Tuesday Open Thread

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”

–Pablo Neruda

Jeffco Republicans Refuse to Do Thing Nobody Needs Them to Do

As Erik Maulbetsch reports for The Colorado Times Recorder, the Jefferson County Republican Party is mad as hell and they’re not going to pretend to be doing nothing anymore. Instead, they are going to pretend to do something that doesn’t mean anything. So there!

From The Times Recorder:

The Jefferson County Republican Party announced on Facebook today that it “refused to certify the election results.” Election certification is the responsibility of the canvass board and the County Clerk, not political parties.

Reached for comment, Jefferson County Clerk spokesperson Kara Rowland explained that the county’s election results are already certified…

…Colorado Secretary of State spokesperson Betsy Hart confirmed this.

Oh yeah? Well, then, the Jefferson County Republican Party is going to refuse to certify every election this century! Not only that, they’re thinking about refusing to certify future elections!

2020 Election Results in Jefferson County, Colorado. Not exactly a photo finish.

And what is the Jeffco GOP’s particular beef with 2020?

While the Jeffco GOP says it is not alleging fraud, it is basing its demands for “an audit” on unfounded conspiracy theories about the voting machine software company, Dominion Voting, which is used by Jeffco (and nearly every other county in Colorado).

It’s unclear from the public statements and the party’s so-called “Minority Report” if the Jeffco executive committee understands the county election process. Chair Denise Mund did not return a request for comment. [Pols emphasis]

With regards to the Jeffco GOP’s audit request, Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder George Stern explains that it’s already happened.

Oh…so you already did the audit thing…that we are demanding. Okay, well, it’s a good thing we demanded it!

We’ll leave it to you, dear readers, to suggest other potential actions that the Jefferson County Republican Party can take that will serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever.

SPOILER ALERT: Joe Biden Won the Election

UPDATE: As CNN reports, it just…might…really…be finally over:

The General Services Administration has informed President-elect Joe Biden that the Trump administration is ready to begin the formal transition process, according to a letter from Administrator Emily Murphy sent Monday afternoon and obtained by CNN.

The letter is the first step the administration has taken to acknowledge President Donald Trump’s defeat, more than two weeks after Biden was declared the winner in the election.

This may be as close as Donald Trump is going to get to conceding the 2020 election, but we’ll take anything that brings an end to this madness.


Yeah, it’s still true

As The New York Times reports, another effort by President Trump to get the 2020 election results overturned in his favor has failed. Michigan, you are excused:

Michigan’s statewide electoral board approved its presidential vote tally on Monday, resisting pressure from President Trump to delay the process and paving the way for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to receive the state’s 16 electoral votes.

The Michigan vote was one of the biggest setbacks yet for Mr. Trump, who had directly intervened in the state’s electoral process to voice support for Republican officials who had made false claims about the integrity of the vote, and invited Michigan G.O.P. legislative leaders to the White House on Friday. Those leaders said afterward that they would allow the normal certification process to play out.

After reviewing the State Bureau of Elections’ report, which showed Mr. Biden winning the state by 154,000 votes over Mr. Trump, the Michigan board, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, voted 3 to 0 with one abstention to certify the results. Norm Shinkle, one of the Republican members of the board, abstained.

Norm Shinkle, thy name shall forever be entwined with the definition of courage. As in, “Unlike Norm Shinkle, the protagonist displayed great bravery.”

Anyway, Democrat Joe Biden is the President-elect, and that’s not going to change — no matter how many times they recount the ballots in Georgia.

What you can do to fight for progress this week (November 23)

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After the most contentious and hard-fought election of our lives so far, the incredible staff at ProgressNow Colorado took a couple of weeks off to rest and recharge. I hope you too have had some time to pause and reflect on the historic victory the 2020 election represents, nationally and here in Colorado.

We always knew Trump wouldn’t go graciously, but he’s going. The presidential election was closer than some of us expected, but objectively speaking it wasn’t close at all. Trump lost the election by over six million votes and counting, and President-elect Joe Biden closed off every path Trump had to victory in the Electoral College within hours after polls closed. To everyone who signed up to mobilize to Protect the Results, thank you. After everything we’ve been through, it’s important that we stay vigilant until Trump is officially locked out of the White House at noon on January 20, 2021.

