A Great Win for Democracy – A Great Loss for the Media

Now that that the crying is over for those whose candidate lost, let’s take a closer look at who really won. The citizens of the USA, the common, forgotten, silent, hard working, law abiding American.

Who really lost? The national media, especially ABC, NBC, CNN and MSNBC.

Donald Trump ran against the Republican establishment, the DC crony capitalists, the Clinton machine, the Sander’s socialists, and the main stream media. The lies, innuendo, and biased reporting by a media composed of those who see themselves as elitist intellectuals finally met their match in the common American citizen.

The brilliance of our founding fathers was brought to center stage by the election results. Just take a look at a map of voting throughout the US. The highly populated urban centers accounted for the vast majority of Clinton voters -the epicenter of government handouts.

The rural voters came out in droves for Trump. Those self proclaimed intellectuals from the media who are pleased to look down upon the common rural citizens as they fly over them on their many trips from coast to coast to report “the news” finally met their match.

Many of these voters were not college educated (make that indoctrinated) into the left wing pseudo intellectual gibberish espoused by socialist inspired professors. The blue collar workers learned about life in the real world, not the halls of academia. They know a phony when they see one. They don’t need a snide reporter from NBC or CBS to spoon feed them “the truth”.

I watch the evening news every night on one and often two different networks to observe the propaganda machine in action. This election, the bull pucky was in full swing. Reporters truly crossed the line from reporting to editorial bias. Scott Pelly of the CBS Evening News is a prime example. Night after night Pelly pointed out that no candidate had ever won a presidential election from this far behind in the polls. After the win by Trump, Pelly did not even mention this historic feat.

The Clinton News Network, otherwise known as CNN, and ABC both denounced Trump throughout election night. Their biased reporting was evident in their predictions of the outcome of the election, which of course proved wrong.

NBC and its support team from MSNBC, the socialist, elitist tag team, composed of disgraced former news anchor Brain Williams and Rachel Madaw didn’t even bother to hide their bias.

But in the end, the American worker saw right through the slander and bias of the entire media. The supposed polling of America was also biased and did not accomplish its expected result.

This may indeed be the last election where the working person was able to vote for a candidate that desires to protect their rights and the fruits of their labor from government redistribution to those looking for a handout. Those in the urban centers who receive more money for each baby they produce, food stamps, rental assistance, free cell phones and a donut and coffee while they get a free ride to the polls, won the popular vote. Those who work for a living one the electoral vote. It’s that simple.

If Trump can truly drain the swamp in Washington, maybe, just maybe, we can once again become the productive, driving force of liberty , freedom and economic growth that we once were.


I Vote for the Constitution

Our republic was founded on the principal of equal justice under the law. Without the rule of law, no free society can exist. For centuries previous to the establishment of the USA, primogeniture and powerful private cartels ruled the western world. Those of nobility or those linked to these cartels were truly above the law.

Our founding fathers broke from centuries of bondage enforced on the common man with the writing of the Constitution. This short document envisioned a country founded on virtue, integrity, and justice.

John Adams, the second President of the United States said, “Our Constitution is for a moral and godly people. No virtue, no liberty”. The father of our Constitution, James Madison put it this way, “The future and success of America is not in this Constitution, but in the laws of God upon which this Constitution is founded”.

We are headed towards a constitutional crisis of epic proportions.

If Hillary Clinton is elected to become President of the United States, she will bring her abuse of power, and actions without regard to the rule of law, to a level of criminality never seen before in the history of our nation.

There is so much more riding on this election than a choice between a crude, rude and uninhibited Trump and the first woman to become President. The very frame work of our society is on the line. I realize that many women feel that they cannot vote for a man like Trump. But the alternative in Hillary Clinton is far more dangerous to the liberty of every citizen.

The Clintons have been followed by a trail of scandals for decades. Suicides by some of their closest aides, corruption, disbarment, impeachment, pay for play, and more recently, interfering with the election process, collusion with the media, and the continuing FBI investigation into the activities of Hillary and her top aides.

Never in the history of the USA has a candidate running for President been the target of a criminal investigation. Many of Clinton’s top aides have been given immunity in order to obtain their cooperation in the ongoing investigation.

