Category: politics

Beating a dead horse (Why the crime bill won’t solve much)

Beating a dead horse (Why the crime bill won’t solve much)

Finally, after over a year of dilly-dallying the government has passed a bill aimed at ridding the nation of violence (mainly caused by gangs and inflicted by the gun). The bill sailed through the lower house with bi-partisan approval, and though the debate in the Senate went on for quite some time, it got passed again with bi-partisan support. The law as it is now and has been passed allows for the security forces (through the PM and his security council) can declare anywhere a zone of special operations. Some people look at the new law as a breath of fresh air which will see us being both ‘tough on crime while fixing the causes’, but though this bill may make some who reside in the affluent neighborhoods feel like something positive is being done the reality is that no lasting positive changes will be made by this bill while it opens the way for Jamaica to become a police state.

This bill, much like its failed predecessor the Suppression of Crime Act, will come to nothing more than poor people being taken advantage of while failing to actually address the root causes of crime. It is very backwards and in many ways puts the cart before the horse. The prime example being the ‘clear, hold, build’ model that they have been touting. Now it sounds good and that it is a straightforward fix, but ask yourself, where are these members of the social service who are to ‘build’ coming from? When last did you see an advert in the papers recruiting for this key job, this job that is at the heart of this plan? Are we to send in the already stretched CDA or some other underfunded, undermanned and overstretched agency?

While much talk and hot air has been wasted on the areas of crime, no one during this entire debate has looked at what is possibly the biggest thing stopping us from fighting crime, uptown and monied Jamaicans. It is no secret that certain persons who live in the rarefied areas like Cherry Gardens are the ones who finance the guns coming into the wharf to arm men in the ghetto who can’t even buy chicken back. We have seen where this model will lead us, we saw it in the 70’s=90’s, and for those of us too young to remember what that looked like, look no further than Brazil and Rio where even after a decade of ‘clear, hold and build’ for the Olympics and World Cup the favelas are still just as violent as before, only with more police brutality.

The law as written and passed is actually mind-boggling in parts, it strips us of our freedoms and liberties while putting far too much power in the hands of a notoriously corrupt constabulary, the army (which isn’t viewed in a much better light) and a small group of overreaching politicians. It gives the security forces such arbitrary powers under very vague circumstances that are open to abuse, take for example Objects of Act 3 (d): Empowers members of the Joint Force to search a person, vehicle or place without a warrant, within a zone, if they reasonably suspect that an offence has been, is being or is about to be committed.  That bit of legislation is so wide and expansive that it, in reality, will enable the Force to search anywhere in that zone because they have a hunch, no actual proof. A piece of legislation that opens the public up to arbitrary and unjustified stops and searches because a crime is being committed nearby, it is the lazy man’s police work.

Then we get into the fact that it opens the nation up to the rule of an executive PM as opposed to one who acts with the consent of and after consultation and agreement with his Cabinet. This can be seen in Zone of special operation, Declaration of Zone 4(1) The Prime Minister in Council, may, by order, declare any geographically defined area within a single continuous boundary in Jamaica, as a zone of special operations for a period not exceeding sixty days if the circumstances set out in subsection (2) exist.

Now, regardless of how stringent the regulations of subsection (2) are (and they are actually pretty black and white), we have seen on a daily basis where persons from both parties both while in government and opposition frequently play fast and loose (or just being plain corrupt) with the law and freely associate with known criminals. We see where laws are implemented on certain persons or groups based on partisan loyalty and who can pay the most and that up to today has not changed, therefore asking us to accept the Prime Minister will have almost unchecked power as it relates to both when, where, how long and who leads these zones is utter insanity as we have seen where they can be (and are) so destructive with the limited amount of power that they have.

haggartfunerald20010508rb(Peter Phillips, Omar Davies and Karl Blythe at Willie Haggarts funeral)

With scamming now almost half of what tourism brings into the coffers of this nation (almost one billion dollars according to a VICE article) how do we expect to get these young men (and women) who have been inculcated with this get rich quick mentality? With the drug scene still prevalent (and really at its same monstrous heights since the deportation of Coke and Ramcharan) where are the plans that we should be putting in place to break the deadly underground and illegal triangular trade we have with the Colombians and the Mexicans (the Mexicans who now control some of our largest and most profitable illegal ganja fields)? Where is the plan to strengthen the border to stop criminals from foreign lands coming to our shores to assist in doing us so much harm, a simple walk to any bar on Water Lane in the vicinity of West Street downtown will have you hearing French creole (in the Haitian dialect) and Spanish (in the dialect of persons from the Dom Rep, Colombia and Mexico), without a safe border how will the crime and the importation of guns be stemmed?

drugRamcharan

With corruption permeating throughout all layers of the Jamaican government institutions just how exactly will this crime bill help stem crime long term? When a man can bribe the customs agent and security to turn a blind eye to guns coming into and narcotics exiting the nation how exactly will the crime end? Going back to ports of entry and exit, the airport is so lax that one has to wonder if we really do have a crime problem and all that it carries, especially when one realizes that a lot of the drugs are going through because there is a network of gang members working as security officers and the persons who check the bags that go into the cargo hold of the plane. This is common knowledge and has been for years yet we can’t (or don’t want to) even manage to crack that illegal ring of drug smugglers, yet we are to rest assured that the same men and women who can’t do the simplest of tasks relating to anti-corruption and crime prevention and fighting will solve the crime problem with a bill that strips us all (but really the poor) of all our legal rights and free to be treated like chattel.

