"He (Charles Schumer) is serving the parochial interest of a very small group of financial people, bankers, investment bankers, fund managers, private equity firms, rather than serving the general public . It has hurt the American investor first and the average American taxpayer." John C. Bogle, the founder and former chairman of the Vanguard Group.
Dear Senator Schumer:
Congratulations! You've knocked me off the September 14 Democratic primary ballot. Fabulous news for you. Now you don't have to answer my questions about your 36-year record as a "public" servant. Alas, it's bad news for me. And bad news for NY Democrats. And it's real bad news for the ideal of democracy.
I'm still a bit mystified by the manner in which I was kicked off. At the end I only had 13,350 out of the necessary 15,000 signatures. I thought I was well over the top when I turned those suckers in with your pals at the Board of Elections. However, I knew something weird was going on when I walked in and noticed half the people sitting in the lobby were waiting for me to drop off my share of the multi-candidate joint petition. The two others candidates on the petition had earlier submitted their "volumes" containing what I thought were 2/3rds of the 30,000 signatures we had agreed upon. Little did I know the two gentlemen who I was convinced were working with me were actually working against me. They turned in a wagonload of blank pages and then left Albany in brand new automobiles. The joke was on me as I was soon to discover. How I allowed those jack-offs to insinuate their sorry asses into my campaign is beyond my knowledge. But I hope they enjoy their new wheels. I am sure neither you, Senor Schumer, nor your campaign, had anything to do with this bizarre caper. No, not you guys! At any rate, by the time I had passed Kingston on my way back on the thruway your own lawyers and those wing-tip zombie ones over at the state party HQ had already filed objections with the BOE and with a kool-aid drunk hack judge in Nassau County. And, low and behold, your side prevailed. And I bet you boys got a big laugh all around. Ha ha ha!
Well, to be honest, your actions are quite understandable. After all, I wouldn't want to go up against an oddball like me either. I'm not a typical loyal party hack who debates and campaigns within narrow, pre-set boundaries. You know that. That's why you deployed the most skilled election lawyers and the state Democratic party legal machinery together to make sure I was given the bum's rush. It is amazing the forces I was up against. How naïve I was. Do you realize you spent more on your successful legal effort to give me the boot than I've raised or spent in the 18 months I've been running for your seat? A seat, I might add, which was once occupied by the likes of the great orator, prison reformer and abolitionist William Seward (your complete opposite). You've defiled and dishonored that once hallowed seat, and that is one of the reasons I was inspired to make the run. Now just imagine us in a debate and me comparing you and Seward. My next letter to you will be about Seward's record vs. your record.
Now that there will be no pre-primary debate, New York Democratic voters will continue to think you are--and have always been--acting in their best interest. They'll continue to think you're the true champion of the middle class. I know better. And you know I know better. And that's why you're terrified of a real debate.
The fact that you, Mr. Senator, would prefer at all costs to avoid a serious debate on your record is the main reason why you don't care too much for primaries. Primaries may lead to a real debate. That is why they scare you. They are a potential threat to you and the big wall street/banking/corporate interests that you truly represent. You and your sponsors don't want to take any chances; not even from some under-funded, unknown political novice like yours truly. Because, if I were on the primary ballot and the polls tightened up, you would be forced into a position of having to debate your sorry past with me, and you know I would be asking some real uncomfortable questions. The prospect probably makes your thin skin crawl.
Hey, I almost forgot! The issues. First of all, I've been meaning to ask you about your enthusiastic support of the war in Iraq. You know, the war responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children. The war that has cost the lives of over 5000 American servicemen and women (not to mention the countless thousands seriously wounded). Does the loss of innocent lives bother you? Because it bothers most Americans. And it bothers a huge majority of Democrats in New York. And those democrats would have liked to hear you defend yourself for supporting this ugly war in a primary debate.
Oh, by the way, (I feel like Detective Columbo) give or take a few, how many funerals of New York's service members have you attended? I ask this because I was shocked when you admitted in a TV interview in 2007 (with Don Imus) that you had yet to visit the scandal-plagued, squalid and rat infested Walter Reed Hospital in DC. I suppose your conscience just couldn't stomach the ghastly specter of the horrific damage done to young men and women injured in this illegal war that you promoted and supported. Let me quote a few more excerpts from that same interview to stoke your memory:
Imus: Was your vote--originally to authorize the president to go to war in Iraq--in retrospect, was that a mistake on your part?
