American Case Study: Synopsis

Rod “Bleeping” Blagojevich is currently the governor of Illinois, and having been under federal investigation for about five years, he has seen some of his top aides and other associates (like Tony Rezko) get put away by diligent prosecutors. Given that most people in the know fully expected an indictment to come his way; one could imagine that Gov. Blagojevich would be careful, sober, and circumspect in his dealings. Yes, one could imagine, but it would be just your imagination. Blagojevich was anything but sober in his dealings with regard to his absolute authority to appoint a replacement to Barack Obama’s now vacant seat in the US Senate. Hence, on a cold Tuesday morning, before Chicago cocks could crow at the sun, federal law enforcement officials knocked on the governor’s door and took him into custody; proving again an old aphorism that whom the gods wish to destroy they first make drunk with power.

This story brings to mind a great song from the musical Chicago; the refrain of the song, titled Cell Block Tango, is “He had it coming!” Let me be the first to nominate it as Rod Blagojevich’s new theme song.

I love the Blagojevich story so much, and for so many reasons — but my main reason is that this man, more than any other, (Spitzer, Clinton, et al) typifies

H U B R I S.

On the Monday before his arrest, when news reports were already emerging that federal prosecutors had incriminating audio recordings of the governor, Rod “Bleeping” Blagojevich held a press conference and took time to  address the reports. I can describe the hubris, but it is only truly appreciated when witnessed.

If I was to turn this blog over to reporting  on every American public official who is indicted and charged both of us would soon tire of the monotony. Honorable mentions that didn’t rise to the level of Case Study include:

  • Arizona Republican Congressman Rick Renzi, who is currently under indictment for corruption.
  • Florida Democrat Congressman Tim Mahoney; who took over pedophile Mark Foley’s seat until he was caught on tape telling his former mistress that he fired her because she served at his pleasure; is currently under investigation about whether his $100,000- plus payoffs to this mistress were illegal. After the scandal broke the US House Democratic Caucus fired Mahoney by forcing him to withdraw from re-election.
  • Louisiana Democrat Congressman William Jefferson, a prominent member of the Congressional Black Caucus, who recently lost a run-off election in his heavily Democratic and majority-black district to a Republican of Vietnamese origin. Hopefully Jefferson will now have more time to fight indictments for bribery and money laundering he is under, after having been caught on videotape taking $100,000.
  • Charles O’Byrne, fmr. Chief of Staff to NY Gov. David Patterson, who was forced to resign his job after it was reported that he failed to disclose a debt to the IRS on public disclosure forms. Yeah! That is all he did wrong — but they still forced him from his job.
  • And of course, there is Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, who is implicated by mounting evidence to have committed some of the same offenses Ted Stevens was convicted for committing. Let me point out that Sen. Coleman is currently locked in a riveting recount with Al Franken after his re-election bid; and Sen. Coleman has NOT been charged or indicted with anything at this time.

But none of these Honorable Mentions rises to the heady mix of stupidity, incompetence, and negligence of the public officials covered in the American Case Study Series Part I, Part II, and Finale. So if you haven’t read the three case studies, you are fundamentally unprepared for class, and where I’m heading till the end of the year — go back and read them in full.

But all the same, let us do a synopsis and an update.

American Case Study Part I – Fmr. NY Gov. Elliott Spitzer engaged in a series of financial transactions that seemed as if they were structured to evade automatic disclosure laws. These transactions generated Suspicious Activities Reports (SARs) that led investigators to the conclusion that Spitzer availed himself of the sexual services of prostitutes. Prosecutors  investigating this conclusion got a warrant, wiretapped the governor and were building a case to prosecute him under an obscure and arcane federal law called the Mann Act. After the story broke on the front page of the New York Times, Spitzer resigned and waited to face charges. Prosecutors announced recently that they would not seek charges against the former governor given that he didn’t use public or official funds to pay his hookers, I repeat, Spitzer was never charged with a crime. And, as a footnote there will be a congressional investigation into the Spitzer investigation to ensure that prosecutors were not influenced improperly by partisan political vendetta. If they were, expect the prosecutors to face charges themselves. Spitzer is now working again at his father’s mega-million dollar real estate company; and just started a new column with Slate.com.

