The continuation of Skiing Uphill and Boregasm, Zug is 'the little blog that could.'

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Name: Ed Waldo
Location: of The West,

I am a fictional construct originally conceived as a pen name for articles in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS at the 2000 Democratic Convention. The plume relating to the nom in question rests in the left hand of Hart Williams, about whom, the less said, the better. Officially "SMEARED" by the Howie Rich Gang . GIT'CHER ZUG SWAG HERE!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

An Elephant Always Forgets

The Alberto Gonzales' testimony before the House Judiciary Committee didn’t approach the astonishing spectacle of our Attorney General forgetting 72 times -- by the count of that patriotic American who sat behind Gonzo, keeping a running tally at the hearings -- in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I don’t know who that guy was, but, either party, I applaud your cojones, dude. On the other hand, Gonzo had his astonishing exchange with Congressman Robert Wexler, titled, perhaps: “Gee, I’m weaseling through a cross-examination.”

[But the AP writer, astonishingly, reported to the nation that the Democrats had done the country a disservice.]

Still, Gonzo’s newfound mendacity only confirms what we already knew: that Elephants ALWAYS forget.

Especially after Nixon.

When Reagan was caught in Iran-Contra*, his deposed testimony contained so many “I don’t remember”s that, even factoring in the onset of Alzheimer’s (which is admitted), there still can’t be any doubt of the intentional use of the tactic. Oliver North had his “when the Commander in Chief tells me to do something, sir, I do it.”

[* NOTE in "The Iran-Contra Affair 20 Years On" scroll down to:
In that connection, what follows is a partial list of some of the more prominent individuals who were either directly a part of the Iran-Contra events or figured in some other way during the affair or its aftermath ...
And read the bios that follow. ]

At the time, none remembered that was Goebbels’ defense, too.

Last night, on Bill Maher, I witnessed the astonishing spectacle of Frank Luntz, the Republicans’ most cunning linguist -- he of the “Death Tax,” and other Big Brotherish sloganeering -- Frank Luntz sat in all his nebbish majesty, isolated from Arianna Huffington by Paula Poundstone, distancing himself like mad from the Bush Administration.

On the one hand, it was gratifying to see that the rats are deserting the sinking ship of state at deeper and deeper levels of GOP rationalization, but they conveniently forget that they were utterly complicit in “staying on message” with pre-printed talking points, every day, in our most nighmarishly 1984 scenario yet.

But then, Elephants ALWAYS forget.

The talking point last week was that the investigation of the mysterious purging of 8 United States attorneys was becoming even more mysterious, and everyone agreed that nothing illegal had occurred*, and the Democrats are spending HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS on this useless investigation.

This sort of obstruction continued even after Independent Counsel's appointment. In the course of his work, Independent Counsel located large caches of handwritten notes and other documents maintained by high officials that were never relinquished to investigators. Major aspects of Iran/contra would never have been uncovered had all of the officials who attempted to destroy or withhold their records of the affair succeeded. Had these contemporaneous records been produced to investigators when they were initially requested, many of the troublesome conflicts between key witnesses would have been resolved, and timely legal steps taken toward those who feigned memory lapses or lied outright.

-Conclusion, Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh, Iran/Contra Report

I remember the Watergate spectacle of 33 years ago, and I watched the Nixonian stonewalling during the hearings (which, in the summer of 1973, I had the luxury of watching every day, and I did). Then, they bumblingly said things like “that statement is inoperative.”

But then, they didn’t have Frank Luntz working to polish their mendacity.

In 1997-1998-1999, it was “The Rule of Law” (Actually, in 1999 it was “WHY TOO KAY!!?!?”)

But, in the face of the most outrageous subversion of the law that we have ALWAYS agreed, Republican and Democrat, Jew and Gentile, North and South, must be fair and impartial; must operate with an iron integrity, and suddenly, this weasel Gonzales, his subferrets, and the Afghan Hound himself, George W. Bush (who was “a hunnert percent” behind Gonzales), well, they’re the law and order crowd, right?

They’re the ones who are “gonna bring INTEGRITY back to the White House.”

Alas, they’re also the ones who unleashed the “War on Terra.” But they’re fighting tooth and claw not to pull out of a failed war in Iraq, because they say “that would mean the terrorists win.”

