Bacon-Wrapped Freak Show

We went to see the Guy Fieri Road Show last night (at the Orpheum in Sioux City). He’s a celebrity cook hawking a new cookbook so I assumed it would be a cooking show …

… well, not exactly.

It was more along the line of a rock-n-roll freak show, served with bacon, mirepoix, bacon, shrimp, bacon, and tenderloin. He did manage to cook two items during the three hour show, but he was so busy bouncing around the stage like a rock star that even the most attentive had little idea what was going on in the fry pan.

The show also included two other cooks and a mixologist who were so positively strange they made Guy look like a normal, upstanding, and traditional citizen. All of this was backed up (and frequently overpowered) by a Los Angeles DJ who played a lot of southern rock and metal.

Remember the smoke machines which add the rock-n-roll ambiance – the crowd on their feet dancing, hands waving in the air, the rock star (in this case Fieri and his weird cast of friends) occasionally emerging from the smoke, the spotlights piercing the smoke, giving the whole theater a surreal sense of mystery?

That was pretty much the road show (complete with mosh pit … at a cooking show!), except the smoke was from the bacon fat. (Truth is stranger than fiction.) No smoke machines, just bacon fat burning and rolling out of the fry pans.

Who knew rock-n-roll could smell so good.

And I suspect that Rachel Ray was never this fun!

Liberty, Virtue, and Tyranny

Patrick Deneen, Georgetown Univ. political philosopher, quoting Aristotle, says, in a speech given at the Ignatianum Academy in Krakow, Poland, that to “live as one likes,” is the very definition of tyranny. “However, realizing that no one of us can achieve the condition of all-powerful tyrant, we agree instead to the second-best option of living under democratic forms. In such a condition, we outwardly exhibit the appearance of citizenship, but such [people] harbor a deeper desire to “live as one likes.” Such [people] have the souls of tyrants.”

Deneen, following Aristotle, describes two species of democracy. The sort that works is rooted in the belief that political life rooted in liberty must begin with individuals who seek self-control and virtue. The other begins, not with virtue and self-control, but rather the desire to “live as one likes.” This second, corrupted form of democracy (which is tyranny veiled as group cooperation) is what Deneen was describing above. In contrast, authentic liberty calls upon “the widespread presence of virtues that are required by self-government, including moderation, prudence, and justice.”

This gets at the heart of my ongoing critique of the Federalist Papers. The Federalists assumed this latter definition of liberty and were completely confident that the American people would not elect political leaders who were not virtuous. But in the same breath they called for a secular state which left no basis for virtue and assumed a balance of vices to keep both the citizenry and leaders in check.

What this great political experiment has shown is that you cannot have it both ways. Virtue cannot exist in a void. Liberty cannot exist without virtue. Tyranny in the guise of democracy is the only other option.

This is precisely what Deneen goes on to say:

If America was founded according to a spirit of liberty that encouraged the practice of Aristotle’s first understanding of democracy, centered especially on the practice of self-government among citizens, America also had a subsequent Founding in which the second understanding of liberty dominated. This is the Founding that drew especially upon the understanding of the social contract philosophy of John Locke, and informs the core documents of the American government such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. According to Locke, by nature human beings are born free into a State of Nature in which law and government are absent. Our natural condition is one of complete freedom and lawlessness, and only in order to escape the “inconveniences” of the State of Nature do we form a contract and abridge our natural freedom. To live under government and law is a second-best option: the first best option would be for everyone else to abide by the terms of the social contract while I would be free to transgress against those terms. But, being informed by reason as well as constrained by law, we abide by the terms of the contract in spite of our inner desire to “live as we like.”

The Opposite of Doing the Right Thing

What’s the opposite of “doing the right thing?”

I watched Harry Potter on-and-off yesterday on t.v. and Dumbledore said something rather profound to Harry. (I don’t remember if this line is in the book or not.)

Dark and difficult days lie ahead. Soon we must face the choice between what is right and what is easy. (from Goblet of Fire)

Right and wrong? I suspect Dumbledore is right that the real issue is the choice between “right” and “easy.”

Ordinary and Exotic Plants

There are certain trees and bushes in my yard which are a mystery to me. There’s “a red one” (red bark and red leaves all season) and another one which has a nasty vine/weed trying to take it over, so it’s very high maintenance. I just added “a spindly one” which I replanted because it was in a place that was too shady and too close to the house. I don’t know what any of these bushes are.