Here in Colorado, progressives triumphed once again. Colorado voters turned out against Trump in absolutely historic numbers. Cory Gardner, the biggest mistake made by Colorado voters since the “bad old days” of TABOR and the anti-LGBT constitutional amendments of the 1990s and 2000s, is headed for early retirement. Colorado voters affirmed the principle of “one person, one vote” and passed a landmark paid family leave system after years of trying, and retained the biggest progressive majorities in state government since FDR was President. Colorado is now a progressive state.

Now it’s all about staying safe. Over the next few months, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to continue to result in tremendous economic and social hardship, and the possibility of an unthinkable tragedy this holiday season if the current skyrocketing rate of transmission is not brought under control. After everything we’ve sacrificed to keep ourselves and loved ones safe from this virus, we have to persevere just a little while longer until the good news about vaccines against the pandemic becomes reality. Your personal choice to wear a mask, keep your distance in public, and celebrate the holidays virtually instead of in-person is what will make the difference.

With the transition to a new administration in Washington and progressives victorious in Colorado, the nature of political engagement shifts from “resistance” to partnership in progressive solutions to the problems working families and communities face. But the fight to leave our state and nation better than we found it is not over. Next week, we’ll be back with more great ways to fight for the values that underpin our engagement. We couldn’t have achieved this victory without your help, from the events you’ve attended in person and virtually to your financial support for our many campaigns in 2020.

Until then, thanks again for everything you’ve done, and will keep doing, until the better world we know is possible is a reality. See you next week.

Boebert Asks for Permission to Continue Shtick in Congress

Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert

Republican Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert was elected earlier this month in CO-03 with a fairly simple strategy. She apparently sees no reason to alter that approach now that she is Congresswoman-elect Q*Bert.

As The Associated Press reports, Boebert has asked permission to bring her sidearm to the U.S. Capitol on a daily basis:

Boebert asked Capitol Police officials about carrying her weapon when she and other House freshmen taking office in January were in town recently for orientation programs, according to two congressional officials. Both people — a Democrat and a Republican — spoke on condition of anonymity to describe her request…

…A 1967 regulation says no federal or District of Columbia laws restricting firearms “shall prohibit any Member of Congress from maintaining firearms within the confines of his office” or “from transporting within Capitol grounds firearms unloaded and securely wrapped.”

Lawmakers may not bring weapons into the House chamber and other nearby areas, the regulations say, according to a letter Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., wrote in 2018. Aides can carry lawmakers’ weapons for them on the Capitol complex, he wrote.

Boebert won in 2020 by virtue of being a Trump-loving Republican in a Republican-friendly Congressional district, but to get there she had to first knock off a fairly un-interesting incumbent in Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez). Boebert upset Tipton largely because of a shtick that she had been honing for years: She was the plucky young mom who wrapped herself in an American flag and carried a gun on her hip everywhere she went. Boebert painted a simple caricature of herself and rode that puppy through a Republican Primary and the General Election in November.

There was not more to Boebert than this character that she created, but it was enough in 2020. Voters didn’t seem to mind that Boebert refused to debate Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush. They didn’t mind that she had no relevant experience and no real policy positions and, as a result, generally avoided media outlets not related to Fox News or Breitbart. When Boebert did talk to media outlets that were not reliably-right wing, she usually made an ass of herself. Voters in CO-03 didn’t even seem to mind that Boebert was not exactly an upstanding citizen of the district.

Keeping Boebert out of debates and away from reporters was part of the campaign strategy, and it seems that letting others speak on her behalf will be a continuing theme in Congress. The AP tried to talk to Boebert about her desire to carry a gun around Washington D.C., but were rebuffed:

Aides to Boebert, who Trump endorsed as “a fighter” who will “never bow down to the establishment in Congress,” did not make her available for an interview.

“This was a private discussion and inquiry about what the rules are, and as a result the Congresswoman-Elect won’t be going on the record,” Boebert aide Laura Carno said in an email last week.

