In part two, Callie and Chuck run through some cases involving Federalist Society judges that will affect parts of Appalachia. Check out part one here! PLUS! Callie and Chuck talk about father’s day feasts and recap the January 6th hearings
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Intro: Father’s Day Feasts
Chuck Corra: Its father’s day or it was yesterday. How did you celebrate, how did you celebrate with your dad? Did you get to see him?
Callie Pruett: Frankie’s been staying with my parents and so while I was gone, the thing that I missed most in the world was Frankie.
So I begged my dad. I was like, dad please bring me, Frankie. The minute that I get back. But I sold it to dad as “Do you wanna come and bring Frankie and also spend Father’s Day with me?”
Cracker Barrel Buffets
My dad drove up with Frankie from Western North Carolina and stayed the night Saturday into Sunday. And we had a really nice father’s day. We watched the F1 race together, which was great, but the best part was actually what I did for him for father’s day before he woke up on Sunday morning. I knew that he didn’t wanna go out and do anything.
He just wanted to relax. He wanted to chill and hang out with me on father’s day. So I ordered. Probably six or seven cracker barrel entrees for breakfast entrees and set them up on my kitchen table as a cracker barrel buffet for my dad. And he woke up and they were blueberry pancakes and hash brown casserole and there was like all kinds of bacon and eggs and peach cobbler and all kinds of stuff.
And he, as an Appalachian father would almost come to tears over how much cracker barrel was in front of him.
Chuck Corra: Yeah cause you to know Cracker Barrel doesn’t do buffets. No. So that’s like entering a whole new realm of incredible right there, honestly.
Callie Pruett: Yeah. If they listen to the show, maybe you should do that.
Chuck Corra: If there was a Cracker Barrel buffet, I’d lose my mind
Callie Pruett: Because it’ll bring grown men to tears. That’s the goal. Yeah so he literally was like eating and I was like, is everything all right, dad? And he was like, oh Kyle, this is just such a blessing. I’m so glad to be able to spend some time with you.
Chuck Corra: Although what I will say is my dad goes to cracker barrel almost every weekend. So I don’t think that it would be that good for him. No, that was a brilliant idea. I may steal it. I, so I don’t know if my dad will listen to this.
Hopefully not because this is in the mail going to him. I found this new service that has been a game changer for finding gifts for my dad in particular because he is very hard to buy for cuz he is just oh hell you don’t have to get me anything. And there’s this company called gold belly that will partner with local restaurants in different parts of the country and ship their food.
For Christmas this year I got him Peg Leg Porker, which is a great barbecue restaurant. My favorite in Nashville and the ribs and pulled pork came fully cooked. You just warm it up and you’d think, oh, that probably won’t be as good as the restaurant.
It was pretty damn close. Like it’s delicious. So I got him. He’s a big breakfast guy too. He likes to make breakfast. I got him a package of stuff from Loveless cafe in Nashville, which is one of his favorite breakfast spots there. And that’s coming to him this week. That’s
Callie Pruett: So nice. That’s a really cool service. I had no idea that it was like a thing that existed. Yeah. I’m gonna have to look into that, cuz there are definitely, I’ve lived in a lot of places and there are some restaurants that I miss from places where I’ve lived formally that I really would love to order some stuff.
Who is the king of breakfast?
Chuck Corra: Now that it came up I have to ask you this before we get off the subject and get into the actual show. I have to ask you, where do you fall on the breakfast hierarchy? Cuz Bob Evans it’s a staple. Where are you with Bob Evans?
Callie Pruett: Bob Evans can get out the door when it comes to the superiority of breakfasts. Yeah. Like it’s fine. But in my opinion – and this is probably gonna be a hot take – here’s how they rank:
Waffle House, Cracker barrel, Bob Evans.
Chuck Corra: I’m with you 1,000,000 percent. Okay. Bob Evans, it’s fine. I’ll fuck with the sunshine skillet. Sure. I will. I will. And I like Bob Evans wildfire shit, not that great cracker barrel way better.
And I’ll say too, like speaking of dads, my dad always has funny names for things. He calls Bob Evans Slobbin’ Bobs or just slobs for short he’ll be like, you wanna go to slobs?
Callie Pruett: While we fucking love waffle house but we used to call and my dad would say, “let’s go to the awful house.” And like for no reason, other than to have a funny name. And so it’s very funny that two of those on that list, he also had one for cracker barrel. Actually. Now that I’m thinking about it, he would just say “how about we bout to go to the Crack and the Barrel.”
Campaign Check-in: January 6th Committee
Chuck Corra: So campaign check in this week we’re calling a bit of an audible because the January 6th committee hearings have wrapped and I think it’s important to talk about because not only is it important just in general, there’s certainly a significant Appalachian connection.
Former Parkersburg City Councilman sentenced
I will just throw out that one of the former members of the Parkersburg city council was indicted. No, excuse me, let me rewind the sentence.
They are already indicted. They convicted him. He was sentenced the past week I believe to what did he get? I think he got 30 days in prison, which was ah, slap on the wrists. And in fact, as a way of introducing the subject, let me just read to you a part of the statement here. Cause I posted it on our Twitter account the other day.
So Eric Barber was sentenced to 45 days in prison for participating in the January 6th insurrection. By the way, Wendy Tuck defeated him I believe. She’s great. I know her from church. So good job, Wendy.
So the judge in the case said, “I think the remorse seems genuine.”
Here’s what Eric Barber had to say in an interview after that sentencing. Callie, I wanna see if you sense remorse.
This is what he said now:
“Any crimes I committed January 6th, pale in comparison to the lifelong criminal enterprise. Nancy Pelosi has engaged in during her decades in Congress.”
Barber continued by saying “ the outcome would’ve been different had this judge been appointed by former president Donald Trump, I would’ve received no jail sentence…unfortunately, I had an Obama appointment as a result I have to do six weeks in a minimum security facility as a political prisoner.”Parkersburg News & Sentinel
Callie, on a scale of one to remorse. Where are we?
Callie Pruett: No remorse on a scale of one to remorse. There’s no remorse does not register. The meter’s not even registering
Chuck Corra: if it were a Geiger counter. It’d be silent right now, right? Yeah. I think he’s gonna get a political prisoner tattooed somewhere on his body. I’m sure. Maybe in prison who knows? I wanted to share that as a little bit of a connection there because it sets the table.
