Relationships and marriages are often expected to aspire to be havens of harmony and compatibility. Some long lasting couples talk with fierce pride of never having had a serious quarrel or serious disagreement in many years together. "Never go to bed angry" is recognised as sound relationship advice all over the world. In some cultures and religions the wife is expected to be docile and meek around the husband. This is meant to engender affection and appreciation in the reputedly dominant male. For many years this has been considered the key to a strong and lasting relationship. It is no surprise that across the world there has been a decline in formal marriages, and an increase in the rates of divorce.
Couples who believe that avoiding conflict is the path to a happy and thriving relationship are sorely mistaken. Truth be told, when you believe in something and want it to last you have to fight for it. In fact, the occasional dust up is one way to clear the cobwebs and knock some sense into some men and women in relationships. When a couple chooses to get married a fight gets underway to stay together and weather life's storms. Once the words, "till death do us part", are uttered, "thems are fighting words"; and a physical, psychological and social struggle to stay together commences.
The idea that a relationship or marriage between two very individual characters must necessarily always be peaceful and amicable assumes that all issues affecting it might have been worked out in advance. In truth, the pooling of opposing views has the potential to greatly improve the reservoir of knowledge and quality of decision making in the relationship. This will very likely both enhance understanding and the endurance of respect and affection in the relationship. Agreements reached by listening to each other and looking at the merits of all views are more legitimate than agreement where one party's consensus is assumed and taken for granted.
It is important that couples recognise when conflict is counterproductive and destructive. It is vital they both show compassion and patience towards each other. Trying to compete against, and beat each other while in a relationship only leads to two defeated people. The aim is to push each other hard while still holding each other close to each other's heart. Ultimately true love will choose honesty and tolerance in handling both conflict and agreement.
O Majestic Queen of the North,
Sweeter than the amber nectar froth.
Your laughter delights.
Your smile like the northern lights.
Your energy will build empires.
Your determination sprout shires.
Spread your wings
Like the sounds of heavenly strings.
May the good Lord bless this day.
I am forever under your sway.
Politics appears to be that one arena where partisanship is valued a lot more than higher principles. In order to get ahead in politics some people are forced to set aside their principles while others just completely abandon principle in favour of a front seat on the bandwagon. In the 2016 US presidential election a lot of people have lined up behind Clinton and Trump racked with no small degree of ambivalence, and through gritted teeth.
One politician who hasn't been too discriminating about entering one room or the other with people of dubious reputations has been Nigeria's President Buhari. He swept to power claiming to be a new broom committed to changing a culture of public fraud and corruption. However, he didn't hesitate to join forces with Atiku and Tinubu to rally support for his presidential bid. Both men have been tainted by accusations of enrichment in public office and facilitating fraud. Raji Fashola (the well loved former governor of Lagos State) who Buhari appointed to key ministerial portfolio failed to properly respond to claims that millions of public funds were spent on a personal website for him.
Hillary Clinton has appeared happy to apologise for things she has been found to be wrong about but never prepared to explain what really happened with the deletion of emails from her private sever, speeches she was paid to give on Wall Street or links between donations to the Clinton Foundation and her role as Secretary of State. Michelle Obama says she believes Hillary Clinton is a truly good and decent person. But she couldn't have forgotten the things Hillary said and did during the Democratic Party nomination contest with Barrack Obama. Hillary Clinton's appointment as Secretary of State was mainly intended to ease her bitterness and avoid any acrimony from her loss. Bernie Sanders is campaigning for Hillary but he knows that Hillary stands for everything he is opposed to. However Sanders knows that the best chance of adoption of any liberal policies is if Hillary becomes president.
Donald Trump's candidacy is literally ripping the Grand Ol Party a new one. A lot of Republicans are desperate for a return to the GW Bush era when social projects were a liberal evil and sleazy lobbying and corporate greed ruled the day. However there is a recognition that with Trump as president even these things are likely to be taken to such an extreme that the party will become so toxic that it will fall out of public favour and its members start to devour themselves. However most Republicans will get behind Trump even if there are more than a few who won't stand beside him.
There's nothing wrong with having someone new and inexperienced in the White House. What's required is someone with integrity and vision. Trump is definitely not that person. Unfortunately, neither is Hillary Clinton.
