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February 5th, 2016 at 9:39 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Coin Toss
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

February 5th, 2016 at 6:29 am
Millennials: Real Solutions for the Challenges They Face
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, David Barnes, Policy Director of Generation Opportunity, discusses the challenges Millennials face, real solutions to be considered, and his recent TIME op-ed, “Obama’s Optimism Isn’t Shared by Millennials.”

Listen to the interview here.


February 2nd, 2016 at 3:10 pm
CFIF Scores Victory in Campaign Finance Case
On January 21, 2016, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously ruled in favor of the Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”) in Van Hollen v. FEC, a campaign finance case addressing free speech and compelled disclosure.

The decision marks the second time in the case that the Court of Appeals reversed a decision by District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who twice struck down a Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) rule requiring non-profit organizations that spend more than $10,000 per year on electioneering communications to disclose only donors who give “for the purpose of furthering electioneering communications.”

Congressman Christopher Van Hollen (D-Maryland) brought suit against the FEC, hoping to force organizations engaged in electioneering communications to disclose all donors who contribute over a certain amount, regardless of whether they intended for their donations to fund such speech.

Anticipating that the FEC, due to its split membership, might not appeal any adverse decision at the district court level, CFIF intervened to protect free speech interests and to preserve a right to appeal.

The Court of Appeals’ decision, authored by Judge Janice Rogers Brown and joined by Judges David Sentelle and Raymond Randolph, reversed the district court and upheld the FEC rule as being consistent with the requirements of Chevron and the Administrative Procedure Act.  The court also acknowledged the burdens that compelled disclosure impose on free speech and association guaranteed by the First Amendment.

“By affixing a purpose requirement on BCRA’s disclosure provision, the FEC exercised its unique prerogative to safeguard the First Amendment when implementing its congressional directives,” wrote Judge Brown. “Its tailoring was an able attempt to balance the competing values that lie at the heart of campaign finance law.”

CFIF was represented in the case by Thomas W. Kirby, Jan Witold Baran, Caleb P. Burns and Samuel B. Gedge of Wiley Rein, LLP.

To read the full entire D.C. Circuit Court decision, click here (PDF).

January 29th, 2016 at 11:03 am
Video: More Inventors, Fewer Lawyers
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In this installment of the Freedom Minute, the Center for Individual Freedom’s (“CFIF”) Renee Giachino discusses our nation’s growing epidemic of frivolous patent litigation by illegitimate parties who hope to score “jackpot jury” verdicts or simply frighten legitimate patent holders into costly out-of-court settlements to avoid catastrophic litigation costs, and the bipartisan effort in Washington,  DC, to help address the problem.

January 29th, 2016 at 8:34 am
More Executive Overreach: The EPA and “Cap and Trade”
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with the Center for Individual Freedom, William Yeatman, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, discusses the EPA’s Clean Power Plan overreach and why the Model FIP is a cap-and-trade policy and thereby raises concerns under the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Listen to the interview here.

January 28th, 2016 at 11:01 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Revenant
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

January 25th, 2016 at 3:39 pm
Yes to Spectrum Auction, No to Double-Dipping
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

CFIF has long advocated auction of over-the-air television stations’ airwaves – or spectrum – by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which offers a critical free-market opportunity for the wireless telecommunications industry to avoid looming network congestion issues.  It’s one of those rare potential win/win opportunities as Americans increasingly rely on mobile devices, and it constitutes the core mission of what the FCC should rightfully be doing with its resources.

While strongly favoring spectrum auction, however, we’ve also consistently opposed crony capitalist efforts to game the system and corrupt this promising opportunity.  Just last week, for example, we highlighted our distaste for Dish Network’s scheme to exploit “small business” discounts for its own benefit.

Unfortunately, we may be witnessing another attempt at exploitation of the spectrum auction process.  Namely, television broadcasters offering spectrum in the upcoming incentive auction may possess the ability to sell it twice, as reported by Broadcasting & Cable’s Washington Bureau Chief John Eggerton:

According to a source familiar with their thinking, some ‘major’ broadcasters are looking at putting spectrum in the pot and, if they win, taking advantage of tax laws to keep that money in escrow and use more cash, or a loan, to bid on some of that reclaimed broadcast spectrum in the forward auction – they would need to use other money since reverse payments won’t be available until both sides of the auction close.  They could then sell or lease the spectrum to wireless carriers hungry for it.”

