With Friends Like These…

Bad luck is reputed to be worse than obeah, but seeing the way that things are working out for the JLP in office I’m not sure recent events can be chalked up to bad luck alone. Some kind of obeah or “science” may provide a more convenient scapegoat for the series of unfortunate  events that is befalling members of the Jamaica Labour Party, it is either that or they are intent on committing political suicide.

I am beginning to believe that before 2009 is over the JLP will give back the majority to the PNP either as a result of a series of forced by-elections or even a general election.

Consider what is on the horizon:

  • Daryl Vaz will likely need to have a new by-election against Dabdoub or worse-case-scenario Dabdoub will be declared the actual winner of the seat in parliament which is currently the subject of a lawsuit.
  • Robertson is likely to be charged stemming from his interaction with police in his district after, he alleges, a constituent called him for help. Who can say that he will not be convicted?
  • Hibbert is under multiple investigations stemming from a stint years ago as Chief Technical Officer in a government ministry. Who knows where this will go?
  • And Hibbert’s lawyer, his fellow MP Ernest Smith, is busy issuing what can only be interpreted as death threats against the Contractor General, that the CG will “one day digest the venom of his own spleen!” So it wouldn’t surprise me if the Opposition or the OCG files a police report regarding those menacing comments.

    The Spleen

With friends like these the JLP needs no enemies! And the sad fact is that the examples above are not isolated incidents, but part of a pattern of self-destructive interactions with the media. Prior to the recent “death threat” from MP Smith, we saw Daryl Vaz ‘out-virago’ the Most Hon. Portia  Simpson-Miller with his performance after the police interrupted a rally in the run-up to local government elections in 2007 — screaming and roaring “No badda Minister me nutten” in unrestrained anger while his wife was sobbing in the car next to him. I had hoped I was watching a cameo appearance on the TV show Royal Palm Estate when I first saw the video of that fracas.

And we have also seen The Everald Warmington One Man Humor and Heckling Show from the benches of Gordon House, his generally boorish behavior in parliament made worse by his famous declaration that “he doesn’t talk to the press.”

And all of this grieves me personally, as I watch a party with promise implode and wilt under the glare of the spotlight, the words not-ready-for-prime-time comes to mind. I have stated where my loyalties lie repeatedly, but I carry water for no-one in this space. There are times when I watch the verbal incontinence coming out of the JLP and wonder if they knew they were interacting with the media at the time the comment was made.

The JLP has had a horrendous press relations arm both for the party and for the Government. The Prime Minister is there to personally defend every infraction:  from shady land deals that don’t seem to stand up to scrutiny at first glance; to being the one to address the Hibbert raid in parliament; which it is my opinion that some ‘deputy-so-and-so’ should have addressed. Where the PM needs to be is announcing the Ananda Alert and the recent Sex Offender Registry — didn’t see enough photos or soundbites from that. Nor have I seen enough photos and sound bites from a whole host of recent ‘good-news’ initiatives announced but not properly rolled out.

And it seems to me that the worst mistake the Prime Minister is making is to spend his political capital defending people who shouldn’t have been in such indefensible positions to begin with (see: Board of Directors, JUTC.) When the people no longer feel that Bruce Golding is a man of principle, he will be finished politically.

Structure of the Spleen
Structure of the Spleen

If this behavior can be such a turn-off for a supporter, how repulsive it must be to those who are neutral; further to the PNP-inclined it must function as a highly effective repellent. The JLP has members in the forefront of the party behaving like tactless, tasteless, classless, graceless, boorish, brutish buffoons. Every group can be expected to have “new orientation” moments during their honeymoon period; but there is a proverb that “whom the gods wish to destroy they first make drunk with power.” And the perception increasingly is that the JLP is heavily inebriated. I don’t know how else to describe it except in the words of Bob Marley “Ah wha mek dem a gwaan so? A wha! A wha! A wha frighten dem?

The Prime Minister needs to act. I would hope that whatever else he does he takes the Information portfolio away from Babsy Grange, and gives it to someone else. Maybe Holness? Grange, who is by many accounts a wonderful woman, can keep the Youth and Culture portfolios, but Info has got to go!

I would also hope that the PM sends around a memo that media is the plural of medium, meaning:

Media: A means of mass communication, such as newspapers, magazines, radio, or television.

Source: Answer.com

To that end a politician never really speaks to the media as he speaks with the masses through the media.

