Hopefully the end of it.

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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73 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    “We have to pass this bill to find out what’s in it.”

    Truer words were never spoken.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Bills can generally be amended on the floor of each chamber. These amendments can have dramatic effects on what’s in a bill, and changes may be necessary to scrape up enough votes. Additionally, the House and Senate may pass different bills, which then have to be reconciled, and you can’t know what will be in the reconciliation bill until it’s been agreed upon.

      So Pelosi’s sound bite was actually revealing a truth about the legislative process. The mockery of it revealed a lot of people not actually understanding the inevitabity of how legislation works in a system without strong party discipline.

      The response of my Republican friend who was a legislative aide was, “of course.”Report

      • Avatar Damon says:


        Quite true, but it’s one of the best political sound bites ever uttered.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “The mockery of it revealed a lot of people not actually understanding the inevitabity of how legislation works in a system without strong party discipline.”

        This is not releasing version 1.0 of a chat program. This is passing a healthcare bill that will, presumably, immediately affect how three hundred fifty million people go to the doctor. I kind of want to hear something more confident than “well we don’t exactly know what this looks like or how it will be implemented but we’re passin’ it anyway so drop your pants!”Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Like HELL. you had YEARS to read the law before it was actually implemented.
        I do NOT see you bitching about the Medicare Payment Revisions, which DID go into place pretty damn soon after the Executive Branch finished pulling them out of their ass.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        Well, really, that’s a tough-shit situation. It’s not “Congress behaving badly” that causes this, but Congressmen responding to the incentives of having to keep their district constituents happy and, by the way, raise enough money and/or ensure that interest groups don’t run negative ads against them so that their happy constituents don’t vote for the challenger anyway. Also, the structure of Congress being that all members, not just party leaders, get to participate in bill writing. That means bargaining over specifics in the bill to gin up a majority to pass it, which may very well not happen until the last moment, which maybe can’t happen until the last moment because members counting noses can realize how indispensable their vote is and hold out for more, and which happens at the last moment because as soon as you gin up that majority you damn well better get a vote on it before you lose some that.

        In a strong party discipline system, the party leaders draft the bill, then submit it and tell their members “vote for this or else,” and the “or else” is a real threat, not just cheap talk.

        It’s like wishing gravity weren’t real so it would hurt our asses when we fall. The only real response is “tough shit, that’s how the world actually works.”Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        James, so your response to my criticism is “well of course elected representatives are idiots, what do you expect?”Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        It’s a mystery how you manage to write without being able to read.Report

    • Avatar Hoosegow Flask says:

      @damon One of the best political soundbites ever fabricated. The actual quote is:

      “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it, away from the fog of controversy.”

      It has proven to be hopelessly optimistic, of course, given how much misinformation persists among the general public.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:


        I’m sorry, but that really doesn’t change the impact, maybe the meaning slightly. We have to pass the bill so YOU can find out what’s in it. So what you’re saying is she knew what’s in it. Even more damning. Thanks for the correction.Report

      • Avatar Hoosegow Flask says:

        Going from “Congess doesn’t know but is passing the bill anyway” to “the public doesn’t know because of the surrounding controversy” only represents a slight change in meaning?Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Not at all.

        We went from “we don’t know what’s in the bill and won’t until we pass it” to “Congress knows what’s in the bill and you idiots can’t.” Ofc, bonus points for the current legal challenge about state/federal exchanges. Pelosi’s comments support that fact that Congress indeed knew what was in the law and wrote it that way intentionally.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        No. No…It was the bill is 20000 pages long and had never been seen by any human ever. Get the worthless criticisms right.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        the bill is 20000 pages long and had never been seen by any human ever

        Well, it’s pretty certain that no human had ever read the whole thing. But that in itself is merely an observation, and not very meaningful as a criticism.Report

  2. Avatar James Pearce says:

    One wonders if Hobby Lobby will find this entirely satisfactory. If so, it’s enough to question why they felt so strongly about it.Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine says:

      This accommodation is already working through the court system by the religious institutions that were offered it in the first place.

      There are some who think that the court signaled that this accommodation will suffice; we shall see. But, to answer your question, no, it is not seen as satisfactory by the groups it is meant to accommodate.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        But if their objection was, not to birth control per se, but to paying for it, and they’re not paying for it …Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        What exactly do they have to be unsatisfied about, Marchmaine?Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar says:

        My understanding is that the objection has morphed from “paying for it” to “any action that facilitates” the employee acquiring contraception. Does this shifting of the goalposts actually surprise anyone? By this new standard doesn’t paying taxes or even cutting a paycheck qualify as “facilitating” if the contraceptives are paid for by the government or even out of pocket?