Schumer: I do always believe, you know, when the nation is attacked you try to give the chief executive some latitude, a little bit of the benefit of the doubt.
Imus: But we weren't attacked by Iraq.
Schumer: No, we were not attacked by Iraq.
Imus: So, I'm asking you, do you think your vote was a mistake?
Schumer: Well, again, I would say that I do believe in a strong chief executive in foreign policy (blah blah blah) ...
Indeed, we were not attacked by Iraq, Mr. Schumer. And Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. You knew that. But, for whatever unknown reason, you were always a fervent supporter of the unjust, unholy invasion and occupation of Iraq. You need to come clean and fess on that obsure reason. Inquiring NY voters, (particularly middle class Dems) would like to know!
You also support the endless, mindboggling and tragic boondoggle taking place in Afghanistan. Thousands of innocent Afghan and Pakistani women and children have died in our Mr. Magoo pursuit of a straw man villain for nearly 9 long bloody years. Does that not bother you? You are a Harvard graduate and, I have heard, a student of history. Hence, you must be aware of the past failures which have taken place in Afghanistan from Alexander the Great to the British on several occasions (in the first Anglo-Afghan war only 1 Brit out of 14,000 made it though the Khyber pass alive). We all know about the Soviets having their heads and asses handed to them. Explain your support for this brutal and deadly affair. By the way, have you been to any funerals of New York servicemen that have died in Afghanistan (give or take a few)?
The Iraq and Afghan wars of intrigue have sucked trillions of dollars from the U.S. treasury. This money should have been used to create peacetime jobs for millions of Americans sliding at mach speed out of the middle class (of which you are an expert) and into the unemployment class. Instead, it has been handed over to spiritually dead war profiteers whose amaments of death and destruction are listed with your buddies on Wall Street. I will get to the Wall Street stuff in a moment (I know you can't wait for that!).
You seem to like war. You don't mind sending U.S. troops to fight, kill and die overseas. When did you become so hawkish? It appears it was after you became a member of Congress in the early '80s. I ask this because if you were pro-war prior to that period then you missed your opportunity to fight in Vietnam. You could have joined the service back then and you would have had a taste of what the men and women in uniform are going though in the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
But, you were anti-war at that time, just like most people your age were. In fact, you supported anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy as a college student in 1968 (instead of anti-war NY Senator Bobby Kennedy). How did you avoid the draft during the Vietnam War? It is something you never seem to want to discuss. You also never talk about your transformation from dove to hawk as a congressman. I would have asked you these questions if we had the occasion to debate. Again, inquiring minds of NY Democrats would certainly like to know. They would love to know why, like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Newt Gingrich and Wolfowitz, and so many others who avoided military service, like to send young men and women to the battlefield and have no qualms about dropping bombs on wedding parties.
These wars have and continue to make our nation vulnerable to attacks. You cannot occupy and annex and destroy other lands without consequence. It is called blowback my friend. Lots of people are angry at the U.S. because of the policies you espouse, support and defend.
Moreover, you claim to be a strong supporter of Israel. I disagree. I believe your misguided rhetoric on Israeli foreign policy and non-stop meddling into U.S./Israeli relations are damaging to Israel's future. You browbeat President Obama for his criticism of counterproductive new settlements in Palestinian territories. That emboldened the Likud government to take a hardline stance. You have said that "it makes sense to strangle Gaza economically," which is tantamount to encouraging a war crime. Your words are encouraging Israel to blockade Gaza and to attract aid flotillas. All of this hurts Israel. It isolates them in a world in which we must all live together. No man is an island. Thus I believe that you, Mr. Schumer, are not a strong supporter of a strong Israel. To the contrary you are undermining their security. What irony. We could have had a serious debate about this very serious matter.
