Author Topic: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?  (Read 2871 times)

Greg Davidson

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Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« on: September 05, 2018, 09:56:05 PM »
Here is the op-ed which appeared mid-day today. The indication that it might be by VP Pence is the word "lodestar" - almost no one uses this term, but VP Pence has done so repeatedly in the past. So it might be VP Pence, or it could be a set-up designed to implicate VP Pence. The NYT did vouch for the source, saying that they knew who it was, and that the person was a "senior official in the Trump Administration".

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President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader.

It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall.

The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

I would know. I am one of them.

To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.

But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.

That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.

In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.

Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.

But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.

From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.

Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.

“There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top official complained to me recently, exasperated by an Oval Office meeting at which the president flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier.

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The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.

It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.

The result is a two-track presidency.

Take foreign policy: In public and in private, President Trump shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations.

Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.

On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.

This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.

Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.

The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.

Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.

We may no longer have Senator McCain. But we will always have his example — a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue. Mr. Trump may fear such honorable men, but we should revere them.

There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/05/opinion/trump-white-house-anonymous-resistance.html

Fenring

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2018, 10:18:26 PM »
Such commentary is interesting however any comments coming from RNC loyalists should be held with a grain of salt as even if Trump weren't mentally off the rails I expect they would still be deadset on convincing everyone - as Trump's opposition does - that he is unfit so that a real party man can take over. Whether Trump was competent or incompetent I rather expect their position with regard to him would be the same, but nevertheless such warnings as this should also be considered as potentially accurate. Even merely the anti-Russia lobby alone would be strong enough to present a 'united front' of agreement on Trump being off the rails and unfit, and I give them about as much credit as I give Putin.

TheDeamon

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2018, 10:22:18 PM »
As I have said before, I don't think the Republicans would stop Trump from being impeached. But as it stands, short of declaring him mentally unfit, it is unlikely the Republicans will initiate impeachment proceedings. I think 2016 has them spooked, they don't understand what happened, or what is happening, and they're playing it safe by trying not to anger their voting base further.

And as they(voters) appear to have favored Trump, they're keeping their hands off. Now come November, should the Democrats take the House, and certainly so if they(Democrats) get a Senate Majority, then all bets are off. I am inclined to think there is going to be a very hard push to get Trump to resign in November regardless, we shall see just how "bloody" that effort turns out to be. If that op-ed doesn't trigger an earlier bloodletting.

It could be Pence, particularly as he is the safest person in the group. Trump cannot make him resign, the worst Trump can do is exclude him from the 2020 Presidential ticket.

TheDeamon

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2018, 10:26:02 PM »
Such commentary is interesting however any comments coming from RNC loyalists should be held with a grain of salt as even if Trump weren't mentally off the rails I expect they would still be deadset on convincing everyone - as Trump's opposition does - that he is unfit so that a real party man can take over. Whether Trump was competent or incompetent I rather expect their position with regard to him would be the same, but nevertheless such warnings as this should also be considered as potentially accurate. Even merely the anti-Russia lobby alone would be strong enough to present a 'united front' of agreement on Trump being off the rails and unfit, and I give them about as much credit as I give Putin.

Well, at this point they may be trying for a flat out "psychotic break" with regards to Trump so that it can be taken as undisputed that he's gone off the deep end.

Even if it is due to justifiable paranoia that practically everyone seems to be out to get him in one way or another.

Fenring

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2018, 11:51:09 PM »
I'll just throw in, for fun, that in light of these comments about Trump we should note the exceptional praise given to McCain since his passing. Granted, it's the decent thing to send him off with honor, but on the other hand he also seems to be held up as some kind of governmental role model or exemplar, and this is where the red flags appear for me, because I cannot think of a Republican I associate more with psychotic warmongering lobby-driven adventurism than McCain. That he is somehow being held up as a good example in contrast to Trump's bad one strikes me immediately as being a suspicious association and suggests possibly problematic affiliations of the writer. McCain did have a 'solid' countenance for the most part and that adds a lot to the mystique of the military hard-ass leader, but I can't think of a less credible person to hold up as the hero we wish we had to oppose Trump's antics.

