Fair and Unbalanced

Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

I’ve got bad news. I know. I write about Trump a lot. There’s always bad news.

But this bad news could be worse.

If the polls are right, Republicans are coming back to Trump. According to the latest Gallup poll, Trump’s job approval among Republicans is — wait for it — 90 freaking percent. That can’t be possible, and yet Quinnipiac just came out with 84 percent. Those are big numbers. Even in our hyperpartisan times, those are big numbers. In political terms, that’s pretty close to unanimous. Over Obama’s term, he averaged 83 percent among Democrats. Reagan was 83 percent among Republicans. And Trump’s at 90?

So there it is. The stock market is crazy, but the economy is basically good, if you don’t count the massive inequality and the fact of a tax cut that just poured about a trillion dollars into rich guys’ bottomless pockets. But maybe that’s enough.

Yes, we’re in the midst of another Trumpian storm. But the latest storm is much like every other — frightening, yet hilarious. Sort of like the comedy horror movie “Get Out,” my favorite to win the best-picture Academy Award. It won’t win, of course, but what would you expect?

Let’s see. Stock market craziness. Nunes Memo washout.  Trump’s declaration, which Senate Republicans seem ready to ignore, that he’d “love” to see the government shut down if he doesn’t get what he wants. Trump’s going all Roy Cohn in his charge — do you think it was a joke? — that those who refuse to applaud him are “un-American” and “treasonous.” (Journalists are presumably exempt, on account of the sacrosanct no-cheering-from-the-press-box standard and, yeah, the First Amendment.)

Wait, there’s more. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s charge that the eligible Dreamers who didn’t sign up for DACA were “too lazy to get off their asses.” Trump’s even more bizarre — and you wish it were a joke — plans for a mine’s-bigger-than-yours military parade, a garish display of American military might that may or may not include Trump’s desk with the Diet Coke button.

You’d think that the every-week-ness of TrumpWorld would be enough to ensure a November midterm wave and a return to something like normalcy. And yet. Trump’s general approval rating is about 40 percent. That’s the lowest for any president in the polling era after one year on the job. It’s also Trump’s highest rating since May.

You can feel the restlessness, or at least you can if you read the op-ed pages or pay attention to academics. The article getting the most play is an Atlantic piece by Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes, two political centrists who reason that Republicans should vote for Democrats in the November midterms in order to neuter Trump. They sum up their reasoning with, what else, a syllogism:

(1) The GOP has become the party of Trumpism.
( 2) Trumpism is a threat to democratic values and the rule of law.
(3) The Republican Party is a threat to democratic values and the rule of law.

This is, as they say, tough but fair.

At the same time, though, polls show the generic Democratic lead in the 2018 midterms actually slipping. It was up to 13. Now it’s about half that.

And yet, Democrats just flipped another state legislative seat, this one in Missouri, in a district Trump won by 28 points. It’s the 10th state since Trump’s election in which Trump-carried districts have gone Democratic.

If you’re confused, that’s because there’s no reason not to be. Let’s say you’re a Republican, but not the kind who spends his evenings watching Fox. But what you do watch is Republican leadership going all in for Trump. You see Orrin Hatch saying that Trump could be the greatest president ever. Do you laugh or do you wonder? And there’s Paul Ryan, who keeps insisting, like the Kevin Bacon character in Animal House, that all is well. And when you’re told the model dissenter is Cory Gardner, who got all those plaudits for taking a stand on pot — an issue about which Trump doesn’t care a whit — of course you’re confused.

It has been said enough that these Republicans made their Faustian deal with Trump — if you get us tax cuts for rich people and pretend it’s a tax cut for the middle class, we won’t insist that you’re a madman demagogue who threatens all small-d democratic norms. We know how this deal turned out. While standing by Trump, they lost the Republican Party to him. They didn’t simply enable Trump, they enabled the takeover of their party by what Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson calls  “the lickspittle wing” of the party.

It was left, of course, to Jeff Flake to take on his fellow Senate Republicans. We know Flake’s story. He reviles everything Trump stands for and yet, as a conservative Republican, votes for nearly everything Trump proposes. Of course, Flake is not exactly calling for rebellion. Just a plea for decency. And so he goes on the Senate floor to say, decently enough, that “treason is not a punchline.”

