Sunday, January 31, 2021

Stop the Steal. Indeed

 ("Trump Raised $255.4 Million in 8 Weeks As He Sought to Overturn Election Result")

Stop the steal. Indeed.

Mr. Trump raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars from election day to insurrection day in defense of an indefensible idea. 

And whereto from here? As we learn that five lawyers for the accused have parted ways with a concept that sets the gold standard for ludicrous, there is every reason to suspect we have not heard the last of the Dominion plot, of a deep state so deep I doubt even Fox News could find it.

What has Mr. Trump done with all that money? And what will he do with the millions that may still be invested in the belief that this man could make this nation anything other than one of those shithole countries he so sweetly referenced in one of his Shakespearean like soliloquies?

At day's end, this charlatan will have stolen our good name, our morality, our nation's health and countless lives. He will have stolen the very essence of our democracy and nearly cannibalized us. And he will walk away found not guilty, for a second time, of charges that only scratch the surface of the damage he has done.

He will take his ego and the remaining donations unutilized for his nefarious schemes.  He will take a presidential pension together with all the other perks and the protections we afford those who exit our highest office. And he will contemplate whether he wants to put us all through this again in 2024.

All with our money. 

Stop the steal. Indeed.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Hiding in Plain Sight

 ("The Week The Trump Supporters Disappeared")

As Kevin McCarthy travels to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the hand of the Don, as Mitch McConnell dips a toe into the waters of retreat from Mr.Trump and finds an icy response, as 45 Republican Senators show weakness of constitution, reports of the disintegration of the Jonestown like control the 45th President, like the death of Mark Twain, are greatly exaggerated.

The Proud Boys still have pride.The Boogaloo Bois still need autocorrect. The fight did not leave them on January 6th. Their causes, their thinking that a show of force could topple 244 years of our  experiment in government, their influence over the course of action of the Republican party, none of that died inside the Capitol. Just understand that Marjorie Taylor Greene has a seat of importance in our midst.

Today they lick their wounds, some of those who led them into battle now lawyered up, some of their favorite sites, at least in this moment, playing hide and seek with them.

But when tomorrow dawns, when next week arrives, as certain as the rising of the sun, these forces will once more be seen and heard.

Donald Trump unleashed the furies. And though they may now be hiding, still they are in plain sight.

Friday, January 29, 2021

End The Filibuster

 ("Mitch McConnell Should Leave the History Lessons to Others")

The early years of the Obama presidency were spent in large measure in reduction of aspirations, created not by the imposing barrier of equal representation in the Senate, for the Democrats at moments numbered 60 strong, but by one word. The restructuring of our health care system diluted and Rube Goldberged, the greatest good sacrificed at the altar of the McConnell led threat of filibuster.

We have seen the Senate reduced in stature and purpose. This body neutered, made the place where governing disappears, where ideas go to wither and die.

As Joe Biden surveys the landscape before him, the devastations of Mr. Trump's doing omnipresent, he understands that he must cobble together his response not through the Senate but around it. His power to alter our course through 50 votes and his vice president's tie breaker nothing but illusion. 

It is long past time for the filibuster to go the way of the dodo bird. The image of Jimmy Stewart holding the floor in an act of nobility, of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, of the filibuster being all that stands in defense of honor and integrity, is as unmatched to reality as the thought that Mr. McConnell stands at the ready to walk hand in hand down the Capitol aisle with the Democrats.

Let the Senate go back to being an actual functioning legislative body. Let those in the majority do what they were elected to do. Let our votes translate into action. Let us stop the pretense and meet the crying needs of the moment with certainty and strength.

End the filibuster.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Unindicted Co-Conspirators

 ("Most G.O.P. Senators Vote Against Holding Impeachment Trial For Trump")

Let history judge these Republican Senators in a manner bespeaking their condition.

For they have not only turned a blind eye to the innumerable offenses of Mr. Trump, but have acted as unindicted co-conspirators. They have willingly participated in these crimes against his office, against the Constitution, against the rule of law, against the very dictates of their station. His assault was theirs as well.

The events of January 6 did not appear full grown merely from the exhortations of the President but with the complicit actions of his party who gave credence and substance to an argument as repugnant as any raised under cover of our democracy.

