The most famous photo from Nov. 22, 1963

There are perhaps hundreds of recognizable still and moving images related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  Out of all of them, this is the one that has impacted me the most:

Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office, November 1963

The Inauguration of an American President is a celebration of many things.  It is a celebration of electoral victory.  It is a celebration of the crowning achievement in the life of a politician.  It is a celebration of a “new era” of government, when a new Administration is afforded the opportunity to propose new ideas, install new officials in appointed positions, and take the country in a new direction.  And it is a celebration of peaceful, constitutional democracy that allows the government leadership to change hands in an orderly fashion.  Former Administration officials (and the citizens who supported the former Administration) have no fear of being murdered out of retaliation.
But Lyndon B. Johnson was denied all of that.

There was no joy.  There was no celebration, no party, no gala Inaugural Ball.  No beautiful ceremony on the steps of the US Capitol.  There was only a brief administration of the Oath of Office inside a cramped room on Air Force One.  The shock and grief on the participants’ faces is overwhelming.

LBJ was sworn in two hours and eight minutes after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Two hours and eight minutes.  As Jacqueline Kennedy smiled and waved at crowds that lined the streets in Dallas, her husband’s head suddenly exploded in a cloud of blood, brain fragments, skin, hair, and bone.  She screamed, “Oh, God, Jack!  They’ve killed my husband.”  She cradled his burst skull in her lap as the motorcade sped to Parkland Hospital.  She watched is lifeless body wheeled into the emergency room, where doctors pronounced him dead.  She wept as Father Oscar Huber administered the last rites.  She still wore the same blood-spattered pink Chanel suit when she boarded Air Force One afterwards.  An aide gently suggested that she wash her face and hair, and change her clothes before the cameras caught her.  “No,” she replied, “Let them see what they have done.”

Two hours and eight minutes.  I can’t even imagine.  I just can’t.

A welcoming committee turned into a wake.  Many prominent Texas Democrats were there.  Jack Valenti, from Houston, served as media liaison.  He would later go on to serve 38 years in Hollywood as president of the MPAA.  Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry, the man responsible for the President’s safety, was there.  A young journalist named Bill Moyers covered the event.  You can see the edge of his glasses-framed face at the very top of the photograph, as he strains to watch the swearing-in.

Career House of Representatives member Albert Thomas (wearing a bow tie, standing behind Ladybird Johnson) was the man responsible for securing Houston as the future location of the NASA Johnson Space Center.  Governor John Connally was riding in the motorcade with the President, and was in surgery at Parkland hospital as doctors repaired the wounds he received during the shooting.

Long-time Representative Jack Brooks from Beaumont, peering quietly over Jackie’s shoulder, was a long time friend and colleague of LBJ.  There was Homer Thornberry, another contemporary of LBJ who took his seat in the House after LBJ was first elected to the US Senate.  He is visible behind LBJ’s raised hand.  And US District Court Judge Sarah T. Hughes, a former member of the Texas House of Representatives and Texas appellate court judge, appointed barely two years earlier to the Northern Texas District US Court by President Kennedy.

She was the first female district court judge to serve in the state of Texas,  and she was the first woman to serve as a federal district judge in Texas.  She was the only female judge appointed by Kennedy, and only the third woman ever to serve on the Federal bench.  And she is the only female justice ever to swear in a President of the United States.

Ladybird Johnson consoles Jackie

Of course Lyndon Baines Johnson was elected outright the following year, beating Republican challenger Barry Goldwater in a landslide.  There was pomp and splendor in Washington, DC.

But on a sunny November afternoon in Dallas, Texas, there was only confusion, fear, and sorrow.  Upon returning to Andrews Air Force Base, President Johnson had only this brief statement to make:


That is all anyone could have done.

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  • jim_m

    As is usual, the greatest meaning and sentiment is revealed in a speech of few words.

  • warnertoddhuston

    I’d say it is more “infamous.” LBJ was the most ignorant, profane man ever to disgrace the White House.

    • jim_m

      Sometimes people rise above themselves in a moment of need.

      • Brucehenry

        And sometimes people reveal themselves as totally classless partisans. I won’t name any names, but it rhymes with gornerpodshooston.

        • Vagabond661

          Paul Whooson?