American Case Study Part I cont’d – Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted, not of bribery, but of failing to disclose the receipt of material gifts and services from friends. There were no allegations of bribery, no quid-pro-quo, just a failure to file forms that by law Stevens was required to file. At trial the prosecution presented evidence including the testimony of a long time friend that recorded incriminating phone conversations with Sen. Stevens while professing brotherly love for him during said conversations. After he was convicted by a federal jury, and the taint of corruption caused Stevens to lose his re-election bid to the US Senate seat he had held since 1968, his victorious opponent recently said that it would be cruel to put the octogenarian senator in jail. Stevens may even have his sentence commuted by outgoing President Bush.

American Case Study, Part I – While  discouraging Sarah Palin cronies from violating personnel laws and ethics guidelines by seeking to fire her ex-brother-in-law, fmr. Alaskan  Public Safety Director Walt Monegan told a Palin-flack “This conversation is discoverable” (referring to the fact the state trooper lines are recorded) “you don’t want [Mike Wooten] to own your house do you?” This is not a threat of criminal sanction, it is a reminder that civil court sanctions exist to reign in the abuse of government authority by individuals. Do we have a civil court structure that works in Jamaica?

American Case Study, Part II – Republican Congressman Vito Fossella ran a red light in the middle of the night in some Virginia suburb. Unfortunately for him his lips were stained red from drinking red wine when he ran the red light, and after failing sobriety tests he was arrested and charged with drunk driving as it was found his blood-alchohol-level was over twice the legal limit. The trooper who arrested him was quoted in an interview saying he had no idea who Vito Fossella was at the time he was arresting him, nor would it have mattered. Further, the arrest led to the disclosure of a love-child and extra-marital affair that caused Fossella to decline to seek re-election. The congressional seat, held by the Republican Party for 35 years, fell into Democratic hands in the Nov 4th election, even though the district didn’t vote for Obama as president. Fossella was sentenced last Monday to serve the mandatory five days in jail for drunk-driving conviction, though he is appealing the sentence.

American Case Study, Finale – let me just say that I’d have saved the word “Finale” for Rod Blagojevich and not used it for Kwame Kilpatrick if only I’d known this case against Blagojevich would be so scandalous and juicy. Fmr. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, scion of an influential political family in Detroit, was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, and sentenced to 120 days in jail, disbarred from the future practice of law, and further ordered to pay the City of Detroit a million dollars in restitution. Kilpatrick was having an affair with his Chief of Staff and both he and she lied on the stand in a civil case brought on by a fired police official. Now, both Kilpatrick and his former lover are in jail serving sentences for perjury. Again, civil court proves a remedy to official misconduct.

In America the High and Mighty are brought down every day. In this country – no matter how powerful you are, they (law enforcement & prosecutors) will come get you. They will put handcuffs on you and destroy e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g you’ve spent decades diligently building – your reputation, your network, your wealth, your standing, and your lifestyle. Kern Spencer being charged is no real scandal, the real scandal is how few parliamentarians have been held to book by the Jamaican law enforcement apparatus. In America we’ve had more people who serve in the national legislature go to jail in the last year alone than Jamaica has had in its entire history. And ironically, that is a source of pride.

So the take-away from all these above cases is this: corruption and official vice can be contained, prosecuted and significantly reduced when there is the political will (read: “desire”) to do it. In anticipation of the fact that there are many Jamaicans suffering from low self esteem that causes them to subscribe to the Myth of the Jamaica Wrecktangle. I have pointed out that there is nothing intrinsically bad about either the geographic territory of Jamaica, or Jamaicans as a people, that prevents long established laws and order from working in Jamaica.