“If we are numb to such words,” Flake says, “we will surely regret that we failed to defend our colleagues in the Congress against such a vile remark, but our silence will also mark the day that we failed to recognize that this conduct in an American president simply is not normal.”

Trump, of course, is not normal. But what about the cynical lickspittles? How normal are they? Let’s face it, they are the real deplorables. There’d be no 90 percent in the Gallup poll without them.

You’d like to think that, someday, history will hold them to account. But here’s the bad news: What if history doesn’t show up by November?

Flickr photo by Jussi Ollila

The Nunes Memo is finally out, and now we know that as hype goes, this is the Category 5 hurricane that misses landfall by about 400 miles.

Read it yourself. It’s three-and-a-half quick, if often puzzling, pages.

If you take the time, you’ll notice that there is hardly any there there. The memo changes nothing in the matter of the Mueller Russia probe. It tries, but fails, to impugn Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is apparently high on Trump’s next-Russia-probe-person-to-fire list. It doesn’t show FBI bias against Trump, although it does misleadingly quote the now infamous FBI lovers’ emails.

And what it doesn’t nearly do is justify Paul Ryan’s call to “cleanse” the FBI. (In a surprise, Sen. Cory Gardner’s spokesman told The Denver Post that Gardner was still “reviewing” the memo, which takes about two minutes to read, but that, in trying to have it both ways, he “continues to have confidence in the…FBI and Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in our election.” Rep. Mike Coffman meanwhile bravely adds that “it’s important for the American people to read the released memo and reach their own conclusions.”)

Let’s be honest. This is a partisan hack job that the Democrats have rebutted in a 10-page memo that Republicans, to this point, have refused to allow them to release. It’s a Bill O’Reilly-style, short-on-facts, long-on-innuendo screed written on House of Representatives stationery. You’ll see scarier stuff on Fox every night, or so I’m told.

If you want proof of what a dud this memo truly is, let’s hear from Trey Gowdy, Mr. Benghazi himself, who read the Nunes Memo before it was released, has read the intelligence reports it was based on and has read the Democratic rebuttal. Gowdy tweeted, after some mumbo-jumbo about transparency, “As I have said repeatedly, I also remain 100 percent confident in Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The contents of this memo do not – in any way – discredit his investigation.”

The would-be headline from the memo is the contention of a “troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.”

One problem, the memo does nothing to prove any of that.

The central issue in the memo is that the FBI used the Steele dossier (you remember, that’s the one from the British spy about Trump and alleged Russian pee) in gaining FISA clearance for surveillance of then-former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Though the FBI used the dossier, we’re informed, the FISA court wasn’t told that it had been financed, in part, by the Democratic National Committee or that Steele thought (like millions of others) that Trump’s candidacy was a danger.

Democrats apparently deny the non-disclosure charge in their unreleased rebuttal. And here’s just how partisan this memo is: Nowhere in the Nunes document does that it mention that the oppo-research dossier was originally financed by the very conservative Washington Free Beacon, which, just guessing, wasn’t trying to get Hillary Clinton elected.

Three quick discrediting points, if you need them: 1. Page was already gone from the Trump campaign by the time of the FISA-approved surveillance. 2. Nowhere in the Nunes document do we learn if anything used by the FBI from the Steele dossier, or anywhere else, had not been vetted. 3. The FISA court reapproved the surveillance several more times. Vox cited a tweet from Asha Rangappa, a former FBI special agent and current Yale law professor, “It’s reapproved if you have new information justifying the original probable cause and the government’s need to listen. Kind of the point of requiring the extension. Sounds like the gov [made] its burden not once, but THREE times.”

The “new” information presumably wouldn’t be old information from the Steele dossier, but, more likely, what the FBI was learning from the surveillance.

The smart people who read the memo are all noting that it closes with the fact, first reported in The New York Times, that the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign and Russia opened with its look into former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, which began months before the Steele dossier came to light. This memo was trying to separate Page from Papadopoulos. What it didn’t mention was that the FBI had been looking at Page connections with Russia since 2013.