What would make such attempts particularly galling is that the broadcasters originally received that spectrum free of charge, so they’d be selling twice something they didn’t pay for even once.

FCC auction of spectrum for more productive use is to be applauded, and was a long time in coming.  But please, let’s keep it free of attempts at unjust enrichment via exploitation of byzantine regulatory mechanisms.

January 25th, 2016 at 2:57 pm
Frank v. Poertner and the Future of Class Action Litigation
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Ted Frank, Senior Attorney and Director of the Center for Class Action Fairness at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, discusses unfair class action procedures and settlements and the petition for certiorari before the US Supreme Court in Frank v. Poertner.

Listen to the interview here.


January 25th, 2016 at 2:15 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Lineup
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CST to 6:00 p.m. CST (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CST/5:00 pm EST: Derek Scissors:  Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute – The Real Reason Behind the Dramatic Fall in China’s Stock Prices;

4:20 CST/5:20 pm EST: William Yeatman:  Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Senior Fellow in Environmental Policy and Energy Markets – EPA’s Clean Power Plan;

4:30 CST/5:30 pm EST:  David Barnes, Policy Director of Generation Opportunity – Millennials and the American Dream;

5:00 CST/6:00 pm EST:  Sarah Westwood, Watchdog Reporter for the Washington Examiner – Recent Stories from the Campaign Trail; and

5:30 CST/6:30 pm EST:  Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President for Legal and Public Affairs – IP Rights and Patent Litigation Reform and Internet Access Taxes.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330

January 21st, 2016 at 11:36 am
Coalition of 45 Organizations Urges Support for Making the Ban on Internet Access Taxes Permanent
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, the Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”) today joined a coalition of more than 40 other organizations representing tens of millions of consumers from across the nation to urge support of a permanent extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act currently embedded in H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act.
“In the 17 years since Congress first passed a ban on Internet access taxes, the Internet has evolved from a luxury into a necessity of modern life. ITFA helped to spark this revolution,” the letter states.  “Without ITFA, it is likely that Internet services would be taxed at the high rates of tax imposed on traditional telecommunications services, which often are more than double the rate of tax imposed on other goods and services.”
The letter concludes by urging the U.S. Senate “to act swiftly and decisively to pass a permanent extension of ITFA.”
To read the letter in its entirety, click here (.pdf).
To read the coalition press release, click here.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, the Center for Individual Freedom (“CFIF”) today joined a coalition of more than 40 other organizations representing tens of millions of consumers from across the nation to urge support of a permanent extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act currently embedded in H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act.

“In the 17 years since Congress first passed a ban on Internet access taxes, the Internet has evolved from a luxury into a necessity of modern life. ITFA helped to spark this revolution,” the letter states.  “Without ITFA, it is likely that Internet services would be taxed at the high rates of tax imposed on traditional telecommunications services, which often are more than double the rate of tax imposed on other goods and services.”

The letter concludes by urging the U.S. Senate “to act swiftly and decisively to pass a permanent extension of ITFA.”

To read the letter in its entirety, click here (.pdf).

To read the coalition press release, click here.

January 20th, 2016 at 4:18 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Hitting the Jackpot
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

January 15th, 2016 at 4:54 pm
IP Rights and Patent Litigation Reform Are Complementary, Not Contradictory
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In a recent Daily Caller piece entitled “Patents Are Private Property, Too,” Eagle Forum adviser James Edwards throughout most of his column marshals a strong defense of America’s intellectual property (IP) rights system.

Unfortunately, in his final two paragraphs he needlessly and erroneously detours into alleging that patent litigation reform efforts before Congress somehow undermine IP protections.  The truth is precisely the opposite.  Patent litigation reform and IP rights are complementary, not contradictory.

CFIF takes a backseat to no organization in defending IP rights, and Edwards rightly highlights how America’s strong IP system provides the foundation upon which we became and remain the most innovative and prosperous nation in human history.  He correctly notes that our Founding Fathers considered IP a natural right no different than physical property, and how they accordingly specifically protected them in the text of the Constitution.  As Abraham Lincoln later observed, “The patent system added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”

And as we have noted repeatedly, it is not by coincidence that America maintains the world’s strongest IP protections while also standing unrivaled as the most inventive, powerful, prosperous and influential nation in history.  That relationship is causal.

Unfortunately, in his final two paragraphs Edwards veers regrettably astray.  Specifically, he claims that patent litigation reform legislation currently under Congressional consideration would somehow undermine patent rights and “make it much more difficult and riskier to defend one’s patent against infringers.”