        Is there really any doubt about the endgame here?Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        @mike-schilling True, Hobby Lobby did not object to birth control, per se. The Little Sisters of the Poor (and others) object to artificial contraception in toto.

        @james-hanley and @road-scholar well, yes, you’ve answered your own question; paying for those services via your own funds and/or with a program established with tax dollars for free-birth-control-for-all (Obama-Pill? … I kid, I kid), does not require formal cooperation by the institution. The former is a matter of individual conscience, the latter a matter subject to political collective action. No goalposts were moved… many of these lawsuits pre-date the Hobby Lobby ruling.

        It all hinges on the kludge of “free.” Supporters want to see “free” as a sort of government subsidy, objectors see “free” as a fiction, especially when self-insured where they basically have to designate themselves (technically, the plan administrator) as the entity providing the free objectionable services (more than just pills… also including voluntary self sterilization). Sometimes the plan administrator, like the Christian Brothers also objects and is party to the lawsuit. So, it isn’t simple a matter of making secular behemoths like Aetna or Blue Cross absorb costs.

        There is a lesser discussed issue that the administration still continues to narrowly define the exempted class *not* to include entities like the Little Sisters of the Poor or intentional entities like explicitly Catholic schools, or ancillary organizations of a Catholic diocese. The Church itself (narrowly defined) is exempt; the secondary entities are “accommodated.” The goal posts being moved are here. From this perspective, Hobby Lobby was an unhelpful distraction; and, possibly a ruling that will cloud the arguments from these non-profits.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        It seems that there is a version of ad-hominem going on here, and it is being made on the following lines:

        Conservatives ultimately aim at controlling women’s reproductive choices in some unsavoury way. Therefore, all claims they make are meritless.

        The conclusion does not follow. The mere fact that such conservatives aim at some unsavoury end point does not mean that all of their claims are meritless. Consider the following exaggerated analogy

        Suppose the suffragettes would not have been satisfied until women were enfranchised and men disenfranchised. While this (counterfactual) end game would have been unjust, it does not follow that their own claim for enfranchisement was meritless. The only meritless claims would have been going beyond enfranchisement of women to disenfranchisement of men.

        Similarly, it may very well be that they are not entitled by justice to what they ultimately seek. But it does not follow that they were not entitled by justice to what they have been thus far granted by the courts.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce says:


        “Conservatives ultimately aim at controlling women’s reproductive choices in some unsavoury way. Therefore, all claims they make are meritless.”

        I’m not sure where you got that, but I don’t think that’s what’s being argued.

        Let me rephrase my question: I’m granting that these folks genuinely believe that their God strongly disapproves of contraception and/or abortifacients to the point where it’s been declared a sin, something serious enough to warrant sanction up to and including eternal damnation.

        Do they really think that their God would find this solution satisfactory? Do they think that Jesus is also going to give them a contraception exception too?

        Jesus: I told you that stuff was a sin.
        Hobby Lobby: But, Lord, at least we’re not paying for it.
        Jesus: No shit. I’m paying for it. What part of “Don’t do that” do you not understand? Don’t do that.

        Now, granted, I’m not a Christian, don’t believe any of this stuff, but if I did….you’d have to pay a higher price to buy me off.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        James Pearce,

        Jesus said “Don’t you do that.” He didn’t say “Don’t let anyone else do that.”

        Some Christians do read it that way, too.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce says:

        “Jesus said “Don’t you do that.” He didn’t say “Don’t let anyone else do that.””

        Well, to be fair, that’s not the fundamentalist view, and it’s most certainly not the mode that right-wing Christianity is operating in.

        The Christians who do follow that view are the ones least likely to file lawsuits demanding religious exceptions.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        As long as you’re distinguishing between Christians, it’s all good.Report

  3. Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

    Rage. I’m going to guess rage.Report

  4. Avatar Brian Murphy says:

    Religious fanatics can’t be satisfied. If they could be, they wouldn’t be religious fanatics.Report

    • So if they are in this case satisfied, then that will suffice to show they’re not fanatics, right?Report

      • Avatar Brian Murphy says:

        1.If a, then b.
        2. Not a.
        Therefore, not b.


      • My knowledge of formal and symbolic logic is limited to one introductory class I took 22 years ago, but I imagine in that scenario, b can still exist without a.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        The contrapositive is
        1) if a, then b
        2) not b
        Therefore not aReport

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        The original statement was:

        (I) If they’re fanatics, then they can’t be satisfied.

        Gabriel modified it to:

        (II) If they can be satisfied, then they’re not fanatics.

