Friday, October 28, 2011

Of the Pot and the Kettle and Politics

The Bucks County Technical School (BCTS) voted to maintain the ninth grade by a vote of 11-1. There are 14 votes, and they needed 8. You wouldn’t think that there was any doubt about the legitimacy of the vote. Nonetheless the opponents (there are two, one of which was working and couldn’t come to this month’s meeting) said that their opponents “were trying to control the vote,” and that there “was a lot of politicking going on.” Why are they saying this? Well, they hail from the two smallest school districts that feed into BCTS, and are very concerned with how much they have to spend on the technical school (determined according to a formula they agreed to). They wanted ninth grade to be dropped because it would save them money. They didn’t get what they wanted. The vote controlling and politicking apparently took place last month, when the decision was postponed. If the vote had taken place last month, with only eight members present, two of them the opposition, it would not have passed. So putting the vote off until the votes were there to pass it was politicking. Wanting the vote to take place when the majority necessary to keep ninth grade was not present (even though a majority of the board and the necessary number to keep ninth grade existed) apparently isn’t politicking. This is called hypocrisy. They are keeping ninth grade … tell us why you are upset with the decision and shut up about it. Everything can’t be decided by consensus … as big a fan of compromise and cooperation as I am, even I realize that. When the time comes that a vote takes place and some people don’t get what they want, we have to be able to move on without nastiness and angry recriminations. Anger is fine. By all means tell the majority why they made a mistake, but try to check the classless and baseless accusations. They don’t create anything positive. The less political decisions at any and every level are seen as the culmination of battle and the more as a product of negotiation the better we will be.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Can You Smell It?

There was a day care in the area that was closed down, and its operators arrested. Someone went to the authorities to report that their daughter had been molested by an older child. Authorities found adults living there who were had not had child abuse clearances run, and who were living in rooms with human feces. There were other details, but the line that stood out to me was the quote from a grandfather who had picked up his grandchild from the facility on at least one occasion. He said he had noted the smell and it worried him. My first reaction was to demonize anyone that would leave their children somewhere that smelled like feces. I wanted to jump on something and proclaim for the world that if I picked up my son or daughter from day care and smelled feces, or saw people who looked the folks in the mug shots working there, I would have never brought my daughter back. I would have done it if I hadn’t been eating lunch with my children. As a matter of fact when I returned to work full time, ever so briefly, we went to meet with a woman who was offering child care from her home. Her home was a mess. Her husband told us how he had on some occasion told his three year old to stop crying and act like a man. There was no way in hell we were going to leave our daughter there. We found a great care provider who had a wonderful welcoming home, polite and caring children of her own, and was a great early influence in both of our children’s lives. Then we sent our daughter to an expensive pre-school, choosing to live a spare existence in order to make it work. The key part of all of this, of course, is that we had a choice. There are a lot of folks that don’t have that many choices. They may only be able to afford feces filled homes. They certainly can’t afford many thousands of dollars a year. Our choices are limited … we have to do public school … but not shitty. Some people’s choices are shitty. Some children suffer the consequences of the shitty options their parents had. It’s worth keeping this shit in mind when someone talks about equality of opportunity, class warfare, and 9-9-9 tax plans that increase the tax burden on the poor and working class. Many of our Fellow American don’t have the luxury of forgetting it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I’d like my elected representatives to be the people who would let you go ahead of them at the grocery checkout if they had two baskets full of groceries and you had a gallon of milk. It would be excellent if my next Congressman was the kind of guy who took turns with other drivers when two lanes merged into one on the highway. I’d like my mayor to be the kind of woman who wouldn’t wait until I turned around to check on my daughter to jump in front of me at the local library sale so she could get to the box of second hand books I had been looking at before I had a chance to take all of the choicest book. I’d like my State Senator to be the kind of woman who wouldn’t, while leading a program for toddlers where one toddler and his dad were sitting right in front of her, refer to all of the parents as “mothers.” In everyday life these kinds of encounters are annoying, and annoying I can handle … if I dig deep enough. The lack of civility in the politic al realm is annoying and a bit more besides. When a leading candidate for President refuses to acknowledge that the sitting president was born in the country it sets a poor example for the rest of us. It also contributes to an atmosphere that is not conducive to cooperation and compromise, absolute necessities when it comes to solving the problems facing our country. It certainly isn’t enough for elected representatives to be polite and considerate, but it can’t good enough anymore for them not to be.

