Welcome to the blog of the International Fathers and Children Coalition. We take pride in thoroughly researching our articles, checking our sources, and covering news that traditional media deliberately ignores or would not touch. For a full list of published articles see the "Table of Contents" page on the right, under "Pages."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Who Perpetrates Teen Dating Violence?

  posted by Eric Ross, Ph.D.

According to two female sociology researchers, Carrie Mulford, Ph.D., and Peggy C. Giordano, Ph.D., who reviewed several recent studies for the National Institute of Justice, adolescent girls in the romantic relationships are far more likely to be sole perpetrators of physical violence than the boys (we use these terms in an old-fashioned, parental way, as the parties in such romantic relationships are still teenagers, becoming young adults.)

How the girls see it  they reported that they (the girls) were some 4.2 times more likely to be a sole perpetrator of violence than boys.

How the boys see it  boys reported that the girls were on average 6.6 times more likely to be a sole perpetrator of violence.

How the researchers see it  when researchers videotaped young couples working on problem-solving tasks  the girls were on average 4.1 times more likely to be a sole perpetrator of violence. If the boy was attacked and retaliated in a physical way, it was deemed "mutual violence."

This is not a small problem: According to the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, approximately 10 percent of adolescents nationwide reported being the victim of physical violence at the hands of a romantic partner during the previous year.[1]

The graph by National Institute of Justice: http://www.nij.gov/journals/261/who-perpetrates.htm

evidence and facts do not matter, as long as the old
demagogue Joe Biden can fool a few people all the time
and buy their votes with the taxpayer's money
The problem of aggressive behavior in girls is even more serious because it is highly politicized by professional demagogues, such as U.S. VP Joseph Biden, who frames the problem of intimate violence as "violence against women," despite data, which irrefutably shows that it is "violence by women" or "mutual violence." In his recent "1 is 2 many" Public Service Announcement (PSA) -- another demagogic stratagem in a series launched to woo women voters into his camp, Biden's PSA states: "Vice President Biden is focusing his longstanding commitment to reducing violence against women specifically on teens and young women ages 16-24." Here we go again: evidence does not matter, as long as the old Joe can fool a few people all the time.

Teen Dating Violence: A Closer Look at Adolescent Romantic Relationships 
by Carrie Mulford, Ph.D., and Peggy C. Giordano, Ph.D.  National Institute of Justice.
Graph: Who Perpetrates Teen Dating Violence? publisher: National Institute of Justice.

For your convenience, we include the authors' synopsis of their study below:

The authors reviewed the findings from three studies that examined who (boys, girls or both) commits violence in teen dating relationships.

In the Toledo adolescent relationship study, which interviewed more than 1,300 seventh, ninth and 11th graders, 13 percent of girls in physically aggressive relationships reported that boys were the sole perpetrators, 36 percent said they were the sole perpetrators, and 51 percent reported both they and their partner committed aggressive acts during the relationship. Six percent of the boys in physically aggressive relationships said they were the sole perpetrators, 47 percent said girls were the sole perpetrators, and 47 percent reported mutual aggression.

In the Suffolk County study of dating aggression in Long Island, N.Y., high schools, 5 percent of girls in physically aggressive relationships reported that boys were the sole perpetrators, 28 percent said they were the sole perpetrators, and 65 percent reported both they and their partner committed aggressive acts during the relationship. Five percent of the boys in physically aggressive relationships said they were the sole perpetrators, 27 percent said girls were the sole perpetrators, and 66 percent reported mutual aggression.

In the Oregon youth couples study, which videotaped teen couples while they performed problem-solving tasks, researchers observed that in 8 percent of the physically aggressive relationships, boys were the sole perpetrators; in 33 percent of the physically aggressive relationships, girls were the sole perpetrators; and in 58 percent there was mutual aggression.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Great American Beauty Pageant – Part II

  by Eric Ross, Ph.D. Investigative Reporter, National Writers Syndicate.
Acting President, NCFM, Greater NY Chapter

The Great American Beauty Pageant – Part II

Since filing that false report of "Terroristic Threat," allegedly made by a note stuck on her door, allegedly written by Gordon Smith, who just happened to be too far away to make such threat – some 800 miles away at the time of the note's appearance  – things have changed. Gordon left Georgia and has moved back to Delaware to be close to his boys. Tiffany had her new boyfriend arrested for a domestic incident, then got back together with him again. When Gordon, like any concerned father would, made a remark over the phone suggesting that it may have been unwise of her to expose the kids to such risk, Tiffany got furious. No sooner did Tiffany get the kids back from a party with their Dad at Chucky Cheeses that day, than the Police arrested Gordon, telling him that Tiffany had just filed a complaint alleging that in his phone conversation that day he’d threatened to kill her and the boys. Again.

