Corporate Media is the Enemy of the People.

by Keaton Weiss

I know, I know, I know. If you’re a pussy-hat wearing, Chardonnay-and-Xanax mixing, blue-no-matter-who preaching, “resistance” liberal, your hair is probably on fire right now because I sound “JUST LIKE TRUMP!” Well, call Trump a broken clock. In fact, call him a doubly-broken clock, because he’s only right once a day. Better yet, call him a quadruply broken clock, because he’s only right once a day and for the wrong reasons. But he does happen to be right about one thing: corporate media is the enemy of the people.

Examples abound, which is why this piece has been percolating in me for quite some time. The 2016 election was a wake-up call for progressives such as myself as to just how biased the mainstream media is in favor of the interests that fund them. It should have been obvious long before that, but the Obama presidency proved a very effective smokescreen for them. It was a perfect storm of obscurantism: a popular, charismatic president pushing their neoliberal agenda while posing as a progressive whose “real” agenda was being thwarted by a reactionary, racist Republican Party. Under those circumstances, the job of perpetuating the neoliberal status quo was quite easy, and easier yet was their ability to hide their biases. After all, most of that above description of the Obama years is true. Obama was a popular president with outstanding political skills, and much of the Republican opposition to him was in fact paranoid and irrational at best, bigoted and hateful at worst. Sandwiched in between, however, is the all too important and easily overlooked lie that Barack Obama’s real agenda” had been hamstrung, as if he were really trying to push through a populist progressive program. It became quite apparent by the end of his second term that he wasn’t. In no way was that more obvious than his unrelenting push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership right through the 2016 general election. By then, thanks in large part to the Bernie Sanders campaign and the media’s blatant contempt for him and his movement, progressives had been awakened to the fact that the mainstream corporate media is in fact pushing an agenda of neoliberal corporate globalism. It then became much easier to make sense of what had transpired over the previous eight years.

You know how when you’re dreaming, you just kind of take for granted that everything you’re experiencing is real, even if it doesn’t quite make sense, and only after you wake up do you look back and realize all of the signs you missed along the way? It was like that.

So that’s when it clicked for me that the media was in the tank for the interests of the entities that either own them outright, whether it’s Jeff Bezos (Washington Post) or Comcast (MSNBC), or who advertise on their platforms (Humira, Otezla, etc). And, again, the list of examples is endless. I wrote an entire piece on MSNBC which I’ll refer you to for a more thorough history of systemic anti-progressive bias at their network, but for now let’s just look at the past eight weeks. First, MSNBC’s coverage of the Democratic debates was littered with anti-Medicare for All propaganda, with Chris Matthews going as far as to suggest it would be “unconstitutional.” Then, the media chastised Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for invoking “concentration camps” when referring to the situation at the border (how do you feel about that now, Chuck Todd?). Then, they nearly unanimously took Nancy Pelosi’s side in the intra-party feud that resulted from AOC’s “Squad” voting against the Democrats’ border funding bill. Then, CNN’s coverage of the second round of Democratic debates consisted of repeating the Orwellian talking points that Medicare for All would actually mean taking away people’s healthcare, and the corporate media narrative in the days following the debate was that Democrats had faltered by too harshly attacking the Obama legacy in favor of a more progressive agenda. Just recently, in their coverage of the Iowa State Fair, the New York Times published that Bernie Sanders “spoke to almost no one,” despite that he had, in fact, spoken to overflow crowds of supporters.

So why wait until now to write this piece? Well, the thesis that these media organizations are not simply biased entities with interests of their own that they try and hide from the public, but are actually, in essence, the enemy of the people, was laid shamelessly to bare by Brian Williams on MSNBC this week.

A hashtag #MyBernieStory started trending this week, as the Bernie Sanders campaign encouraged their supporters to share on social media personal stories of how and why they came to support Sanders’ presidential bid. Being that Bernie Sanders has centered both his 2016 and 2020 campaigns on the material needs of ordinary Americans, this seemed like a great idea. And not long after the prompt was put out there, thousands of these stories flooded the twittersphere. A few examples are listed below:

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That’s just a sampling of responses from real people, of all different races, genders, and sexual orientations, with real, urgent, material needs that are not being met under the current status quo. They are supporting the Bernie Sanders campaign because he is the candidate who not only articulates the severity of their situations in a way that no other candidate does, but has a forty year track record of fighting on their behalf.