Monday, October 24, 2011


We have all either lost our minds or lost interest. That is really the only way to explain it. If an appreciable number of us were both sane and interested, there is no way some of the big political issues of the day would be issues at all. Why is there any debate about whether or not God created the world in six days? Really? The fact of the matter is that there is no scientific basis to question the basic fact of evolution. If there is debate, it should be on the details. The very idea that creation was focused just on earth is ridiculously laughable. Speaking of laughable, we have the debate over whether there is global warming. The scientific community is very nearly united that we are having a negative impact on our world. Why is anyone spending time debating anything other than how we should alter our behavior and preserve the world we live on? A conversation focused on the balancing environmental and other concerns is productive … a conversation on whether the scientific community is at the beck and call of socialists and the leftist media is not. We wasted way too much time talking about where Obama was born and what religion he adheres too. That we have any kind of debate about whether Muslims should be judges or have the freedom to set up their own houses of worship shows the lie in the claim that we are a bastion of freedom and liberty. The same could be said of the inordinate amount of time some folks spend trying to keep other folks who love one another from being able to acknowledge it. Don’t even get me started on the debate over the financial crisis, which has been way too focused on teachers’ unions and not nearly focused enough on the regulation of the financial sector. That someone would seize elected office on a promise to abolish the Department of Education is just scary. The health care debate is a complete travesty, with more focus being placed on calling the President’s plan socialism and Obamacare than there has ever been placed on the issues. Is there really a debate to be had on whether all Americans should have basic health care? The craziness is not limited to the biggest issues either. The fact that anytime at all was spent debating whether or not Paul Revere was warning the British is just evidence of how the craziness has permeated every nook and cranny of our public lives. The worst part is that there are constructive debates to be had and meaningful discussions that need to take place because we have very real problems to solve. Stamping out homosexuality and teaching Genesis in schools isn’t going to solve our problems. We need to refuse to take people seriously who propose abolishing the Department of Education or giving communities the right to stop Muslims from building mosques. All Muslims are not terrorists. Gay marriages aren’t a threat to anyone. Teachers didn’t cause the financial crisis. Until we can discard this nonsense and come together to work on the problems facing us, they aren’t going to get solved. So, either some people have to come to their senses or some people have to become interested … or some people have to do both. The other option is to do what we’re doing and stay in the asylum. Everyone gets to help choose … what are you going to do?

Thursday, October 20, 2011


If the risky behavior of people working in the financial sector was at least partly responsible for the financial crisis, and if a lack of effective regulation and enforcement allowed for this risky behavior, then why hasn’t more been done to reform the regulation of the financial sector? Why are candidates running for office on pledges to shrink government and weaken or eliminate regulatory bodies? How stupid are these people? How stupid are we for listening to them? How culpable are we for not demanding more extensive and effective regulation of the financial sector?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Pledge

Here is a pledge that I think all members of Congress (and those who aspire to membership) should sign. It is the only pledge they should sign. In it they promise to do their job ... it is a pretty novel concept.

I pledge to do my job. I promise to take on the problems facing this country using the skills and experiences I presented to my constituents as evidence of my fitness to serve them when they elected me. I promise that I will never rule out the use of any tool at my disposal or at the disposal of me and my colleagues working together, be it taxes, regulation, layoffs, or war. I vow to keep an open mind … which means that I will change my mind should logic, reason, and the weight of the evidence compel me to do so. This also means that I will always be open to cooperation and compromise with anyone who is similarly serious about solving the problems facing the country. I promise to always listen to my constituents, but I will never hesitate to go against their wishes if my judgment tells me that I should. I will always explain my positions to my constituents and will endeavor to win their support by explaining issues and arguments to them using logic and reason. I will never intentionally seek to sway people to my side by playing on their fear or anger, or by launching personal attacks on my opponents. I will put value on my own personal interests and the interests of my party, but not over the interests of the country or my constituents. I give my word that this is the only pledge I will ever sign, because other pledges get in the way of doing my job … and above all else I pledge to do my job.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chris Cridge's Fallacies ... Pennsbury's Potential Problem

In his opinion piece in the Bucks County Courier Times on October 17th, Pennsbury School Board candidate Chris Cridge asserts that incumbent Linda Palsky was wrong to vote against a particular contract change order. This is his conclusion, and it is a great first step that he states it so clearly. Unfortunately he doesn’t take care of the next step, and provides nothing but fallacies to support that conclusion.

