Outside the Perimeter
Courtesy of Department of Defense

As the national campaigns heat up and volley charges and rebuttals across the airwaves, so too has the fallout settled upon the local political landscape. We will start on the right with FSP Delaware Political. Net. FSP is dead. It has been reborn as Delaware Politics.Net. I guess the initials FSP were too often confused with Delaware Liberal. Net, so it was necessary to change the name to one less similar. Now Delaware Politics.Net. and Delaware Liberal.Net have names that are so distant apart, that no one will ever get them confused again…….

We will start off with the right. FSP Delaware Politics.Net has a vitriolic attack on Pete Schwartzkopf for his verbal smackdown of Terry Strine on WDEL. it is a great example of how political writing is different than writing about facts. Let’s jump in.

First we have Exhibit A written by the author of this Delaware Politics.Net article.

“Long story short: Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf has accused Rep. Bob Valihura and Rep. Donna Stone of screwing over thousands of Delawareans to directly benefit State GOP Chairman Terry Strine, because they wouldn’t speed up the negotiations over the manufactured home bills to suit Pete’s tastes. Also, Pete has a problem because the House wouldn’t suspend the rules to pass a moratorium bill:

* the day it was introduced;
* that no one had time to read; and
* that would have had far-reaching consequences.”

And now Exhibit B from Pete Schwartzkopf’s letter itself:

A few questions remain: Why wouldn’t
Chairman Valihura schedule a committee meeting in June knowing homes were in jeopardy in Sussex? Why would Vice Chair Stone introduce an amendment that completely gutted SB 122 and replace it with a bill drafted by park owners? Why would the prime sponsor of HB 258 strike the bill without any consultation of manufactured home owners, the same people he claimed that he was trying to help? Who are they trying to protect?

I suspect that the answer to all of these questions is the same: Delaware GOP Chairman Terry Strine. He and his family make their money from manufactured housing communities and they have a vested interest to make sure this legislation never comes to fruition. I think it is that simple.

Notice how Exhibit A and Exhibit B differ.

In Exhibit A we see that the author blames Pete Schwartzkopf for being irrational because moratorium legislation was not passed in one day. That would be an acceptable criticism were it true, because legislation is rarely passed in one day. But if we look to Exhibit B, we see the irrationality belongs to the Republicans because NO MEETING was scheduled even as late as June, FIVE MONTHS AWAY. Now because he doesn’t get it, it is obvious that the post’s author may have never felt hardship so he may be somewhat unaware of unintended consequences. But if one is suffering, FIVE MONTHS IS A LONG TIME! And if that elected official’s constituents were constantly pressing to have something done about this problem, one would naturally expect their elected leader to show some outrage over the fait accompli that their relief bill was tabled without a vote, and another bill, this one favorable to the landlords, was substituted in its place. So what we have going on between these two Exhibits, is the brazen attempt to paint outrage over the postponement of tenant relief until the next legislative session, as being instead, outrage that the vote was not accomplished in one day………. This misdirected emotion is a common occurrence in political writings and is somewhat similar to a department stores tactic of “bait and switch.”

Lets continue on.

Exhibit C

First, let’s be honest here. Bob Valihura and Donna Stone don’t give a hoot about Terry Strine. Sure, he’s the party chairman, but individual legislators don’t really care.

Uh…yeah right. We are often willing to suspend disbelief but not for something that that goes that far. Most of us looking at that statement with inside knowledge and experience, would say: “Oh, so thats why they did it.” Or are we to believe that anytime they can, both Bob Valihura and Donna Stone give Terry and his family the middle finger: “Hey Terry, this is for you and yours.” C’mon…..Get real.

Exhibit D

Second, let’s get down to what we’re really talking about here: rent control. Schwartzkopf, who’s never worked in the private sector and been forced to sell a good or service, is perfectly happy to fix the price that someone can charge for a piece of ground.

Here we are supposed to believe that Pete Schwartzkopf is a no good bum because he has never worked in the private sector. What a piece of trash….I say…..never worked in the private sector?…..What is wrong with everyone down in Rehoboth who keeps re-electing him?.… When actually very few legislators have ever worked in the private sector. Take Delaware for example……This blogger himself took the trouble to find just how many private sector persons were involved in our states General Assembly. Not many. Historically very few private sector persons have ever become legislators over the last 229 years (It doesn’t pay), and this state and nation have survived….. But you are being prepped to accept that Pete Schwartzkopf is dirt by some stupid fact that has no relevance to this issue that Vice Chair Stone introduce an amendment that completely gutted SB 122 and replace it with a bill drafted by park owners.

Exhibit E

Not only that, the bill has no provision for means-testing.

Here we have an actual weakness in the bill that is being exploited for political gain. Yes, it’s an easy fix. But it points to the stark difference between the two parties. From the Democrats frame of reference, any law should be equal for everyone; that’s what democracy is. There should be no special class of people to which the law should not apply. Republicans think differently. They believe if one is privileged and wealthy, that laws are to govern others, and should not apply to them. Just look to Cheney/ Bush if you wish to see verification. Therefore from any Democrat’s point of view, you make one law to fit all. Within that frame, this detail of millionaires living in trailer parks was missed.