And what about torture? You not only like war but you are an apologist for torture. Torture is a war crime. A violation of the Geneva convention. You should speak out against torture instead of endorsing it like you did in this rambling speech you made at a Senate hearing (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4CWk5LfoH0) in which you say "do what you have to do." You then recommended and flacked for pro-torture Judge Mike Mukassy to be AG for George Bush after the Gonzalez debacle. You were successful. You got Bush a man to defend the administration on its medieval and barbaric practice of torture. Shame on you, Charlie. I wish you and I could debate the merits of this issue in front of NY Dems. I guess you don't have to worry about that happening now. I won't be on the primary ballot. Hence: CREDICO UNABLE TO TORTURE THE PRO-TORTURE SCHUMER OVER THE ISSUE OF TORTURE!
But I suppose you don't think any of the points I mentioned above are on the radar of New York Democrats or the middle class in general. But what do I know. Well, I do know one thing for sure: I am so sick and tired of your obsessive observation of middle class mindset when you talk electoral politics. It is all you ever do. That New Yorker puff piece by Toobin drove me over the top. It nearly made me gag when not putting me to sleep.
I know that the middle class is where the votes are located. That is what your laughable Sunday press conferences are all about. A clarion call to registered middle class voters. But, as everyone knows, particularly in the Fourth Estate, these press conferences are in reality much ado about nothing. Glib red herring consumer protection proposals that are geared to bamboozle the coveted middle class into thinking that Uncle Charlie really give a rat's ass about their lives.
Like the time you teamed up with Texas right wing fanatic John "cornball" Cornyn on a proposal that would eliminate prepaid cell phones and hence protect the nation from the bad guys. Hey Senator, poor people use prepaid cell phones because they don't have credit cards. Battered women use prepaid cell phones so they can avoid their stalkers. I suppose this cheap gimmick that the wackado senator and you put on the table was yet another specious attempt to convince middle class voters that ol' Chuckie is protecting them from drug dealers and terrorists.
Then there was the press conference in which you teamed up with that other southern lunatic Lindsey Graham on a national identity card. That is all we need: more government intrusion into our lives. Civil rights lawyers were repulsed by this repressive proposal. I guess you took a poll with middle class voters and they wanted something done with those nasty immigrants taking their jobs. Or as my friend Jimmy Tingle would say, "the ones doing our job." If you had a heart and any balls you would be proposing a general amnesty and cut the funding for these storm troopers from the ICE squads. It is bad enough that you enthusiastically support building the wall of intolerance on the Arizona Mexican border, but to propose this national ID card is really over the top. I guess somewhere in your calculus you discovered a majority of middle class voters support the ID card. It will keep Mexicans out of their neighborhood. You suck Chuck and I want a debate. NOW.
This national ID card would basically augment the powers not given to the anti-patriotic and Orwellian worded Patriot Act which is the most intrusive and repressive piece of legislation since the Alien and Sedition acts of 1793. I and most civil libertarians were outraged when you voted for the patriot act in 2001 after 9-11. We figured that you were smart enough to know that it was nothing but a trojan horse to expand the government's control over its population and to curb and scare off dissent. Well maybe those are the reasons why you supported the Patriot Act (which is anything but patriotic). I was hoping that you would help get rid of the patriot act when Obama was elected. Not only did you not get rid of them you were the one that pushed for and made many of the provisions permanent. How dare you.
Your favorite Sunday comedy show of late has been using those pressers to gain favor with air travelers: Getting the geese out of the airspace at JFK and LGA, award travel blackout dates, and, the one where you huff and puff and chide the struggling airline industry for charging a small fee for checked baggage. I guess your focus group study indicated that middle class air travelers generally fly coach. Surely saving them 25 bucks a flight should get you their vote. I guess these studies also conclude that frequent flyers don't concern themselves with war, torture, starving Gaza or Wall Street shenanigans and other substantive issues as long as they can take an extra piece of Samsonite luggage on their trip, gratis.
Speaking of the middle class, cell phones and the airlines, I was quite appalled by the way you flipped out and mistreated a hardworking, underpaid and struggling middle class flight attendant on that US Air shuttle from DC to NY. That was no way to treat a lady. All she wanted you to do is turn off your cell phone so the flight could take off. As much as you fly (and I am sure it ain't coach) you should know better. It is an FAA regulation you were violating. Now I know you were in the middle of an important conversation on how to water down the impending health care legislation to help out big pharma and the insurance industry, but if everyone else has to turn their cell phones off why shouldn't you? But all of those years living off the public trough has given you the sense of entitlement. Maybe so, but you don't have to call the woman a bitch for doing her job. I will tell you that no woman rich, poor or middle class likes to be called a bitch in public or private. That kind of attitude gives all of us New Yorkers a bad name. Who do you think you are, Jack Nicholson from Five Easy Pieces? I wish you and I could debate the issue of, "Is it right for a "public" servant to call a middle class woman a bitch while working on or off the job?" You got me off the primary ballot so I guess the answer is no.
