Was It Really RBG That Katie Couric Was Protecting?

One of the stunning revelations to come out of Katie Couric’s new tell-all memoir is that in 2016, the media personality edited out what she deemed to be disparaging remarks from an interview she had conducted with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ginsburg’s comments revolved around NFL player Colin Kaepernick and other athletes who were kneeling during the national anthem, before games. They did so in protest against racial injustice, an issue the political left has long been sympathetic to. The kneeling was a big, controversial story at the time, and Couric apparently expected the famously liberal Supreme Court Justice to voice a different opinion on the topic than the one she put forth.

Ginsburg told Couric that she personally disapproved of what the players were doing, and that she believed they were demonstrating “contempt for the government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life.”


Couric, like many lefties, was a big fan of Ginsburg, and she says in her book that she was “conflicted” about the comments because she was worried they would stain Ginsburg’s legacy. Couric believed RBG’s stated view was “unworthy of a crusader for equality,” and also considered that Ginsburg may not have completely understood the question.

According to Couric, she wasn’t the only person with reservations. She says she soon received an email from the head of SCOTUS public affairs, saying that Ginsburg had “misspoken,” and asking that the justice’s thoughts on Kaepernick be removed from Couric’s story. (It’s unclear whether or not Couric initiated that exchange.)

After much deliberation and advice from colleagues, Couric ultimately omitted the sentence from the piece she submitted to Yahoo! News. The reason for the omission, says Couric, was to “protect” Ginsburg.

And some people wonder why so many Americans have a dirt-low opinion of the mainstream media.

A big part of the problem, of course, was Couric’s blatant disregard for journalistic ethics. This was a high-profile interview with a high-profile public servant, and Couric let her personal bias prevent her from publicly airing a highly compelling quote.

In response to the revelation, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman wasted no time in calling Couric out, tweeting “This is toxic on a lot of levels.”

Reporter Ben Jacobs took a more sarcastic approach, tweeting, “I too always like to omit the most newsworthy and interesting parts from all my interviews with important and powerful people.”

Many others in the profession, from both the liberal and conservative media, have since weighed in with similar thoughts. The broad journalistic consensus is that Couric really screwed up. And that, of course, is the correct consensus.

But the other important part of this story, that’s been largely overlooked, is something that former New York Times journalist Bari Weiss pointed out: “You can learn a lot about where the left has moved by looking at how they choose to edit or rewrite RBG.”


I can’t read Couric’s mind, of course, but I have a very hard time buying that she did what she did primarily for Ginsburg’s benefit. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is nothing short of a super-hero to the American left — a genuine cultural icon who had been (and still is) celebrated almost to the heights of folklore. If you don’t believe me, do a Google search on “Notorious RBG” or “RBG art”.

Ginsburg’s views on racial justice were quite clear, and she wasn’t one to be offended by peaceful protests aimed at advancing the cause. Would her public distaste for Kaepernick’s particular method of protest — a method she saw as disrespectful and unappreciative of the opportunities America grants its citizens — place her legacy in jeopardy? Of course not, and Couric is smart enough to have known that.

I think there’s a good chance that this was more about protecting progressives in the ever popular blame-America-first crowd… from RBG.

I mean, it’s one thing for Republicans and people in the right-wing media to carry on and on about how outrageous the left’s “America-bashing” has become. It’s entirely different when a prominent, life-long champion of liberal causes embarrassingly agrees with them. When something like that happens, a little ideological self-reflection might actually be in order.

And who wants that, right?


Sean Coleman is back in John A. Daly’s upcoming thriller novel, “Restitution.” Click here to pre-order.

Bernie’s Q&A: Trump, Couric, Ginsburg, and more! (10/15) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):

I’ve looked on the internet but I can’t find the complete emails that caused the fall of Gruden. I guess he said the NFL Players Ex. Dir. “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of Michelins”. That’s pretty offensive, but is that racist? He apparently said Roger Goodell was a ‘faggot’ for some action Goodell had taken (maybe Jon was thinking of the 16th century definition = a bundle of twigs for starting fires). And he questioned whether women should be NFL refs. Those are all offensive, to some level or another, but to be labeled racist, homophobic, misogynistic without the full context is a bit much, it’s like this is another Salem witch trial, and the barbecue has already occurred. I’m curious how the woke go back in time on some, like Gruden, and get them cancelled, but others are immune, like Biden voicing his opposition to busing saying he didn’t want his kids growing up in a “racial jungle.” Strange days. — DonEstif

Re Gruden’s use of the word “faggot” — You say: “Maybe John was thinking of the 16th century definition = a bundle of twigs for starting fires.” I hope that was a joke, because I know you’re better than that. If you want to make the “double standard” case, all good. No problem. But please let’s not pretend that what Gruden wrote wasn’t nasty stuff. Should he have resigned? We can discuss that. But let’s not downplay what he said simply because “the other side” thinks it’s significant. That’s a problem with both sides: If liberals think something is important, conservatives don’t — and the other way around. Not good.

Bernie, Trump did a good job and that is all the more apparent based on what a lousy job Biden is doing. I’m from CA (now living in OR) and everyone I know there loathed Newsom and yet big win for the guy. Knowing the Democrats as we know them to be, it amazes me that you dismiss the possibility of shenanigans. I do not, and in fact believe that they have been “cooking the books” for years. Beating a dead horse with you I realize, but for me, voter ID as a prerequisite to vote is more important than anything we discuss. Newsom’s results a great reminder / head scratcher. — Thomas C.

I’m for voter IDs. That said, Newsom didn’t win because Democrats cheated. He won because there are more Democrats in California than Republicans — a lot more. Why his victory is a head scratcher is beyond me. As for whether Biden won fair and square: I never said there were no shenanigans. I said that happens to some extent in all elections — but there’s no evidence that they were so widespread that they affected the election. One more thing: Pauline Kael, the New Yorker film critic, famously said (something like): “I don’t understand how Nixon could have won. I don’t know anybody who voted for him.” That showed her narrowness. With kindness, I say your comment about how everyone you know loathed Newsom fits into that category.

Bernie – as you suggest, Donald Trump remains radioactive, but given the Biden Administration’s ability to create crisis’ out of seemingly thin air, I would not fully discount the ability of Joe Biden to significantly rehabilitate Trump’s policies by the time we get to the midterms. That may take Trump off the board as the bogeyman option. Which could leave the Dems, given Biden’s current record of success, with almost nothing to run on… — Hendrick G.

