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Senator Matt McCoy: No More Iowa Nice

The senator takes the gloves off and explains how things are.

They [Republicans] have stopped listening. The only thing they will understand is raw power at the ballot box.

This 1-hour legislative forum was broadcast live Sunday on Facebook.  It is safe to watch because there is no screaming and yelling, but there are pointed questions asked in a civil manner and honestly and frankly answered.  It is serious, informative, funny, upbeat, real, amazing, and inspiring. Listen to it while you are doing something else on the computer; you will not be sorry.  Topics: ALEC and the Koch Brothers, the terrible collective bargaining bill, gerrymandering, confronting GOP lies, Dems’ new campaign strategy, how we will fight back, what they did to beat Gronstal, and much more!

I promise you will not feel demoralized or defeated after watching; you will feel like getting out there and joining the fight.

The forum actually starts at about the 9-minute mark.

Legislative Forum, Live With Senator Matt McCoy

Posted by Matt McCoy on Sunday, February 19, 2017

Dave Loebsack Joins Rural Broadband Caucus

In times of Trump and the Republican take-over, it is easy to forget that much of the work of a congressman has to do with non-partisan issues, delivering basic needs to constituents, getting things done. Not everything has to be high drama. A good example of that is rural broadband. There are many areas of Iowa lacking internet access. Dave joined a bipartisan group of members to kickoff the Rural Broadband Caucus for the 115th Congress. The group will work together to ensure folks have access to broadband no matter where they live.

 

A Quick Note On Regulations

consumer financial protections 7 minutes

Semantics is the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning. Republicans have spent decades redefining words or phrases to give them a meaning that often bring negative connotations or scenarios to certain words. In short they poison these words or phrases so that they can’t even be used in discussions because they have been made so toxic.

Ronald Reagan’s invention of the phrase “welfare queen” usually comes first to mind when considering this issue. That phrase conjures up some minority woman driving a new Cadillac with a multitude of kids which the poor taxpayer supports while the welfare queen lives high on the hog by gaming the system. Of course it is crap, but it got traction through repetition and being used as a shortcut by the media.

Just a few more to make sure we spell out the gist of what we mean. “Liberal” was once a proud political position. JFK was proudly a liberal. Republicans have made the term liberal so toxic that most who were once liberals now call themselves progressives.

Another example is to make anything the “government” does seem to be extremely bureaucratic, expensive, slow and inefficient. Thus negative comments on anything program that a government enacts is derided as “government” with all the connotations mentioned above. Another word that is often used in the same way is “public.”

Evidence shows that for the most part this is not true. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are three extremely efficient, well thought of and cheap to administer. Our public school systems were the envy of the world until we started privatizing them. Other countries upgraded their systems to emulate ours.

This discussion is to lead into a comment I heard Thom Hartmann mention during his show Monday. Regulations have been one of the words that Republicans have tried to make toxic. They have made great inroads into making it poison, but they haven’t fully succeeded. Perhaps that is because every now and then stories pop up of people dying because some company refused to follow regulations.

Recalls seem to be at least a weekly event in this country. From cars to medications to foods it seems that at least weekly some company is tasked with getting products off customers shelves or out of their houses. Often companies do voluntary recalls when they find records that indicate that some product had defects. Often the records they are keeping are records that are mandated through regulations.

The claim that the marketplace would force companies to keep such records was proven false long ago. That is the reason our government went into the business of mandating records be kept and that good manufacturing practices must be followed.

My paraphrase of what Hartmann said in a simple little statement: “every regulation is ultimately a consumer protection.” This is a much detoxified look at regulations. Thinking on this at a deeper level you can see it is true. Most regulations come in response to some business practices that led to consumer harm either directly or indirectly. Toys were late to being regulated. Looking back at some older toys in the US we found chemistry sets with uranium in them.

Does it cost company money to follow regulations? Sure it does. But in the long run it is much cheaper than fighting lawsuits over deaths and injuries or eventually going out of business. Plus all the businesses in an industry should be following the same regulations, so the costs should be very similar for competitors.