Even now, even after being chased from their very seats, even after their own welfare was jeopardized, they have the unmitigated chutzpah to claim it is the Democrats who are at fault for having the audacity to pursue this claim after Mr. Trump has begun his regular golf game again in Florida.

They will not judge themselves with contempt, in contempt, as Mr. Trump will undoubtedly not be found guilty of inviting an insurrection. But beyond any shadow of a doubt history will find both a man who has been a stain upon this nation, and those who did not merely excuse his most incendiary transgressions but acted as their accelerant, guilty of attempted destruction of everything our system of government intended and envisioned.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Today Was A Good Day

 Finally a day of inspiration, not desperation. Of celebration, not  desecration. Of restoration, not decimation.  Of preservation, not detonation. Of dedication, not defamation.

After we wiped off the dirt of Donald Trump's ignominious departure, we gave ourselves to those who were there to remind us that there was a better tomorrow possible. There was a seriousness of purpose that had disappeared in the miasma that hung over this nation during the dystopian era (error). There was the look of pure joy on the face of Kamala Harris, the soaring notes of Lady Gaga that touched the sky and grabbed our hearts. There was the majesty of listening to our young poet laureate whose words were at once profound and prodigious. 

And there was Joe. Telling it to us straight, the truth ringing loud after having disappeared behind a hurricane of lies seemingly forever. And though his thoughts of unity were likely met with derision in many quarters, they were the thoughts we needed if ever we are to continue our experiment in governing. We have so much to tackle. But at least we finally have someone willing to try to meet our problems with a clear mind and a heart that has not been turned to stone.

I am often brought to tears and yesterday they flowed almost from the first moment we viewed the assembled at the very place where a fortnight earlier we had exposed a malevolence we thought impossible. Democracy literally under attack, the attempted cannibalization playing out in front of our horrified and unbelieving gaze.

The chaos now replaced with order, the hatred now replaced with, if not pure love, at least the absence of hate. The long night now over and the dawning of a new day upon us.

Even as we remain sheltered against the ongoing storm, it is safe to dream once more. Even as we have uncertain moments ahead, there is reason to hope. Even as we climb out of a deep hole we can see the shining light, the promise that awaits at journey's end.

Today was a good day. It has been so long since we could say that.

Today was a good day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021


After spending the last four years in search of an exorcist, this nation now has turned its exhausted being, its bruised soul in the direction of one who fills us not so much with hope as he does a sense of calm. An antidote to the pulsing stomach ache that has seemed perpetually attached to our core.

We have been tethered to the psychiatrist's couch for so long, we have to remember what it felt like before it felt like this.Today we awake with the certain knowledge that come this afternoon all evidence of the stain upon the White House will have been removed, fumigated and disinfected. Tomorrow no longer but an illusion. For tomorrow is today.

I wish Mr. Biden well. I know the task before him is enormously hard as he must simultaneously attempt to heal us physically, emotionally and fiscally. It seems a job required  not of one man but many. The headwinds will be fierce, the path ahead strewn with landmines.The days to come testing the limits of our patience and his resolve. But, if we are lucky, and God knows we are entitled to a little good luck, we will begin ever slowly to regain our equilibrium.

For now, we are just grateful. Grateful that the moving truck has packed up the ego of Mr. Trump and is transporting it to his cave, to a place of perpetual darkness where he can do us less damage. Grateful that Mr. Rogers has moved into our Neighborhood, put on his sweater and his slippers and will soon settle in.

Grateful that the nightmare is over. And that we can finally open our eyes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Rear View Mirror

 I have railed. I have ranted. I have marched. I have written. And written. And written. And written.

And in the end, it was not what I did or what I said. Nor anything you did or said. This all came tumbling down because of one man and one man alone.