I don’t think Trump’s policies were, or are, the issue. The issue is Trump himself. His approval rating never reached 50%. He’s unlikable to millions upon millions of Americans — including independents, the ones who decide elections. The Dems can’t run on Biden’s record; I’m with you on that. But they can and will run on Trump. That won’t be enough for them to win, I think — unless Donald keeps blabbing about how the 2020 election was stolen from him … and GOP candidates are forced to take a position on that nonsense. If they agree with Trump, they’ll likely lose moderate, independents. If they say they disagree with Trump, they’ll likely lose Trump’s most loyal base. Which brings me to my conclusion that Donald Trump should play golf in Mar-A-Lago and stay out of 2022 politics. I know, I’m dreaming.

As a big Sinatra fan you will enjoy this book I just finished, “Sinatra and Me: In the Wee Small Hours “by Mary Jane Ross and Tony Oppedisano. Tony O was Sinatra’s closest friend for the last few decades of Sinatra’s life. I’m sure you will enjoy this informative and entertaining book. — Bob S.

Thanks. I’ll get it.

Bernie, I know you do not like to speculate but I was hoping you might express your opinion as to whether President Obama (via Susan Rice or others who were key members of his administration) is actively influencing the policy decisions and actions of President Biden. On another note, I think I speak for the vast majority of your readers (cannot be sure about that John D guy ) that when we say or chant “Let’s Go Bernie” we mean exactly what we say and there is no hidden message. — Michael F.

I think Biden is further to the left than Obama — at least further than Obama WAS when he was president. So I don’t know if Obama is sending smoke signals to Susan Rice — or if the lefties in the Administration are putting ideas into Joe’s head. All I know for sure is that Joe is not running the show. The wizards behind the curtain are. Whether Obama is the ultimate wizard, I don’t know. As for “Let’s Go Bernie” — I hope what you mean is something good. Ha.

Bernie, Excellent stuff this week, but it just highlights what those of us who haven’t had our heads in the sand for the last 50 years know about Joe and just about any other politician. They change with the times. Specifically, Joe was against busing back in the 70s because he didn’t want his kids in the jungle, to us his racist words. He went with his daddies who got him into Congress, Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd, and the prevailing thought of the day, at least according to these bigots. And over the years, he’s changed opinions and thoughts, and I use that term very loosely as I don’t believe he has EVER had an original thought, about as often as a chameleon changes colors. Go with the Flow Joe. And so I ask, why are people who did, or supposedly did, vote for him surprised he is leaning so far to the left? He is just following his natural tendency to follow what in his limited capacity is the right path. Will the idiots who are holding his leash realize that these polls are going crush their party next November, or are they just arrogant enough to think they can effect enough change to silence the majority voice? — Rod A.

First Rod, I agree with your analysis. Spot on. As to your question — why are those who voted for him surprised that he’s moved to the left: I think they voted for him not because they thought he was a centrist, a moderate, a traditional liberal Democrat. They voted for him simply because he wasn’t Donald Trump. I’m not even sure they’re actually surprised by the “new” Joe — I don’t think they care all that much. They’re glad they defeated Trump and that’ll do for now. If Joe brings down the party in November 2022, then they might think about the man they voted for, who, as you correctly say, really is Go with the Flow Joe.

Who are the doctors who are performing these sex-change procedures? Whatever happened to “Do no harm”? Are they doing it out of some desire to perform “cutting-edge” surgery? Or to “advance the science”? Maybe they use it as a way to wind down after a hard day doing something boring, like real organ transplants. I am really fed up watching the damage being done to people who are too young or too stupid to realize what they are asking for. I’m 80 years old, and it breaks my heart to see what “Average America” tolerates these days (yes, I can remember the celebrated case of Christine Jorgensen in 1952, but considered it a one off side-show stunt). Can you make me understand? Thanks for any clarification you can provide. — Al L.

Hey Al, I’ll do my best. Sex change operations are serious business (obviously) and I don’t fault doctors for performing them — ON ADULTS who have been counseled on what they’re about to go through. Kids — teenagers — are a different story altogether. I’m with you on that. As for Christine Jorgensen in 1952: It wasn’t a one off … and it wasn’t a side-show stunt. She knew what she was doing and had every right to do it.

[Regarding this week’s “Off the Cuff”], you’re not wrong, but I think the real disappointment with Biden is that he was expected to get COVID tamed through some kind of coherent government strategy. Vaccines were the kryptonite we were going to slay this beast with. Who knew large sections of the population would resist vaccination? I didn’t. More to the point, Joe Biden didn’t either and he didn’t engage with that section of the population in a friendly way to get them vaxxed. Mandates? Who’s ever in favor of that? COVID took out Donald Trump and it’s poised to take out Democrats in the midterms too. — John R.

I think you’re right, John. Covid was a major factor in Donald Trump’s defeat. And I’m with you when you say, “it’s poised to take out Democrats in the midterms too.” He couldn’t figure out a way to get more people vaccinated. And I’m not sure anyone could do that. People who don’t want to get the shot, I suspect, don’t listen to anybody who disagrees with them.

What empowered Biden’s rise to the presidency, where he is so obviously out over his skis? He is not Donald Trump. Trump has so poisoned our national political waters that even incompetent boobery is preferable to him. Trouble is that there wasn’t really any good choice in 2020 and why I cast a protest vote instead of choosing one of these two clownfish figures.

My question: given Trump’s hold on the GOP, demanding slavish devotion to him (his number one agenda item), what alternatives do thinking people who love this country and hate what they are seeing do about it? I consider myself a charter member of the remnant (thank you Jonah Goldberg for the appropriate labeling ) with a conundrum I never saw coming ten years ago. I cannot go with the Kristolites and become a Democrat indulging the fantasy that it can be pulled rightward into moderation. I cannot abide the absolute jackassery of much of the GOP and it’s chosen standard bearer. It may be true that no man is an island. Politically however, I sure do feel like one. — Jesse B.