So when the guy who lost the popular vote for president signed an executive order stating that for every new regulation created two must be rescinded, he didn’t have your best interest in mind. Nor did those standing around and applauding. In fact at some point in your life this idiotic executive order may come back and haunt you as a consumer. Perhaps the regulation that is repealed to make way for a new one may be the regulation that checks ingredients in a can of dog food.

Just last week many dogs died when a company accidentally got some euthanasia drugs mixed in its food that got onto store shelves and into consumer homes. Thanks to regulations we can follow the chain of manufacturing back to the supply chain and find out what happened. That is partly to assign blame, but also to stop whatever happened from happening again.

Regulations are protections for consumers, not a penalty on manufacturers. If you want huge cuts in regulations, be careful what you ask for, you may get it and it may cost you more than you could ever expect.

Sunday Funday: Thank Goodness For Comedians Edition

Right now if I couldn’t laugh about so much of the strange, bizarre and scary stuff going on down the block, in Des Moines and of course in Washington right now I think the pressure would build up to the point of blowing. So Thank You so much to the nation’s comedians who help keep the rage down so we can rationally plan the resistance.

9 minutes

Once again, we will mix in some Black History Month questions.

Were you paying attention?

1) Who was Iowa’s governor when the now replaced Chapter 20 (labor relations laws) were originally passed in Iowa?

2) What entertainer dubbed “the Queen of Soul” announced she will retire this year?

3) Many businesses closed around the country Thursday when they couldn’t get enough workers because what was being observed by some?

4) The half brother of what world leader was killed after being sprayed with poison in Indonesia?

5) After being denied a concert venue at Constitutional Hall in Washington because of her race, what contralto instead had an open air concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939?

6) What nominee for Secretary of Labor pulled his name from consideration after several republican senators said they could not support him?

7) At a bizarre press conference Thursday, the current president seemed to accuse a reporter from jewish newspaper of accusing him (Trump) of what?

8) NSA Chief Michael Flynn either quit or was fired over calls he made to the government of what country while still a civilian?

9) Juneteenth is a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in what state several months after the Civil War ended?

10) Iowa republicans held a closed door Skype meeting with what republican governor as the debate over the union busting bill was going on?

11) Which country test fired a medium range ballistic missile last Sunday prompting a strange response from the president at Mar-a-lago?

12) Yale University announced that it would change the name of a residential hall that currently honors what long ago racist politician?

13) Watch those immigrants! Connecticut women’s basketball won its 100th consecutive victory Monday. Where was Connecticut’s coach Geno Auriemma born?

14) The first African slaves were brought to America in what year?

15) What acting Attorney General had informed the current president of Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia nearly 3 weeks ago?

16) Emoluments coincidence? Trump gets his trademark in China just after he backs what policy toward China?

17) Nominee for top science advisor to the president, William Happer, said he believes climate scientists are a what?

18) In South Korea the head of what major conglomerate has been arrested in connection with the corruption and influence peddling scandal the threatens to take down the government?

19) Who was offered the job of NSA chief and turned it down Thursday?

20) The wife of what Supreme Court judge is once again involved in a situation concerning a case that may well end up being argued before the Court?

21) I hear protestors are getting paid. How much? I think I am getting screwed.

The high holy days of basketball will be upon us soon.

Answers:

1) Republican Robert Ray

2) Aretha Franklin

3) “A day without immigrants” day

4) Kim Jong Un

5) Marian Anderson

6) Andrew Puzder (btw – I no longer will eat at Hardee’s)

7) anti-semitism

8) Russia

9) Texas

10) Scott Walker of Wisconsin

11) North Korea

12) John C. Calhoun

13) Montella, Italy

14) 1619 – brought to Virginia

15) Sally Q. Yates

16) one China – see here and here
17) cult. or actually a glassy eyed cult

18) Samsung

19) Vice-Admiral Robert Harward

20) Clarence Thomas’s wife Ginny is deep in the fight to ban Muslims from entering the country.

21) I ain’t gettin’ nothin’ I tell ya, nothin’!

Will Mexico Stop Buying US Corn?

A quiet shot across the unbuilt wall was fired Monday from Mexico City when Senator Armando Rios Piter said he would introduce a bill that would end the purchase of corn from the US. This is in response to some of the suggestions from the current administration to stop the trade imbalance between the two countries.

