Surveillance State: Tracking Your Every Move For Corporate America

  By Molly Wood Marketplace Tech (5/22/18) Phone carriers collect a minute-by-minute record of everywhere you go. If you use GPS on your phone, that may be obvious. But carriers are also selling that information to companies that don’t do much to keep it secure. One of those companies, Securus Technologies, was hacked this month. Securus gets its information from a company called LocationSmart. On Friday, security researcher Brian Krebs reported a bug on LocationSmart’s website that would make it possible to track any phone on the four major carriers using only a phone number. Krebs spoke with Marketplace Tech…

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Progressive Women & Newcomers Earn Big Wins In Southern Democratic Primaries

  By Jessica Taylor & Scott Detrow NPR (5/22/18) Tuesday was another big night for Democratic women and political newcomers in the party, with a historic nomination in Georgia, an intra-party squabble settled in Texas and an upset victory in a Kentucky House race. The day’s contests featured Democratic ideological and stylistic battles, but in the end the national party largely got the candidates they wanted — especially in critical Texas — that they believe will be the most competitive general election nominees. Stacey Abrams easily won the Democratic nod for governor in Georgia, beating fellow former state legislator Stacey…


The Sanders-Inspired Grass-Roots Group ‘Our Revolution’ Is Flailing

  By Edward-Isaac Dovere Politico (5/21/18) Bernie Sanders’ top operatives formed “Our Revolution” after he lost the 2016 primaries to keep his army organized and motivated — and potentially prepare for another presidential run in 2020. But an extensive review of the Sanders-inspired group depicts an organization in disarray — operating primarily as a promotional vehicle for its leader and sometimes even snubbing candidates aligned with Sanders. Our Revolution has shown no ability to tip a major Democratic election in its favor — despite possessing Sanders’ email list, the envy of the Democratic Party — and can claim no major…


Sanders Slams US Inequality As Report Finds Nearly Half Of Americans Can’t Afford Basic Necessities

  By Jessica Corbett Common Dreams (5/18/18) “Is that really the kind of society we want to be living in?” That’s how Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) responded to a new study from United Way’s ALICE Project, which found that 43 percent of U.S. households—nearly 51 million families—cannot afford “a bare-bones household budget of housing, child care, food, transportation, and healthcare.” Bernie Sanders ✔@SenSanders The three wealthiest people in America own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent — over 160 million people. Meanwhile, almost half of families in America can’t afford basic necessities. Is that really the kind of society we want to be…


A Vile Act Of American Inhumanity: We Are Now Splitting Up Families Like The Slave Traders Did

  By Paul Buchheit Common Dreams (5/21/18) Families are being split up in the name of “zero tolerance” immigration policies. Jeff Sessions said, “[Your] child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.” John Kelly, White House chief of staff, added, “The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever.” Yes, he said “whatever.” This isn’t much different from slave-trading days. People then were forced INTO the country and families separated; now they’re forced OUT OF the country and families separated. In both cases families have done…


Russia Monitor — Taking Us To The Cleaners: Trumputin Steals & Scuzzy Russpublican Deals

  “… they swung the election to a Trump win.” — Former DNI James Clapper from “Facts and Fears” By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (5/24/8) Dear Fellow Readers, Rachel Maddow interviewed former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in two segments. Clapper has a new book out, “Facts and Fears”. Clapper explains that he wrote the book: “…after experiencing the election, the unprecedented Russian interference in our political process, and the behavior by and impact of the Trump administration.” Maddow doesn’t sugar coat the history of James Clapper up to and including Clapper leaving the DNI position the day of…


Chris Hedges: The Coming Collapse Will Shatter Our Hallucinations

  By Chris Hedges TruthDig (5/20/18) The Trump administration did not rise, prima facie, like Venus on a half shell from the sea. Donald Trump is the result of a long process of political, cultural and social decay. He is a product of our failed democracy. The longer we perpetuate the fiction that we live in a functioning democracy, that Trump and the political mutations around him are somehow an aberrant deviation that can be vanquished in the next election, the more we will hurtle toward tyranny. The problem is not Trump. It is a political system, dominated by corporate…