Imagine what will happen if Hillary is elected President. If she is indicted she will have to be impeached because she will never resign of her own free will. If she is not charged, then she will continue with her nefarious operations converting the hundreds of millions that she and Bill made from her role as Secretary of State, to tens of billions as President. Instead of charging $10,000 for an overnight stay in the White House, she can ask her Saudi friends to donate another billion to Bill’s foundation in exchange for more favors for the Saudi rulers.

And since Hillary will then be totally above the law, there will be no limits on her abuse of power. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The second amendment will be eviscerated, open boarders will destroy our culture and economy, illegal emigrants will poor in by the millions overwhelming an already fragile welfare system and Hillary’s closest supporters like George Soros and Warren Buffet will make billions more.

Those who remember Watergate will, once again watch the continuing debacle of an impeachment and the devastating effect it will have on the nation and its ability to project power. Our economy will crash, making the great recession pale in comparison.

So go ahead and vote for Hillary because you don’t like Trump. But don’t delude yourself. If you cast a vote for Hillary you are casting a vote for the end of the rule of law and the possible end of our republic.


Secretary Clinton Out Trumped Trump

Clearly, preparation paid off for Hillary Clinton. She offered the same rhetoric that all politicians offer. Promise everyone everything, get elected, and then go on with business as usual.

Clinton was polished, didn’t rant and rave, and did a great job of offering the bait, which Mr. Trump was only to eager to take.

But, does the electorate want more of the same failed policies that the Obama administration has offered for almost eight years?

Clearly, Trump is not a politician. That’s a good thing. The pundits and media personalities declare Clinton the winner of the debate. But that does not mean that she has won the election. Does winning a debate make one a better candidate to be president? Not necessarily.

Memorizing answers and following the instructions of your entourage may win you a debate, but it does not make you the better choice for president. How well do you respond to unforeseen problems is far more important. Mrs. Clinton had a terrible track record of responding to threats as Secretary of State.

Trump was correct when he said that Isis was born on Secretary Clinton’s watch. Her policy decisions in the Middle East have created a destabilized arena in which Isis and Iran have come to power. The Iranian nuclear deal will assure Iran nuclear capability in less than a decade. Iran was on the ropes, strangled by international sanctions and now, with the release of over one hundred billion dollars, Iran can fund terrorist activities and create a nuclear device to threaten Israel with annihilation and the U.S. with a nuclear strike.

While it is true that Secretary Clinton has been a politician for decades, what has she accomplished? She flew more miles as Secretary of State than any other office holder. So what. With all of her travels she didn’t accomplish anything meaningful.

Trump never even mentioned the Clinton Foundation, alleged to be one of the largest and most successful criminal enterprise in U. S. history. Bengazi and the death of four American’s on Secretary Clintons’ watch was never discussed, while Mr. Trump brushed over the email debacle and the destruction of 30,000 emails.

Lack of trustworthiness continues to plague Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump should use the debate as a learning experience and shine the light of truth on Mrs. Clinton. She must hide behind her rhetoric because the truth will set the nation free from her.

FBI Director Comey Has Put An End To Our Republic

When political elite manifest a clear disregard for the rule of law and place themselves above it, we have reached the end of the Republic.

For decades, the Clintons have overtly and covertly subverted our laws. They are but one example of the political elite that live by their own rules, unfettered by the statutes that apply to mortal beings. The Wall Street scandals of the past prove that if you have enough money or political influence you are above the law, not subject to prosecution for any manner of corporate crime.

Listening to interviews of Hilary supporters is quite demoralizing. They are pleased that she wasn’t prosecuted. How could any moral person not be outraged by the contradictory statement made by FBI Director James B. Comey? Let’s take a closer look at what he said.

” Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way“(emphasis added).

Then later in his remarks he said:

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information (emphasis added).

Did Mr. Comey really attend law school? It doesn’t get any more basic than this. Extreme carelessness = gross negligence. Case over. I have been a lawyer for many decades and I am dumbfounded by Mr. Comey’s failure to follow legal principals in reaching his unorthodox decision.