The "red bush," the freshly replanted "spindly bush" and the other one, doing their best to hide the pump in the back yard.

Neither do I know what “the round bush” on the west side of the house is. I simply identify them as the red one, the spindly one and the round one. The spindly one attracted orioles when it was beside the house. I’m curious, now that it’s out in the open (approximately in deep left center field as seen from the patio), if the orioles will continue sit in its branches.

The "round bush"

These four bushes are simply too ordinary to bother with. Or more to the point, I suspect that they’re too exotic to easily find out what they are – I’d have to take a photo and take the pictures down to the local nursery because they’re not native plants, but ornamentals found only in nurseries and suburban back yards.

If someone from someplace else (the desert, for instance) came to visit, they’d probably ask me what the shrubs were, and I’d have to say that I don’t know. It’s an odd human trait that we’re typically far more interested in stuff that’s far away, and therefore exotic, than we are in stuff close to home, and therefore ordinary.

… which brings me to header photo which I posted in mid-May. (If you’re reading this in July, chances are I’ll have switched the photo, and you’ll have to take my word for it. This photo features yucca and palo verde blooming with yellow flowers.)

My sister-in-law lives in Arizona. Although retired now, whe was a school teacher in a small town within the Navajo Nation and therefore also owned a place in the Phoenix area so she could get some privacy when school was not in session. We went to visit the relatives (her, as well as my uncle who lives north of Phoenix) a couple of years ago when my sister-in-law was on spring break and I was astounded by the beauty of those green trees with the yellow flowers. I asked my uncle what they were (because you could see acres of them from his house) and he said he didn’t know what they were called, but that they were very common in Arizona.

So it seems that if you want to know what the bushes with green bark and yellow flowers are (or the red bush, or the round bush, or even the spindly bush for that matter), you probably won’t get any help from the locals. Before the internet they were merely bushes with green or red bark. Now that I have the internet, I know the green one is palo verde. (Being that the red bush in my backyard is local, and therefore ordinary, I still have no clue what it might be – maybe I ought to call it “palo rojas” if I want to stick with the Spanish theme or “baton rouge” if I want to bring a French Cajun flavor to my back yard. If you’re confused, both the Spanish “palo rojas” and the French “baton rouge” can be approximated as “red stick” in English. “Palo verde,” in turn, means “green stick,” referring to the color of its bark.)

So what’s the point of this essay? I’ve become curious about the red bush in my backyard (the “palo rojas”). I therefore invite somebody from somewhere else to come visit us here in South Sioux City. (We have a spare bedroom where you can stay.) You can then do the research and let me know what the red bush is. That task is far too mundane for me to bother with.

Alexander Hamilton on the Necessary Extent of Federal Authority

Here’s another interesting tidbit from the Federalist Papers (in this case, Federalist No. 23 by Alexander Hamilton):

The question at hand is whether the proposed federal government (that is, the proposed constitution which was subsequently ratified) should be “intrusted [sic] with the care of the common defense.” Hamilton answers in the affirmative. The common defense is, after all, one of the obvious purposes of a federal government (and I would agree, by the way). But Hamilton takes it much farther than just that.

It must be admitted, as a necessary consequence [of an effective national defense], that there can be no limitation of that authority which is to provide for the defense and protection of the community, in any matter essential to its efficacy that is, in any matter essential to the FORMATION, DIRECTION, or SUPPORT of the NATIONAL FORCES (emphasis in original).

Limited government was anathema to the Federalists because limited government equaled ineffectual government. (Limited government as we think of it today is a function, by the way, not of the US Constitution proper, but of the Bill of Rights, which were allowed by the Federalists as a compromise with the anti-federalists, in order to get the U.S. Constitution passed.

Hamilton goes on to observe that it was presumed by the Continental Congress (our governmental structure from 1776 to 1789) that “the dictates of good faith” and a sense of “duty to the federal head” by the states would be enough to make the government work. Unfortunately, the Continental Congress demanded far more money, and obedience on the part of the individual states and their citizens than seemed either necessary or appropriate by the states themselves. In other words, the states and individual citizens resisted the massive increase in taxes and the power grab attempted by the Continental Congress.