After reading your commentary, Jesse, I wondered if I wrote it. I agree with everything you said. The best thing that could happen to the GOP in 2022 and beyond is for Donald J. Trump to stay out of politics. If he’s out there whining about how the Dems stole the election, he’ll put every Republican candidate in a very bad spot. In fact, I think that’s the biggest obstacle for a GOP big victory next year. And I also believe that Mr. Trump couldn’t care less about the Republican Party. He cares only about himself.

Speaking of buyers remorse, this is the election that keeps producing lemons. If for some reason Biden can’t complete his term and Harris slips into office, who do you think she would appoint as VP? I don’t see any lemonade in our future for at least another three years unfortunately. — ScottyG

I think Joe will last the entire term. But if Kamala should wind up in the Oval Office in the next few years, she’d be smart to pick an old school moderate. But there aren’t too many of them left in the Democratic Party and progressives loathe the few who might be called moderates. But as I say, I think this is moot.

I can’t think of a more blatant example of liberal media bias than Katie Couric editing out Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s criticism of Colin Kaepernick (and other anthem-kneelers) from her interview with the Supreme Court Justice. It was bad enough that she did it, but the idea that she did it to “protect” Ginsburg from “backlash” feels like nonsense. I think she did it to protect the Kaepernick’s liberal narrative from someone who could knock it right down. Your thoughts? — Ben G.

What she did was just plain wrong. She should have used the controversial quote and when Ginsburg’s PR person said Ginsburg didn’t mean it the way it came out, she should have included the statement in the report — and viewers could make up their own mind. Someone I know who heard about what Couric did wasn’t surprised. She simply said: She was never a journalist. Let me add to that, that I’m confident that if she interviewed a conservative who put his foot in his mouth, she’d have no qualms about including that part of the interview. Forgive me for stating the obvious.

Sir Bernie, the Loudoun County School District has a policy of allowing transgender students to use any rest room they choose. As it turns out, a boy (who identifies as a “girl”) allegedly sexually assaulted two different girls at the school, one of whom he allegedly assaulted because he had access to the girls rest room. That’s bad enough, but her father was informed about the assault and when he arrived at the school, he discovered that it was actually a sexual assault on his freshman daughter. Apparently he became unruly and got arrested when he discovered that the school had tried to cover up the fact that boys that identify as girls may freely use the girls rest room. Of course there was a big backlash from concerned parents against the school board who felt that politically correct narratives were more important than protecting girls from sexual assault (don’t know what happened to “believe all women” but I digress). Next came an enemies list to identify parents opposed to left wing policies as bigoted transphobic types—-the usual drill.

Didn’t sensible liberals ever see nonsense like this coming? Remember back when some people thought that the Equal Rights Amendment would lead to combined male/female rest rooms (and how liberals denied that could ever happen)? Okay— so what the hell happened and why is the narrative more important than students’ safety? Your thoughts? –“Transphobic” Regards from The Emperor

First, Your Holiness, I’m glad you threw in a few “allegedly” qualifiers. Not because I doubt the story, but it sounds so strange that I’m just not sure. But that said, if the person who allegedly assaulted the girl was actually transgender — meaning was taking hormones and was transitioning to become a female — then I’m okay with her using the girl’s restroom. But if the person was a boy who simply said, “I identify as a girl” then the school board should be sued out of existence. I’d like to know more before I get too angry about this.

Back in May, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stated, “I don’t think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election,” and he argued that, “Each day we spend relitigating the past is one day less we have to seize the future.”

Earlier this week, Former President Trump released a statement encouraging Republican voters NOT to vote in 2022 and 2024 unless the “Presidential Election Fraud of 2020” is solved.

Isn’t it time for the GOP to have a come-to-Jesus moment, and finally purge from its ranks the one individual who keeps making it as difficult as possible for the party to hold and win seats? I’m of course talking about Liz Cheney. The nerve of that woman!!! — John D.

No, it is not time for that Come to Jesus Moment. IT’S WAY WAY WAY PAST TIME!!! But we all know what the problem is: If a Republican challenges Trump, his fans — the ones who adore him no matter what he’s done, does, or will do — will punish the person with the courage to stand up to Donald. They’ll either primary the profile in courage or simply sit home on Election Day. If on the other hand, a GOP candidates agrees with Trump, he or she likely would lose moderate voters, including moderate Republicans. I’d vote for Liz Cheney in the proverbial heartbeat — but ONLY if she takes you on as her VP. I can talk to her about that, but first I need to know if they’ll let you out of the “home” long enough to campaign. I would think as long as you take your meds it should work out. Regards to Nurse Ratched.


Thanks, everyone! You can send me questions for next week using the form below! You can also read previous Q&A sessions by clicking here.

Bernie’s Q&A: Biden, Carlson, Giuliani, and much more! (9/24) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):

From last week’s Q&A: “I honestly can’t think of any place I’d like to live besides right here. Scandanavian countries sound good … but way too cold for me.”

Way too cold?????? Is that the worst you can say about Scandanavian countries???? You do realize that Scandanavian countries are what conservative call dens of socialism???? What exactly do you find attractive about Scandanavian countries???? Watch out! Your comrades in-arms might call you a closet socialist. 🙂 — Bob H.

What do I find attractive about Sweden? Denmark? Norway?  Finland? The people are nice. Friendly. The standard of living is high. With exceptions, crime doesn’t seem to be a problem. Pollution doesn’t seem to be a problem, either. No, I’m not a big fan of socialism, but I’d hire a bunch of smart people who would try to help me keep as much of my money as I can. But money isn’t everything, right? Let’s take a trip together, Bob, and if you like it there you can stay and let me know how it’s working out. Yes?

Regarding ScottyG’s question [in last week’s Q&A] about President Biden choosing not to speak at the 9-11 Remembrance Service. Why, in your answer, did you feel that you needed to make it clear that you would expect similar behavior of President Trump? The question did not ask about Trump..why not also include any other ex-Presidents? My point is that President Biden needs to be addressed, commented based on his actions/words alone, not always in reference to President Trump. It’s kind of like saying…”Yeah, that was cowardly (fill in the adjective) but so was Donald Trump” or “Yeah, but Trump was worse.” This is a common Biden apologetic…”yeah, but Trump!” blah, blah, blah. I’m tired of hearing it and it lets Biden off the hook.” — John F.