TheDeamon

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2018, 12:42:37 AM »
Well, if the intent is to send Trump "over the edge" praising McCain in such a way might just do it. They may not truly mean it, but are using it as a means to an end.

DonaldD

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2018, 07:51:09 AM »
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I expect they would still be deadset on convincing everyone - as Trump's opposition does - that he is unfit so that a real party man can take over.
You might have a point if "they" cared nothing for electoral math. But putting this stuff out 3 months before the mid-terms?  That's a recipe to decimate the chances of a whole lot of party people.  It also makes little sense because the party men have been falling all over themselves to stream along in Trump's draft.  The only way this makes any sense is if these party men have done the calculus that Trump will not be able to deliver his base in the very near future.

Alternatively, maybe these party people feel they have better "chances" in a country that has not sidelined itself, and has not morally knee-capped itself, internationally and which retains at least some of its democratic institutions domestically.

TheDeamon

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2018, 08:28:31 AM »
More likely they're trying for "a bump" from McCain's death, and likewise have decided that the polling data already suggests loss of the House is certain.

The thing driving the timing is McCain's death more than anything else.

Greg Davidson

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2018, 10:26:07 AM »
From what I read, the motivation may be more that the polls are looking like a Democratic takeover of the House combined with the convictions of Cohen and Manafort are indicating that there is going to start to be legal retribution. And this is right after Labor Day, when the final push to the elections is occurring. So some Republicans are preparing for the next phase, where they say that Trump was never really a Republican. and that they were always fighting against him.

If this sounds ridiculous, just look at how the Republicans acted with President George W Bush

Seriati

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2018, 10:35:09 AM »
I don't know, nothing they wrote about is treason (which some of the stuff in Woodward's book would be).  But it's clear the deep state exists. 

I find the timing here to be suspicious.  Woodward's book and this come out at the same time?  Looks like too big of a coincidence to be one.  I also find the idea of publishing this anonymously to be a joke.  If this isn't on the record it's not believable.  A true patriot would go on the record.  People who put country first would go on the record.  People who believe the President is mentally unstable would be on the record trying to have him removed.

I think the credibility of this as "patriotism" is false.  This is, once again, the deep state trying to limit the power of the outsiders that are running roughshod over their entrenched interests.

TheDeamon

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2018, 10:37:26 AM »
From what I read, the motivation may be more that the polls are looking like a Democratic takeover of the House combined with the convictions of Cohen and Manafort are indicating that there is going to start to be legal retribution. And this is right after Labor Day, when the final push to the elections is occurring. So some Republicans are preparing for the next phase, where they say that Trump was never really a Republican. and that they were always fighting against him.

Don't underestimate the calculus that they're trying to invoke the memory of McCain, as the recently deceased who is getting praised by everyone (except Trump) in death, as a springboard to try to improve the chances for Republicans in November. "Don't vote Democrat in November because of Trump, vote Republican in November because of McCain."

That they're also showing poorly in the polls with respect to the House just gives further incentives for their acting on it. I'm sure they'd prefer to have waited to spring this particular surprise, but McCain's death moved up the time table, as they're trying to take advantage of the optics regarding their "standing with McCain."

D.W.

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2018, 10:44:24 AM »
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A true patriot would go on the record.  People who put country first would go on the record.
This is a tricky one.  Going public would immediately cause them to be fired.  (as, it should).  Then someone the president felt was more trustworthy/loyal would get the job.  Suddenly by their coming forward they have (in their own mind) removed a potential safeguard by one who we can probably assume seems them self as a patriot; and replaced that safeguard with a facilitator for the exact type of things they wanted to stop.

My problems are, A) this is a soft-coup and B) hi-lighting this is occurring makes the job of thwarting or "handling" the president that much more difficult.