After so many such false and failed allegations, shouldn't such new off-the-wall accusation be really viewed as totally ridiculous? Shouldn't the authorities take note? Apparently they have not, mostly for political reasons, such as "they do not want to discourage victims from making complaints." Apparently, "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice – shame on me" is not part of their standard operating procedures. Let them, women folk, lie to their heart's content! Shouldn't Tiffany realize that she is being absolutely ridiculous? – Not at all! And why not lie and connive openly?  As on scores of other occasions, Dad immediately lost contact with his kids, again and again! That will teach him a lesson!

The State of Delaware  The Rock-bed of Feminist Jurisprudence, the Motherland of VAWA

Since 1994 then US Senator from Delaware (D) Joseph
Biden has  engaged in the War on Fathers for political
capital to himself and multi-billion dollar pork to
special interest groups.
False allegations always worked wonders for Tiffany. After all, former Senator from Delaware (now VP),  Joe Biden prides himself on being the "father" of VAWA. And his son, the Attorney General of Delaware, Joe Biden III, prides himself on being a loyal follower of the VAWA's principles, goose-stepping into his father's footprints. As VP Biden recently said, “Young women feel empowered [by VAWA].”  

"A good example of a special-interest publication is called "10 Myths About Custody and Domestic Violence and How to Counter Them," which was produced "for use in litigation" by an ABA [American Bar Association] subgroup called the Commission on Domestic Violence. "10 Myths" is designed to teach lawyers how to win money verdicts against fathers by using false or misleading arguments masquerading as objective research," said Phyllis Schlafly in Bar Association and Sen. Joseph Biden Enlist in War on Dads.  VAWA created a self-perpetuating legal Juggernaut, whose largess is paid by the American taxpayer:  Biden's bill channels $55.5 million of taxpayer money to lawyers and the special-interest ABA commission to provide mentoring, training and other assistance to lawyers of the DV Industry, and set up legal coordinators offices in each state. Why chase ambulances? Why wait for the "victims" to show up when vast new markets for legal services can be created and "victims" can be fabricated  through false allegations and arguments best described as intellectual dishonesty?

Dr. Martha Stout in her book Sociopath Next Door says that many more people than we think are conscienceless sociopaths who have no empathy whatsoever.  As she explains in The Myth of Sanity, a sociopath is someone who displays at least three of seven distinguishing characteristics, such as deceitfulness, impulsivity and a lack of remorse. Such people often have a superficial charm, which they exercise ruthlessly in order to get what they want. Said Dr. Stout, “the damage caused by the sociopaths among us is deep and lasting, often tragically lethal, and startlingly common. Working with hundreds of survivors, I have become convinced that dealing openly and directly with the facts about sociopathy is a matter of urgency for us all.” VP Biden’s version of VAWA empowered female sociopaths and opportunists, in guise of assisting the victims of domestic abuse.

Tiffany is one example of such opportunists, if not outright sociopaths. And why not act like one? The "system" has always rewarded this woman's vindictiveness, giving her the instant gratification of arresting her husband and severing his contact with the boys for a good, long time, not to mention the financial flagellation he had received each time, and jobs lost while arrested and having to defend himself against false allegations. Meanwhile, the false accuser  always gest Gordon where she wants him, without any repercussions for false statements.

So, pretty though she may be, Ms. Tiffany Smith looks as ugly as mortal sin, which she routinely commits. She has victimized Gordon Smith many times. By gaming the system and abusing legal process Tiffany has turned his life into a living hell. In a way, Gordon is a poster boy for tens of thousands of men victimized by VAWA's policies, which encourage, even inviting false allegations, rewarding the false accusers and the functionaries of the DV Industry in the process. (See, e.g. What is Domestic Violence? -- Anything Your Heart Desires, Honey!) Meanwhile, Gordon stands accused of “terroristic threat;” his trial scheduled to take place in September, 2012.Meanwhile, Gordon stands accused of a serious crime of “terroristic threat;” and his trial scheduled to take place in September, 2012.