One thing we know is that Trump was prepared to release the memo before he had even read it, assuming he has ever read it. In any case, he called the revelations, such as they are, a “disgrace,” although with the usual Trumpian lack of details.

”It’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country,” Trump said. “A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves, and much worse than that.”

It’s hard to entirely discredit the Mueller probe since high Trump officials  have already pleaded guilty to crimes and others have been indicted. And it will be harder still to defend the memo once it is shown to be such hackery. What it won’t do — and what it is almost certainly meant to do — is somehow justify Trump going after Rosenstein and/or eventually Mueller.

You’ve heard what Trump-appointed FBI Director Chris Wray thought about the release, contained in this bold FBI statement: “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

In other words, Wray said the memo was a pack of lies, after which Trump released it anyway, which could herald another showdown with the FBI, which should surprise no one.

Here’s what former FBI Director Jim Comey — who was, of course, fired by Trump over the Russia investigation  — tweeted upon the memo’s release: “That’s it? Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen. For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.”

Trump was right, sort of. The memo is a disgrace. Fortunately, no one who reads it could possibly take it seriously.

Photo courtesy of FBI, via Flickr: Creative Commons. Christopher Wray at his installation as FBI director.

So we watched — if we could bear it — Trump’s state-of-the-unified-union speech, which was not, in fact, a unity speech at all. But since the president didn’t suggest that he would punch anyone in the crowd, it was touted as a success in too many corners of cable TV news and in at least one post-speech quickie poll.

And then we wake the next morning to reality. We heard that Trump had vowed to release the Nunes Memo (“100 percent,” he told one congressperson during his post-speech victory lap through the House chambers) and that the FBI, in response, had released a statement saying, in effect, that the memo was so much fake news.

This is a remarkable pushback from Christopher Wray, Trump’s appointment to succeed Jim Comey as FBI director. Here’s the key line from the FBI statement: “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

In other words, the FBI is saying it’s a political hack job. Trump’s Justice Department is saying that its release would be “extraordinarily reckless.” Trump, meanwhile, is 100 percent behind its release because recklessness and inaccuracy are, to him, as mother’s milk. What should be shocking, but sadly isn’t, is that so many Republicans will embrace the report, which is a sham. Wait till the fact-checkers get hold of it.

I’m not here to defend the FBI and its blighted J. Edgar Hoover history. But if what sounds like a deep-state coup is afoot — it’s not, but if you buy the premise, you buy the bit — you’d think it would be sufficiently significant to broach with the American people. But then, you know, we’d have to go back to discussing whether Trump still wanted to fire Robert Mueller, whose credibility is apparently the real target of the can’t-wait-to-see-it Nunes Memo, and why Trump lied when he said he’d never discussed firing Mueller.

But Trump did have other things to talk about in what was, at least seemingly, a somewhat bipartisan speech, with Trump giving brief nods to issues that Republicans and Democrats could conceivably agree on, not that they will.

These were largely unformed issues, with the usual level of Trump detail, meaning none at all. These were issues meant to encourage Democrats in the audience to applaud. It didn’t work. For example, Trump gave 45 seconds to opioids. He mentioned, as he always does, bringing down drug prices. He didn’t mention a plan to address either.

Toss in infrastructure — in which the opposing parties are coming from completely opposing directions — and worker training, and you’d think this was a Bernie-friendly nod. It wasn’t. It was Trump, in a unity speech, taking a swipe at the NFL kneelers —“…we proudly stand for the National Anthem” — and at so-called “open borders” and the end of the war against clean coal.  I kept waiting for him to mention Christmas. He took credit for the record-low African-American unemployment numbers, which have been falling for some years. And  then there was the Trumpian line of the night, “Americans are dreamers, too.” Yes, too. As if Dreamers aren’t Americans. You get the point, and so did everyone watching.