Well, actually, they did, Elephants.

Osama bin Laden’s complaint against the United States was that we had an infidel base on holy soil (Saudi Arabia, keeper of the sacred sites of Mecca and Medina, of which, it is still a crime for a non-Muslim to enter—although perhaps no longer a CAPITAL crime).

And in 2003, we pulled our base out of Saudi Arabia.*

[* "This does not mean we have requested them to move"
Prince Sultan, Saudi Defence Minister]
We went from a surplus (you remember: “It’s YOUR money!”) to a deficit of 8 TRILLION dollars plus. The US dollar has lost a huge chunk of its value since 2002*. Gasoline prices have more than doubled since the “War on Terra” began.

[* In May 2002, a Euro was worth 89 cents, US. Today, a Euro is worth US$1.35 ($1.3529). Here's the Zug Math Challenge: what percentage drop in the value of the US dollar does that figure represent? Winners will receive Virtual Prizes worth Millions of Virtual Dollars!]

“War on Terra” is how they pronounce it. They write “War on Terror,” which means one Ministry of Truth thing, but they call it the “War on Terra,” or, in the accepted language of academia for a thousand years and more, “The war on Earth.”

And that war’s been going very well for them.

They’ve denied that global warming existed for years. They’ve manipulated the scientific reports and been caught at it. They’ve purged the government of scientists, and, they’ve purged Justice, as well--if you realize that Pat Robertson’s law school, of whom 125 graduates are officials within the Department of Justice, is a fourth tier law school. That they are, however, reliably fanatical in their religious beliefs is assured.

But they claim that there was nothing to see in the legal purges at the Justice department, and now, that “Global Climate Change”* -- a Frank Luntz coinage, in all probability -- is, in fact possible, they are going to lead the parade.

The EPA Website:

Climate Change or Global Warming?

"The phrase 'climate change' is growing in preferred use to 'global warming' because it helps convey that there are changes in addition to rising temperatures."

The National Academies

And the rats deserting the sinking ship conveniently forget that once, they manned the oars.

Oh, and they’re against Democratic “pork” in the $100 billion additional Iraq funding appropriations bill. If Oregon rural schools get their funding from the federal subsidy they were guaranteed, in return for ceding huge chunks of their counties to the “National Forests” that were created to stop the states from being logged off, well, if their schools can’t run (and no child is left behind), that’s pork. Bush says he will veto it. Because suddenly, he's for fiscal discipline.

How can they sleep at night?

It’s easy: Elephants always forget.

You see, what Frank Luntz did, was to test out different phrases, words, slogans on “focus groups.” They used the statistical methods of audience test marketing, and applied them, using Skinnerian conditioning techniques.

But even Dr. Stangelove is running like hell from the collapse of the Bush Administration, who took the worldwide love of America from 9-11 and a budget surplus, and turned them into the fear and loathing of a growing number of nations around the world, and economic ruination for the country.

Our military is overextended and exhausted. Our treasury is depleted. Our jobs and industry have either moved overseas or been bought by foreign interests. Did you know that over 60 percent of the book publishing industry in the United States of America is owned by foreign corporations?

And the Republicans defend the cronyism, the corruption, the political purges and the incompetence that allowed the city of New Orleans to drown, and send a significant portion of her population into refugee status, temporary AND permanent?

But they own the radio stations, and their own Television networks, and they broadcast that it’s all the Democrats’ fault twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week in every major and minor city in the United States of America.

And people believe it.

Because Elephants always forget.

The poll that came out yesterday says that they’ve done their dirty work well: public approval ratings of congress have dropped significantly.


Is it because congress hasn’t done an amazing job of applying the brakes to an out of control government? Is it because congress hasn’t made ending this war a priority? Or is it because the wholesale slandering of the party, the representatives and anyone who thinks like them has proceeded at every step of the way?

Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week in every major and minor city in America.

I’d say that they are pretty effective at spreading the word. And no matter what last year’s catchphrase was, the true believers never have to hear that this year’s catchphrase is a complete repudiation of last year.