It was not because he insulted Mexicans. Or banned Muslims. Not because he abandoned the climate treaty. Not because he broke our pact with Iran. Not because he sidled up to Putin or had a love affair with Kim Jong-un. Not because of unwinnable trade wars. Not because he found John McCain lacking or insulted the memory of dead veterans. Not because he didn't want to get his hair wet in the rain or because of a perfect conversation that was anything but. Not because of children locked in cages. Not because of Robert Mueller. Not because of Congressional subpoenas. Not because of Michael Cohen or Stormy Daniels. Not because of his hate affair with Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff, or the media. Not because of his opening up pipelines or closing national parks. Not because he didn't give a damn about clean air. Not because he wanted the vote suppressed. Not because he tweeted instead of governed. Not because he listened to the counsel of Fox News. Not because he allowed Rudy Guiliani to run free. Not because he was a pathological liar. Not because he was a narcissist. Not because he demanded fealty to him and not to country. Not because he surrounded himself with those equipped only to destroy rather than protect. Not because he loved to create divisions. Not even because he was impeached. 

All of these matters were of Donald Trump's own doing. These were not unprovoked enemy attacks. He picked his fights. He chose his enemies. Those he knew he could challenge without serious repercussion. He decided his friends. Those who welcomed a democracy that did not challenge their methods. He did not have to govern his way out of crisis. Rather he merely had to create issues, amplify them and then move on. Protected by a party that could not afford to abandon him. Or adversaries too weak to wound him. Or old enemies more than willing to play pretend friends.

But that all changed when the first and only true crisis, not of his own creation, emerged. Coronavirus was not a foe that Donald Trump went looking for. It was not selected by him.. It did not have an agenda. It did not have to be careful how it approached the President. It did not have to hide its hatred, its weapon of mass destruction. Donald Trump did not manufacture this problem. Rather, Covid 19 landed in his lap.

This time, it would take actual leadership. It would not respond to threats of annihilation. It could not be dissuaded by tweets. It was not looking to compromise. It was not coming at us, at Donald Trump from a point of weakness.

And Mr. Trump had no answers. He was not prepared for actual battle. He spent the first three years of his presidency playing at the role. Now, faced with the reality of his office, he flailed.

He sent all the wrong messages. He took all the wrong steps. When he actually needed the experts to guide his hand, he bit their's instead. When the situation called for calm, for a clear head, Donald Trump instead relied upon the only voice he could call forth; shrill, grating and wholly unresponsive to the dictates of the moment.

If only Donald Trump had met the Coronavirus with even a hint of competency, he would not be trying to put together a foursome for a tee time in Florida later this week. If he did not allow this disease the space it needed to spread out, but had attempted, no matter how successfully, to limit its growth, he would be contemplating Ivanka's candidacy in 2024.

Donald Trump's Achilles heel was not his ego, his laziness, his thousand errors upon a thousand errors. It was the great misfortune in actually being called upon to govern. A task for which he has no weapons in his arsenal.

But for Covid 19, all else would have been forgiven. But for the terrible, terrible tragedy of this disease, tomorrow would have been the beginning of the second term. And maybe the beginning of the end of our democracy.

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Secret Handshake

 I am driving my wife and son a little nuts. Maybe more than a little. Ok, so that is not anything new.  A dog bites man story. But this time is worse.

I am chasing after the secret handshake. You know, the one that lets me in that door. The one I can't figure out.

I try not to be frantic, to accept reality and soldier on. But it is difficult. A rumor here. An email there. I see it happening an inch out of my reach. What am I missing?

My son is an absolute genius at chasing down leads. At finding the answers that elude others. For years I have marvelled at his capabilities. I just get out of the way and await his direction. 

But there are limits, even for him.

A nation lines up for its shot at freedom. Release from the shackles that have kept us encumbered. One small step through that door. One large step back into life.

There has been a mental and physical pandemonium these past weeks as we line up for the promise of tomorrow. In folding chairs we await salvation. With fingers doing an endless dance, searching, searching, always searching for the secret handshake. At three in the morning. When no one else is looking. Where no one else is looking.

We have spent the better part of a year being patient, being scared, being always ready to retrieve the existence we left behind. And then came the rollout. 

It has been the poster child of what the last four years have entailed. Haphazard. The only rule seeming to be there are no rules. It has been, in some ways, harder to accept than the disease itself.

Thinking the stone you left unturned was the one where the secret code was hidden.

Those meaning well only amplifying the angst. Leading me on paths ending always at a brick wall.

I have to be zen about this. There is no point in making myself, in making those I love, upset with the reality of the moment. As our soon to be golfing President so famously and so wisely instructed us in the midst of the explosion he vastly amplified with his incompetence and gross distortions, "it is what it is."