It is interesting that as science is breaking new ground and taking technology and innovation to new heights social development has not just taken a backward step but is sliding rapidly downhill. This world was built on the vision of great thinkers and passion borne out of selfless integrity. Now we're keeping up with the Kardashians and striving to be pseudo apprentices with a spotlight blinding us in some sort of lions den.
In modern times leaders in various fields have proven to be extremely prone to promoting self interest as cautious action driven by the common good. Most notions of duty have been supplanted by the desire to achieve longevity and dominate popular opinion. Notable academics have been discredited for giving questionable evidence as expert witnesses. We have had cases of researchers being paid off by pharmaceutical companies to publish biased studies. Journalists are openly partisan, serving paymasters, falsifying news, plagiarising and even setting honey traps. Various longstanding and reputable businesses in the U.K. have closed down thanks to asset stripping by rapacious owners.
Rulers from Saudi Arabia and the UAE have stood by while refugees from Syria have been subjected to indignities seeking shelter in Europe. In fact, the Saudi regime has been mostly occupied with bombing random civilian targets in Yemen. African presidents have individually and collectively found leadership inspiration by looking back to eras of plundering and pillaging. They have rendered their countries broke and peoples destitute and broken. Russia is busy starting and supporting conflicts wherever it can as a cover for arms trading and diplomatic grandstanding.
Obama has proven a calming influence in the American White House but he has shown a lack of leadership in dealing with the economy, race relations and policing of minorities. When Obama stood by quietly and let GW Bush detail an economic bailout plan that favoured corporate America he demonstrated what was to be an ongoing reticence in dealing directly with working class poverty in America. Two of the candidates who will be contesting the American presidential elections this year have significant questions over their integrity and suitability.
In the U.K. the Conservative party has lost one prime minister thanks to David Cameron's reluctance to take a stand against eurosceptics in the party. Theresa May, the current prime minister failed to deliver on a promise to curb immigration when she Home Affairs minister. She is now playing politics with the handling of the U.K.'s exit from the European Union. The economy is suffering as a result. The Labour Party has been plagued with a series of ineffective leaders following Tony Blair's resignation as prime minister. The party is currently at war with its present leader and itself, to all intents and purposes. It has been no help that the current leader of the Labour Party has proven somewhat ineffectual and divisive.
Africa is rife with instances of ineffective and corrupt leaders. Many leaders in the continent are obsessed with not leaving the seat of power rather than actually leaving a positive legacy. In Africa a lot of business leaders have achieved success through fraud and the corruption of public institutions and officials. The 'Arab Spring' was supposed to bring revolution to North Africa but has only succeeded in miring the region in extremism and instability. Mugabe has succeeded in holding on to power while completely wrecking the economic and social life of Zimbabwe. The ANC in South Africa has managed to take its people out of apartheid into poverty.
It appears that leadership is one area in which humanity has managed to regress. Opportunism and profit appear to be the defining characteristics of leadership in modern times. It appears the qualifications needed for leadership now are wealth and influence. Needless to say this makes for leaders who are essentially unprincipled and easily swayed. It also spells trouble for those hoping that the privileged few might protect the needy many.
Two months after the referendum ended in a vote to leave the European Union the British government still hasn't been able to set out a framework or process for achieving an exit. For a government that seems to be trying not to show its hand before negotiations it seems to be making its confusion and muddled thinking all too clear to all. Theresa May's government has so far offered the nation much needed illumination on the issue by telling us, "BrExit means BrExit" and "BrExit means leaving Europe".
During the referendum campaign a lot was made of the need to reduce migration, reallocate ER financial contributions to public services, and take back control of the legislative process. We were also regularly informed of how irrelevant the single market was in real terms. Now the vote to leave has been taken all the vocal Leave campaigners seemed to have gotten suddenly hazy about exactly what needs to be done. And no one seems in much of a hurry to kick the single market into touch.
It is true that BrExit will now afford the UK the opportunity to negotiate its own trade deals with other trading blocs. However negotiations won't necessarily be on its own terms as it will lack leverage; and will most likely approach them with more than a faint hint of desperation. This will make any negotiations slow and attritional. Not exactly the earth shattering empowerment independence through BrExit was supposed to bring.
