Thursday, January 21, 2021


Joe Biden, the president of the United States. Not a perfect president, but the perfect president for these post-Trump times. Earnest, unpretentious, good-natured and decent, he bookended the angry, dystopic "American Carnage" speech of four years ago with this: “My whole soul is in this. Bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation, and I ask every American to join me in this cause.”

“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” he said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we're willing to stand in the other person's shoes as my mom would say, just for a moment, stand in their shoes.” . . .

“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be cause for total war,” Biden said. “And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured. My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this.”

Amanda Gorman!
Lady Gaga!
Garth Brooks!
Jennifer Lopez!


Chris Wallace: This was best inaugural address I've ever heard

5 winners and 3 losers from Joe Biden’s inauguration  

It’s okay to feel hope
Later that evening, a star-studded show, "Celebrating America" -- sometimes moving, sometimes cheesy, but a palpable sense of relief that the Trump nightmare is over

[NB: And those fireworks!] 
One last comment here, from me. There will be hard days ahead, there will be successes and disappointments. Many things that Trump did can be stopped or reversed via executive orders, and Biden is off to an aggressive start doing that. On passing a more positive agenda, Mitch McConnell still controls the filibuster, and there will be moments of obstruction to be sure. Maybe there will also be moments of cooperation and compromise. Fox World, OAN and Newsmax welcomed Biden with an evening of attacks and bitter disappointment that he had won -- Sean Hannity did a whole segment on . . . Hunter Biden's laptop, because that is what people should be thinking about on this day. So, Biden's call for "unity" runs up against serious headwinds -- it is simply not in some people's interests to see him be successful, even if it would be better for the country as a whole.
But . . . there will be successes too. We do face some real crises, and Republican officials of good will see the need for action. At the very least, there will be a shift in tone and political temperament. We won't wake up every morning wondering, What the hell did he tweet this time? I'm a pretty hard-nosed political cynic, but I felt a mood of hope throughout the day, a real lifting of the burden of living under Trump's daily assault on decency and good sense. Everything will not be suddenly better, but some things will definitely be better. We have to let ourselves feel a moment of political joy.
Biden's construction that it only takes "enough of us" to drive change was important. We will not have a national kum-ba-yah moment, and there are enemies within. Post 9-11, the greatest terrorist threats are domestic, not international. There remains a real movement hostile to progressive values, and they still have political leaders and media outlets that encourage them. But we also need to appreciate that this time, the democratic process worked and that view was repudiated across the country. Despite all of Trump et al's efforts, a successful national election decisively rejected racism and division. A horrible assault on the Capitol was a major wake-up call for many Republicans about what Trumpism had unleashed -- and in a sporadic, still-uncoordinated way some of them at least are trying to pull their party back from the precipice. A major question moving forward is what happens within the GOP, especially if Trump follows through with trying to create a third party; the Republicans have some pretty basic existential questions to ask themselves.
The Democrats, too, face the new challenge of controlling all three bodies of the executive and legislative branches. It is always easier to remain unified when you are out of power and have a common enemy to organize against. Biden's agenda is very aggressive, but Biden personally is a pragmatist. Progressives will, and should, press him to go further. But we will have to be prepared for the hard work of forging a workable political consensus on each and every issue. We need to be smart about what is possible. Going too far in substance or in rhetoric will undoubtedly help the Republicans in 2022, when they will try to take back one or both houses of Congress. One of my often-repeated lines in this blog is that sometimes what looks like a short-term political win turns out to cost you in the long run. To coin a phrase, You can't always get what you want . . .

Biden takes over
Biden’s First 100 Days Will Be the Biggest Since FDR

In dozens of orders, Biden aims at four ‘converging crises’

The world welcomes the U.S. back


Biden's press secty's first press briefing: straight answers, no lies, no insults. So THIS is what it used to be like

Biden's new team goes before Congress

Biden names his acting Cabinet 

A new broom . . . 
Michael Ellis, a Trump appointee at the N.S.A. who was sworn in on Tuesday, has been placed on leave. 