Since every law student knows that extreme carelessness is gross negligence, why didn’t Mr. Comey recommend prosecution?

Even more incredulous, is the following statement that no prodecutor would ever make. I know because I was a former prosecutor with the L.A. District Attorney’s office.

“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case” (emphasis added).

It is not the responsibility of the FBI or any investigative entity to determine the reasonableness of the prosecutor. Their job is to present evidence to the prosecutor who then makes a decision based upon the evidence. But the fix was already in. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, just a few day earlier, stated that she would follow the recommendation of the FBI.

However, the truly stunning statement that confirms the end of our Republic seems to be lost in the confusing rhetoric:

” To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now”

Here in plain language is confirmation that Hilary Clinton is above the law. The law applies to others who, under the exact same circumstances, would face prosecution.

Please take stock of this: Hilary Clinton could not obtain security clearance to serve in her own cabinet. How then, could she be qualified to serve as President of the United States?


Oil Collapse Means Massive Losses For Investors

The collapse in oil prices may seem a panacea for the middle class, but sub $40 oil means millions in losses to investors who bought master limited partnerships (MLP’S) that invest in oil and gas production, delivery and distribution. With the precipitous drop in oil prices, investors are now unhappily discovering that these investments are anything but safe.

How do you tell if an investment is safe?

I use a very simple device to try to assess risk – the ten year treasury note rate. Today a ten year treasury note yields about 2.23 percent. If a stockbroker or financial advisor suggests investing in a MLP yielding eight percent or higher, then it is obviously significantly more risky than a virtually risk free treasury note. How much riskier? The greater the spread between the treasury note and the proposed investment, the greater the risk.

Stockbrokers and investment advisors have gone out on the risk curve in order to find income for their clients. Unfortunately, these supposed experts either don’t understand what they are selling, or even worse, they are hawking high risk investments as safe ways to procure much needed income in a low yield environment.

Tens of thousands of investors have flocked to the enticing yields offered by these master limited partnerships, many of which have collapsed in recent days.

This week investors are in for a big surprise when they open their monthly statements. They will find that many of their supposed safe investments are down by more than 50 percent. And this is with oil around $40 a barrel. What do you think will happen if oil goes down into the low $30′s or even worse the low $20′s? 50 percent losses today will turn into 75 percent or 90 percent losses tomorrow.

Investors are going to learn the hard and important lesson that risk and return go hand in hand. It is impossible to achieve a high return in a low interest rate environment without exposing yourself to high risk. No doubt, your friendly stockbroker or financial advisor didn’t advise you about this basic formula.

Stockbrokers are required to know their customer and to know the products they are selling to their clients. If a stockbroker doesn’t understand the risk of an investment they are recommending, they can be held accountable for making an unsuitable investment recommendation. If they knowingly promote a high risk investment as safe, they are committing securities fraud.

If you have suffered losses from either bad advice (unsuitable recommendation) or misrepresentation (securities fraud) you can pursue your losses in arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). FINRA has posted information on its website ( about arbitration, its rules and procedures. You can also go to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for information about securities fraud.

If you are considering pursuing a claim against a stockbroker, I would strongly advise seeking help from an attorney who is an expert in FINRA proceedings. I can promise you that the brokerage company will hire a securities expert to defend them. Also, the FINRA rules, procedures and regulations make FINRA arbitration far different from a court of law. Lastly, don’t wait too long to pursue your claim because there are strict time limits in which you must file your claim or be forever barred from recovery.