First of all, here was ScottyG’s question from last week: “Could you ever have imagined 20 years ago or even up to very recently that we would have a President of The United States who has been advised NOT to speak live to the American people during a 9-11 Remembrance Service? Isn’t this man a true bully, that talks tough, talks and whispers down to Americans, brags about s*#! he never did; but when it comes to facing a challenge like possibly being booed or heckled, just like a true bully is nothing but a mere coward? Were you blown away that he chose not to speak on Saturday?”

Scotty’s question was about whether I could “have ever imagined” a president doing something like this, which amounts to the breaking of a presidential norm, and displaying poor character and leadership. Here was my answer: “Nothing [Biden] does surprises me, Scotty. Same as with his predecessor. Nothing he did surprised me either.”

My answer would have been incomplete without that context. Whether you love or hate Trump, he broke all kinds of presidential norms and frequently displayed poor character and leadership. That’s why it is not hard for me to imagine “a president” doing it. That’s not an “apology” for Biden (no one reading my columns could mistake me for a Biden apologist). It’s a criticism of both men (as well as today’s political environment). Biden could have been different from Trump in this regard, but he has proven over and over again not to be. So, as was the case with Trump, this latest example from Biden didn’t surprise me.

No doubt about the left wing slant of the mainstream media and kid gloves for Biden, but iron fists for Trump. It’s also true that Presidential approval poll numbers rise and fall with the economy and those lower poll numbers could reflect a weakening economy. More significant to me is how a medicine has been “partisan-ized” by the media. I keep hearing of Ivermectin as a “horse dewormer” and also elsewhere as a possible Covid treatment. I’m thoroughly confused on whether it has real application for humans or not. How did we get to this point on something that should be irrefutable? — John R.

I hear all sorts of stuff on cable TV mostly from supposed “experts.” They often disagree on treatment, masks, booster shots and a whole bunch of other things involving the virus. I’m also confused — and not only about the drug you mention, John. I’m confused because I don’t trust news organizations anymore to play it straight. Too often the “experts” they put on their shows are there simply because they reflect the station’s values and biases.

Bernie, I don’t know but I think that Joe Biden is actually worse at telling the truth than Donald Trump. Donald Trump only looked worse because the media kept calling him a liar no matter what he said. Also, can you provide some specific lies that Donald Trump, not including the lie about the number of people at his inauguration? I’ve heard the comments about all Donald Trump’s lies but never specifics. — Jerry G.

If I have to provide lies that Donald Trump has told to convince you he’s chronically dishonest, then I’d be wasting your time and mine. Google Trump’s lies. Then discount half of them. You still have thousands of statements that are false, misleading or outright fabrications.

Bernie, as far as I can tell, Joe Biden hasn’t done one true press conference since he was elected, where reporters were called on randomly and without prior knowledge of what would they ask. Am I correct in this, and if I am can you think of any previous President that went eight months into their term without a true press conference? To me, this more than anything shows that not only is Biden not equal to the position he holds but that everyone around him recognizes that he’s not equal to the position. — Bob K.

I think you’re right on all counts, Bob. The reason he doesn’t hold more news conferences and take more questions from more journalists is because his handlers don’t trust him not to screw things up.

On his show Monday, Tucker Carlson said: “The point of mandatory vaccinations [in the military] is to identify the sincere Christians in the ranks, the freethinkers, the men with high testosterone levels, and anybody else who doesn’t love Joe Biden and make them leave immediately. It’s a takeover of the U.S. military!”

In the world of reality (a world that doesn’t have much representation on cable news these days), U.S. military members are required to get several different vaccinations before they can serve (for health and readiness purposes), and receiving those vaccinations (including the Covid vaccine now) obviously doesn’t make those soldiers any less Christian, less independent minded, or have low testosterone. It’s clear that Tucker doesn’t believe a lot of what he says on television these days, but because he knows that millions of Americans really do take him seriously, would it be unfair of me to recognize him as a sadist who gets some kind of special thrill out of sending his viewers into hysterics? — Ben G.

Whether he’s a sadist or not, Ben, he is one crummy human being. Is he perceptive at times? Yes. Does he say things at times that need to be said? Yes. But he has a bad habit of attributing the worst motives to people — and I suspect he does it because he knows that’s what the hard core part of his audience wants to hear. As for the quote you reference: Assuming that’s what he actually said, it’s just one more example of how he crosses the line to make points with a segment of his audience.

Sir Bernie, your prediction came true! Apparently three black women from Texas attempted to enter Carmine’s Steakhouse in New York City, but they were asked to leave because of the vaccine mandates in place (you know, those mandates that President Biden and the liberal Democrats support so much). Apparently the three women could not or would not show proof of being vaccinated against Covid. So what did these classy women do? Well the three black women assaulted the young Asian hostess (golly gee whiz—so much for stopping Asian hate, but I digress). Then the three hooligans allied themselves with BLM to harass Carmine’s staff and customers with the same old hackneyed accusations of racism that’s been a part of the liberal playbook for decades. I’m sure you’ve known many liberal Democrats—What do the liberal Democrats say when they witness such incidents?—-How do you think those diversity loving left wing Democrats in New York City feel when they see incidents Like this that destroy several of their narratives all at once? I’m really curious. — “New York Strip with a side of Assault & Battery” Regards from The Emperor

I don’t know what actually happened. But there are reports that paint a different picture than the one you’ve outlines, Your Holiness. Here’s a report from something called “Eater, New York” …

Vaccination requirement controversy at Carmine’s takes another turn

Late last week, various media outlets reported that a trio of customers allegedly assaulted a hostess at Carmine’s on the Upper West Side after she requested to verify their vaccination status. The incident sparked a flurry of news coverage and outrage over social media over the weekend; however, the conflict took another turn on Saturday: The New York Times reports that the customers, three Black women visiting from Texas, did in fact show documentation of their vaccination status, according to their lawyers as well as Carmine’s.

Video footage from a security camera appears to show that three men tried to join the women in the restaurant but two weren’t able to prove their vaccination status, according to reports. At that point, the women exited the restaurant and the Carmine’s hostess allegedly used a racial slur and assaulted the customers first, one of the lawyers representing the women told the Times. The restaurant has denied the women’s account of the altercation through its legal team. The women now have a court date for October 5.”

I’ll wait to see if truth emerges, Sir Emperor.

