Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.
--Daniel Patrick Moynihan

February 13, 2020

The Soviet Republicans


By David K. Shipler

                The most stirring statement of any witness in the House impeachment hearings last fall came from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman of the National Security Council, who opened his testimony with thanks and reassurance to his father, who had brought his family to the United States for “refuge from authoritarian oppression” in the Soviet Union.
                “My simple act of appearing here today,” Vindman declared, “would not be tolerated in many places around the world. In Russia, my act of expressing concern through the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions, and offering public testimony involving the president would surely cost me my life.
                “I am grateful for my father’s bold act of hope 40 years ago and for the privilege of being an American citizen and public servant where I can live free of fear for my and my family’s safety. Dad, [that] I’m sitting here today in the US Capitol talking to our elected professionals is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth.”
                Did Colonel Vindman misread his adopted country?
After honoring a subpoena and testifying under oath on President Trump’s “inappropriate” phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Vindman got death threats so alarming that the Army and local police had to provide security. The Army considered moving his family to safety on a military base. And this week, after acquittal in his impeachment trial, an unleashed Trump had Vindman escorted out of the White House and then threatened him (by tweet) with unspecified military punishment. This was part of a widening pattern of retaliation by the Trump apparatus against impeachment witnesses and other independent thinkers in government.
The United States is not the Soviet Union, of course, and it’s a good bet that Vindman would never think it was. Furthermore, invidious analogies between Trump and various forms of authoritarianism—fascism, Nazism, third-world dictatorships—are so common that they have lost their bite. So it’s important to recognize that while the American constitutional system is under immense strain by Republicans impatient with its messy checks on their power, the restraints have not yet broken.
Nevertheless, to one who lived in Moscow from 1975 to 1979, there is a queasy taste of familiarity in the impulses of Trump and his Republican followers. There is a certain kind of political actor, whether Soviet or American, who cannot stand dissent and debate, who derides facts and truth, who sees all behavior through a lens of personal or ideological loyalty, and whose values extend no farther than immediate victory and the expansion of authority. In this mindset, truth-tellers are “enemies of the people,” to quote Stalin and Trump. Policy differences constitute warfare in which argument and rebuttal are not enough: Opponents must be destroyed through smears, propaganda, and retribution.
These actors have no moral brakes. They wield whatever weapons the system permits.
In the post-Stalinist Soviet system that I observed, the punishments for suspicions of political irreverence ranged from mild to severe: a formal denunciation by peers, a denial of promotion at work, a rejection of a coveted trip abroad, a job dismissal, a cutoff of your phone, even imprisonment or Siberian exile if your dissent was public and persistent. Certain positions—journalist, history professor, factory manager, hospital director, and the like—required membership in the Communist Party, which was highly selective and relied on proof of political reliability.
In the United States, Republicans under Trump—and earlier under George W. Bush—have imposed their own kind of political orthodoxy, conducting litmus tests on applicants for government jobs in the Justice Department and other agencies that are supposed to be non-political. As I wrote in the last chapter of The Rights of the People, Bush administration “applicants were asked ideologically charged questions: ‘What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?’ ‘Tell us about your political philosophy,’ whether you’re a ‘social conservative, fiscal conservative, [or] law and order Republican.’” Some in federal law enforcement were grilled on their views of abortion, their voting histories, and their favorite Supreme Court justices, all matters irrelevant to their jobs. Membership in the conservative Federalist Society was nearly as critical to getting hired in the Justice Department in Washington as membership in the Communist Party had been in Moscow.
So the impulse for ideological purity did not begin with the Trump administration. Nor did the disdain for the rule of law. Soviet authorities constructed facades of legal-looking procedures for trying dissidents in a highly politicized judicial system. American authorities after the 9/11 attacks constructed charades of legal rationalizations to permit torture, warrantless surveillance, and imprisonment without trial. Republicans, especially under Trump, are on a mission to politicize the federal courts, and Trump derides their independence. The Soviet and Republican purposes are the same: to facilitate the machinery of the state.
 One difference between Moscow and Washington is that while Soviet leaders were canny and closed, Trump is clumsy and explicit. He has made no secret of his desire to have adversaries arrested—the whistleblower on Ukraine for “treason,” Vindman for “insubordination,” Hillary Clinton for just about anything. These crude slanders have not yet been translated into legal assaults, but what if he wins a second term? He has gradually purged the White House and the Justice Department of officials devoted to the constitutional principles of law and the separation of powers. As he accumulates a collection of adoring sycophants, he distills his inner circle into a concentrated toxin.
Trump has been most obvious among presidents in denouncing judges, obstructing investigations (see the Mueller report), and interfering with prosecutors, as this week when he got the Justice Department to rescind its tough sentencing recommendation for his pal Roger Stone. Soviet authorities often determined sentencing behind closed doors in what Russians sardonically called “telephone justice,” a phone call between a judge and a Communist Party official. By contrast, the American judge in Stone’s case, Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee, can afford to be independent; she needn’t curry favor with anyone, being too old (65) to be considered for elevation to a higher court.
As the law is manipulated, so is history. Soviet archives were closed and secret, and the portrayal of history was distorted to hide wrongdoing and conform with current ideology. The Trump administration is violating federal law by destroying documents required to be filed in the National Archives. So American archives will now be incomplete, damaging historians’ work. Still, unlike the centralized Soviet Union, America’s pluralism retains diverse centers of authority, so that no single hand can dictate what citizens know of their country’s past.
In some respects, the lessons of history seem to be running in reverse, at least to this old Moscow hand. History is usually touted as informing the present, explaining current events in the context of what has gone before. Now, the present is informing the past, as the Trump era illuminates authoritarian impulses in the Soviet Union and elsewhere.
It used to be conventional wisdom to see longstanding Russian culture—from the czars through the Communists—at the root of Russians’ affinity for a strongman like Stalin (and now Putin) and for the compliance of Soviet citizens in the conspiracy of myths and lies and injustices. But American culture has no such tradition. Looking at the present Republican adulation of Trump, whose cult of personality would be nearly as dangerous as Stalin’s if the United States were not a constitutional democracy, we might be witnessing traits more universal in humanity than previously acknowledged.
During the liberalizing era of Mikhail Gorbachev, I heard this joke in the Kremlin:
First Member of Parliament: “What we need is a democracy like Sweden’s.”
Second Member of Parliament: “It will never work here.”
First Member: “Why not?’
Second Member: “We don’t have enough Swedes.”
I used to think that you could substitute “Americans” for “Swedes.” Now I’m not so sure.