I know one place where it is hard to find any middle class voters and that would be in poor communities of color. I guess that is why in the twelve years I was organizing families of prisoners against the Rockefeller Drug Laws we never crossed paths. I understand. Why would Senator Schumer want to go into hood for heaven's sake? Not enough middle class folks in those wretched corridors and therefore not a place to grandstand and gladhand for votes. Takes up too much time and energy.
Speaking of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, I never heard you once speak out against these racist, Draconian criminal statutes. In fact you are a major supporter of mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders. You wouldn't even put your name on the recent crack vs. cocaine legislation that made the federal drug sentencing code a little more race neutral. Even Hatch and Sessions put their name on the bill. Of course, it comes as no surprise to me.
You are a hawkish supporter of the racist war on drugs in spite of its blatant failure both home and abroad. The war on drugs is nothing but a war on people of color. Not that you care. I hate to be blunt but I think you are nothing less than a rank drug war hustling politico. If you and I were to debate I would tell the audience just that. I have spent the past 12 years witnessing first hand just how the criminal justice system has torn asunder the hearts and souls of so many families of low level drug offenders. Most people in New York are much more informed and enlightened than you on this topic. I wanted to reach out to those New Yorkers in a debate so you could explain why you are so insensitive when it comes to the destruction of tens of thousands of black and Latino families.
You've always had a sorrowful record on issues of race and criminal justice. Real, real bad. I have been doing research. You boast about being the congressman that worked with that Neanderthal McCullum guy of Florida to bring back the death penalty and make it impossible for those on death row to introduce exculpatory evidence in a Federal Court by limiting habeas corpus. The death penalty is cruel and unusual and it is the ultimate manifestation of racism. Ask Barry Scheck and the folks at the Innocence Project. They will tell you the exact percentage of those they rescued from the gallows.
I understand. At the time, you saw the support of the death penalty as a good career opportunity and you seized upon it with great aplomb. Indeed, the image of Charles E. Schumer being tough on crime helped catapult you from the house of reps to the senate. You knew if being pro death penalty could help a slimy pol like George Pataki whip Mario Cuomo, it certainly couldn't hurt your profile. And why give a damn about the consequences. Why let some poor innocent black man have a chance to save his own life when you are trying to save and advance your own sorry life. You did it. Congrats. And now, you deserve high-fives from your pro death penalty brethren in Iran, China, Egypt, Iraq, Malaysia, Thailand and similar nations.
For your information I thought you should know that most New Yorkers are now against the death penalty, as they are against the drug laws. I guess you won't have to debate and defend yourself on those positions. DAMN!
Let's stay on the issue of crime and punishment in America. I noticed you, Mr. Schumer, never ever talk about our prisons unless it is how to expand them (like you did in that photo-op in Otisville). I know you don't care about the people inside those prisons even though there are so many of them. You only care about the people who live outside the prisons whose livelihood depends on the prison being in their community. That is so cynical. Well, not for you. People who depend on the prisons are middle class and vote! Yessiree! They vote. Can't vote inside those walls (unless you are a guard). So you never for conversation's sake throw around the topic of the ever burgeoning, deeply disturbing prison population here in America. Did you know there are roughly the same amount of people in prison in the good 'ol USA as there were slaves in the South on the eve of the Civil War? What am I driving at? Two things: You don't care about people in prison because they can't vote. Secondly, there is no doubt that you, like most NY democrats at the time, would not want to rock the boat with the South over the itty bitty "get over it" issue of slavery (after all, they, too, can't vote)!