        • So, do you need help leaving this community and finding one more to your liking?

  • Paul Hooson

    As president, Johnson achieved a great deal more than President Kennedy partially because of national sympathy and a sense of national unity consensus shared by many nonSouthern Americans, but these years also witnessed a more divided South as opposition to civil rights legislation from Washington re-aligned many Whites in the South as more extreme conservative Republicans and started the replacement of many party moderates with these more extreme conservatives opposed to civil rights legislation, and only helped the Republican Party move more to the right politically. Johnson watched his own political consensus and support erode because of opposition to the Vietnam War which split away many liberals in the Democratic Party. For a time the somber scene of Johnson sadly and reluctantly accepting the oath of office unified this nation, but social issues like civil rights as well as the war made this administration’s support erode where Johnson clearly aged in office where this country’s problems nearly killed him with stress. Johnson is underrated among the presidents. Next to Roosevelt he achieved the most for this nation, moving it ahead socially as well as being president during one of the greatest economic times for the nation ever. It was a complex presidency, but one of America’s greatest for so many reasons.

    • jim_m

      Yeah, I think LBJ did more to re-enslave the blacks than anyone since Nathan Bedford Forest. His Great Society programs have all but eliminated the black middle class.

      • But their intentions were good…

        A pox on them and their stated intentions.

        • jim_m

          I think that many of them knew full well what the result of their programs would be, just as they knew damn well that no one was going to keep their insurance plan.

          • Brucehenry

            So you think 1950s and 60s-era Democrats “knew” that lazy black and brown people would sink into a cycle of dependency — which you, of course, know is the only possible outcome of anti-poverty programs — yet you are constantly calling OTHERS racists.

            I see.

            Re insurance plans: How many times in the last 20 years has YOUR insurance plan changed? That is to say, had premiums raised, co-pays raised, deductibles changed, coverages decreased, etc.?

            I worked for the same employer from 1985 to 1999 and my plan changed to increase my costs, and my employer’s costs, at least 8 or 9 times. I’ve worked at my current employer for over 10 years and our plan has changed yearly. Coverage that used to cost $220/month in 2003 cost $500 in 2009, long before Obamacare was a reality.

            But I agree Obama should never have said, much less repeated, “If you like your plan, you can keep it.” What he should have said was, “If you like your plan, you probably don’t know what it costs and what it covers.”

          • jim_m

            Yes I believe that some but not all dems knew that LBJ’s programs would trap people n government dependency and they thought that it would be a good thing.

            My insurance plan has changed nearly every year because the premiums I pay change nearly every year plus I have changed jobs several times or had my company bought up and merged, which amounts to the same thing.

            But obama said, “if you like your plan you can keep your plan. Period!” It was a lie. He already knew that most plans would be outlawed based on what they covered. He repeated the lie knowing that if he admitted the truth that no one would support his policy. That is why his popularity is in free fall because people understand that he cannot be trusted to tell the truth about what his plans are for this nation. Everyone knows now that he will say anything to impose a law that takes away our freedoms.

          • Brucehenry

            Fair enough to call Obama’s repeated claims a “lie” I guess.

            Funny story about “freedom” when it comes to insurance. In 1999 I left my job to become a franchisee of a national sub shop chain. My wife kept her job so we could have healthcare through her employer. In early 2002, she was put on part-time status and our family lost our coverage. So we exercised our “freedom” to buy a policy on the individual market. It cost $600 a month and covered ONLY catastrophes — like a child breaking an arm or something. It didn’t pay ANY of a Dr visit, any preventive care, or much of anything else. It was the major reason I left that entrepeneurial business and went to work for a big company where we could get affordable, effective healthcare coverage.

            So don’t give me a lot of hooey about “freedom” to have shitty healthcare insurance. That :”freedom” is a freedom to go bankrupt and/or to stick ratepayers and taxpayers with your family’s healthcare costs. Oh, and the freedom to avoid entrepeneurship and remain a wage slave.

          • jim_m

            I left that entrepeneurial business and went to work for a big company where we could get affordable, effective healthcare coverage.

            You scoff at the idea of freedom yet you actually exercised your freedom to change jobs and go get the insurance that you valued higher that you entrepreneurial business. Freedom is about being able to make choices, not about having everything you dream about provided for you.