December 18, 2019

The FBI and the Trouble With Secret Warrants


By David K. Shipler

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized.
--The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution
               
 The FBI, yet again, lied to the court, whose chief judge didn’t do her job properly and then excoriated the FBI. Republicans, who enacted and defended the secret system that permits such abuse, are suddenly in high dudgeon since the victim is one of their own. That’s the brief summary of the controversy over surveillance done on Carter Page, a campaign aide to Donald Trump. Whether something good comes out of the episode is an open question.
  There are basically two legal ways for the government to listen to your phone calls, read your emails, search your house, and invade other areas of your private life. One is with a traditional search warrant, signed by a judge after law enforcement swears that probable cause exists to believe that certain evidence of a specific crime will be found at a particular place and time. The other is with a secret court order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which requires something quite different: probable cause that you are an agent of a foreign power, meaning either a government or a terrorist organization. No crime need be involved, and the standard of particularity is largely waived.
                Other differences are notable. In a criminal case, the warrant is eventually disclosed and might be presented to the target at his door if he’s home as police arrive to do the search. He ultimately learns details of the searches. Theoretically, he should be able to see the affidavit on probable cause that the police submitted to the judge, so his lawyer can challenge the warrant’s basis and move in court to suppress the resulting evidence. However, in the experience of Richard Foxall, a defense attorney in California, judges rarely allow the defense to inspect the affidavits. (See Foxall's comment below.) That check on law enforcement doesn’t prevent all official wrongdoing, but it helps.
                No such transparency exists in FISA warrants. Not only are they issued in secret by judges in a secret court, they are executed without notice to the target and are never disclosed unless the government chooses to use the resulting evidence in a criminal trial, and even then the affidavits themselves are usually considered classified. Occasionally the FISA material is used as a basis for an ordinary criminal warrant, but defense lawyers are usually blocked from seeing the original application.