First of all, he starts out with an appeal to pity. He tells us about the struggles of the “small business owners” who appealed for the change in the contract. I am sure that no one is happy to see a “local family” put out, but I’m not sure what that has to do with whether or not the contract in question (for insulation work) should be amended to allow a “district-based family business employing Pennsbury graduates and a war veteran” to keep it. Do local businesses that employ war veterans get to bend the rules because they are local businesses that emplopy war veterans?

To follow up his appeal to pity, Cridge trots out a straw man. The “family business” he supports wants to remove a clause from the contract. A clause that Cridge describes as: “an obscure, single sentence technicality.” Who wouldn’t want to remove an obscure technicality? Probably fewer people than might have a problem removing a training requirement that any bidders were supposed to meet, the voiding of which could open up the district to legal challenges. It is certainly easier to argue against anyone who chooses an obscure technicality over the welfare of a local business.

This leads us to our third problem with Cridge’s argument. He never really tells us what the unreasonable Palsky was thinking in her opposition to this reasonable suggestion from the family owned business that employs war veterans. It sure is easier to counter an argument that you don’t even acknowledge. All we know is that Palsky was supported by someone from Trenton, which brings us to the next problem.

Cridge attacks this man from Trenton without telling us a thing about what he said or who he is beyond being from Trenton. This is a circumstantial ad hominem. Cridge attacks the man’s residence rather than his argument. What matters is that Palsky, aided by an outsider, voted against only one change order, the one put forward by this family business run by Pennsbury graduates.

This brings us to the last problem. Cridge tells us several times that Palsky has only voted against this one change order. That of course, is not a reason why she is wrong. Maybe this was the only problematic one. Since we know nothing about the others, it is hard to reach much of a conclusion as to what Palsky’s votes on those change orders mean for this one.

The conclusion of my argument is as simple and straightforward as Cridge’s conclusion. The only difference is that he provides real support for mine. What Cridge has here is a conclusion without any logical support. Rather than proving his argument by utilizing reason and logic, he falls back on pity, anger, and ad hominem attacks. This is regrettable. It might even be reprehensible. It surely is plenty enough to disqualify Cridge as a representative of anyone who needs/deserves quality representation. It’s about all that Cridge manages to prove.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Liberia and US

Liberia’s opposition parties have challenged the results of the presidential election, results that are not yet final. The main challenger will participate in what is expected to be a mandatory run-off election despite those supposed irregularities, but his party has nonetheless challenged the fairness of the election. Such challenges are not unusual in African politics. Irregularities are not unusual either, but when such accusations are made without proof they are detrimental. They give people reasons to challenge the government, to work to destabilize the government, and to resort to violence. They play upon divided loyalties and past inequities. African countries tend to have political parties that mirror ethnic, religious, or geographic divisions … so perceived slights to political parties can be perceived threats to whole groups of people. They aren’t isolated incidents either they have a place in a group’s narrative. Political parties are more than political parties. Allegiance to a political party can be stronger than the allegiance to the country. Now, we don’t usually think of the Republican Party as being the party of an ethnic or religious group … although it is not a completely crazy thought. But certainly we have institutional protections that aren’t present elsewhere, and don’t have a history of colonial manipulation of ethnic and religious differences. We do have, however, a situation where party interest is beginning to overwhelm national interest. Certainly there are those that have accused their political rivals of being un-American, effectively equating America with their political party. Claims of irregularities at the polls, while not at all new, seem to have become more strident and mainstream. It doesn’t seem a stretch to assert that folks have reacted to unfavorable election results by refusing to participate fully in the political process. The balancing of party and national interests is a delicate one, one that is maintained by many overlapping institutions. It is also maintained by a feeling that there is a common cause. It is a feeling that has been missing from many African countries like Liberia. It is a huge part of what has made America work. We aren’t in danger of becoming Liberia anytime soon, but we ought to be attentive to what has allowed our political system to function so well over the years. We ought not to take anything for granted, including that our politicians will continue to identify and work for a common cause.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