Yes, I’m going to touch the third rail of political speech – abortion. To me this issue is one where we need strong voices on both sides (all sides?) and a constantly evolving argument. I’m uncomfortable with the government interfering in the most intimate of medical decisions. I’m also put off by this “celebrate your abortion” mentality of the left, which I think is an unconscionable departure from “safe, legal and rare”. Likewise, I am in favor of the death penalty, but this is also a moral issue that needs to be constantly debated by intelligent people. Aren’t these difficult issues the reason we have free speech? Instead we want to declare “settled law” so our side can win and move on. Medical ethics, discoveries, taboos and social mores are necessarily shifting and evolving. Shouldn’t our public discourse be thoughtful and unsettled as well? — Steve R.

You make a lot of sense, Steve. But as you know, both sides are locked in. Some, but very few people are moved or influenced by arguments put forward by the other side. If there were more like you out there, we’d be less polarized — and more open-minded.

Hey Bernie, where can I find the resource for those who is paying the taxes percentages you mentioned [in this week’s “Off the Cuff”? It’s not that I don’t believe you, I just want to be able to back it up when I share it. — Titaniumman11

Here’s the link.

Bernie, as public figures who insisted the 2020 election was “rigged” continue to face costly defamation lawsuits from the voting-system companies they falsely implicated, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Lindell appear to have joined forces to generate extra revenue for their legal defenses:

Three questions:

  1. Isn’t this the greatest collaboration of two individuals since Simon & Garfunkel, or at least since Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage formed the “Mega Powers” tag-team in the WWF in the late 1980s?
  2. Do you agree that “Towels that Work!” is an absolutely genius product tag-line, being that so many of us are sick and tired of falling victim to regular towels that refuse to absorb moisture?
  3. Is there a “Bernie” promo code that I can use on my next My Pillow online order?

Thanks. — John D.

All interesting questions, John D. And by interesting I mean you’re clearly off your meds — again. But I’ll take a whack at it anyway.

  1. It is a great collaboration … the guy who makes pillows and the guy who made things up. I agree with you that Simon & Garfunkel might be a tad higher on the “Great Collaboration” List …  but only a tad higher. As for Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage: I’ll bet you didn’t know that they recorded “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” BEFORE Simon & Garfunkel did. But Jesse Waters threatened a lawsuit claiming the song was about him and he wanted a piece of the action.
  2. Towels that work are much better than towels that don’t work. I stand by that. They’re especially useful if you fall into troubled waters.
  3. Yes there is. It’s “BernieSaysGFYS”. YS stands for your self.


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Bernie’s Q&A: Joe Biden, 9/11, Robert E. Lee, and more! (9/10) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):

Is there any chance of launching a nightly newscast similar to Bill O’Reilly? Your voice surely needs to be heard, the country would benefit greatly. — Joseph B.

I appreciate the vote of confidence, Joseph, and the very kind words. They mean a lot to me. But as a practical matter, it’s not likely to happen.

So, if you know what you know now, who would you have voted for in the 2020 elections… Biden, Trump, or O’Reilly? 🙂 — Tony P.

If you’re wondering if I would — with hindsight — have voted for Donald Trump the answer is no. I did not vote for Joe Biden. At the time I said, I think Donald Trump is a detestable human being … and I hope he wins in a landslide. That’s not as goofy as it may sound. I’m not looking for the perfect candidate but I could not cross that line and vote for Donald. His personality is toxic. As for O’Reilly: Maybe!

I remember a chemistry teacher from high school who explained to us that science is the quest for knowledge. He followed with a session on ethics which quite honestly, I slept through. But I do recall one point he made is that the quest is not always for good, and history has proven that point well. We have a virus that in most likelihood originated from a Chinese lab. Perhaps it was not financed to be a biological weapon but who knows. If it was an innocent research project to investigate a Corona Virus in Bats; my question is Why? A question I believe that world leaders should be asking. We have agencies looking for intelligent alien life and tracking asteroids. We have a world organization addressing climate change that won’t impact us for one hundred years. And today, we have nearly five million dead worldwide from COVID-19. The CDC, WHO, the United Nations, and our own country have treated scientific research as an art to pursue as needed in pursuit of knowledge. As an investigative reporter, do you accept the lame investigations by these agencies into this Virus? I have a different view of these agencies today. I don’t believe they are serving us in our best interest. Just want to hear your views on that. — Tim H.

The Chinese Communist Party, being what it is, will never cooperate in any investigation. You raise legitimate questions, Tim … and somebody needs to ASK and eventually answer them. Maybe we’ll get to the bottom of this without the Chinese, but I think the mystery will simply drag on until everyone is bored by the subject. Millions will have died; we won’t know what started the whole thing; and I fear, that will be the end of it. I wish I could be more optimistic.

I disagree with the thrust of [Monday’s] article. Saying Joe Biden won because of who he wasn’t seems true to me and framed quite nicely. The right wing gloating over the problems associated with pulling out of Afghanistan strike me as shallow. This is a defeat for America. As for politics, Ann Coulter tweeted, albeit in much saltier language, that Biden showed he had guts by pulling out and that Trump showed by promising it and never delivering, that he had none. I think this dynamic is what will affect the persuadable few in our country. — John R.

Not sure what you disagree with on my Monday column. But no matter. Let’s move on. The left isn’t persuadable. The right isn’t persuadable. And those who are, I think, will make political decisions based on what they saw on TV — and the fact that as of this moment, we still have Americans in Afghanistan who we left behind. Not sure this is what you were looking for but since you didn’t have a question, this is the best I’ve got. Thanks.

Bernie, I agree with your analysis of Joe Biden’s totally inept handling of the Afghanistan mess, however, I take exception to your statement that they (the people) voted for Biden because they were “tired of the chaos and deception they got from his predecessor, Donald Trump”. That is simply an unfair state and it mars an otherwise excellent article. The chaos and deception under Donald Trump was generated by a corrupt and bias media along with an unhinged Democratic party. If you remember there was the two and a half year Russian probe, two bogus impeachments, the corrupt use of the FBI as a partisan political weapon, all done with the purpose of taking down a duly elected president. — Frederic N.

Was the media biased against Mr. Trump? Absolutely! Was the Democratic Party unhinged and suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome? Yes again. But that doesn’t mean Donald Trump was just minding his own business and all this bad stuff happened to a nice guy. He was vengeful, dishonest, petty, and disloyal to people who had been loyal to him. Please don’t make him out to be a victim.