We wouldn’t want Boebert talking to reporters, either, but it seems untenable that staff could shoo away the media and lean only on pre-approved statements for the next two years. But it worked during the election, and that seems to be the plan going forward: Give Boebert her prop gun and make sure she doesn’t have to speak for herself.

Colorado’s Last GOP Governor Finally Tells Trump It’s Over

Former Gov. Bill Owens (R).

9NEWS’ Dacia Johnson reports, former GOP Gov. Bill Owens checks in somewhere in the middle of the pack of Republican officials and alumni breaking the news to President Donald Trump that his dead-ender quest to overturn the unambiguous result of the 2020 election is over:

A former Colorado Republican governor is asking President Donald Trump to “respect the will of the voters,” using his own election as an example.

Bill Owens was the governor of Colorado from 1999-2007 and on Facebook said, “in 1998 I was the first Republican to be elected Governor of the State of Colorado in 24 years … I won that 1998 race by 8,297 votes out of 1.3 million cast.”

But in his Facebook post yesterday, Gov. Owens says it’s time for Trump to hang up his spurs:

For the good of the country and our democracy President Trump needs to respect the will of the voters, accede to the wishes of the electorate, and help prepare the way for the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden. And—no matter our own personal political views—we should, as Americans, do the same.

Of course it’s a welcome sign to see some Republicans starting to abandon Donald Trump as he continues his equal parts damaging and pathetic temper tantrum over losing the 2020 presidential election by in excess of six million votes and counting, and an Electoral College margin equal to what Trump himself called a “landslide” four years ago. The problem is that this accelerating withdrawal of support from Trump is at least two weeks too late, and is coming only after it’s become clear that a majority of the Republican base has internalized a fictional narrative that the election was stolen.

That’s why, instead of expressing gratitude for Bill Owens “breaking ranks” three weeks after the election, and Chris Christie doing the same yesterday, and every Republican about to join them in the coming days, we’re obliged to ask: why wasn’t it three days? By letting this shameful, baseless second-guessing of American democracy go on as long as it has, tremendous harm has already been done. Millions of Americans now think democracy failed, when it in fact succeeded in its most difficult test since the Civil War.

More was needed. More is needed. And no gratitude is in order for so belatedly speaking up.

Dudley Brown Helps Spring Accused Killer Kyle Rittenhouse

Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

AP reports via the Denver Post that Kyle Rittenhouse, a minor accused of killing two people after crossing from his native Illinois into the state of Wisconsin with an assault rifle during riots over police violence in Kenosha last August, is out on bail:

A 17-year-old from Illinois who is charged with killing two people during a protest in Wisconsin and whose case has become a rallying cry for some conservatives posted $2 million bail Friday and was released from custody.

Kyle Rittenhouse is accused of fatally shooting Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz during a demonstration Aug. 25 that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. He posted bond through his attorney at about 2 p.m., Kenosha County Sheriff’s Sgt. David Wright said…

His case has taken on political overtones. Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement have painted Rittenhouse as a trigger-happy white supremacist. Conservatives upset over property destruction during recent protests have portrayed him as a patriot exercising his right to bear arms during unrest. A legal defense fund for him has attracted millions of dollars in donations, and his mother got a standing ovation from women at a Waukesha County GOP function in September.

Right after Rittenhouse’s arrest in August, Colorado’s foremost gun rights activist Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners announced he was raising funds for Rittenhouse’s legal defense. We don’t know how much of the $2 million bail posted was Dudley’s money, but by September Brown’s National Foundation for Gun Rights (as he calls his fundraising operations outside Colorado) said they had amassed $50,000 on Rittenhouse’s behalf.

Rittenhouse’s case has become a cause celebre for the right wing owing to his tender age and the supposed urgency of his need to cross state lines with an assault rifle and kill people during the Kenosha riots. But the reality is that Rittenhouse’s presence on the streets of Kenosha with his assault rifle was a crime all by itself. The idea that Rittenhouse was somehow justified in traveling out of state into a riot zone with an assault rifle he could not even legally carry is simply ridiculous. As a test case for gun rights, this case is terrible for the gun lobby, but once the movement seized on Rittenhouse as a sympathetic figure these facts were lost in the din.