Joe Biden ousts the man who tried to reshape US global media
Surgeon general to step down as Biden requested
Biden asks for resignation of NLRB counsel
Trump rushed to get it out, now Biden has axed it

Biden signs executive order rescinding controversial 1776 commission
Three new Dem senators, and Chuck Schumer is now officially Majority Leader in the Senate

In other news . . .     
Trump creeps out of town with this classy farewell
“Have a good life, we will see you soon.” . . . “We got 75 million votes…an all-time record, by a lot,” hinting that he clearly hadn’t let go of his stated conviction that he won the 2020 election that he very obviously lost. 
Bonus item:  It turns out that Trump did leave Biden a farewell note, after all. No one knows what's in it yet -- but that doesn't keep Twitter from guessing

Wednesday, January 20, 2021


He is the only president to be impeached twice; and if AG Bill Barr hadn’t buried the Mueller report, it could have been three. 
He refused to accept defeat after the biggest voter turnout ever, a remarkable election in the midst of a pandemic, where people literally risked their lives to vote -- driven largely by their desire to be rid of him.
He transposed his personal refusal to admit defeat into increasingly grandiose claims that he had actually won – in a landslide! – and that victory was being stolen from him in a massive electoral fraud.
He whipped his followers into a frenzy that THEIR votes had been invalidated and urged them to challenge the vote certification in Congress. This resulted in one of the worst assaults on the Capitol, ever, causing five deaths. Trump watched it unfold on television, was reportedly “delighted” by what he saw, and refused to dispatch the National Guard to prevent the riot. We have yet to see if he will be held responsible for this act of sedition.
He responded to the worst U.S. health crisis in a hundred years with denials that it was a serious problem, predictions that it would “just go away, like magic,” then phony harebrained false cures. He refused to wear a mask or to encourage even simple, nonobtrusive precautions -- in fact, he kept hosting events that violated them. He actually said “I don’t take responsibility at all.” The result has been over 400,000 deaths on his watch.
He went beyond the typical “fox guarding the henhouse” model of many previous GOP Cabinets to install utterly unqualified dept heads who were actively ignorant about the missions of their depts, and who forced out career experts and specialists across government. His “deep state” rhetoric put personal loyalty to him ahead of devotion to the missions of their units. He leaves behind a swatch of hollowed-out, dysfunctional government agencies.
He sought to turn the Republican party into a personality cult to himself – and he used the threat of turning his followers against GOP officials to enforce conformity with his demands. He is obsessed with personal loyalty – through he is strikingly disloyal to others who serve him, if they ever go astray in even minor ways. The events of January 6, his intervention that cost two Senate seats in Georgia (and with them Senate control), and his loss of social media privileges, have turned some Republicans against him – but he keeps talking ominously about “our movement.” He is eagerly looking for ways to continue to steer the GOP even after he leaves office.
He has alienated longtime global allies with his ignorance and bullying, and has substantially weakened, or cancelled, international agreements that bring democratic nations together in cooperation. Meanwhile, he cozied up to some of the worst autocrats across the world, and clearly felt more comfortable with them – especially when they flattered him shamelessly.
He never separated himself entirely from his businesses, as he promised to do. Government expenditures, including his constant golf outings, funneled public money into his own pockets. He openly bragged about using the presidency to build his brand.
He has spent more than 20% of his presidency at one of his golf properties. Add Mar-a-Lago and it’s almost a third. And when he was in the White House he spent hours every day watching television and tweeting.
Throughout his presidency, as throughout his career, he has used racial, ethnic, and national slurs to tar his enemies and rile up his xenophobic, racist followers. Despite his disclaimers now, he often advocated violence. There is a hateful ugliness to American politics today, largely because of him.
He thinks that “the art of the deal” means quid pro quo arrangements with people. This transactional approach to governing was most evident in his efforts to get foreign governments to help him, as if personal benefit was the proper basis of foreign policy. At its worst, it involved outright corruption and deal making. He constantly howls about how people “owe” him and therefore should do his bidding.
He turned pardons into an instrument of criminal conspiracy, pardoning people specifically because they lied or covered up to protect him.
He accepted Russia’s support to get elected – he welcomed it, at one point he even invited it (“Russia, if you’re listening. . .”). His campaign staff knew about Russia's leaks of hacked materials to undermine Hillary Clinton before they happened, and they planned accordingly. We know with certainty that Russia wanted him to win and worked to achieve it – and he never would have been elected without that help. I cannot understand how he got away with all this.
He lies. He lies about matters great and trivial. He says whatever he wants to believe, or whatever he wants you to believe. I’m not even sure “lying” is the right word, because that suggests something specific and strategic. For Trump it is just a total disregard for the truth. I don’t know how you count them, but one estimate was over 30,000 lies.
He and his administration were hostile to facts or science of any sort. His attempt to modify a scientifically generated weather map with a black sharpie, just in order to vindicate an utterly false claim he had made, is a metaphor for his administration. Administration spokespeople were constantly backfilling the factual narrative to fit what he had said. If he said it was true, that made it true; and anyone who said otherwise was shown the door.
He governed at every stage by dividing the country, both internally -- by constantly demonizing everyone who questioned him (the media, the Democrats, and any Republican who dared to speak out) -- and externally by drawing a picture of the U.S. surrounded by undependable allies, scary immigrants, and "shithole countries." For him, you are either a Trump loyalist and useful to his rule – or you are a disgusting adversary to be attacked and destroyed.
His most lasting physical achievement, the aggrandized Wall™, is a shadow of what he promised. Almost all of it is a replacement for existing barriers. It has proven to be easily cut through . . . and Mexico never paid for it. But it has a plaque on it: Built by Donald Trump!
He made the economic divide in the country worse. While trumpeting a pseudo-populist message, his policies at every stage favored the wealthy. He broke countless promises about addressing the problems of working people, the needy, and the elderly.
He politicized the Justice Department and used it as a way of protecting himself and his corrupt activities, while constantly trying to force investigations into his critics. He tried to make it his sword and his shield. He actually tried to use it to help with his personal legal problems. The man who had always lived by lawsuits and threats of lawsuits saw the Justice Dept as just one more way to reward and punish others.
He is not only the worst president we have ever had – he is the very worst person who has ever been president. Good riddance.
Trump is the Worst President in History
History Will Crush Trump 
It All Began With Russia 