NAFTA is a dirty word among many folks, especially labor. However, Iowa’s corn farmers saw a huge boon when NAFTA went into effect. NAFTA opened up a huge market for their corn in Mexico. What most people forget or maybe never knew was that when NAFTA ended the barriers to exporting corn to Mexico, Mexican farmers were greatly affected. Few farmers could compete with the cheap and hybridized corn from the US. Having lost their means of income in their home country, for many of them the only answer was to go to the US to look for work.

So while NAFTA was a boon for Iowa farmers, opening markets that were hard to get into before, it was a disaster for Mexican farmers. Here is a snippet of a story from a couple of years ago that illustrates the plight of the Mexican farm community:

When the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 1994, it removed nearly all corporate trade barriers between the United States and Mexico. Among the industries affected was agriculture, forcing small Mexican farmers into direct competition with big American agribusiness. Cheap American corn — heavily subsidized, mechanized, and oh, yes, genetically modified — soon flooded the Mexican market, undercutting local farmers’ prices.

In the last eighteen years, the share of American corn in Mexico has jumped at least 500 percent. And just as millions of industrial workers in the United States lost their jobs in the free-trade outsourcing bonanza, rural Mexicans suffered a parallel fate. Even by cautious estimates, NAFTA is directly responsible for the loss of two million farm jobs in Mexico.

One of those farmers was Luis Moreno, Carla’s brother.

“How could he compete with something like Cargill?” Carla asked, speaking the name of the U.S. agricultural giant like it was a mythical dragon.

“He couldn’t, but he still had a wife and three kids,” Carla continued. “So Luis left to find work. First to Mexico City. Then to Kansas City. He’s been there for nine years now, cleaning office buildings. His kids only know him on the phone.”

It is also easy to see that the displaced Mexican farmer was integral to the wave of persons immigrating to the US illegally. When farmers could no longer make a living in their own country they had to do something. That something was to go to where to where the money was.

Immigration was an unplanned for side effect of NAFTA. Iowa farmers had a major new market for their corn.

Agriculture.com sums up the effects of the potential boycott of American corn by Mexico:

To date, Mexico is the No. 1 buyer of U.S. corn. For the marketing year September 1 through February 13, 2017, Mexico has bought 25% of the total U.S. corn sales. The next biggest buyer is Japan at 16% of the total.

Jason Ward, director of grains and energy for Northstar Commodity Investment Co., says the trade spat could impact both future and past sales.

“If all future sales get shut off to Mexico, it would be a significant negative to the marketplace for corn, and would easily overflow into other commodities, including pork and dairy,” Ward says.

To this point, in bushels, Mexico has bought 411.4 million bushels of corn from the U.S. this marketing year. Of that total, 197.6 million bushels have been shipped, “so we are talking about future sales and potentially unshipped sales that we have on the books, but haven’t arrived in Mexico yet,” Ward says.

However they do note that since commodities like corn are traded world wide, if Mexico shifts to new suppliers, then other current customers of the suppliers that would now service Mexico suppliers may need to find other suppliers. That is the US may pick some business from those customers.

What the current administration has done with its fist shaking and tough talk with our neighbor to the south is to start some cracks in a wall of trade that may well be the start of the destruction. So far all that has happened is to have an initial shot fired by the US and a return of fire from Mexico. That may be the end of it. Or these may be the first shots in what will become an all out trade war.

With an administration that has little experience in international relations and little skill in negations outside of making demands I fear Iowa farmers may see this little skirmish blow up with those farmers as one of the major victims.

SCREWED

Republicans That Voted Against Iowa Workers

I write this just after learning that the Iowa legislature has set the state back about a century as they strip public unions of almost all rights they have in the workplace.

Republicans have their usual BS reasons why it was such a great bill – efficiency, blah, blah, saves money, blah, blah. All of these reasons have been refuted by economists. Iowans called en masse to oppose this bill. But all that means little to nothing to Republicans. They don’t have the 2 million or so Iowa voters to answer to. Nope, they answer to Charles and David Koch and the other members of ALEC.