Call or email Deputy Attorney General of Delaware Kent Haltom. Tell him that unless he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that charges against Gordon are true, to drop them immediately. Tell him that Tiffany Smith must be prosecuted for making false reports to the Police and committing perjury:

Call: 302-739-4211, Email: kenneth.haltom@state.de.us

If you need to consult the documents relevant to this case, they are all made public here:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Great American Beauty Pageant – Part I

 By Eric Ross, Ph.D., Investigative Reporter, National Writers' Syndicate, Acting President, NCFM Greater NY Chapter 
The Great American Beauty Pageant – Part I

In the American "family" court system with its "preponderance of the evidence" standard of proof and virtually unlimited discretion given to the politically-minded judges, physical evidence often goes out the window, and political factors take precedence over facts. To justify their arbitrary decisions, judges often entertain themselves by running a trial like a beauty contest, based on subjectively judged appearance, substituted in place of a common sense judgement as to  who is more trustworthy. 

Enter Tiffany Marie Smith, of Delaware. She’s cute. Female. “Clever.”  Enterprising, one should say. Therefore, she is “believable” and, you know, likable...

She has been quite inventive in making all kinds of false allegations against her ex husband Gordon Smith in order to disrupt his relationship with their two adorable little sons, to show him who’s boss and to punish him for whatever transgressions she fancies to assign to the poor father of her children. Thus far, she’s made nine outrageously false allegations. Several of them lead to his arrests.

Here is Gordon Smith of Delaware. He’s a man. He looks manly. Those brainwashed by the Domestic Violence industry, would instantly conjure up the word “patriarchal,” to describe what he looks like. He is definitely not “beautiful.”  Because he is a man, you can just as well stamp “guilty” on his forehead.  The public policies following the federal Violence Against Women ACT (VAWA), introduced in 1994 by then U.S. Senator Joe Biden, make Gordon Smith (and any man) guilty until proven innocent. Numerous handbooks for family court judges paid for by VAWA funds, unceremoniously label all men "abusers" and "perpetrators". It is so, they postulate, because men "oppressed women for centuries."  Yet, despite this demagogic legal environment, Gordon successfully defended himself against eight of the off-the-wall allegations by Tiffany.

His ex wife made allegations ranging from spousal rape to threats to kill her, all of them false, while he is keeping as far away from this enterprising woman, as humanly possible. Gordon is not happy: his relationship with his beloved sons is being cruelly disrupted and he has spent all of his money on his legal defense, both of these things giving Tiffany Smith a twisted sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. There are no repercussions to her for lying, so she continues to do so.

Gordon Smith had physical evidence, including surveillance video tapes and time-stamped receipts from a remotely located Taco Bell, showing that her report to the police of him allegedly violating a protective order was an outright lie.

Mr. Smith filed a lawsuit against Delaware Police where he alleges that he and men in general are denied equal protection and that failing to arrest makers of false reports to the police, encourages them to continue to file malicious reports in the future. The Delaware Department of Justice has a “no drop policy” – despite strong exculpatory evidence, it continued the prosecution of Mr. Gordon Smith each time up until trial, when charges were dropped by the accuser and the Police, most likely to avoid the embarrassment of exposing false allegations on the record.

Meanwhile, the taxpayers' money and police resources are wasted on Tiffany's false allegations. It is unconscionable that women are not arrested where strong physical evidence exists that they knowingly and repeatedly file false police reports, designed to lend the target of their ire in jail, oftentimes  for a long time, to destroy their relationship with their children and to destroy them financially. 

The “Enterprising Tiffany” has made a crude attempt to frame Gordon Smith – for “Domestic Terrorism,” no less...

The Delaware law on TERRORISTIC THREATENING is damn serious: 11 Del. C.§ § 621 Terroristic threatening makes it a class G felony, or class A misdemeanor; In the applicable part, a person is guilty of terroristic threatening when he or she commits any of the following: The person threatens to commit any crime likely to result in death or in serious injury to person or property;
The following timeline demonstrates the Devilish working of Tiffany’s criminal mind trying to frame Gordon, her former husband. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to her, Gordon was in Georgia, about 800 miles away from the scene of the alleged crime, accompanied by many eyewitnesses.