Seriati

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2018, 11:05:51 AM »
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A true patriot would go on the record.  People who put country first would go on the record.
This is a tricky one.  Going public would immediately cause them to be fired.  (as, it should).  Then someone the president felt was more trustworthy/loyal would get the job.  Suddenly by their coming forward they have (in their own mind) removed a potential safeguard by one who we can probably assume seems them self as a patriot; and replaced that safeguard with a facilitator for the exact type of things they wanted to stop.

I have to disagree.  They are not a safe guard.  When I parsed that I looked for acts of treason.  The literal frustration of the President's directives.  Persuading him not to act, or acting in accordance with your job duties even if you believe the President would choose otherwise, are not treason, they are legitimate and proper acts. 

Stopping him from doing something or directly countermanding him would very likely be acts of treason. 

The only recourse in that circumstance is to come forward on the record.  Make the impeachment case to Congress.  Secret "resistance" is always going to border on treason, it isn't remotely in the country's interest to do it.  Really, it's all about the author's ego without accepting any risk or personal responsibility.  In other words, they believe they are a good person for "doing what they can."

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My problems are, A) this is a soft-coup and B) hi-lighting this is occurring makes the job of thwarting or "handling" the president that much more difficult.

I actually don't read this as a soft coup.  This is just confirmation of what the voters believe.  It doesn't matter who gets elected, the deep state is permanent and has too much influence.  The fact that this acknowledges they can't fully stop Trump, and stops short of describing treason says a lot.  Maybe they are also committing acts of treason as Woodward's book implies.

DonaldD

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2018, 11:18:22 AM »
That's not treason (at least, not as defined in the constitution of the USA). 

Seriati

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2018, 11:30:27 AM »
Not sure what you are referring to DonaldD, but deliberately countermanding legal Presidential orders that you disagree with would very likely constitute treason.  Illegal orders are a different matter, but again, if Trump is issuing illegal orders that would impeachable grounds and a true patriot would bring that forward.

DonaldD

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #15 on: September 06, 2018, 12:04:36 PM »
No, it wouldn't.  Since you now used the words "very likely treason" it seems clearer that you are making a legal claim, as opposed to an informal characterization.

But the constitution is clear about what constitutes (pun somewhat intended) treason:
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Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Seriati

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #16 on: September 06, 2018, 12:10:21 PM »
Thanks for the reminder, you are correct, I will tone by the hyperbole on the point.

Fenring

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #17 on: September 06, 2018, 12:21:27 PM »
I guess it might be worth noting in that definition that "enemies" probably includes internal enemies as well, as we might see for instance in a coup attempt or civil war. We wouldn't want to go down a slippery slope with "enemies", and certainly wouldn't want to call an individual act of disobedience as the act of an "enemy of the state" or "enemy combatant" (as the old trick goes). However, we also wouldn't want to miss the forest for the trees and dismiss an individual act of disobedience if it was an actual part of a coordinated effort to undermine the President. Such an effort might well be called a "coup" and fall under the definition of treason. But I suspect it would have to be a bona fide conspiracy rather than just a few disgruntled officials trying to keep the train on the tracks as the letter suggests.

Wayward Son

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2018, 03:10:17 PM »
Electoral-vote.com disagrees with idea that Pence wrote the piece.  As they put it:

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A good starting question is often: "Who has the most to gain?" That would surely be VP Mike Pence, but this is not particularly his style. Further, the Times' assertion that the author would be terminated if their identity is revealed rules him out, since of course he can't be fired. It's possible that the Times fudged its explainer text a bit, but not likely, given the credibility issues they already need to be worried about. If it was Pence, they could easily have massaged the text to be accurate; something like, "If the author's name were to be published, it would interfere with his ability to do his job." Also, the author says he is in a position to interfere with executive actions. Pence, by all indications, is not insider enough to have that kind of access.

They also go through a list of those they think wouldn't qualify according to the article:

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The op-ed does give a few other clues that appear to eliminate many candidates (unless the author has thrown up some false flags to distract people):

That the person appears to have high-level access not only argues against Pence, but also several other high-profile members of the administration who don't really have the means to subvert presidential actions—Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for example, or Stephen Miller, or Melania Trump. Most members of the Cabinet would also seem to be disqualified here; it's not like Elaine Chao can do an end-run around Trump when he refuses to expel Russian spies.