And so it is.

But you will have to excuse me now. I have to take leave of you as I haven't checked that site that someone said someone else said holds the key to the kingdom.

The secret handshake.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

My Way

 And now the end is near 

As I sit among the ruins
And so I contemplate 
A winning loss not of my doin'
For when they added up
They counted wrong of that I'm certain
But now its come to this, the final curtain

Regrets, no none for me, 
Regrets are just for losers
Oh maybe I have one 
Michael Pence the goddamn Hoosier
For he with just one word
Could have saved my big assed bacon
He said he did love me but he was fakin'

They said I said some words
And that I caused an insurrection
But I just said the truth
That I had won the damn election
And so some raised a fuss
But it was not at my direction 
So no don't dare blame me for their

And soon I'll pack it up
Well I'll leave that chore to others
I'll leave with my head high
I served you well, like you're my brothers
And if I cheated some
That's just too bad so stop you're crying
For I just tell the truth and I'm not lying

I loved my time up here
Up on the stage without a wire 
But now they say I lost
And now it's just a funeral pyre
And I will say goodbye
And head down that lonesome highway
But just remember this I did it my way

So just remember this I did it my way

Friday, January 15, 2021

The Learning Curve

 Over the past two years and four months (my current age) I first learned how to sit up, then to crawl, to stand, to walk and now to run, hop and jump. I initially mastered how to drink out of a bottle, then to hold the bottle myself and now to drink from a cup. I listened to stories being read to me, then I started looking at the books, now I can recite nearly all the words to some of these tales. I know my letters and colors. I can count to very big numbers. I sing songs. I dance. I can dress myself. I have a sense of humor. I try my best to always be polite. I have made a lot of friends. I am potty trained.

Two years and four months ago I could do nothing. I knew nothing. See how far I have come.

Mr. Trump, what have you learned over that time?

Some people were never intended for higher office.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

What If There Had Been No Attack On The Capitol?

 In a different universe, one in which Donald Trump made the exact same exhortations to those assembled before him, where his communications in the days before last Wednesday had been as lethal as they indeed were, but the crowd had not stormed the Capitol, had not caused such destruction and mayhem but had instead merely screamed and chanted, waved their confederate flags, wore their repulsive shirts and showed their colors of hate, then his demands of insurrection would have gone wholly unpunished and largely unnoted.

And that is how the end of his reign would have sounded. Once more taken seriously by us but not literally. Or literally but not seriously.

We have spent four years as bystanders to the destruction of democracy. Inch by inch, step by step, brick by brick, our house was being torn down. Sedition not an act of spontaneous combustion but one that unfolded in agonizingly slow motion. This but the culmination of all that preceded.

A crime four years in the making. In front of our eyes.

It should never have come to the events of a week ago. Never. And it would never have come to where we are in the early morning hours of January 13, 2021, calling in urgent voice for his immediate removal from our lives, had the ending at the Capitol been written by a mob that had not breached the inner sanctum, had not damaged the very heart of our  being. 

What is now transpiring  in the Halls of Congress is not, is not, predicated on the actions of Donald Trump but rather on the reactions of those who burst the dam.

But for... How could that possibly be the correct answer to the question posed?

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Mr. Trump's Very Bad Week

 ("Patriot's Belichick Declines Honor From Trump" "Trump Golf Club Loses 2022 P.G.A. Championship")

It has indeed been a very bad week for Donald Trump. First the PGA. And now Bill Belichick.

Nancy Pelosi and her crew can go to Hell. The media is worthless. Pence, Congress, even the entire Republican party, not worth a lick. But rejection by the PGA and an NFL legend. Now that hurts.

As the world burned, our President worked on his short game. Truly, Mr. Trump's connection to golf, to sports, is far more tethered than that to the American people, to leading our nation.

I would venture a guess that during 2020, Mr. Trump spent more hours worried about the condition of his courses than he did concerned as to the course of our condition.

Donald Trump was a wannabe NFL owner, never quite joining the club despite his effort through Herschel Walker and the USFL. And the 2022 PGA Championship was to be the first time a Trump layout hosted a Grand Slam event.