With little to naught being done to tackle the root of crime (such as chronic poverty, a lack of education and little hope of finding a decent job and housing etc) coupled with the total lack of any agenda of tackling those who both finance and profit from the crime that has taken root in the nation then we can safely assume that this Zone of Special Operation will be a dud. It is nothing but a sick repetition of the Suppression Of Crime Act and the results will be the same, an abject failure coupled with the eventual spike in violent crime. Instead of aiming for the ‘silver bullet’ to forever eliminate crime (which doesn’t exist) let us instead roll up our sleeves and do the hard work of actually tackling crime. Let’s improve our education system, employ our people and ensure that poverty becomes a thing of the past, let’s aim to rid ourselves of the rats uptown so that they can stop offering spurious claims of get-rich quick schemes to the kids in the ghetto who only want to eat and see no way out, if not then lets give the keys of state to the army and police as this bill already leaves the door ajar for them to take it.

 

P.S. Read the Act here for further spine tingling revelations of just what is in store for us

Is Russia really the worlds biggest belligerent​?

Is Russia really the worlds biggest belligerent​?

The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming! That seems to be the refrain that we have been hearing over the past nine years, the constant mantra that the ‘Evil Empire’ is about to return and wreak havoc on the world that we haven’t seen since the days of Hitler. But how much of all of this talk of a Russian threat in the present let alone in the past is true and how much of it is propaganda? And more to the point if it is true and the Russians have all of this power (to influence the world’s peoples to vote for Le Pen and Trump for example)and are ready to pounce like a tiger why haven’t they made more of a mark in the almost twenty years since the rise of the ‘dastardly’ Putin?

The Russians have been aggressive in the past, that much is true and anyone who denies that must clearly be drinking too much vodka. Be it the bloody wars of expansion of Tsar Alexander II or Tsar Nicholas I both of whom had expansionist policies, the USSR that fought bloody battles in the early twentieth century to regain the nations that sought independence after the Revolution, the crushing of both the Hungarian and Chezc manipulations of Soviet orthodox communism and more recently the (contested because the evidence as to who started it is 50/50) the Georgian war we see where Russia in all of its iterations is an active player in world violence.

However, that is not the question at hand as all great powers indulge in the slaughter of those who are unfortunate not to be strong enough to deter them. The question is, are the Russians really this massive threat to world peace, are they aiming to destroy our way of life and dominate the world?

The answer to this question is clearly and obviously no, the Russians don’t have aims of being masters of the world anymore, and won’t have them again at least not during my lifetime. Proof of this can be found ironically in the hostilities that the former Russian empire, former USSR and Russia in its current iteration. All of the Russian wars of aggression have taken place in their own backyard or direct ‘sphere of influence’, in fact almost every war that Russia in all its iterations has been in its backyard. Again, yes the Russian do practice war, again they are a great power (whether we admit it or not is immaterial) and as such will engage in conflicts, but they are hardly the bogeyman to the world’s peace that we make them out to be and history shows that.

There is, however, a nation that is a serious threat to world peace, and it is one that has no respect for boundaries, they are a nation that has (and continues to) systematically destroy and dominate its backyard and when that is complete they then go on to destroy and dominate nations in other hemispheres. The nation I speak of course is nonother than the USA. The US has since 1945 been the main (if not sole if you take in the fact that the other great powers are American lackeys) sponsor and purveyor of violence in the world and the facts bear that out.

A brief look at the world from 1945-89 shows that the wars that have rocked the world were American wars, either involving them directly or through their stooges that make up the remaining great powers. Be it the Korean war (which the USSR deliberately avoided getting into), the Vietnamese war, or the countless wars in the Middle East we see the glaring absence of Russia (bar Syria) and the active involvement of the US and her allies. These are just the facts of life, go to Iraq or Venezuela, every region in the world has felt the effects of US might and military supremacy.