I’m sure that there are way more examples than just him, but the January 6th committee.
Recapping the January 6th hearings
Chuck Corra: So you watched some of this, right? Some of the hearing I caught bits and pieces of it, I caught like the broad highlights. What are some important takeaways for our listeners to know?
Callie Pruett: Yeah. So I watched the first one with suspense. I think the first one was the best one. And that one was the one that was in prime time. My first impression when I got to the end was I thought that it was incredibly well done. I really didn’t have any notes for them because it felt like they had made it for a national audience. They had cut together really difficult information and distilled it into bite-size pieces.
So instead of speaking like a normal hearing, they would go to a video that they had pre-made that was one of the January 6th committee’s attorneys explaining something like in a timeline or explaining how they had gotten all of this evidence together, which I felt was just way more compelling than had they just Benny Thompson just gotten up there and just continued to talk and talk.
So it was very easy to watch. And I felt like the fact that they consulted with an ABC exec, I thought it was. To their benefit. So number one, it was super well produced. Number two. Look, I don’t want to pile onto the Liz Cheney love. I certainly do not love Liz Cheney, but I thank you.
Do think. Thank you. I do think that she was an effective messenger in that context. I’m not about any of this talk, like so many people have been like, do you think she should run for president now? No, of course not. Absolutely not. She does not. She doesn’t like people like me as she does. She’s not your friend.
She’s a Chaney for God’s sake.
Chuck Corra: It was not that long ago that George W. Bush was in office. Oh, first of all, you said people like you important context to her, is that when I believe she was running for Senate at one point, I think it was Senate might have been her first congressional campaign, her sister Lynn, I think it’s Lynn, her sister Lynn is gay.
Which obviously nothing wrong about that, but not according to Liz Cheney who I think still came out against gay marriage and basically said it in front of her, it was very awful very disgusting shit. So she’s not great. Yeah. Not good. No. . Yeah, no, she’s not. And so I just wanna make that abundantly clear that we are not advocating that she did a good job, but, or that she is a good person, but she did do a good job in this context.
Callie Pruett: Yes. I thought that calling out Republicans in that sound bite that she did was really effective. That was something that I felt like I noticed throughout tonight.
So just impressions of the whole event. I felt like it was great. Now, when it comes to the actual information, a lot of people, when I ask them if they were watching, they were like, oh, I already know everything that they’re gonna say. I don’t need to watch it. Trump is counting on well-meaning people like us to not be interested in these hearings.
The proud boys: not so proud, but very stupid
Going through like kind of some of the revelations will be really good for folks. So if you can catch some of the later ones please do wow. Lots of things that we didn’t know the first night, we got new video footage, and the proud boys let a documentarian come with them because they thought that this was gonna be their shining moment.
Chuck Corra: Can you explain who the proud boys are?
Callie Pruett: So the proud boys are a listed hate group. They were the original Leaders of the Charlottesville rally, the unite, the right rally. And then they were also the first people on the scene. While Trump was still speaking at the white house ellipse, they were already on their way to the Capitol.
And they were the ones who, if you watched the first one, the blonde police officer who testified, were the ones who knocked her unconscious. And that, that was the proud boy. So they are a militaristic, very aggressive hate group of white supremacists. So they had invited this British documentarian with them who filmed everything,
Chuck Corra: which is hilarious so funny this is obviously very terrible.
I don’t wanna downplay it, but fucking hilarious how incompetent they are.
Callie Pruett: Yeah. Yeah. Because they did it because they genuinely thought that this was gonna be their day of reckoning.
They had cut together this like an 11-minute video of start to breach. So like the start of the riot into the very beginning of the breach. And a lot of it was stuff that we had never seen before. And for me, it made me realize just how. Just how numb to the regular footage that I had been.
I’d seen everything I’d seen the police officers screaming, all of that and at that moment when we were all watching that in real time, it was that kind of same, that visceral reaction. It made me sick. It was horrible to watch. But oh, as time goes on, you become numb to those things, so seeing this new footage really hit me hard.
I imagine that other folks had a similar reaction, but that was really great and so that first night I felt like it was really great television. Then, we can definitely go into some of the later ones, what the actual information that’s coming out is, but I’d love to hear as someone who did just catch snippets of it, what was your impression of the hearing experience?
Chuck Corra: First of all, I wanna dial back real quick. What you said about Liz Chaney and stuff. I feel the same way about her, that I feel about Mike Pence, who is a terrible person, not a fan. It is good that they did what they did with respect to her being a part of this committee. And for him certifying the election.
This was to be clear for Mike Pence, the absolute bare minimum of what he could have done, but it’s good that he did that as opposed to not doing it with Liz Cheney. It is good that she’s doing what she’s doing with this, particularly because it’s actual political courage in a way cuz she’s gonna lose her primary.
Like she’s gonna lose. A lot, it looks like. It’s good that she did that. It’s not an excuse to look at her with rose-colored glasses for anything else, but it is good that she did this as opposed to not doing it. That’s what I will say.
Callie Pruett: Yeah, I think you can absolutely hold both of those thoughts at the same time.
And I would encourage folks, let’s not make these people our heroes. That was, I think that they, a lot of the committee was saying that Mike Pence is a hero. Had Mike Pence not enabled this he was part of building this riot from the ground up. And the fact that he stopped it right before it went over the edge.
The dam broke, he just mitigated the damage, exactly. And that’s part of what Mike Pence wants to try to do right now is salvage his political career. And so that’s why he’s trying to also make himself out to be this person that saved the day kind of thing. What I will say is it seemed like it was very well produced.
Chuck Corra: It seemed like they hit on the very important points. It seemed harrowing enough. I think I don’t really know how to feel about it as far as what the impact is going to be. I don’t know that anybody was necessarily gonna be persuaded by this. That would otherwise not be, but I don’t know that was entirely the point.
I think it was important to get this on the record. And I think it was important to make a case to the department of justice about this.
Callie Pruett: I was about to say the audience is Merrick Garland.
Chuck Corra: yeah. The audience is the attorney general of the United States. And they’re trying to get him to indict the former president, which probably should I think will be scary.
Yeah, like I’m not, I definitely think that he committed crimes. I think he should be indicted, but I worry about how that’s probably gonna be the closest civil war that our country has been to since the 1800s. I agree. 100%. I think it’s gonna be a scary time if that happens, but you also just can’t let people off the hook cuz why to have a justice system, yeah. If you’re not gonna enforce that and you’re gonna have black people in prison from a fucking dime bag of weed, but this guy tries to overthrow the entire democracy, and it’s a blind eye. Yeah. That shouldn’t be how it works. So yeah. I think that it was an effective thing and I think they had to do it.