In what had to be one of the oddest scenes in a whole strange week. Republican legislators went behind closed doors to get a pep talk from Wisconsin’s big union buster and puppet of the Koch Brothers, Scott Walker. This is time that could have been used listening to constituents. I jest of course. They don’t care about constituents. They care about Koch Brother’s money.

Rick Smith at the Iowa Daily Democrat has a great story that lists some of the major donors to Iowa Republicans through a Koch operation. For Republicans these are the people they work for.

Nor do they worry about being re-elected. The next order of business will be to restrict voting. I suspect they will really clamp down on student voting and make it much harder to vote absentee.

Busting the unions will most likely have a very deleterious effect on Iowa’s economy as pointed out in this study by Peter Fisher of the Iowa Policy Project.

Will businesses worry about the loss of business due to the cuts Iowa’s public sector workers will suffer? Well, then it is time for more tax cuts! Sadly these tax cuts may not do a lot of good for small businesses in small town Iowa but then someone has to take one for the team and I guess you were chosen.

And for an extra kick in the teeth, expect congressional Republicans to repeal and not replace the ACA. They have a promise of huge tax cuts for the wealthy and that is one promise they will most likely keep. Without the ACA the cost of health insurance will go up across the board to cover the cost of care for those who are no longer able to get insurance after the ACA is repealed.

So the state workers will get increasingly lousier insurance to “save money.” (remember those tax cuts? That was money.) Therefore the burden of higher copays and deductibles will fall back on union workers who will have no power to bargain.

Since this affects about 15% of Iowa workers, expect it to make a noticeable dent in our economy., especially in the small towns Iowa Republicans claim to love so much.

I frequently heard this fall how union members in Iowa were turning out for Republicans because they were going to shake things up. Well they did, didn’t they? Republicans never really told you what they were going to do.

However, if you are a working person and a union member you should have learned by now to always ask yourself when a Republican says he or she is going to help you out – Just exactly when has a Republican ever helped a working person out? I can’t remember a time, but then I have only been around about seven decades.

Iowa Republicans will probably get a special mention at the summer ALEC meeting in Denver next July 19th – 21st.

Perhaps the worst part of all this is that reversing insanity like this is not as simple as just voting for Democrats. Besides a massive turn in the legislature we also need a new progressive governor. Those have been a rarity in Iowa. Remember, voting will soon be different also. In power grabs like this, one of the most important things to do is to stack the deck in favor of your side.

So sad to see this happen to what was once a wonderful state full of wonderful and thoughtful people.

Grassley And Ernst Schedule Town Halls Next Week

Got something to say? here’s some opportunity



Certainly You have some questions for them

Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have town halls scheduled in Iowa next week. This may be one of the best ways to get questions directly to one of 100 people that run our country.

Ernst: (1)
Tuesday, Feb. 21 1:30 PM
Maquoketa City Hall
201 east Pleasant Street
Maquoketa, Iowa

Grassley: (4)


Tuesday Feb. 21 7:45 – 8:45 AM

Iowa Falls Fire Dep’t
218 South River St.
Iowa Fall

Tuesday Feb. 21 2:15 – 3:15 PM

Hancock County Courthouse
855 State Street
Garner

Thursday Feb. 24 10 – 11 AM

Floyd County Courthouse
101 South Main
Charles City

Friday Feb. 24 8 – 9 AM
Parkersburg Civic Center
502 3rd Street
Parkersburg

This Week’s Legislative Forums

The vote by the Iowa House and Senate has been taken, and the Governor has signed it. We can’t let up on these elected representative. They need to hear from you how you feel about their vote on this issue, and the many other attacks they are planning on Iowa working families.

Please attend as many of these forums as you can. Bring friends!

We are also asking every one to call the Governors office and let them know how your feel about this blatant attack on Iowa Working Familes. 515-281-5211

ALTOONA (Priority)
Saturday February 18 – 10 AM.
ALtoona HyVee Club Room. 108 8th st SW, Altoona

ANAMOSA
Saturday February 18: 9 AM
Legislative Forum McOtto’s, 100 Chamber Dr, Anamosa

ARLINGTON
February 18, 9:00 AM
Arlington Community Center 853 Main St, Arlington

BOONE (Priority)
February 18, 8:00 Am
Ericson Public Library, 2nd Floor702 Greene St, Boone

BETTENDORF
State Representative Gary Mohr Constituent Meetings:
Every Friday 9AM at the Hyvee, 2900 Devils Glen Road, Bettendorf, IA

BURLINGTON (Priority)
Saturday, February 18: 9:30 AM
Legislative Forum at Burlington Library: 210 Court Street

CEDAR RAPIDS (Priority)
Saturday, February 18: 10:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m.
Legislative Forum with Linn County Area Legislators at Mercy Medical Center in the Hallagan Ed Center, 701 10th Street SE.