With those posts rehashed and summarized let me spend the rest of my time in this post unpacking certain details from this whole Blagojevich matter that I think can inform any efforts to make Jamaica a better place.

Jesse Jackson Jr. campaigning with Barack Obama

Let me point out that there is no doubt that Blagojevich will resign; his Chief of Staff John Harris, who was charged alongside the governor has already resigned. Legal analysts in America say, and though a layman I’m inclined to agree, that the only reason he hasn’t resigned yet is to maintain leverage in his dealings with the prosecutors.

  1. But note the important detail, that his Chief-of-Staff was arrested along with him. In America, when you serve someone important, they will get the presidential pardon later while you rot in jail. In Jamaica, there is an enabling support network for criminality whether it is the secretary that drops off cash for the big-man or the baby-madda that hides guns for the little-man. And it is time to prosecute these enablers zealously and without mercy.
  2. Also, note that the political players who decided that they would entertain pay-for-play proposals will be ruined on the back of this. Jesse Jackson Jr. has already come out and held an “emotional” press conference to deny allegations of misconduct. The press conference may satiate the masses but hardcore political junkies like me have seen this movie before; namely when Bill Clinton, and Kwame Kilpatrick gave emotional press conferences to deny allegations. I was willing to give Jackson Jr. the benefit of the doubt prior to the press conference, but now I fully expect him to be further implicated in unethical behavior even if nothing illegal.
  3. And finally note that the prosecutor going after Blagojevich is something of a celebrity prosecutor who has irreproachably non-partisan prosecutorial instincts. Patrick Fitzgerald was selected by the Bush administration to be the outside prosecutor who investigated the Valerie Plame leak, an investigation which resulted in the federal conviction  of VP Cheney’s aide Scooter Libby. Is there any celebrity prosecutor in Jamaica? We have super-cops known for their murderous hard-policing abilities; but do we have any super-prosecutors?

I will end on this point, I was very proud of Paula Llewellyn when she was appointed Jamaica’s Director of Public Prosecutions. She seemed qualified at that time to drain the fetid swamp we call political representation in Jamaica:

Llewellyn … has made a name for herself by prosecuting high-profile and controversial cases such as the Braeton Seven Killings; the Crawle Killings; and the Flankers Killings; the Sonia Jones case; the Caldon Financing fraud case involving Nicole Fullerton; the prosecution of Lester Lloyd Coke, otherwise called Jim Brown; Donald ‘Zeeks’ Phipps; Joel Andem; and Jamaica’s first criminal case in the 1990s where DNA played prominently.
Paul Henry, Jamaica Observer, March 4, 2008

However, as we end 2008, I am left wondering of D.P.P. Llewellyn: What the hell happened?

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28 thoughts on “American Case Study: Synopsis

  1. It may have something to do with corruption, toxic environments, corrosion, erosion, absorption, or osmosis, I guess.
    Illinois has seen more than its fair share of gubernatorial ginnalship and convictions, so they probably have gone more toxic than we have back home.

    After a while no matter how honorable your intentions, the corrosive nature of whatever is happening around you attacks your will and better judgement, and you become one of them.

    Hope the fetid swamp has not swallowed up the DPP.

  2. @ Kadene: I watch clips of criminals evicting people from their homes in Jamaica and I see it as a prelude to a civil disturbance on the scale of [pick almost any country in Africa.]

    We are in a crisis that requires a more assertive and vigilant law enforcement apparatus — and yet the state proposes to eschew vigilance for vigilantism.

    I don’t know if she has been swallowed up, but I know she hasn’t distinguished herself since she has been in office. If she has been swallowed up, it is only a matter of time before the riots begin.

