Chief Justice John Roberts at his confirmation hearings:
“Judges are like umpires. Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them….
I will remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.”
* * *
“Well, Jock, here we finally are on Opening Day of the long-delayed MLB season.”
“Yes, Bill, the players have been really chomping at the bit to finally get their chance to pitch or bat.”
“We’re about to get going, and behind the plate, calling balls and strikes, we have the umpiring crew chief, John Roberts.
“On the mound is Democratic ace Barack Obama. He’s in the windup, he’s letting loose with his Obamacare Special and it’s just a bit outside … a bit of movie humor there… all the way back to the screen for ball … Wait! Roberts called it a strike!”
“Are you kidding me? That ball was a mile off the plate!”
“The batter is giving Roberts the business, and the Chief's mask is off now – he’s gesturing, it appears he’s saying that he’s redefined the other batter’s box as part of the strike zone. I guess to make it ‘taxing’ for the hitter.”
“The dugout is going crazy, and who can blame them? Redefining the strike zone to rescue the pitcher? I guess that’s one way of ‘applying the rules.’”
“Well, we’re in the bottom of the inning now, and Team Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has taken the hill. Here’s his first offering. It’s a down-the-heart-of-the-plate Census-citizenship-question fastball for strike … Oh my! Roberts says it’s a ball!”
“Now the catcher and Ross are asking Roberts where the pitch is.”
“Well, it appears now that the crew chief is maintaining that the ball was in the heart of the zone and a legal strike but that he didn’t think Ross displayed the right attitude in offering that particular pitch.”
“What kind of an explanation is that?”
“None we’ve ever heard before. Whoa, talk about attitude, he’s thrown Ross out of the game. Well, now the Attorney General is ascending the mound. He’s taken his warmup pitches and lets it fly… it’s a straight change defense of the meaning of ‘sex’ in the 1965 Civil Rights Act. The batter takes a YUGE cut and misses for strike… Hold on, Roberts points to ump Neil Gorsuch at first, and Gorsuch says no swing!”
“Bill, the entire dugout is on its feet screaming. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
“We’re getting an explanation from the league office in Washington. Gorsuch insists, with Roberts’ concurrence, that the rule-makers weren’t likely thinking about many of the views of ‘swing’ that have become apparent over the years. But the limits of their imagination supply no reason to ignore the game’s demands.”
“What does that even mean?”
“I guess that means they’re calling balls and strikes, but imagining new meanings as we go.”
“Bill, how can anybody play ball when the meaning of the rules changes with every play?”
“Hard to say, Jock, that’s for sure. OK, things have calmed down enough to restart, and now we have the Secretary of Homeland Security on the mound. It’s his Rescind-DACA curve … and oh, my, the batter steps away from the dish without asking for time as it drops right across the plate at the belt. This time I’m waiting for the call … and sure enough, Roberts says no play.”
“Now Trump is out of the dugout screeching at Roberts, from a proper social distance, of course. I’m dying to hear this one.”
“Here’s the league’s explanation. Roberts ruled that although the Democratic batter broke the rules by not asking for time before stepping out of the box, and although the Secretary delivered a legal pitch well within the strike zone, he didn’t follow the rules and request ‘time-in’ before the pitch and further relied on the rule that a pitch over the plate is a strike without sufficiently explaining before he delivered it his basis for believing it was a strike. So that therefore his insistence that the pitch is a strike is a ‘post-hoc rationalization.’”
“Wait. Was it a strike or wasn’t it?”
“Well, the Secretary is out of the game as well, and we have another reliever, the Health Secretary from the State of Louisiana. Here’s his pitch to uphold safety requirements on abortion clinics and it’s right on the corner at the knees, beautiful control. Sure enough, Roberts says it’s outside.”
“Wait a minute. Roberts saw that exact same pitch in his last game and called it a strike. What’s going on here?”
“Well, Roberts is saying that it is indeed a strike and he would have said so again, but other colleagues on the crew have in the past called it a ball and therefore, to uphold the integrity of the game and umpiring, he needed to call it a ball this time, too.”
“I have to say, Bill, that if that’s ‘calling balls and strikes,’ Abner Doubleday is rolling over in his grave.”