Be Alert! Trump’s Primary Tactic Of Defining Deviancy Downward Is Designed To Leave You Feeling Exhausted, Numb & Inactive

“In 1993, New York’s Democratic senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a former social scientist, made an incisive observation: Humans have a limited ability to cope with people behaving in ways that depart from shared standards. When unwritten rules are violated over and over, Moynihan observed, societies have a tendency to “define deviancy down” — to shift the standard. What was once seen as abnormal becomes normal. “Moynihan applies this insight, controversially, to America’s growing social tolerance for single-parent families, high murder rates, and mental illness. Today it can be applied to American democracy. Although political deviance — the violation of unwritten…


‘Morning Joe’ Rips Paul Ryan For Standing By While His GOP Sets Fire To The Constitution For Trump

“At what point does Paul Ryan stop worrying about the Republican party and start worrying about the republic? We are at that point now.” — Joe Scarborough By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (5/24/18) MSNBC’s Morning Joe host — and former republican congressman who has now left the party — went after Wisconsin’s Rep. Paul Ryan Tuesday (5/22) for failing to stand up to Donald Trump’s power grab and failure to defend the Constitution and the role of the congress. “Paul Ryan is the speaker of the House, while constitutional norms are being ripped to shreds,” Scarborough said. “Are…


Hey, Progressive Candidates, Here’s A Campaign Issue: Harley Davidson Banks Tax Scam, Closes Factory & Sends Jobs To Bangkok

(Editor’s Note: Hey, progressive candidates, check out the links in this story and start campaigning on this travesty. Every cynical hypocrisy and lie of republican policy is embodied in this story. Tie it in with Scotty Walker’s Foxconn-scam and present a positive progressive alternative plan for jobs and community and economic development. It’s a winning combination there for the taking. — Mark L. Taylor) By Tom Boggioni The Raw Story (5/22/18) Despite President Donald Trump’s claim that massive tax cuts will boost U.S. employment numbers,  motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson instead announced a plant closing, followed by a massive stock buy-back…


DNC Deputy Chair Keith Ellison: The Democratic Party Should Stay Out Of Primaries, Let Voters Decide

Democracy Now! (5/23/18) Voters in Georgia, Texas, Arkansas and Kentucky headed to the polls Tuesday to determine a number of key primaries, and it was another big night for female Democratic candidates. In Georgia, Stacey Abrams made history by becoming the first African-American woman to win a major party’s nomination for governor in the U.S. If Abrams wins in November, she will become the first African-American governor in the Deep South since Reconstruction. Meanwhile in Houston, Texas, Lupe Valdez made history by becoming the first openly gay and first Latina candidate to win a major-party nomination for Texas governor. For…


Color Me Naive: Torture Debate Gave Me A Surprise Political Education

(An earlier cartoon on bipartisan acquiesce on torture, 3/19/18.) “We can’t allow ourselves to descend down the rabbit hole of unbridled partisanship for partisan sake.” — Mike Quigley By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (5/21/18) To begin, I must plead guilty. I have long opposed the role of torture in American policy. Since adolescence I have written letters, published cartoons (above), joined the ACLU, dutifully sent donations off to human rights groups, signed an endless stream of petitions and paid attention to the bipartisan torture policies of American foreign policy, which has often meant reading personal accounts that have…


Whistleblower John Kiriakou: Again I Am Speaking Out Against Torture, Again I Am Under Attack

The iconic image of U.S. military torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib prison during the Cheney/Bush Iraq war redefined America’s image around the world. By John Kiriakou Reader Supported News (5/20/18) Most of you probably know that I was a former CIA officer, that I blew the whistle on the CIA’s torture program, and that I spent 23 months in a federal prison for my troubles. I’ve never second-guessed myself. I know I did the right thing, even if the cost was high. I lost my federal pension, my job, my security clearance, my life’s savings, even my wife. Still,…


