Thursday, January 10, 2008

Charlie Dent Calls From Islamabad

It seems to have faded from the news. But the fact remains that 160,000 US troops are currently stationed in Iraq, part of a surge that many analysts now consider a success, having reduced both Iraqi and US deaths.

If Iraq is fading from our fickle memories, Afghanistan is totally forgotten.

Yet twenty-seven thousand US troops remain there. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is considering sending a three thousand soldier "mini-surge" to combat an increasingly violent Taliban insurgency.

President Hamid Karzai has embraced a "divide and conquer" strategy of appealing to moderate chieftains to weaken hard-liners with ties to al-Qaeda fighters. But militants like Baitullah Mehsud, who commands more than twenty thousand fighters, easily crosses the porous borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Afghan officials would like us to attack safe havens in Pakistan. Should we? George Bush himself has stated that the war on terror "knows no borders," but US-led forces in Afghanistan have no current intention of crossing into troubled Pakistan without invitation.

The biggest question in Pakistan right now is whether democracy can survive, if it ever existed in the first place. A possible death blow has been dealt by the assassination of Benzair Bhutto. Elections have been delayed until February 18. But there's an even bigger fear, at least for us. Al-Qaeda operatives, who have infiltrated the Pakistani government, might seize nuclear warheads.

It's a mess! Much of it is the result of our own foreign policy blunders.

If you're a Republican in Congress, and would like to stay there, your political handlers would undoubtedly be telling you to distance yourself from anything that might awaken a public whose gaze appears to be fixed elsewhere.

Cut a few ribbons! Hand out a few cardboard checks!

But until a few hours ago, Lehigh Valley Congressman Charlie Dent was in Afghanistan. And now he's in Pakistan, part of a Veterans' Affairs Congressional delegation visiting both troubled countries this week.

Instead of doing what's politically expedient, he's doing his job.

The original purpose of his trip was to monitor elections that never occurred. But now, he's met with officials who run Pakistan's nuclear program. In Afghanistan, he's had an opportunity to see our troops. Around noon, Dent telephoned a few reporters from Islamabad, and their reports of that conversation should prove quite interesting. And just a few minutes ago, he called me, a blogger. It was after midnight for him.

Here's part of that fascinating conversation.

Do you think the mini-surge strategy proposed by Defense Secretary Gates will help?

I'm sure the people on the ground there would like a little more help. The military has been building hospitals and schools, working with farmers, treating children, in what is a very rough place. It seems that civilization has passed this country by. People still live in mud huts, but they have some hope. We are bearing more than half the burden there, and are thankful for our allies there. But we could use some additional help from them, too.

Is there any hope for democracy in Pakistan? Some believe elections may be delayed a year, and that those conducted will be rigged. How do you feel?

Pakistan has a very educated population. I can't really tell you how fair they are, but there certainly is a lot of political competition among three major parties. I think the real question is whether we can work with and have a relationship with the victors, and we have a good history with all three major parties. We can work with them all.

There are concerns, especially in the International Atomic Energy Agency, that Al-Qaeda sympathizers have infiltrated the Pakistani government and might seize nuclear warheads. What is your view? Are these concerns real?

I've met with the head of Pakistan's nuclear program. My assessment is that it's a pretty strong program. The state department has stated the chances of a seizure are remote. There are some serious control mechanisms in place to prevent that from happening. The most moderating influence in Pakistan, believe it or not, is its military. The Army has been a moderating influence, a check on the political excesses elsewhere. They are absolutely insistent that this could never happen. There is actually a perception among some Pakistanis that this is being used as an excuse to take over their program. We have no such intentions.

During our conversation, the always cheerful Dent spoke of the jingle trucks in Pakistan that he likes so much and his hopes that we can develop a good working relationship there. He clearly likes both countries and their people. But just today, at least twenty-six Pakistani police officers were killed by a suicide bomber. I'll rest easier when Charlie is back. I'd rather see him facing the slings and arrows of anonymous bloggers here than bomb fragments there.
Update: Charlie Dent's conversation with Capital Cahir is reported here.
Update #2: Pam Varknoy also received a call form Charlie, and her touching account is here.
Update #3: Josh Drobnyk's excellent report, which focues on the nuclear possibilities, is located here.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

I believe the Afghanistan surge is intended to thwart an expected spring offensive. One was expected last year, but it was relatively small and short-lived.