“Not to mention Jimmy Madison and Alex Hamilton, Jock.”
(C)M Brings You Exclusive Secret Recordings of Official, Highly Logical South Florida Beach-Closing Deliberations
In yet another exclusive, (C)M has obtained secret recordings of deliberations among South Florida officials regarding their, as usual, restrained and highly reasoned decisions to close their beaches on July 4 in response to the sudden surge of COVID cases. As a service to keep the public informed and instill ever greater confidence in the wisdom and common sense of our elected leaders, we are releasing excerpts of the discussions:
Identified Official 1: “Are we all here? OK, let’s review the situation. Coronavirus case counts are ‘exploding’ here across South Florida. The headlines are screaming the latest numbers, alerts are flashing them, and the evening news is leading with it and zeroing in on us as a ‘hot spot.’”
Broward Official: “We obviously need to do something really decisive and oppressive to capitalize on the opportunity these headlines present … I mean, address this serious public-health crisis.”
Unidentified Official 2: “Uh, guys? Does it mean anything that death counts are continuing to trend downward, the age rate of positive tests is plummeting to the early 30s, and that our share of the state’s positive cases are falling? That hospital officials across the state and our regions are assuring us that we’ve flattened the curve, that they have plenty of capacity and PPE, and that the younger people are presenting less serious cases anyway?
“Gracious – the senior physician treating young people at a hospital said at a press conference with Governor DeSantis that most 20 and 30-year-olds ‘don’t actually have very bad symptoms – it’s just like the common cold’ – and they mostly need to rest at home. He even thinks what is spreading so fast may be a less aggressive strain of COVID. Of course, the media quoted his one pre-written scare line instead of that unguarded, off-the-cuff honest assessment…”
Palm Beach Official: “Do you hear yourself? People are dying on the streets!”
Official 2: “Oh. Like the two people who died in your county the other day? What street were they on again?”
Broward Official: “No, we have to do something. We have to feed… I mean, address the panic.”
Official 1: “Well, let’s use what we know to fashion our usual well thought-out responses. We know that much of the transmission happens with people indoors, at home, or in close quarters inside with a lot of people. That being outside and spaced out reduces the spread.”
Miami-Dade Official: “That tells me that we absolutely have to close the beaches in Miami on July 4 weekend. We can’t have people out there several feet from each other in the fresh air or in the water – that’s gotta be spreading it!”
Broward Official: “Broward too. But we have to keep the restaurants along the beaches open!”
Official 1: “And open a lane along the A1A to accommodate foot traffic.”
Palm Beach Official: “Well, if you guys are shutting things down, to allow our beaches in Palm Beach County open during that time period would be highly irresponsible.”
Official 2 “OK… let me get this straight. Knowing that the virus is affecting mostly younger, healthier people, that it might be a less virulent strain, and that it’s much, much more likely that people are going to contract the virus stuck inside with each other than outside in the open, we’re going to close down the beach and encourage them to crowd into their homes instead.”
“Except we’re going to allow them to pack in on top of each other on the paths and roadway right next to the beach, just not a few feet away on the beach and in the water where we can encourage them to spread out. And in restaurants where, despite social distancing, they will be removing their masks to eat and drink and in many cases sharing the same air-conditioning and ventilation systems. That’s what you’re calling ‘responsible?’”
Other voices: “Yep!” “Yeah!” “Absolutely.” “You got it.”
Official 2: “Well. Who could argue with any of that? (Under his breath) And they call Trump a ‘(expletive deleted) moron.”
Official 1: “What was that?”
Official 2: “Oh… I was just saying to myself that your thinking couldn’t be any (expletive deleted) more on.”
The use of a single term familiar to the public health community could explain why we should all calm the [expletive deleted] down.
"'Disease Burden' is the New 'Flatten the Curve'"
Photo Credit: Jernej Furman, CC BY 2.0
From the Palm Beach Post: “A package of masks — two cloth and two disposable — will be sent to each residence in the county starting in July [NOTE: per the Sun-Sentinel, at a total cost of $2.5 million], paid for with federal dollars …. The public address came one day after Palm Beach County’s mandatory mask order went into effect…. But if someone insists they’re exempted, say for medical or religious reasons, others will have to take their word for it.”