If Warmington continues to insist on heckling and boorish behavior from the Government benches, someone should direct him to St. William Grant Park to perform his routine, it is only a short distance away and perhaps he will catch the attention the person(s) responsible for booking new acts at Ward Theatre. Otherwise, Warmington might actually concentrate on governing while on the government side. The PM needs to act, a close majority doesn’t mean you can’t risk insulting anyone at all — especially not when they are engaged in behavior which will doom that small majority anyway.

Meanwhile if you notice, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller is scarce while the JLP is busy ruining themselves. Every now and then Pickersgill peers down from the window of his glass house and throws a few stones — but Portia is scarce. So if the JLP fails to take responsibility and implement strong remedial steps to increase the confidence of the people, I can only advise that they begin to come up with a creative excuse for the loss that is sure to come from any impending general election. My suggestion: Blame obeah!

Above all, please don’t blame voters, or pretend it’s because the uneducated are not sophisticated enough to understand global finance. If the JLP refuses to blame party leaders, since bad luck is not sufficient to explain the fact that they have lost their damn minds: just blame obeah!

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42 thoughts on “With Friends Like These…

  1. That the process of political delegitimization or political suicide is fully underway, with respect to the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), is indeed, unquestionable. The comedy of errors, stumbles, blunders and fax-paus, since attaining state power, are in essence, ironically, self-inflicted wounds, resulting in a considerable number of observers and even ardent supporters of the party —- including this writer —- wondering and asking pertinent questions, if the JLP has become irrelevant, or if they have degenerated into an absurd political circus.

    The enumerated problems explicated by you, in your aptly titled piece ” WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE. . . .” involving political characters, such as, Messrs Daryl Vaz, James Robertson, Ernie Smith, James Hibbert and Everald Warmington speak(s) volumes to the potential implosion of the party and by extension the government, even independent and autonomous of the numerous burning and vexing issues and challenges confronting the party/government endogenously and exogenously.

    Certainly, this political psychology of self-destruction and self-aggrandizement exhibited by the JLP and its sundry members suggests a pathology, which needs to be diagnosed instantaneously by Prime Minister Golding, and be eviscerated for a more self-disciplined and industrious institution and government. Because, if not addressed immediately, —- juxtaposed with the numerous problems confronting Jamaica and Jamaicans —- the fall from grace will be a difficult and historical one, and quite frankly, the germs of such a precipitous decline and fall are already manifesting themselves in a return of the Peoples National Party. Consequently, the comedy of errors which has transformed the party into a virtual laughing stock, the butt of jokes, an absurd political circus, need(s) to be stanched and arrested. Is Mr. Golding capable of reversing this potential implosion and fall from grace? QUALITY and PURPOSEFUL LEADERSHIP and PARTY DISCIPLINE are definitely required, juxtaposed with the proper public policy prescriptions and implementation. TIME WILL TELL!!!

  2. Correction is in order regarding the aforementioned post.Please read Mr.Joseph Hibbert as opposed to Mr. James Hibbert.

  3. Watching them whittle away the little goodwill they have left is almost surreal, plus having to face the frightening truth that our choice is really between unrepentant corruption with some controlled chaos, or lumbering, doddering incompetence and open rebellion.

    But wait! This scenario may just be a false dilemma. There is another way out; there must be another way out.

  4. Some choice eh, Kadene!? Ostensibly, Jamaica is caught between the proverbial rock of a failing, languishing and collapsing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), and the hard place of a moribund, bankrupt and decadent Peoples National Party (PNP). With the monumental and epic failure(s) of both political parties, to place or launch Jamaica on a trajectory for political, social and economic development —- Singaporeization as opposed to Haitianization and possibly Zimbabweization —-over the last forty six years post political independence in 1962. It is conspicuously obvious and empirically evident and factual that the people of Jamaica are definitely caught in a major political conundrum, with respect to political, social and economic modernization vis-a-vis the two major political parties. Is there a THIRD PATH, a THIRD WAY, or, a NEW PARADIGM of government and economic development that/which would essentially extricate, rescue and liberate Jamaica and Jamaicans, from the failed politics and economics of marginalization imposed on them —-Jamaicans —- by the PNP and JLP? Quite frankly, the third path will certainly involve and entail the people/Jamaicans mobilizing, galvanizing and organizing themselves for the critically needed transformation of the society and its sundry institutions, that/which will lend or allow for a political, economic, and social development, qualitatively and quantitatively different from the excessive marginalization and overwhelming underdevelopment which has been forced fed us, as a people and a society, for forty-six years by failed political institutions and political elites. Hence, transforming Jamaica into somewhat of a failed state. A THIRD PATH IS DEFINITELY REQUIRED. INDEED, THE ANSWERS DO NOT LIE WITH THE PNP OR THE JLP.IN ESSENCE THEY HAVE BOTH FAILED!!!!