I support our presence there, but am troubled that coalition forces control a very small portion of the country, and no more than the Soviets could bring under control in the 80s.

More troubling, and accurately reflected in your post is the relative disinterest in Afghanistan. An entire presidential campaign has been waged without discussion of one of the most important issues facing us.

For God's sake, American sons and daughters who were sent to Afghanistan by several of those currently running for president are being shot at. I'm no fan of Charlie Dent, but at least someone is paying attention.

Anonymous said...

Why not!!

We have rigged elections here.

We even have a rigged judicial system.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. Dent has a better grasp on what is going on there than the leading presidential candidates from either party.

Anonymous said...

Or Sam Bennett.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I'm sure you remember me and my request to get our troops home.

Bethlehem Halloween parade 3 years ago.

What has changed?

Scores more of young men and women dead.

C'mon Chuckie, do something and bring them all home alive and in 1 piece...

Anonymous said...

I am waiting for the Sammy Scamps to start leving numerous websites linking Dent to atrocities in voting patterns pertaining to the Voting Rights Act of the 60's.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I think she's opening up a branch of POM in Kabul.

donmiles said...

Bernie, you said "many" believe the surge is "a success". Really ? I recall that the President said the surge's purpose was to give the Iraqi government "breathing space" to achieve the "benchmarks" he had urged them to achieve. One (and only one) of those benchmarks was a decrease in violence. But that has only partially occurred: in Baghdad and in the mono-ethnic regions controlled by the Kurds in the far northeast and the Shia in the far south. Violence in the mixed-ethnic regions (like Dyala and the cities just south of Baghdad) has INCREASED during the surge. And the much-touted Sunni "awakening" (where some Sunni leaders have allied with us) in Anbar actually began BEFORE the surge.
And those "benchmarks" ? Constitutional change to reassure Sunnis of their status ? Nope. A national oil-profits-sharing law between Kurds, Sunnis and Shias ? Nah. Iraqis providing security in all 18 provinces ? Only in a handful. Adding Sunnis in significant numbers to the almost-entirely-Shia Iraqi Army and security forces ? Not done. Removal of Shia warlord control of key national ministries ? No.
So NONE of the purposes of the surge -- as originally sold by Mr. Bush -- have been achieved, despite "surging" onward for an entire year.
As you (and Pam Varkony) admirably make clear, it is in Afghanistan (and its proximty to tinderbox Pakistan) that our true challenge lies.
Our continued expenditure of lives and treasure in an Iraq whose problems we invaders have been unable to resolve in five years (longer than we fought in WW II) is nothing but a tragic diversion from where our real efforts are most needed.
-- Don Miles

Anonymous said...

How much does the Dent campaign pay for this type of favorable spin?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Don,

Many analysts do believe the surge has been a success. It has given the Iraqi government the breathing space to come up with a political solution there. Everyone, on both sides of the fence, pretty much agree there can be no military solution there. Nearly everyone, on both sides of the fence, agree that the surge has bought some precious time, against all odds. And unfortunately, and on both sides of the fence, nearly all of us agree that the Iraqi government has failed to make the changes necessary to unify Iraq and stop the underlying causes of the bloodshed.

You are pretty much correct in all respects.

I also agree that our primary focus, if we really are interested in stopping the terror, should be in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I agree the decision to invade Iraq was a horrible blunder. As you are probably aware, we cannot maintain 160,000 troops there indefinitely. We will start drawing down in the Spring. I suspect we will withdraw about 30,000 troops and that will be the start of the exodus. In the meantime, we have to persuade Iraqis to work together. My primary concern is genocide.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment. It's hard to argue with it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

How much does the Dent campaign pay for this type of favorable spin?

If Dent were as political as you, he'd avoid this hot potato and would be handing out cardboard checks. Yet there he is, in the most volatile area of the world, doing his job. It's not all about winning the 15th Pa. congressional district. Afghanistan and Pakistan do happen to be the focal point in the war againt terror. In the ake of the Bhutto assassination and questions of Al-Qaeda infiltration of the Pakistani government, there are serious concerns over those nukes. I am thankful for a congressman who is concerned enough about his country to be there, learning all he can learn. I am hopeful he makes it back home safely, especially since violence is raging in Pakistan right now. If my Congressman were Charles Dertinger or Sam Bennett, I'd feel the same way. I thought we were all Americans.