John McCain has expressed regret that President Obama did not consult Congress when he sent one hundred troops to Uganda to help hunt down Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. You notice he didn’t express surprise. Part of that is because the President and Congress have been fighting about Presidential authority to take military action for a long time, long before Obama or Boehner or even McCain were anything close to relevant. Part of that lack of surprise, however, should be because of the way that this Congress has responded to overtures from the President. Since they seized control of the house, and gained enough seats in the senate to make the filibuster an effective weapon, the Republicans strategy has been to stick to a pretty radical agenda that has little connection to real solutions to problems and to reject most attempts by the President to seek compromise in the hope that the electorate will blame the President for the failure to get anything done. It seems to be working. Republicans seem poised to take back the White House. Compromise seems pretty close to impossible. It’s hard to blame the President if he thought that even the commitment of one hundred troops to a support role in the effort to capture a madman who kidnaps children and forces them to kill and rape their countrymen, neighbors, and relatives might come up against partisan opposition. This is where we are now. Even reasonable actions are questioned, and moderate positions like the ones voiced by Obama on everything from the financial crisis to health care become seen as extreme. If there is something McCain should be expressing regret over, it is that.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Has the internet been bad for cooperation?

Here is a question for you to consider: is the internet pushing us away from cooperation and compromise and into warring camps staring at each other medieval style from opposite sides of a battle field? Surfing around on websites devoted to local issues has made me wonder. It seems as if every issue has facebook pages or blogs or web sites or all of the above plus twitter followings devoted to one side or the other (or one side and the other). On these pages people of like minds can gather and get each other psyched up for battle twenty four hours a day. These sites provide a place for people to vent, remind each other of how they have been slighted, and dream up put-downs and insults, and get angrier and angrier. You don’t have to wait until city council meetings to share grievances, and you don’t have to reserve a room at the library (remember when people did that all the time?), because any time can be a time to trade grievances. The internet also gives them a place where they are safe from the enemy. Oh, the other side can come in, but you can always meet them in numbers. You never have to meet them one on one and think of them as another human being with genuinely held interests. I know that people have disagreed since there were people, and that disagreements have been nasty for at least as long. It just seems a little nastier now, and there seems to be less compromise and cooperation to balance it out. I’m not sure if there is anything to it … but at the least something to think about.

Of Good Democrats and Bad Statements

“I can work with anyone willing to work with me to solve the problems facing our country.” That is what Mitt Romney should have said. That is what every elected representative should say. Unfortunately, it is not what he really said. What he said was that he could work with “good” Democrats … and it’s just not acceptable. Who is going to determine what a “good” democrat is? What about a bad one? Are the good ones the ones that agree with him? Is there an easy test we can apply to see who is good and bad? Do we consider religion? Race? Are the bad ones traitors? Are they Un-American? Do they not have the best interests of their constituents and country in mind? The truly sad thing about what Romney said is that it was regarded as moderate and risky. He was expressing an interest in cooperation and compromise with people outside of the Republican Party … how socialist of him! Call me crazy, but I want my elected officials to work with one another to solve problems. I want them to consider other view points and approaches. I want them to recognize that country comes before party. I want someone to say “I recognize that Republicans and Democrats don’t see eye to eye on all the issues, but I recognize that e all want what is best for America and even though we might disagree on what that is we can still work together to find common ground.” I know it’s insane, but ….

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Being a little nicer ... is it worth a try?