la-na-abu-ghraib-lawsuit-20150317

Again this is not saying that Russia and its iterations haven’t or aren’t currently acting up. We see this in Ukraine (where Russian troops operate while one ‘leave’), the Baltics (Estonia has had its share of Russian cyber-attacks) or even Georgia (where an active war was fought), the Russians have an appetite for war, but it is (and this is no excuse) almost always in their own backyard, within its sphere of influence and always aiming to survive (if not come up trumps). The same can’t be said of the US as the war in Iraq has demonstrated, here we see a war that not only destroyed a nation and destabilised the Arab world, but also a war that directly led to the rise of ISIS and the refugees that now flock to the shores of (and also destabilising) her allies in particular and the rest of the world in general.

russia georgia

The facts are that while Russia does commit violence, and even war crimes, they are nowhere near the extent of the US and almost never with the same range and scope (such as crossing continents and oceans to destroy nations). Russia makes up only 4% of global military expenditure, and that is a lot of cash, but a closer look shows that it is mainly for modernising and internal defence. The US, on the other hand, makes up a whopping 36% of global military expenditure, and as we know they spend it almost exclusively on building and maintaining their bases and troops and compounds in foreign lands.

2017 Military_Expenditure

The US and not Russia is the threat to world peace and stability, the US is the worlds largest (in term of military strength) and most powerful nation and they continually flex their muscles in both their region and also in regions further afield. We in the world are expected to believe that a nation that can’t even sort out its internal conflicts (and they have many) is waltzing around and destabilising the world (even to its own detriment) and that is madness, yet still people swallow it hook, line and sinker, especially since the Russians are alleged to have manipulated the US elections (and even here we see where the wheels on that drama are coming off).

Russia is not this world bogeyman out to destroy every liberal democracy, and they are not out looking to make themselves a global superpower again (they know those days are gone and are content with being simply a great power). Yes, they do commit some strange and often times outrageous things, but when looked at more closely one sees where the Russian moves are primarily of a defensive purpose, but also not aimed to destabilise the world while staying in its region. Again this is not a blanket defence of the Russians, they do have a vested interest in maintaining dominance in the East European region, but they stretch no further. The Americans and their allies are playing a con on the world’s people and we seem to be falling for it, lets hope not, for while the Russians may not share the West’s views on societal and governmental structure and implementation they do have good ideas and offer a differing perspective on the world, to lose that due to lies and misinformation would be most upsetting and further destabilise the world.

 

Why Jamaica in historical terms is actually not doing badly.

Why Jamaica in historical terms is actually not doing badly.

This may come as a surprise to those (few) persons who read what I post, but Jamaica actually isn’t doing badly. Now before you start thinking that I have been smoking too many spliffs and am somewhere in Lala land you have to understand just what I mean when I say that Jamaica is really not in that bad a position. When I say that I mean from a historical perspective, in terms of the life of a nation, from the birth of it to the fall of it, Jamaica is looking not too shabby for a nation of fifty-five years.

Let us look at it piece by piece and with analogies and comparisons. Jamaica in its seventy-seven years of self-rule and fifty-five years of self-governance has had always had a (relatively speaking) peaceful transfer of power, even the much talked about, highly contested and bloody election of 1980 ended with Michael Manley handing power over to Edward Seaga without calling out the tanks. Note that even the less talked about (but no less hard fought) election of 1976, with the state of emergency, ended with Edward Seaga sitting as an MP and leader of the opposition till his aforementioned victory in ’80. Now compare that to other newly independent nations, but just to ‘handicap’ myself, compare that to other newly independent former British colonies. Guyana (which was deprived of independence because of British and American fears of Soviet influence with the Premier Cheddi Jagan and his wife) remained under the brutal one-party rule of Forbes Burnham (which incidentally murdered the great Dr Walter Rodney) for some twenty years. Grenada was run by the madman Eric Gairy after independence in 1974 to the point that a revolution took place to oust him a mere five years later and installed the New JEWEL Movement led by the left-wing Maurice Bishop, who was in turn murdered (and whose murder led to a joint US Caribbean invasion). Leaving CARICOM one sees the same thing, Zimbabwe in Africa has brutal crackdowns and a virtual one party-state, while in Asia we have Pakistan which lurches from military dictator to military dictator and even Fiji in the South Pacific has tasted the bitter fruit of election results being literally fought over and the military installing itself in executive power.Millitary Coup

Looking at it from an economic stance Jamaica, while not performing in a stellar fashion, in historical terms and for the age of the nation we are not in a bad position. Yes, the Jamaican economy isn’t much to look at, but take a look right next door to Haiti and you will see what economic ruin truly looks like, the picture below shows statistics up to 2007.

haiti_economic_stats_2007

Now, these stats are initially sourced from the UN, note the glaring absence of any statistics for anything relating to employment rates and economic activity. That is not saying that no economic activity takes place or that they are all unemployed, far from it, in fact, many Haitians hold jobs (many more than one) and run businesses, the problem is that most of the jobs are low paying (to put it politely) and most businesses are in the informal sector and therefore either struggling to get by or just not giving anything meaningful to the economy (see the black market). Again I go back to poor Zimbabwe, their economy has fallen off a cliff since 2000 and a nation that once was the ‘breadbasket’ of the region coupled with a robust labour force has an economy so in tatters that they not only had the highest inflation rates at one point in time, they abandoned their currency altogether and now use FX to grease the wheels of the broken-down economy. Yes Jamaica got FINSAC’ed, yes we haven’t had any meaningful growth for some twenty odd years and yes we have a worrying rate of unemployment, but as mentioned above things could be so much worse.