(Is this sounding familiar?)

This situation, in Hamilton’s estimation, was totally untenable. Thus, Hamilton explains very clearly in Federalist No. 23 that an effective federal government must have “no limitation of [its] authority.”

In other words, Presidents Bush 43 and Obama, far from exceeding their constitutional power, are living up to the expectations of Alexander Hamilton (as well as John Jay and James Madison) by exercising the federal government’s limitless authority.

Or at least this is true of Bush 43 and the unlimited power of Homeland Security. Since President Obama’s power grab is in the areas of the financial and industrial markets and health care rather than national defense, it could be argued that Mr. Obama is exceeding even Hamilton’s expectations. But I’m pretty sure that some attorney in the administration can make a convincing case that the rescue of General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Fanny, Freddy, and the creation of nationalized healthcare is a matter of national security.

As Hamilton clearly explains, it’s not enough for the respective states their citizens to have “good faith” in federal authority, it’s also necessary for the federal government to be able to define the extent of that authority, even if that extends beyond the “good faith” of the respective states and their citizens.

A Foretaste of Summer

It’s been a cold spring. Temperatures have mostly been in the 60s with an occasionally foray into the 70s. It was early May and we had not had one day in the 80s. And then finally, the warm weather came with highs skipping the 80s altogether and shooting straight into the 90s.

Indeed! It was a Sunday afternoon on a gloriously hot day so I was driving west. “Hot,” after all, is a very different experience in the West and the Midwest (which is why I was driving west). I give credit to Keith Roumpf, my form Presbytery Executive in Northern Kansas, for explaining the difference between West and Midwest. According to Keith, the dividing line is U.S. 81, which in northern Kansas (where I was at the time), goes through Salina, and in Siouxland, goes through Yankton, South Dakota (and divides a lonely cattle lot in the middle of nowhere along U.S. 20 in Nebraska, which is why I mention Yankton instead of a 4-way stop at the intersection of US 20 and US 81). (And, by the way, even though this will probably offend the Dallas folk, this line of demarcation makes Fort Worth a west Texas town and Dallas an east Texas town. No matter what you do with Dallas, I have to affirm the idea that Fort Worth is indeed the start of west Texas in all its lonely glory!)

I asked Keith why it was that points east of U.S. 81 were Midwestern while points west of the highway were Western. His first answer had specifically to do with effective pastoral ministry: Midwestern cooks are better than Western cooks. Never miss a Presbytery meeting lunch if it’s in Topeka, Hiawatha, or Blue Rapids (where I was the pastor). On the other hand (and this top-secret, proprietary information known only to clergy – absolutely don’t say this to any Presbyterians that you might know in Western Kansas!) if the Presbytery meeting is in Colby, Wakeeney, or Hays, it’s just as well to forgo the church ladies’ lunch and stop downtown at the local café.

Once the really important pastoral information (such as church lady lunches) had been covered, Keith explained the other difference between the Midwest and West. There’s humidity in the Midwest while there’s sagebrush in the West. There are trees in the Midwest while there’s … well, there’s sagebrush in the West.

Over the years I realized that there was a third characteristic difference between the Midwest and West: The Midwest is flat or hilly. The West is slanted; it’s where the Midwestern prairie begins to slowly rise toward the Rocky Mountains. The geographical difference between West and Midwest is largely a matter of elevation.

Even though I’m western born and bred, for years on end I have lived in the Midwest (Blue Rapids KS, Lincoln NE, Sioux City on the Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota border) but always within spitting distance of the West (Salina KS, York NE, Norfolk NE, Yankton SD). And when the weather gets hot I love to drive west and feel the air change from steam bath to dry sauna as I travel from Midwest to West.

Flying down the road with windows and sun roof open, loose objects tied down, and a hat to protect my head and ears, that dry heat soaks to the very bones, bleaching out all the accumulated junk from months of winter and destroying mold collected on my spirit from the rainy spring weather. Letting that dry heat blow past your face at 60 or 70 miles per hour is one of the best purgations that exists.

I’ve always loved hot, dry air blowing into the car from the hot, lonely prairie. One brutally hot August day back in the early 80s, having recently moved to Hays, KS (which is definitely in the West and not the Midwest), I realized that Texas was less than a day’s drive away. I had never been in Texas, and like the proverbial mountain, once I knew it was there, I had to go.