That’s what I’ll say. And I think maybe it was helpful for people who hadn’t been paying attention because I know there were a lot of eyeballs on it. So I think from that perspective, I think it was good.
The facts that have emerged
Callie Pruett: So let’s dive into a couple of the facts that have emerged. Eastman is the attorney that was advising Trump on the idea of Pence sending back the elections to be re-certified by the states. So that is if, when we say Eastman, that is Trump’s attorney who concocted the whole plan.
Chuck Corra: Yeah. Not Eastman chemical for all the Northeast Tennessee Kingsporters out there.
Callie Pruett: So Trump was told on multiple occasions that Eastman’s plan was illegal, but he tried it anyway. So this goes back to that classic American question. What did the president know? And when did he know it? If you guys are familiar with Watergate, that was the main, that was a central question in the Watergate scandal.
I feel like it is coming back to the surface of American politics right now. So what did the president know? And when did he know it? He knew before he made that speech. He knew weeks before that speech that this idea of sending it back to the states to be recertified and Mike Pence declaring him the winner was illegal, but he tried it anyway.
Pence had actually conferred with one of the folks who are like a, he’s like a Basian of conservative, like legal thought. And this was a guy who was shortlisted for. Shortlisted for the Supreme court and told Pence that this was wrong. So Pence had the, he also knew before and he knew that he was going to do what he did.
And so that was really interesting that Trump was going ahead with the plan he knew, and Pence knew what he was going to do as well. There was no question in his mind that he was going to do what he did after all this went down. After all of this shit happens. Eastman actually emailed Rudy Giuliani about receiving a presidential pardon?
After January 6th, he said, “I have decided that I should be on the pardon list if that’s still in the works.”
Chuck Corra: Oh my God. Yeah. You, let me just say, you never ask for a pardon if you’re not guilty of something. There’s no reason to.
Callie Pruett: Yeah. They’re so dumb. They left such a paper trail.
Chuck Corra: These people….they are the dumbest criminals. But at the same time, that’s a really smart thing to do and that’s the dumbest part of it because Trump will give you a pardon!
Callie Pruett: Amazing. The next thing that we did not know before we thought that Pence had been taken directly to the underground bunker, where he had remained until the mob was gone, but that’s actually not what happened.
Pence was really close to the mob. He was 40 feet from the mob of Trump supporters inside the capitol, just after Trump had tweeted about him. The house select committee showed up on Thursday. So this is where we veer into the committee and do a lot of letting the people who were actually rioters tell their own stories.
So multiple times throughout the hearing, we saw videotapes of people. Who was taking their cues from Trump and saying I’m here because Trump asked me to be here? There was actually somebody who was indicted who said, Trump has never asked anything of me other than two things, his vote, and to be here today.
And that testimony is so incredibly powerful because no matter what they say, the people who were there said it themselves, that Trump had asked them to be there. And that this was a premeditated event will be wild. If the quote is there it will be wild. So then as we move through the riot we know now that Trump didn’t want the riot to stop the committee revealed testimony during its first hearing that the Trump white house officials who said the former president did not want us capital attack to stop angrily re resist that Trump angrily resisted his own advisors who were urging him to call off the writers and thought his own vice president quote, deserved to be hang
Chuck Corra: So what you are saying is this sounds like a guy with very little involvement, right? Very little it’s wild to me, this whole situation wild to me like they had fucking gallows in front of the United States capital. And you had a mob of people who were literally yelling, hang Mike Pence, but then Republicans in Congress are like, ah they’re just protesting.
Mean my God. Have you seen Antifa anti-Portland? And they’re Mike Pence. Oh no, they didn’t wanna hang Mike Pence. Yeah, they were just ribbing. The guy just ribbing him who hasn’t erected a gall in front of the United States. Capital. Yeah. Before coming on. You Democrats. But let’s be real though.
All of these Republicans in Congress, probably. Don’t believe any of this, they’re probably just as wad out by this as the Democrats, but they have to count out. Other constituents are not absolutely who were at those rallies.
Callie Pruett: So lots of interesting repercussions for campaign finance. I know this is going along, but I really wanted to share with everybody, just some of those things that I feel have really broad impacts for the next year or so of our lives, even into 2024.
Chuck Corra: What do we make of this? Where do we go from here?
Callie Pruett: The committee still has a couple more hearings to go this month. I think there’s nothing that an everyday person can do right now, other than keeping the conversation going. Continue to talk about this, share the videos, and share clips with your family that may need them.
That’s something that I think is really challenging. Do we have to ask ourselves how much responsibility the average American has in protecting our democracy? I’m asking myself that question. My answer to that is as much responsibility as I can take on is what I need to have over this.
The judiciary and the department of defense and all of these supposedly impartial bodies are impartial. They’re not, they are heavily influenced by public opinion and public conversation. If we can help shift the tide of public opinion to indict, rather than do nothing, then we should do that to protect our democracy.
So that’s what I think we should take away from this. Continue to watch, continue to share, talk to the people, have to the people who need it, and have difficult conversations.
The Appalachian Hook to the January 6th hearings
Chuck Corra: Especially if you live in Pennsylvania because, and here’s a takeaway for you. Here’s the Appalachian hook that will end us on, which is Doug Mastriano running for governor in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
He is a big-time election denier, so if any of this can be persuasive to potential Republican voters that you may have in your family, I would encourage it because this guy is extremely dangerous and he can appoint the secretary of state. We’ve talked about it before in this show and they can throw out entire election results and not even need it to go to the United States Senate.
Callie Pruett: I’m really glad that we could have this discussion and if y’all have any questions or if you’d like to see something from us on this beyond the episode if you’d like us to try and tie some more of this to Appalachia let us know because we’d love to help create any resources that might be helpful for you in talking to those family members.
Chuck Corra: Exactly.
Activist Federalist Society Judges on Appalachian Courts
Chuck Corra: So today part two of our episode from last week, the Federalist society’s impact on Appalachia.
For a little bit of a recap, the Federalist Society is a right-wing, dark money organization. That basically has been influencing the federal courts for decades by propping up judges and putting them in front of Republican lawmakers to confirm and put on the different courts.