Respectfully, that is flatly false.

Patent litigation reform legislation, which passed the House two years ago with an overwhelming 325-to-91 majority, addresses how patent disputes are litigated, not patent rights themselves.

Under current law,  as most people know, overly litigious actors can file frivolous lawsuits or baselessly defend against valid claims because it’s highly unlikely under our current system that they’ll be forced to pay the other side’s attorney fees and litigation costs when they ultimately lose.  That’s because American law generally requires each side to pay its own costs and fees, even if the other side’s claim was weak.  As a litigating attorney who defended against innumerable frivolous claims in my legal career, I can confirm firsthand that winning an award of costs and fees from even the most egregious litigants is exceedingly and unfortunately rare.  Accordingly, bad actors often use our court system to extract improper settlements or frighten legitimate patent holders from defending their rights due to the prospective time and costs of litigation.

That’s where patent litigation reform comes in.

The Innovation Act, the bill that CFIF most strongly supports, targets abuse of our court system by:  (1) Holding losing parties accountable for prevailing parties’ attorney fees and costs unless they can demonstrate that their “position and conduct … were reasonably justified in law and fact, or that special circumstances (such as severe economic hardship to a named inventor) make an award unjust”;  (2) Reforming pleading standards to require greater clarity and justification for their case, rather than relying on vague and unintelligible boilerplate allegations;  (3)  Increasing transparency regarding the true owners of disputed patents;  and (4) Streamlining the burdensome discovery process, which too often imposes oppressive burdens and delays resolution of cases.

Those are manifestly common-sense litigation reforms that all Americans, particularly conservatives and libertarians who broadly favor reform of America’s flawed system of litigation, should support.

CFIF simply would not support any bill that undermined America’s patent or other IP protections.  The simple fact is that patent litigation reform would protect legitimate patent holders, and the only people with anything to fear are those who cannot demonstrate that their claims are based upon good faith and valid law – which is not difficult for legitimate litigants to show.  We therefore encourage all of our supporters and activists across the country to contact their elected representatives in Congress to voice their support for badly-needed patent litigation reform legislation.

January 15th, 2016 at 9:19 am
Obama’s Executive Action on Gun Control
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

In an interview with CFIF, Cam Edwards, host of NRA News’ Cam & Co., discusses President Obama’s proposed executive action on gun control, how the president’s stated belief in the Second Amendment is inconsistent with his executive action, and why the executive actions will do nothing to stop violent crime.

Listen to the interview here.

January 13th, 2016 at 12:01 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The State of the Union
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

January 11th, 2016 at 2:41 pm
This Week’s “Your Turn” Radio Show Lineup
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 CDT/5:00 pm EDT:  Ted Frank, Senior Attorney, Director of the Center for Class Action Fairness, Competitive Enterprise Institute: Class Action Awards and Frank v. Poertner;

4:30 CDT/5:30 pm EDT:  Arturo Porzecanski, Distinguished Economist in Residence at American University: Puerto Rico debt crisis;

5:00 CDT/6:00 pm EDT:  Cam Edwards, host of Cam & Co on NRA News: President Obama’s Executive Action on Gun Control;

5:15 CDT/6:15 pm EDT:  Carrie Severino, Chief counsel and Policy Director of the Judicial Crisis Network: SCOTUS Oral Arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association; and

5:30 CDT/6:30 pm EDT:  Tzvi Kahn, Senior Policy Analyst for the Foreign Policy Initiative: Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Listen live on the Internet here. Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

January 7th, 2016 at 1:00 pm
Patent Litigation Reform: A Conservative No-Brainer for 2016
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As we enter 2016 and the presidential race accelerates, it can be tempting and even entertaining for conservatives and libertarians to find themselves divided on an array of issues, from foreign policy to immigration reform to how to improve our tax code.  Respectful debate and disagreement on such matters is both healthy and necessary.

On another issue, however, there should be little disagreement:  the desperate need for litigation reform in America.  That includes patent litigation reform, particularly in light of the fact that , as Wall Street Journal legal reporter Ashby Jones reports, 2015 just witnessed a 25% increase in patent suits in a single year:

Patent litigation brought by so-called ‘non-practicing entities’ continued to flourish in 2015, according to a new study, despite repeated attempts to curtail it.  According to the report, released Monday by RPX Corp., NPEs filed over 3,600 patent cases in 2015.  NPEs, also referred to derisively as ‘patent trolls,’ buy up patents and seek to make money from them through licensing and litigation.  NPEs filed 3,604 cases last year, a sharp increase over 2014, in which NPEs filed 2,891.