The people that you get appointed to judgeships and as U.S. Attorneys are no better than you are. Cookie cutouts I would say. You have packed the federal court buildings here in New York with mostly bad men and women. And I will tell you another thing: You have a lot of people fooled into thinking that you were the firewall on the Senate Judiciary Committee against reactionary judges nominated by Bush. Well if that is true, please explain it (since we ain't debating) to the millions of middle class women voters why you voted to confirm hardcore anti-choice Justices like Thomas Griffith, Deborah Cook and Diane Sykes when your fellow Senate Democrats just said NO? I will give you some time to think about it while I ask you another one: Why didn't you fillibuster Sam Alito like you said you should have? Should have, would have, could have Chuck!
Speaking of Federal Courthouse, I was deeply offended by the slight you gave former Gov. Hugh Carey a few years back. Jim Dwyer wrote about it quite poetically in the New York Times. Carey was a good man with a good heart as far as governors go. He reminded me of William Seward (who spent two terms as the Gov before he grabbed your seat). Like Seward, Carey handed out a lot of clemencies for people in prison. He made the first changes to the Rockefeller Laws. Maybe it was those characteristics that made you decide to pull the plug on the Brooklyn Federal Plaza being named after him and instead had it named in honor of Teddy Roosevelt. The truth is that you were mad at Carey for supporting Obama over Hillary. As Dwyer points out you threw a child's tantrum and got even with the 85-year-old former Governor. Very sweet of you, Chuck. You said you secured the change not because you were angry for Carey "chucking" you but because it made more sense to name it after Teddy Roosevelt because basically there aren't monuments or buildings named after him in NY. He was short changed. If you weren't so square, I would ask you what the hell are you smoking! As Dwyer points out there are millions of buildings, schools and parks named after Teddy. Nice try! Your vindictive and people should know. All your colleagues do, especially the octogenarian ex gov.
When it comes to politics you do play hardball. I knew that going into this thing you were going to do whatever was necessary to trip me up. They say you are a political animal and I believe them when they say that whoever they are. I recently read an old expose by Wayne Barrett and then later in New York magazine about some illegal campaign activity you were engaged in when you were in the NY Assembly running for congress. It was something I wanted to bring up in our not to be debate. To make a long corruption story short, it basically claims that you used your assembly committee staff of 15 (one said no) to work on your congressional campaign and that you paid them with vouchers to the state. We taxpayers, including the middle class, were paying the salaries of those people who were working on your campaign. By God that is a felony! The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District (in the now Teddy Roosevelt Federal Plaza no less) and the grand jury recommended an indictment. You had big connections with people who had big plans for you and those connections went to the number three man in the Justice Department, Rudy Giuliani, and Rudy took care of it and it went away. Imagine if you had gone to jail. I suppose if you did you wouldn't talk to yourself because you don't talk to or about prisoners in America.
I suppose that Rudy Giuliani's timely intervention in Assemblygate is the main reason you refused to criticize him during his eight-year reign of terror on the poor, the homeless, the disenfranchised and especially anyone of color. The other major reason not is that your wife worked as one of his commissioners). I was wondering why you never utter a damn word of scorn when Rudy's police sodomized Abner Louima or gunned down unarmed men like Patrick Dorismond and Amadu Diallo. My campaign literature brings up your shameful sounds of silence in the face of these horrific civil rights abuses. I gave you a copy at the Broadway Democratic Party fundraiser. You weren't happy. Truth hurts. No chance you wanted to engage in a debate about hideous period of your bleak political history. I don't blame you. For you, you did the right thing in getting me the boot!
There was another occasion where it looked like you could have gone to the hoosecow. That was when you were the chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (that is a big name and a big job). Once again it involved your staffers. I am sure you remember this but it isn't something you want to talk about, particularly in front of a TV camera with me at the other podium. Those staffer who actually worked for you as well as the DSCC posed as then Maryland Lt. Governor and Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele and filched his social security number and used it to get the man's credit report. Federal Investigators charged your two aides with a felony. They, of course, shielded you from any culpability. Nixon called it plausible deniability. You know, "what did you know and when did you know it?" One of the staffers pled out to a misdemeanor and did some community service and it all went away just like Assemblygate. Steele lost and your guy won and you stayed out of the big house once again. Imagine you, Sen. Schumer, going to jail for the identity theft of a black man and then spending time in jail with a bunch of black kids doing life sentences for minor drug offenses. How bizarre would that be. I think it would be a good education just like it was for judge Sol Wachler. He came out and realized half the people in prison didn't belong there and the system was indeed racist. Gee, I would love to talk to you about it. You sure you don't want to help me get back on the ballot?