Perhaps that would make for an interesting segment on Brian Williams’ show. Instead, he chose to feature this, calling it “The tweet from last night that caught my attention:”

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The dishonesty of this tweet is obvious to anyone who closely follows politics. First, there were twice as many Clinton-to-McCain voters in 2008 as Sanders-to-Trump voters in 2016. Second, Clinton herself was criticized heavily in 2008 for staying in the race until June, despite having no viable path to nomination after Super Tuesday. Third, as for the idea that Bernie didn’t sufficiently campaign for Clinton, I’ll refer you to the below photograph:

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Aside from the dishonest nature of the tweet itself, it’s important to note that it came from an anonymous account. Who is this “Hoarse Whisperer” anyway? Could the Hoarse Whisperer be a Republican operative seeking to foment discord amongst Democrats? Could the Hoarse Whisperer be a troll who just likes to stir the pot to raise his/her profile? Or, could the Hoarse Whisperer be, wait for it…get your Xanax ready…Russian?!?! Think about it. Putin rides a horse, does he not? Whose horse is it in the profile pic??? Of course, these questions are completely nonsensical in this case, being that the account in question is attacking Bernie Sanders. Were the Hoarse Whisperer attacking a centrist on a progressive’s behalf, Rachel Maddow would devote 20 minutes to how the grass in the background of the profile pic looks eerily like the hills in which Putin has been photographed shirtless on horseback.

But both the lie of the tweet itself and the dubious nature of the twitter account from which it came are both secondary concerns here. What’s most important, and most damning, is that of all the #MyBernieStory tweets they could have highlighted which amplify the urgent concerns of ordinary Americans, MSNBC chose to showcase this one.

There were literally tens of thousands of tweets to choose from in which ordinary people either write, or in some cases, record themselves on video, to express how the problems in their lives which have been exacerbated over the years could be ameliorated by the Bernie Sanders agenda. Single mothers raising children on minimum wage jobs, HIV patients struggling to afford their medications, students drowning in debt, veterans with inadequate health benefits. The list goes on, and on, and on.

The choice on Brian Williams’ part to forego amplifying those voices, and instead lend his megaphone to an anonymous, lying troll who’s goal is to drown out those same voices, means one thing. It means that whether you’re a poor, gay, type 1 diabetic, or a senior citizen facing a bleak retirement, or a fatherless child whose dad died because he had a heart attack and was uninsured, or a kindergarten teacher whose students are starving in your classroom, or a young woman entering the workforce in fear of what’s to come, Brian Williams is your enemy. MSNBC is your enemyThe corporate media, as an institution, is your enemy.

Plain and simple.

And if you think that’s too harsh, or too divisive, or too “Trumpian,” then I’d like to know what you’d call them. What would you call a multi-millionaire news anchor who cherry picks one dishonest, irrelevant tweet from an unverified account, which, in all seriousness, would get the full Russiagate treatment if not for its pro-establishment bent, out of a sea of stories from real people with real problems who are desperate for real solutions? You might be confused as to what to call him, or shy about what to call him. I am not. I call him my enemy, because he is. And he’s yours too. And he’s not alone.

The Sanders campaign is finally hip to this dynamic, and I am encouraged to see them tackling this problem head on. For obvious reasons, they can’t be as blunt as to use the language that I have, but I can. And we can. And we must.

Joe Biden, from his awful debate performances to his constant gaffes, has proven an extraordinarily weak candidate. At this point, his candidacy is being held together by the corporate media narrative that the progressive agenda will not sell in middle America, and that Democrats must settle, as they always have of late, for the safe, neoliberal status quo. This means that at this moment, the biggest enemy of progress, the biggest obstacle in the #MyBernieStory contributors’ paths to solace, relief, and peace, is no one candidate, no one party, and no one president. Their number one enemy at this point is the corporate media, which is working, around the clock, against their interests. They are working tirelessly against the interests, to put it simply, of the people, and are, therefore, their enemy.