Fortunately, a large and bipartisan majority in Congress has recognized the need for patent litigation reform, which CFIF has strongly and consistently supported:

To address those widespread problems in our current patent litigation system, while also protecting legitimate patent claimants, Congressman Robert Goodlatte (R – Virginia) has reintroduced the Innovation Act.   Identical legislation passed the House approximately one year ago by a lopsided 325 to 91 vote, and nothing has changed since that date to justify a reversal.

The bill narrowly targets patent litigation abuses, primarily by introducing several key reforms to the patent litigation process.  Those reforms include:  (1) Greater ability to shift costs and fees to improper litigants than the current system provides;  (2) Heightened pleading standards that require greater clarity and justification for the lawsuit itself;  (3) Greater transparency regarding true owners of disputed patents;  and (4) Much-needed streamlining of the discovery process during litigation, which often imposes oppressive burdens in time and resources upon respondents.

Unfortunately, some opponents of reform have resorted to claiming that patent litigation reform would somehow undermine patent rights or intellectual property rights more broadly.  That is simply not the case, as we have explained exhaustively.  We at CFIF stand among the strongest proponents of IP protections, and we would not support any cause that undermined them.  The reality is that the bills we support target patent litigation abuse, not substantive patent rights themselves.  The Innovation Act, for instance, simply requires that losing parties in a patent lawsuit demonstrate “that the position and conduct of the nonprevailing party or parties were reasonably justified in law and fact or that special circumstances (such as severe economic hardship to a named inventor) make an award unjust.”

That is not a difficult hurdle to clear.

Accordingly, opponents of patent litigation reform must answer why requiring parties who resort to costly and protracted litigation to show that their claim is “reasonably justified in law and fact” is somehow unfair or excessively burdensome.   They cannot, and there is simply no reason for further delay in achieving patent litigation reform legislation in 2016.

January 6th, 2016 at 10:52 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Obama’s Executive Action on Guns
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

Shooting At the Constitution

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

December 31st, 2015 at 7:24 pm
Marco Rubio Proposes a Constitutional Convention
Posted by Ben Boychuk Print

The Des Moines Register reports:

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is endorsing a Convention of States to amend the U.S. Constitution, saying it’s the only way to impose term limits on Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court and to require a balanced federal budget. . . .

. . . Rubio told reporters later he has been studying “very carefully” the Convention of States concept to amend the U.S. Constitution and that his former Senate colleague, Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, is an advocate for the initiative.

“It is something we feel very positive about. I think it is the only way that you are ever going to get term limits, and the only way that you are ever going to get a balanced budget amendment,” Rubio added.

Asked if he had concerns about opening up the Constitution to a convention, Rubio remarked, “I think you would have to limit the convention, and that is what they are proposing: a very limited convention on specific delineated issues that they would talk about — like term limits and a balanced budget amendment.”

Approval from 34 states is required for a Convention of States to proceed, and any amendments would need to be ratified by 38 states to become part of the Constitution.

A few observations/words of caution:

  • Although term limits have a certain populist appeal, they don’t really work. Term limits haven’t produced more “citizen legislators.” In fact, such laws have succeeded in empowering lobbyists and government employees. As Alan Greenblatt observed a decade ago in Governing magazine, “It shouldn’t come as a surprise that short-term legislators aren’t prone to engage in long-term thinking.” That’s about the long and short of it. Lawmakers may come and go, but special interests and bureaucrats are forever.

It is pretty clear, though, that through lifetime appointments, the Founders wanted to shield judges from the political pressures of the day. But an excellent byproduct of having ancient, long-serving justices is that they are far more likely to be impervious to . . . fleeting populist bugaboos and contemporary preferences . . . . This should be about the long game.

  • A balanced budget amendment offers no guarantee of fiscal rectitude. For a good sense of how a balanced-budget amendment would work in practice, one need look no further than California.
  • There is no real way to limit a constitutional convention. Remember, the Framers of the Constitution of 1787 were only sent to Philadelphia to fix the original Articles of Confederation. But James Madison had something quite different in mind. Sure, it worked out well the first time. But it is no mere exercise in nostalgia to say the Founding generation was far wiser (even when bitterly divided) than the vast majority of those who would pass for statesmen in our day. The point is, any Convention of the States is bound to take up questions beyond limiting legislative and judicial terms or balancing the federal budget. So let’s be careful what we wish for.