        I and II are logically equivalent statements: both are false if and only if “they” are both fanatics and satisfied. As Kolohe mentioned, the technical term for the relationship between I and II is that they are contrapositives.Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        My head hurts

        You and me both.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        We have years of research showing that modus tollens is difficult for our puny human brains, but it’s particularly difficult if you change the lettering of the terms from the major to the minor premise, as Brian did. I imagine if he’d thought it through a bit, he’d have seen his error.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        It was much simpler before all those government regulationsReport

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


        “If a then b” and “if not a then not b” are not logically equivalent.

        For example: “if a polygon is a rectangle then it has 4 sides” is a true statement. However: “if a polygon isn’t a rectangle then it doesn’t have 4 sides” is a false statement. This is because parallelograms have 4 sides, but aren’t rectangles.Report

  5. Avatar zic says:

    I am unclear on how this is a solution to the conundrum. HL self insures, meaning they are the insurance company; they are not purchasing the insurance from a 3rd party provider. For smaller non-profits and closely-held businesses who do purchase group policies from insurers such as Aetna, something like this might work. But I fail to see how it addresses the HL objection.

    I also fail to see how it solves my concerns that this allows employers to abscond with employees moral decisions.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      this allows employers to abscond with employees moral decisions.

      The first casualty of political war is truth.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        You asked me to leave you alone. I have.

        Please return the courtesy.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Sure, there’s no gain in talking to someone who lies about you, anyway.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I didn’t lie, I was referring to this:

        Rights, we repeat, are human artifices. Justice and morality are at best provisional constructions that attempt to summarize the wisdom gained from human experience and insight. But the results of behavioral codes are very real and final without appeal; we must have, then, the right to judge laws and morals by their results and correlatively the right to reject principles that in practice result–however noble their intent–in human misery. No authority for any ethic exists beyond self-determination or individual sovereignty; the creation of prescriptions and proscriptions is within the capacity of each person as a free moral agent. To establish any moral authority antecedent to human conscience–be it the law of identity, God, or Marx–is to lay the foundation for despotism. To sacrifice existing persons for the sake of future generations, whether in slave labor camps for the utopian nightmares of Marxists or fascists, or in unwanted pregnancies, compulsory childbearing, and furtive coat hanger abortions for the edification of fetus-worshippers, is to establish hell on earth.

        Source: http://www.alf.org/abortion.php

        There are libertarian feminists, you know.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        I’m referencing your prior, eh, let’s call them fanciful misrepresentations of my comments on the HL issue.

        But courtesy may be granted even where it has not been earned.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      How does self-insuring work in this day and age? At my first grown-up job back in the 1970s, the giant corp I worked for was both self-insuring and self-administering — the (generous) plan was so simple-minded that administration didn’t cost much.

      My perception is that today the standard situation is that the insurance is still a plan defined by the administrator, just that covered medical expenses are charged to the employer rather than the administrator’s internal reserves. And there’s a negotiated fee charged to the employer, of course, to cover the administrative costs. Hypothetically, the administrator will now be required to dip into its own internal reserves to pay for the non-covered contraceptive expenses. Which is what, to my understanding, they’re required to do in the non-profit case. In reality, both the non-profit and now the limited for-profit cases, self-insured or not, are accounting smoke and mirrors — the cost of those payments are included in the form of higher premiums/fees overall for everybody, to keep the internal reserve whole.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        This probably depends on the rules within the state and if the company administers the plan or hires a 3rd party to administer the plan.

        The companies that I’m familiar with locally administered the plan themselves.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        As I understand the law, a company that self-insures is subject to federal regulation, not state. I guess I’m surprised, given the sheer mass of the relevant federal regulations these days — at least HIPAA, ERISA, COBRA, ADA, and the PPACA — that anyone self-administers.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Insurance is always regulated by state. That’s part of the whole federal anti-trust exclusion it’s got.

        I think GE has a health insurance division. Both hospital chains in my area self insure (one because it grew a health insurance, and the other because it got bought out by panicky health insurance).Report

  6. Avatar James Hanley says:

    So if the administration has said the rule will allow women to get birth control directly from their insurer, and HL is self-insured, then if HL objects to this rule, I don’t see how it has moved the goalposts, as some are claiming, as the administration is still trying to make it cover the cost of these medicines.

    But if the administration provided a rule where HL did not have to cover the cost–and general business tax payments don’t count as covering the cost–then HL would have no complaint.Report

  7. Avatar Will Truman says:

    Doesn’t really matter whether Hobby Lobby is happy or not. It only matters whether they can convince five justices that their unhappiness is on account of something legally impermissible.Report

  8. Avatar James Hanley says:

    I keep going back to this statement from a First Amendment Center commentary on the HL case.