I asked Brenda if she wanted to go to Texas for dinner. She was game, so we got in my car (with no air conditioning) and headed for the Lone Star state.

There is a fine line between the purgation of a Sunday afternoon drive in 90° weather and the damnation of a 100° plus day in the wastes of western Kansas, hour after hour of 100° temps … after hour.

That same heat that purges everything bad about winter and the soggier aspects of spring, once the purging is done, begins to parch the soul of all things good, leaving only a burning thirst, a blackened shell, and an emptiness prepared for the wraiths of the empty wasteland to occupy the empty space. Scripture calls it the abode of jackals and hyenas. Westerners simply call it “summer afternoon” and begin to look to the western sky, because on days such as that, thunderstorms can’t be too far behind the heat.

Like the spring rains which wash the winter dirt away and give a jump start to flower gardens, lawns, and rubber galosh manufacturers, the late afternoon thunderstorm of summer has the glorious ability to quench the burning damnation of a high noon August scorcher. But that’s another story altogether.

To return to the story at hand, we never made it to Texas for dinner. Somewhere, probably within shooting distance of the infamous Boot Hill, we threw in the towel, turned around, and headed back to Hays, texasless, but glad to have survived the slow burn of a summer afternoon.

Some little boys like to play with fire. I rather prefer to play with that dangerous line between the glorious purgation and hideous damnation of hot, Western afternoon in a speeding car with the windows down.

The difference is, now I do it in a car that at least has air conditioning if I need it.

Another Word on the Federalist Papers: What about Virtue?

After a highly critical essay on the Federalist Papers, I do want to say something more about them, but in a more positive light, focusing on Federalist Papers No. 18 & 19. Written by Madison with the assistance from Hamilton, these two essays offer an historical perspective and critique on European politics in the decades leading up to what would become the Revolutionary War in the United States. They go through the history of Germany, France, and Great Britain, explaining why (in Madison’s view) the feudalistic system (Germany), the modified monarchial system (France) and the developing Republican system (England) failed to work. Madison claims they didn’t work because of the series of wars (both internal and external) that plagued Europe through this whole period.

This is an overly simplified explanation, but in a sentence, European government failed, in Madison’s view, because the central government was not strong enough (this was especially evident in Germany) and/or the representatives (whether dukes, landowners, or appointed officials) didn’t have enough influence to make the system work. What Madison fails to deal with was the growing moral failure of the ruling class in Europe and the possible causes of that moral failure.

It is clear, given the character of Madison’s critique, that the American federal Republic was crafted specifically with the European failures in mind. (Of course, the influence of Montesquieu, especially in the three branches of government, is also quite evident, but the European intellectuals, whether Montesquieu, Locke, or others, aren’t given credit for their influence.)

In the previous essay I said that it was obvious that the authors of the Federalist Papers didn’t take European history seriously. Am I contradicting myself in this essay? Not at all. Madison and Hamilton were clearly very careful students of history (Greek, Roman, Italian, and European history). But because they believed that it was possible to build a secular republic, they failed to understand (and thus, take seriously) the root cause of democratic breakdown throughout history.

And this brings me back to Madison’s failure to deal with the moral failure of Europe’s ruling class. The Reformation was a small part of what might be called a fracturing of religious sensibilities in Europe. There were a variety of reform movements and religious revivals which undermined the traditional religious authority. At the same time, as a result of the Renaissance, Europe (or at least the ruling class) was becoming more wealthy. So it is the ruling class became increasingly self-satisfied (and thus corrupt) and, at the same time, were able to distance themselves from religious oversight. Systems of governance that used to work began to break down because of this lack of virtuous leadership.

Human liberty is not guaranteed by an adequate system of governance, it is rather rooted in an understanding of the human predicament (sin) and a commitment to dealing with that predicament by the only means possible. In other words, human liberty is only possible when a nation has the spiritual liberty that comes from a commitment to God. The problem in Europe was not the form of government nor the specific bureaucratic structures; the European problem was a spiritual breakdown.