The quality of political conversations in America, at the local and national level, would be greatly improved if everyone started following a simple rule: always say something positive when you say something negative. This is a rule that I have always followed when I teach college courses. Every time I comment on a paper, test, or other assignment I always make sure I say something positive. Usually I lead with the positive. There is always something that the student has done well, and I feel that they need to hear about that as much as they need to hear about what they have done wrong. I have been religious about doing this as a teacher, but not always when I am critical of someone’s position on a political issue. I think that is a mistake. Why shouldn’t we point out the strengths in someone’s position if we are also pointing out the weaknesses? I find it hard to believe that there is nothing that one can agree with in another’s point of view … that there is nothing positive that can be said about everyone. Even if it is just to say how determined or dedicated someone is. If we were all to follow this practice, there would be some great side benefits. First of all, we would be less likely to insult one another. It’s harder to insult someone if you are also trying to say something nice about them. Insults serve no purpose, and it would be great to see them become a rare sight. Second, evidence, logic, and reason would be more likely to emerge. Once you recognize that the other side is not just incoherent evil, then you might feel a need to make sure that your own arguments were well supported. Third, we would be more likely to cooperate and compromise. Recognizing the merit in another’s position is the first step to compromise. Fourth, problems might actually get solved more often. Lastly, at least political conversations would be more pleasant. I can’t see how a few more pleasantries can hurt. So, I’m going to give it a try. Feel free to call me on it if I falter in my resolve. Feel free to point it out when other people fall short and don’t simply don’t take the time to recognize the importance of common courtesy. I think it is as righteous a mission as any we are likely to find.

Friday, October 7, 2011

America Is ...

America is Eli Wiesel, Ahmad Jamal, Jimmy Carter, and Barry Bonds. It is also a car full of teenagers, cigarettes dangling from their mouths, yelling obscenities at a man driving with his infant who happened to cut them off. It is a country that elected a black President. America is also the place where some polls had almost half of Republicans and twenty five percent of all Americans asserting that the black President was not really an American. It is a place with amazing diversity, and a diverse array of laws discriminating against immigrants. America is the land of amazing medical breakthroughs. It is also ranked 34th in infant mortality. America has been responsible for liberating peoples, and assassinating leaders. America can neither be summed up as the Great Satan or as the greatest country in the world. It is more than torture of suspected terrorists. It is more than the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It is more than a flag or a soldier returning home from war to a motorcycle escort. It can’t be summed up in any sentence or by any event. You don’t have to like it that way. You don’t have to acknowledge that it is that way. But … it is that way. Always has been. Probably always will.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chris Christie, Herman Cain, and Tolerance

Chris Christie has appointed a Muslim judge. Herman Cain said he wouldn’t. So how is Chris Christie different from Herman Cain? Well here are some possibilities …

1) Christie is more tolerant of religious differences. This is possible, although now Cain has said that although he thinks many of them are terrorists whose houses of worship can only be located in places where the locals acquiesce, he sympathizes with Muslims and shares common values them.

2) Christie is focused on results. If a Muslim is the right person for the job, he’s going to choose a Muslim.

3) Christie actually has political responsibility, something that tends to moderate one’s positions. It’s a lot easier to be strident and uncompromising when one has no real responsibility beyond for any real constituents. Pizza purchasers are not constituents.

4) Christie is less willing to be seen as a bigot than Cain is. You can prove he’s big, but good luck with the bigot thing.

5) Christie isn’t interested in playing on fear and anger. It sure would be nice if it were true.

6) Christie is smarter than Cain. Maybe Christie knows many Muslims send their kids to Catholic schools. Maybe he is aware that there aren’t tons of Muslims marching for gay or reproductive rights. Maybe he knows that Imams don’t generally hang out with Gloria Steinem.

And I think we have a winner. Christie might well be a responsible, no-nonsense, closeted Quaker. I’m more willing, however, to see him as smart. He knows that Muslims tend to be conservative. He also knows that many of his constituents (including a sizeable Muslim population) won’t have a lot of tolerance for bigotry. He’s also un-encumbered with a lot of the right wing baggage that Cain carries with him, making him smart and more able to make choices based on logic and reason.

Whatever the reason they are different. Hopefully, though, now that Christie has committed to staying out of the Presidential race they will have something in common … neither will be elected President in 2012.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Welcome Statements

"Hey, I don't think I agree with your position on this. Can you explain your reasoning to me?"

"We certainly don't agree on this, but I think we have some common ground on these other issues. Could we try to get something done there first?"

"I wonder if we can look at the issue in another way ... we might find an approach that is acceptable to everyone."

"This is how I differ from my opponent. I think his proposals won't work. I don't think he is anything like Hitler, I just think he's wrong. I even think his intentions are right, but he's wrong and you should vote for me. Here is what I intend to do and why it will work. Here is why his plans won't work. I think if you take a look at this you'll agree with me."

"I was wrong when I said that. I apologize. Here is what I was thinking, and where I think we should go from here."