July 22, 2010:  Gordon rode from Georgia with two others to the Family Preservation Festival in Washington DC; He stayed in Manassas, Virginia. The impoverished father had his trip paid by a grass-roots organization called FLAIR,  Family Law Advocates Initiating Reform.

July 23, 2010:  his ex-wife  e-mailed Gordon that someone left a note on her door saying, “Bitch I will fucking kill you and the boys.”

July 27, 2010:    Family Court Administrator informed Gordon in a phone conversation that his ex-wife had filed for an ex-parte Protection From Abuse (PFA) order

August 9, 2010: Tiffany makes the false report of Gordon being at her house at 12:45 (she called Troop 3 at 1:02 PM shortly after the alleged incident). She also went to family court and submitted a notarized, sworn affidavit.  Gordon, meanwhile, was able to produce a time-stamped receipt from Taco Bell fast food restaurant  and the Police saw Taco Bell's surveillance videotape that show he was far away from where the alleged “crime” took place.

August 10, 2010: at an PFA hearing (page 11) Tiffany Smith testifies under oath in a hearing before Commissioner Lester Blades: "on July 22 I called Trooper Mischa (ph) out to my house." "And the letter said, "Bitch, you filed a PFA" where it had an arrow," (continued on page 12) "mark. And on the back of it, it said, I will fucking kill you and my boys". 

(Note that in the document she filed the day before, it was "the boys," but her intent to frame Gordon Smith for the mysterious “death threat note on her door”  is all too obvious. Hmm... I just wonder where the hell the note came from, as Gordon Smith was either in Georgia or Washington D.C. at the time?  To even suggest that Gordon Smith, a national advocate against false allegations, walking on eggshells with his vindictive ex-wife would leave a death threat note for her would take a mental acrobatics that only a "true believer" may possess. Not only that, but he was hundreds of miles away at the time when the alleged "threat" was made in Delaware.  

So, in this Great American Beauty Pageant, the pretty Ms. Tiffany Smith emerges looking as ugly as mortal sin, which she routinely commits. Gordon Smith has been victimized by malicious prosecution and her gaming the system, including the Police, way too many times. Meanwhile, he stands accused of “terroristic threat;” he has been labeled "terrorist" for the last two years, and his trial is in September, 2012.

Call or email Deputy Attorney General of Delaware Ken Haltom. Tell him that now is the time to prosecute Tiffany Smith for perjury and making false reports to the Police:

His, boss, Delaware Attorney General Joseph Biden lll, seems to be more concerned with upholding his father's (Vice President Joe Biden) failing VAWA policies than protecting the law  – “False Protection From Abuse orders are not the issue…the vast majority of them are sought in good faith and are granted accurately.” (Family Law Commission Meeting April 17, 2008). 

But that is not what prominent public figures in Delaware think on the subject, as Gordon Smith, an advocate of fairness and balance in the DV laws, quoted in a statement to the Advisory Committee for the Office on Violence against Women on June 2, 2011 in Washington DC: 

Delaware Secretary of Family Youth and Childrens Services Vivian Rapposelli– “PFA’s are often used as pawns in divorce cases.” (Delaware State News – April 19, 2010)

Family Law Commission Chairperson Lynn Kokjohn – “False allegations of sexual abuse have become the weapon of choice for mothers seeking to alienate their childrens father in custody cases.” (Delaware State News – April 9, 2010)

Chief Family Court Judge Chandlee Kuhn – “I know there are abuses made (in the PFA system) “Unfortunately, the people who are domestic violence advocates are reluctant to give up or make any changes.” (Family Law Commission meeting May 13, 2010)

Former Family Law Commission Chairperson Senator Liane Sorenson – “One of our problems that has come up repeatedly to the Commission from the public has been the filing of false Protection from Abuse orders…The public has asked why people get away with claiming abuse when it didn’t happen.” (Family Law Commission meeting April 17, 2008)

Dr. Harriet Ainbinder – best summed it up for everyone when she said – “I want to remind everyone that previously we had the Attorney General here to talk about false allegations and he told us that essentially he would not pursue that (false allegations) because of various legal issues. (Family Law Commission meeting May 14, 2009)

If you need to consult documents relevant to this case, they are available here.

