack Obama declared that "LGBT persons are endowed with" what he called "inalienble rights," but ommited the word "Creator" from what clearly was an allusion to the famous language of the Declaration of Independence.
The president's June 17 statement was in response to a U.N. resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity.
“(T)his marks a significant milestone in the long struggle for equality, and the beginning of a universal recognition that LGBT persons are endowed with the same inalienable rights -- and entitled to the same protections -- as all human beings,” the statement said.
The Declaration of Independence reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (Bolding added).
Yes, CNS this this omission is such an important issue that it has devoted an entire article to it. But CNS joins its Media Research Center bretheren at NewsBusters in its silence on Fox's editing of a "Fox News Sunday" interview with Jon Stewart to remove criticism of Fox News.
Kinsolving Flaunts His Homophobia Again Topic: WorldNetDaily
Les Kinsolving is certainly not shy about demonstrating how much he despises gays, and he does so yet again in his June 21 WorldNetDaily column.
Kinsolving defends an upcoming prayer event being held by Texas Gov. Rick Perry by assailing the New York Times for noting that the religious organizations Perry teamed up with to put on the event hate gays as much as Kinsolving does:
Then came the New York Times' ill-famed support of the deadly disease-spreading sodomy lobby, with the following:
"Gay rights groups are also objecting because Mr. Perry placed the event in the hands of conservative religious groups that not only oppose gay marriage but also stridently condemn homosexuality."
(That these religious groups also condemn bestiality, polygamy, polyandry, incest, necrophilia and pedophilia is not mentioned by the Times.)
"Mr. Perry brushed off the assertions against the organization.
"'The A.F.A. is a group that promotes faith and strong families, and this event is about bringing Americans together in prayer,' he said in his e-mail, adding that 'I have made it clear that I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman.'"
That statement will probably ensure the strong opposition to Gov. Perry of many of this nation's homosexuals, as well as the polygamists, polyandrists and other alternative sexual orientations.
But for the vast majority of American voters who are sexually normal – Perry's stand raises continued hope that he will run for president.
Kinsolving also uncritically repeated a claim that one religious leader that "Nobody's imposing anything on people of other faiths" at the event. In fact, another leader has said that the goal of the event is to convert people to Christianity.
AIM/WND Smear Fails: Panetta Named Secretary of Defense Topic: Accuracy in Media
We've noted how Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid has teamed up with foreigner Trevor Loudon to hurl claims that CIA director and secretary of defense nominee Leon Panetta had "close and personal relationship with a member of the Communist Party" and other purportedly insufficiently right-wing connections. WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein also regurgitated the claims by the foreigner Loudon.
What did the Kincaid/Loudon/Klein combine's attempt to red-bait Panetta net them? Nothing. Panetta was unanimously confirmed as defense secretary.
It seems that such blatant red-baiting is unable to escape the echo chamber of the three men who were pushing it. Nobody cares what they have to say, not even politicians who might otherwise have been tempted to make hay with the accusations.
After years of Kincaid, Loudon and Klein being ignored. How will they handle it? Not well, we suspect.
CNS Attack on Michelle Obama Disappears Topic: CNSNews.com
In a June 21 CNSNews.com article, James Zilenziger wrote:
Michelle, Mom, Kids Africa Trip Costing Taxpayers $171,000 At Least for Air Travel Alone
The White House isn’t saying how much of a tab the taxpayers will need to pick up for the week-long trip that First Lady Michelle Obama, her two children, her mother, a niece and a nephew are taking to South Africa and Botswana.
But according to Congressional Research Service estimates, the flights alone will cost taxpayers more than $171,000--almost as much as the $174,000 annual salaries paid to rank-and-file members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The first lady--joined by daughters Malia and Sasha, Marian Robinson, and niece and nephew Leslie and Avery Robinson--is going to Africa to “improve relations between the U.S. and Africa and promote youth engagement, education, health and wellness,” according to the White House.
When CNSNews.com asked the first lady’s press office how much, on a daily basis, her trip to Africa will cost U.S. taxpayers her press secretary did not offer a response.
The White House did tell the Associated Press that all costs regarding Mrs. Obama’s family members are to be paid privately. However, because Mrs. Obama's trip will be considered official travel until her family heads off for “private time, including a safari and an overnight stay in the animal park” on Saturday, the taxpayers will be footing the bill for the first lady up to that point.
Note that, in that excerpt at least, Zilenziger offers no proof that the flights cost $171,000, just Congressional Research Service estimates. We can't examine the story further because CNS has apparently removed it from its website and took it off its front page. The article's URL returns an "access denied" message. (The above excerpt was taken from a copy iof the story at Free Republic.
The obvious implication is that the story is so inaccurate that it had to be deleted. But as of this writing, CNS has not explained why the story was pulled.
If CNS has deleted a story after it was posted on its website long enough for other websites to pick it up, it has an obligation to explain why -- and to correct the false information. That's just basic journalism.
UPDATE: Here's the original CNS story as it appears in Google cache.