And to be clear, and as a matter of full disclosure, I receive no compensation of any kind from anyone for what I write here.

Ken Matthews said...

I'll be the first guy to admit that I didn't even know about Bernie's blog intil I did my "stint" on WGPA, and I've only been blogging a whole 2 months. My former radio shows were not political BLAB-FESTS or LUV-INs however.... Every time I ever speak to Congressman Dent I get direct and informed answers...and I'm always amazed that he "was just at or in a particular area of operations" overseas or stateside....So beyond the fact that I think that is just outstanding.... It's also way more hands on than most Monday morning Blabfesting quarter backs who routinely asses situations from sit-reps they rip from CNN or FOX or friends or clients....anyway
Hopefully someone will find Congressman Dent's Observations through their search engine because Bernie posted it. Whether you agree with someone or not, the more eye witness accounts of what's going on over there, the more intelligent decisions could be made- AND BLOG rants over here.
THANKS AGAIN BERNSTER

Anonymous said...

And to be clear, and as a matter of full disclosure, I receive no compensation of any kind from anyone for what I write here.

He just happens to call good 'ol Bernie from Pakistan.

Newsflash Bernie. Doing photo ops in the middle east is politically expedient. And a paid boondoggle at that. Did he get a weekend in Dubai? The Morning Call piece is murky: "For safety reasons, he declined to discuss the rest of his itinerary." Funny how Dent made every media outlet in the area aware of his trip, even the local blogs.

Anonymous said...

the more eye witness accounts of what's going on over there, the more intelligent decisions could be made

Except Dent has no power or authority and his accounts are meaningless. Hopefully, he'll ride out with Bush to the sunset.

Bernie O'Hare said...

He just happens to call good 'ol Bernie from Pakistan.

Newsflash Bernie. Doing photo ops in the middle east is politically expedient.


I've got a newsflash for you. As much as Bossman Joe Long may hate it, more and more public officials are treating bloggers as a form of media. I get lots of information from different officials in both parties.

Dent reaches out to the blogosphere as well as the MSM and I give him credit for that. He makes himself accessible and that's a refreshing characteristic.

And as I said in the body of my post, the last thing a R seeking re-election should want to do is stir up public memories about Bush's failed foreign policy. Nowhere is that more evident than in Afghanistan. But Dent was there, and contrary to what one ill-informed commenter writes, a US Congrerssman has considerable power and auithority. His is one of the votes needed to fund whatever goes on. His is one of the voices we look to for leadership. This is hardly a photo op. Right now, there are serious concerns about Pakistan's stability and whether its nukes can be seized. The porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan has led to many Al-Qaeda and Taliban attacks. It's extremely important that we develop as much intelligence as we can gather about what is going on there. I am inspired that our Congressman takes his job seriously enough that he would want to be there.

Dent originally invited a few bloggers and reporters to participate in a teleconference from Islamabad. But because of technical difficulties, that could not happen. Then Dent went ahead and called everyone individually. At midnight his time, he was calling a blogger to inform his constituents about what was going on. I even told his office not to have him call me, but to let him sleep instead. He called Pam, too. Our readership is much smaller than the local papers, and I am deeply honored that he would think enough of the people who read this and other blogs to call in and report on what he's learned. He is informing the public about as sensitive situation. In short, he's doing his job.

As far as your slimy suggestion about "a weekend in Dubai," Charlie has actually put his life at risk to make himself (and us) better informed about a powderkeg in that already violent area. Your base attempt to smear him after he puts his life at risk makes you look pretty disgusting. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Anonymous said...

Bernie is right. As a congressman who sits on the Homeland security committee he has a great deal to say about what is going on in the war on terrorism. This is not his first trip to the war zone and he did not take a weekend in Dubai on the first trip.
I do know that some of his time is spent with the troops and it is not for photos ops.