We have in our nation an issue of safe seats, or to give them their correct name, garrison seats where we know during each election cycle that if an old, shabby broom was put up as the candidate of the ‘influential’ party that it would win by a landslide and then some. But even here, when it comes to incumbents holding onto seats we are not doing all that badly. Take everyone’s favourite (until Trump at least) country America, in 2010 during the midterm elections Congress (both houses) had a 15% approval rating, and yet still the House saw a rate of incumbency return of 90% while the Senate saw an incumbency return of 91%. Now say what you will about the (few) persons who do vote in our local elections but we have a rate of return nowhere near that (partially because we tend to chop and change back benchers) but also because we have a tendency to throw out (the non-influential) those who they feel don’t represent them, as the PNP found out as Mr Arlando lost to Mr Arlando (confusing I know).

US incumbents percent

Another serious issue with Jamaica is political corruption, pork belly politics and corruption in general in all ways shapes and forms. I mince no words when I say that corruption (along with crime and poverty) is a serious millstone around our neck and that if we hope to better our nation then we have to rid ourselves of corruption.  However, for a nation that again has only been policing itself for 55 years, we have some good (albeit currently toothless) anti-corruption agencies and civic groups (which aren’t toothless) which look to stem the tide of corruption in politics. Again using a historical example (again the US), we have what is probably the most blatant example of political patronage (read corruption) in Tammany Hall founded in 1789 and only dissolved a mere fifty years ago (which was historically corrupt from its inception) and its infamous (and notoriously corrupt) head William M. Tweed. Tammany Hall was The Democratic Party political machine in New York, and it ensured that the Democratic Party had both Ney York City and New York State under lock and key through both bribery along with voter intimidation and patronage. Things got so bad that in a nation that was littered with political machines operating in this nature, Tammany Hall came to epitomise and eclipse all of them in the scale and openness of its corruption.

Political corruption was (and still remains actually) such a problem in the US that even the ‘great’ JFK wasn’t immune from scandal. During his election against Nixon his camp was accused (and the evidence does deserve some looking at) of vote buying and rigging that the US$20 was jokingly nicknamed after JFK. Now Jamaica does have a big corruption problem, however, it is my view that it not as entrenched as we make it out to be, it is that we simply watch it and say nothing so the little that is grafted and gifted (a case of Guinness ain’t all that expensive)  adds up.

All in all what I’m trying to say is that Jamaica, while it has its serious issues (mainly the murder rate which is mind-boggling), has potential and isn’t in the bad place that we like to believe we are as we are still a young nation with time on our side (unless the sea levels begin to rise), and as pointed out above things could be a lot worse. Put another way there is two types of shit in the world, horseshit and dogshit, both are waste materials but one simply can’t be used while the other can be used to fertilize a garden (it has potential). In a frank and crass manner, yes we are shit, a bad economy and a society that is scared, but we are horseshit, it is up to us now as to whether we use or potential or we allow it to remain wasted.

Modern day feudalism and Jamaica

Modern day feudalism and Jamaica

The world is always changing nothing remains the same. We see this in technology medicine however one thing remains the same, the way we humans interact with each other. We see this from all stratas of society, human beings have seldom changed and the more one looks at it the more the situation reads like an awful novel.

Feudalism is alive and well in this society, though we all seldom speak on it for fear of losing secure jobs and possibly one’s life. We see this played out throughout the society but one example that I feel cements us in the mode of politics is the relationship between the area don and the girl children. The don (since he protects the area) gets ‘jus primae noctis‘ providing the masters with the right of being the first one to sleep with a womanThis phenomenon is not new to Jamaica, it has been going on since the inception of the garrison and yet we as a society, for the most part, remain silent as that type of madness, barbarity and utter backwardness continues unabated.

This feudalism in the nation can be found some more in the garrison where persons live the lives of twelfth-century serfs, beholden to the Lord of the land. We see this in the way that the don of the area is able to (usually by coercion) get the loyalty of the persons living in his ‘city state’ and they go off to war merrily to fight for him, for the spoils that will be divided and for the indulgences from the don, in the same manner as the Popes of old led the world to Crusade after Crusade. We see this neo-feudalism in the city centres and parish capitals as a crude ‘tax’, ‘protection’ or if you will just plain extortion is played out on a daily basis. Much like the feudal lords of the past who would take their share of the harvest (the best of course!) because the serf was unlucky enough to have been living under ‘patronage’ so we have the modern don taking the hard earned money of business persons and higglers who are unlucky enough to be in their zone of influence.