  3. The pervasive, extensive, ubiquitous, and institutionalized nature of corruption in Jamaica today, is akin to quicksand. Corruption in Jamaica is like that bed of loose sand, mixed with water, forming a soft, shifting mass, which covers and engulfs the entire 4,411 square miles of the island, and which yields easily to pressure and tends to suck down any object, in this case people/persons resting on its surface. Quite frankly, the entire island, from the ensconced oligarchy, the business elite, the political directorate, the technocrats, the religious ministers, judges, lawyers, teachers, nurses, the middle class, the working class to the average Joe and Jane on the street are drowning and are being sucked down or pulled under in a sea of quicksand/corruption. Unfortunately, it will only get worse, because as a people and a society, we Jamaicans have totally lost our moral and ethical compasses and the principle or standard governing conduct, with respect to right, good and wrong. Ergo, more of us will be claimed by the ever consuming quicksand, before we are able to extricate ourselves as individuals and the general society via some form of transformation. Hopefully, corruption is not our fate and, or destiny. Because, if it is, Jamaica is doomed and will not go forward!! Nuff respect!!

  4. Interesting comparative question regarding Harry Madoff’s Ponzi Scheme, Cash Plus and Olint, as they relate to poor Jamaicans, savvy lawyers and CPAs. I guess the criticism and blame on the part of poor Jamaicans and the savvy lawyers/CPAs is the gullibility factor. Apparently, even savvy educated people can be easily decieved and duped as if they were born yesterday.

  5. Diatribalist, it looks as if Congressman Jesse Jackson Jnr. and appointed White House Chief of Staff, Rham Emmanuel, may become casualties of this Rod Blagoveitch corruption/scandal.

  6. According to the Gleaner today, the DPP has “blasted Jamaica’s culture of silence” — as if it gave birth to itself. She seems disconnected from the reality of the mistrust for the police and their lack of confidentiality, the real possibility of an untimely and painful demise if the ordinary citizen decides to turn informer. Who is going to protect them?

    Regarding any kind of civil disturbance, I am loath to believe there will be any such event, since Jamaicans have become too blasé regarding the butchering of their own to even stage a healthy protest. What do we expect? Even at this distance, when the news of murder and mayhem attempts to assault my senses, I just tune out. I skim over certain reports in the newspapers because I’m just saturated.

    Over the past eight weeks we have seen the people of Thailand take to the streets in thousands — over 100,000 in one event — in protest against scandals and poor government decisions. Apparently their action has succeeded in removing the government from office.

    Unfortunately the Greek protest erupted in rioting and looting on a frightening scale, and we have yet to see the effects beyond the financial losses, but a number of lessons will have been learned.

    What is downright alarming about our little island paradise is that we do not see the high murder rate and the savagery that seems to have taken over the people as a revolt in itself; we are not acknowledging that it is their call for justice and an end to class discrimination. They see the blindfold of Justice removed, and she is only available for cold hard cash, lighter skin and good connections. People are becoming so angry and fearful that they will kill anything that twitches, but so far the anger seems to be unleashed only among themselves.

    Because of the polarization at every level, there is no substantial appeal being made to those who hold the reins of power, and those with means don’t give a hoot about those without.

    As naive as it sounds, I want to believe there can be peaceful protest to demand change, but it ain’t going to happen. There’ll be the sporadic flare up over rising food prices by the same people who block roads and burn tyres. Look at the planned march six weeks ago to protest the child murders — only 200 turned up.

    If the national tolerance for gore and lawlessness keeps adapting to the new highs, what is going to make people stand up and be counted?

  7. @ Kadene: I have to agree with the DPP, in fact she is stealing thunder from a post I was contemplating in which I wanted to say that I think if a Jamaican citizen is aware of criminal actions and fails to call the NEW offshore number to report police and political malfeasance — then that citizen deserves whatever happens. It was one thing when you couldn’t trust the police to report a crime to them, but given the tools to report that crime without danger; it means that failure to report the crime is material support for criminals.

    I find it interesting that Jamaicans want to have it both ways. We way to bray and neigh about the politicians doing nothing to protect citizens and then we expect to sit comfortably in our houses and keep our knowledge of criminality to ourselves.