Donald Trump craves the spotlight, the biggest stages, the loudest crowds. It is the very air he breathes. And being turned away by Mr. Belichick, arguably the best coach in the game, as well as by the Tour, was, I know you may find this hard to fathom, possibly the low point in the last year for der Fuhrer.

For when Mr. Trump takes his hair and his derriere out of the White House in a bit more than a week, his list of playmates will have dwindled. And there is nothing worse for Donald Trump than having to play alone.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Battle Grim for the Republic

 Mine eyes have seen the story of the coming of the horde

They have spat upon our nation as they've broken down our doors

In disbelief and horror we have watched our truths ignored
Oh can we be restored

Glory, glory lies in ruin
There's no glory in what you're doin'
You and all your misconstruin'
Our truths lay at death's door

And in your eyes there's burning nothing but a hatred great
And on the streets you foment as you try to change our fate
But know that God's not looking for you at the pearly gate
His grace does not await

You have struck a fearsome blow to democracy its true
You have trampled on our colors, the red, the white and blue
You have wounded with your wrath as you had pledged to do
But yours was a failed coup

For glory will not fall to ruin
Glory will rise despite your doin'
And you have failed at misconstruin'
For we will rise once more

Glory, glory hallelujah!
Glory, glory hallelujah!.
Glory, glory hallelujah!.
For we will rise once more

Friday, January 8, 2021

Wednesday's Heroes

 Wednesday's heroes.

That is what those who trashed the heart of our nation would consider themselves. Not criminals. Not evil incarnate. Not any of the thousand terms we would apply to them.

And if there is punishment doled out, they will consider themselves as martyrs for a noble cause. They will forever suggest they entered the Capitol on a mission not to steal democracy but to save it. 

We watched, unable to comprehend what madness drove these people forward. Our minds reeling, our senses betrayed by the virtually incalculable unfolding desecration. 

The America we would imagine is mere mirage. That was the unequivocal message of those with their soiled feet on America's desk. 

In the hours to come, we will move away from the events of Wednesday, as we do with every other act that, in the moment, seems it will be the centerpiece of our universe forever. Even the dirtiest fingerprints of the presidency of Donald Trump with every disaster that tumbled forward, will fade over the course of time.

But Wednesday felt different. It seemed an invasion into the heart of our undertaking. Not a slap across democracy's face, but a gunshot to its soul.

We shall recover from this wound too. But it makes me sick to imagine those who wandered the halls on Wednesday considering themselves as victors, as having successfully tilted against windmills.

They live in perpetual darkness. Only this week they came out into the light. Wednesday's heroes.

It makes me sick.

No Thanks

 ("The Trump Administration Officials Who Resigned Over the Capitol Violence")

Please do not give (New York) time(s) and (column) space to the words of those like Betsy DeVos. Those unqualified, unctuous sycophants who have done a continuing disservice to this nation. They should not leave behind Washington's burning wreckage with even a scintilla of honor. Not even a syllable of praise should accompany the manner of departure of those like her.
Has the phrase "too little too late" ever been more aptly applied than in response to her parting shot at Mr. President (and, after four years, can we now unequivocally state never has there been a more oxymoronic coupling than "President" and "Trump")? And even in slinking away, Ms. DeVos can't help but give a last boot licking or two to Der Fuhrer.

Randi Weingarten almost got it right in her two word pithy response to news of the resignation of Education Secretary DeVos (another oxymoron of a phrase). But we do not wish Betsy "good riddance." Merely "bad."

Our grave misfortune in saying goodbye to these rats jumping off a sinking ship is that we ever had to say hello. No thanks should go the way of the likes of DeVos, Chao and Mulvaney.

When asked to write of their resignations, do not be resigned to acceding. I would rather you merely utilize an intended double entendre. 

No thanks.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Siege

 Where did we think this would end? That the crazies would all disappear back under the rock they crawled out from? That the furies Mr. Trump unleashed would die an unnatural death as the Fuhrer headed off in his private jet to a golf course of his choosing? 

And all his henchmen, scurrying into lockdown, the smell of fear permeating the hallowed halls, fueled by what they had not merely allowed, but welcomed and fostered, political predators who had groomed their flock. 

Then they emerged from hiding, as if untouched by the stench of their own actions, now suggesting heroic thoughts in the words that tumbled from their poisoned lips. We shall overcome, as if they bore no relation to the malice that had just exploded in their faces.