Last week, we told you a little bit about that organization this week. We’re diving into some of the stuff that they’ve already done, which I think severely impacts Appalachian in a negative way. I wanted to really quickly give just a little bit of background, not long about the federal circuit courts, cuz that’s what I chose to focus some of this research on.
so a lot of federal judges in Appalachia are in the Federalist Society and their precedent impacts all corners of Appalachia. And so circuit courts, you may have heard like the sixth circuit court of appeals, the first circuit court of appeals, etc. I think that there is 12 total, including the DC circuit and they’re basically regional.
Circuit courts are a step below the United States Supreme court, so if you appeal from the circuit court, you’re appealing to the US Supreme court. Their rulings are precedent for the circuit region they’re in and are considered persuasive authority among other circuits.
The ruling in those courts affects Appalachia. So for example, a decision at the 11th circuit, even if it was a decision about Florida, impacts Georgia and Alabama,
That was all the background they need.
Callie, you and I had a hunch that these judges were terrible.
Callie Pruett: Yeah just a little.
Chuck Corra: An inkling, a little inkling. Now we have the facts to back that up.
Callie Pruett: Oh my gosh. Lay it on me.
Chuck Corra: I love facts. You know me, I’m a fact machine.
Cases involving voting rights
The first bucket here is voting rights, this is extremely important because they love taking away voting rights.
11th Circuit (Georgia, Alabama): Voter Suppression
This first one is in the 11th circuit, so it impacts Alabama and Georgia and took place though in Florida. Okay. A couple of years ago, Florida enacted some very restrictive voting laws that restricted absentee ballot drop boxes, third-party voter registration groups, and precinct line warming, which essentially means groups coming and talking to people in line when they’re getting ready to vote.
So Trump appointed Federalist society judges at the 11th circuit – Barbara Lagoa, Andrew Brasher, and Kevin Newsom – overruled a lower court decision that decided there needed to be something called pre-clearance before Florida enacted these laws. Pre-clearance to put it very simply, I won’t go into a large explanation, but it’s basically having to seek the Department of Justice’s approval for any changes relating to voting.
It’s part of the voting rights act. There are a lot of rules that go into it, but essentially it brings in an unbiased party to review the changes that you’re making to ensure that it’s not motivated by race or other forms of discrimination.
The 11th circuit ruling that they did not have to seek pre-clearance is a problem because it allows them to make these kinds of laws and have some sort of discriminatory intent as long as the court upholds it.
The lower court said that the right to vote in federal votes was under attack in Florida, to which Ron DeSantis said that this was “performative partisanship,” which he would know exactly what that means because he engages in it on a daily basis. But the important part about this law is when the lower court ruled that there should be pre-clearance, they relied on an analysis of racism in Florida’s history and said that it was an important part of that.
The 11th circuit said that was problematic and failed to properly account for what might be called the “presumption of legislative good faith.”
Callie, do you think this was good faith?
Callie Pruett: Absolutely not. There was no good faith.
Chuck Corra: Damn it. I thought this time was the time. Maybe you are just being too harsh.
I think I should give him the benefit of the doubt.
Callie Pruett: You know me, just pretty hardline on voting right?
Chuck Corra: Of course, to those listening, I was being sarcastic. This is obviously terrible. You can just look at it on its face. One thing I did wanna point out though, too, speaking of good faith, and bad faith.
I mentioned Barbara Lagoa at the 11th circuit, one of the Federalist Society Trump pointed to judges, her former job before getting that cuz her job was that she was a Florida Supreme court justice who had been appointed by who else than Ronald DeSantis!
Callie Pruett: Why did she not recuse herself?
Chuck Corra: Oh, accountability is this fleeting fantasy that we used to have at one point.
Callie Pruett: Actually I am there. Is there a, I guess maybe there’s not a precedent for that. I don’t know. That feels no. It just, it, that feels weird
Chuck Corra: My guess is that things like that come down to ethics rules, which while our encouragement may not necessarily be required and relies on that thing called good faith, which they really like to push here, but seems to be very lacking.
Good faith is not written in the constitution and they’re originalists, right?
Callie Pruett: That was a good, little hot take there.
The Appalachian hook to this case in Florida
Chuck Corra: So you’d probably be wondering, what does this mean for Appalachia? This is a voting rights law in Florida! Now the precedent is a little murky here just because it deals with section five of the voting rights act, section five was partially invalidated by the Supreme court a few years back. This may be somewhat limited to this case, but what this tells us is that these judges can, and likely will make rulings like this for places like Georgia and Alabama, whose governors and state legislatures have a well-documented history of passing laws and signing them into law that restricts voting rights, particularly among Black populations.
So this is very troubling because it’s a glimpse and it’s a peek behind the curtain of what these judges think and what they believe and how they rule. And so in places like Alabama and Georgia, this is dangerous.
Callie Pruett: Geez! What a hot start…
Chuck Corra: Folks only going downhill from here.
11th Circuit (Georgia, Alabama): Voter ID
A couple of other instances with that same circuit on voting voter ID laws. A judge wrote a 2-1 decision dismissing a challenge to an Alabama voter ID law. Despite the fact that even that judge herself, that Federalist society judge, conceded that Black voters were twice as likely as white voters to lack voter IDs, which she even admitted.
So this is basically like saying “yeah, this will disproportionately impact Black voters, but I don’t care about that.”
Callie Pruett: That’s what she’s saying. Yeah, exactly. Oh my God. That’s infuriating.
Chuck Corra: So this is more of that originalism textualism shit. Like in a different case, she actually dissented arguing that Alabama cannot be sued for violating the voting rights act.
Callie Pruett: They’re saying the quiet part out loud and we don’t know people, as involved as you and me, didn’t know this until we started researching it.
Chuck Corra: A lot of these judges they’ll get through the Senate and they’ll pass maybe sometimes on a party line vote sometimes not, but then people forget about them and credit to the organization, people for the American way, who, I got a lot of information from because they’ve been tracking these judges because it’s hard for a lay person to do this.
11th Circuit (Georgia, Alabama): Absentee Voting
But to continue on these hostile judges towards voting rights that affect Alabama and Georgia in particular absentee voting.
A couple of other Federalist society judges, including Barbara Lagoa, overruled a lower court ruling that said Georgia absentee ballots were postmarked by election day but received up to three days later should be counted.