December 7, 2019

The Pitfalls of Political Trash Talk

By David K. Shipler

                Nobody in American politics can beat Donald Trump at the game of coarse insults, name-calling, and personal ridicule. And nobody should try, especially Joe Biden, who needs to keep his poise of dignity and decency if he has a chance of rescuing discourse from its quagmire. Little temper tantrums and macho posturing, provoked Thursday by an Iowa voter’s unfriendly question, are not going to please citizens looking for a return to decorum.
Besides, Biden’s not very good at it. An early attempt occurred back in October 2016, when Biden was campaigning for Hillary Clinton. He managed to deflect public attention from his powerful condemnation of Trump’s boast that he could grab any woman’s pussy. Biden called it “a textbook definition of sexual assault” and went on: “He said, ‘Because I’m famous, because I’m a star, because I’m, a billionaire, I can do things other people can’t.’ What a disgusting assertion for anyone to make!”
The burning anger in Biden’s face said it all. Then he stepped on his own message by adding: “The press always asks me don’t I wish I were debating him. No, I wish we were in high school so I could take him behind the gym, that’s what I wish.” The partisan crowd cheered, but the more important point was swallowed by the Biden bravado, which became the focus of the news.
Biden must have thought he’d scored, because he embellished in March 2018 at the University Miami: “If we were in high school I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him. . . . I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life. I’m a pretty damn good athlete. Any guy who talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest S.O.B. in the room.”

November 25, 2019

Impeachment and the Mythology of American Virtue


By David K. Shipler

                After days of impeachment hearings in the House Intelligence Committee, the United States has emerged as a country riven by a clash between cynicism and perfectionism. Americans have grown so inured to wrongdoing that nefarious behavior won’t provoke outrage unless it violates some mythical norm of purity. And so Democrats and their witnesses have been forced to construct a backdrop of national righteousness against which President Trump can be cast in damning contrast.
                That shouldn’t be necessary. Trump’s actions should be enough for impeachment and conviction. If the society had a proper ethical reflex, it would be sufficient that he tried to get a “favor” for his reelection campaign from a foreign government, Ukraine, which desperately needs American support against Russia. End of discussion.
                 The United States shouldn’t have to be pictured as an unyielding advocate of global democracy and the rule of law, when we have a sordid history of doing the opposite where dictators suit us. Ukraine shouldn’t have to be given the exaggerated label “ally” when it has no such standing in any treaty. The rhetoric on foreign policy shouldn’t have to sound like a throwback to the Cold War, with Washington’s nobility poised against Moscow’s “aggression,” and a pretense that the U.S. bears no responsibility for the rising conflict with Russia.
Witnesses shouldn’t have to tout their and their families’ military service to be credible, and the military shouldn’t have to be burnished as flawlessly heroic. Those testifying shouldn’t have to chronicle their devotion to public service. Those born abroad shouldn’t need to sing moving hymns of praise to America as a haven of freedom to speak and to prosper, when prosperity and even freedom, as we are seeing, do not come to all who step onto American soil.
But national myths are often useful, because they set high standards to which the country should aspire. The gap between the myth and the reality is one that begs to be closed.