There will be advantages for domestic manufacturers supplying goods within the UK as the costs of importation are likely to go up making their produce more competitive. It is also possible there might be import restrictions which will benefit them. They will face higher revenue costs for importing capital and materials. But those businesses that export into the EU will very likely see the imposition duties and restrictions which will adversely affect their businesses.
Farmers are anxiously awaiting news on what will happen to agricultural subsidies. It is clear that there won't be a like for like replacement of lost EU funding. However, decisions on transitional arrangements need to start being made now. Imminent EU funding is likely to be discontinued, or at best suspended while a decision is pending on Article 51.
However ill prepared the government is for exiting the EU there is enough knowledge about what needs to be done for it to start identifying key requirements for trading negotiations and shaping policy. The sooner the government starts to engage various sectors and identity its priorities and risks the stronger the likelihood of positive, even if meagre outcomes.
The Olympics motto of "citius, altius, fortius" used to send chills down my spine as a child. I always got so excited at the idea of the best of the best competing heroically just for the glory of it.
However that ideal was shattered by the revelations of Ben Johnson's use of steroids. Tales of covering up of positive drugs tests by Americans during the LA Olympics further tainted the so called Olympic ideal. The scoring system in boxing had to be changed after biased scoring by Korean judges at the Seoul Olympics. By the time professional basket players were allowed to compete in Olympic competition all hope was lost. Since then there has been evidence of corruption in the International Olympic Committee under the stewardship of Juan Antonio Samaranch, and a seemingly endless stream of failed drug tests amongst top competitors. To all intents and purposes the Olympics has become just another arena for making money by any means available.
The IOC faced calls to ban Russia from participating in the Rio Olympics. Not surprisingly it let itself down by deciding to pass the decision on to individual Olympic associations. Russia has a long history of state sponsored doping. All the way back to the times it was actively doping athletes in conjunction with the then East Germany. That alone suggests that it will take more than a few months to clear up Russia's predilection for doping its athletes. A total ban shouldn't be seen as punishment but as a chance for Russia to finally clean itself up and allow its athletes to finally do themselves justice.
However, Russia isn't the only country to have institutionally condoned the use of performance enhancing drugs.
The use of human growth hormone and blood doping were pioneered in the United States. China has a history of organised doping. Kenya and Jamaica have had questions asked about their drug testing setups.
The IOC has had more than enough reasons to be proactive on the issue of doping in sports. It could certainly do more to fund the research into, and administration of drug testing. It may be time to take responsibility for drugs testing away from hosting nations and compel it to be subcontracted out to an independent body or organisation. The IOC has an obligation to show that it has a zero tolerance policy with regards the use of performance enhancing drugs. It is time to consider adopting a lifetime ban for any athletes found guilty of doping. Until the IOC starts leading the way in the eradication of doping in sports the Olympic Games will embody none of the spirit of the true Olympians of ancient legend.
One of the benefits of the evolution of society was that human beings no longer had to live a brutish and short existence. They could form relationships, acquire property and provide for themselves without having to endure an unending cycle of attacks and killings. In other words, they were free to live without fear. It appears that modern day America is recreating the conditions that prevailed in prehistoric societies in Black communities. People are preyed upon by bullies and criminals, and oppressed and brutalised by the so called agents of law and order. We now have a situation where the police's failure to protect and serve the Black people in America has now placed the lives of all people in America in peril.
The perpetrators of the shootings in Dallas are wrong and have done more harm than they can imagine. Killing police officers under the cover of a 'Black Lives Matter' march was inexcusable. However, the police in America have created an environment where any Black person must reasonably fear for their lives if stopped by the police. The escalation of police shootings of unarmed Black men combined with increased instances of Black people dying in custody hasn't yet led to any systemic change in law enforcement in America. If the establishment continues to disregard unjust killings and abuse of authority by the police then they are setting the scene for Black people to stand their ground and start fighting back.
I deplore the shooting of police officers in Dallas but my sympathies lie with the families of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille and the five hundred other Black people who have died at the hands of the police this year.
A section of African Americans are acutely aware of the close connection between America's independence and the history of slavery. They are thus very indignant about any attempts to celebrate the 4th of July by Black people. And they have every reason to be embittered. Not only were Black people enslaved and brutalised but three centuries later they are still being oppressed and marginalised.