You might wonder how, in the face of monumental incompetence, a callous and criminal disregard for the truth, and an “MBA” Presidency that is perhaps the worst-managed government in the history of these United States ... you might wonder how anyone can continue to believe the lies that they gin up and buy the snake oil that they bottle.

There can be only one explanation:

Elephants never remember.


Friday, May 11, 2007

His Flaming Trousers

pants on fire!


Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Trail From Runnymede

Truth be told, my wife and I seriously considered leaving Oregon and, consequently, the United States following the 2004 election. We were serious enough to take at least one scouting trip outside the USA, to see what such a move would entail.

Don't get me wrong: I love my country. Or, rather, I love the IDEA of my country—which is a different thing, altogether, since this country IS, in essence, an idea, and a very good one, at that. In many ways, I'm as American as it's possible to get. Fourth-generation Nebraskan. Kid from Wyoming. I've been a Cub Scout, a Boy Scout, a New Mexico Boy's State attendee (I was elected a state senator); played baseball, basketball, football. Student Council. Debate team. College scholarship. Who's Who in American High Schools and Colleges, 1973.

I've been a teenage page at state conventions, a delegate from Oregon to the 2000 Democratic National Convention, elected a multiple-term Precinct Committeeman, Webmaster of the Oregon Democratic Party, President of the Eugene Astronomical Society, a member of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and am eligible for membership in Sons of the American Revolution, if I can scrape up the paperwork from Aunt Jenny. Cab driver, chauffeur to a cultivator being pulled by an International Harvester tractor; sacker of groceries, temporary secretary, condo maintenance, security guard.

My bona fides are there. I promise you: the idea of leaving was neither painless nor casual; agonizingly to the contrary, in fact. America had become a place where a good American, in good conscience, could not live.

I even spent my childhood in Laramie, Wyoming, which has become, sadly, a symbol of anti-gay violence in the manner that Mississippi made itself a symbol of white supremacist and racist violence. When I grew up, Laramie had a positive reputation as the setting for a gazillion "western" novels, movies and TV shows. And America has been like that for me, too. Something I once took pride in had become something shameful, was the scene of horrific crimes.

But the shame of living in this state and this country peaked in 2004. You may appreciate my disenchantment with our national politics, but what you don't know is that I was disgusted as an Oregonian by Oregon's (despicable) vote (by a substantial margin) to ENSHRINE discrimination in the state constitution with an anti-gay-marriage initiative, Measure 36, in 2004.

It was a deep insult to the very nature of constitutional law, which has always been about expanding the franchise of rights (not privileges), and not about restricting it.

I moved from Southern California for the same reason: the economy was so based on slave ("wetback") labor that to remain was to collaborate in a de facto slave state. When a human has no rights, they cannot be called "free."

I did not know how I could, in good conscience, continue to live in a state filled with bigots. As a 'founding father' of the city of West Hollywood, (OK, I only phone-banked and voted) I was ready to pack my bags and go. It just proved impossible, financially and in other ways. But the extreme discomfort remained.

I do understand how heterosexual men who aren't secure in their sexual identities project rage and fear at gays, but I did not believe them and their female counterparts to be a majority. Still, the battle always seemed a weird conflation of "Marriage"—the civil laws—and "Marriage"—the sacrament of the various churches, synagogues, mosques, stupas, what-have-yous. Nobody was ever quite sure which "Marriage" we were talking about.

I was unwilling to remain a passive collaborator in the gang-rape of the Constitution, and the slide into vicious hooliganism that has characterized the so-called "Reagan Revolution," as finally exemplified in the criminal enterprise commonly referred to variously as, "The Religious Right," "The Bush Administration," and, the more generic "The Republican Party." The anti-homosexual constitutional amendment brought it all home to roost in the fall of 2004.

If I had believed I was living on the Left Coast, far from the madness of the Deep South and the mindlessness of Kansas, I could no longer rationalize that it was far away. It was right here. Right now.

And then, something amazing happened in 2006: Not only was the Congress delivered to the Democratic Party, and taken from the Republicans (although no one seems to want to investigate the evidence that the Republicans STILL stole through their patented racist and electronic poll shenanigans as many as 30 House seats, and additional Senate seats); but the Oregon legislature was delivered from the Neanderthal hand of the Republican party. There was hope, but I still lived in a state that had enshrined straightforward bigotry in our constitution.