    I think that people who expect to sit comfortably silent in their houses should NOT scream when the criminals light their house afire and gun them down as they escape. Jamaicans need to pick a side — either you down with criminality or you down with the rule of law. There is no more having it both ways.

  8. There is a general widespread conspiracy among the Jamaican public not to ‘call’ anyone’s name, to look the other way, to avert our eyes, to fawn on politicians and police alike and in general to foster a culture of silence and darkness in which criminals thrive…

    just look at the media and how it hops, skips and jumps over half the shenanigans that go on without asking one inconvenient but burning question–

  9. The people have a right to ask how they are going to be protected. They are not going to wake up today and switch gears just because there is an overseas number…it will take time. They need to at least learn to trust again. There are 18 year olds who have only known this culture, from birth. They have to learn to trust the same policemen whom they have seen round up their friends and shoot them at point-blank range, plant a weapon on them and call it a shoot-out.

  10. The people have a right to ask how they are going to be protected. They are so paranoid they wonder if their cell numbers can be traced.

    They are not going to wake up today and switch gears just because there is an overseas number…it will take time. They need to at least learn to trust again. There are 18 year olds who have only known this culture of silence, from birth. They have to learn to trust the same policemen whom they have seen round up their friends and shoot them at point-blank range, plant a weapon on them and call it a shoot-out.

  11. @ Annie:
    Indeed. What’s amazing is how some newsmen are well-connected and claim to be losing money yet won’t report some of the fantastic news story secrets that they’re in possession of.

    @ Kadene: Touché, point taken. But the “law-biding” can only use that excuse for a limited time. I have never seen any info that Crime-Stop couldn’t be trusted and the new number seems highly viable — if people want to make it work.

  12. Indeed, the INFORMA FI DEAD CULTURE has definitely spawned a somewhat complicated problem in the form of a conundrum, as it relates to the culture and psychology of criminality in Jamaica with respect to TELL and TRUST.

    Undoubtedly, the informa fi dead culture, of citizens not reporting criminal behaviour —-including heinous crimes and even homicides —- to law enforcement authorities, because of a considerable lack of trust in such authorities, regarding the proper and professional housing, storage and utilization of classified information submitted by citizens, and the concomitant revenge, retaliation, or vindictive attempts to even the score against citizens, who dutifully report criminality, when exposed or revealed by the very law enforcement authorities, has definitely contributed significantly to the exponential increase of crime and criminality in Jamaica.

    Admittedly, one has to identify and empathize with residents of the respective crime infested areas who do not trust law enforcement authorities and are reluctant to pass on critical and real time information regarding sundry acts and forms of criminality. Because of the atrocities, brutality, jack-boot ruthlessness, savagery and viciousness meted out to residents of such communities, historically. Also, the very law enforcement authorities are in essence part and parcel of the criminal machinery/device in these communities. Surely, many residents of crime infested areas have been so psychologically traumatised by the police, and would be extremely hesitant to engage them, with respect to passing on critical information.

    Certainly, it will definitely take a considerable amount of time before residents of such communities and the larger Jamaican society start to trust law enforcement authorities. This suggests, that law enforcement authorities will have to radically reinvent, re-engineer and transform themselves in a manner, that the average Jamaican will ascribe or attribute some level or modicum of trust towards them. Quite frankly, there are numerous strategies that/which can be employed to such ends, the conspicuously obvious one, is indeed, more and better COMMUNITY POLICING, also better PUBLIC RELATIONS and a CALCULATED and SYSTEMATIC attempt at RAPPROCHEMENT and the development of cordial relations with CIVIC, RELIGIOUS and COMMUNITY leaders in these troubled communities.