October 11, 2019

Punishing the Poor for Being Hungry


By David K. Shipler
The latest in a series: Making America Cruel Again

                The United States might be the only country in the world where poverty is considered a moral failing—on the part of the victims, not the society. When conservatives are in charge of government, this judgment infiltrates policy. Republicans move repeatedly to twist regulations around an assumption that the poor don’t want to work and don’t make sound decisions. And when this bias affects children’s nutrition, it can cause lifelong impairment.
                In the last year alone, the Trump administration has taken multiple shots at food stamps, now called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program), which helped feed about 40 million people last year. The latest change, one week ago, would cut benefits by $4.5 billion over five years. Even in a booming economy, one in seven children are in families considered “food insecure,” according to the Department of Agriculture’s 2018 survey, meaning that they weren’t sure of having enough food for everyone.
                Research in the rapidly advancing field of neuroscience has documented the severe biological assaults caused by inadequate nutrition during sensitive phases of brain development. Numerous studies, compiled in a lengthy National Academy of Sciences report, From Neurons to Neighborhoods, portray a devastating landscape of cognitive deficiency resulting from nutritional deprivation. The insufficiency of healthy food during a pregnant woman’s second trimester can reduce the creation of neurons, the brain’s impulse-conducting cells. Malnutrition in the third trimester restricts their maturation and retards the production of branched cells called glia.
Iron is essential to promote the growth of the brain in size and the creation of the nerve-transmitting myelin sheath around the brain’s nerve fibers. The impact of iron deficiency in a baby, therefore, never disappears, even once the deficiency is eliminated. One longitudinal study that followed children from infancy through adolescence found that they scored lower “in arithmetic achievement and written expression, motor functioning, and some specific cognitive processes such as spatial memory and selective recall.”
Teachers reported that such children displayed “more anxiety or depression, social problems, and attention problems.” It is no great leap of logic to see learning disabilities as one result of malnutrition, and a child who can’t do decently in school, who can’t follow half of what a teacher is saying, is more inclined to drop out.
For those Republicans who are moved more by self-interest than empathy, it’s worth noting that high school dropouts earn less that those with degrees, pay less in taxes, have more serious medical problems, and are at higher risk of ending up in jail.
Yet Trump’s people have sought to saddle the $68 billion-a-year SNAP program with restrictions and cuts to the monthly benefits, which now come on debit cards with declining balances, and typically last a family only two or three weeks. Certain regulations that the Trump administration has either enacted or has openly considered would treat needy Americans with suspicion and distrust. For instance:

·         Officials have considered imposing a drug-testing regime on recipients (although not on farmers who receive huge federal subsidies as part of the same legislation).
·         The Agriculture Department, which administers the program, published a rule in July to eliminate states’ option to raise eligibility limits above the federal ceiling, which is 130 percent of the poverty line. Previously, states could get waivers to enroll families earning more if their housing and child-care expenses soaked up a big percentage of their income. More generous housing subsidies would help, because in many parts of the country, where rent can consume 50 percent or more of a family’s budget, the money for food gets squeezed. The comment period on the rule change ended in September; once adopted, it will cut off about 3 million recipients.
·         In last week’s action, the administration effectively took away $75 in benefits from one out of every five families by recalculating how housing and utilities costs are figured.
·         The Trump administration tried to tighten work requirements in this year’s budget, Congress refused, and officials have gone ahead anyway to partially evade the legislative intent. Since 1996, single able-bodied adults with no dependents, up to age 49, could get SNAP benefits for only three months in a three-year period unless they worked or were in job training at least 80 hours a month. States could waive the rule in areas with acute joblessness. Trump wanted to expand the requirement to age 59 and, more damaging, apply it to those with children over six years old. That was rejected by Republicans and Democrats in Congress. So last December the Agriculture Department did what it could administratively by making it much harder for states to get waivers.
·         In his 2019 budget, Trump proposed replacing half of a family’s cash grants with a food package of cereal, pasta, peanut butter, canned fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry, and other items deemed good for them. Sending such packages to 40 million people would have been so costly and impractical that the idea collapsed of its own weight. But the notion seems borne of a patronizing attitude toward the poor, who suffer from a disparaging stereotype that they do not act responsibly.
Clinics treating childhood malnutrition see a broad array of causes. Lack of money is the centerpiece, but lack of knowledge about healthy eating can also contribute to some cases. Health providers find that some parents don’t know how to cook with relatively inexpensive ingredients. New immigrants unfamiliar with American food can be fooled by ads into thinking that Coke and Cheetos are healthy. So can Americans themselves. Lots of junk food is cheap and filling, hence the nation’s epidemic of obesity, which can be a sign of malnutrition.
Supermarkets with fresh, healthy food are scarce in many low-income neighborhoods. A child’s food allergies can be baffling without the funds and information required to have a large assortment of choices on hand. Single parents doing shift work can’t keep track of what their kids are being fed by multiple caregivers. Nor do they usually have the orderly life that allows them to sit children down calmly to feed them, or have a regular family meal.
 In other words, childhood malnutrition is created at the confluence of problems and disabilities that magnify and reinforce one another. They must all be addressed. The cognitive impairment that results cannot be attacked by a country that keeps electing officials who entangle the safety net in a set of punitive impulses.
First published by the Washington Monthly.