  5. Diabtrialist, your logic with respect to the reshuffling of certain portfolios, namely, Ms. Babsy Grange and Mr. Andrew Holness in terms of Information is an interesting one and is definitely comprehended. Undoubtedly, Mr. Golding has to do something relatively fast/soon, specifically, with regard to salvaging his government and stewardship, and this may entail some form of reshuffling. But one seriously wonders, if this will result in any meaningful changes. Certainly, the individual who is on the hot seat, or the proverbial bubble, is the Minister of National Security, Mr. Trevor McMillian. Indeed, it is conspicuously and glaringly obvious that Mr. McMillian is definitely a dud, lemon, and a flop regarding crime.Quite frankly, the fire, intensity, zeal, militancy, eagerness, enthusiasm, committment and the passion that this portfolio requires is totally missing , lacking and void. An earlier or younger McMillian did display some of the aforementioned characteristics, but this older version or dispensation is definitely languishing, lackadaisical, languorous and indolent. Honestly, since taking over this portfolio, the type of dent and radical decrease that/which is required re crime in Jamaica, on the part of Mr. McMillian has not materialized and does not appear to be forthcoming on his watch in the short or medium term. Consequently, Prime Minister Golding needs to assume this portfolio and responsibility in an extremely aggressive manner and his first objective on taking over this portfolio, is the systematic degarrisonization of the society, including his constituency.In doing so, he will indeed start to tackle and put a dent in crime, and transcend the vacuous rhetoric and empty platitudes being spewed yearly at these prayer breakfasts. Will Mr. Golding assume the mantle of a real and serious transformational leader for all Jamaicans? Will history absolve Mr. Golding? Jamaica is waiting for an answer via radical and transformational action not a bag of mouth.Reshuffling yes! BUT THE PRIME MINISTER NEEDS TO BE THE NEW MINISTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY WITH DEGARRISONIZATION AS A PRIMARY AND ESSENTIAL OBJECTIVE RE THE CRIME IMBROGLIO!!!

  6. All due respect to your commentary, but please leave Obeah alone. Yes, I know you’re using it as a metaphor for the unknown or the seemingly unexplainable. However, there is rhyme and reason to how Obeah works. And if smaddy did really obeah dem, at least you could say that there was a “before” Obeah, as well as there was a possibility for redemption; there are cures and remedies available. However, I don’t see any such possibilities with these particular characters. They have developed public personalities that make it impossible for them to be accountable to anybody except themselves, even if their conscience said otherwise. They really believe that their performance is entirely appropriate to their status. Unless someone is willing to sit them down one on one and explain all the effects and ramifications of their behaviours on the broader polity, there’s no hope there, sorry.

  7. Police Commissioner, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin is talking about a five percent decrease in crime for 2009. Is this a big joke or not!? Surely,this is not the type of dent or decrease in crime and criminality that/which most Jamaicans are clamouring for. Please tell me that we are not about to wave the WHITE FLAG OF SURRENDER to the criminals and gunmen.In a society racking up approximately sixteen hundred or more murders/homicide each year, a five percent decrease is rather negligble. PLEASE DO THE MATH!!! Granted, every life saved from homicide or murder is critical, but in essence, we have hoisted the WHITE FLAG on the flag pole with a five percent decrease as an objective.

  8. Correction is in order regarding the spelling of the Minister of National Security’s surname.Please read McMilllan as opposed to McMillian. A typo!!

  9. Granted, the position or office of Governor General is definitely an anachronism and in many regards extremely irrelevant, laughable and politically absurd with respect to today’s Jamaica. Notwithstanding, it seems as if this office is not an equal opportunity position in terms of the appointment of Jamaican women. To date, historically, all the individuals that/who have served in this capacity pre-independence and post-independence are men.Interestingly, although a throwback to an earlier period, one is of the perspective that Jamaica is ready for a female Governor General, as opposed to another male.In this regard, Prime Minister Golding should have definitely nominated or recommended a female for the Queen’s approval and subsequent appointment. Certainly, there are many capable, succesful, and prominent women In Jamaican society that/who are most willing to serve in this capacity representing the queen. Or, will this office remian a bastion or bulwark of Jamaican masculinity. Such male citadels need to become more inclusive re women, with respect to equal opportunities, as opposed to constantly choosing men for such offices, in a somewhat reflexive and knee-jerk manner, without even considering any of our host of capable and competent women.Nuff respect!!