Down The Memory Hole: Dismantling Democracy, One Word At A Time

“The secret of propaganda [is to] permeate the person it aims to grasp without his even noticing that he is being permeated.” — Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister for Hitler’s Nazi Party By Karen Greenberg TomDispatch.org (5/17/18) Consider us officially in an Orwellian world, though we only half realize it. While we were barely looking, significant parts of an American language long familiar to us quite literally, and in a remarkably coherent way, went down the equivalent of George Orwell’s infamous Memory Hole. This hit me in a personal way recently. I was asked to give a talk at an annual…


Teller Of Truths Daniel Ellsberg: Civil Disobedience Against Vietnam War Led Me To Leak Pentagon Papers

  “We have chosen to be powerless criminals in a time of criminal power. We have chosen to be branded as peace criminals by war criminals.” Democracy Now! (5/18/18) Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg was a high-level defense analyst in 1971 when he leaked a top-secret report on U.S. involvement in Vietnam to The New York Times and other publications that came to be known as the Pentagon Papers and played a key role in ending the Vietnam War. We speak with Ellsberg about the recent 50th anniversary of one of the most famous acts of civil disobedience in the United States….


The Russia Monitor: Russpublican Arsonists In The Trumputin Match Factory

    By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (5/21/18) Dear Fellow Readers, Today we’ll use a few voices to summarize the guilt and corruption of Trump, his campaign and his sycophant administration. The left counts trees while Russpublicans torch the forest. It’s time to switch gears. Trump TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani has gone on the offensive by offering the case that the Trump-Russia debate is now about whether Trump can be indicted. That is a LONG way from “no Russia”. Could it be Giuliani is burning a new fire break in anticipation of even worse news? From a conservative voice we have…


Jimmy Kimmel Commentary On Texas School Shooting Goes Beyond Usual Post-School Shooting Angst

(Editor’s Note: The Commoner Call runs this cartoon after every major mass shooting. If we were to run it after every mass shooting in America we would have to run it pretty much every day. — Mark L. Taylor) On Friday evening Jimmy Kimmel took a few minutes to address the latest school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. Kimmel called out Trump and congressional NRA enablers who care more about the support of the National Rifle Association “than they do about children.” “So they sit there with their hands in their pockets, pockets that are full of gun money, and…


The Largest Rip-Off In American History: The Pentagon Can’t Account For $21 Trillion (That’s Not a Typo)

Our whole mindscape is filled to the brim with nonsense and vacant celebrity idiocy. Then, while no one is looking, the largest theft humankind has ever seen is going on behind our backs—covered up under the guise of “national security.” By Lee Camp TruthDig (5/14/18) Twenty-one trillion dollars. The Pentagon’s own numbers show that it can’t account for $21 trillion. Yes, I mean trillion with a “T.” And this could change everything. But I’ll get back to that in a moment. There are certain things the human mind is not meant to do. Our complex brains cannot view the world…


You Can’t Say That. Oh, Yes I Can!

  The rising tide of national protest and opposition has brought forth a lot of creative humor, satire and other forms of protest. Some of that is to be found on protest signs created by fellow citizens speaking truth to power. In our new original cartoon feature  — “You Can’t Say That! Oh, Yes I Can!” — The Commoner Call will feature some of that handheld wisdom. If you see a particularly good protest sign send it along for consideration. Pass this invitation to your contacts. And maybe take some of this good signage to your next local protest. (Commoner Call cartoon by…


Socialists & Progressives Kicked Some Democratic Establishment Butt

  By Miles Kampf-Lassin In These Times (5/16/18) If members of the Democratic Party establishment weren’t already worried, after Tuesday night, they should be. In primaries across the country, at least eight candidates running on explicitly progressive platforms won out, including open socialists and political newcomers who took out longtime incumbents. These victories are proof that the recent successes of left challengers are no fluke. Rather, the wins show that voters who are tired of the type of milquetoast, means-tested policies pushed by centrist Democrats are willing to embrace candidates running on bold, redistributive policies. And far from being too…