America's history is a tale of conflicts and hypocrisies. America claims to be the land of the free yet at various times it has enslaved or oppressed Native Americans, Africans, Latin Americans, Polynesians and various minorities. Americans are fiercely nationalistic but suffer from a strangely enduring desire to be British. The American love of sport is legendary yet it suffers from the worst incidence of obesity in the developed world. Americans swear by the second amendment but America is plagued by the highest levels of gun crime and violent deaths anywhere in the world. America is the foremost developed country in the world but it has shown year on year increases in poverty, deprivation, ill health and social marginalisation.
It is important that African Americans not forget their history. That history is integral to the history of America. While past wounds may not be healed there are future battles to be fought. It is reasonably acceptable not to celebrate the 4th of July but Black Americans have earned their place in modern America and they have a role to play in its continuing evolution and transformation. It is important that African Americans don't become infested with the hypocrisy that inhabits American history and pervades the American psyche. It was ironic that Bill Clinton; a man responsible for drugs and penal policies that have ravaged Black American communities gave the eulogy at Muhammad Ali's funeral.
There is still a huge amount of work to be done on building up Black enlightenment and self esteem. African America can't keep pointing the finger in one direction and yet turn its back on the poverty, crime, deprivation, under education, ill health, and lack of aspiration that has infested its neighbourhoods. It needs to learn about history while educating itself about the demands of advancing its interests locally and globally in harsh and oppressive modern times. Complacency and settling will only serve to dishonour the sacrifices of the Black people who fought for survival in an independent America.
I am not particularly well traveled across Europe. All my travel in Europe has been down to necessity rather than interest. I therefore cannot claim to be a Europhile. I am also not a big fan of the European Commission's bloated bureaucracy and widespread inefficiencies. However, I do believe that the EU plays an important role in providing a forum for collective action on issues that national governments are too partisan or weak to address. These issues include human rights, environmental protection, quotas, banking regulation, health and safety, and quality standards.
Successive UK governments have been poor at opting in to dealing with issues of common interest. There is a danger that if given a free hand partisan and monied interests will take priority over the common good. Working together across Europe appears to be the best chance available to protect the interests of the common people, and advance developments working towards fairness and equality.
David Cameron decided to break the ice with the Queen by lightheartedly making an ironic dig at global corruption, particularly in Nigeria and Afghanistan. A strange decision for a man who recently stood up in parliament to stridently defend his father's calculated tax avoidance, despite having previously publicly criticised comedian Jimmy Carr's tax avoidance arrangements.
It is true that there is corruption in Afghanistan, much of which is down to the regime installed by the USA and Great Britain. Nigeria also has a chronic problem with corruption which is actively fed by the money laundering expertise of British banks. The corruption in these countries has been responsible for underdevelopment and systemic inefficiency.
However, Great Britain historically and under David Cameron has not been a corruption free state. There has been the cash for questions, cash for peerages, MPs expenses, British Aerospace bribery, Libor rate rigging, mortgage payment protection, HSBC money laundering, Weat Yorkshire police, BHS pensions scandals; to name but a few. So it would appear that there is an equally fantastic amount of corruption going on in Britain itself.
Addressing corruption in the developing world is necessary but mocking and deriding the countries does call into question how sincere Great Britain's efforts really are. It will be difficult to win the trust of people who are held in such low regard. David Cameron may point the finger at others for being corrupt but the fingers pointing right back at him suggest he has a lot of work to do to clean up corruption back at home.
A cousin of mine expressed his frustration with the state of Nigerian politics by questioning the reason for voting. He feels politicians are not there for the people and do not offer any real public service. I can see where he's coming from given the rampant corruption in public office and the absolute greed and superficiality of legislators. He seemed to think that politicians in other countries are a lot more conscientious and work harder in the public interest.
There are a world of reasons why any eligible person should vote. I am going to explore five of them in this post
1. Choosing a government (be it the right one or the wrong one) is a duty that every citizen must undertake. Government in its true essence represents the will and power of the people. Even though this has been subverted in modern times striving to achieve it is a never ending quest.
2. You can strive for equality and justice but it cannot be realised unless championed by a governments and lawmakers. If you don't select the the best available you can't expect those that are there to bring about a better world.
3. Even if there are no ideal or suitable candidates in ones view, voting against the worst candidate is both a statement and act of opposition.
4. Fixing society must be done on many levels - a thought, a view, an act, a protest, or a vote. If you need to be in it to win it then casting a vote is the way you get in.