Exhibit F

So, there are problems with the bill. Significant problems. Not the least of which is the fact that YOU CAN’T FIX PRICES.

Of course you can. Everyone fixes prices. Whether through a gentleman’s agreement, or a “follow the leader” policy, or whether sanctioned by the Public Service Commission,… prices, for the most part, have been regulated over the entire history of humanity. Anyone who has ever bought or sold an item and thought they paid a price too high for its value, has probably been a victim of price fixing. As we have monopolized giant corporations thereby limiting competition, we have given up our right to paying the lowest price possible for any of our purchases. When trying to increase one’s revenue stream, the first question out of a round table discussion is: what is the competition charging for a similar service? So here a mis-truth is trumpeted like it is the clincher to an argument. Can’t fix prices indeed…….(Oops. Texas has a refinery’s down. Let’s raise prices 50 cents……..)

Exhibit G

As soon as you fix the price of ground rent, why not fuel oil? Food? Textbooks or computers for schools? Commodities? Consumer goods? Where does it stop?

Here is a classic example of sloppy, slippery slope argumentation. If we follow the logic correctly (and not emotionally) we are to assume that Pete Schwartzkopf will be responsible for price controls for everything. Hey Pete, McDonalds wants to raise the price on one of their hamburgers 5 cents. Can you do them a favor and get the General Assembly and the Governor to agree on that? If you don’t, McDonalds may have to discontinue selling that item because foreign beef went sky high, only because Cheney/Bush sliced all the money out of the Food and Drug Administration, thereby contaminating our food supply? Emotionally this works, however, because we as humans don’t pay attention………What we hear is : Pete Schwartzkopf………..fix the……does it stop? We walk away shaking our heads thinking: that Pete guy, something must be wrong with him…….when actually there is nothing wrong with him….. Instead something is wrong with the author for using the slippery slope argument in the first place.

Exhibit H

The true solution here has to be a fund to help poor residents afford rent increases.

Spoken like a true Republican: its the governments job to bail them out…….It’s not like we have a deficit or anything. Let’s just pay the patrons or even better…… subsidize the landowners the difference between the market value and regulated rent. We can increase it at will…..Let our grandchildren pay it off, no big deal. Now I don’t know about you, but I worked too hard for my money to turn it over to people moaning I’m not making a billion dollars yet…help me… Let land owners suck it up……They bought the land years ago when it cost pennies on the dollar. They are not hurting. The tenants are. And to previously complain about the high amount of Federal and State spending, and to then propose that we spend tax dollars on these few people, (one who happens to chair the Republican party), is in one word……odd.

Exhibit I

There is a compromise solution, here. It will involve the park owners giving up some restrictions on how and when they adjust their rents, and it will involve the home owners giving up their dream of fixed prices.

In other words: price fixing.

Exhibit J

It should certainly involve the ability to pay as a main factor, which it does not now.

As mentioned above, this is the one good idea coming out of this whole post. It can be easily fixed by one amendment and a voice vote.

Exhibit K

Now, back to Rep. Schwartzkopf. His argument is since Reps. Valihura and Stone see the issue from the same point of view that the park owners do, that they are somehow looking out for the park owners. That is an outrageous charge,

Is it really? Don’t all of us see reality as is prismed though our individual perspectives. Don’t all our pasts have input into how we see the present? Don’t our actions reflect our values, which in tern reflect our perspectives? At least that is the way I see it……for example if many meetings about this issue have been held across the state say by several different people, and then, in the secret of a committee’s chambers, this work disappears and another one take its place, one that gives park owners everything they wanted……can that even be remotely considered as looking out for the park owners? HELL, YEAH! It;s not outrageous……it’s reality……there is no other explanation……For if the assertion were true, that they shared the perspective and would dare align themselves with the scummy park owners, they would have done the normal thing and introduced another bill, gotten sponsors and publicity, passed it through committee, and onto the floor for a vote. But, you see,… they didn’t do that!…..What they did, was take a bill that had gotten sponsors and publicity, rip it up and substitute it with their bill which hadn’t. Now those on the floor who support the original bill, will never get a chance to vote. What Donna Stone and Bob Valihura did, is actually kind of sneaky and very undemocratic. And what the post’s author tried to do, was make a bold attempt to brand Pete’s accusation as being outrageous, in order to throw attention away from the undemocratic act actually done by these two officials.