Top Ten Uses for 2,640,000 Masks:
10. Refashion into 1,320,000 DD-sized brassieres
9. 2,640,000 slingshots for police to use in self-defense against protestors
8. 2,640,000 hanging fruit baskets
7. 1,320,000 pairs of knees or elbow pads
6. Elements of 660,000 or so mobiles for school art projects
5. 2,640,000 cleaning rags
4. 1,320,000 cloth quilt patches
3. 1,320,000 bandages
2. Refashion into 2,640,000 disposable and reusable yarmulkes
1. Remove the (at least) 2,640,000 strings and fashion them into restraints for the seven Palm Beach Commissioners before they can do anything equally galactically foolish and expensive with "free" federal taxpayer dollars.
As a service to “unWoke” individuals perusing the news, (C)M presents a glossary of key terms now front and center in the national conversation:
Abolitionist: See “Racist”
Antifa: Non-violent Peaceful Protestors (see “Violence,” “Peaceful Protestors”)
Autonomous Zone: “Experiment in life without the police – part street festival, part commune,” characterized by beatings, murder, rapes, riots, shakedowns, shootings and obstruction of law enforcement (see “Summer of Love”)
Biden, Joseph: Non-Racist author of crime bill leading to systematic overcriminalization of People of Color and long-time supporter of Racist Southern Democrats
Black Lives Matter: 1. Slogan now representing the reigning American governing philosophy for all non-Racists (see definition)
2. Organization that is the sole authority on what constitutes Systemic Racism (see definition) and current de facto policy-making body for the Democratic Party (see definition)
Black-on-Black Crime: White Supremacist/Racist (see definitions) construction to explain away Systemic Racism (see definition)
Brooks, Rayshard: Heroic, married family man who was to meet his “girlfriend” at a Wendy’s (which she later torched) when he was murdered by Systematic Racists (see Police) despite presenting himself as “calm,” “cordial,” and “cooperative” as he resisted arrest for DUI, gave one Systemic Racist a concussion and aimed a potentially lethal weapon at another
Columbus, Christopher: Genocidal racist murderer
Democratic Party: Neo-Socialist subsidiary of Black Lives Matter (see definition)
Excessive Force: Any effort by Systemic Racists (see Police) to subdue an African-American suspect
Family Dissolution: White Supremacist/Racist (see definitions) construction to defend Systemic Racism (see definition)
Felony Murder: Self-defense by a Systemic Racist (see Police) against a “calm,” “cordial” and “cooperative” suspect of color (see “Brooks, Rayshard”)
Floyd, George: Based on existing video evidence, an actual victim of excessive force by Systemic Racists (see Police) whose tragic death has become an all-purpose justification for Peaceful Protests (see definition) and the empowerment of Black Lives Matter (see definition)
Hate Speech: Privileged White People’s (see “Racist”) thoughts expressed on any subject regarding race
Hate Crime: Any real or imagined crime by whites against blacks (see “Noose”)
Heritage: White Supremacist/Racist (see definitions) construction to defend Systemic Racism (see definition)
Jefferson, Thomas: Racist slaveholder
Lincoln, Abraham: Issuer of the Emancipation Proclamation whose “uncomfortable” memorials “embody white supremacy and the disempowerment of Black People”
Noose: Any suspended or knotted rope; White Supremacist symbol of Systemic Racism (see definitions)
“Not Black”: Non-supporter of Biden, Joseph
Peaceful Protests: Riots, wanton destruction of property, including public property, looting and establishment of Autonomous Zones (see definition)
Planned Parenthood: Non-Racist organization founded by lifelong eugenicist providing "essential women’s health services" that primarily consist of targeting black women and collecting taxpayer funds to abort their babies (see Black Lives Matter)
Police: Systemic Racist institution protecting The System (see definition), characterized by systematic use of Excessive Force (see definition) and Profiling (see definition) of People of Color
Profiling: Policing (see “Police”)
Public Health Crisis: Systemic Racism – Peaceful Protests (see definition) of which trump precautions against mere pandemics
Racist: 1. Privileged White People (see definition), especially those who deny being Racist, but including Abolitionists (see definition) and champions of better conditions for African-Americans (see Lincoln, Abraham and Roosevelt, Teddy)
2. any supporter of Trump, Donald (see definition)
Republicans: Party, per the Speaker of the House, now "trying to get away with ... the murder of George Floyd" (see definition)
Roosevelt, Theodore: Bold champion of improved race relations and conditions for African-Americans whose memorial “explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior”