Plain Talk: Brazenly Abusive Voting Tactics Prove Wisconsin GOP Has No Shame

By Dave Zweifel Cap Times (5/18/18) Wisconsin Republicans have made it clear they’ll continue their crusade to make it difficult to vote. Even after it’s been documented that voter ID laws and restrictions on absentee voting enacted in recent years by Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP-dominated Legislature serve to dissuade thousands from going to the polls, party stalwarts made it clear last weekend that they have no shame. Delegates to the state convention voted overwhelmingly to pursue legislation that would end the state’s 40-year practice of allowing state citizens to register to vote on election day. The delegates in…


A Commoner Writes: Ron Kind Deserves Praise For Joining Climate Solutions Caucus

  This is big news.  We’ve been lobbying Rep. Ron Kind (D) to join the Climate Solutions Caucus since its inception.  He has shown interest, but the big challenge was for him to find a Republican representative to join with him — a case of bi-partisan outreach that may lead to meaningful political action on climate change. Progressive hard-liners (such as Naomi Klein) may argue that the only way to save the earth is a total overthrow of the present order, but for many of us, the issue of climate change is such a pressing and overriding challenge, that we…


Israeli Human Rights Crimes Are America’s Crimes & We Are Yoked To The Bloody Results

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (5/17/18) The wholesale, coldly methodical violence by Israeli military forces against thousands of Palestinain protesters this week has been as riveting as it is revolting. As dozens of dead and hundreds of badly wounded were filling the blood-soaked hallways of Gaza hospitals the world was treated to the self-satisfied smugness of Trump’s “little ghoul” daughter Ivanka and her husband and Trump “boy senior adviser” Jared Kushner and chortling Israeli officials at a swanky “opening” of the new American embassy in Jerusalem (which actually hasn’t yet been built). As gut wrenching as the…


Israel’s Violent Treatment Of Palestinians Increasingly Driving Liberal American Jews To Protest

By Tim McCarthy The Guardian (5/16/18) The massacre by Israeli soldiers of dozens of Palestinians in Gaza this week has prompted a new round of protests by progressive Jewish-American groups who object to the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem – and who lump the Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu administrations together as enemies of peace in the region. Groups such as IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace, J Street, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and others began to step up protest activity – marches, vigils and community meet-ups – in late March, when Israeli forces killed 17 Palestinians and wounded at least 1,400…


While The Party Remains Silent: Four Democratic Senators Roll Over & Sign On To Bipartisan Acceptance Of Torture

  By Igor Bobic The HuffPost (8/15/18) WASHINGTON ― Gina Haspel is on track to become CIA director after two key Democratic senators announced they intend to support her confirmation. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that he will support Haspel because she had satisfied his concerns in public and behind closed doors about her views regarding the CIA’s so-called enhanced interrogation program, which she helped oversee in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. In a letter to Warner on Monday, Haspel wrote that the agency shouldn’t have undertaken the controversial…


‘Democracy In Chains’ Author Warns: “Trump is the tumor, not the cancer.”

  “We’ve made more progress in the last five years than I had in the last 50.” — Charles Koch [Editor’s Note: Nancy MacClean’s book “Democracy In Chains” provides the necessary historical background to understand the how and why of the radical right’s capture of the government. It truly is an essential guide to corporate America’s Trumpland. — Mark L. Taylor] Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (5/4/18) Our democracy is at a “historic turning point,” said Nancy MacLean, the author of “Democracy in Chains,” last night [5/3] in Madison, where she was the keynote speaker at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s annual celebration….


Another Walker Double-Cross: Deep-Sixing A Fragile Marine Sanctuary

A diver explores the schooner Home, one of the oldest shipwrecks discovered in Wisconsin. (Photo by Tamara Thomson, Wisconsin Historical Society via www.sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wisconsin/   From Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (April/May 2018 Newsletter) When Gov. Scott Walker rescinded his nomination for a federal designation of a marine sanctuary north of Milwaukee on March 6, he caught a lot of people by surprise. Walker had made the nomination back in 2014 with the support of the municipalities in the area,  including Manitowoc, Port Washington, Sheboygan, and Two Rivers. The designation was supposed to preserve the area for scuba divers and others interested in…