Dent's accessibility to his constituents and the media (be they big or samll time) is invaluable to this area, and his willingness to take time from his legislative recess to go to a war zone speaks volumes about his dedication to this country and the well being of our deployed troops.

It's a shame that there are people who are so partisan and myopic that they cannot accept a good civil servant because of the R or D after their name.

Anonymous said...

1. An "R" seeking reelection in PA MUST appear to be concerned about the war. An R who does not is doomed. An R endorsing Bush's policies is also doomed. Of course, the opposition candidate has a role to play.

2. Dent has little authority. Hell, even Jack Murtha, who picks guys like Dent from his stool, had no power to change anything alone. Dent is doing this to gain favor from the voters and it appears that you are helping him along.

3. Fact finding is not a job job for a Congressman. Its the job of the State Department and the Intelligence agencies. We don't need Dent to inform us of what's happening on the ground. John McCain proclaimed Iraqi streets "safe" while being guarded by 100 special forces.

Dent is a political opportunist. His apparent local media wing at "Lehigh Valley Ramblings" is just getting into gear for the upcoming election.

Anonymous said...


It's a shame that there are people who are so partisan and myopic that they cannot accept a good civil servant because of the R or D after their name.


Its a shame that so-called "independent" see this as an R or D issue.

I "cannot accept a good civil servant" like Charlie Dent because he voted with the President every step of the way on this Iraq fiasco. I understand that apologists for the war do not understand this.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1. An "R" seeking reelection in PA MUST appear to be concerned about the war. An R who does not is doomed. An R endorsing Bush's policies is also doomed. Of course, the opposition candidate has a role to play.

The last thing an R seeking reelection should do is remind the public of a very unpopular foreign policy they can very easily blame on him. He could just as easily have stayed home, handing out cardboard checks for the $22.5MM in earmarked projects he managed to bring to this district. That way he could have gooten some rewal photo ops, and he could have appeared suitably "concerned" about the Middle East. Instead of followinf the advice his politicos undoubetdly gave him, he flew into the belly of the beast.

2. Dent has little authority. Hell, even Jack Murtha, who picks guys like Dent from his stool, had no power to change anything alone. Dent is doing this to gain favor from the voters and it appears that you are helping him along.

See #1 above. Dent is a US Congressman. His is one of the votes that must be sought to fund whatever we do over there. he sits, as someone aptly pointed out, on the Homeland Security Committee. The information he gleans over there is first hand, far superior to what he can learn second hand from others.

3. Fact finding is not a job job for a Congressman. Its the job of the State Department and the Intelligence agencies. We don't need Dent to inform us of what's happening on the ground. John McCain proclaimed Iraqi streets "safe" while being guarded by 100 special forces.

Are you out of your mind???? Legislatures do fact finding all the time. That is part of their role. It is the basis of ALL legislation. You are suggesting they should sit back like little babies and let someone spoon feed them the information. The state department?? Intelligence agencies??? It is their flawed information that led us into war in the first place. Now you're suggesting a congressman should do no independent fact finding and just take a back seat. Haven't you learned a damn thing?? Anyone in Congress who does that right now would have to be crazy as a bed bug.

Dent is a political opportunist. His apparent local media wing at "Lehigh Valley Ramblings" is just getting into gear for the upcoming election.

What Congressman Dent did was to provide the 700 or so persons who daily read this blog, most of whom are in his district, about whether additional forces are needed in Afghanistan and whether there is cause for concern in Pakistan.

I was astonished and humbled that he would take the time to call a blogger at midnight his time, when he undoubtedly needed some rest. I am concerned for his safety, to be honest, and proud that he is serving as our Congressman.

Charle Dent, unlike most of his predecessors, has a keen interest in foreign affairs. His college degree, after all, is is foreign affairs and international politics. His trip is about our foreign policy, not politics.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I "cannot accept a good civil servant" like Charlie Dent because he voted with the President every step of the way on this Iraq fiasco. I understand that apologists for the war do not understand this.

That, of course, is bullshit. Dent never voted to invade Iraq. He wasn't even in Congress at that time. Although he would not go along with goofy resolutions that Dems knew would be rejected, Dent is cochair of the Tuesday Group. That group has twice warned the president that his Iraqi views needed revision. Dent endorsed the findings in the ISG when that report came out. Dent did support the surge, and that appears to have been the right choice bc it has resulted in less violence.