So what can be done about this? Well, in a Democratic primary, unfortunately, outlets like MSNBC, CNN, The New York Times, and the Washington Post have quite a bit of power. If you agree with this article, whether you’d go as far as to use my wording or not, the most important thing you can do, at the risk of sounding hucksterish as I myself have carved out a small niche in this arena, is to promote independent media, especially to your well-meaning liberal friends and family members being led astray by these networks and publications. We must overcome their insidious attacks if we are to usher in the kind of reforms that we know are so urgently needed, and we can only do that by outnumbering them in terms of viewers, readers, and listeners.

Let’s get to work.

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Podcast: Beating the NRA and Ending Gun Violence – w/Barry Graubart

Barry Graubart, New York State Deputy Chapter Leader for Moms Demand Action, talks the recent shootings and how his organization has fought the NRA and won.

**Thank you for reading! You can support this blog & podcast for just a dime a day and get exclusive content at our Patreon page! You can also follow this blog by entering your email address in the field on the sidebar (computer screen) or below (phone), and/or by liking/following us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for your support!**

A Modest Proposal For Centrist Democrats: Join the Republican Party.

by Russell Dobular

We once had a president who proposed a health care plan that was far more generous than Obamacare. It never came to pass because members of Congress opposed it. This same president also seriously considered a Guaranteed Basic Income and created an entirely new government agency focused on the environment. That agency was the EPA, and that president was Richard Nixon.

The Congressional leaders who opposed his health care plan were led by Ted Kennedy, who felt it didn’t go far enough. So, was Nixon considered a liberal in his own time? Hell no. He was the arch-conservative of his day. At that time though, the opposition party was so much further left that they wouldn’t accept an approach to health care that kept the private insurance industry intact. What does this tell us? We’ve gone so far to the right in the years since the Nixon presidency that in many ways Nixon was to the left of the current leftmost outpost of mainstream American politics, Bernie Sanders. Even Sanders hasn’t proposed a GBI, nor is he contemplating the creation of whole new government agencies. How we got to a place where the average Democrat is well to the right of yesterday’s conservative Republican, and today’s conservative Republican is well to the right of the Taliban, is a complex tale of woe, but I’ll sum it up as best I can before getting to my proposal.

A realignment of voters’ allegiances began in the 1960’s, first around the issue of Civil Rights. Since the Civil War, the Democrats through their Dixiecrat wing had been the natural home for racists and segregationists. The GOP, being the party of Lincoln, maintained the allegiance of some African American voters, and in turn had no interest in cultivating overt racism within their party. That all changed with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, under Lyndon Johnson. Upon signing it, Johnson, one of the keenest political minds of his time, famously made the observation, “We’ve just lost the South for a generation.” Turned out it was more than a generation. It was forever, or at least down to the present day. So, where did all those Dixiecrats go? They fled to the Republicans, largely with the encouragement of the aforementioned Richard Nixon, who laid the groundwork for today’s GOP with his “Southern Strategy,” an overt dog whistle appeal to disaffected racists under the guise of restoring “law and order.”

In spite of their gradual hemorrhaging of southern white voters, for a while the Democrats were able to maintain the hold on both Houses of Congress that had been in place almost continuously since FDR. This was because they still had the unions, and those unions continued to be a powerful force in society. Unionized workers were the Democrats’ foot soldiers and primary fundraisers. They were what allowed the party to compete with the GOP, who regularly out-raised the Democrats 20 to 1 in election cycles. The Republicans had the money, but for a long time, the Democrats continued to have the people.

Then came Bill Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council. The DLC was a group of Democrats who wanted to move the party to the right in order to win back all those Reagan Democrats. They also had a barely-hidden contempt for the party’s traditional working class constituency, on the basis that they were retrograde on social issues (the genesis of Hillary’s “deplorables” comment). In many ways they were the “New Left” of the 60’s, all grown up and ready to kick Archie Bunker out of the party in favor of the well-educated and white-collar Meathead. The theory was that they’d retain the unions anyway, because they wouldn’t have anywhere else to go, and at the same time make inroads with a portion of the GOP’s professional class voters. The latter worked out like gangbusters, with huge numbers of what had been known at the time as “Rockefeller Republicans,” defecting to the Democratic Party with the election of Bill Clinton, whose vision of free trade and welfare reform, combined with his ability to hang with African Americans at a fish fry without looking too out of place, aligned nicely with their socially liberal, economically conservative views (if you’ve ever described your politics that way, now you know where your politics came from. And it wasn’t the Democrats).