They said, no, they shouldn’t, and this likely disqualified thousands of voters in Georgia.
Hey Callie, do you remember any close elections recently that happened in Georgia? Yeah,
Callie Pruett: I do. And also from the campaign side of things, we know that democratic voters are more likely to be absentee and mail, ballot voters.
So this is so clear. Whoa. So clear what the intent here was.
Chuck Corra: Especially with very close elections coming up this year, you have a Senate race, you have a governor’s race, you have this kind of thing, like thousands of votes, disqualifying, thousands of voters. What makes the difference is, in a close race, 1000000%
Callie Pruett: As somebody who just lost a race by 30 votes – yeah exactly.
Callie Pruett: Like 30 votes. And that’s gonna be, that’s not just gonna be in, in Texas. That’s gonna be in Georgia. That’s gonna be in Alabama. That is gonna be all throughout Appalachia, especially. I’m here. I’m thinking like John Fetterman, Tim Ryan, Cheri Beasley, all of those folks are gonna have precincts that come down to a handful of votes and could come down to counties being won and lost on just mail and vote.
Wow. That’s how a regular voter is supposed to know that, oh, I’m putting this in the mail on election day, so I should be able to do that. I’m good. That’s how absentee voting has worked forever. As long as it’s postmarked by election day.
Chuck Corra: That means you have to actually mail your ballot at least three days before and hope the hell that it gets there on time.
That’s the other thing is the way that you secure your vote in absentee is you get it postmarked by that date, because like that’s a way of knowing that you satisfied that obligation because you don’t have any control with what time it gets there. After that, Even if you mailed it a week before it may get lost in the mail.
Callie Pruett: That’s so upsetting, ridiculous.
11th Circuit (Georgia, Alabama): Overturning public ballots with legislation
Chuck Corra: I’ve actually saved probably in my opinion, I think the worst for last, which should scare people in general. I think all around the country, but especially in Alabama and Georgia, where this is a precedent now. As you may recall in 2018, Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment that restored voting rights to people with felony convictions.
That was a big deal because it’s Florida and in many states if you have a felony, you lose your right to vote. And that was a very progressive ballot initiative that passed. And I think it passed by a pretty decent margin. So the state legislature didn’t like this, they passed a law in 2019 saying that those individuals had to pay all fines, court costs, and fees.
Before they can register to vote. So all of those things were associated with their criminal convictions before they could get their voting right back. So they weren’t saying they weren’t invalidating it on its face, but very much effective because a lot of people with felony convictions are lower income.
A lot of them have those fines that they don’t have the money to pay for. Maybe they’ll pay for it over time, but that disenfranchises them until they do. And this, these Federalist society judges at the 11th circuit overturned a district court ruling that said this law was unconstitutional.
This law that the legislature passed about the fines was unconstitutional. And this effectively takes away that voting right. That was given to people with felony convictions.
Callie Pruett: I remember hearing about this and. It makes me really angry that this happened because I remember I was working in Florida during that election.
I remember just how hard people were fighting for this and how much they believed in what they were doing and how happy that so many people were because the people who had paid their debt to society had the ability now to vote again. And the fact that this is basically a poll tax, which is illegal, yeah.
But yeah, this, in my opinion, is a poll tax.
Chuck Corra: It absolutely is. The person who doesn’t have a felony conviction, they don’t have to pay any fines like that.
If you have existing debt, you don’t have to have it paid in order to go vote or like a parking ticket.
Callie Pruett: Like you can still vote. It doesn’t make sense. When we say that people who’ve paid their debt to society should be able to vote. These lawmakers were like they haven’t paid their debt to society. Just like you said, there are tons of people who have pending litigation, or if you have court costs from a misdemeanor or like this is just targeting a status of people that is largely poor. This disproportionately impacts minorities, just an extra way to twist the knife in my opinion.
Chuck Corra: Yeah, it’s horrible. The dissenting judge, in that case, basically argued that the record developed at trial made it clear that the state government had no interest in actually collecting those fines so that people could vote because it demonstrated a staggering inability to administer its requirement and that Florida cannot tell people with felony convictions, the great majority of whom are indigent, meaning low income, how much they owe and have not completed a single screening.
So they don’t even have the information.
Callie Pruett: It’s just a scare tactic! Wow. That is so sad.
Chuck Corra: Yes, it is. It’s horrible, but I’m glad that we’re talking about this because people need to be aware that these judges matter.
So I wanted to switch gears a little bit to a different one. This actually involves judges in the sixth circuit.
Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan, this is less impacting than broader states, but just Ohio in general. For people who live in Ohio, there’s been a lot of legal challenges to the new partisan redistricting maps – Ohio’s gerrymandered maps. I have not been following this super closely.
What I realized here when reading through this is that Trump-appointed judges basically made it so these Republican-aligned maps would stay in place.
Ohio’s GOP came up with these partisan maps, lots of legal challenges ensued and many judges heard the cases. Judges on the Ohio Supreme court ruled that the new legislative maps were unconstitutional and gerrymandered.
It went to the sixth circuit, a Trump-appointed Federalist judge joined a Western district of Kentucky, and a Trump-appointed federal circuit judge basically throw out the ruling of the Ohio Supreme court – I guess these judges didn’t much care for the whole federalism hobby horse – which I know that it happens legal, whatever.
The judges sided with the GOP and they said their reasoning was, “we must presume that state actors will work together to reach homegrown solutions. And if they fail, then it is up to voters to punish them if they so choose.”
Callie Pruett: First of all, presuming state actors will work together to reach homegrown solutions – that is bonkers. That is hilarious. A presumption that is not based. In fact, it’s not based in reality, it’s a fantasy. So there’s that. And then if they failed, then it’s up to the voters to punish them.
Like we just said that. Regular people, regular voters are affected by this.
This is why we place these people in positions of trust. That is why they are confirmed by the Senate and the fact that they are saying well, throwing their hands up saying it’s up to the voters to punish these people. If they so choose is just an abdication of their duty.
Oh, it makes me so mad. Wow.
Chuck Corra: Lol it’s up to the voters to punish them for these gerrymandered maps where they drew them in order to choose their own voters.
Callie Pruett: Exactly. Oh yeah. That’s right.
Chuck Corra: You can’t make this up with how stupid it is.
Callie Pruett: Yeah. And it’s so this is, there’s this is like coordination.