Well, as of yesterday, I no longer have to wrestle with that dilemma:

Governor signs gay-rights bills
Statesman Journal (Salem, Ore.)
May 9, 2007

More than three decades after he co-sponsored one of the efforts, Gov. Ted Kulongoski today signed bills barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and providing legal recognition of same-sex couples through domestic partnerships ... As a legislator in 1975, Kulongoski co-sponsored a bill that would have added sexual orientation to Oregon's civil-rights law. The first such bill was introduced in 1973. Several such bills have passed the Senate and House, but never both chambers in the same session until now....

There. One should bask for a moment in the rare ray of sunshine through the political clouds of the last several years. I cannot imagine, standing in the darkness of 2004, that 2007 would have been possible.

We have come some distance back from the brink. These United States continue our historic march towards enfranchisement.

We forget that this long march to freedom began with the tyranny of one Alpha Male (in virtually all neolithic cultures, and in all dermal shades). In our culture, we advanced our skills and our weapons far beyond our government: it was only in 1215, with the signing of the Magna Carta, that "Nobles"—you know, barons and earls and dukes, and all those other fancy names for "warlord," or, more accurately Alpha Hairless Killer Ape—only in 1215 did they force King John (or, Warlord John, etc.) to sign a paper agreeing that his whim wasn't the direct Word of God (Divine Right, and all that jazz). About THEIR rights. Not about anybody else.

Heck, Caesar was both the end of anything resembling democracy and the beginning of the "My Way or the Highway" model of governance (generally, at the time, the crucifixion was the excessively frequent version of the "highway"). And so on and so forth from Rome to modern Europe: the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the "Space Age."

But there, in 1215, our Constitutional Law was born, following a lot of stages from forcing the King to accept the rights of a few—to attempting to guarantee the rights of all.

America has been in fast forward in expanding that franchise of rights. The "franchise" was granted, at first, only to propertied White Males (albeit, of English descent) to White Males, (of English descent) to White Males (not always of English descent). Thence to Black Males (as long as the franchise was not exercised), thence to White Females, first on the Isle of Man, in 1866, then in the US, beginning with the Wyoming Territory in 1869 and ending with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Again: as long as the franchise wasn't actually exercised.

The Equal Rights Amendment is still pending, even though more than a majority of states have ratified it.

We date "habeas corpus"—the Latin for "I have the body" or, "show me the prisoner"—from that little signing ceremony and photo-op with King John on the Runnymede meadow on June 15, 1215. John, like a good Imperial President, immediately repudiated the "Articles of the Barons," but died of dysentery fighting about it, later on. Constitutional Law won by virtue of forfeit.

To this very day, the state clutches at some bits of owning the body of the citizen if that citizen is a woman and pregnant: she is still more valued by the state as a brood mare than as a human being at some moments of her life.

The movements of the '60s, '70s and '80s (and '90s) were based in extending the actual exercise of the franchise. That old "alpha male" idea of killer ape rulership is still a hard habit to break—and we have now extended it to females. But we are making progress. Oregon has passed an anti-discrimination bill, and a civil unions bill.

Here, a large portion of the crowd that shrieked about "marriage," is content. It may end up having been, after all, only a semantic battle for them. And that is a good thing.

[Note: I have always wondered what the State was doing in the 'marriage' business, anyway. There is civil marriage, and there is sacramental marriage, and they are NOT the same thing, and ought to be given different names before somebody gets hurt in the confusion. Whoops. I mean, before MORE people get hurt in the confusion. After all, "War on Drugs" and "War on Terror" aren't the same kind of "war" thing. Right? Well, they weren't SUPPOSED to be. Let's leave the 'marriages' to the churches, and substitute 'civil union' for 'marriage' EVERYWHERE that it appears in civil law. It may be painful to the greeting card industry, but the conflation of terms has proven deleterious to the health of the Republic.]

The idea of the individual dignity and worth of every human being is an idea that slowly continues catching fire.

Oh, the storm clouds are on the horizon. SOME of the groups that united to pass Measure 36 are undoubtedly going to petition to have the anti-discrimination laws and the civil union law set aside. They would have to gather slightly over 55,000 signatures in the 90-day period following the adjournment of the legislature.