With those voters came their donations and the kind of influence on policy that those donations bought. That’s why today the legislative preferences of the upper 20% of income earners become law 60% of the time, while those of the bottom 80% effect legislation about 1% of the time. At the same time, the unions were decimated by Clinton’s passage of NAFTA, which turned out to be the proverbial slaughter of the electoral golden goose. Until NAFTA, the Dems had held both houses of Congress almost continuously from FDR to 1994. Right after its passage, they lost Congress in the midterms and have hardly ever held both houses since. Turns out those union workers did have someplace else to go. Some went to the GOP, and a lot simply stopped voting altogether.

Because of the Nixon/Reagan and Clinton realignments in their respective parties, we’ve gone a generation with two parties fighting for the interests of their wealthy donors and no one fighting for the working and middle class. Our current grotesque levels of income inequality are the end result.

Now, to my proposal. There’s a war going on right now inside the Democratic Party between those who want to give it back to the poor and working class voters it was stolen from a generation ago, and the center-right professional class voters and politicians who stole it from them. History and demographics will tell you that’s a fight the progressives are bound to win eventually. All the Pelosis and Bidens of the party are doing is holding back the inevitable, and with it, they’re holding back progress and delaying the restoration of a system that, at least relative to what we have now, more or less worked. A country where Biden represents the right-wing and Bernie Sanders the left, would be a pretty good country. We know that because from 1945 until around 1980, that was the country we had. So how do we get back there? It isn’t enough to reform the Democratic Party. That’s only addressing one half of the problem. We also have a fascist right wing party that needs to be brought back to the sane center-right space it once occupied. And who better to do that than its former base voters? I know it’s a big ask, but in order to bring our politics back into alignment, you, dear centrist Democrat, need to consider joining the GOP.

I know, I know, you’re a Democrat through and through and you’d never break bread with those theocratic nutballs. But they’re only theocratic nutballs because you folks moved out of their neighborhood and gentrified the other party. Instead of fighting a rearguard action against progress within the one, you are uniquely equipped to foster progress within the other. That’s where you can do the most good.

Bonus: you get to rant about AOC all you want, without any pushback from members of your own caucus. See? It’s a win-win.

Now, I can already hear your next argument: how will the Democrats win without us? The answer is, much more easily. There are a lot more pissed off poor people, many of whom were once proud members of the middle class out there, than there are wealthy, professional class voters. You people, with your obvious contempt for rural and working class voters, and your discomfort with class politics, are like a giant electoral scarecrow, driving them into the cornfields. We know how to talk to them. I don’t want to be unkind here, but honestly, you make them want to puke. Really, you do. As someone from a blue collar background, I can tell you, I’ve seen the puking. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

So that’s my proposal.

I know right now you’re saying you’d never even consider it, but I suspect as progressives continue to take over the party, you’re not only going to consider it, most of you are going to do it with bells on. ‘Cause let’s face it, you’re never coming out to vote for people who want to radically overhaul a system that’s made you pretty well off. Once Sanders-style politicians come to define the Dems, you’re going to run for the hills, at which point most of you will end up in the GOP anyway. So why not start today? Your country needs you. In the other party. And besides, aren’t you tired of getting out-lefted all the time? Deep down don’t ya kind of feel like a dick regurgitating Third Way Democrat talking points in the face of Medicare For All? Over there in Trumpland you’re never going to get out-lefted again. Standing next to those screwballs, you’ll be Che fucking Guevara. How cool will that be? Listen, I know it sounds radical now, but just sit with it for a couple of days. This country isn’t going to save itself. We have work to do. Together. But in a separate kind of a way.

**Thank you for reading! You can support this blog & podcast for just a dime a day and get exclusive content at our Patreon page! You can also follow this blog by entering your email address in the field on the sidebar (computer screen) or below (phone), and/or by liking/following us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for your support!**

A Berning in Motown – Democratic Debate Recap

A recap of the July Democratic debates in Detroit.