  10. Jeffrey Perry from Kilancholy, St. Mary sentenced to death, Friday, January 16th, 2009 for the murder of family members!!

  11. look here the obeahmen and obeahwomen of jamaica are a hard working sderious lot who would never have anything to do with this bungling joke of a parliamentary majority that has inflicted itself on Jamaica…..

  12. Esteban – Great point about the GG position as a bastion of maleness; I didn’t even touch the gender question in the op-ed. Didn’t Canada appoint a black Haitian-descent woman as governor-general a few years ago? Since neither BG nor his advisors are attuned to the issues of gender representation in politics, you have to excuse them. I really think you should send that comment to the newspaper!

  13. Longbench thanks! Yes, Canada did appoint a black woman of Haitian extraction as Governor General in 2005. She is the Rt. Honourable Michaelle Jean. Interestingly, in the Caribbean, several of our sister countries have had women serve in the position or capacity of Governor General, namely: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, St.Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And of course, Australia and New Zealand have appointed female Governor Generals.To date, Jamaica has not had a female Governor General, although there are many capable, competent and accomplished women within the general society that/who could easily assume the responsibilities of representing the Queen. Certainly, a transformational Prime Minister would have taken full note, or be cognizant of this opportunity, as a consequence of the current Governor General demitting office and would have recommended/nominated the most competent woman for approval and appointment by Queen Elizabeth. Instead, it is business as usual, and the preservation and retention of the office as a MALE BASTION with respect to Jamaica. Nuff respect!!

    Interesting study!! But Controversial!! Bwoy, mi sorry fi de man dem wey a sufferah and hav big sexual and libidinal egos. Based on dis yah study,dem nah gwaan wid nuthin, because dem nuh hav nuh dunny. A whol heap a Joshie and Nanny a dweet .ROFL!! LMAO!!

  15. Yes, there is definitely a certain sense of convergence taking place between the STAR and the GLEANER!!

  16. TODAY IS THE DAY!! 01/20/2009

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA of the UNITED STATES, wishing you and your administration THE BEST as you tackle the sundry challenges confronting both your country and the world. A new DAWN has indeed arisen!!

  17. An extremely eloquent, momentous, noteworthy and meaningful inauguration speech, touching on salient aspects of domestic and foreign policy concerns on the part of President Barack Obama. A NEW DISPENSATION, INDEED !!

  18. It is certainly good to see the back of George W. Bush after eight years of bungling, ineffectiveness, and sheer stupidity. The DECIDER is no longer around to make any more decisions. THANK GOD!!

  19. NO!! Our current group of politicians, irrespective of where they stand on the political continuum will not get the message being promulgated and advanced by President Barack Obama.WHY!! Because they are too vested in themselves and are totally arrogant, politically narcissistic, inebriated and intoxicated with political power for self-promotion, corruption, greed and personal avarice — dem ongle a look out fi demselves, fi get rich, and to hell with the rest of Jamaica, especially the poor masses. The electorate and the Jamaican mass-publics are viewed and considered incidental, and in many instances are treated disdainfully and contemptuously by our bankrupt political elites.Hence, they will not comprehend the message, irrespective of the rhetoric being spewed by them, because in so doing, it diminishes their — false — sense of importance. How tragic!? WI NUH READY, EVEN AFTER FORTY SIX YEARS OF POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE.WI STILL A BEHAVE LIKE CRABS IN A BARREL, PULLING EACH OTHER DOWN!!

  20. Will our politicians learn any lessons from the seamless transfer of power in the U.S.?

    Nah. Not even the part where Barack the Magnificent, um, President Obama spoke to those “who cling to power through corruption and deceit” as being on the wrong side of history. Our favorite politicians pretend he’s not talking about them, preferring to busy themseves by focusing on what the new regime can do to help Jamaica.

    The corruption, extortion rackets and crime allowed to increase unabated has left the nation on the wrong side of history, and yet our political leadership feel no shame at all. A hope the president just ignore them.