Seward, William: Abolitionist (see definition) whose statue is now a “symbol of white, patriarchal authority and the disenfranchisement of Alaska Natives”
“Summer of Love”: Beatings, murder, rapes, riots, shakedowns, shootings and obstruction of police business (see Autonomous Zone)
Systemic Racism: Explanation for any challenges facing People of Color, regardless of the fact of 70%+ out-of-wedlock births (see "Family Dissolution"); disproportionate participation in crime, especially Black-on-Black Crime (see definition) and Democratic Party success at entrapment in dependency and failed schools: and despite 50 years of diversity programs and trillions in privileged taxpayer spending on anti-poverty programs
The System: Western civilization, representative democracy, private property/enterprise, the prevailing social order, and the legal code and institutions that preserve them, all of which must be “burned down and replaced” to achieve Black Lives Matter (see definition) demands
Trump, Donald: White Supremacist (see definition) posing "a mortal threat to people of color all across this country” who must be immediately removed from office, despite previously accomplishing far-reaching criminal justice reform and the lowest unemployment rate for African-Americans ever recorded
Vice President of the United States: Executive Branch position hereafter open only to Women of Color
Washington, George: Racist slaveholder
White Male: Privileged (see definition) rapist
White People: See Racists
White Privilege: Inherent advantage of being born white, regardless of challenges to be overcome including poverty, family dysfunction, disabilities, decades of reverse discrimination, outsourced jobs, and overtaxation to pay for anti-poverty programs and Obamacare
White Supremacist: Conservative White Person (see definition)
Today’s network news broadcast was suddenly interrupted when, lo and behold, the ghost of Howard Beale appeared the studio and started shouting:
“I don't have to tell you that things are bad, because the media says things are bad. Every hour now, of every day.
“It's a ‘depression.’
“Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job and the dollar buys a nickel's worth while big banks and big business are getting rich.
“Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter, punks are running wild in the streets, and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it, because the cops who wanted to protect you – not just the bad ones you always knew were there – are now getting fired and defunded and put on trial for murder.
“The media tells you that because of Trump, the air's unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit and watch our TVs while some local newscaster tells us today we had 4000 new cases of coronavirus because Trump is a racist and incompetent and sold out to the Russians – and you’re not wearing your mask.
“They’re showing you violent crimes, and statues being torn down, because you have white privilege, because, in turn, of something Christopher Columbus or the settlers at Jamestown or Thomas Jefferson or George Washington or U.S. Grant and now, by gawd, Teddy Roosevelt or even some abolitionist did – or didn’t do, what do they care? – 500 or 400 or 220 or 160 or even 110 years ago, as if you had something to do with it.
“We all know things are bad, because the media tells us and shows us. Worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything's going crazy.
“So we don't go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we live in gets smaller, and all we ask is please, at least leave us alone in our own living rooms, in our businesses, in our playgrounds, in our streets, in our churches, on the beach.
“Let me have my white-privileged job and my house and my Facebook and my Twitter and my Instagram and my Amazon and my 75-inch TV. Don’t ban me or cancel me, or lock up or burn down my business or my boss’s business, don’t break my church’s stained-glass windows because they have a white Jesus, don’t close my kids’ school, and I won't say anything.
“In fact, I’ll do better than that. I’ll agree that my life doesn’t matter as much as other people’s, that I don’t deserve what I have, that you should raise my taxes and pay people reparations based on something I didn’t do. You can wreck all the public buildings and tear down all the statues and cancel all the programs and movies and rebrand all the products you want.
“Just leave us alone.
“Well, I'm not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad.
“I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to write your congressmen. Because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write, and they would just email you a ‘woke’ robo-response written by some 23-year-old anyway.