**Thank you for reading! You can support this blog & podcast for just a dime a day and get exclusive content at our Patreon page! You can also follow this blog by entering your email address in the field on the sidebar (computer screen) or below (phone), and/or by liking/following us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for your support!**

Podcast: The History of Media and its Impact on Memory, Thought, and Culture – w/Saul Brown

Saul Brown discusses his traveling lecture on the history of media, from ancient times through the present day, and how it affects our thought, memory, and culture.

 

Podcast: Debating Bernie or Bust 2020 – w/Victor Tiffany

Victor Tiffany, founder of Revolt Against Plutocracy and self-proclaimed ‘godfather’ of the Bernie or Bust movement, explains what’s different about his organization’s 2020 strategy and argues his case for Bernie or Bust 2020.

**Thank you for reading! You can support this blog & podcast for just a dime a day and get exclusive content at our Patreon page! You can also follow this blog by entering your email address in the field on the sidebar (computer screen) or below (phone), and/or by liking/following us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for your support!**

Stop Searching for Good Republicans. Brand Them All as Bigots and Crush Them.

by Keaton Weiss

The Republicans have already decided how to brand the Democrats for the 2020 election cycle: socialism, abortion, and open borders. This will be their line of attack no matter who the Democrats nominate for president. Democrats already know who the Republicans will nominate for president, and they know he enjoys a 90% approval rating within the party, even after this past week, in which he made abundantly clear that he intends to make the 2020 election a full-on race war. So for Democrats, the branding of Republicans is simple: racism, racism, and racism.

After Donald Trump’s blatantly bigoted tweets on July 14 in which he suggested representatives Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were foreign in nature and that they should go back to where they came from, the House quickly drafted a resolution to condemn those tweets. On July 16, all but four Republicans, Will Hurd, Brian Fitzpatrick, Fred Upton, and Susan Brooks, voted not to condemn.

The very next day, Trump’s rally in Greenville, NC took a predictably dark turn when Ilhan Omar’s name came up, prompting crowd chants of “send her back.” While many Republicans were quick to disavow the chant itself, they were equally quick to defend Trump’s lie that he himself didn’t approve of the chant, tried to squash it, and was quick to move on to other topics in his speech. The obvious truth, as documented on tape for all to see, is that he stepped back from the microphone and allowed the chant to continue for 13 seconds before “moving on.”

In the days since, the corporate media has of course done the obvious and necessary work of calling these tweets and chants what they are, which is overt bigotry. They’ve also, however, taken on a less productive task: a search for “good” Republicans who may denounce the president.

To give just a few examples, Chris Cuomo tried his best to get Kansas Senate hopeful Kris Kobach to admit the president’s comments were racist, to no avail. Additionally, Kobach had difficulty answering Cuomo’s question as to whether or not he would support Trump even if Trump were to admit he’s a racist outright. CNN’s Jim Sciutto grilled Republican Rep. James Comer on Trump’s hypocrisy when it came to his own trashing of America vs. his current “love it or leave it” posture towards these four congresswomen of color. Comer maintained that no such hypocrisy exists. Dana Bash pressed GOP Senator Ron Johnson on whether or not Trump’s more recent tweet that AOC’s “Squad” are not “capable of loving our country” was racially charged. Johnson replied by employing the age-old tactic of suggesting that raising the specter of racism was itself racist, and that he would like to move towards a more “colorblind society.” MSNBC’s Morning Joe, hosted by ex-Republican congressman Joe Scarborough, makes appeals to decent, noble Republicans part of their everyday routine, and those appeals have continued in recent days.

Perhaps the media is simply doing its job by reaching out for comment from Republican supporters of the president, and getting their positions on record. But watching these clips suggests that they’re somewhat desperate to find examples of noble, courageous Republicans who will simply and affirmatively, in no uncertain terms, condemn the president’s recent racist words and actions. This compulsion to elevate the “good” Republicans is shared among many of the corporate media’s uncritical consumers, even the liberal ones. It’s reflected in the “resistance” liberals’ constant veneration of John McCain. It’s reflected in their adoring responses to George W. Bush and Michelle Obama’s candy-sharing tradition and their disturbing nostalgia for the Bush years. It’s reflected in people like Bill Maher’s regret for having been too harsh on Mitt Romney during the 2012 election, not realizing just how much worse things could have been. These are just a few of many examples.