But, as I said, some of the pro-Measure 36 groups had indicated during that election that they would not oppose civil unions, so we shall see.

For a moment, it's great to live in Oregon. And it's great to note that it isn't just Oregon.

Gays see progress at state level as new laws passed
Published 05/10/2007
by Lisa Keen

It's official: 2007 is the new banner year for gay civil rights. Three more state legislatures have passed laws to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination and their governors are expected to sign them. And three have passed new laws to provide some form of legal recognition to same-sex relationships.

Prior to this year, 1992 was the year with the greatest number of gains in statewide legislation--that's when California, New Jersey, and Vermont passed statewide civil rights bills to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination.

In addition to a civil unions bill in New Hampshire and a domestic partnership bill in Washington state passed last month, Oregon this month sent a domestic partnership bill to the governor's desk, which Governor Ted Kulongoski signed Wednesday, May 9. The bill, which the Oregon House approved last month and the Senate approved May 2, allows same-sex couples to share a number of benefits, including inheritance, child custody, and hospital visitation.

In addition to Oregon and Iowa passing a law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination last month, Colorado passed a bill prohibiting employment discrimination last week. And Vermont's legislature added gender identity and expression.

That's five states this year and six since December, when New Jersey passed a civil union law.

Freedom marches on, for each and every one of us. And Constitutional Law continues to free more people than any other form of government ever has.

And, for just a moment, I don't feel like moving. The thing seems to have turned around, and it's still a nasty uphill slog, but the drive to the bottom seems to have been staved off. For today, at least.


Tuesday, May 8, 2007


On April 28th, I cross-posted a piece entitled "Making Waves In The Kiddie Pool," which was about the stifling of dissent in America, and the long-term reasons, perhaps, for the astonishing passivity of Americans in the face of what can only be described as creeping fascism.

I tried to deal with what I considered some of the root causes, including a passive print media.

On "The Democratic Daily," one Richard Karpel, the "Executive Director" of the "Association of Alternative Weekly Newspapers" took offense at a section wherein I noted a local example of the manner in which the entirely advertising-driven "alternative" newspaper mysteriously shaded its muckraking in a manner that didn't threaten its advertising base.

Mr. Karpel has since unleashed a torrent of insult, "withering" sarcasm and imbecilic arguments designed to "prove" that alternative newsweeklies are the greatest journalistic force for good since Moses inscribed the Ten Commandments in stone.

And you know what?

I am under no compulsion to answer civilly, when the comments are fundamentally barbaric.

Karpel, it turns out, has been a lobbyist out of Washington, D.C. since the mid-80s, first putting in nine years for the Video Software Dealers' Association, and then, since 1995, in his current position as the Executive Director of AAN. He evidently has several "Google" alerts set, and responds whenever his masters' tabloid throwaways are mentioned in any sort of disparaging manner.

I could reply in many ways, but I think "Shove it up your ass, Karpel!" is most appropriate.


Well, first off, it seems apparent that he didn't actually READ what I wrote, beyond his narrow bailiwick, and in a manner that belies his claim of a JD from the "Chicago-Kent College of Law." He cherry picked what he was interested in and threw the rest of the essay in the garbage. (Er ... that's sure civil!) To wit:

Richard Karpel Says:
April 30th, 2007 at 7:44 am

Alternative newspapers "don’t write anything that that would make waves or drive off advertisers." What in the world are you talking about? It’s clear to me from your description that you don’t actually read any alternative newspapers. But that doesn’t stop you from slandering them, does it?
"Slander," it should be noted, is spoken, while "libel" is written, and as a lawyer, Mr. Karpel OUGHT to know the difference. He doesn't. Instead, unstable in his chosen field, he attacks, ad hominem, in the field for which he's NOT qualified by degree nor education: writing.

Evidently, these "alternative" newsweeklies have no actual writers to defend their sullied honor. Of course, "alternative newsweeklies" weren't the point, nor even a significant point in my essay, and being dragged into a pissing match about them is already a fundamental insult of my thought and work in composing the essay in question.