“I don't know what to do about the depression and the defense budget and the Russians supposedly colluding with Trump and crime in the street.
“All I know is first you got to get mad. You've got to say:
“‘I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore. I'm a human being, dagnabit! My life matters, too.’
“So I want you to get up now. I want you to pick up your remote, and turn off your TV, and go over to your computer. Right now. I want you to go to Facebook and Twitter, and open it, and post in all capital letters:
"I'M MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"
“Then I want you to go to the Donald Trump website, and I want you to buy your MAGA hat. And I want you to post your picture on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram in it.
“And I want you to go out and wear it, without a mask, anywhere you want to go.
“To the store. To work. To church. To a restaurant. To the dagnab playground.
“Tell them! Show them! Your life matters, too!”
(Falls with thud.)
Donald so blue
Come send a Tweet
Corona’s still raging
The mob’s in the street.
Where is the POTUS so boisterous and loud?
He’s out there in Tulsa
Up-stirring a crowd.
Hickory dicker, TikTok.
Pranksters filled ticket blocks.
When Tricky Dick’s
Folks pulled such tricks
They ended in the dock.
Twinkle, twinkle little CHAZ
How I wonder what you is.
Street fest? Nation? Living free?
Or just simple anarchy?
Twinkle, twinkle little CHAZ
How I wonder what you is.
Twinkle, twinkle little CHAZ
Who will kick you in the a$$?
We all know how this must end
Thugs removed and in the pen.
Twinkle, twinkle little CHAZ
Who will kick you in the a$$?
BLM Framers, now so famous
How does your movement grow?
With protest wails
And corporate gifts all in a row.
Ding dong bell
Who’s still doing well?
All that is said
Is how many are dead.
What a naughty media there:
New case counts keep the public scared
That’s trying to go back to work.
Got to keep up the ratings -- jerks.
Old DA Howard
Went out as a blowhard
To throw Black Lives Matters a bone
But when he got there
His ev’dence was bare
And so for a case he had none.
He went for the max charge
To buy himself cred
But when he got back
His poor case was still dead.
He went out to dish
And presented some tripe.
But law experts wonder
What might be in his pipe.
He went to the press
Ere the probe did begin
But before he was finished
All eyes were on him.
He’s in a “tight runoff”
And under the lights.
Seems the real question is
Who will read him his rights?
He showed off some photos
Claims the cop gave a kick
But that very day
Blue was calling in sick.
The press gave him court'sy
The DA took a bow.
The police will say “no mas.”
And the people, just “wow.”
“Good afternoon, class.”
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Senter.”
“Class, today we’re going to do a series of word problems. I hope you all have your pencils sharpened and your paper out. Please put your calculators away. I’ll want the students who come up with the right answers to show their work.”
“Here’s the first part of the problem: Andrew Cuomo is the Governor of New York state. Governor Cuomo is stating concern about the rise of coronavirus cases in Florida, and said he might consider a quarantine of people traveling from Florida to New York.”
“New York has a population of 19.4 million and has had roughly 387,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. What is the confirmed infection in the overall population in New York?”
“Oh, oh, Mrs. Senter! I know, I know!”
“Yes, Ronnie D.”
“It’s around 1.99%.”
“Very good, Ronnie. Now, Florida has a population of 21.5 million and has had 93,797 cases. What’s Florida’s infection rate?”
“Oh, oh, Mrs. Senter! Pick me! Pick me!”
“You again, Ronnie D.? All right.”
“It’s like 0.43%.”
“Well, then. If New York had the same confirmed infection rate as Florida under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, how many cases would it have? Someone else now.”
“Go ahead, Donald.”
“Complaining Andrew Cuomo would have only 83,420 cases if he had done as good a job as Ronnie D. … I mean, Florida, in containing the virus.”
“OK, Donald. I don’t remember asking for commentary. And by the way, I said put away that calculator. Part two of the problem. New York has had 24,710 deaths from coronavirus. What is the death rate among COVID cases Governor Cuomo’s state?”
“Yes, Sean H.”
“Governor No Leadership has a death rate of roughly 6.4%.”
“How about Florida – where there have been 3144 deaths?”