And what makes a Trump-so-called-unity speech a Trump-as-ever speech was his brag that he’d finally gotten rid of the hated Obamacare individual mandate, suggesting that this was an up-and-down-and-across-the-aisle crowd pleaser. I don’t know. Maybe he really thinks it is.

Give Trump’s speech writers credit, though, for doing what they could to hide Trump’s always-glaring megalomania — you surely noted that he set all records during the speech for applauding himself— by having him set more records in introducing American heroes from the audience, a tradition begun by Reagan and taken by Trump to never-before-seen attempts at reflected glory.

In most cases, the heroes — true heroes all, by the way; not like that captured non-hero McCain — had nothing to do with Trump or with any Trumpian policies. And in some of the most moving moments, as Trump introduced those who had suffered from the all-too-real cruelties of North Korea, you couldn’t help but worry that this is how presidents talk in the run-up to war.

But the major point of the speech was to push his immigration plan, which he said everyone should support, even though most Democrats and some Republicans do not. It was interesting, for example, to watch Marco Rubio sit on his hands for at least parts of Trump’s four-pillared immigration plan.

This was where Trump turned to the usual race-baiting, going on about MS-13, as if these violent gang members were the face of immigration. One of the pillars was “chain migration,” which goes with “illegal aliens” and “anchor babies” as the ugly language often used in these debates. Chain migration is family-based migration. I remember my grandmother telling me about sleeping on the floor as her father sponsored relatives from Russia, cousins and nephews and others who crowded their small apartment. It’s the American story, of course. But that was long ago.

But in Trump’s world, it’s somehow an attack on “nuclear families,” which in Trump’s view apparently includes only children and spouses. It doesn’t include, um, parents and siblings.  Under the present rules, Trump said that a single immigrant “can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.” In this part of the unity speech, many Democrats hissed, because, in fact, there are long lines to bring in close relatives, which do not include uncles and aunts, nieces or nephews, much less third cousins. If you want to see how it actually works, try this.

As Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a critic of Trump on many things, but especially on immigration, put it: “If you’re going to mention MS-13, then mention a Dreamer, one that has accomplished a lot — instead of the ‘American Carnage” version of immigration.”

It wasn’t an American Carnage kind of speech. It was a speech by a president with historically low approval numbers who desperately needed to appeal to those who have so far rejected him. It didn’t work. But, hey, presidents can be dreamers, too.

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead






The big Tom Tancredo news can be summed up in just a few words.

Republicans are thrilled. Democrats are bummed. Columnists are devastated (particularly this one).

Oh, and there’s this: Tancredo has officially become the last person in Colorado, with the possible exception of Peter Boyles, to realize that Tancredo had absolutely no chance of ever becoming governor. This was his third time running and the third time he had no chance. But give him credit, it took him less than three months to figure it out this time.

Actually, to be fair, I’m pretty sure Tancredo has always understood this. He didn’t run for president to be president and he hasn’t run for governor to be governor.

He runs because he’s Tom Tancredo, the carnival barker who is convinced that America and Colorado need to hear his message. I have always thought the message was crazy, but then Donald Trump became president and Steve Bannon became a media/political sensation and who am I to say what’s crazy any more?

And yet, why did Tancredo decide to run this time? This is what he said, and I’m not exaggerating: He was moved to get into the race, he insisted, because none of the GOP candidates was sufficiently offended that Colorado Springs wouldn’t guarantee security if VDARE — the white-nationalist group of which Tancredo was once a board member — came to town.

Seriously. For any other candidate, you’d think that defending VDARE might be disqualifying in and of itself, but this is 2018, and, as you might have noticed, it was the very-fine-people-on-both-sides guy who was on TV last night giving the State of the Union speech.

I’m sure that Trump’s ascension gave Tancredo hope that this year could be different for him. It was Tancredo, you’ll recall, who liked to say that John Hickenlooper was basically an accomplice to murder for Denver’s so-called sanctuary-city policies. And now it’s a recent Trump campaign ad that said if Democrats shut down the government over “amnesty,” they would be “complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.”