Chuck Corra: It makes me so mad. Yeah. So that’s Ohio. I don’t know if that precedent would be necessary. I’m saying that if these judges are willing to do these certain things then these judges will likely do it for other places.
Callie Pruett: And just because it impacts just one state doesn’t mean that those people don’t deserve to know this and to understand that they are being impacted by these judges, or could be impacted by these judges. That’s one of the reasons we really wanted to highlight even some that are narrowly focused like this one.
Chuck Corra: Yes.
Discrimination against persons with disabilities
This next one I think is gonna get your goat cuz it got mine.
Callie Pruett: Oh boy.
Chuck Corra: Yes. So this happens to do with discrimination, particularly with people with disabilities. This is the 11th circuit again – Alabama and Georgia.
The same judge in the other cases ruled in this one. A grocery store chain was accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by making some of its drug refills and other services available only through its website, which was not accessible to the visually impaired.
There are hundreds of commercial websites that are accessible to the visually impaired, can use screen readers and stuff like that, to where somebody who can’t see or can’t see well is able to have it read to them. What’s on the website? This was not compatible with that. They got sued. I think it was Winn Dixie or something.
The judge ruled that the store chain didn’t violate the ADA by not making it accessible.
I just want your visceral reaction to this explanation. It gets a little wordy, cuz it’s a little legalese.
The judges said Title III of the ADA bans discrimination with respect to public accommodations on the basis of a disability.
The judges ruled the website wasn’t a public accommodation and the, that the inaccessibility was not a quote unquote intangible barrier that denied the person equal access because it didn’t prevent them from shopping at the physical store.
What the fuck, first of all, I believe that they made some of those refill services available only through its website, but even if not, the reason why you have that stuff through a website is so you don’t have to go to the store and some people can’t.
Callie Pruett: That’s right. The whole point is so that you don’t have to go into the store. I feel like making things available online is typically like a great accommodation for people with disabilities. I really like it when I can get things delivered to me by mail because I don’t have to make an extra trip out of it!
Callie explains spoon theory to Chuck
If we have any spoonies in the audience, that’s an extra spoon that I don’t have to use.
Chuck Corra: Spoons? Is that a thing?
Callie Pruett: Yeah. So it’s like how many basically it’s like the battery that you have for the day and like every activity that you do, it costs you a spoon and you only have so many for the day, and oh we can link the story in the show notes. I can send you the story that explains a spoony.
But it’s basically a metaphor for how did disabled people have to make calculations for everything in their life because of everything they do. Costs them so gotcha. Like I only have a set amount of energy for the day. I can’t go over that when I’m out of energy for that day, I’m done because I can’t, I physically can’t keep going.
So something like this accommodation would be great for me. I have my medication mail delivered from not this place, obviously, but like I have them mail delivered, but this is just like an accommodation that is likely supposed to be for people with disabilities or at least benefits them in some way.
Wow. This one makes me really mad. You’re right. It got me.
Chuck Corra: if I was smiling and laughing, it wasn’t cuz I was being insensitive. I literally thought you meant kinda like a sneakerhead as someone who is obsessed and collects shoes. And I thought you meant like a spoony with somebody who literally collected different types of spoons and was just really into cutlery.
no. Okay. I’m so much making so much more sense to me now.
Callie Pruett: I’m really sorry that I used a deep cut for disabled people. You don’t need to apologize. I actually think we’ll probably get a couple of comments on it being like, I was spoony too.
Chuck Corra: we have one person be like, I’m actually like a spoon head, meaning like I’ve got a wall of spoons
Callie Pruett: that I collect.
Yeah. Here’s like a short : people who live with chronic pain and subscribe to spoon theory may refer to themselves as spies, but the term isn’t limited to any one medical condition. The spoon theory is a self-pacing strategy that emphasizes the need for chronic pain patients to work to a certain quota.
Oh, that makes sense. That makes sense. Yeah. I like that it’s a helpful and helpful visualization. Yeah. Interesting. I had not heard that before. See, we learned something new on this. So this is okay, first of all, this is extremely big problem because this this is actually a ruling where they said that this was not an intangible barrier, which is explicitly mentioned the ADA This could be used to apply to a lot of other instances where public accommodation for something like that happens or where
this was like a driver’s license, or like a DMV or some kind of actual government thing where you had to go to a website to get.
Chuck Corra: It allows people to cut corners.
Like these judges are basically allowing companies to cut corners. I don’t know how hard it is to integrate the ability to have things like screen reading and stuff done on a website. I. Imagine it’s that difficult, but it’s probably an added expense or something. And so this is it. It’s just you talk to anyone who is impacted by the ADA and they will tell you that it is imperfect and it lacks teeth already.
This is just chipping away at that more because let me just ask this:
Callie like if you’re having trouble reading a website, do you think that you might also have trouble driving a car to that store?
Callie Pruett: Possibly. Yeah, yeah. It’s the layers of just not actually making any sense. As you peel them back, just get more and more.
Chuck Corra: This is an onion of bullshit. Yes. Peel it back. You find more and I don’t like onions.
Callie Pruett: No I am. I’m here for it.
Callie Pruett: This is your soapbox. I’m ready for you to like really hit this one hard.
Chuck Corra: Oh, I’ve got so much soap that it’s filling up the laundry room right now. I will be directing my ire at these judges very soon.
So first of all this like union just in general has seen a huge resurgence, especially since the pandemic, right? Yeah. In a great way. Unions were on the decline, I think for a while and particularly since their height.
This recent resurgence has been great. Starbucks, you look at how many, like hundreds of stores there you look at. I’m totally like my mind is blown up blank.
Callie Pruett: I think some Apple places too, right?
Chuck Corra: Yes. The first apple first union store and apple company history happened incredible Towson, Maryland, not too far up the road from me.
Callie Pruett: That’s a lot of bravery, I think on the part of so many workers across the country to fight for what they have deserved for a long time.
Chuck Corra: Absolutely. Hats off to all of them, especially a special shout out to the Starbucks in Boone, North Carolina who unionized about a month or so ago?
As you can imagine companies are doing everything that they can to shut this down. If you look at it every day, there’s like a new clip for me, as a shareholder’s meeting or something at Starbucks or Howard Schultz going in on unions and saying how terrible they are for their culture.
So how they always say the culture,
Callie Pruett: Which by the way, has never been true. Unionizing is good. Just so that we can stand firmly and that Howard Schultz is wrong.