His views on Iraq are probably in accord with most people, including most democrats, in this district. It is wrong to accuse him of being a Bush rubber stamp when it comes to foreign policy. If truth be told, Clinton and Edwards gave Bush all the support he needed when it mattered most.

Now if you want to talk about the Employee Free Choice Act or some of Dent's environmental votes, I'll agree with you. But for the most part, he's a careful thinker and something of a centrist.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Dent is a solid Congressman who is concerned about the Lehigh Valley and ALL of its citizens, and about our troops serving in the military. My son is a Navy Medic and was just home on leave for ten days. He left to go back to Pensacola last night. I don't ask how he is registered politically. That is his individual choice. I know he serves with pride. Somehow I just feel a little bit better with Charlie as a member of Congress than the alternative having Sam Bennet serving in his place. It has nothing to do with party or politics. It has to do with character. Thanks Charlie.
Marc

Bernie O'Hare said...

Well said, Marc. My little girl is in the Army, and I'm scared to death for her. But I'm also proud of the choice that she and your son both made.

Anonymous said...

My son has been 12 years USMC and I have to tell you that Someone like Dent who visits the guys and takes their problems seriuosly in his local office is a real asset to military families.

By the way wwwlehighvalleybsm.org
Blue Star Mothers great support for troops and families.

Anonymous said...

I think that is the problem with Sam B. Many don't see her with the same character as Dent. She flew into town like Ed Paw both kissed up to the Guv and now want to be coronated.

Anonymous said...

So, which anonymous posts are from Drake Minder?

Bernie, did you delete them already?

Anonymous said...

Wow, the honest dialog here is. Is, well, not so much! Honest!

Bernie O'Hare said...

I deleted no comments. I suspect the last two are probably Drake "the moat" Minder. I will delete if he starts posting his usual OT and totally bizarre rants.

Anonymous said...

I don't think BO has shown preferential treatment for Dent. If a sitting congressman calls a blog, I say put it out there. None of us 'really' know Dent's reasons but no one has proven him to be doing anything but his job.
Besides this Blog belongs to Stoffa and he won't share Bernie with anyone except Angle.

Anonymous said...

Jen Mann is being strongly urged to enter the race against Dent

Bernie O'Hare said...

KP reports Mann is gearing up to run for state treasurer. Callahan and Cunningham are both getting a lot of pressure, too, Callahan is supposed to make up his mind by the end of January, which probably means he's not running. Cunningham has repeatedly said NO. John Morganelli is running for AG. Wallitsch and Bob Freeman both say no.

Anyone who wants to run should run. The more candidates from which to choose, the better the race. My own view is that Bennett is so weak she will actually hurt Dems seeking state office. She's a walking disaster. That's why I'm glad Hall stepped into the fray. Voters need a choice.

But my post really is not about politics or the upcoming congressional election. It's about Dent's report from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Do we need more troops? Are the nukes in danger? Should our allies step up?

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Dent have a blog;
where we can ask questions?

He does it with the phone.

Perhaps he's not that strong a
candidate for reelection?

Bernie O'Hare said...

He does it with the phone.

You just answered your own question.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, why do you keep calling yourself a Democrat when you consistently support Angle, Dent, Varkony, et. al. Why not, just become unaffliated and not attempt to hide behind the mask of being a Democrat ?

Anonymous said...

Whats with all the Jenn Mann talk. I know Dem's are an optomistic bunch but ouside of her district who knows her?
With all due respect this is more about ego over substance.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 8:25,

On a local level, party affiliations are pretty much meaningless to me. I tend to support candidates who promote fiscal responsibility, accountability and open government. In some cases, these are Dems. In others, they are Republicans. Usually, the parties that become entrenched tend to be the most corrupt. In the cities, this tends to be Dems. In the suburbs, it tends to be Republicans.

My own philosophy is pretty much to the left of most Dems, when you come down to it. I do believe government exists to improve the quality of people's lives, and that we need more government involvement in things like health care. I do tend to support a living wage, and support the Employee Free Choice Act. I don't accept the argument that government which governs best is the government that governs least.

On the state and national level, I do tend to support the Democratic candidates.