    The incorporation and application of technologies, such as telephone numbers outside of Jamaica, on the part of law enforcement authorities is certainly a positive one. Nonetheless, cynics and skeptics abound are numerous, regarding how secure, proof-worthy and classified such modalties of acquiring information pertaining to criminality from residents/witnesses are. So, we come back to the fundamental crux of the matter, which in essence entails, the radical re-learning, re-education, and re-socialization of the average Jamaican regarding the question of TRUST with the police playing a vanguard role vis-a-vis Jamaican residents.

    Having articulated this position, regarding the role of the Jamaican police in restoring TRUST, it is also extremely critical, that we as citizens, start to respect and understand the essential role and importance of the police and the larger question of moral responsibility, civic responsibility, and the rule of law within our society.In that regard, we have to definitely develop mechanisms, structures, methods and avenues to communicate and transfer critical and meaningful information to law enforcement, which can definitely be utilized to abate criminality, as opposed to constantly sitting on our hands, lamenting, bemoaning, and wailing, and in some instances utilizing the veil or fig leaf of not trusting law enforcement as the raison d’etre, even when the incidence of security is quite substantial and real.
    Indeed, there are many instances/circumstances when the question of TRUST is definitely not an issue, and in that regard as citizens, we are also morally responsible to act in the correct or appropriate manner.Certainly, not all behaviour or relationship with the police has to be of a zero-sum nature.Interestingly, there are many win-win circumstances and situations which are both beneficial to the police and the residents or the community or communities in question. In this regard, as a people and society, we need to constantly build on these victories and establish more solid ties communications and relationships, as opposed to this constant dichotomy or divide. In doing so, trust develops, and we become more able over time, to fullfill or realize certain aspects of our civic/moral responsibility regarding the issue of the transference —-TELLING —- of information which can be utilized to improve the general welfare of the society and transcend the INFORMA FI DEAD culture and psychology.

    The battle, struggle or war against crime and criminality in our troubled and beleagured island is a two way street, involving both law enforcement authorities and citizens. Jamaicans must feel secure and trusting of the agents of the state that they are willing to TELL and not be anxious regarding vindictiveness, revenge and retaliation. On the other hand, the state must create an environment of TRUST based on good ethical police work, security and maximum professionalism, while utilizing modern technologies, paradigms and modalities that persons will eschew the culture of silence. SOLVING CRIME IN JAMDOWN IS A TWO WAY STREET!! CITIZENS AND POLICE WORKING TOGETHER!!

  13. The following was published in today’s Gleaner under “Hottest toppics on the Cocktail Circuit”
    http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20081218/lead/lead8.html

    “One family is completely distraught while members of the community are now in fear. The story is: the police chased some suspected gunmen, one of the suspects dropped a firearm and a concerned citizen picked up the gun and handed it in at the neighbourhood police station. He was shot and killed a few days later by the gunmen.”

    Any guesses as to who tipped off the gunmen the police “chased”?

  14. Huffington Post 12/17/08: 13,500 police officers did not finish elementary school. Could this be Jamaica’s problem, but more so with high school!!?

  15. Who is going to lead it, Esteban?

    There is a point in a conflict after which you struggle no more. Your eyes become glazed over and it’s that point where you are whipped into submission. I believe this is the juncture where the majority of law abiding citizens find themselves. Numbness is what they feel.

    What effect did the report of that murdered female footbballer have on you today? I glanced at it. The flow of righteous anger is drying up from overexposure.

    But the elements in our society who are intent on driving fear into the hearts of the citizens are the ones leading the Jamaican intifada; the uprising is happening as we speak. The m.o. is different though; these intifadists cowardly wage war on those as poor and disenfranchised as themselves in order to send a message to the mighty.

  16. Kadene, I cannot say that I am shocked regarding the murder of the female football player. Nothing shocks me in Jamaica anymore, especially, when it comes to the senseless violence, self-destruction and nihilism that has totally consumed the society. Nonetheless, I am extremely concerned, bothered and distressed about her wanton and vicious demise, as I am, of the many other Jamaicans that/who have lost their lives in this constant and never ending butchery.