            What you are really whining about (and yes it is a pathetic whine) is that you want to have everything you desire without have to make any trade-offs. Welcome to adulthood. Life has always meant trade-offs. And stop asking me to pay so you can have your little protected fantasy life. You want to freeload off of your neighbors, try N Korea or Cuba.

          • Brucehenry

            Why the italics? lol.

            No, YOU want Americans who can’t afford insurance or who are not offered insurance through their employers to “freeload” off their neighbors at emergency rooms or by simply not paying their medical bills.

            I MADE my tradeoff and am not whining, simply relating my experience as an anecdote to illustrate how your concept of “freedom” works.

            In your world, people JUST LIKE YOU have all kinds of freedom. People who had their educations paid for, people who belong to the dominant ethnic and religious group, people who have been advantaged by their middle-class to upper-middle-class beginnings and their parents’ prosperity, foresight, and just plain luck, have all the freedoms. People who start out at a less well placed station in life, who are not so lucky? Not so much.

          • jim_m

            I am not saying that I do not believe in making insurance more affordable. I am saying that people should have to make choices just like you did. I do not believe that I should have my choices curtailed because you want to be some coddled baby. We can make insurance cheaper in other ways than forcing everyone into a fascist government controlled system.

            And I find it funny that the man who whines about people starting from less than a middle class origin is the same man who backs the Great Society policies that have destroyed great swathes of the black middle class and forced them into government dependency. Which do you want? People to have the freedom to improve their lives or government support? You seem to have chosen the latter for everyone but yourself.

            [I fixed the HTML coding that screwed up the italices]

          • Brucehenry

            And if “the market” curtails your choice to become an entrepeneur because if you do you will be unable to afford insurance that’s OK. Got it. You have the freedom to remain stuck in place.

          • jim_m

            Yeah. You have to be willing to make that choice. You have to be willing to take the risk that you won’t need that insurance for a few years. Or you need to find another way to do both.

            We are back to the fact that you want everyone else to indemnify you against all risks and you want all your choices to be risk free.

            The only thing that keeps you stuck is the fact that you are too much of a coward to try. It isn’t my responsibility to fix your emotional issues.

            [edit] What is really sad is that rather than asking for reforms that would make it easier for you to take that risk you ask for that risk to be removed. That tells me right there that you lack the very thing it would have taken to be a successful entrepreneur. You lack the commitment. You lack the belief in yourself. You lack the determination to find a way to make things work. And instead of all that you demand that the rest of society provide that for you. Sad.

          • Brucehenry

            Well, having taken the plunge and endured the consequences of becoming a (very) small businessman, I don’t need a lecture from someone who hasn’t as to my cowardice or lack thereof, I suppose.

            Again, not a whine, an illustration. Stories like mine may be one factor keeping this country from experiencing an explosion of entrepeneurism.

            I’m happy with the choice I made in 2002, considering all the circumstances. The restaurant business is a tough slog. The healthcare issue was the main, but not the only, reason I got out.

            You’re always going on about “incentives” when it comes to Drs and other businessmen. The lack of affordable, effective health insurance is a HUGE disincentive to anyone contemplating going out on their own.

          • jim_m

            Again, your complaint is that the choice exists not that the choice should be easier. I have advocated for many years making the choice easier. Your solution is to do something to remove the choice for everyone, thus settling for substandard health care for everyone.

            Once more, it is not my responsibility to make your life easier.

          • Brucehenry

            My complaint is that WHAT choice exists? I don’t follow you.

          • jim_m

            Your complaint is that you had to choose between insurance for your family and having your own business. You complain that you had to make that choice and that government should have removed that choice from having to be made, then you would have been free to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams.

            Tough. You need to be willing to take risks to be an entrepreneur.

          • Brucehenry

            I was and I did. Have you ever?

            Again I use my story as an illustration. I knew that I might not make it, for this reason or that. The healthcare issue just happened to be the issue that decided it for me. Businesses fail for all kinds of reasons, not all of them the owner’s “cowardice” or “lack of determination,” you fucking spectator.

            My point is not so much about myself as it is an illustration of the situation of the country as a whole.

          • jim_m

            I have never started my own business, but I have assisted in starting several and I have worked in several start up companies.