What Madison and Hamilton should have realized (but failed to) is that every form of government, no matter how perfect, when left in human hands, will be twisted to give more power and wealth to the powerful while taking liberty away from the common man. Once ultimate authority was taken away from God (for that’s where the ultimate authority was placed in twelve of the thirteen state constitutions) and given solely to “we the people,” it was inevitable that the structures of the Republic would be used to pervert liberty into servitude. Why? Because that is the fundamental nature of sin, and in a secular republic there is little to nothing to stand in the way of sin.

As our system of governance continues to break down, it’s important, as Christians, to understand what the Federalists did well and (far more importantly) what they failed to do well. Returning to constitutional principles will fix nothing that is currently wrong. As I observed in the previous essay, the Federalists preferred a very strong central government. Strong central government with an internal separation of powers, answered many of the problems that they saw in Europe at the time.

But that has nothing to do with the need for virtuous leaders, and there’s nothing in the constitution to encourage virtuous leaders. In fact, the Federalists unwittingly discouraged virtue and assumed a government built on a balancing of various forces of vice because they rejected the idea of true religion altogether and called for a secular government.

Once that decision was made, our history was largely written. The government would become increasingly corrupt and increasingly messianic in its relationship to its people. It was not a matter of what would happen, only when it would happen. As it turned out, it didn’t take long at all. In a matter of 22 decades we have witnessed the loss of liberty and have willingly turned in our preference for freedom because of our new posture of fear.

Returning to the constitution changes none of that. The only thing that can is a change it is a radical spiritual change in the hearts of the people, and more importantly, in the hearts of America’s ruling class.

Expanded Federal Power … That Would be too much Bother (according to Hamilton)

One of my current reading projects is the Federalist Papers. I became seriously aware of their significance when I taught U.S. History, and what I learned about them disturbed me a great deal. I downloaded a copy (available at Project Gutenberg) and finally have made the time to read them.

I know many conservatives adore the Federalist Papers and the Papers’ defense of the constitution. I can’t figure this out because Hamilton, Madison, and Jay are calling for massive centralized power and an overthrow of (what had been normative prior to the constitution) any real sense of states’ rights.

In short, now that I’m actually reading the Federalist Papers, I’m discovering that I had good reason to be disturbed by them when teaching history. I have a hard time making a case that Hamilton, Madison, and Jay were friends of liberty at all in this set of writings.

That being said I am amused by their naivety about human nature. (This is probably why they didn’t see the contradiction between a nearly all-powerful central government and the loss of liberty. Being Deists or proto-Unitarians – if not in name, clearly in thought process – they failed to understand the inherent evil that coinheres with the inherent good of a sinful human that was created in the image of God.)

Hamilton, in # 16, says the following:

Allowing the utmost latitude to the love of power which any reasonable man can require, I confess I am at a loss to discover what temptation the persons intrusted [sic] with the administration of the general government could ever feel to divest the States of [their proper sphere of authority]. The regulation of the mere domestic police of a State appears to me to hold out slender allurements to ambition. Commerce, finance, negotiation, and war seem to comprehend all the objects which have charms for minds governed by that passion; and all the powers necessary to those objects ought, in the first instance, to be lodged in the national depository.

… That someone in the federal government wouldn’t be tempted to usurp power from the states? Can any modern American read that with a straight face? Could it be that Hamilton was merely naïve about “the love of power”? I suspect it goes far beyond that. It was not “the love of power,” but the human condition about which Hamilton was naïve. Given the opportunity, sinful humans will usurp whatever they can usurp apart from divine intervention.

Hamilton’s confidence is rather charming if viewed as a statement by a founding father who assumes that we are a noble people founding this new country in a new land. But no matter how noble or charming the sentiment is, history has shown that it is a dangerous attitude. As noble as the old Deist would like us humans to be, the fact is, we are driven by sin more than nobility when historic Christianity is marginalized by a secular document like the U.S. constitution. That noble “love” to which Hamilton alludes is actually a lust for power. The Federalists should have realized this as they considered what had been going on in Europe for the last 100 years. But Hamilton continues in this same vein:

It is therefore improbable that there should exist a disposition in the federal councils to usurp the powers with which [state jurisdictions] are connected; because the attempt to exercise those powers would be as troublesome as it would be nugatory; and the possession of them, for that reason, would contribute nothing to the dignity, to the importance, or to the splendor of the national government.