    Kadene, many times after reading the two major dailies, I experience a spectrum or continuum of emotions, ranging from blood-boiling rage, helplessness to depression, when I see what is unfolding in my — our — beloved country. And indeed, the search for solutions even compounds and aggravates ones emotional feelings and dispositions. Specifically, in light of the fact, that I am — like you— extremely cognizant of the fact, that the conditions will only exacerbate in the short to medium term as a consequence of the endogenous and exogenous pressures. It is extremely appalling, terrifying and harrowing that over the last ten years, approximately sixteen to seventeen thousand persons have been murdered in Jamaica, and the future suggests that the carnage will only get worse. Kadene, I totally concur, the society has experienced a high level of numbness and anesthetization, especially the law abiding citizens, as you rightly contend.

    Concerning the question of leadership, with respect to struggle, social change and transformation in Jamaica, your question, ” Who is going to lead it? ” is certainly an interesting one. Kadene, honestly, I cannot offer an answer. The society has not spawned any Nelson Mandelas, Martin Luther Kings, Malcolm Xs, or for that matter even a Barack Obama. And the current political leadership in Jamaica both in the government and the Opposition, in essence, are totally moribund and irrelevant with respect to Jamaica’s future. Undoubtedly, they are already being relegated to the trash heap of history as failed leaders.Consequently, leadership becomes a major issue.Interestingly, I do not even envision a political movement similar to what transpired and manifested itself in Thailand or Greece taking place in Jamaica.We are too damn polarized, insular and atomised for such political movements and political transformation. Hopefully, the dialectic and trajectory of Jamaican history will prove me wrong. Kadene, your utilization of the term intifada is completely comprehended by me. As a matter of fact, I concur !! Nuff respect

  17. @ Kadene:
    Somehow when I waas reading this item in the Thursday Talk I knew you’d bring i up to bolster your point. I cannot disagree with you that in general the police are not to be trusted in Jamaica; and that the fears of ‘law-biding’ civilians are well-founded. However given what we’re facing I think that Jamaicans will have to take the risk on the new off-shore number and on Crime Stop.

    I didn’t even read the story about the footballer — I saw the headline and ignored it. I feel bearish enough about Jamaica right now without ingesting any more bad news. It has become too steady a drumbeat — too much blood and too many gruesome crimes.

  18. Esteban my friend – you are staying awake later than I am.

    If my math is correct — it resembles a party line vote (10 to 7.) Funny a conscience vote would land in that pattern.

  19. Yes, I was up very late last night!! By the way, St.Kitts and Nevis actually had their first hanging yesterday after a ten year break-hiatus. Consult today’s Gleaner for more details.

  20. 27 degrees!! Brrrrrrrrrr COLD!!! Hey Diatribalist, cabin fever and more cabin fever time!! And is only December .Eat good food and wear layers and layers of warm winter clothes.Nuff respect!!

  21. As Annie notes, this whole “culture of silence” has spread far beyond issues of keeping quiet while criminals run rampant. We have now learned to avert our eyes at every single thing, pretending we don’t know that what is happening is wrong and illegal. I don’t even think some of the media folks realize that they are not asking the right questions, or that they are expected to take the risk of exposing the fuckery that is going on all around us. Somebody ought to tell them.

    I think its way past time to pick a side and that means its time to start speaking out. Intifadas begin with a wilful refusal to be traitors and to be complicit in one’s oppression.

  22. Is Governor Patterson of New York State competing with Governor Rod Blagoveich of Illinois re the circus which resulted in the appointment to replace Senator Hilary Clinton? Also, what is one to think of this obscure appointment in Gillibrand from upstate New York?

  23. Diatribalist, Attorney General Eric Holder has dropped all charges against Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.

  24. U.S. Government prosecutors are being reviewed by federal judge in the controversial Ted Stevens case!! How interesting?!

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