Saturday, February 18: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
United Labor Alliance Legislative Luncheons at Carpenters Local 308, 305 Waconia Court, SW, Cedar Rapids, IA

CHARLES CITY
February 23: 10:00 AM
Floyd County Courthouse 101 S Main St, Charles City

CRESTON
Saturday, February 18: 8 a.m.-9 a.m.
Legislative Coffee at The Depot

DECORAH (Priority)
February 18: 11:15 AM
Decorah City Hall, 400 Clairborne Dr. Decorah

DES MOINES (Priority)
February 19: 2PM
Des Moines Public Library, 1000 Grand Ave, Des Moines

February 20: 8 AM
Grounds for Celebration 2645 Beaver Ave, Des Moines

FAIRFIELD
Saturday February 18 – 7:30 AM
Fairfield Public Library, 104 W Adams Ave, Fairfield

FORT DODGE
February 18, 10am – 12pm
Where Elderbridge Agency On Aging, 308 Central Ave, Fort Dodge

GARNER
February 21: 2:15 PM
Hancock County Courthouse, 855 State St, Garner

GLENWOOD
February 18, 9:00 AM
Glenwood City Hall, 5 North Vine st. Glenwood

HARLAN
February 18: 10:00 AM
Nishnabotna Valley REC 1317 Chatburn, Harlan

IOWA FALLS
February 21: 7:45
Iowa Falls Fire Department, 218 South River St. Iowa Falls

JANESVILLE
February 18, 9:00 AM
City Hall 227 Main st, Janesville

NEWTON
Saturday March 18: 9 AM
Legislative Forum. Newton HyVee Club Room, 1501 First Ave E, Newton

NORTHWOOD
February 18: 8 AM
Northwood City Hall, 627 Central Ave. Northwood

OKOBOJI
February 18: 11:30 AM
Pearson Lakes Art Center

RED OAK
February 18, 7:00 AM
Red Oak YMCA, 101 Cherry St, Red Oak

SIGOURNEY
February 18: 1 PM
Keokuk County Courthouse, 101 S Main St. Sigourney

SPENCER
Saturday, February 18: 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Eggs & Issues at Spencer City Hall in the Council Chamber, 418 2nd Ave W.

STORM LAKE
Saturday February 18 : 9AM
King’s Pointe Banquet Room 1520 E Lakeshore Dr. Storm Lake

TRIPOLI (Priority)
February 18: 11:00 AM
Tripoli Library, 101 4th Ave SW, Tripoli

WASHINGTON
Saturday February 18: 10 AM
Legislative Forum- Washington City Hall 215 E Washington St, Washington IA

WEST BURLINGTON
February 18, 9:15
West Burlington City Hall, 122 Broadway St, West Burlington

List Of Legislative Forums Around Iowa This Weekend

Click on the link below to see all upcoming events for the month of February.