This is why the U.S. constitution built in the potential for nearly unlimited federal power overseen by a judiciary-for-life that had no realistic checks on its power: It was beyond his noble imagination that we might have people in the federal government that found nothing “nugatory” at all about absolute power. Unfortunately, Hamilton, Jay, and Madison convinced the voters of New York, and we Americans gave up the opportunity for limited government and personal liberty for the sake a new constitution that centralized power and created the potential for almost unlimited expansion of the federal government.

And it didn’t take long for Hamilton to be proved wrong. Thomas Jefferson, who opposed a strong federal government and promised to dismantle much of what the first two power-grabbing, big government presidents (George Washington and John Adams), had created, ended up reneging on his “no new government” promise and expanding the government at an astonishing rate.

The same thing happened with Andrew Jackson, except it occurred with a level of vengeance and evil that could not have been imagined by any of the founding fathers (even the big government crowd), because the founding fathers truly were honorable men. Jackson was probably the first truly wicked and power-thirsty president our country produced, and the incredible breadth of power which he squeezed out of the constitution, and a willing electorate and congress, allowed him to not only carry out his very deliberate genocide against the native Americans, but both expand federal government and beat down state and local governments with abandon. The honorable Jefferson and the embarrassingly dishonorable Jackson were precursors to what was to come after World War II: What we politely call the “nanny state,” but what is in fact a government systematically usurping the very powers of the Kingdom of God.

And how could this happen? If political theorists don’t understand the magnitude of the sin problem (and in a state that presumes to be secular, founded on the sole authority of “we the people” rather than the authority of God, it is impossible for the political theorists to understand the magnitude of the sin problem) they simply cannot propose a government that is up to the task of keeping wickedness in check.

Spare Change

Now this is totally unrelated to the previous post, unless you, dear reader, make the stretch to connect them. But Van Simmons, who works for David Hall Rare Coins, passed this little gem along. As you probably know, the value of the base metals in pennies and nickels far exceeds the face value of the coins. As a result, if you get caught trying to leave the U.S. with more than five dollars’ worth of pennies or nickels, you will be arrested and either fined $5,000 or get sentenced to five years in jail.

This makes me worry about certain women I know who always have an untold amount of change lying about in the bottom of their purse.

Hurrah! (But no Dancing in the Streets)

I ran across an interesting coincidence this morning. After the news that bin Laden had been killed last night, followed by pictures of New Yorkers dancing in the streets, I read this morning’s canticle from Daily Prayer, which includes the following strophes:

Come to our aid, O God of the universe / and put all the nations in dread of you! / Raise your hand against the heathen, / that they may realize your power.

As you have used us to show them your holiness, / so now use them to show us your glory. / Thus they will know, as you know, / that there is no God but you. (Sirach 36:1ff)

Now let me be clear that there is no equivalency between the ancient poet’s sentiments and modern America. I think it safe to say that both the government and military were only interested in American glory and not God’s glory.

It is not comparison I am interested in; I am far more fascinated by the contrast of the two story lines. The ancient poet saw the Hebrew military as a mere instrument of divine power. The modern media views the military as the embodiment of military might. There’s nothing penultimate about the Navy Seals. To them go the glory (along with a big “Thank You!” to whoever decided not to give the job to the Army Rangers).

The wise man who wrote Proverbs 24 said, “Do not rejoice when your enemies fail, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble.” Why the odd advice? Because we rejoice at victory, and the defeat of one’s enemy is not the same thing as victory. Defeat is the removal of a bad thing. Victory is the transformation of myself (or my nation) into a better thing. To put it into a Christian context, I praise God when a spiritual enemy is defeated. I will finally rejoice when I move beyond the enemy and become more mature and am one step farther in my transformation “from glory to glory.”

Applying that to America, we ought not rejoice merely because the terrorist is dead, rather we should hold at least some of our rejoicing for the moment when the political and bureaucratic machinery that promotes terror-mongering is dismantled now that the terrorist is dead. Unfortunately, I think shooting Osama in the head will be far easier than cutting the head off the Beast we know as Homeland Security.

And so, a big “Hurrah!” to the CIA, the Navy Seals, and all the others responsible for the raid, but I’ll save my dancing in the streets for the time when our American terror-mongering apparatus is finally dismantled, and we will be free (remember “freedom”?) to dance in the streets without fear that it will be perceived as a security threat, and when we can get to the streets without having a background check and then passing through a metal detector followed by a pat down.