5. Improving society is dependent on people understanding what it means to be moral and just. Good civic behaviour needs to be modelled. Not voting suggests a cynicism and lack of belief that doesn't promote the idea that it is possible to improve the world. Voting is one of the key behaviours that suggest a willingness to change things for the better and the conviction that a better world is within reach. Casting ones vote us the very essence of setting a good example.
Voting may not always give us the government we desire but it is a declaration about the kind of government we don't want. And it is an effort towards realising what we believe good government should be.
Sex and relationships have been a complicated and complicating feature of human interaction from biblical times through early civilisation into modern days. Relationships have gone from being functional tools for empire building and passing on family legacies to being expressions of personal identity and vehicles for social cohesion. Sex has gone through periods of restriction, subversion, freedom and caution. In present times the Internet has transformed how people pursue both sex and relationships.
Young people are reaching puberty much earlier in life now. They are also having an increased awareness of and exposure to experiences and issues relating to sex and relationships. There is an increasing rate of marital and relationship break ups which are creating a complexly diverse set of domestic arrangements. There are now more instances of single parent families and family units with more than two parents a part of them. The age of the two parent family is fast receding.
Young people are being introduced to personal relationships much earlier. This is taking a mental, emotional and physical toll on them. They have access to information about relationships at their disposal with no restrictions or guidance. They are therefore more aware of the issues and also more interested in exploring and testing out the knowledge they have. Many adults have adopted casual attitudes to sex and relationships; while a lot of others have become socially isolated and awkward, increasingly reliant on proxy methods to make connections. They are neither the best role models or particularly admirable trendsetters.
It would appear that nowadays in the minds of many young people being sexually active is being conflated with sexual and emotional maturity. The reality though seems to be that being down for whatever doesn't quite mean being smart about what one does or it's consequences. Hence the increase in sexually transmitted diseases amongst young people and high levels of teenage pregnancies in some countries. There appears to be a greater need for sex and relationship education in schools and in the home. Current sex and relationship education focuses mostly on biological imperatives and gender awareness. These are important but more attention needs to be paid to self esteem, personal responsibility and life aspirations. These offer an insight into personality traits and conflicts that are likely to influence romantic choices.
In spite of religious perspectives on chastity and sexuality there is nothing intrinsically wrong with sex between consenting married or unmarried couples. However, having sex cannot be a confirmation of commitment nor is it enough by itself to constitute a lasting relationship. Building a relationship must involve self insight and a sincere shared bond between two people. It requires emotional maturity and at a young age there is a limit to the self awareness and personal insight a person can have. Knowing what to expect and what to believe in a relationship are a function of trial and error; and growth. Being able to take a step back when hormones are raging isn't something the young are renowned for doing. While it is possible for a young person to experience grown up feelings they might not necessarily have the knowledge and experience to understand the various options that might inform decisions that are about to be made.
It isn't possible to go about ones sex life unnoticed anymore. Whenever one is in a relationship the whole world's eyes are on one. They're all watching and judging. Your parents, family, friends, social media networks, neighbours, school, work colleagues, institutions and even law enforcement are forming impressions based on who you are in a relationship with. It doesn't even have to be a serious relationship. They just need to jump to the conclusion that you're having sex.
I don't think it is possible to stop teenagers from having sex but there will be opportunities to raise their awareness about the motivations and expectations that they take into sexual relationships. These are the things that will determine how they see relationships in the future. Ultimately self esteem and sexual relationship are intricately intertwined. How we see ourselves and how we are looked at by society can be influenced by the nature of the relationships we have. Achieving healthy relationships is dependent on educating young people about making healthy decisions.
I cannot say that I have been stricken with grief at Prince's death but I was extremely struck by his passing. To call him an incomparable musician and artist is to understate his genius. His music and lyrics were timeless yet on point with every trend.
The first Prince song I ever heard was 'I Wanna be Your Lover'. At a time when Disco and R&B were the reigning trends he came with a guitar sound that took centre stage and blew everyone away. I was surprised to find out that was from his second album and scrambled to get my hands on his first one, 'For You'. Anita Baker is the only other artist who made me go searching for her first album after being introduced to her music via her second. Even though I'm no big fan of rock I thoroughly enjoyed his next two albums; 'Dirty Mind' and 'Controversy' ( I couldn't get enough of 'Do Me Baby'). While on a trip to London to bury my mum I became acquainted with the 'Lovesexy' album. It was a difficult and cold time and I spent a lot if time listening to music on a friend's pristine white midi player. Individually a lot of Prince's songs are a delight but listening to a whole album over and over again proved an intriguingly awakening experience. His musicianship and conceptualisation on each album blended in a special way.