Chuck Corra: Schultz is definitely wrong. He’s also a billionaire who stands to lose some of that billion dollars. Employers are getting way more hostile and openly hostile about employees unionizing.
According to the National Labor Relations Act – if I remember correctly, sections seven and eight – it is unlawful to interfere with employees’ rights to bargain and organize in the workplace including threatening employees with adverse consequences. In many cases, expressing hostility towards unionizing can interfere with that and threaten adverse consequences.
Judges in the Third Circuit delivered this ruling, so this is all of Pennsylvania – which is a historically very union state, very pro-union. We love that.
George W. Bush appointed Federalist Society judge Thomas Hardiman was part of this ruling. This judge ruled against the employees, the workers, and the National Labor Relations Board, which if you don’t know what that is, the NLRB is the independent agency that’s tasked with upholding labor law, with respect to collective bargaining and unfair labor practices.
Just this past month. In fact, this is very recent, so hot off the process here. This was actually quite interesting. Because this was the publisher of the Federalist. So the Federalist is a conservative. Now online used to be print publication magazines. And I guess that there were some employees that had been talking about potentially forming a union.
Maybe they even weren’t talking about it, but just the idea came up, the publisher tweeted that he’d quote, send employees back to the salt mine. If they tried to unionize,
Callie Pruett: Talk about irony!
Chuck Corra: Right? Of course, we still support their employee’s right to unionize – every worker in this country, regardless of where they work, should be able to unionize and organize in their workplace. Even if we disagree with what they write. We absolutely do.
The judge argued that Twitter encouraged users to express opinions in exaggerated or sarcastic terms. And that, because of that, this was not considered hostility that would go against the national labor relations act.
Callie Pruett: Do they know that like most news is broken on Twitter?
Chuck Corra: Seriously. And it doesn’t matter if that’s what a lot of people use it for. And it doesn’t even matter that even. He may have even tried to claim he was being sarcastic. It’s clear that there’s a hostility towards unions and that, that was not going to be welcomed or encouraged or even supported at this.
Callie Pruett: At the very least it has a chilling account.
Chuck Corra: Absolutely. Cause, first of all, look, he can argue that he’s being sarcastic, but sent back to the salt mines. Any employee could interpret that as I might get fired. Yeah.
Callie Pruett: I think it’s fair to assume that. Yeah,
Chuck Corra: absolutely. And they’re gonna argue, oh, it was just joking and this, why take this seriously?
It’s Twitter. If I’m an employee at that place, I’m worried that if I try to unionize I’ll get fired.
Callie Pruett: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And also just the fact that he felt comfortable enough saying it in such a public way. Imagine what this man says in private and imagine knowing that, oh, this is what they feel comfortable joking about.
The thing is that we know that there are tons of politicians and employers and things like that, who will say these things out loud in the public sphere, but in private are even worse, are far worse and more dangerous. And so I think that’s what you can read from this is that, wow, he’s willing to joke about this online.
Even if it is sarcastic, he really means it. That’s as reasonable of a thing to understand as encourages users to express exaggerated or sarcastic terms, even if that’s not correct, it’s just as
Chuck Corra: reasonable. I would also argue, and I think this may depend on the wording of the national labor relations act, but I would argue that even if he intended to be sarcastic, employees could easily not interpret it like that and interpret it as a threat to their unionizing.
And that’s a problem. And you might think okay, this is the Federalist, it’s an online publication. I’m not actually sure why it was in the third circuit. Cause I think they’re based outta DC, but either way, like this, is the third circuit precedent for Pennsylvania.
Why does this matter for Appalachia, particularly in, in Pennsylvania, a significant chunk of the region? It’s alarming because it gives employers a lot of leeways to make threats against unionization. So long as it’s on Twitter. Boom. Yeah, look, I, and I know that rulings are more complicated than this, but look, the way the judge interpreted this, where he claimed that Twitter was a place that encourages sarcastic comments.
If I’m employed by an employer looking at this, I’m thinking great. So I can threaten my employees. All I want is long as I do it on Twitter. Cuz then they can just argue, oh, it was sarcasm it called it Twitter bird app.
Callie Pruett: no, it’s okay. I think you’re exactly right.
Chuck Corra: So I do have one more to go through and this is this
Callie Pruett: one.
I feel I see the heading. I feel it in my bones. It’s just gonna make me really
Chuck Corra: mad. There is clear contempt for people who have been in prison or have violated the law by these judges. Would you agree?
Callie Pruett: I absolutely agree. Sorry. I’m muting myself so that you guys don’t have to hear Frankie talking.
Chuck Corra: It is just fucking adorable. So I just love watching it. It’s so cute every now and then he is like, I mentioned this earlier. He’s like a PPU coming out of the water, cuz he is just short enough to not always be within the camera, but every now and then you just see his head come up.
Callie Pruett: It’s like whale watching, but it’s Frank.
Chuck Corra: It is. Yeah. I mean from the comfort of your own home. So this has to do with the inhumane treatment of people in prison. So this was also in the third circuit of Pennsylvania. Trump appointed the third circuit, Federalist society, judge Paul Mady, who agreed with the last decision, affirmed a dismissed level lawsuit against a federal prison guard by a prisoner who.
Let me actually just restart that. So a Trump-appointed third circuit Federalist society judge named Paul Mady agreed with the dismissal of a lawsuit against a federal prison guard who ordered inhumane confinement of a prisoner. Now let me just lay the foundation here. The third circuit already recognized the treatment in question as cruel and unusual punishment.
So I wanna give background to what happened, cuz this is a little bit
Callie Pruett: of deep. I need the background. I need to be sufficiently. Hotheaded for this sufficiently
Chuck Corra: enraged right here. Yes. Yes.
Callie Pruett: I’m letting it flow
Chuck Corra: through me. Let it flow. Let the anger flow through your veins.
Callie Pruett: I Jean, sorry. That was
Chuck Corra: really nerdy.
That was great. That was where I was going. I just didn’t know. I was like paraphrasing the line cause I couldn’t quite remember it. Let the anger flow through your sky Walka. I had a very real sky OAA. I don’t . That was good. I am going to get canceled by the real star wars fans out there who are gonna be absolutely fucking disgusted by my interpretation of
Callie Pruett: that.
Sorry. Y’all I’m sorry if it’s not PALT. Thank you.