WND Slyly Likens Obama to Al-Qaeda Leader Topic: WorldNetDaily
Bob Unruh writes in a June 20 WorldNetDaily article:
Anwar al-Awlaki for president?
After all, the regional commander for al-Qaida, senior Islamic imam and alleged recruiter for terrorists was born on April 22, 1971, in Las Cruces, N.M.
And how about the al-Awlaki acolyte, imprisoned Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, as vice president on that ticket, as the defendant accused of shooting up fellow soldiers at Fort Hood was born Sept. 8, 1970, in Arlington Va.
The tongue-in-cheek suggestions come in light of the far-fetched responses from Congress to constituents questioning why Barack Obama's background never was vetted before, during or after his successful 2008 campaign to become president.
The suggestion that Obama as president is the same as a terrorist as president is unmistakable -- and deliberately offensive. But that's WND, which has no problem likening Obama to Nazis and the Antichrist.
Unruh also appears to falsely state the case for Awlaki and Hasan's eligibility for the presidency as being the same as Obama's. While both Awlaki and Hasan were born in the U.S., Unruh offers no evidence that either set of parents were U.S. citizens at the time. It's generally agreed (even if WND doesn't concur) that one parent must be a U.S. citizen for the child to be considered a "natural born citizen," which applies to Obama but apparently not Awlaki or Hasan.
Unruh also regurgitates WND's tired argument that Vattel's "Law of Nations" states that "The natives or natural-born citizens are those born in the country of parents who are citizens." As we documented, that's not a direct translation of Vattel, the term does not appear in the original French, and he translation WND apparently used was published after the adoption of the Constitution; pre-Constitution translations do not use the term "natural born citizen."
UPDATE: A reader reminds us that the only citizenship situation that requires one parent to be a U.S. citizen is when the child is born outside the United States. Otherwise, implicit interpretation over the past century is that one must only be born in the U.S. to be a "natural born citizen," regardless of the citizenship status of the parents. Since Obama had one parent who was an American citizen, he is arguably more qualified to be president than Awlaki or Hasan.
Further, Unruh's failure to make a distinction between Obama and terrorists who kill Americans is not only offensive, it's irrelevant. Just because one is eligible to be president does not mean one will ever serve as president. Unruh is eligible to run for president too, but his chances of actually getting elected are a lot closer to that of Awlaki's than Obama's.
Last week we noted that NewsBusters invented a charge of racism against Jon Stewart but ignored actual racism from a Fox Business host. But it's a new week, so there's even more selective outrage.
NewsBusters went ballistic over a pretaped sequence airing during NBC's coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament that used parts of the Pledge of Allegiance but not the "under God" part. Noel Sheppard declared this was "disgraceful," apparently notconsidering the possibility that merely taking the originalist interpretations conservatives like to apply to the Constitution to its next logical step (after all, "under God" wasn't added to the Pledge until 62 years after its creation).
Nevertheless, NBC swiftly issued an apology, which wasn't good enough for NewsBusters; Mark Finkelstein complained that the apology didn't mention the words that were omitted.
Dan Gainor, VP of Business & Culture at the Media Research Center, issued the following statement and call to action for religious leaders and people of faith around the country:
“NBC has unquestionably committed an act of religious bigotry designed to offend Christians. Removing the words ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance in a piece they aired yesterday during the U.S. Open – not once, but twice – was absolutely not accidental. It was brazenly deliberate. NBC's pathetic apology did nothing but compound the offense by refusing to admit what they had done. Either NBC identifies and fires the employee or employees responsible for this act or the network is guilty of deliberately giving aid and comfort to religious bigots.”
“The Media Research Center will be sending letters to leaders of the top Christian denominations in the country, calling on them to hold NBC’s feet to the fire and demand the network fire those responsible. We are urging religious leaders to educate their congregations to NBC's attack on faith and join us in publicly denouncing the network.”
Meanwhile, the MRC has never publicly fired anyone for its mistakes. Brent Bozell still runs the place even after having to pay a $3.5 million out-of-court settlement for making false claims about World Wrestling Entertainment. And the MRC's egregious stitching together of quotes pages apart in a book by former New York Times editor Howell Raines to falsely portray it as an attack on President Reagan was merely fixed as a "clarification" with no indication that anyone was fired, let alone disciplined, for the falsehood.
Where does the selective outrage come in? The same day that NBC omitted "under God" from a video piece, an interview of Jon Stewart by Chris Wallace as aired on "Fox News Sunday" edited out a reference to a major Fox News scandal: a series of emails by Fox News executive Bill Sammon directing his reporters and hosts how to inject conservative bias into their coverage of certain stories. (It appears in an unedited version of the interview on the Fox News website.) NewsBusters has yet to acknowledge the deceptive edit as of this writing, even as it has written about otheraspects of the Stewart interview.
Why did NewsBusters and the MRC will get so outraged about two dropped words out of the Pledge of Allegiance, but not censoring of Stewart on Fox? Because the MRC is in the pocket of Fox, and attacking NBC serves its right-wing agenda (and, presumably, its fundraising) much better.