So what happens next? Well, as AP reports, there is real concern that Rittenhouse will jump bail given the seriousness of the charges he faces–and unfortunately, there is in all likelihood a large network of “law abiding gun owners” happy to assist such a flight from justice. The bail money raised in that event would be disposable, of course, but we suspect most of the donors won’t object.

For the sake of the families of the people Kyle Rittenhouse killed, we hope that doesn’t happen.

If it does, it will easily rank among Dudley Brown’s worst offenses–and that is no small statement.

Weekend Open Thread

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

–C. Northcote Parkinson

Jenna Ellis Claims Dominion Voting Machines May Have “Swung” Colorado Races

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis.

After joining a news conference yesterday with Rudolph Giuliani claiming without evidence that widespread fraud undermined November’s presidential election, Trump’s legal advisor Jenna Ellis jumped on a Denver conservative radio show and alleged, again with no evidence, that Colorado-based voting machine firm may have committed fraud to give victories to losing candidates in Colorado.

“We are seeing how Dominion may have swung some of the state and local races in Colorado as well,” Ellis told KHOW radio host Dan Caplis yesterday afternoon. “I mean, this is stuff that is just incredible and is absolutely unconstitutional and goes against our fundamental constitutionally protected right to free and fair election. So this is massive.”

Ellis is referring to the Dominion voting platform that’s used in 62 of 64 Colorado counties and in other states. It’s come under baseless fire by Trump’s legal team challenging election results.

On the radio yesterday, Ellis didn’t specify which Colorado races may have been affected by fraud.

Ellis said, “We are also getting some people who have independent knowledge,” said Ellis, declining to “share anything further to protect their identity.”

But Colorado voting experts, including former Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Republican county election officials have expressed complete confidence in Colorado’s November election.

“I can’t speak for what’s going on across the nation, but I can tell you, right here in Larimer County and in Colorado, I’m completely comfortable with our system as we have it,” said Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Angela Myers, a Republican, on KCOL this week here at 20 min. “I feel like it’s been completely reliable. We’ve had no issues of any kind, no indication that there have been any issues of any kind of these many, many years.”

In Colorado, said Williams on KNUS over the weekend, “the process is working; we can prove that it’s working; we can show that every step of the way has been conducted properly.”

“With respect to Dominion, we have run over 350 risk-limiting audit tests on Dominion’s software in Colorado,” said Williams. “It has passed every single one of those. So we have verified in election after election, in county after county, that the system functions properly.”


GOP State Rep: Spread COVID This Thanksgiving For Freedom

As readers know, Gov. Jared Polis and public health officials across the state and nation are begging Americans to avoid multi-household gatherings this Thanksgiving as the COVID-19 pandemic rages unchecked and hospitals fill to capacity much, much too early in the season.

But Republican Rep. Mark Baisley of Douglas County, who you might remember from his embarrassing misinformation about “altered death certificates” in the spring that helped fellow COVIDiots deny the severity of the pandemic, has his own message for HD-39 constituents: Americans have the God-given right to be stupid.

COVID-19 public health compliance officer.

Rep. Baisley perfectly sums up the problem with the politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic in just these few paragraphs without realizing it. Yes, Americans have rights to freedom of assembly, and religious freedom. But Gov. Polis is not urging Coloradans to avoid mingling households over Thanksgiving in order to trample their freedoms. It’s about saving lives from a deadly disease that is spreading out of control. Just because one has a right to do a thing does not make it smart to do it wherever and whenever, and if a global pandemic that has killed 250,000 fellow Americans isn’t enough to convince someone to be serious about the safety of themselves and their families, we have no idea what could.

The true penalty for not following the direction of public health experts, like Gov. Polis says invoking the Grim Reaper, will not be administered by the state. Extended families who spread COVID-19 among themselves this Thanksgiving will pay a greater price than anything Polis could possibly do to them for disregarding public health orders. It is not unreasonable to predict that some number of people in HD-39 who agree with their state representative and turn Thanksgiving into a political grandstand against Jared Polis at the cost of common sense will die.