The political system while not explicitly built around the feudal line is clearly operated along the line that would make any feudal lord pleased that the trend continues. The political system that we currently have in breeds patronage and the creating and holding of fiefdoms (or garrisons in Jamaican parlance) and the handing over of that fiefdom to the chosen heir. Nowhere was this more open and blatant than the recent election to replace Dr Omar Davies in his ‘Jungle’ garrison constituency when he openly called for and endorsed Mr Mark Golding to be his eventual successor (and we see the tradition continuing with Portia Simpson-Miller openly endorsing Dr.Angela Brown-Burke).

Again much like their feudal spiritual ancestors, the politicians practice a serious form of nepotism that would be hilarious if the results weren’t so harmful to the nation. Just look at the current parliament and one is shocked at the blatant nepotism, Andrew and Juliet Holness (husband and wife), Peter and Mikael Phillips (father and son), Pearnel Charles and Pearnel Charles Jr (again father and son), and that is just those who have immediate blood connections and are currently serving. If we were to add the second and sometimes third generations that are in our parliament and senate (such as Minister Johnson-Smith and Mr McNeill then most people would agree that nepotism is the order of the day when it comes to politics, I mean for heavens sake (and I admit this is a slight stretch), Bustamante, Manley and Shearer were all from the same family branch and all three took turns (Alexander, Norman, Hugh then Michael) running the country consecutively from ’44-92 with a brief interlude of 48 days during the tenure of Sir Donald Sangster and the premiership of Edward Seaga which lasted from 80-89, does that not strike you as some feudal politics?

It is not just the political system and the dons that function or are run in a feudal or neo-feudal way, society, in general, seems to operate in a way that is shockingly reminiscent of feudalism. The way that businesses operate and treat their employees (just take a look at any wholesale and you will see individuals working in conditions that can only be described as modern day feudalism), they are tied to the companies just as the feudal serf was tied to the land. Be it the cash advance that the company forwards to you, the loan with the unseemly interest rate that your job offers you (some call centers offer this treat) or the fact that you owe them for things such as travel and education (all of which sound reasonable until you see the unreasonable interest rates) one sees where this type of thinking and operating runs like a river throughout our society.

This just seems to be the runnings of things in this nation, we the citizens have allowed it to be so but it can change. The change won’t be easy but it can be done and is being done slowly, be it groups like NIA that are (trying at least to) calling out corruption or CAPRI, JFJ and the active social and political groups which in their own way seek to liberate peoples minds which is the beginning of the end of feudalism. This oppression in the nation will end, whether it is replaced by a totally new form of oppression or a system that is more just, fair and equitable is to be seen but it will end.

American liberals, be careful what you wish for

That Donald Trump is an ignoramus is nothing new, and that he is a total embarrassment to all who wish to lead and enter politics is also not news. Donald Trump represents all that is wrong with politics, sheer opportunism, willing to say anything to get power, willing to lie and maintain the lie to retain power and he holds grudges. All in all he is a horrid piece of work, and it is totally understandable why the American liberal class wants him out. But i fear that in all of this rush to have the Donald ousted from office the American liberal class has missed a few crucial things that could well mean a long and gloomy night for the liberal class.

Donald Trump is an opportunist yes, but that is his only saving grace. That’s right, that vile opportunism that he used to stir up the hornets nest of white rage is the one thing that separates him from the rest of the Republican party. Trump has no core political ideology, his m.o is to do and say anything to remain relevant, in the conversation and more importantly (to him anyway) popular. That is why his message and platform (if we can call it that) was so scattershot, less taxes but more investment, repeal OBAMACARE while providing a better healthcare system for all, these are but a few examples of a man who has no ideology and will say anything to remain in power, for want of a better word he is a rube. A rube with his finger on the button of nuclear annihilation, but a rube none the less and one that should be opposed but not feared.

But that hasn’t stopped American liberals from hollering that Trump will drag America back into the bad ol’ days (the rest of the world wants to know just when were the good ol’ days as we didn’t feel it) and as such doing everything in their power to ensure that if he is given a rough time and possibly make him a one term president. But that is not what they really want, they want him out of office now and as seen with the Comey hearings and ‘Russia-gate’ they will stop at nothing, even if it means empowering the far-right.

The man set to succeed Mr. Trump should he be impeached and convicted is VP Mike Pence. Now while Mr Trump has no ideology and is only beholden to whatever will make him popular, Mr Pence is a true believer and that alone should give American liberals pause for thought as they continue to rail against Trump.