What are these? They are the sorts of statements I would like to hear come out of the mouths of politicians more often. I'm not sure I'm too hopeful, but it would be nice.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Of Hank Williams Jr. and Enemies

The worst part of what Hank Williams Jr. said in his interview on Fox & Friends has nothing to do with Hitler. If you somehow missed it, Williams said John Boehner playing golf with President Obama was like the Prime Minister of Israel golfing with Hitler. The reference to Hitler was stupid. The general rule is that any reference to Hitler is stupid. This is no exception. It’s not stupid, however, that I’m most concerned with. Another general rule is when you say something this stupid you shouldn’t try to explain what you were thinking. This was no exception. It was great, however, because Williams’ explanation revealed the real problem. Immediately after making this great comparison, he said “they’re the enemy” of Obama and Biden. Later he explained further: "Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood. My analogy was extreme -- but it was to make a point. I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me -- how ludicrous that pairing was. They're polar opposites and it made no sense. They don't see eye-to-eye and never will.” The truth is that the idea of a Democrat and a Republican playing golf together isn’t ludicrous. What is ludicrous is the idea that people on opposite sides of the political spectrum should be enemies … that one side should have the kind of enmity for the other that a Jewish person has for Hitler. It shouldn’t be necessary to say this, but here goes … Democrats and Republicans are all American Citizens. Most of them are tax payers. One would think that they all want the same thing … what is best for America. They certainly will differ on how that should be achieved, and by the way democrats and republicans should differ among themselves, but they should be able to work together to solve the problems facing the country and put it in a position to be successful in the future. They should … but they aren’t. They aren’t, because they don’t all want what is best for America. Compromise and cooperation have become dirty words because the goals held by too many of our leaders can’t be achieved with compromise and cooperation. The goal is to foil the plans of the other party, and achieve the goals of yours. Party has become more important than country. That is the only conclusion I can reach. The elected officials have adopted this position, and have pushed, prodded, deceived, and scared the rest of us to join them. Hank Williams Jr. is just one of many blind or blinded followers. It is a real big problem, far bigger than an ignorant celebrity making a horrible analogy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Larry Pastor's Battle - Neshaminy's Loss

One thing is clear from Larry Pastor’s guest opinion article in the Bucks County Courier Times of October 3, 2011: Larry Pastor is engaged in battle with a horrible enemy. This is an enemy that spews lies every time they open their mouths. They are “exclusively focused on increased monetary gains” and on their own “luxurious compensation.” They are “extremists” with a “programmed entitlement mentality.” They are “unyielding” protectors of the “failed status quo.” They prefer an “insular world.” They are the “mortal enemy of reform.” They have “declare[d] war on [the] community and oppose reform with every ounce of their being.” They have spent the last decade “nearly bankrupting our school district.” They “provide zero value to education and in our case, they are a huge negative.” They deliver “mediocre results.” Who are these evil people Larry is waging war on? Why they’re teachers of course. Who else could possibly be so capable of “hurting our children?” Who else could be so without redeeming value?

Larry Pastor has found a dragon to slay. He is not interested in bargaining. He doesn’t seem too interested in facts or supporting any of his assertions either. He is interested in placing blame on the Teacher’s Union. He is interested in trying to separate the Teacher’s Union from the teachers it represents, and make it into a sort of greedy ghoul that needs to be destroyed. He is interested in destroying the Teacher’s Union. If it benefits the school district along the way, that might be OK, but given the level of anger, defensiveness, and vindictiveness that drip from nearly every one of his comments, the well being of the school isn’t his primary goal. No one interested in negotiated reform throws around insults and personal attacks the way he does. No one interested in building anything traffics in as much fear and anger as he does. No one interested in solving problems laces their arguments with as many fallacies as he does. He even accuses others of utilizing ad hominem attacks in an article in which he engages in probably half a dozen of his own. No one interested in the facts and the truth, provide so little of it in what they write. No one sees problems in the way Larry Pastor does should have anything to do with solving them.

It simply doesn’t matter whether Larry Pastor has a substantive and meritorious message. What matters is the way he has chosen to deliver it. He is engaged in battle when the situation calls for engagement in conversation and negotiation. The enemy he has created is at best a gross exaggeration, and at worst complete fiction. What isn’t at all fictional is the damage that has been done by his anger and hate. It is really very clear.