Bernie, if this nation had a crisis of confidence in the late 1970s, then it has a crisis of credibility in the early 2020s. Americans do not know who to trust on foreign policy, the economy, Covid, or a host of other issues that are plaguing the nation. Today, it seems like Americans are more than willing to trust a random stranger on Tik Tok or Twitter over elected leaders, the mainstream media, and in some cases, their own doctors. Much of this is due to self inflicted wounds by all of the aforementioned groups. If this crisis continues then this nation may face unprecedented issues than do not have a quick fix. Is there anything that can be done to end this crisis of credibility? — Joe M.

I agree with your analysis, Joe. And you’re right, there is no quick fix. We’ve got too many people and institutions who have not been worthy of our trust. So, obviously, we don’t trust them. Unless they change, we won’t. We’ll continue to have, as you say, a crisis of credibility. Maybe we’ll reach a tipping point and things will turn around. But I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

Perhaps it is because I am so melancholy considering the post 9-11 world but it seems to me that we are locked into a great irony with no real way out. As our nation has politically devolved into something resembling a cross between armed camps and competing high school pep rallies the quality of our leadership choices has devolved concurrently. Like calls to like. My point reflects my deep sense of gloom (I once was an optimist believe it or not) in that hyper partisanship guarantees the destructions brought by populist candidate after populist candidate with each political side armed to the teeth, so to speak. So Bernie, since in your position you have significant access to a likely broader paradigm , are you seeing any constructive alternatives out there as we gather speed through this seemingly never ending tunnel? Or is this a time for an indefinite British style stiff upper lip? — Jesse B.

The best I can offer, Jesse, is that things could be worse. Let me know when you stop rolling your eyes and saying, “Bernie, thanks for NOTHING.” All I can say is let’s not be too pessimistic; we’ve gotten through a lot. But a stiff upper lip, like chicken soup, couldn’t hurt.

Bernie – perhaps the approved and pending Minneapolis ballot question for the upcoming election cycle may change your mind to come visit us sooner vs later???

Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to remove the Police Department and replace it with a Department of Public Safety that employs a comprehensive public health approach to the delivery of functions by the Department of Public Safety, with those specific functions to be determined by the Mayor and City Council by ordinance; which will not be subject to exclusive mayoral power over its establishment, maintenance, and command; and which could include licensed peace officers (police officers), if necessary, to fulfill its responsibilities for public safety, with the general nature of the amendments being briefly indicated in the explanatory note below, which is made a part of this ballot? _ Yes _ No”

— TheBulldog

Sorry Bulldog. I lapsed into a coma while reading the ballot question.

Why do Liberals want to live in and perpetuate decaying cities where as you’ve noted education is failing, crime is acceptable, small business is handcuffed, and quality of life is deteriorating for the tax payer? This is how they get votes? I don’t get it. –ScottyG

First of all, liberals don’t send their kids to failing schools. They talk a good game but send their darlings to private schools. As for the rest, they would rather put up with all the crap that you’re talking about, Scotty, than live in flyover country. That’s who they are.

Sir Bernie, this week’s Off The Cuff you published is spot on , but let’s face it, this is nothing new. Liberals have been blaming (white) conservatives and that old Boogie Man of white supremacy/ white racism for the failures of black people for Decades. For some odd reason, liberals seem to think that any persons belonging to a minority group are completely incapable of accepting personal responsibility for themselves, nor are they capable of succeeding in life without left wing policies and programs to do it for them, DESPITE all evidence to the contrary. Okay so I get why liberals would often be in denial of these facts, because they disprove the liberal narrative they want to promote, but I must ask——WHY do you think so many black families have bought into this nonsense? Recently I’m seeing more black people speaking out against the terrible liberal policies and denial, but this seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon. And why is achieving success “trying to be white” when the same complainers gripe about how they never get a fair chance in life because of white supremacy? I’m sure you can the paradox here. Your thoughts? –“Soft Bigotry AND Low Expectations” Regards from The Emperor

Someplace along the way — maybe with Nixon and his Southern Strategy — black voters began equating GOP with bigotry. So they vote for Democrats … complain about how bad things are … then vote all over again for Democrats. No one said voters are rational. Maybe if a Republican candidate comes along who can figure out how to connect with black and other minority voters, things will change. If Obama had been a Republican, we wouldn’t be having this conversation … because he was charismatic and, I believe, would have changed the political landscape. So that means the GOP needs a Republican Obama. Know any?

Non-political question this week. Where were you on 9/11/01, and being that you’re from New York, did you know anyone who died that day? — Jen R.

In Miami, watching on TV in real time like the rest of the world. And thankfully, no, I didn’t know anyone who died that day.

What is your opinion of the voting laws passed by legislatures in Georgia, Florida and Texas? It seems both sides of this debate are typically hurt by their hyperbole. These laws aren’t “Jim Crow 2.0”, nor did Joe Biden “steal” the last election. –Steve R.

Bingo! I agree with both statements, Steve. And one of the reasons we don’t know who to trust anymore is because both sides have become addicted to hyperbole. I keep waiting for a ray of sunshine but it’s been a long wait.

This is from a statement Donald Trump released the other day: “If only we had Robert E. Lee to command our troops in Afghanistan, that disaster would have ended in a complete and total victory many years ago. What an embarrassment we are suffering because we don’t have the genius of a Robert E. Lee!”

Bernie, I have a couple questions:

  1. Do you think Trump is right in that a defeated 19th-century Confederate general was the missing piece that would have led to a quick, slam-dunk U.S. victory in Afghanistan?
  2. Being that Trump gets a lot of historical references wrong, is it possible he was confusing Robert E. Lee for Bruce Lee, and that he believes “total victory” could have been achieved through the use of nunchucks?

— John D.

Let me take your last question first. Yes, I think it’s entirely possible that Mr. Trump is confusing Robert E. Lee with Bruce Lee. But can you blame him? There are so many similarities, starting (and ending) with their last name.

As to your first question, whether Robert E. Lee could have won the war in Afghanistan: I’m having lunch with Stonewall Jackson today; I’ll ask him what he thinks and get back to you.