Dear President Obama, Ignorance Can Kill

A Syrian, posing as a refugee, entered France to participate in the worst attack on French soil since World War II. President Obama’s response was to ignore the obvious and welcome hundreds of thousands of “refugees” into the U.S. While the press has focused on the number being only ten thousand, this is ignoring Mr. Obama’s own words in which he has clearly stated that he will admit 80,000 next year and 100,000 in 2017.
Ignorance may be bliss for the president, but ignorance will kill many Americans. “Will” is the operative word not may. We are at war with radical Islam. Why can’t the President and many liberals admit this? Doing so would require the President to admit that his foreign policy, if any, is a complete failure. Mr. Obama’s chief character flaw is an inability to ever admit that he is wrong. Political considerations override reality and no one on his staff has the courage to stand up for what is right instead of what is politically expedient.
Most compelling is the fact that the five wealthiest countries on the Arabian Peninsula have refused to accept even a single refugee. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain have stated that accepting refugees is a threat to their safety. Terrorists could be hiding within an influx of people, they argue. None of the Gulf States signed the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Once again, the President has sent his minions to the airwaves describing the tremendous vetting that Homeland Security, the CIA and the State Department are going to do to make sure that no terrorist slips into the U.S. Really? Please tell me how they are going to check into the background of a Syrian. Are they going to call an employer of the unemployed? Are they going to check with the government of Assad? Are they going to ask for police records? From whom are they going to get any credible information?
The answer is that they have no idea who these people are and what training they may have received from ISIS or any other terrorist organization. If the five richest Muslim countries believe that it is a risk to their national security to allow even one Syrian into their country, why would we believe that we can eliminate that risk?
Why isn’t anyone in the press holding Mr. Obama responsible for the Syrian refugee crisis? Early in the Syrian civil war, the President warned Mr. Assad that he would intervene to stop Assad from murdering his own people. As with Iran and the infamous red line that Mr. Obama proposed, the President threatened, but failed to follow through with his threats. Had he destroyed the Syrian Air Force early on, the civil war would have been over before millions of people would have been displaced and hundreds of thousands killed by Mr. Assad.
So for those who desire to welcome these “refugees” I have a suggestion. Welcome a refugee into your own home. Empty bedrooms from kids off to college or who have left home to enter the work force should provide ample room for a mere 200,000 refugees. Liberals are quick with rhetoric and slow with action. So let’s ask everyone who is in favor of allowing potential terrorists into our country to allow them into their homes. Perhaps they will sleep well at night knowing that our government has done all they can to make sure that the refugee sleeping in the bedroom next to theirs is not going to slit their throat while they sleep.


The Greek Tragedy – IS Democracy Dead?

Despite an overwhelming no vote by the Greek populace against further austerity measures, the Greek leaders caved in to the demands of the Eurozone leaders. Is democracy dead in the county from whence it sprang?

I am not writing about the merits or lack thereof of austerity or the socialist underpinnings of a broke country. I am focusing on the democratic vote of the people that was completely disregarded by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who had been elected on a platform against austerity.

What is the sense of holding a country wide vote by the Greek populace and then disregarding the outcome? Sounds like what our Supreme Court recently did by making law rather than interpreting it within the confines of the constitution. Our legislative branch routinely disregards the will of the people and passes laws that they, in their infinite wisdom, “feel” are best for us mere mortals.

The president routinely fails to follow the law and clearly has no regard for our constitution. Is democracy becoming a relic of the past? If all three branches of government are free to do as they please and not follow the will of the people who elected them, then we are in the end times for democracy.

Whether Mr. Tsipras can get the Greek Parliament to approve of his cave in to the demands of the Eurozone is questionable. Raising taxes, cutting pensions, increasing the Value Added Tax (VAT) and labor reforms were all opposed by the Greek populace as expressed in their no vote.

The will of the Greek people seems to be subordinate to the will of the European leaders. And notwithstanding the tough talk of Mr. Tsipras, there will be no reduction of the outstanding Greek debt. So this whole exercise is an exercise in futility. We will be going down this road again in the future because Greece cannot ever repay its debt.

Sound familiar?

The US can’t repay its debt either. But our lawmakers continue with business as usual with our debt increasing every second of every day. No one wants to take the necessary poison on their watch. So even though the populace wants reform, our leaders refuse to do anything. Once again, the dismissal of the will of the people.

If democracy is dying what will take its place? An oligarchy, as many claim we already have; a socialist state, as many liberals desire; a totalitarian government, which seems closer and closer every day. Our populace is too interested in pop culture, athletic performers and celebrities to be bothered with political reform. Why bother to vote when ones’ vote has no impact? That is what we hear from the younger voting age lot.