His death prompted me to root through my collection and dig up his albums, CDs and singles. I even found a song he wrote for Mica Paris (If I Love U 2 Nite). It has been a joy listening his music that I have in my collection. Each item has a particular context for me. I bought the 'Partyman' vinyl single, from the Batman soundtrack, imagining that someday that single would become a collectors item. I'm still waiting. 'Gett Off' was a regular on my dj set back in the day. The 'Eye Hate U' single has been resonating with me a little bit. That's an emotional experience I have been through a few times. His songs from 'Diamonds and Pearls' featuring Rosie Gaines are such a delight. I've always loved the song 'Most Beautiful Girl in the World '. 'Purple Rain' is just a classic.
The new new Nigerian government was elected on a promise to change the corrupt and self serving government of the past regimes. It was going to sweep out corruption and misadminstration, and clean up the corrupt mess left by the previous government. That promise has proven to be an empty boast. It now appears that the faith placed in the new government by the people of Nigeria was misplaced. There was a delay in appointing ministers. It was hoped that this was to be ensure that the right people were appointed to take forward an agenda for change. It turns out that the delay was just another function of the government's inertia and lack of ideas. The appointees have proven less than impressive.
The economy that has been left to drift. The ministry of finance tussling with the central bank for control of fiscal policy. This has led to economic stagnation with the foreign exchange market practically imploding. The stock exchange has crashed and then fallen even further. No tangible domestic economic strategy has been outlined. Even corporate taxation hasn't yet been radically reformed. The government presented a disastrous budget to the senate that had to be withdrawn. It so clearly didn't address the economic issues at hand or properly allocate funds to areas of greatest need. The government has been focused on obtaining bridging loans rather than securing investment. Little has been done to diversify the economy and move it from a predominantly services base to a more manufacturing one.
The minister for services rushed into the breach with a strategy document but failed to do his due diligence or any impact assessments. Lofty ambitions of managing power and developing infrastructure have rapidly been overwhelmed by the need to just keep things running. As it turns out operational continuity has lost out to poor planning and incompetence. Almost every month of this new government has seen fuel shortages. Electricity supply has fallen to new lows. Something that is almost unimaginable given how usually poor it is.
Law and order in the country seem to be breaking down in a lot of states. Elections in Rivers state recently provoked calls for the imposition of a state of emergency. Fulani herdsmen seem to be rampaging unchecked, laying waste to villages and murdering women and children on a regular basis. Certain elements have started a campaign for a so called 'Biafra state'. This agitation has been tackled in a heavy handed manner. A radio show host arrested, detained and arraigned in court on charges of treason and sedition. More time has been spent briefing about how Boko Haram has been defeated than on actually tackling the terrorist menace itself.
The government has become increasingly associated with misinformation and spin. Campaign promises have been watered down or at times denied outright. A campaign pledge to offer an allowance to the unemployed was first scorned by the president in a webchat in December and is now being said to have never been made at all. It appears that contrary to President Buhari's declaration that his experience of democracy has changed him from a military dictator; he appears to be increasingly leaning towards a militaristic totalitarian approach to governing.
A lot of work has gone into probing the huge amount of corruption linked to the previous government. However, this appears to be an excuse for the government's inaction on a whole raft of other areas of public service. To date it appears that tackling corruption is the only policy that government is actually pursuing.
There is no doubt that the previous government left services and the infrastructure of government in a sorry state. However, this was always the task at hand when President Buhari campaigned for election and when he assumed office. Continuously pointing it out has worn thin on the citizenry and shows an element of cluelessness in a government that promised so much and claimed to have the answer to the country's problems. President Buhari is at the helm of an administration that is presiding over an unprecedented level of social and personal difficulties for Nigerians. His credibility, like his approval ratings is at an all time low. He needs to take a step back and come up with a more considered action plan to address all that is currently going wrong in the country. More importantly though, it needs to embody real change and act to reverse the poor performance and perception of the administration.