            I once had the opportunity to form a start up myself and chose not to, but I don’t go around whining that “if only the government had interceded to make the risk less I would have done it”. It wasn’t for me and I do not regret the person that I am. You obviously regret the person you are. I understand. I would if I were you.

          • Brucehenry

            Think what you want about me as a person. I have an opinion about you as a person, too.

            Again the point was about what curtails one’s “freedoms.” Your point seems to be that if the government curtails the freedom of health insurance companies to gouge consumers, that’s bad, but if the “market” curtails the incentive and the freedom to start a small business, that’s tough shit, suck it up, you cowards and freeloaders.

          • jim_m

            Nope. My point was that government makes insurance more expensive by restricting the ability of insurance companies to compete and pool risk across state lines. Government further restricts competition by demanding specific coverages that people do not want or need.

            The market cannot curtail incentive and freedom because if enough people have a desire for a product or service the market will move to provide that. Your claim that the market does this displays an underlying ignorance of how markets work, which is rather unsurprising in someone such as yourself.

            So in your ignorance you have displaced blame for the problem on the people who could actually solve it and have decided that the source of the problem is the only solution for the problem. Yeah, I don’t want to be an ignorant fool like you.

          • Brucehenry

            The market hasn’t worked for healthcare. The maxim to “charge whatever the market will bear” that works fine in oil and cotton doesn’t work with people’s life-and-death health decisions.

            This old chestnut about insurance “across state lines” — that really worked for the credit card market, huh, which is why every CC is from Delaware or South Dakota — is a fail.

          • jim_m

            Did you fail to read my comment? Because t really appears that you did. Government regulation prohibit insurers from creating a competitive marketplace. Because the government has already interceded the market cannot function properly. If we removed the restrictions on competition you would get better spreading of risk and insurance rates that reflected that risk better.

            You’re a freaking ignorant ass if you think that consumer credit risk is anything like health insurance risk. It does not matter where a company is incorporated, state laws affect what policies are sold within a state. State laws prohibit pooling of risk. State laws prevent similar policies being sold from state to state. Eliminating these barriers to competition would do a lot to make insurance more affordable. Allowing private purchasers of insurance to pay for that insurance with pretax dollars just like they could with an employer policy would go a long way to make it more affordable too.

            But by all means keep on with your ignorance while you demand for more of what caused the problem in the first place. It is not for nothing that I keep telling you that you will excuse fascism all the way until after they fill the mass graves. You think that the path to dictatorship is the right way to go and you think that the ill effects of that path are actually the problem they are supposed to solve. I’d pity you if you weren’t so repugnant.

          • Brucehenry

            Why all the vitriol, Jim? I’m just a fellow American with opinions, even if you think they’re ignorant and wrong.

          • jim_m

            Because the government controlled system you advocate will necessarily lead to the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of people a year due to government mandated rationing of care.

            Over 13 million people in the US have cancer. Decrease their survival to where the rest of the world is (average of ~7%) and in the long term you will see over to 900,000 dying every year because they have to wait for treatment.

            So yes, forgive me if I liken you to a mass murderer because that is ultimately what you are advocating, that people should die for your ideology and your convenience.

          • Brucehenry

            LOL, FDR-RFK liberal Democrats are exactly like Pol Pot. What a kook.

          • jim_m

            Not so funny really.

            And don’t forget that for some disease like prostate cancer we save >99% of patients where countries like the UK save only 77%. So when did 99% of everyone get insurance? Nearly 45% of prostate cancer patients are too young for Medicare so how do they all get treated in our failed system?

            Yeah I know you have no facts or answers. All you have is ideology and you know that it is true even though you have nothing to support it.

          • jim_m

            And no, FDR is not like Pol Pot. Back then there would not have been the disparity evident between the success of our system and socialist systems, but we can see that disparity now and when you advocate for the same system you advocate for the same results. So yes, you advocate for letting 900k people die from cancer every year in a system that will not save them when we currently have a system that will. You may not like the label of mass murderer but that is what you are willing to be in order to satisfy your convenience.

          • Vagabond661

            The only reason that health insurance costs so much on an individual policy is because of state and federal government involvement.

          • jim_m

            That freedom is the freedom to choose what is important to you and what is important to you may be different that what is important to me. What you are advocating is that YOU and your fascist friends in government know better than I do what I want and what is good for me. That you and your fascist friends know what will make me happier that I know it.