We Camped Out With The Antifa Activists Plotting To Disarm The Alt-Right

VICE News (5/12/18) NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The alt right is struggling to hold itself together. It’s dealing with infighting and money problems, and some of its leaders have decided they can’t risk holding events that are open to the public. One reason for that is antifa, the anti-fascist activists best known for punching Nazis but who also engage in digital counterintelligence, infiltrating white nationalist message boards and chat rooms to find out who they are and what they’re doing. Link to 7-Minute Video


Russia Monitor: Donald Trump Defends Chinese Jobs, Cashes In On Shady Deal And Is Right About One Thing

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (5/17/18) Dear Fellow Readers, It turns out there are consequences. On good days, when you make decisions based on questionable ethics, someone will be held accountable: Novartis Lawyer To Retire Over $1.2 Million Contract With Trump Attorney Michael Cohen. “The Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis announced Wednesday that a top lawyer who co-signed a $1.2 million contract to hire President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen will step down in June. “Felix R. Ehrat, group general counsel of Novartis, is retiring “in the context of discussions surrounding Novartis’ former agreement with Essential Consultants, owned by Michael…


The Battle Inside The Trump Administration Over Temporary Protected Status For Vulnerable Refugees

  By Jonathan Blitzer The New Yorker (5/11/18) Last November, the acting director of the Department of Homeland Security, a career civil servant named Elaine Duke, received a phone call from John Kelly, the White House chief of staff. He was “irritated,” a White House official said at the time. Duke had just decided to extend the deadline for a special designation, known as Temporary Protected Status, or T.P.S., that allowed some sixty thousand Hondurans who had been living legally in the United States for nearly two decades to continue renewing their papers. Duke’s decision not to cancel their status, Kelly told her,…


Secret FBI Program Now Jailing Activists For Speaking Out Against Police Brutality On Facebook

  By Jay Syrmopoulos Activist Post (5/11/18) Dallas, TX – When militarized FBI agents clad in tactical gear raided the home of Rakem Balogun in December 2017—forcing him and his 15-year-old son outside in their underwear on the cold and windy night as agents ransacked his residence—he thought it had to be a mistake. In an exclusive report by The Guardian, Balogun explains that he was stunned to later learn that he was under investigation for “domestic terrorism” and had been under law enforcement surveillance for years. Incredibly, Balogun’s arrest and the FBI raid on his home were partially due to a simple, and constitutionally protected,…


Vowing To End Corporate Bullying Of Organized Workers, Sanders Unveils Bill To Restore Union Power

  By Julia Conley Common Dreams (5/9/18) A new bill aimed at bolstering unions’ power and ending abuses by employers was met with loud cheers in Washington, D.C., where Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and several Democratic lawmakers introduced the legislation on Wednesday. The Workplace Democracy Act, introduced by Sanders in the Senate and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) in the House, with a handful of Democratic co-sponsors, would combat wage stagnation, protect workers from being penalized for organizing activity, and streamline the process for joining labor unions. “We must no longer tolerate CEOs and managers who intimidate, threaten or fire pro-union workers, who threaten…


An Open Letter From Hunters About Gun Reform

  By Daniel Ashe The HuffPost (5/9/18) We are Republican, Democratic and independent. We come from the East, South, Midwest and West. We are conservative, progressive and liberal. We are men and women. We include eight members of the Circle of Chiefs, the highest conservation honor of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. We are all different in many ways, but we have important commonalities. We are Americans; we are gun owners; we are hunters; and we support responsible firearm regulation. Yes, the Second Amendment conveys a right to “keep and bear” firearms. But rights come with responsibilities, and we…


Primary Night Stunners

  By Ryan Grim The Intercept (5/16/18) First, the stunner: Outside Omaha, Nebraska, progressive-populist, Kara Eastman, has beaten her DCCC-backed opponent by more than 500 votes. She is proudly pro-choice, running against a former Republican, who served one term in Congress as a Democrat, with a record of voting to restrict abortion rights, and she pulled off this upset with almost zero help from pro-choice groups. The online lefty world — PCCC, Justice Democrats, etc. — campaigned hard for Eastman, who ran on Medicare for All and a broadly progressive platform. This is a real chance for the left to put their argument to…