Chuck Corra: I’m pretty sure. So this is the factual background. It’s a little bit of detail, but it’s very important to those. So after a medical assistant filed what turned out to be an unfounded complaint against Anthony MAANA, the prisoner. We’ll call him Anthony. A guard ordered Anthony to be placed in the quote unquote yellow room and given yellow treatment.
The yellow room is a cold solitary confinement cell that has extra bright lights and yellow walls that reflect and intensify that light. So it’s purposely set up to be as visually distressing as possible. A prisoner like Anthony given the yellow room treatment means to be stripped of their standard uniform and forced to wear a see through thin alternative.
They’re given no blankets or sheets. And in his case, no pillow, washcloth, towels, toothpaste, toothbrush, or toilet paper, and the lights are kept on for 24 hours a day. Anthony was kept in the cold yellow rim for four days despite requests for medical treatment because he felt ill. The requests were ignored and guards instead chatted and mocked him all night.
And remember, this was. Done in response to a complaint that turned out to be unfounded. No, not only was this cruel and unusual punishment period, but it was done. So on a complaint that ended up being false or not valid.
Callie Pruett: So this is just like the worst case of bullying and exploitation of.
Your system of
Chuck Corra: power. Absolutely. Absolutely. So basically this had to do with this lawsuit having to do with putting liability on that particular guard. And so there’s a lot that goes into that. I don’t wanna get into all the legal mumbo jumbo but this lawsuit was filed by the prisoner. And now the details here get a little thick, but I do really believe that this is important.
So the court did say that he could state a claim under the eighth amendment, which is barring cruel and unusual punishment, right? So he said we have established this as cruel and unusual. They sent it back to lower court. Lower court said that Anthony could not Sue the federal guards under a certain Supreme court principle that they were using that allows people to see federal officials for depriving them of constitutional rights under some circumstances.
And the circuit court agreed. This Trump appointed a Federalist society. Judge claimed that although they did establish that there was a failure to provide adequate medical treatment and to provide protection from prisoner violence. Anthony’s claim concerned a new context because it concerned his mistreatment in the yellow room.
And they maintained that the court should not expand this previous Supreme court precedent to apply to this case because Congress is omission of a damages remedy and the law that they’re using indicates that Congress chose not to extend the remedy for failure to provide medical treatment and cases involving prisoner mistreatment.
So let me break that down for you. What this means is that they didn’t wanna establish new precedent. That’s the long and short of this. There’s a lot of details that go into this. The attorney for Anthony was relying on Supreme court precedents and a principle established for this type of case. They were relying on the prison litigation reform act, which was an act passed by Congress.
And basically what the court here said, what these Federalist society judges and Appalachia said is that they don’t wanna make new precedents because this yellow room treatment is a new context. And they think that Congress did not really write this law to extend to this.
Callie Pruett: Isn’t it like, isn’t it, the whole job of the courts to create new precedent and to address new issues in, in, in legalities that like that’s their whole job.
Chuck Corra: not, if you are a textualist guess geez. They chose to be like, oh based on the writing of this, they didn’t want it to extend to something like the yellow room, which is a new context. And we don’t have precedent for that, even though it’s cruel and unusual punishment. We don’t want this to go on.
Callie Pruett: The yellow room is still used.
Chuck Corra: I guess I would assume so. Jesus,
Callie Pruett: This is very, this is just sad. It’s really, it’s sad. It’s disturbing that this is happening. Wow. I feel deeply for Mr. MAANA. This is
Chuck Corra: awful. This is terrible. And this is just one of the cases we know about. It doesn’t matter what this person did in order to be incarcerated.
Nobody should be. Subject that kind of treatment and have their rights stripped away because that, that is we talk about rights all the time. The bill of rights, eighth amendment seldom talked about very important, right? Against cruel and unusual punishment that was cruel. And that was unusual. There’s nothing, no doubt in my mind about that.
And this person’s rights were stripped away from them.
Callie Pruett: Yeah. Yeah. These folks are also, and excuse me, if this makes some people angry, but the Federalist society is unquestionably a Christian organization. We talked about that last week that Leonard Leo is unapologetically Catholic and he’s driven by that.
And so are many of the judges. I, as a Christian myself, cannot fathom. Deciding something like this in favor of this type of treatment of another human being, it is the most un-Christian thing I’ve ever heard. This is cruel. We’ve just established that it’s cruel and unusual, but wow. I can’t imagine I can’t imagine not seeing repercussions for these guards now.
They’re just enabled and empowered and emboldened.
Chuck Corra: Yeah, absolutely. And I think I’m with you on that. And I think that’s a really important point and it’s something that I think makes me so angry about the way that these people choose to interpret the law, which is devoid of context and devoid of nuance.
Callie Pruett: Except for when it benefits them.
Chuck Corra: Exactly. It presumes that these lawmakers knew exactly what they were doing at the time that this was written – which is ridiculous. This hurts so many people we’ve we, we talked about this and how it hurts Appalachia, and we wanted to put a point on like how these will harm you if you live there.
Callie Pruett: To really just put a bow on the end of this. These judges are deciding real cases for real people, and we wanted to make that tangible for you. That these aren’t just. Judges that we hear about in the news every now and then when they’re confirmed as bad judges, these judges go on to be appointed for life-making decisions like this, these judges aren’t gone.
This is the point. These judges, maybe leg Goa, all of these judges that we’ve talked about are still there. They’re still deciding cases for you, for your families, and for your communities. And we need to take this very seriously and understand that activism does not confine itself to legislators. It doesn’t confine itself to presidents or members of Congress.
We have to be aware of what is going on on a larger scale in the judiciary because there are judicial activists that are. That is making these decisions every day and who are denying appeals and who are ensuring that. People who are non-violent drug offenders stay in jail. These are things that are happening.
So I, Chuck, thank you so much for all of your research on this. This has been really enlightening for me too. And I think all of our listeners are gonna think the same.
Chuck Corra: Yeah, I hope so. And in the case of Paul he’s 51 years old, so he’s gonna be on the bench for a long time.
Let’s put a button on that for now. I think that was a helpful deep dive there. And we are going to forego under the radar in Appalachia, cuz we know this has been meaty. The episode this week, but we do want to reiterate that the subject we talked about last week, we still want you to be sending in those letters, and calling your members’ offices about the black lung disability trust fund.
We wanna make sure that you guys are still doing that. I know a lot of you have already used the link in the show notes to send out letters, but if you haven’t already please check that out.