    I would argue that the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores is neither the all-out assault on women’s rights alleged by some on the left – nor the major expansion of religious freedom trumpeted by many on the right.


    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      The reasoning there is that it’s not an assault on women’s rights only because they’ll get contraception coverage via the workaround. Otherwise, the religious objection would be trumped by the government’s “compelling interests such as health and safety”. In other words, if the workaround can’t be implemented for closely held companies like HL, that argument fails.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Curiously, he confidently states that the Obama administration will develop a workaround. As it has. And if this one doesn’t work, because of the self-insurance problem, the administration will develop another one.

        Really, that’s the trivially easy part of all this. So, no, not really an all-out assault on women’s rights. That kind of line doesn’t generate clicks or whip the masses into a frenzy of political indignation, though, so it’s hardly worth mentioning.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Lawyers for the Becket Fund, which brought the suit on behalf of the Greens (after asking them to pursue it, to be clear) do not seem to think it a workable solution, calling it an
        accounting gimmick.

        Opponents of the provision blasted the proposal as an accounting gimmick that fails to respect the court’s finding.

        “It is simply another clerical layer to an already existing accounting gimmick that does nothing to protect religious freedom because the employer still remains the legal gateway by which these drugs and services will be provided to their employees,” said Arina Grossu, director for the Center for Human Dignity at the conservative Family Research Council.

        The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has represented employers in legal challenges to the provision, described the action as evidence that opponents of the provision were winning the fight.

        “This is latest step in the administration’s long retreat on the HHS Mandate,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund. “It is the eighth time in three years the government has retreated from its original, hard-line stance that only ‘houses of worship’ that hire and serve fellow believers deserve religious freedom.”

        And of course Catholic groups take exception to any workaround because it still provides for medical coverage they find immoral.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Trivially easy other than having to keep defending them in court, of course. But, what the hell, eventually they’ll find Tony Kennedy in a good mood.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce says:


        “So, no, not really an all-out assault on women’s rights.”

        The “all-out assault on women’s rights” is marketing, that’s true, but its context is bigger than Hobby Lobby. It contains “binders full of women” and Todd Akin and every other dumb thing an alpha-Republican has said to signal his opposition to the feminist left.

        “Lawyers for the Becket Fund, which brought the suit on behalf of the Greens (after asking them to pursue it, to be clear) do not seem to think it a workable solution, calling it an
        accounting gimmick.”

        I guess I can wonder less about whether they’ll find the workaround satisfactory. I suspected they wouldn’t.

        Contrary to what we’ve heard about this topic, these guys don’t want to play the role of Pontius Pilate, washing their hands of the mess and letting it go on. They want to play the role of Evangelical Christians. To them, it’s not about who pays.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        “binders full of women”

        And Obama thinks there are 57 states.

        Now that we’ve got the introductory jokes out of the way…Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Trivially easy other than having to keep defending them in court, of course.

        The smarter the workaround, the more trivially easy defending it in court will be, eh?

        And I’m confident that you’re not one of those folks who actually object to people testing their claims in the courts. Not like those conservatives whining about activist courts overriding the people’s will on same-sex marriage, right?Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


        I’m not sure why “binders full of women” was so bad.


        57 states

        Sean Hannity repeating this ad naseum makes him unlistenable.

        Also, Sarah Palin never said she could see Russia from her house.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        That could almost be read as suggesting Hannity was listenable before that.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        “Smart” in this case means “designed to please Tony Kennedy”, because the other minds are already more or less made up.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


        That could almost be read as suggesting Hannity was listenable before that.

        LOL I apologize for giving that implication.

        I will give Rush credit, as long as you don’t listen too long or too often, he is entertaining. Hannity is just a repetitive bore.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        the other minds are already more or less made up.

        Why should they be any different than 90% of the folks here, @mike-schilling?Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        I’m also not clear on what was problematic about “binders full of women”. Continually bringing it up strikes me as far more of a talking point than anything meaningful, so the comparison to Obama’s “57 states” is apt. Neither are of any significance.

        It’s not like there’s a shortage of actually offensive things that prominent Republicans have said about women, if one is looking for examples.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        I’m also not clear on what was problematic about “binders full of women”.

        When looked at in the context of the answer that was given, was that it showed a certain tone deafness to women’s issues regarding their treatment in the work force and how Romney would approach women’s issues in general.