This is what Hell looks like, at least democracy's version of it. Words like insurrection and sedition only scratching the surface, inadequate to express our outrage, our primal screaming disgust at what Mr. Trump and his party had brought forth upon this nation.

We keep searching for the nadir, for that point at which it can grow no darker, no colder, no harsher. And we never find it, for there is no bottom evident, no evil that can't be outdone.

I am sick of having to accept the reality of what we have become, sick of having to accept these low life's into my universe. Get out of my way, go reside among your own.

You are definitely not welcome here.

Well done Mr. Trump. Well done.


Thank you, thank you, thank you Mr. Trump.

We could not have done this without you.

Make no mistake, this was a referendum on you. Your dirty fingerprints are smudged everywhere. You alienated enough Georgians with your incessant whining, your uncompromising nonsense, your unparalleled egocentricity, your unrelenting litany of lies to turn victory into defeat for your party. Two Republicans fell from relative grace between November 3, 2020  and January 5, 2021. And you, my friend, were the deus ex machina, the orchestrator of their demise.

So you have, in the final analysis, served a useful purpose. You have returned the levers of power to those you abhor (although right about now you abhor virtually everyone). You have made your party in your image and the nation has responded. Last night was the sound of two hands clapping your departure.
Today you will be formally notified that your exit is required.  But there is one forever grateful party who thanks you for your service. Sleep well knowing the Democrats congratulate you for being their driving force to victory.

Well done, sir. Extremely well done.

Monday, January 4, 2021

The 18 Minute Gap

There were 18 minutes of Mr. Trump's January 2 conversation with "Brad" and "Ryan" that were mysteriously deleted from what was released to the Washington Post and the New York Times. I have now received a tape of those critical moments. In it, Mr. Trump claims irrefutable proof of the following:

1. Area 51 is home to 11,780 illegal aliens who all voted for Mr. Biden in Georgia
2. The Watergate break in was a result of miscommunication regarding a plumbing problem
3. Barack Obama was born in Poughkeepsie
4. Hunter Biden is a secret agent working for Russia (which is kind of ok) 
5. Mr. Trump won an Emmy for The Apprentice, as 11,780 votes have now been located under the floor boards in the home of a Price Waterhouse accountant
6. The size of the inauguration crowd was deliberately miscalculated by an accountant at Price Waterhouse by 11,780,000.
7. February is 31 days long 
8. The moon is made of cheese
9. Mr. Trump's tax returns were audited and they are perfect
10. Potato is correctly spelled potatoe 
11. Mr. Trump did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss (fill in the blank)

Saturday, January 2, 2021

What Can We Ask of 2021?

 What can we ask of 2021? 

After having suffered calamitous loss in 2020, not just of life itself, but of those threads of existence that tie us to each other and give us our emotional ballast, after watching our President wallow in self absorbed mutiny against reason and compassion, after waiting for the nightmare to somehow wear itself out, the best we could manage was to survive, our spirit shaken, our ability to defend against countless blows, physical and psychological, tested to the limit of our collective being.

And so we enter a new year rushing into its arms. We are soon to be unburdened from the shackles of Mr. Trump. And the scent of possibility lies tantalizingly close as a vaccine rollout lurches forward in halting, uneven strides. We are more then ready for the healing to begin. It is not a matter of demand but of aching need.

So we ask that the new year treat us with a kindness nowhere  evident this past tortuous turn. That it not be filled with disappointed expectation, that it not be home to any further cruelties. That it look upon us not as wounded animals ready for the slaughter but as it would its own children. 

We ask of 2021 that it allow the sun to shine once more, the rivers to flow, the birds to sing. We ask that we be permitted to smile, permitted to dream, permitted to hope. We ask this not by way of compensation for the ills that have descended upon us, but as a demonstration that our universe is, in the final analysis, a benevolent one. We ask for tender mercies for that is fully the air we must have to breathe. 

We will try to be patient, for we recognize that this disease of body and soul needs time to dissipate. If you promise us a better tomorrow, we will abide what transpires until then. We are not greedy but we are desperate.

We know we ask much of 2021. But we have been through so much to get here.