First Step Of Resistance To Tyranny: Refusing To Accept Trumputin’s Twisted Abnormal As Normal

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (5/14/18) The greatest risk we face in the slide to Trump authoritarianism is sinking into the normalization of the abnormal; growing numb to and accepting as normal what is not normal. Over and over I hear people talking about how numb they feel at the constant onslaught of the weird news, bizarre tweets, bullying, industrial scale lies and ongoing graft and greed of Trump’s arrogant kleptocracy.   Commoner Call columnist Dan Peak directed me to the website ‘The Weekly List’ documents “This Is How Democracy Dies’. As things grow more and more…


Trump’s Talk About Collusion Is Nothing More Than A Smokescreen For His Real Potential Crimes

  Implausible deniability.  Timothy Snyder Speaks, Episode 11 (5/12/18) To speak of “collusion” is to misunderstand the Russia story. To understand Trump as an instrument of Russian power, we have to begin the Russia story in the proper place: Russia. In this talk, I explain Russian philosophy, strategy, and tactics. So that the Russian victory in the cyberwar of 2016 makes sense. Timothy Snyder is a historian at Yale University, specializing in eastern Europe, totalitarianism, and the Holocaust. His books have received widespread acclaim. His most recent book, “The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America,” tells the whole Russia story,…


Pentagon Watered Down Realities Of Climate Report For Trump-Era Publication

  By Olivia Rosane EcoWatch (5/11/18) A Department of Defense (DOD) report on the potential impacts of climate change on U.S. military infrastructure paradoxically downplayed the importance of climate change, an earlier draft of the report obtained by The Washington Post and publicized Thursday revealed. The earlier, more urgent draft was written in 2016, while Barack Obama was still president, while the final was published in January 2018, a year into the presidency of Donald Trump. The differences suggest that the military is altering its tone to avoid antagonizing an administration that went so far as to remove mentions of climate change from its national security strategy. According to…


Picking From A Long List, Conservative Pundit George Will Declares Trump Is No Longer The Worst Person In Administration

 (Cartoon by Seth L. Taylor, 2017.)   Pence is what he has chosen to be, which is horrifying. By George Will The Washngton Post (5/9/18) Donald Trump, with his feral cunning, knew. The oleaginous Mike Pence, with his talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness, could, Trump knew, become America’s most repulsive public figure. And Pence, who has reached this pinnacle by dethroning his benefactor, is augmenting the public stock of useful knowledge. Because his is the authentic voice of today’s lickspittle Republican Party, he clarifies this year’s elections: Vote Republican to ratify groveling as governing. Last June, a Trump…


‘Frontline’ — CIA Director Nominee Supported Destruction Of Torture Tapes

  By Patrice Taddonio Frontline (5/9/18) Testifying today before the Senate, CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel, an agency veteran with deep links to the agency’s controversial George W. Bush-era “enhanced interrogation” [torture] program, said she had supported the CIA’s 2005 decision to destroy 92 videotapes of [torture] interrogations said to include the use of techniques widely described as torture. Haspel drafted the cable ordering the tapes’ destruction at the request of her boss at the time, the CIA’s former top operations officer, Jose Rodriguez. In her testimony on Wednesday, she said that she had “absolutely” been an advocate for the destruction of the…


‘How Democracies Die’ — The Paranoid Style Has Consumed American Politics

“In his 1964 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” historian Richard Hofstader described the phenomenon of “status anxiety,” which, he believed, is most likely to emerge when groups’ social status, identify, and sense of belonging are perceived to be under existential threat. This leads to a style of politics that is “overheated, over suspicious, over aggressive, grandiose, and apocalyptic.” Half a century after its publication, Hofstader’s essay may be more relevant than ever. The struggle against declining majority status is, in good part, what fuels the intense animosity that has come to define the American Right. Survey evidence suggests…