Category Archives: Politics

Year of Uncertainty – 2017

After spending almost 3 months in Barbados, I have observed developments in the island as an outsider that have affected the Bajan lifestyle and experience. I have been chastised by many that I am too critical of some inconveniences that are reasonably unacceptable and that need some improvement in this age of modern technology.

I have mixed feelings about departing the shores of this tropical paradise and returning to the frigid environs of North America amid the uncertainty of a Donald Trump’s presidency and the potential threat to democracy utilizing his seemingly adversarial stance with the press.

Like President-elect Trump, the Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart, has a similar hostile relationship with the local press, but that is where the shared characteristic ends. While Mr. Trump is up at ‘the crack of dawn’ setting his agenda through social media, and responding to every remark, however, trivial or insignificant; Mr. Stuart neither tweet, speak nor reassure the citizens what plans his administration will carry out to solve the myriads of problems the country faces. Mr. Stuart has often ask earnestly that Barbadians to give more, but they have already exceeded their act of giving through depressive taxation and unsatisfactory representation. It is now the responsibility of the Prime Minister and his out of control Cabinet to step up its game and follow his advice.

The lack of transparency and accountability in government projects has beset the Stuart administration, and the previous governments as well. Per the 2015 Auditor General’s report, some statutory bodies and agencies that spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, have failed to submit financial data for audit purposes as far back as 2010. Among the list includes: the National Insurance Fund; Sanitation Service Authority; Transport Authority and the Transport Board; Barbados Agriculture Development and Marketing Corp; Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Barbados Water Authority. This is a by no means a complete list of the offenders, but the most egregious.

Apparently, there is increasing collusion and deal-making among the powerful cabinet ministers (who also are business owners), and the 5% white minority population, who are, indeed, the wealthiest citizens of Barbados. As Heather Cole so aptly wrote about in her blog, Hypocrites and Parasites, ‘white business entities now cater to every need on the island’, leading to the concentration of power and wealth in a few hands.

As Barbados debt burden increases and attempts to provide essential services to its citizen diminish, those responsible for the government finances must be held accountable. As it stands, only a few knows where the money goes.

Barbados will return to business as usual as the year-long celebration of the 50th Independence Anniversary ends January 17th; which began earnestly after the annual summer Crop Over Carnival – the national festival of culture, music and revelry, mixed with traditions and cultural elements – from the past. Crop Over exhibitions, shows and competitions showcase the skill and talent of artisans and artistes. Partying, masquerading and alcohol consumption play a major part of the celebrating and entertaining.

The Barbados Tourism Authority promotes Barbados as the party and culinary capital of the Caribbean, and it has sponsored several chef competitions and food festivals that really enhance the dining experience with an eclectic taste in the local fare.
Finding an event to attend, is only as limited as one’s financial ability to buy a ticket to one of these extravaganza, which are pricey and less affordable for the average Barbadian, but usually well attended by the business and political class, the connected, sycophants, and tourists.

I can relax in ample sunshine, crystal clear blue water, glorious sunsets, white-sand beaches, all the rum one can drink and the delightful food around every corner eatery and restaurant, in the traditional Bajan gastronomy, seems like a no-brainer. But I am also mindful that the abuse of a good thing, is just as harmful as a lack of good governance. Whether I stay or go, uncertainty is everywhere.

The New Messiah

Still at a loss by the election of Trump to the White House? Scratching your head and pulling your white beard pondering what polling data you miss? Do not feel too badly, you are not alone. The media, the pundits, the talking heads were all duped and mislead; the political scientists are perusing their data points for answers, and I am compelled to give up making political predictions, even when all the facts point to an inevitable conclusion.

The Democratic Party is in disarray, after what look like a certain victory; the Republic Party is forced to contend with a political faction that is bent on destroying it. Thus the long national nightmare begins.

Now the votes are counted and tabulated, it shows that White conservative Christians gave the Donald his victory. National exit polls show white evangelical voters voted in record numbers for DT, 81-16 percent. The Wall Street Journal confirms that more than 80 percent of white evangelicals and born-again Christians voted for Donald Trump. It is the widest margin ever for a Republican presidential candidate since they have been tracking the numbers; more than Mitt Romney, John McCain or George Bush. Furthermore, more than 75% of white evangelical women – backed Trump. No one could predict that Christians would reject morality and decency.