Read Part II of The Great American Beauty Pageant

Thursday, August 9, 2012

US Media Routinely Conceals Violence by Women, Deliberately Misinforming the Public (Another Video Gone Viral)

  By Eric Ross, Ph.D. Investigative Reporter, National Writers Syndicate.

What Happened: Woman Drove her SUV Through Office Building Hallways Attempting to Kill Ex-Husband

Brenda Christine White
is on trial in August of 2012,
for hitting her ex-husband
 with her Ford Explorer
after crashing through office
 building in... 2006
Her trial has hardly got under way in Salt Lake City, Utah, as the Judge on the case already declared mistrial, because the woman's friend alleged the jurors were discussing the case on the elevator. Judge William Barrett questioned the jurors under oath on Friday August 10, 2012 morning and they denied it. A new trial could be set for next year.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/08/10/4714769/mistrial-for-woman-accused-of.html#storylink=cpy

 If her attempt to murder Jon Robert White received any media attention at all,  it was only after the video went viral on the Internet,  surveillance camera showing the ex-wife driving her SUV through the the lobby of an office building and maneuvering to hit her ex husband again and again.  Had it not been for the power of the Internet, the case – if experience is the guide – would have been most likely dismissed by the media and the courts with the murderess getting a slap on the wrist, if that much.

This Utah woman ambushed and hunted down her ex husband in a parking garage, aiming to run him over with her SUV, while he was trying to run for his life as she revved up the engine in a deadly cat-and-mouse chase, not unlike Hollywood's horror movie.  He ran between two parked cars, jumped over a concrete wall, and managed to run into the "safety" of the office building. Undeterred, his ex-wife crashed the massive SUV through the glass doors into the lobby of the building and hit him, flipping the man over the hood of her Ford Explorer. He managed to get up and tried to run away again, but his mangled body was no match to the 200 hp engine of a Ford truck: she accelerated  down the hallway after him, his broken leg giving way, the massive SUV hitting him for a second time.

How the US News Media Covered It

What is the media coverage ? Here's the headline, as published by Huffingrton Post: “Brenda Christine White On Trial For Trying To Hit Ex-Husband By Driving Car Into Building. 

– So, why do they say “Trying to hit?” Excuse me, ladies of the Ministry of Propaganda and Misinformation, err Associated Press, Huffington Post, Tribune and others, but she did deliver two bone-crushing hits in a harrowing vehicular hunt to-kill. What the hell does your whoring with words accomplish, other than deliberate misinformation? Yes, she was “trying” all right, but not to "hit"    she was trying to kill. She succeeded in running him over with a heavy vehicle twice.  The man survived only, because in the mayhem of the execution by a truck    in which his former wife acted the court, the jury and the executioner    he managed to hide his broken body in a storage closet. Your presentation and coverage of the news is beyond simply white-washing the reality, it is an obvious, crude falsification, deliberately presenting one-sided fictitious story as narrated by the woman’s defense attorneys.

In fairness to Huffington Post they admit the truth  in the same article. But unlike the lies, which they spout out in large block letters of the headline and text, the truth is in tiny little letters of the fine print caption to the video, saying: "Brenda Christine White is on trial for hitting her ex-husband twice with her Ford Explorer after crashing through this office building in Salt Lake County in 2006."

The headline in the Salt Lake City Tribune is even more ridiculous: "Utah Woman on trial for driving through building to hit husband."  – So, ladies, if you want to murder your husband with a vehicle, do not drive through buildings, or you may end up being put on trial for destroying property.  Unlike what some may think, this is not journalistic stupidity. It is pure, cheap chicanery and propaganda.  Yellow journalism. Misinformation by omission of facts and commission of lies.

Earlier that day the woman clearly stated her intent to kill her ex-husband, but Americans won’t find this information anywhere in the coverage by the Associated Press.  Well, maybe  in the future, AP will pretend to be more "fair", but not before we, the alternative media insisting on journalistic honesty, shame them into doing so. Better still    U.S. readers continue to vote with their feet, as the readership of main news media dwindles down to nothing and into oblivion, while this blog alone gets over a thousands readers per day.