You know Sir, it never ceases to amaze me how many politicians, like you, who claim to be tough on crime are of that mindset of "do what I say and not what I do." I guess it is an appeal to a scared middle class. They vote. Got to make them feel safe, right kiddo? But there was a time when you were not so tough on crime. A time when you showed some sympathy and compassion for perpetrators of a senseless killing. I know of at least one occasion. Just one occasion. Lets not get crazy here. Waco. Yes, Waco. Waco! Waco! Waco! Remember Waco? I saw the congressional hearings on Waco. I saw the documentary. You didn't come off so well the way you questioned the witnesses to the massacre. You were arrogant. You were cold. You were disrespectful. You were nasty. You were glib. Hell, you were ... Chuck Schumer. You were totally in the pocket of Attorney General Reno and Federal Law Enforcement. You were as fair and balanced as that Senator from Nevada in Godfather II questioning Michael Corleone. And to suggest that it was justifiable to throw hand grenades and send in tanks and kill people, including women and children, because of alleged child abuse, does set a potentially very dangerous example. After all, there have been lots of cases of sexual abuse in a lot of churches lately. Why haven't you urged Obama and Holder to invade those churches and save the children? We need to talk about that but I don't think it is possible because I am off the ballot.
Obama has been a disappointment in general since his inauguration. He has moved to the center. Or maybe the center right. I am really disappointed over his unwillingness to discuss race and deal with the out-of-control prison population, which is also about race. I call it the Schumerization of Barak Obama. I suppose that you have convinced him talking about the prison industrial complex could only spell trouble for Democrats in the midterm elections. I suppose in all elections. It is about the middle class, right Mr. Schumer? And we all know there are no votes in those thousands of prisons stretched out from coast the way industrial and manufacturing plants once stood. Those dank, dangerous razor-wired fortresses that now warehouse upward to three million poor Americans. Why would any ambitious politician want to campaign on remedy this national disease? Who gives a shit about these invisible numbers even if the poor wretches are flesh and blood Americans? No time to be show compassion or concern for your fellow US citizens if they aren't able to vote, right Chuck? Forget the imprisoned and forget the poor.
Someday this strategy is going to backfire. Because, remember Mr. Schumer, the middle class is getting smaller and smaller each day. You better start thinking about the poor. Lots of middle class people are headed in that direction. People are losing their jobs and homes. Many of them are not aware that you were a participant in the process of the economic meltdown that conferred so much pain and suffering on the middle class. You know that I know that. You have done your research. You knew that I was going to bring up your brokering of the deal that led to the repeal of the Glass-Steagel Act in 1999. Senator Phil Gramm was real pleased with your work on that one, he said so. You don't want those middle class voters in New York (particularly Dems) to have to hear all that honest gobbledgook from me, now do you? Incidentally, those middle class voters could have had the same deal brokered by Senator D'Amato. We didn't need you!
And then the bailouts. After the crises hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their homes. Millions defaulted on their credit cards. Rather than using your influence to bail out those folks, you put your entire weight behind bailing out the money cartels on Wall Street. Wall Street took the money and ran up the profits and then ran for the hills with their cash. People were angry. They wanted reform. Politicians responded to their demand. And you Senator Schumer, you gave the cartels a wink and a nod and bloviated in public about reform. You blasted them with a bunch of empty rhetoric and they pretended that they were indignant with you and you let them pretend. And then you got your greasy hands on the proposal and made sure that it was as watered down as humanly possible. It was another one of your deft sleight of hand tricks. Like the one you pulled with health care reform. But it worked. The middle class thinks you did them two big favors. That's what they think. In the meantime, like big pharma and the HMO concerns, your puppeteers on Wall Street don't think--they know you did them a big favor. Getting me off the Democratic ballot you gave yourself and those fat cats all a big favor. Thanks, Chuck
Well, I think I have ranted long enough for the time being. And by the way, even though I am not on the Democratic primary ballot, I will be on the ballot for the general election on one or two different lines. I am sure you will try to knock me off. Well, we learned our lesson going for the democratic nomination. This time we got signatures coming out of our asses. So I was down but not out. It is not over 'til the ...