Thanks, everyone! You can send me questions for next week using the form below! You can also read previous Q&A sessions by clicking here.

Bernie’s Q&A: Joe Biden, Afghanistan, Jason Whitlock, and more! (8/27) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

Welcome to this week’s Premium Q&A session for Premium Interactive members. I appreciate you all signing up and joining me. Thank you.

Editor’s note: If you enjoy these sessions (along with the weekly columns and audio commentaries), please use the Facebook and Twitter buttons to share this page with your friends and family. Thank you! 

Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):

I’m curious how many fair minded “we are not liberal biased” papers came after the LA Times for this reported headline about Larry Elder who is running to oust the current Nuisance: ‘Larry Elder is the black face of white supremacy. You’ve been warned’ — Gary

This was not a headline on a news story. It ran over a column, an opinion piece. It was designed to get clicks and readers. I think, Gary, that we’re so numb to this kind of garbage that we just read it and move on. Sad, right?

With China and everyone else watching our weak and incompetent leader, how long do you think it will be before China makes a serious move to take over Taiwan? I give it 2 yrs. or less. I have always felt that whoever was president, good or bad, that America would always survive them. I no longer am so sure. What happens to Biden from here? Impeachment, Court Marshall, or nothing. I suspect the latter. — Beverly B.

If China moves on Taiwan the American people will not be in favor of an American war with China — not over a place so far away. China, I trust, knows this and so your prediction may be right. As for President Biden: Do we really think he should be impeached? Do we really want to go down that road where every time a president screws up we try to remove him from office? That’s not for me. Court martial? I don’t think it applies to civilians, even if they are commander-in-chief. Or “nothing” you ask. Well, there’s always the next election. That’s not nothing.

About 8 months into this Administration and we are seeing unprecedented blundering complete with horrible CYA attempts at justifying the buffoonery. Do you think Joe can survive this level of criticism & accompanying stress for 3 plus more years? I really don’t, but I certainly don’t like the back up plan so I’m pulling for the old bird to keep his wits. Are you? And what scares you most if he doesn’t ? — ScottyG

If Biden doesn’t last his full term, I don’t like the back up plan either, Scotty. I’d rather have a weakened Biden as our president then Kamala Harris no matter her mental condition. If Biden doesn’t last 3 1/2 more years what scares me is that his successor will be worse than him.

I like Jason Whitlock. In some ways he reminds me of someone else I follow (guess who) as he’s not afraid to attack his peers. In a recent article in the Blaze (“Bill Maher is lying.  To his audience. And to himself,” he states: “The left is a house of Trump cards. Remove Trump and the progressive movement immediately collapses beneath the weight of its bulls**t. Remove Trump and the left can’t defend the authoritarian actions it’s taking to overhaul America’s cultural norms.” “Compelling liberals to defend their agenda without their trusty Trump card would unmask their wickedness.”

Speaking with my conservative friends, we want Trump out of the picture. I’m not sure what that takes. But perhaps this is a great start. — Tim H.

Whitlock is a much needed voice in American journalism. And if the reference to someone else you follow is who I think you mean, then thanks, Tim. Things are looking pretty rosy for the GOP — at … the … moment. Donald can screw things up royally, something he’s more than capable of doing. Maybe you should start a Whitlock for President movement and settle a bunch of problem for all of us.

Sir Bernie, I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised to see that it’s not just the liberal media that is going after President Biden on his horrible blunders of the withdrawal from Afghanistan—-it’s also Democrats in his own party. I would have assumed (incorrectly) that they would have made excuses for him by attempting to blame Trump as well. For my own part, I don’t think Biden is crazy so the 25th Amendment shouldn’t apply here; I just think he’s F—-ING Stupid—-you know, like Jimmy Carter. In your opinion, Sir Bernie, why do you think Democrats aren’t defending him as much, and what do you speculate that Kamala Harris would have done differently? — “Stupid Is As Stupid Does” Regards From The Emperor

I agree with almost everything you say, Emperor … except … Jimmy Carter, whatever else he was, definitely was not stupid. Actually he was one of the smartest presidents we’ve ever had. But I understand what you were getting at. I think the reason that some of his fellow Democrats have turned on him is self-preservation. Democrat voters watch television news too and they’ve seen what we’ve all seen. Like liberal journalists who (for a change) are calling out President Biden, liberal pols know their reputation and credibility are on the line. As for VP Harris and what she would have done differently: We can only speculate, but I’m guessing she’d screw this up just like her boss has done.

This is the lead paragraph from an article published in The Hill: The White House is trying to regain control of the narrative on Afghanistan by staging more public appearances for President Biden and highlighting the way in which evacuations have ramped up significantly over the past week. It seems to me; this one sentence sums up what is wrong with our country right now. That the narrative is more important to control than the situation. If the media accepts narrative over performance, the situation on the ground will only deteriorate. How can we as American citizens accept such tripe and how can the White House put out such garbage as the solution to a crisis. A good Commander in Chief would have demanded the resignation of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the CIA Director, the National Security Director, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of State. They were all asleep at the wheel. The prime purpose of the Government is to protect the citizens and sovereignty of its citizens. This Administration has proven to be woefully inadequate to this task. What is your take on this Mr. Goldberg? — Douglas C.

My general take, Douglas, is that President Biden is in way over his head. As for mass resignations: If the heads of those agencies are responsible for the fiasco, fine with me. But what if they gave the president solid advice and he rejected it? That’s more than possible.

Here’s Karl Rove on the subject: “Done right, this sort of military withdrawal would have required the president to insist on robust, cross-agency planning. It appears he didn’t. Mr. Biden should have asked tough questions about what was needed for the Afghan government to hold on or to form an agreement to protect human rights if it couldn’t. He didn’t. Regular briefings—on the intelligence on the ground, reactions of allies, status of the planning—were necessary. But were they held? And if they were, did the president pay attention to them? It certainly doesn’t look like it.”

As for your other point, about how the White House is handling the PR aspect of the mess in Kabul:  That’s what politicians often do; they try to take our mind off of the mess they created by saying, “But look at all the good stuff we’ve done.”  I don’t think the American people are buying their story.  They have seen the pictures on television.  They know how bad it is, no matter how hard Team Biden tries to spin it.