Do you, readers, dig now the psycho-lingual programming, not to mention factual disinformation in the feminist media’s coverage? The text of the article is by AP, hence it is blithely reprinted by all of the U.S. "news" media, in its unified effort to misinform Americans. Read, for example, the HuffingtonPost article here.
Their misinformation piece ends with the words of her attorney, "At some point in our lives we have all done or said something that we wouldn't have done if we were in total control of our body."  – And so, now we are all Brenda Christine White; she is just one of us regular fellas and broads... except if it were her husband at the wheel of the SUV, and she was running away for her dear life, he would be serving a life sentence by now, in a maximum security prison.
The woman had been taking too much Xanax and was "not in her right mind," a defense attorney said, as the trial got under way in early August 2012.  Hmm… That is interesting. According to the experts and some common knowledge about Xanax overdose, it causes extreme sedation, drowsiness and sleepiness, not an outburst of deadly violence.  See, e.g. "What are the Symptoms of a Xanax® Overdose?"  
The AP story presents only one side of the story, it is "her story," a crudely fabricated theory that it was “her body, but not her mind” behind the steering wheel of the  SUV, with which she tried to kill her former husband who dared to disobey her orders to surrender his property to her.   "Her body?" Oh, really?  

What Did  the US Media Conceal?

What did really happen? First, the case has been dragged on appeals for six years, since 2006, as defense attorneys fought to use an “extreme emotional distress defense.”  Last year, the Utah Supreme Court sent the case back to the trial court judge to reconsider the merits of such a defense, only to have Judge William Barrett to dig in his heels, again denying the request. 
Brenda Christine White, 36, is charged with attempted murder and criminal mischief. There is evidence that her "extreme emotional distress" was really extremely controlling behavior, the woman hoping her crime would be dismissed, as is the US fashion in other such cases of vehicular murder by ex wives. 

The Woman Gave Her Husband an Ultimatum and Threatened  to Kill Him Earlier That Day

As part of the divorce mediation, Brenda White was to get the couple’s home, on the condition that she obtains her own financing and takes over the mortgage payments, prosecutors said. On that day, she wanted instead to have Jon White to unconditionally transfer the deed on the property to her, which he refused to do. Jon White said his ex-wife played the Poe song "Angry Johnny" on loop as they talked. When the chorus played — "I want to kill you. I want to blow you away" — Jon White said his ex-wife  locked her hands together as if holding a gun and pretended to squeeze a shot at him.
As Jon White refused, Brenda White said, "You are a parasite and I’m going to wipe you off the face of the earth!" 

With Media Glorifying Psycho Women As Heroines, Men’s Life in the US is One Scary Kafkaesque Movie

The ex-husband testified he was so shaken up by the encounter, that he called his mother about it and took several precautions:  he left work early that day and took a different path to his car than he normally took. But as he was walking to his car through the parking garage, he heard the screeching tires and saw Brenda White’s Ford Explorer rushing at him. "She looked at me with very cold, vicious eyes," he said.

As he jumped over the cars and concrete barriers and managed to get into the safety of the building,  Brenda White crashed her Ford Explorer through both sets of the building's glass doors and struck him. Jon White testified that although badly injured, he was able to get up and run down a hallway, but Brenda White kept chasing right after him in the SUV. The woman revved-up, driving down a hallway and hit her ex-husband again in the lobby on the West side of the building.  Jon White tumbled over the SUV and was again cut by glass. When he tried to get up again to run, his broken leg gave out. He hopped down another hallway, hiding in a service closet until a maintenance man found him.

Dr. Jacqueline Campbell of Johns Hopkins University in her recent presentation at the annual meeting of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in Denver, Colorado emphasized that women who engage in violence against men are doing so "in self-defense", and she considers these women to be heroines. At the same annual meeting, Judge David Fried of the New York Domestic Violence Court expressed his belief that by and large, women are the battered and men the batterers. (From  "A Separate Reality: Notes from the 2012 NCADV Conference."And that is the crux of the issue of the Domestic Violence prosecution: it is not the facts that matter – it is the Judge’s beliefs. Incentivized by the taxpayers' largess of the multi-billion dollar federal  VAWA programs, the DV industry makes sure that only the “true believers” get to sit on the bench.