            What you really want is the freedom from having to take risks in order to achieve everything you want. You want the entrepreneurial business without the financial hardship and risk before you become successful. F–k off and go back to your mommy’s basement if that is what you want. I don’t have to pay to indemnify you from risk. I don’t have to have my freedom and my choices limited because you are a greedy, cowardly parasite.

          • Commander_Chico

            WTF do we pay taxes for? Oh, that’s right, paying corrupt Paki and Arab contractors for consumables in Afghanistan, and for the NSA to spy on us. Not for health care, like every other western industrialized nation.

          • jim_m

            We do not pay taxes for government to run our lives for us, comrade.

          • Intentions matter less than outcomes.

      • Commander_Chico

        WTF? On November 22, 1963, black people could not even stay in most hotels in the south, or eat at lunch counters.

        • jim_m

          And that has nothing to do with the Great Society policies and everything to do with the Civil Rights Act , which was supported by a greater % of Republicans than it ever was by dems. The dems tried everything they could to stop it.

          You failed to address my comment entirely.

          This is Chico saying, “Oh look! A shiny!”

          • Commander_Chico

            LBJ did support the CRA, twisted Congressional arms as only he knew how to go, at great cost to the Democratic Party in the south.

          • jim_m

            Once again you ignore the substance of my comment. I did not say that LBJ opposed it. He signed it after all. I said that the dems opposed it, which is demonstrably true. I also said that they did everything they could to stop it, which is exemplified by Byrd’s filibuster.

            The dems were already losing their grip on the South when LBJ signed the CRA. It had been going for a long time and it didn’t really go until after Carter.

          • Brucehenry

            SOUTHERN Dems, and what few SOUTHERN Republicans there were, opposed the CRA. Northern and western Democrats and Republicans supported it for the most part, with the notable exceptions of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan (not in Congress but becoming a major conservative voice).

          • jim_m

            80% of republicans supported it in the House 82% in the Senate. 66% of dems supported it in the Senate 61% in the House. That’s a significant difference.

            I never claimed that there were no GOP figures that opposed it.

          • Brucehenry

            Since the South was at the time dominated by the Democratic party that’s an illustration of MY point, not yours.

          • jim_m

            The South moved away from the dems on several issues of which race was only one. The dems became more socialist they became more anti-religion, they became very pro abortion all of those issues lead to a movement of conservative, religious voters believing in traditional American values away form the dems.

            You want to vilify people who disagree with you so you fixate on the single issue that you think will reflect most poorly on those who disagree with you. However, your accusations bear little resemblance to reality. They do suggest a significant amount of projection on your part though. The dems are the only ones left who really demand that a person’s skin color be considered for school admissions, hiring, housing etc.

          • Rdmurphy42

            You make the very weird assertion that opposing that specific bill meant opposing civil rights.


            Something liberals are ever fond of is implyng that if you oppose whatever specific solution or policy they are pushing, then you are against solving the problem.

            I submit that the Barry Goldwater that was a member of the NAACP and funded major desegregation lawsuits was probably not opposed to civil rights in general, Bruce.

          • Brucehenry

            Fair enough, but most people agree in hindsight that the CRA was a good thing and that Goldwater was wrong to oppose it. I’m not calling Goldwater a racist, not at all.

          • jim_m


          • Brucehenry

            We were talking about motivations for supporting or opposing the CRA. I assert that most Southerners, of whatever party (mostly Dems) who opposed it, were racists, plain and simple.

            Now, as to libertarian conservatives like Goldwater who opposed it, like Goldwater? Maybe they opposed it out of non-racist reasons like Goldwater did, but if it had failed, the old racist order would have continued.

            As for the Northern Democrats and Republicans who SUPPORTED the act? I’m sure many of both parties did so because it was the right thing to do. Others because they saw a bloc of black voters and wanted their support.

          • jim_m

            Yes, yes. I get it. Conservatives are, in general, racists, but any specific conservative that we point out will not be. Yet we seem to have no end of specific examples of leftists who are racist.

            Funny that.

          • Brucehenry

            Didn’t say that. I said white Southerners of the 60s were mostly racists. Name a few conservatives and I’ll tell you whether or not I, personally, consider them racists in thought or effect. Goldwater wasn’t one.