While Trump really doesn’t care if you are gay or straight (he just wants your money and your adulation) Pence really cares and if made president would look to immediately roll back the hard won rights that the gay community has won. Mr Trump while on the campaign trail stated that he was not opposed to socialized health care (yet more evidence of him willing to say and do anything to get power and his lack of ideology) and while we may not believe that he may ever look to have any meaningful healthcare law passed (unless it is supremely beneficial to him), do we really believe that a president Pence would even entertain those thoughts in his wildest nightmares?

Mike Pence is a true believer in Republican politics and that should terrify anyone who is looking to have Trump replaced. Pence is a firm pro-lifer and (unlike Trump) would be looking to roll back the tide on Roe v. Wade and advances made in women’s reproductive rights. His tenure as Governor of Indiana should also give the homosexual community some pause for thought as, lest we forget, he signed into law the draconian Religious Freedom Restoration Act that sought to give cover to bigots who didn’t want to server openly gay persons. Mr Pence is also a huge proponent of privatizing Social Security (something Mr Trump also wishes to do), but unlike Trump a President Pence would be able to muster up the votes in both houses to pass that bill as he is as establishment as one comes

Mr Trump is an idiot and the furthest thing from perfect, but to kick him out without being aware of what and who will take his place is utter madness. The Republican party are looking desperately for a way to rid themselves of Trump and have a true believer in office and the Democratic party are playing willing accomplices as they fight against the Donald.

The Democratic party is also missing yet another key point, and one that could cost them dearly if they do not wise up and change. Yes Trump is an idiot and the populace on a whole dislikes him, but that does not automatically equate to a Democratic win as seen in the recent election. The 2016 Presidential election should be an eye opener to the Democratic party, they thought that they could win by simply not being Trump and by constantly reminding people that they were not Trump. Needless to say that they lost, because while they were not Trump they had no ideas, they had no agenda and they had no message, and whatever one thinks of Mr Trump, he has a message (garbled, nonsensical and doomed to being stillborn but a message none the less) and the people wanted new and innovative ideas.

The solution to this conundrum is simple, though it is not as sexy as what the liberal class in America are doing now. The Democratic party must find its roots and go back to the left wing and embrace the downtrodden as they once did. A big reason as to why the Democratic party lost in 2016 is that they are (rightfully) viewed as Republican lite. While the two parties differ majorly when it comes to social issues (or the culture wars if you will), they are exactly the same when it comes to the economy and foreign policy, two areas that directly affect the American public. Both parties agree on the neo-liberal experiment that has led to America hemorrhaging jobs at a shocking pace and both parties are in lock step when it comes to foreign policy as seen in Obama continuing (and expanding) Bush’s wars and Trump busily picking up where Obama left off in the wholesale slaughter of Yemen.

The Democratic party must change if it is to regain power in any meaningful way (see them also getting decimated at the state level) as they will never see prolonged success as the Republican lite party. They must aim to get big money out of politics and look to make that society a more equitable one where ones lot in life isn’t decided by who your parents are but instead by how hard you work. They must in short return to the party that they were before they were co-opted by Bill Clinton and his ilk because, as seen by the UK election, people are tired of austerity and tired of living in constant fear of the future and if given the chance will elect someone who has a ‘progressive’ social and economic agenda.

But beware for if you as a party continue down the same path that you are on now of fighting the ‘progressive’ candidates while propping up the establishment Democrats then you guys can kiss any chance of the White House goodbye. Yes the populace hates Trump by and large, but they also deeply despise the business as usual politics and politicians which is why they were willing to give Donald Trump a chance. Make the change, fight Trump where he needs to be fought and aim to have the public petition him constantly (for he is a man who loathes to be unpopular and unloved) and ensure that you have a real left wing candidate to run in 2020, if not you may as well hand they keys of the White House over to the Republicans as they will dominate for the foreseeable future.

The curious case of Phillip Paulwell

Philip Paulwell has been around the block politically, he is a veteran what with his five stars and counting (electoral victories) and has always been chummy with those at the center of power since the days when P.J Patterson brought him in as a young buck. Paulwell has soared through the ranks of the PNP and a minister since his days as an unelected thirty-something year old senator and has always been considered by some within the party as a possible party leader.

Sadly for Paulwell he seems to be cursed with the Devils luck, always seemingly mired in some controversy, inevitably cleared but with his public political image in a worse and irreparable state than before the controversy. Be it youthful exuberance as Mr patterson quipped as an excuse for a scandal, Kern Spencer who eventually took the fall politically (only to be freed by the courts) or even the ensuing caricel drama, he always seems to be three degrees separated from scandal.

That has however, never stopped him politically, from being an influential P.J acolyte, he transitioned smoothly to becoming one of Portia’s lead henchmen, to seamlessy backing dr Phillips in the farce of a coronation in replacing the incumbent leader of the party Portia. He seems to the outsider anyway, to be untouchable (scandal wise) and has a habit of never really owning his mistakes (to give it a polite term).