[Afghanistan is a] foreign policy debacle to be sure, but in the 1976 election nobody cared about President Ford’s messy evacuation of Saigon. I do expect Republicans to take control of the House of Representatives in the 2022 election. Do you think Donald Trump will seek to be it’s Speaker? Do you think Republicans will stick with Kevin McCarthy? — John R.

Donald Trump as Speaker? Even though the Speaker does not have to be a Member of the House — Did you know that? … I didn’t until someone pointed it out to me — there’s no way that Donald Trump will seek the job. No Way! As to your other question: If the GOP takes control of the House next year, I do think they’ll stick with McCarthy.

My eyes have seen almost everything that yours have as I am fairly confident that we are in the same general age bracket. When it comes to Biden’s foreign policy chops I’d guesstimate that, were he a major league hitter, his batting average would be hovering around .100 . I had the very same thoughts that this might be his Lyndon Johnson moment ala Vietnam, or his Iranian Embassy moment ala James Earl Carter. The Biden as FDR nonsense has been humorous if not ridiculous. The odds are heavily weighted against the success of his one term administration. What scares me most is what in the world comes next? — Jesse B.

I’m with you, Jesse … except I think you’re being generous saying he’d be batting .100 … that may be a tad high. As for “what in the world comes next?” … Let’s just home it’s not Kamala Harris … because she makes Biden look like a .300 hitter.

Bernie, prior to the COVID vaccines, did you ever envision that once they were available at every corner drug store, a large portion of the U.S. population would refuse to get vaccinated, and needlessly help drive hospitalizations back up through the roof? And what’s with a bunch of these people seeking out horse de-worming agents and ‘monoclonal antibody treatments’ instead of just getting two shots in the arm of something all of the numbers show to be safe and quite effective? This pandemic is being prolonged with all of this nonsense and I’m sick of it. — Ben G.

I’m never surprised, Ben, when stupid people do stupid things … but when smart people do stupid things, it throws me. What I mean is that I know several intelligent folks who won’t get the vaccine. They have excuses, of course … their own reasons … but they don’t make sense to me. I’m as troubled by this as you are but I don’t want the federal government mandating that everyone must get the shot — or else. Private companies are another matter.

Bernie, I agree with everything you said [in this week’s “Off the Cuff”] except when you said, “I suspect he knows that already.” In reference to Biden and his concern for swing voters. Unfortunately, I think President Biden’s mental faculties are far too gone for such reasoning on his part. Such worries are now in the hands of his handlers. — David P.

Maybe. But if his handlers know he’s in trouble, they’ve told him, I suspect. And he, I think, understands. I do believe that his handlers are driving the car and he’s sitting in the back seat looking out the side window. But he’s a lifelong pol and lifelong pols can smell trouble. I think he knows what’s going on.

Bernie, what country am I in right now? Republicans are now pro-choice (when it comes to vaccines), Democrats are over the me too movement (when it comes to women in Afghanistan), and the liberal President wants to run and hide from the liberal media. I thought 2020 was odd, but 2021 has taken us further down this bizarre rabbit hole. Where are we headed? — Joe M.

We’re headed towards 2022 and it’s going to get even crazier between now and then.

Bernie, Good stuff this week, sad to say Lunch Bucket Joe is providing you and the rest of us plenty of items to comment on. But with all the clamor about Joe’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan and the ensuing chaos, I’m not so sure he’s actually calling the shots here. I don’t think and truly believe there are figures behind the scenes cuing the President up every time he supposedly makes a move. And it seems the moves he makes are handled so clumsily, why, it’s almost as if Obama never left office. Or Carter for that matter. LBJ is another story. And Clinton, for all his bravado, is responsible for Mogadishu. Are Democrats just lost as far as foreign policy is concerned? Or do they let their egos, (Johnson, Obama) get in the way of listening to their advisers? Or are their advisers just political hacks like Blinken who are truly out of their league? — Rod A.

Democrats will distance themselves from their nominal leader … and some already have. They want no part of the chaos that President Biden has unleashed. They will look out for themselves and toss Joe over the side if that’s what they feel they need to do. So this time around, it’s more a Biden issue than a Democratic Party issue. Though I get your historical point about Jimmy Carter et al.

Biden ‘s Afghanistan Desertion really bad. It has been a calamity of poor judgment and tragic errors. There’s a LA Times story that 24 high school students + 16 parents from San Diego are stranded ‘somewhere in Afghanistan.’ And an attack at an airport gate with US military injured. This is a presidency killer as you spoke about this week. And things will likely get worse before they get better. In the midst of this, Pelosi and Biden are celebrating their $3.5 infrastructure pancetta squandering while trying to ignore Afghanistan (as they do the Border). I was critical of Michelle Obama when she said something similar, that I have never been embarrassed as an American, but I am now with this collapse in American integrity and fortitude. I am very concerned about about our future, how long will it take us to get our sea legs back and right the rudder. This is really bad. What say you? –Don Estif

I’m with you Don. This IS really bad. This is a Biden screwup from the jump. His presidency is in shambles and as a practical matter he may not be able to recover. My guess, as I write this, is that we’ll now hear from a “tough” Joe Biden. He and his team have to deal with the reality of what’s going on in Afghanistan … AND … the political fallout. Not sure they can do either … or both.

Here in Colorado, it was recently discovered that the president of our state’s Fraternal Order of Police had illegally taken stolen license plates from a police evidence room, placed them on his own automobile, and racked up close to $1,600 in toll-road charges that were then billed to the victim whose plates were stolen. Do you believe that this is proof that the pendulum has swung back too far from the “defund the police” movement? — John D.

As Newton’s Third Law tells us: For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. So if we keep taking money from police departments … if we insist on defunding the police … then the police (or the head of Colorado’s FOP, anyway) are going to fight back do what any of us would do: Steal license plates to avoid toll-road charges. I mean, can we really blame the guy? I am curious though about who steals license plates in the first place? Why not just steal the whole car? And why wouldn’t the cops notify the person who’s tags were stolen and return them instead of holding them in the evidence room? Is it true, John D, that you have a stolen vanity license plate on your car, a 1955 Nash Rambler. And is it true that the plate reads: Fancy Boy? And was it stolen from your boyhood idol, Liberace’s, Rolls Royce? Just  asking!


Thanks, everyone! You can send me questions for next week using the form below! You can also read previous Q&A sessions by clicking here.