They can’t even tell you what county we broke away from to gain our independence or what year the Declaration of Independence was signed. Heck, they probably don’t even know what’s in the Declaration. But I promise you that they know what dress Paris Hilton wore to her sister’s wedding in Kensington Palace or the next concert date for Miley Cyrus.

If we can’t get people engaged in the election process or interested in what is best for the country, then we are going to see the continued erosion of our republic. John F. Kennedy’s oft quoted words: ” Ask not what our country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”, seems to be a relic of the past. For that matter, do any of the younger generation even know who John F. Kennedy was?


Greece Defaults – So What

Greece failed to make a 1.5 billion euro payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on June 30, 2015. Greece has now defaulted. Why should we care about a little country on the periphery of Europe?

Greece’s economy only makes up about two percent of the euro zone economy. Its economy has shrunk by 25 percent since 2009. Banks are now closed throughout Greece in order to quell a run on the banks. Depositors are limited to a 6o euro withdrawal from ATM’s per day. So if you are planning on taking a vacation in Greece this summer, you better bring along a lot of cash.

Beyond travel woes, what effect could this have upon the rest of us folks? Many economists talk about contagion. The argument supposes that if Greece leaves the euro zone, then Portugal, Italy and Spain will not be far behind. They too have monstrous debt that they too cannot repay. Sound familiar?

The 1.5 billion euro payment is merely a prelude to the 3.5 billion euro payment due in late July. And if Greece doesn’t receive emergency funding from the IMF or the European Central Bank (ECB) how will its banks fund the withdrawals that are rampant throughout Greece?

Clearly if Portugal, Italy and Spain exit the euro zone, the world financial markets will come under extreme pressure. Creditors throughout the world will likely have to write off billions. The credit markets could cease up as they did during the 2008 crisis. But there is a far more serious problem with a Greek exit.

If the IMF and the ECB turn their collective backs on Greece, to whom will Greece turn? Their only other solution is to obtain help from China or Russia. If Greece turns to Russia for help, what happens to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) of which Greece is a very important member? The geographic location of Greece is of immense importance to NATO. Strategically located on the Mediterranean Sea, Greece is a gateway to the Russian block on its border with Bulgaria which borders Romania, which borders the Ukraine.

Russia would gain an enormous foothold in Europe if it was able to place bases or troops in Greece. This would pose a serious threat to NATO. Even worse, what would happen if Greece, in exchange for a massive bailout from Russia, allows Russia to place nuclear missiles in Greece?

Living beyond our means never ends well. We should learn from this mess while we still have time. The United States is now a debtor nation which, like Greece cannot repay its debts. We have the unique advantage of having the world’s reserve currency which we can print into existence at a touch of a button. With over 18 trillion and growing by the second, our national debt dwarfs all other nations. Instead of reducing spending and starting to reduce this debt, our law makers continue pile on more and more of it.

There is no free lunch, as the Greek situation clearly points out. Why do we continue with business as usual? Because no politician wants to take the cure on their watch. Austerity didn’t work in Greece because its working class wants the free lunch to continue forever. You can’t print or borrow your way to prosperity. If we don’t learn that lesson now, soon we will discover that the rest of the world won’t be too eager to loan us money or accept our greenbacks.

If that happens, then interest rates will rise, despite the Fed’s attempt to hold them down. If interest rates rise, the economy will go into a tailspin and the way out is totally unknown. The Fed is out of ammo and they will have to invent some new way back to normality. The storm is coming and we continue as though clear weather will last forever. History has shown that it won’t.


What Price Liberty?

The expiration of the Patriot Act has brought the conversation of freedom from surveillance versus freedom from terrorism to the public domain. How much personal liberty should we give up in order to make the homeland safer? Balancing the rights protected under the Fourth Amendment against the need to prevent another World Trade attack has left Congress with a difficult decision.

Hawks argue that the diminution of personal freedom is a necessary evil that must be sacrificed in order to make the world a safer place. Our founding fathers added the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution because they were well aware of the evils of government intrusion into the lives of their subjects without probable cause. Spying on citizens without probable cause can lead to a totalitarian state. Just look at the old Soviet Union or Germany during the 1930′s to see what can happen when there is no Fourth Amendment to protect you. Once the government has the unfettered discretion to watch wherever we go or listen to whatever we say, we are getting uncomfortably close to a police state.