Yes within the party he is an untouchable and seemingly immovable being, but he has never had the wide popular support of the general public like say a dr Phillips and the pnp would do well to take note of that.

Yes he is popular within the party but to the general public he is considered to be either incompetent or just plain corrupt, neither of which are good options. He is viewed as at best hype man, all chat and no action (as seen with the lng debacle) and at his worst when the action does come it is almost always shrouded with suspicion and conspiracy such as the Cuban light bulb scandal and netserv.

Paulwell whether he is actually corrupt or incompetent perfectly embodies all that is wrong with Jamaican politics generally and with the pnp specifically. He has risen to the heights that he has because he was a decent attorney (at a time when they swelled the chambers), a great brown-noser and a genius when it comes to controlling delegates. He has no natural political talent to speak of (he is neither diplomatic, a long term thinker or partial to constituency redevelopment) and the people know this, and while they may in the end become disillusioned with the Jlp if they dilly dally and break promises, the pnp will not see power again and in a long term fashion unless it jettisons persons like paulwell.

Jamaica needs a new breed of politicians and age really is no factor here as paulwell is only a sprightly 54, we need honest persons, people who are actually talented and offer something through public service (government etc) and who can leave a positive mark on the nation. Let us in short be rid of acolytes and lackeys and instead promote and hold on to those who can make moves without the public constantly and with reason looking suspiciously at them.

Beware he who follows the Donald

That Donald Trump has the American political establishment shaken is evident. He has the DNC throwing everything at him, calling him all sorts of (deserved) names, but he also has his own RNC that he is representing still not quite sure just how far to back this seemingly unstable man.

The majority of the American populace and the world for that matter frets continually about what a Trump presidency would bring. Fortunately we don’t really need to worry, because barring any catastrophe in the Clinton campaign, the Democratic party has this election in terms of demographics and electoral college votes. So all is well and the world will continue to spin on its correct axis, nothing to fear… but that’s not quite true.

Trump may be an ignorant buffoon, but he has given voice to millions of Americans (whether we agree or not with that voice is a different matter). The Trump message, I hate to break it to you, is not only resonating with with American but also with African Americans, Hispanic, Asian, men and women. And things get even scarier as you look deeper into the data.
Looking at areas where Trump has done well, you see that they are also coincidentally the exact places hollowed out by American ‘economic policy’ of outsourcing of manufacturing and globalisation. We see areas such as Detroit being hollowed out from a population of one million to an anemic half a million now. We see Appalachian areas where coal has been abandoned and nothing put in its place so communities are shattered.
Trump is not a one off, he is the voice of many Americans, the racist xenophobic lot as well as those disenfranchised by American economic policies.

It is no coincidence that Trump’s muddled economic message resonates with Sanders supporters more than the Clinton message, it is because she is a continuation of the same economic policies that have almost killed off the American middle class, proof of which can be seen in high ranking conservative agents, economic advisers and Republican members lining up behind her. The two major American parties are in short, sowing the seeds of there demise by continuing to peddle this garbage dressed up as economic policy (which is really just corporate interest achieved through the state).

While most parallels between Trump and Hitler are interesting, the one that should give us pause for thought is the role mainstream parties had in there rise. In the case of Hitler, he was viewed as simply a populist buffoon who stoked up xenophobia and antisemitism while ignoring the fact that the people flocked to Hitler because he refused to surrender like the ‘back stabbers of 1918’. The major parties in Wiemar Germany continued to ‘sellout’ German interests and that played into Hitler’s rise. The use of antisemitism by Hitler was no coincide either, this ugly expression of human emotion had been stoked for centuries and was now at its zenith with pseudo science to back it up and the Jews were mainly responsible for losing the war, another lie peddled by the major Wiemar parties.

We see parallels there in Trump and the rise of American fascism. Yes Trump is boorish, but he is answering a call being made by many Americans. We see mainly white people following Trump, but a closer inspection will unearth many African Americans, Hispanic Americans and everything else in between supporting Trump to varying degrees. Are these minorities who support Trump self hating persons? No, these are for the most part persons shafted by economic deals and policies designed to destroy them and enrich multinationals. These people are responding in the way that they usually respond in harsh times, a sharp shift to the right.

On race and xenophobia again we see mainly whites supporting Trump and his message. But again a closer view will show you a diverse group (racially speaking) who sing from his same ‘America for Americans’ hymnal (Americans in this sense being natural born Americans). History is replete with episodes of this in America, take for example the late nineteenth century, when white Scottish, Protestant immigrants (the type of person who made up the majority of America ethnically speaking at the time) were discriminated against in America because they were ‘foreigners’. We  also see this today, how many Haitian immigrants have been told to go back home by black Americans? How many third generation Cuban immigrants still harbour prejudice against the central American because he ‘jumped the line’? How many eastern Europeans, white as white, have been abused by white Americans?