But I always look at the person first, and then review his or her positions on the issues. I don't decide whom to support based on a single issue. And because my own views are pretty far to the left, I'm never terribly troubled by a candidate who refuses to parrot everything I think or that either party says.

I can support a centrist congressman like Dent because he approaches issues objectively, and makes informed decisions. I'll give you an example. I disagree completely with his stance on illegal immigration. But I like the way he arrived at it. He spoke with a number of people from both sides. I like when a leader hears everyone out, and am willing to concede that I may not be right about everything.

Now if Dent's philosophy was like Pat Toomey or Santorum, I could never support him. I love Ron Angle, but don't think I could support him for statewide or federal office. But I can support a centrist or even a moderately conservative Republican just as easily as I can support a centrist or moderately liberal Democrat.

Dent may not be right about everything either, but I know he does his homework, and that means a lot to me.

The same is true w/ John Morganelli, Don Cunningham, John Callahan, Snarlin' Arlen, Dean Browning, Ron Angle, Joe Brennan, Wayne Grube, Bill Hall, Rich Grucela, Bob Freeman, John Stoffa, Sal Panto, Karen Beyer or Craig Dally.

I'm not going to see eye to eye with them on every issue, but I respect pols who inform themselves.

Similarly, a candidate can say all the right things and I'll still vote against him or her. First they have to sell me on who they are as persons. If they can't do that, I could agree with them 100% and still vote against them.

My ideology is very left wing, but my voting pattern tends to be mainstream.

In the presidential race, the person I agree with the most is Democrat John Edwards. The person I respect the most is Republican John McCain. If I perceive Edwards as a phony, I'll be looking elsewhere. If McCain's views end up being too far to the right, I could never support him.

Anonymous said...

I know you won't get this Bernie:

Exactly My Point!


Bernie O'Hare said...

He does it with the phone.

You just answered your own question.

8:01 PM

Anonymous said...

Well, what do you know?

Got robo-called by Dent yesterday. The purpose? To brag about his recent trip to Pakistan. Thanks for letting me know Chuck. How politically opportune!

Anonymous said...

"Cough" yeah right!

The same is true w/ John Morganelli, Don Cunningham, John Callahan, Snarlin' Arlen, Dean Browning, Ron Angle, Joe Brennan, Wayne Grube, Bill Hall, Rich Grucela, Bob Freeman, John Stoffa, Sal Panto, Karen Beyer or Craig Dally.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hayshaker,

As I previously stated, the least politically expedient thing a Republican Congrerssman would want to do is draw attention to our unpopular foreign policy. I doubt that the call came from his campaign. It probably came from his office, and was probably connected to a teletown hall he was having w/ constituents about his trip to Pakistan, Afghanistan & Iraq. He is very well-informed, and I doubt very much he was bragging, as you put it. That's not his style.

Anonymous said...

The fact remains that he is using his trip for political advantage. I don't believe it goes any deeper than that. Also, politically expedient or not, people haven't forgotten Iraq and the middle east and Dent's rubber stamping of the Bush doctrine.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The fact remains that he is using his trip for political advantage. I don't believe it goes any deeper than that. Also, politically expedient or not, people haven't forgotten Iraq and the middle east and Dent's rubber stamping of the Bush doctrine.

Hayshaker, You make my point. Dent's trip to that part of the world will certainly provoke many people who are angry about our continued presence in Iraq. People will call him a rubber stamp, as you have just done. He could easily have stayed home and presented a few carboard checks for all the money he did manage to bring to the district.

Instead of playing it politically safe, as many are wont to say, Dent made a politallly risky move. And considering that 25 police officers were killed in Pakistan the day he arrived, it was also a risk to his personal safety.

Dent, believe it or not, has a keen interest in foreign policy, probably more so than any of our LV Congressmen, with the possible exception of Paul McHale.

I honestly feel he was in that troubled area of the world to learn as much as he could. His telephone call to you was probably not inetended as political so much as a report to constituents. he also conducted a tele town hall.

I've read your many comments about Dent over the past year. I honestly don't think you ever gave him a chance. Not all Republicans are bad. Not all Democrats are good. But it seems you want to believe the worst and no one is going to tell you any different.