October 2, 2019

The Constitutional Stress Test


By David K. Shipler

                For a country ostensibly devoted to the rule of law and worshipful toward its Constitution, the United States is in a peculiar state of dishonoring both. It has a president and a supposedly conservative political party that brushes away the ingenious checks and balances that the Framers devised to restrain authority. It is politicizing its judiciary and entangling its legislature in partisan stalemates while its executive branch evades, ignores, or derides the other branches of government.
This could have more than a transitory impact on the dynamics of the democratic system. In resisting the constitutional duty of Congress to monitor and limit executive behavior, Donald Trump and his acolytes are undermining a keystone of constitutional governance. The damage might turn out to be more serious than a phone call with the president of Ukraine, and more lasting than an impeachment inquiry. Conceivably, once the judicial branch gets involved, a “conservative” Supreme Court could codify curbs on the legislature’s authority to subpoena, question, and investigate administration officials. Such cases are now being litigated.
How is Congress to enforce its orders? By declaring recalcitrant officials in “inherent contempt” and seeking to have them fined or arrested? That would be an extraordinary step, and nobody seems to know how it would be carried out. Otherwise, though, Congress is defied with impunity, and the system is impaired. The smooth running of government would have to be discussed in the past tense, when it relied on a basic respect for the norms of balance among the branches, when it did not conduct debates across an unyielding divide of political tribalism.

September 15, 2019

Interpreting Biden on Race and Poverty


By David K. Shipler

                Former Vice President Joe Biden must have had millions of Democrats wincing during last Thursday’s debate as he fumbled his way through a pointed question on racial inequality in schools. His sentences were incomplete, his thoughts jumped around erratically. He revealed, once again, his tin ear on race.
But if you distill his incoherent response—which did not directly answer the question of Americans’ obligations in the long wake of slavery—you can see that he actually identified the essence of key problems facing impoverished families and their schools. He displayed deeper understanding and proposed more solutions in a disjointed sound bite than all the other candidates combined.
Here is what he said, annotated in italics:
            “Well, they have to deal with the … Look, there is institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved, I started dealing with that. Redlining, banks, making sure that we are in a position where--” He doesn’t finish his thought, but he is pointing to banks’ long practice of denying mortgages to blacks and “redlining” poorer neighborhoods out of consideration for loans. That has contributed to entrenched poverty and de facto segregation by community, which has meant that schools have been segregated as well, by race and income.
“Look, we talk about education. I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Title One schools, triple the amount of money we spend from $15 to $45 billion a year.” Pumping more funds into poor schools is essential to improve kids’ life opportunities. That’s because education funding relies mostly on local property taxes, which create vast disparities in per-pupil expenditures between wealthy and poor school districts. What Biden does not say, and should, is that these difficulties, and others he mentions subsequently, afflict poor whites as well as blacks. There are public schools that don’t have enough textbooks for all students, and teachers pay out of their own pockets to photocopy chapters.

September 6, 2019

Wanted: A "Shithole Country"


By David K. Shipler

                Donald Trump, who has come to realize that he was born in the wrong country, has ordered his Trump Organization to look for one to buy that he can run unimpeded by legislators, judges, news reporters, experts, and meteorologists. He thinks it would be great fun after leaving the presidency.
                “Maybe one of those shithole countries,” he reportedly told Ivanka just before she set out for Latin America. “Look around down there, will you? I’d rather one of them than in Africa . . .” The rest of his sentence is unprintable.
                Word has gone out in high-powered real-estate circles that Trump is willing to pay a small fortune for a nation where he can draft his own weather maps predicting what he has imagined, publish his fantasies in every newspaper, turn every newscast into unreality TV, make skeptical questioning a felony, reward corruption as smart business, and summon nubile young women to his palace. (He wants a Trump Palace, preferably on a hilltop flattened for a golf course.)
                Trump has told associates that the property must have this key quality: no constitution, or at least one that can be ignored. The US Constitution is a royal pain, as he keeps discovering, and he’s sick and tired of trying to get around it. “In the old adage,” he told one close aide, “the price of real estate is determined by three factors: location, location, and location. What I’m looking for is a place that is valuable because it is lawless, lawless, lawless.”
                Hearing about this, a disillusioned, patriotic Trump voter declared, “It is terribly selfish to say this, but let’s hope his search for a ‘shithole country’ is successful before he turns ours into one.”