Exhibit L

  • Who was Pete Schwartzkopf looking out for when he voted that the public, the press and the legislators DON’T DESERVE TO SEE the multi-billion dollar state budget before it becomes law?
  • Who was Pete Schwartzkopf looking out for when he voted AGAINST banning open containers in vehicles, costing the state millions in federal dollars?
  • Who was Pete Schwartzkopf looking out for when he FAILED TO SUPPORT the creation of the office of State Inspector General, who would investigate waste, fraud and abuse in the state government?
  • Who was Pete Schwartzkopf looking out for when he vote TO RAISE taxes, tolls and fees for the Transportation Trust Fund without any reforms to how the money is spent?
  • Who was Pete Schwartzkopf looking out for when he voted AGAINST requiring all candidates to disclose that they are up to date on income taxes and any past due taxes and that all child support payments and property taxes are current?
  • Who was Pete Schwartzkopf looking out for when he voted AGAINST preventing the state from taking money out of state employees’ paychecks without their permission?
  • Who was Pete Schwartzkopf looking out for when he voted AGAINST letting school boards decide whether to pay artificially-inflated, state-mandated wages on their school construction projects, when supporting it would have saved up to $35 million?

And here comes the emotional dump. Here is where everything the author hates about the man is suddenly thrown out, in the dire hope that you remember even a tiny piece. However, it has nothing to do with the argument at hand…..which is basically what can we do to stop rents from rising out from under fixed income tenants, who must drastically cut their calorie intake to pay the rent increase, who must cover their children with borrowed clothes to pay the rent increase, and who must skip every other day of medication, just to make sure that more money goes to their wealthy landowners …….That is really what this argument is all about……It’s about who gets the help…..and who sucks it up……Under Donna Stones interpretation of the law, tenants who actually own the homes…..but rent the land……have just landed on “Park Place” with five hotels……..They are out…….And the wealthy Strines are laughing loudly……”I won, you’re out sucker……” It’s not a pretty picture… But because we are being told that Pete is such a bad man, it must follow that Terry Strine, who is Pete’s opposite, must be good in comparison, at least on an emotional level. But if we look at the logic underlying what is being said, well, …..there is none…..What we have is a fool calling someone else out for another fool…. For logically, how does legislation about the budget/bond bill, have any thing to do with tenants getting dicked by their landlords? What does open containers in vehicles have to do with tenants getting dicked by their landlords? What does creating the office of Inspector General have to do with tenants getting dicked by their landlord? What does raising tolls to cover the shortage in the Transportation Fund, have to do with tenants getting dicked by their landlords? What does having all candidates eventually making public their child support payments, have to do with tenants getting dicked by their landlords? What does the state’s deduction policy have to do with tenants getting dicked by their landlords? What does prevailing wage have to do with tenants getting dicked by their landlord? Not much. In fact each of these targets set up by the author are probably all much closer to Kevin Bacon, than to dealing with tenants getting…… dicked by their landlords…….

It is the hope of that author that you forget what Donna Stone and Bob Valihura did to these people and democracy in general. He hopes instead to convince you that Pete Schwartzkopf, the guy standing up for these tenants, is a really bad guy who should not be trusted. Bad Pete, bad, bad……..

Exhibit M:

By State Reps. Robert Valihura and Donna Stone

“As state representatives who have a great deal of experience handling manufactured housing issues, and who have successfully enacted numerous reforms to help manufactured housing residents in recent years, we find it very disturbing to witness the hostility, politicking and misinformation that is frustrating efforts to find solutions to issues impacting this community.

La, la, la, la………Did we do anything wrong? It’s that bad guy…..Pete…….

Ok so there you have it. Political writing at its best. It does not use logic. But the prize at stake, is enormous, at least to us……That is why it is important to look at political writings with a critical mind. Had such been done in 2000, the word “deficit” would now be a historical term. It is not…. because we screwed up…..It collectively was our fault……Of course some were aware and shouted it from the roof tops, only to be drowned out by the bass drums and the pageantry of the parade below.

We must always be critical, for politicians can’t be logical. As a species we are in the emotional phase of our cultural development. In truth, if a politician acted like a Vulcan ( Mr. Spock) we would probably give him/her a pass. Therefore it is up to us, as dedicated citizens, to critically interpret what is being spoken, by both sides…… and not be bashful about pointing it out……Remember, our current president squeaked in (barely) because of his opponents “sighs” and the press pounding that theme. Now look what it got us.

When it comes to elections, our emotions cannot be trusted. And that my friends, is why with this dichotomy between emotions and reason, the few of us find politics so engaging. There will always be something to defend, regardless of party.

Advice to future authors: If you are required to defend a really, really, stupid policy, no matter how you spin it, you are ultimately going to sound really…………….well, we’ll let the reader decide…

Final note: The politics of division is always done by “losers”. Not necessarily losers of the actual campaign, for sometimes these negative tactics actually work, and the “losers” win. But people who, if you met them on the street and started a up conversation. you would walk away and say: “Wow, what a loser.” (Rick Santorum) employ these types of tactics. The “winners” (people you say wow, what a great person) use something different: the politics of inclusion. From the sidelines you can tell who will be the better officeholder, by watching whether they include, or divide….. whenever the race tightens…….If you want to better your country, go with the “includers”…….