If one has done nothing wrong, then they have nothing to fear from the government. History has proven this statement woefully wrong. We have already seen government encroachment into our personal lives beyond anything one could have imagined only a decade ago. It’s not a stretch to imagine using the power of government surveillance to arrest citizens who do not agree with the government or with the views of the political party in power. We have already seen the Internal Revenue Service used as a government tool to quiet or shut down organizations that were in opposition to Obama administration policy.

Freedom of expression is one of the primary reasons that the American experiment was so successful. We have been allowed to express new ideas that became new realities that made our world a better place. If we are afraid that our thoughts shared with others could result in our detention without a warrant, are we likely to speak freely? Open dissent against governmental policy is protected by the First Amendment. Without it we would be sent back 300 years to a society that could not speak out against the tyranny of tyrants prevalent throughout Europe.

Against this backdrop we have to decide what amount of government surveillance (intrusion) is necessary in order to protect us from another attack. The issue is not whether we should wiretap, monitor cell phones or obtain private records of individuals. The issue is whether we should commit these acts without a duly authorized search warrant. Secrete tribunals conducted without oversight authorizing the seizure of private records or the monitoring of private conversations is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

In the absence of an extreme emergency, shouldn’t the government be required to comply with the Constitution? Without constitutional restraints, the government can and probably will take more and more of our personal liberties from us.

It might seem trivial, but should the government tell us what kind of light bulbs we can use in our homes or how long we can stay in a shower? There is currently a proposal to limit the length of showers while staying at a hotel in order to conserve water. Should the government have the right to prevent us from withdrawing money from our own accounts and removing it to another country? How is this going to prevent another terrorist attack?

I am not against using the tools of our spy agencies to thwart terrorist plots. I am against using those tools without probable cause and/or without a duly issued search warrant. The Constitution has proven itself remarkably adaptable for over 225 years. The Constitution does not need to be adapted to our times; it is our times that need to be adapted to the Constitution.


You Can’t Negotiate With A Terrorist

Negotiating with Iran is like trying to catch water with a fork, it will accomplish nothing. The lunacy of believing that a county devoted to the destruction of Israel, whose cleric calls for death to America defies imagination.

Iran exports terrorism throughout the world. 20,000 suicide bombers stride through the streets all too eager to blow themselves up as their proud mothers watch them march by the reviewing stands. You can’t negotiate with a state that doesn’t acknowledge the right of another state to exist.

Disavowing contracts is fundamental to Iran’s geopolitical philosophy. They will do whatever serves their best interest regardless of what they agree to. A ship without a rudder has a better chance of avoiding the shoals than we do in preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

10,000 centrifuges spinning 24 hours a day are not running to create a power plant in a land awash with oil. The only reason they exist is to produce enough enriched material to create a nuclear weapon. No amount of negotiating will alter this fact.

The Obama administration, as is always the case, desires a deal at any price. They are not interested in accomplishing any meaningful bargain, they just want political points for agreeing to something. But you can’t agree to anything with Iran. The rule of law doesn’t exist in a state ruled by barbaric customs that predate the bible.

Negotiating from weakness, as we are presently doing, will allow Iran to continue down the path towards becoming a nuclear power. It is now up to the congress to prevent a bad deal from unleashing a rush to nuclear Armageddon in the Middle East. If Iran gets the bomb, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the pack won’t want to be left out of the party.

Removing a military response and lifting sanctions only exacerbates the problem. Our vacuous leader supported by a pacifist secretary of state continues to unleash unintended consequences (are they unintended?) that destabilize the geopolitical order while allowing terrorism to thrive.

Chamberlin made the same error dealing with Germany. Nations and their leaders are driven by their interests, rather than by their ideals. An ideologue, like President Obama doesn’t understand the difference. Apologizing for what he perceives as an imperialistic past, and withdrawing our projection of power throughout the globe only diminishes our ability to negotiate from a position of strength.