http://www.infonetiowa.org/calendar/events

This weekend

02/18/2017 07:00 AM – 08:00 AM Legislative Forum – Red Oak
02/18/2017 07:30 AM – 08:30 AM Legislative Forum – Fairfield
02/18/2017 08:00 AM – 09:00 AM Legislative Coffee – Boone
02/18/2017 08:00 AM – 09:00 AM Legislative Coffee – Creston
02/18/2017 09:00 AM – 10:00 AM Legislative Forum – Glenwood
02/18/2017 09:00 AM – 10:00 AM Legislative Forum – Arlington
02/18/2017 09:00 AM – 10:30 AM Legislative Coffee – Storm Lake
02/18/2017 09:00 AM – 10:30 AM Legislative Forum – Newton
02/18/2017 09:00 AM – 10:00 AM Legislative Forum – Janesville
02/18/2017 09:00 AM – 10:30 AM Eggs & Issues – Spencer
02/18/2017 09:00 AM – 10:30 AM Legislative Forum – Anamosa
02/18/2017 09:15 AM – 11:00 AM Legislative Forum – W Burlington
02/18/2017 10:00 AM – 12:00 AM Legislative Coffee – Harlan
02/18/2017 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Legislative Forum – Altoona
02/18/2017 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Legislative Forum – Washington
02/18/2017 10:00 AM – 12:00 AM Legislative Forum – Washington
02/18/2017 10:30 AM – 11:45 AM Legislative Forum – Cedar Rapids
02/18/2017 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM Legislative Forum – Tripoli
02/18/2017 11:15 AM – 12:15 AM Legislative Forum – Decorah
02/18/2017 11:30 AM – 12:30 AM Legislative Forum – Okoboji
02/18/2017 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Listening Post – Sigourney
02/19/2017 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Legislative Forum – Des Moines
Next week
02/20/2017 08:00 AM – 10:30 AM Marti’s Monday Morning Coffee – Des Moines
02/21/2017 07:45 AM – 08:45 AM Town Meeting – Iowa Falls
02/21/2017 2:15 PM – 3:15 PM Town Meeting – Garner
02/23/2017 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Town Meeting – Charles City
02/24/2017 07:00 AM – 08:00 AM Legislative Forum – Lenox
02/24/2017 08:00 AM – 09:00 AM Town Meeting – Parkersburg
02/24/2017 09:30 AM – 11:30 AM Legislative Forum – Davenport
02/24/2017 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Legislative Forum – Logan
02/24/2017 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Legislative Update – Clear Lake
02/24/2017 12:00 AM – 1:30 PM Economic Dev. Forum – Monticello
02/24/2017 12:00 AM – 1:00 PM Legislative Forum – Cherokee
02/24/2017 12:00 AM – 1:30 PM Legislative Forum – Keokuk
02/24/2017 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Economic Dev. Forum – Anamosa
02/24/2017 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM Legislative Forum – Boone
02/24/2017 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Education Forum – Iowa City
02/24/2017 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM Legislative Forum – Cedar Falls

Day Of Action Against DAPL

 

Action alert from Bold Iowa –

Day of Direct Action Against DAPL — February 22, 2017

WHAT: Bold Action Teams (BATs) will mobilize for direct action across Iowa, targeting officials and businesses that have aided and abetted construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

WHEN: Wednesday, February 22 during “business” hours. Commit for the entire day or for a minimum of 3 hours.

WHERE: In or near your community, at a government office, bank or other place that has supported construction of the pipeline. We’ll have a comprehensive list of targets available shortly before February 22.

WHY: The Dakota Access pipeline isn’t finished. Politicians, public officials and businesses who’ve supported it need to hear that the pipeline is wrong for Iowa and wrong for our planet. Because when we do nothing, when we crawl into our solitude, the forces of greed and injustice win.

THE PLAN:

* Take Wednesday, February 22 off from work (yes, I know not everyone can, but if you can, it’s important).

Sign-up for a BAT — we’ll help connect you with folks in your area.

* Meet with your BAT of 5-10 people over coffee on the 22nd to study the message, discuss the code of nonviolence and plan details for the action(s).

* Invite local press to meet your team and travel with you to the action.

* Each team will be led by an experienced leader, someone well-versed in non-violence and capable of effectively directing the action.

ACTION: BATs will occupy the targeted space and read statements, press releases, articles and other material explaining why this pipeline is wrong. One or two members of each BAT will take photos and video. BATs either stay until arrested or until security threatens to arrest them. If BATs choose not to risk arrest, they then either disperse or travel to another site for a second action.

FOLLOW-UP: We’ll have a “hotline” — a BAT-line! — for teams to send photos, video and a brief summary immediately after the action.

Let’s make this big! We need 100 BATs. Sign up here to participate, and include a message indicating your preferred role(s) (i.e., team leader, risk arrest, spokesperson, photographer, videographer, driver).

Onward, through the gauntlet and beyond! – Ed Fallon