A little comedy break after all that grimness

‘Fox & Friends’ Host Gushes Over Trump’s Work Ethic: ‘He Watches Every Show’
In COVID news . . .    
Trump Orders Lifting of Covid Travel Ban Days After the Inauguration. What’s He Up To?
Biden Expected To Reject Trump’s Last-Minute Lift On COVID-19 Travel Bans 

In Biden/Harris news

What it looks like when leaders really care about the human cost of a pandemic

Vogue will run a new cover with VP Kamala Harris on it

In other news . . .  
The tide is turning
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday openly declared that President Donald Trump and other conservatives who relentlessly peddled bogus election-fraud claim “provoked” the deadly insurrectionist Capitol riots. . . . “The mob was fed lies,” he continued. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like. But we pressed on.”

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, who just one year ago led the charge to acquit Donald Trump of impeachment charges, has been going through a head-spinning, donor-inspired evolution over the past couple weeks since Trump incited a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. . . . But surprise, surprise—the mighty dollar is proving more powerful than opportunistic loyalty to a man now ending his term as the grossest, pettiest, and least liked American president in modern history. . . . . Not only are corporate donors pulling back from their widespread support of Sedition Party candidates, but other big-dollar donors are making their demands for a break with Trump perfectly clear. . .
Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration . . . 
Even Mike Pence Isn’t Going to Donald Trump’s “Farewell” 

The Coming Republican Amnesia
Donnie has a sad
“The President has been in a foul mood for several days . . . While he’s eagerly anticipating his military-style send-off from Joint Base Andrews on Inauguration morning — one of the few items that have cheered him up recently — there were already signs the crowd may be smaller than he’d hoped. And a slate of actual celebrities lined up for Biden’s inauguration has disappointed a president who tried and often failed to secure A-list support for his own presidency.”