Sen. Rubio says he’s given this idea a great deal of thought. He might do well to spend some time with the original Federalist just the same.

December 31st, 2015 at 6:25 pm
Goodbye and Good Riddance to 2015
Posted by Ben Boychuk Print

George Will sums up the follies of the year that was. The only downside of the column is that space prevented it from being much, much longer.

“This list of 2015 ludicrousness could be lengthened indefinitely, but enough already,” Will writes. “The common thread is the collapse of judgment in, and the infantilization of society by, government.” Take Will’s advice, pour yourself a stiff drink, and hope for a better year to come.

December 31st, 2015 at 6:13 pm
The Rise of the Anti-Anti-Trumpians
Posted by Ben Boychuk Print

The Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross famously postulated five emotional stages following a death or profound loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Conservatives for much of the summer and fall have been attempting to come to terms with the reality of Donald Trump’s candidacy and the depth of division between the Trumpians and the Anti-Trumps. First came denial. (This guy? Are you kidding?) Then came anger. (Seriously, this guy?!)

Now winter is here, a new year is upon us, Trump remains the Republican frontrunner (despite the growing likelihood he will come up short in Iowa). And so we’ve arrived at the bargaining stage and with it, the emergence of the Anti-Anti-Trumpians.

William Voegeli, senior editor of the indispensable Claremont Review of Books (disclosure: I was managing editor of the CRB over a decade ago and Voegeli is a friend), explains why he is “Anti-Anti-Trump”:

The fact that Trump has become a credible contender despite, or even because of, his obvious faults argues, however, for taking his followers’ concerns seriously rather than dismissing them. It is not, in fact, particularly difficult to explain the emergence of Trumpismo in terms of legitimate concerns not addressed, and important duties not discharged. That such a flawed contender could be a front-runner tells us more about what’s wrong with the country than about what’s wrong with his followers. People have every reason to expect that their government will take its most basic responsibilities seriously, and every reason to be angry when, instead, it proves more feckless than conscientious. Governments are instituted among men to secure their inalienable rights, according to the Declaration of Independence. This means that when we and our rights are left avoidably insecure, government has failed in its central mission.

In short, Trump supporters’ anger is a righteous anger that should be understood and harnessed, rather than treated with contempt and dismissed. Voegeli continues:

The problem, in any case, is not so much that we are governed by idiots as that we are governed by idealists, who proudly follow the Kennedy brothers’ exhortation to disdain seeing things as they are in favor of dreaming dreams that never were. Because no such dream would incorporate a nightmare like ISIS, idealists have preferred to dwell on more congenial matters.

Adding insult to injury, we are governed by idealists who think we’re idiots for not appreciating the bang-up job they’re doing.

Voegeli concludes:

Demagoguery flourishes when democracy falters. A disreputable, irresponsible figure like Donald Trump gets a hearing when the reputable, responsible people in charge of things turn out to be self-satisfied and self-deluded. The best way to fortify Trump’s presidential campaign is to insist his followers’ grievances are simply illegitimate, bigoted, and ignorant. The best way to defeat it is to argue that their justified demands for competent, serious governance deserve a statesman, not a showman.

Voegeli is hardly alone among the Anti-Anti-Trumpians. Peter Lawler at NRO’s Postmodern Conservative blog has been making the case for months, almost to the point of exasperation. Nor have the Anti-Antis escaped criticism, though mostly from the left. Damon Linker at The Week recently published a fairly scathing column on the “unbearable lameness” of Anti-Anti-Trump Republicans, which amounted to “you reap what you sow.”

Perhaps. On the other hand, it isn’t as if the Republicans have a monopoly on populist discontent. Bernie Sanders trails Hillary Clinton in national polls, but he could very well win in New Hampshire. Trump and Sanders have substantial support among independent voters in the Granite State. And as the New York Times reports, Trump’s strongest supporters are “self-identified Republicans who nonetheless are registered as Democrats.”  

The trouble with the Anti-Anti-Trumpian argument is that it’s not entirely clear that “competent, serious governance” is what Trump’s supporters really want. (Check out this unrepresentative sample of Trump voters responding to a question from The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf. Trump contains multitudes.) We know what they don’t want: More of the same. But, let’s face it, that’s likely what they’re going to get.