No wonder Tancredo thought it was his time. If you want to talk MS-13, he’s your guy. If you want someone to say that Mexican immigrants are after you and your grandchildren, look no further.  And here’s what scared the hell out of the Republican establishment: Given the crowded field and given Tancredo’s solid base, he might well have won the GOP nomination, meaning Republicans would be all but certain to lose in Colorado again.

Tancredo admitted as much when he announced his decision, once again shaking up what is turning into a very bizarre governor’s race, dominated by those who dropped out (see: Perlmutter, Ed; Brauchler, George and now Tancredo) and those who never dropped in (Salazar, Ken; Coffman, Mike). Tancredo had raised little money to this point, which suggested to him that he couldn’t beat the Democratic nominee in November, particularly if the Democrat is self-funding Jared Polis.

After all, he said, he needed a big chunk of change to take on the Democrats, the Republican establishment and, of course, the media all at once. So once again, Tancredo would do his best to save the Republican Party. Once it was by, um, running on the Constitution Party ticket (if you don’t remember, try the Google; it’s worth the effort) and this time by dropping out of the race altogether.

In an interview with 9News, Tancredo also took another shot at self-awareness. If his fundraising wasn’t going well, he sort of said, it could be that it was because Colorado Republicans just aren’t that into him anymore. Certainly Coloradans aren’t that into Trump, with the latest Gallup poll showing Trump running a 37-58 approval deficit in our state.

As we’ve mentioned before, Republicans have won only one top-of-the-ticket race in Colorado since Ken Salazar started the Democratic streak in 2006. Part of the reason for that is Republicans have consistently nominated terrible candidates, meaning, I don’t know, Darryl Glenn, Dan Maes. There are others. Part of the reason Republicans have consistently nominated terrible candidates is that they haven’t had many good ones to choose from.

So where does that leave them now?

Establishment favorite Walker Stapleton has a huge lead in the money race, most of it Superpac money. Romney nephew Doug Robinson — Stapleton is the Bush cousin — hasn’t set the funding world on fire. And neither has Cynthia Coffman, who, if she doesn’t start energizing her campaign, risks being the next major dropout story. Victor Mitchell gave his campaign $3 million. Am I forgetting anyone? Yes, there are others, and maybe one of them will go to the GOP convention and turn the race upside down again.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Polis has his own money, Mike Johnston and Cary Kennedy have gotten good early fundraising numbers, Donna Lynne started late and Noel Ginsburg has to convince voters that a moderate businessman is the way for Democrats to go in 2018.

Sure, it’s still a crowded race on both sides, but, with Tancredo gone, the field just lost about half its charisma and maybe three-fourths of its crazy. And, on a personal note, with the race still in its early stages, I just lost about half my material.

My regret is that I didn’t get the chance to talk to Tancredo before he dropped the big one (not on Mecca, thankfully). I would have advised him to look straight into the cameras and deliver the oh-so-obvious closing line: You won’t have Tom Tancredo to kick around any more.

Photo courtesy of IowaPolitics.com, via Flickr: Creative Commons. Tom Tancredo back when he was running for president in 2007.

Remember the government shutdown? It ended on, like, Monday.


Don’t feel bad. Nobody does. It’s Friday as I write this, and a week in TrumpWorld is basically like six months in the real world, or that’s what I’m guessing. Like many of you, I hold almost no memory of that real world.

But I know that reopening the barely-noticed shut-down government was maybe the least interesting thing that happened this week, just another day when political forces in Washington briefly collided only to give way to more pressing entries in our Trumpian dysfunction-of-the-week rankings. (The Wynn, Clinton, Nassar stories? We’ll have to find a new category.)

I particularly enjoyed the two-day Fox News/Trey Gowdy/Ron Johnson/Donald Trump interlude in which a harmless text between two FBI agents, who turn out to be lovers, about a so-called secret meeting was heralded as the smoking gun in proving there was an anti-Trump cabal within the FBI.

Johnson, who happens to be chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and is therefore semi-important, took the secret-meeting text and somehow inferred from it that there was “corruption at the highest levels off the FBI,” that “the secret society (was) holding meetings off-site” and “there’s so much smoke here, there’s so much suspicions.”