[NB: Hey, what do you mean? KID ROCK! TED NUGENT! SCOTT BAIO!]

The legal case for a Trump impeachment conviction

How Trump pressured VP Mike Pence (unsuccessfully) to get him to overturn the election results

Trump issues over 140 pardons and commutations -- but not for him or his kids

Some other last-minute outrages, on his way out the door

11th-hour deal strips FDA oversight of genetically modified animals
Trump revokes ethics order barring former aides from lobbying
As Biden prepares to take office, Trump lawyers ask judge for help in tax return fight
The "Deep State" Trump is trying to leave behind for Biden
Over four years, federal workers were ignored, subjected to retaliation, and fired for articulating politically inconvenient truths or standing in the way of President Donald Trump’s attacks against the public. . . . Trump has never made any secret of his contempt for the civil service, the body of approximately 2 million federal workers tasked with carrying out the government’s policies and programs, independent of partisan influence. . . . Over four years, this administration has targeted specific civil servants who got in the way through personal retaliation, reassignment, and silencing. Inconvenient offices have been reorganized and sidelined to ensure that the independent voices in them can’t contradict Trump’s official line. . . . If it wasn’t already obvious, Trump’s erratic governing style should make clear why a competent, independent, and trusted civil service is essential to good governance. . . [A] Biden administration will face a depleted and beleaguered civil service. The longer-term assault on civil servants’ jobs has created often intolerable conditions that prompted thousands of career officials to leave, taking their policy and institutional expertise with them. Meanwhile, as ProPublica has reported, some Trump appointees are “burrowing” into the civil service. . . [read on] 

Trump declassifies another set of documents related to the Russia probe

Trump leaves with a pointless last-minute attack on school curricula
Members of President Trump’s 1776 Commission are calling for “patriotic education that teaches the truth of America” and identifying “progressivism” and “racism and identity politics” among the challenges to America’s principles.  . . . The commission, officially established by Trump in November, argues in a report released on the federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday that Americans must “stand up to the petty tyrants in every sphere who demand that we speak only of America’s sins while denying her greatness” . . . [read on]

The 1776 Report — written by the commission ordered by President Trump in response to The New York Times’ 1619 Project — has received scathing rebukes from historians and civil rights groups . . . 
Trump’s “1776 Report” Would Be Funny If It Weren’t So Dangerous 
The Capitol attack was planned and coordinated

Trump supporters vote as "Republicans" because that's where Trump is -- they couldn't care less about the party itself

“President Trump has talked in recent days with associates about forming a new political party, an effort to exert continued influence after he leaves the White House . . . The president said he would want to call the new party the ‘Patriot Party.'”

Election reform will finally get a vote

Fox World is going after Mitch McConnell now

[NB: File this under, "What have you done for us lately"?]

Big chains drop "MyPillow"

Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, has begun the process of crying about being persecuted . . .