Beyond apparently having high-level access, the author also seems to have knowledge of, and involvement with, foreign policy. That also rules out many members of the Cabinet, like Ben Carson, Rick Perry, and Betsy DeVos. Outgoing White House counsel Don McGahn is a popular guess, given the recent decline of his relationship with Trump, but he's not a foreign policy guy either.

As noted above, the author makes clear that they are ready to continue maneuvering against the president until "it's over." That argues against folks who know or suspect they are short-timers, including McGahn, AG Jeff Sessions, and possibly Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Also as noted above, the author is a self-identified conservative who actually agrees with some of the administration's initiatives (and who made a point of singling out John McCain for praise). That would seem to eliminate Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, among others.

The "resistance" to Trump appears to be something that has developed over time, and out of desperation. That argues against more recent additions to the administration, like John Bolton and Larry Kudlow.

The author is clearly more loyal to the government and the Constitution than he or she is to Trump. This would also seem to rule out Javanka, as well as hard-core loyalists like Kellyanne Conway.

Their best guess is:
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the writer not only speaks approvingly of military spending and of war hero John McCain, he also refers to Trump as the "commander-in-chief," and says "our first duty is to this country," which is reminiscent of the first part of the oath that soldiers must take. Add it all up, and it certainly reads like the words of a military man. And there is at least one military man in the White House who would have the gravitas and the respect among members of the administration to defy Trump (and to encourage others to do the same) without people crying "boo": Secretary of Defense James Mattis. He has access, knowledge of and involvement with foreign policy, job security (as much as that is possible in this White House), conservative principles (but not necessarily an overabundance of partisan loyalty), has been around since the beginning, and is not a Trump loyalist. It may not be him, but he certainly seems to check the boxes better than anyone else.
(Emphasis mine)

Perhaps "lodestar" is a military term? ;)  (Or at least one used more often in the military than in other groups.)

TheDeamon

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2018, 03:30:58 PM »
Perhaps "lodestar" is a military term? ;)  (Or at least one used more often in the military than in other groups.)

It's actually a navigation reference, the "North Star" for example is often used as one.

I doubt it is SecDef, he's not a "regular presence" in the White House, and like Chao, is going to have a hard time casually slipping into Trump's office to intercept paperwork before he can sign it into law, unless it happens to be directly relevant to DoD.

TheDrake

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2018, 04:16:39 PM »
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A true patriot would go on the record.  People who put country first would go on the record.  People who believe the President is mentally unstable would be on the record trying to have him removed.

Mark Felt wasn't a patriot? Sometimes you stay anonymous for a variety of reasons. Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense anonymously.

Lloyd Perna

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2018, 04:42:24 PM »
I served with General Mattis.  If he wanted to say this, he would not do it anonymously.

Greg Davidson

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Re: Did VP Pence anonymously author the resistance NYT Op-ed?
« Reply #22 on: September 07, 2018, 10:20:35 AM »
If the author were truly sincere, he or she would not publicize what was being done.  Publishing this op-ed changes the environment such that it will be much harder to do what has been doing for so long. I believe that undermining the President is a serious action (at the same time our discussion of preventing a Trump tantrum from starting a nuclear war is predicated on exactly this kind of undermining).

However, what I find more interesting from the remarks above is how little concern is extended in regard to the actual claims of the op-ed. The op-ed asserts that the President is an amoral, ignorant, impulsive idiot who arguably should be removed from office via the 25th Amendment. The Woodward book paints the same picture (and while Woodward has flaws, he also has a methodology where every claim has at least two sources, and he has all of interviews on tape). And these assertions about President Trump's dangerous unfitness from the job are not attacks from Democrats - they are the consistent feedback from the Republicans closest to Trump (the ones who were willing to take a job with him, and that he was willing to hire).

For those who don't care very much about this, why don't you care?