This futile endeavor of seeking out virtuous Republicans who will confront Trump’s bigotry is borne of the political and media establishment’s decades-old premise that civil, agreeable coexistence between Democrats and Republicans is both feasible and desirable. But those days are over.

Unlike in 2016, when Trump’s xenophobic dog whistling was just one part of a broader populist, anti-establishment, and (however ironic) anti-corruption agenda, it seems evident, as of now, that his 2020 messaging will be much narrower, and much more pointed in its appeals to racial animus. This means that, as of now, the Republican Party is the party of racism. And the Democrats’ chance to brand them as such is not merely an opportunity, but a responsibility. Furthermore, this branding must be applied to Republican politicians en masse, with no exceptions for the “good ones” like Will Hurd. Nope. Sorry. The only good Republican is an ex-Republican.

“But that’s not fair,” you say, and, in a certain sense, you’re right. But on the other hand, branding has never been an enterprise built on complete intellectual honesty. After all, Snapple isn’t actually made from the best stuff on Earth. Energizer batteries don’t really keep going, and going, and going. VISA isn’t everywhere you want to be. But that’s not the point. The point is that Snapple tastes good, Energizer batteries last quite a long time, and that VISA cards are accepted in more places than Discover and American Express. And the point here is that Republican politicians are, by and large, for all intents and purposes, racists. They’re defending and empowering a racist president who takes every opportunity to rile up his racist base, and, perhaps most importantly, if you’re feeling uneasy about this new tactic I’m proposing, is using racist attacks against four Democratic congresswomen to try and falsely brand the entire Democratic Party as anti-American. So if Hurd, Fitzpatrick, Upton, and Brooks don’t want to branded unfairly, they can do what Rep. Justin Amash did a few weeks ago, and leave the Republican Party.

Now I understand this may be a bit too bold a move for the gentile, old school, moderate Democrats to fully embrace, which is why it will fall to progressives to execute this strategy. And perhaps that’s for the best anyway, since we’re the ones best equipped to do it for a couple of reasons.

First, this is our fight. Trump came after four of ours. We’re not only proud of these four congresswomen for their incredible courage and tenacity they’ve shown over the past couple of weeks, but we’re proud of ourselves for having backed them every step of the way from day one, and for having defended them against all attacks from all sources, including the Democratic Party leadership. And we, as progressives, can make clear to Trump and his racist Republican sycophants that we’re not Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. We’re not a couple of worn out, washed up doormats who respond to such hostile provocation with muddled, incoherent pleas for bipartisanship and civility. Our message is much simpler: You want a fight? You got one.

And second, we as progressives will not make the mistake that the neoliberal centrists made in 2016, which was to use attacks on the opposition as a substitute for pushing a positive, robust, pro-active agenda designed to empower the American people and improve their overall quality of life. Not only will we do both simultaneously, but we’ll also point out, as the Squad themselves did during their press conference, that the Republicans are actually using white identity politics as a substitute for a substantive policy discussion. “We’ll stay focused on our agenda,” AOC said, “Because all of this is a distraction.”

So let’s not shy away from this fight. If Donald Trump wants to get down and dirty with us, we ought to oblige him. If he wants to run his campaign exclusively on white nativism and racial resentment, let’s make that ugliness stick to his entire party, and not fret over collateral damage. Let’s not try and seek out “good,” “decent,” “brave” Republicans to give us that warm, fuzzy feeling of bipartisan unity. If Trump is going all in on racism as a strategy, and his GOP enablers aren’t willing to stand up to him, then our job is not to escort the few redeemable Republicans to their lifeboats so they can row safely to shore. Our job is simply to sink the whole damn ship, and let the “good ones” jump off and swim, should they so choose.

**Thank you for reading! You can support this blog & podcast for just a dime a day and get exclusive content at our Patreon page! You can also follow this blog by entering your email address in the field on the sidebar (computer screen) or below (phone), and/or by liking/following us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for your support!**