            EDIT: And most of the leftists you call racist are of the “he who smelt it dealt it” variety, or of the “created a culture of dependency” variety. When you change the definition of a word to fit your Orwellian narrative you have a point, whatever it is.

          • Brucehenry

            For instance, Nixon, GHW Bush, GW Bush: not racists.

            Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, Tom Tancredo: racists.

          • Rdmurphy42

            How about, oh, say, Robert Byrd? Al Gore Senior? FDR, Hugo Black, Fritz Hollings?

          • Brucehenry

            Byrd has been discussed here ad nauseum. Don’t know much about Gore Sr or Hollings but I suspect conservatives love to mention Gore Sr in order to hold Gore Jr hostage to the sins of his father. FDR, prodded by his wife Eleanor, may have been a racist in his heart but did much more for blacks than any previous president since Lincoln. Hugo Black? Racist as hell.

          • Rdmurphy42

            Al gore sr’s bigotry can stand on its own, it doesn’t involve junior. And who said racism is only white on black? While we are at it, lets talk internment camps. Heck, while we are at it , Al Sharpton, modern day racist. From a Georgia perspective Billy McKinney and his offspring Cynthia – of the J E W S Jews fame.
            Heckyou could apply ‘racist’ to several members if the congressional black caucus.

            As to typos, its hard to type on this phone, and i leave autocorrect off, because at least spelling errors (usually) don’t substitute whole different words to purportedly hillarious effect.

          • Brucehenry

            All fair points, I guess, but beside the point of the CRA. And I won’t mess with you about typos, just thought “reblublicans” might have been either purposeful or Freudian.

          • Jwb10001

            Don’t forget Woodrow Wilson.

          • jim_m

            It is the left that has created an Orwellian definition of racism. What you object to is applying the very same definition to people from your side. What you really object to is being forced to play by your own rules.

            And my point stands that it is only the left that demands that race be considered for employment, school admission, etc. Only the left demands that race be considered before the individual. f that is not racism then I really don’t know what is. There are very few on the left who do not support this, therefore there are very few on the left who are not racists.

          • Rdmurphy42

            And based on quotes, LBJ did it for the votes.

          • Brucehenry

            Maybe so. The effect was on balance a good thing, do you not agree.

          • Rdmurphy42

            So are you then saying that for democrats only results matter, but for republicans motive matters? LBJ was a virulent racist.

          • Brucehenry

            Don’t get all Jim-like and try to pretend that people are REALLY saying what you want them to be saying. It doesn’t work for him, and he has lots of practice at it. It definitely won’t work for you, an honest man.

          • jim_m

            I wasn’t saying that here but you cannot deny that there is some truth to it. The left is always looking at their failures and excusing the unintended consequences because they meant well. But you never have any such sympathy for conservatives.

          • Brucehenry

            Because they DON’T “mean well.” 🙂

          • jim_m

            If you mean that they don’t want to promise you a fantasy world, then yeah.

          • Rdmurphy42

            Note the word order. ‘Are you’. That implies a question. To which you can answer yes or no and then elucidate. You seem quite frankly to hold reblublicans to one set of standards on the issue and democrats to another. If it is not the case, tell me what the single consistent standard you apply is?

          • Brucehenry

            I don’t really see where I’ve done that. In any case I didn’t mean to imply that. However incompetently I may be addressing the issue that’s not what I was implying and I am beginning to suspect you may know it.

            As a matter of fact I challenge you to point out where I held Republicans to one standard and Democrats to another. Quotes, please.

            I wasn’t making any comparison of Republicans as a group vs Democrats as a group, other than Southerners vs everybody else. I mentioned specific people such as Goldwater and Reagan.

            Did you MEAN to call your party “reblublicans”? LOL.

            BTW I’m not sure you’re correct in asserting that LBJ was a “virulent racist,” at least not in the sense that other Southern Democrats of his time were, men like Russell of Georgia or Thurmond of SC. I haven’t read Caro’s biographies of Johnson, have you?

            EDIT: The tone of your question, yada yada “word order” was prosecutorial and implied a meaning to my comments that you wanted others to absorb, whether or not you thought I actually meant that. Hence the snark.