The sense of ‘us Americans good’ and ‘dirty foreigners bad’ is as old as America itself, an evil remnant from the Puritan days. So that Mr Trump has found traction is not surprising, the anti immigrant rhetoric is also easy meat because rightly or wrongly they are seen by the thousands of newly un or underemployed as the cause of their pain.

Trumps muddled foreign policy also needs to be monitored closely as well, for any successor to him will speak in the same vein. For the two decades since the end of the cold war we have witnessed American foreign policy become the ‘new world order’ or in layman’s terms ‘Washington talks, everyone follows and dissenters be damned’, we have seen both Major parties in America spew the same ideology, from Bush Snr to Obama. We have seen needless wars and counterproductive ‘interventions’ that on the face of it makes no sense simply from a domestic point of view (corporations and powerful cliques are a different story).

Trump is simply doing what all populists have done, use foreign policy to  gin up the base. Grab Iraq’s oil as security payment (sounds good to the average man), stop cozying up to the Saudis (fundamentalist Christians are pleased), stop antagonizing Russia (doomsday preachers are placated) while bombing the middle east (Iran included) to the stone age (something many Americans view as the only solution to the regions problems). It is a policy deliberately all over the map so that it pleases everyone, and though Trump is articulating it poorly he is getting major traction and a more eloquent speaker would make hay as things stand.

The above-mentioned are but a few reasons for the rise of Trump, there are more but then I’d never finish writing. That we got a man like of Trump’s caliber is a blessing as a more sensible and eloquent person would have taken the white house. Good also because it gives America some time to both assess how the got so broken and  how they can fix themselves. Demonizing Trump supporters is not the answer because they are responding to real issues, neither is continuing down the same ideological path because to do so will cement the rise of American fascism.

 

PNP folly

The dictionary describes pig headedness as willfully or perversely unyielding or being obstinate. One would be hard pressed to find a more apt description of the PNP and its leadership at this point in time. That is probably why Paul Burke made reference to the pig sty and squealing, because he knows subconsciously that the PNP has become a pig wallowing in muck.

Pig headed is a lovely appellation for the current opposition leader. What else does one call a leader who when reportedly asked for her plans in the event of an election loss said I am not a loser and ended it there, or a leader who when asked if she would step aside after leading her party to an embarrassing and unexpected defeat responds that she is not British. How else does one describe a leader who when faced with serious internal and external corruption allegations allows the hearsay and innuendo to fester like and open ulcer, waiting days to finally call for an enquiry that she then walks back on?

Pig headed best describes an MP and aspiring party leader who even after allegations of serious corruption, siphoning of party money and basic petty backstabbing (thoughh his name has never been mentioned in scandal) sees clearly and speaks knowingly of enemies of the party who wish to destroy it from within by chatting too much? Would the former finance minister then not report the corruption to the police if he were party leader, as he hopes to be? And pray tell are the enemies the ones making information public or the ones committing these alleged crimes?

Pig headed is an apt description for the PNP officer corps at this point in time as well. How else can one describe a group of people who allow for not one, but two massive corruption allegations to go un investigated? How else does one describe an officer corps that allows its leader to be totally uninformed about these allegations before speaking to the media (giving Portia the benefit of the doubt)? How else does one describe an officer corps that allows the party to become a by word for corruption and graft? Pig headed describes them perfectly.

The stubborn PNP chooses to pause the investigation before it begins as opposed to working in tandem with the OCG and MOCA and expects the nation to be pleased with that even though we as a nation are demanding more accountability, is that not pig headed? 

The PNP, as it currently exists is tainted goods, run by pig headed people who believe that Jamaica would die without it. It is a party of persons who you wouldn’t trust with a red cent let alone the government coffers. Trafigura was no one off, that much is clear now, what is also clear is that the PNP, the party of the people, do not love the people, only the money and positions of authority that they can wring from them. The PNP, the party of firsts, massive achievements and lofty goals has been battered and bruised by persons who have no notion of either patriotism or party loyalty they will do anything to stay alive even eat there young like the swine that they are.

The party of Fairclough and Manley is gone, instead replaced by a poor imitation run by persons not fit enough to lace there boots. That it is dead is sad indeed, sad because of the hope it represented and encapsulated right up until ’92, but we must realise that it is gone and act accordingly. Party rank and file members who have been taken for fools must demand root and branch change in the party, from leader to speech writer. It will be painful, it will mean a long spell on the opposition benches, however when the alternative is the total implosion of the party and the forming of a brand new party to contest elections (we all know how those stories end) it suddenly doesn’t look that bad. Hopefully, for Jamaica’s sake they can make it out of this quagmire, it would be a shame for such a rich legacy to be wasted and more importantly we need a stable and viable opposition, because if the ’90s taught us anything, it’s that Jamaica simply can’t function without a credible opposition to keep government on there toes.