All of which he shared on Fox News — until, well, the entire text, which was sent the day after the 2016 election, was revealed. It went like this: “Are you even going to put out the calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should be the first meeting of the secret society.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported the calendars — with beefcake photos of Vladimir Putin — were gag gifts. Presumably secret gag gifts. And Johnson would have to admit that maybe it was really just all a joke and that he might be an idiot. (He didn’t actually say the idiot part, but it’s understood).

Then, of course, came the Thurday bombshell from the Trump administration of a take-it-or-leave-it Dreamer/border wall/immigration compromise, which was actually an attempted hostage taking, in which Trump set up a path to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers in return for $25 billion for a border wall that Mexico isn’t paying for and regulations that would crack down on non-Dreamer illegal immigrants and severely cut the number of legal immigrants who could enter the country. This was taken, briefly, as a serious offer until people actually read it, after which the Senate has basically ignored it.

Then Trump went off to Davos and the New York Times dropped a real bombshell. This one is real news, not the fake kind of secret-society news. It’s so big that, even in TrumpWorld time, its half-life should survive the weekend, or at least as long Robert Mueller survives.

This was, of course, The Saturday Night Masscre That Wasn’t, in which Trump, back in June, was ready to fire special counsel Robert Mueller on the grounds that he was, well, Robert Mueller and was in charge of the Russia probe and who, according to Trump, would be prejudiced against him because Mueller once quit one of Trump’s golf clubs, presumably in a dispute over fees. It won’t surprise you to know that Mueller says that didn’t actually happen.

As you know by now, Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn is the hero of the story. He refused to do the deed (which, of course, would be complicated because Trump can’t actually fire Mueller, but can fire those people in the Justice Department who would refuse to fire him) and Trump backed down.

And for the next some months Trump and his advisers would routinely lie about never having considering firing Mueller because, well, lying is what they do.

There are many reasons why this is such a big story. One, it recalls Nixon, whose actions represent the baseline for presidents who don’t survive scandal and who did, in fact, fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Two, it looks like Mueller’s probe has moved to its obstruction-of-justice phase and the Trump’s readiness to fire Mueller fits in neatly with his firing of Jim Comey, which followed Comey’s refusal to ease up on Mike Flynn, and his near-firing of Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe and, of course, Trump’s help in drafting Don Jr.’s false explanation for the Russia-Clinton dirt-digging expedition, and, just guessing, and about a few dozen other things. As Trump said the other day, they’re talking about “fighting back” as obstruction. Yeah, they are.

But, third, and this may be the most important, somebody leaked this story to the Times more than six months after it happened. Why? And why now? The easy guess, which has a much better chance of being right than Ron Johnson’s FBI secret-meeting conspiracy theory, is that Trump could be on the verge of firing Mueller again, particularly since Mueller has asked to interview Trump and Trump said he’s ready to do the interview under oath, which has caused his lawyers to hyperventilate. Putting out the story would be one way of showing just how badly firing Mueller would play.

People talk about a special counsel interview being a perjury trap — see: Clinton, Bill — but the truth is that Trump doesn’t need a trap to lie. An interview would, of course, be a disaster for him. And since he’s basically agreed to do one, firing Mueller would be one way around it. Of course, firing Mueller, as McGahn had warned Trump earlier, might be an even bigger disaster, and one that would force some Republicans to actually take a stand on the ongoing Trump insanity.

If you want a preview, the Denver Post’s John Frank briefly interviewed Cory Gardner Friday about the Trump-Mueller story and then tweeted out the results. Gardner’s thoughts on Trump’s order to fire Mueller: “I’ve certainly said I oppose any firing — but he didn’t and that was the right outcome.” Pressed to comment on the fact that Trump attempted to fire Mueller: “The fact that he tried that — I certainly wouldn’t have supported and didn’t support.”

If Gardner seemed disinclined to go much further, that’s because the only place to go — and the obvious answer — would be that this is an outrage and Congress must immediately pass a law preventing presidents from peremptorily firing special counsels/prosectutors, etc. I don’t see that happening either. But, hey, maybe next week.


Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland via Flickr: Creative Commons