In short, one may be able to argue eloquently in favor of the right to assemble in front of an oncoming train, but respecting that crossing signal makes a lot more sense. Though it’s long been said that “the Constitution is not a suicide pact,” it was perhaps never more true than at this moment.

Here’s a concept: keep your family safe because you want to. Let that moral obligation transcend piffling partisanship.

Friday Open Thread

“The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd.”

–Bertrand Russell

Jenna Ellis: From “Never Trumper” To Trump Coup Plotter

Today, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and leading Donald Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis hosted a press conference detailing what Trump billed earlier today is his “very clear an viable path to victory.” Giuliani has a simpler way of describing it:

Trump attorney Jenna Ellis.

But despite the bombastic headline, not even Fox News was persuaded any such thing is likely to happen based on the information presented:

President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Thursday aggressively made the case for the Trump campaign’s legal challenge of the 2020 election results, alleging in a firery [sic-Pols] news conference that there was a “centralized” plan to carry out voter fraud around the country.

This is a different approach than the campaign has recently taken in court, where they have primarily focused on the validity of ballots and counts without asserting fraud. While Giuliani did not present any direct evidence of a massive fraud scheme, [Pols emphasis] Giuliani asserted that this is the “logical conclusion” reached as a result of incidents he said took place in several states…

Trump campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis explained the lack of new evidence at the news conference [Pols emphasis] to support their allegations by saying this was merely an “opening statement,” and that more evidence would be forthcoming in court.

Here’s Jenna Ellis, tearing into the media for failing to give claims of election fraud that no responsible observer or court has found legitimate their due:

ELLIS: The facts matter, the truth matters, and if you are fair reporters you will cover that fairly and appropriately and you will allow coverage of our media team here. And our legal team. That is absolutely shocking that all you cover are around the margins, and I’ve seen all of you taking pictures right now. And I can anticipate what your headlines are going to be. If you are not willing to talk about the evidence that has been presented, then that is absolutely unacceptable for journalistic standards. This is an opening statement, this is something where we have told you what the evidence will show, and we have given you a brief description. That happens in a courtroom all the time, where that’s not the fact-finding process, that is just an overview. That is what we have given you today because the American people deserve to know what we have uncovered in the last couple of weeks. Remember, this is such a short time frame. And this is an elite strike force team that is working on behalf of the President and the campaign to make sure that our constitution is protected. We are a nation of rules. Not a nation of rulers…

No doubt Rudy Giuliani feels gratified being called a member of Trump’s “elite strike force team,” but there’s no more “there” there today in Trump’s fruitless attempts to legally challenge the results of the 2020 elections than there was yesterday. Although Trump’s legal team insists this is all intended to result in the election actually being overturned and awarded to Trump, there is nothing to suggest a coherent strategy to do that is even being attempted–and if it is, it’s failing in court as fast as the half-baked challenges can be filed.

In the case of Jenna Ellis, who hails from Colorado, the motivations for this quixotic PR campaign masquerading as a legal strategy to overturn an American presidential election are more difficult to piece out. Ellis has her own record of highly controversial far-right views on social wedge issues, writing a blog post after the 2015 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando titled “Orlando aftermath – Two wrongs do not make an LGBT Right” arguing that “just because we are all heartbroken…that 50 Americans lost their lives does not mean that America, conservatives, or Christians should become activists for homosexuality.”

Safe to say, Jenna Ellis is not a “kinder, gentler Republican.” But back in 2016 when Donald Trump was just beginning his takeover of the Republican Party, Ellis was something that might have become creditable had she stuck with it–a “Never Trumper.”


Nothing That a Little Revisionist History Won’t Fix, Eh?

Former House GOP Chief of Staff Jim Pfaff resigned before he could get pfired

The former Chief of Staff for the Republican House caucus issued a terse press release on Wednesday announcing his resignation. That Jim Pfaff felt he was important enough to send out a press release about his employment is a different topic altogether, but the content of Pfaff’s missive is another striking reminder that Colorado Republicans are stuck in a very bad place after a second straight drubbing at the polls.