  21. The politics of mendicancy and panhandling at its zenith!! Hat in hand type of begging, in lieu of economic growth and development. So alms- house!!

  22. @Diatribalist: Oh? And I heard Dick Cheney hurt his back bending to pick up a box with shredded documents? (lol)

  23. Kadene, thanks ! Admittedly, I do enjoy reading and writing, specifically, since my professional endeavour entails doing both on a somewhat considerable level. Also, I was thinking about establishing a blog with the objective of addressing some of the political, social and economic issues concerning Jamaica, Jamaicans on the island, and Diaspora Jamaicans, but I have decided to place that on hold for the time being, as a consequence of subjective circumstances. In the interim, many of the issues concerning Jamaica that/which are raised and addressed by DIATRIBALIST, ABENG, LONGBENCH, ACTIVE VOICE and other pertinent blogs/magazines are of seminal interest and concern to me as a J’CAN. In that regard, I have decided to contribute via writing to the sundry issues and concerns raised by respective blogs. Copious respect Kadene!!

  24. Is the weaponization of Jamaican society, meaning, the right of every Jamaican, irrespective of social class, colour and ethnicity to legally own a weapon/GUN(S) —including the small man/woman— the possible answer to stanching and abating the ubiquitous and astronomical incidence of murder across the length and breadth of the society?? IS WEAPONIZATION the ANSWER??

  25. Yes, Clovis has it right!! Caricature is also extremely applicable to Jamaica!! PAUPERISM and MENDICANCY !!

  26. Diatribalist, sorry to hear that you are temporarily disabled. Hopefully, it is not anything too serious.Take care of yourself! Do not worry about posting. Nuff respect!!

  27. Esteban,

    why don’t you do a guest post for DD while he’s disabled? and DD hope you’re well and nothing serious is going on.

    seriously EAR you have tings to say and words to say it with…

  28. Annie, one is not averse to your suggestion re a guest post for Diatribalist. Diatribalist, if you are inclined in this regard, you do have my e-mail, please communicate with me and we can discuss a topic with such an objective in mind.Thanks! Again, hoping that your condition is not serious. Nuff respect!!

  29. @D — get well soon.

    @AP and EAR — with regard to the guest blog, I think both writing styles are far too different, and a blog is so, well, personal. For EAR to blog for D is like you coming to visit your friend and since he’s not going to be home, he leaves somebody else to keep you company. Definitely not the same. Hush, but a me dat.
    EAR should make every effort to begin his own personal blog. It’s like entertaining on your own verandah, and of course dropping by your friends to visit every now and then…

  30. Interesting and informative assessment. As an American Political Junkie married to a Jamaican, I have been fascinated by the challenges and drama surrounding the Jamaican Political process – particularly the events that led to the JLP’s recent return to power. My In-laws are not overtly political – and to be honest, I’ve never broached the subject of exactly where their loyalties lie, but over time I have come to assume they lean a bit towards the PNP. Given that, and the historical significance of Jamaica having its first female Prime Minister, it was really unfortunate that Sister P’s reign at the helm was so brief. I agreed with other assessments that she should have capitalized on the country’s collective good will and called for elections sooner; but even more damaging (for Ms. Simpson-Miller) was the fact that it seemed as if JLP candidates and their operatives were simply ‘hungrier’. Their message (regardless of what you thought of it) was more consistent and they did a better job of defining and polishing their brand. Interesting that they are now committing so many blunders. You’d think they haven’t been back in power long enough to become sated on the spoils of power and position!

  31. Interesting and informative assessment. As an American Political Junkie married to a Jamaican, I have been fascinated by the challenges and drama surrounding the Jamaican Political process – particularly the events that led up to the JLP’s recent return to power. My In-laws are not overtly political – and to be honest, I’ve never broached the subject of exactly where their loyalties lie, but over time I have come to assume they lean a bit towards the PNP. Given that, and the historical significance of Jamaica having its first female Prime Minister, it was really unfortunate that Sister P’s reign at the helm was so brief. I agreed with other assessments that she should have capitalized on the country’s collective good will and called elections sooner; but even more damaging (for Ms. Simpson-Miller) was the fact that it seemed as if JLP candidates and operatives were simply ‘hungrier’. Their message (regardless of what you thought of it) was more consistent and they did a better job of defining and polishing their brand. Interesting that they are now committing so many blunders. You’d think they haven’t been back in power long enough to become sated on the spoils of power and position!

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