Bonus item: The Trump years, in cartoons

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I don’t get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don’t run ads, etc.). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a “mission,” it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Tuesday, January 19, 2021


Trump's plans for inauguration morning
The outgoing president is reportedly leaving for Mar-A-Lago on Wednesday morning so he can take one last flight aboard Air Force One. . . .  Trump is “scheduled to land in West Palm Beach, FL at 11am Wednesday morning with just 1 hour left in his Presidency. He no longer has access to Air Force One as of noon that day,” CBS’s Ben Tracy tweeted Sunday. Trump would no longer be deemed the commander-in-chief after noon and the plane would lose its “Air Force One” call sign ― which Trump wanted to avoid, NBC News noted earlier. Usually presidents depart on another government jet to begin civilian life. . . . The White House sent out invitations for Trump’s departure event at Joint Base Andrews, which begins at 8 a.m., Bloomberg reported. . . . Trump favored the red-carpet treatment with a 21-gun salute and military band, reports noted. . . .
‘Rooting hard for you’: Will departure notes end with Trump? . . . President Donald Trump has refused to accept the results of November’s election and vowed not to attend Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. That makes it doubtful Trump will leave behind any handwritten, friendly advice for Biden. . . .

Trump gets lowest job approval rating in final days as president . . . Thirty-four percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, a Gallup poll published Monday found, representing the lowest approval rating he has had since assuming office. 
Nearly Half Say Trump Is Worst President Ever
Episodes 3 - 6 of "Trump's Final Days"
"Sometimes you need a little crazy," Trump told one official. . . [read on]
Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office . . . Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit." White House counsel Pat Cipollone and a few other aides in the room were shocked Barr had come out and said it — although they knew it was true. For good measure, the attorney general threw in a warning that the new legal team Trump was betting his future on was "clownish." . . . Three weeks later, he would be gone. . . [read on]
In a series of phone calls through early and mid-November, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, had tried to impress upon Trump just how high the stakes were for the Georgia runoffs. McConnell's pitch was direct and unvarnished: We need these wins to protect all the progress we've made on a range of issues, he warned. Trump's own legacy was on the ballot. But the president wasn't hearing it. He would immediately derail these conversations with McConnell by ranting about the stolen election and his conspiracies of fraud. . . [read on]
In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes. . . . In his place, Trump planned to install Kash Patel — a former top Intelligence Committee staffer to Nunes . . . Six days after the election, he had fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper. He replaced Esper with counterterrorism chief Chris Miller — and then stunned long-time national security hands by installing Patel as Miller's chief of staff. Patel had no military experience and was widely seen as a political mercenary bent on punishing the president's perceived "deep state" foes. But Trump told confidants he had bigger plans for Patel: He'd replace long-time CIA veteran Bishop with Patel, and if Haspel quit in protest, then Patel or another loyalist could lead the CIA. . . .

Why the appointment of Michael Ellis as top lawyer for the NSA stinks
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Monday demanded that the Pentagon halt the installation of a White House official and Trump loyalist as the top lawyer at the National Security Agency. . . . Pelosi said the last-minute onboarding of Michael Ellis as NSA’s general counsel reeked of politics. “The circumstances and timing – immediately after President Trump’s defeat in the election – of the selection of Mr. Ellis, and this eleventh-hour effort to push this placement in the last three days of this Administration are highly suspect,” she wrote. “Further, the efforts to install him or ‘burrow’ him into a highly sensitive intelligence position 72 hours prior to the beginning of a new Administration manifest a disturbing disregard for our national security.”  

On Saturday, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller ordered NSA Director Paul Nakasone to install Ellis as general counsel by 6 p.m., but Nakasone—who opposed Ellis for the position—did not take action by the deadline . . . “Mr. Ellis accepted his final job offer yesterday afternoon,” an NSA official said in a statement on Sunday. “NSA is moving forward with his employment.” CNN noted Saturday that since Ellis’s new position as general counsel is a civil service job, he will be harder for the Biden administration to remove than would a political appointee. . . 

Ellis was reportedly involved in the bizarre “midnight run” during which the White House passed intelligence information to [Devin] Nunes, then the House Intelligence Committee chairman . . . Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a witness in the impeachment investigation, also testified that Ellis was involved in moving a transcript of Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine into a specially compartmented system in an apparent effort to prevent the wrongdoing from being discovered. . . .

Do you see a pattern here? Patel, Ellis. . . read on

Rudy WON'T be on Trump's impeachment defense team

[NB: Since he is also implicated in inflammatory comments before the riot.]