First, let’s take a look at Pfaff’s weird multi-voice press release, which was issued directly from Pfaff himself from an @msn.com email address:

Today, Jim Pfaff, the former Chief of Staff for the House GOP Caucus under Rep. Patrick Neville, announced his reasons for leaving the House Republican Caucus. After numerous inquiries asking Jim Pfaff after people began to learn he had left the position of Chief of Staff, Mr. Pfaff decided to make a statement.

“I left my position as a Chief of Staff in Washington, DC to return home to Colorado for Pat Neville. Pat is a strong leader whom I was honored to serve. I was unlikely to continue on in my position without Rep. Neville at the helm of the Caucus. But I waited to see who would replace him as leader. That person was Hugh McKean a man whom I refuse to serve. Rep. McKean and others raised and spent about $3 million to take out Republicans in primaries in 2020 instead of focusing on General Election races which would have expanded our caucus. As it turned out, many good GOP candidates in winnable districts could not match Democrats in fundraising. That is the losing strategy which has been plaguing Republicans for a decade-and-a-half now. I decided I would not use my skills and expertise to support losing strategies.”

When Pfaff says that he issued this release “after numerous inquiries” about leaving the position of Chief of Staff, what he really means is that he fielded questions from somebody he met in the elevator and, later, one of his neighbors. Pfaff was one of former House Minority Leader Pat Neville’s top lieutenants, so when Neville announced in October that he wouldn’t seek re-election as Minority Leader, Pfaff was already updating his resume. New leaders almost always bring new staffers with them. If you didn’t suspect that Pfaff was on his way out, then you probably didn’t know that Neville wasn’t going to be Minority Leader anymore; if you didn’t know that, then you weren’t really paying attention to any of this anyway.

Now try it WITHOUT your heads in the sand.

It is the second paragraph of Pfaff’s release that is more instructive. You can skip past the first few sentences in which Pfaff rubs some extra shine on Neville’s rear-end. The key piece is when Pfaff denigrates Minority Leader-elect Hugh McKean as “a man whom I refuse to serve” because of these grievances:

Rep. McKean and others raised and spent about $3 million to take out Republicans in primaries in 2020 instead of focusing on General Election races which would have expanded our caucus. As it turned out, many good GOP candidates in winnable districts could not match Democrats in fundraising. That is the losing strategy which has been plaguing Republicans for a decade-and-a-half now. I decided I would not use my skills and expertise to support losing strategies. [Pols emphasis]

Okay, so, here’s the thing: Pfaff is complaining about a strategy THAT HE AND HIS FORMER BOSS EMPLOYED FOR YEARS. Neville and his friends at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) always spent a good deal of time and money playing in nasty Republican Primary races — including in the June 2020 Primary. In fact, we pointed out in this space in July that the Neville Clan’s embarrassing Primary losses likely meant the end of Patrick Neville’s hold on the GOP caucus. Alex Burness of The Denver Post wrote something similar a few weeks later.

Pfaff’s complaints would be like President Trump bellyaching that another Republican elected official was being mean to people on Twitter. McKean and friends did the same things that Neville and Pfaff have done for years, only they did it better (not that there was a particularly high bar to clear).

Colorado Democrats won an historic majority in the State House of Representatives in 2018. Democrats maintained that 41-24 seat advantage in 2020 and picked up another seat in the State Senate. It didn’t help Republicans that there were so many nasty Primary battles last summer, but that’s not the reason they did so poorly in early November; the truth is that Republicans had bad candidates and ran bad campaigns, while Democrats did the exact opposite.

Interestingly enough, Pfaff’s revisionist history is actually not all that dissimilar from the approach that McKean appears to be taking in his new role. Last week, McKean declared that he doesn’t “believe for a second” that Colorado has become a blue state. As we wrote at the time, it doesn’t much matter whether McKean “believes” this or not. The numbers speak for themselves.

McKean’s statement and Pfaff’s vitriolic press release show that while Republicans may have rearranged a few positions on the boat after two bad election cycles, they’re still just rowing in circles.