“My staff says … I mean, my quick calculations tell me 3.35%.”
“Which means, even with many times the case rate, how many deaths would there be in New York if Governor Cuomo had done as good a job containing deaths – by focusing resources on the most vulnerable populations – as Florida?”
“I’m at 12,965.”
“Let’s say the overall death rate for Florida were applied to New York. Can anyone do those calculations? Ronnie D., you again?”
“I’m way ahead of you, Teach. 3144 deaths against 21.5 million population is an overall death rate of 0.0146%. Which against New York’s population would come to 2836.”
“So how many fewer deaths would there be in New York if Governor Cuomo had done as well as Florida?”
“Let’s see… 24,710 minus 2836 comes to 21,874.”
“Now… the media is very upset that the case count in Florida increased by some 4049 people today. If that increase in cases were to continue and New York were to have no new cases, how many days would it take Florida to get to New York’s case count? Ronnie D., you seem pretty quick today.”
“I get just over 72.”
“By the way, if the Florida rate were applied to the entire U.S., where some 121,000 people have died, how many would have died? Debbie B., we haven’t heard from you yet.”
“Just under 48,000 – 73,000 fewer.”
“For extra credit, does anyone know how many people die in a bad flu season?”
“61,000 people died in the 2017-2018 flu season, Mrs. Senter.”
“Very good, Debbie B. Is that more or less than 48,000? Class?”
(In unison.) “More, Mrs. Senter.”
“Very good, class. Tomorrow we’ll be looking at some calculations that are much less controversial – percentages of people shot by police by race.”
Following any kind of legal reasoning, much less the application of the law by the Highest Court in the land, can be confusing for lay people.
But don’t worry! (C)M is here to help, and specifically, to break down, Dummies-style, the majority’s thinking behind this week’s 5-4 decision barring President Trump from deep-sixing Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
DACA, of course, allowed so-called “Dreamers” – people illegally brought to America by their parents – to remain and become eligible for benefits and green cards.
1. The Court’s main ruling was that it was illegal for the Trump Administration to rescind DACA, even though it was illegal, a finding of the Attorney General the Justices did not question.
2. Why was the reversal of an illegal program itself illegal?
Because even though DACA was unlawfully established without the required notice, comment period and legal justification under legislation called the Administrative Procedures Act, the Court ruled that the Administration couldn’t rescind DACA without the required notice, comment period and legal justification under the Administrative Procedures Act.
3. Now, the Administration had insisted the Court had no right under the Administrative Procedures Act to review its decision not to enforce the illegal DACA program. But because the Administration was not not enforcing immigration law for thousands of people, as opposed to just one, its decision not to enforce DACA, an illegal non-enforcement provision, is not a non-reviewable non-enforcement decision, and therefore the Court could review it.
Still with us? Excellent!
4. So under the Administrative Procedures Act – which the majority insisted on applying even though it was not applied in unlawfully promulgating an illegal program – the agency in question must provide a sufficient legal justification. Although the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, in her initial memorandum rescinding the illegal regulation, depended on an extensive analysis by the Attorney General (and referred to the fact that Congress had not authorized DACA), a District Court sent the rule back for further explanation of the Department’s rationale. The ultimately-confirmed Secretary, per the District Court’s instruction, provided such an explanation, including a broader discussion of the preferability of Congress enacting policy via legislation rather than having it created via illegal agency fiat – which, though it had been requested by the District Court, the Supreme Court ruled was an impermissible post hoc rationalization.
5. The majority also held that the Acting Secretary, in rescinding the rule, did not consider whether and to what extent “Dreamers” had relied on rights and benefits that the Department had no power under the law to grant, had not followed the proper procedures to grant if it had the power, and had specifically said the Dreamers could not rely on because the non-enforcement of immigration law against them could be non-enforced at any time.
See? Wasn’t that simple? Now you can be a Supreme Court Justice and conjure up completely novel laws and legal and constitutional rationales too!
Click here to see (C)M's piece in Issues & Insights on why some elections matter more than others.
Your (Conservative) Maestro has been around for a really long time orchestrating messaging and communications strategy for politicians, CEOs and other assorted types. He thinks he may have picked up a few things along the way.