I invite the reader to view the exchange, and note what a spoiled, insulting prick this rude barbarian actually is. I might even answer his charges, except that with a barbarian, the niceties of debate, rationality, and civil discourse are abandoned in favor of the sneer, the insult and the barbarian's yawp.

No reason to pick through the offal for the rational objections contained therein.

Karpel serves his masters, the numero uno of which would be the "Executive Editor" of the NEW TIMES group who merged their newspapers with the VILLAGE VOICE's group in 2005 to form "VILLAGE VOICE MEDIA , Inc.":

Alternative newspapers to merge
Dan Fost, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Times Media, the Phoenix company that owns the SF Weekly and East Bay Express, is acquiring Village Voice Media of New York, one of the country's oldest publishers of alternative newspapers ....

The merged company will take the name Village Voice Media, and will be run by New Times' chief executive Jim Larkin and executive editor Michael Lacy. Village Voice Chief Executive Officer David Schneiderman will be president of Village Voice Digital.

The company will have revenue of $180 million, and with a combined circulation of 1.8 million, it will account for nearly a quarter of the alternative newsweekly industry's total circulation of 7.6 million, the Associated Press said ... In 2003, the Justice Department stopped the two companies from completing a deal that it said violated antitrust law. The companies had agreed to stop competing in Cleveland and Los Angeles, where they each had papers.

The Village Voice's No-Alternative News: Corporate Takeover
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 24, 2005; Page C01

... Despite their liberal, anti-establishment pedigree, alternative weeklies such as New Times and Village Voice long ago became big business. They are free and stuffed with music and arts coverage, they rake in piles of cash from entertainment ads and personal classifieds. Village Voice Media is owned by a consortium of investment banks that beat out New Times five years ago...
Or how about Democracy NOW!:

Thursday, April 13th, 2006
Village Voice Shakeup: Top Investigative Journalist Fired, Prize-Winning Writers Resign Following Merger with New Times Media
Or, even:

Hans Eisenbeis

But the alt weeklies have for twenty years coasted on the usefulness of their listings and their sex advertisments.
I considered going into the whole manner in which this new media group has decided that it, and it alone, owns the term "VOICE" and has aggressively harassed any newspaper in the US that has the word "VOICE" in the title.

... One can mourn the days when the Voice represented the values and practices of local, progressive, independent publishing, but they aren’t coming back. As a paranoid, expansionist empire with far-flung investments, Village Voice Media will continue to view any paper that pops up in the U.S. as a possible competitor. This is true even when the threat of real competition (or "confusion in the marketplace") is comical, as in the case of the well-intentioned yet amateurish Beachwood Voice and Voice Media’s west-coast mothership LA Weekly.

While America’s original alternative newspaper has grown into something of a straw bogeyman, it isn’t one that should unduly frighten other "voices" in America’s publishing wilderness. The lesson of the Cape Cod Voice is that papers can successfully tell thuggish Voice lawyers to go screw themselves and live to brag about it. When papers using the word "voice" in their titles have punched the Village Voice Media shark on its nose, it has swam away more than once ....
And I considered then noting that with a quarter of all alternative newsweekly readers, and an ad sales department that covers a significant ADDITIONAL chunk, Mr. Karpel's organization and his paycheck is, in essence, beholden first and foremost to VVM, Inc., and noting the raft of nastiness unleashed by Michael Lacy as "Executive Editor."

But I think I'll just quote Lacy and leave it be:

As a journalist, if you don’t get up in the morning and say ‘fuck you’ to someone, why even do it?
—Michael Lacey, in NEW YORK MAGAZINE
I guess that's the journalistic model that Mr. Karpel follows. But it ain't civil, and it ain't discourse. So it ain't gonna be replied to, except in kind. (This is the mistake the Democrats have made with the Republican screamers, please note: you can't expect a barbarian to understand manners; the best you can do is whop them upside the head with a rhetorical baseball bat.)

Mr. Karpel is invited to print out his commentary, roll it into a tight cylinder of pages, and insert it where the sun don't shine.


Monday, May 7, 2007

Emergency Hiatus

This blog has been on hold due to the hospitalization of a family member.

The good news is that we anticipate the release of that family member today.

Please stand by.