August 17, 2019

Israel Forfeits Its Case

By David K. Shipler

                Before Israel became extremely right-wing, officials used to be eager to make their case with facts and reason. They were so confident in the legitimacy of their position in the Arab-Israeli conflict that they actually seemed to welcome a good opposing argument, because they thought they had a better one. When I arrived there in 1979 after four years covering the Soviet Union, the refreshing air of openness by government was like a tonic. There were exceptions, but as a rule, Israel’s officialdom didn’t try to silence painful disagreement. Comfort with flagrant debate was one of Israel’s most admirable qualities.
There is still plenty of noisy, acerbic dispute in the country. But the government lost its footing in denying entry to two Muslim US congresswomen, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who wanted to visit the West Bank to champion the Palestinian cause and condemn Israel’s continuing “occupation.” That would have been an annoyance that the old Israel could have handled with sensible rebuttal, and hopefully some healthy introspection. In an earlier time, leaders stood tall in self-assurance. In the new Israel, it seems, they cower pathetically in fear of on-the-ground criticism.
The ironic result is the opposite of what President Trump imagined. He had said that Israel would look weak if it allowed Omar and Tlaib to visit. Israel now looks weak for having banned them—and for taking Trump’s bad advice. (Of course Trump’s idea of weakness is that you listen respectfully to views that differ from your own. He doesn’t seem to realize how weak he looks in his thin skin.)
This episode brings to mind Israel’s decision in 1979 to allow Jesse Jackson to enter the country for a highly publicized visit to Israel and the West Bank. Because of Jackson’s pro-Palestinian tilt, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan convinced Prime Minister Menachem Begin to deny Jackson any meetings with senior government officials, a rebuff that displeased some of Begin’s aides, who thought Begin himself should have met him. Yet the discomfort with Jackson’s views, including his earlier anti-Semitic remarks, did not rattle the conservative governing coalition enough to block his trip.

June 27, 2019

Jared Kushner and the Palestinian Pretense


By David K. Shipler

                Jared Kushner’s economic proposal for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is comprehensive, bold, and visionary, full of noble goals in commerce, trade, agriculture, manufacturing, road-building, local electricity production, water supply, education, vocational training, health care, women in the workforce, and the arts. Titled “Peace to Prosperity,” it imagines the West Bank as a trading center akin to Singapore or Dubai. Its calls for judicial independence, dependable contract law, anti-corruption measures, and administrative transparency that would be hailed by any “good-government” advocates. It envisions some $50 billion in international grants, loans, investments, and global expertise.  
                This would be nothing to sneer at if it related to reality. But to take it seriously, you have to play Let’s Pretend. So let’s pretend that the West Bank and Gaza constitute a normal country, independent but poor, with no Israeli overlords, and free to accept whatever outside assistance it chooses. Let’s pretend that the Palestinian rulers control their own borders so that people and goods can move easily, as Kushner recommends. Let’s pretend that West Bank land is all under Palestinian authority, rather than being fragmented into leopard-spot jurisdictions favoring expanding Israeli settlements and security concerns. And let’s pretend that the radical group Hamas no longer controls Gaza with a policy of relating to Israel by rockets alone.
                 In that fictional environment, Kushner’s plan is utopian in the best sense of the word. The document is silent on the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so depending on how charitable a reader wants to be, Kushner’s effort is either ignorant or presumptuous, either blind to the political resolution that would be required before his proposals can be implemented, or based on an assumption that a resolution will have occurred.