        Emma Keller at the Guardian had a good take on the problems with the statement:

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        I think that’s a pretty bad essay. She complains about him saying that “all the candidates. [his staff brought him] seemed to be men,” by pointing out that they either were all men or weren’t. So she starts by attacking what is probably a manner of speech.

        Then she responds to his claim that he told his staff “there must be qualified women” by calling it patronizng. That is, he was telling his staff that they had to work harder and find the qualified female candidates that he assumed must exist that they had overlooked. OK, it would be better if he’d said “are” instead of “must,” but again she’s criticizing manner of speech. And since none of us actually recite conversations verbatim years later, we don’t know what exact words he actually used. And if he used those exact words, we don’t know his tone of voice when talking to his staff–I know a great many people who would be likely to say that in a chiding softly sarcastic tone, signaling not uncertainty about the existence of qualified women, but error on the part of the staff.

        As for “binders full,” it surely would have been better if he’d said “lots of resumes” or “a long list of qualified women candidates,” or some such, but that’s what he clearly meant.

        Tone deaf? Sure, Mr. Stiff speaks stiffly, news at eleven. But mostly it was an opportunity for those looking for any possible point of attack.

        Now, substantively, Was it evidence that neither he nor those he surrounded himself with had ever bothered to network with accomplished women? I think that’s more than fair. But it also shows a guy who’s at least aware enough to know that while that may work in a private equity firm, it won’t fly well politically.

        I’m not saying that’s sufficient to make a nom-conservative woman, or man concerned with women’s issues, vote for him, or that they should find his efforts satisfactory.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        Now, substantively, Was it evidence that neither he nor those he surrounded himself with had ever bothered to network with accomplished women? I think that’s more than fair. But it also shows a guy who’s at least aware enough to know that while that may work in a private equity firm, it won’t fly well politically.

        I think part of her critique comes from the fact that the binders full of women weren’t even the result of his study. Part of what makes Romney’s story so terrible in that context was that it wasn’t even true, he was making this shit up and yet decided his completely tone deaf approach was a great way to address the concerns that were shown to him.

        I think Keller is right that on the whole it reinforced a narrative and that it came off as unnecessarily patronizing. The fact that he felt the need to phrase things the way he did for a debate answer (which was undoubtedly prepared ahead of time and rehearsed) had a way of confirming the worst fears of people who didn’t trust him anyway.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        James H,
        What do you get after you take a young Pratt and give him a head-on carcrash?
        … Mitt Romney.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Because it’s their job to be more conscientious than that.

        I know, foolish idealism.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        They’ve been studying the law far more closely than you or I or the two of us put together for a great number of years. They have their pretty-well-set approaches to legal interpretation. Some cases come to them and they’re fairly clear cut absent some unexpected information, even though the clear cutness cuts in different directions for different justices. It’s not really that surprising, nor that problematic.

        Think of it this way. As much as you’d like the conservative justices to be a lot more open to the possibility that a closely-held corporation can’t have religious freedom rights, do you really want liberal justices to be a lot more open to the possibility that a closely held corporation can have religious freedom rights?

        Do you want the liberal justices to be much more open to changing their views on the Citizens United case?

        It’s a rare bird that wants all the justices to be more open-minded about how they understand the law. Most of us just want those other justices to be more open-minded. And at that point it’s not a principled position at all, no matter that it seemed so on first pass.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce says:

        “Continually bringing it up strikes me as far more of a talking point than anything meaningful, so the comparison to Obama’s “57 states” is apt. Neither are of any significance.”

        No, Katherine, the “57 States” thing was James Hanley’s Pee Wee Herman impression. “I know you are, but what am I.”

        He didn’t address my point at all. I’m used to that by now.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

      The decision isn’t an all-out assault on women’s rights, but one might (and I think pretty reasonably) allege that the motivations of the parties fighting the contraceptive rule are to curtail women’s rights and their access to contraceptive care.

      James, as a friend, I would note that your tone on this subject hasn’t exactly been a sterling example of your powers of reasoning.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Tone and reasoning are different matters, aren’t they?

        one might (and I think pretty reasonably) allege that the motivations of the parties fighting the contraceptive rule are to curtail women’s rights and their access to contraceptive care.

        Would one allege that about all of them, or just some of them? One of those things I would agree with, while the other I would critique as political demonization, which largely is what I have been challenging all along.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        I think your tone results from your reasoning on the matter. That is, you seem to be reasoning that political demonization is a worse evil than taking a political stance against women having access to contraception. Maybe that’s true or maybe it isn’t, without getting into the merits of the claim, it seems to me that by making that reasoning, you’re then moving from that into how it impacts your tone.Report