Folks are making a lot of money promoting Trump's pardons. Think he isn't getting a cut?

Rudy Giuliani specifically demanded $2 million for a pardon from a former CIA officer. Giuliani is also working to get a pardon for himself. . . [read on] 
[NB: Maybe that's why Trump isn't paying Giuliani for his legal fees -- he gets paid indirectly.] 
It looks as if Trump might not pardon his family, or himself

The GOP dilemma: Trump wants to continue to hold sway over the GOP and play kingmaker for future candidates. He may even run again himself. He is using his devoted following as leverage, and threatening to punish any Republican who questions or opposes his views. The rest of the GOP, led by Mitch McConnell, knows that these fringe ideas and acts of extremism are killing the party at a national level -- and they hate the idea of Trump ever running again

GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party

Closing the circle
In a new criminal court case against a woman alleged to have entered the US Capitol on January 6, the FBI noted that a tipster raised the possibility of a laptop being stolen from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office to potentially sell to Russia. There's no indication a laptop was actually taken from Pelosi's office. And the FBI says in the court record the "matter remains under investigation." . . . In this case, a person who said they are the former romantic partner of Riley June Williams of Pennsylvania identified Williams to the FBI in video inside the Capitol building and directing people "upstairs" to Pelosi's office, according to an affidavit filed Sunday supporting Williams' arrest. The tipster "also claimed to have spoken to friends of Williams, who showed (the tipster) a video of Williams taking a laptop computer or hard drive from Speaker Pelosi's office," the affidavit says. The tipster "stated that Williams intended to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, who then planned to sell the device to SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service." . . .
Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested 
In Biden news . . .  
What Biden has promised in his first 100 days
Biden's Cabinet confirmation hearings schedule today
Elizabeth Warren allies snag two major positions
In other news . . .    
Trump's $2 billion presidential library: TWO BILLION???
The origins and future of QAnon

I am a game designer with experience in a very small niche. I create and research games designed to be played in reality. I’ve worked in Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), LARPs, experience fiction, interactive theater, and “serious games”. Stories and games that can start on a computer, and finish in the real world.  . . . When I saw QAnon, I knew exactly what it was and what it was doing. I had seen it before. I had almost built it before. It was gaming’s evil twin. A game that plays people. . . . [thanks to JT for the link]

Punish Fox World

Fox News—not social media, not think tanks—is the primal source of racism, xenophobia, polarization, and reckless lying in American media. Until we somehow put a stop to this, it will be hard to ever recover the country we used to have. Not a perfect country by any stretch, but at least one where we all had a roughly similar idea of what was true and were willing to talk openly about it. Rupert Murdoch has earned billions of dollars for destroying American politics, and he’ll keep doing it until the money hose goes away. Let’s start turning it off. . . .

I appreciate the fighting spirit here, but cable companies aren’t going to boot off Fox News. Contracts alone would prevent them from doing so. But there’s another way: boycotts. This may sound tiresome. It’s not as if there aren’t already people who are trying to lead boycotts of Fox News advertisers. But here’s the difference: if we want to make a difference, we should target one big advertiser and leave the rest alone for now. . . . So who would that be? Ideally, a company that (a) can’t afford to be associated even slightly with unAmerican activity, and (b) is not in the greatest financial shape. You also want a company that’s relatively easy to boycott. Big conglomerates, for example, make so many things that it’s hard to get people to boycott them all. Likewise, pharmaceutical companies make drugs that might be lifesavers for a lot of people. But then there’s . . . General Motors. Allstate. Applebees. Any one of those might be a good target. [read on]
Bonus item: Why do we hate Trump so much? Well since you asked. . .
***If you enjoy Progressive Blog Digest and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sharing its URL ( with others via email or social media. Thanks for helping to spread the word!  
I don’t get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don’t run ads, etc.). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a “mission,” it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***