The irony of course, for all intents and purposes, Trump cannot be considered a Christian. At least in theory, he is a man that appears to have no convictions – religious or otherwise – and represents everything that a Christian rejects. Even, Dr Ben Carson, the most self-described, qualified Christian of all the candidates, is avoiding this wolf in sheep’s clothing and has decided to turn down a position in his administration.

What does all this mean; I do not know. But with Trump and Pence, a dangerous religious extremist, at the helm, the U.S. could become a Christian theocracy. But again, I am out of the prediction business.

Humpty Trump(ty)

My prediction that Trump’s Presidential campaign bid will implode now seems inevitable as he sank in the polls amid chaos in his camp. Trump is in his umpteenth act of a tragic comedy of errors which would have sunk any other candidate. My prediction is a bit off, as I suggested it would have ended last year, however, I underestimated the segment of the electorate that is still racist, xenophobic, isolationist and prefer the pre-civil rights era; as Obama so prophetically stated in 2008, ‘…they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion, or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations’. These constituents believe Trump is the great White hope and going all in with a ‘bad hand’ in an effort to take America back to the 40s or 50s. But anyone who claims to be always a winner, is either a liar or never played poker.

Conspiracy theorists speculate that Bill Clinton orchestrated the Trump candidacy to bring down the GOP. There is a modicum of truth in any conspiracy theory and in this one, there is plenty of bad blood between the Clintons and the GOP. But this would be a stroke of such Machiavellian shrewdness to pull off such a coup to get back into the White House, where he had so much fun, now with a wife as the Commander-in-Chief, and he as the Intern-in-Chief, is genius.

Trump seems to be cooperating with the program by insulting a ‘Gold Star’ family member, expelling a child from one of his campaign rallies; refusing to endorse Paul Ryan or John McCain and his bromance with Vladimir Putin, an enemy of the United States and to the great consternation of the international community is quite astounding. Trump has praised Putin as a forceful leader and not the dictator that he truly is. Putin, no doubt, would prefer an incompetent in the White House to weaken NATO as Trump vow to do if he is President, to leave Russia to its own devices. Putin sees Trump as weak and ignorant on such political machinations and ripe for his manipulation.

Trump’s propensity to lie in bed with strange and unsavory bedfellows is his standard customary code of conduct, while pretending to conveniently disavow any knowledge of their beliefs. In the case of David Duke, a white nationalist, an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist, and former Grand Wizard Ku Klux Khan who is just one of his biggest supporter, and has endorsed him enthusiastically. Trump also defends former Fox News’ Chief Executive, Roger Ailes, who is facing law suits of sexual harassment in the workplace going back 30 years, and who is likely to take over as Trump’s campaign manager. I have not heard whether Bill Cosby will support the Trump campaign. Trump has made incendiary remarks about women in the past, and has also been accused of sexual harassment. Birds of a feather.

The Republican establishment is in somewhat of a bind. The leaders of the GOP have lack the integrity, courage or political will to denounce the eccentric behavior; clownish antics and the insulting comments of Mr Trump, and will not garner his support in their reelection bids, however, they will vote for him anyway because their hate for Hilary Clinton is so passionate, even at the risk of losing the White House and destroying their Party.

Trump is preparing for the impending defeat by claiming the elections in November will be rigged just to brace for his fall that all the king’s men will not be able to put him back together again.

Barbados Golden Jubilee

On November 30, 2016, Barbados will officially celebrate the 50th Anniversary of its independence from Great Britain. The year-long Golden Jubilee party began in earnest on January 6th and will continue to June 2017. Before a large crowd assembled on Independence Square, in the nation’s capital, Prime Minister, Fruendal Stuart urged Barbadians, at home and abroad ‘to recommit themselves to the development of the country’. No doubt, many Barbadians of the Diaspora will return to participation in the festivities, the parades, the family reunions, concerts, fetes, political speeches, ceremonies and parties to contribute to the economy to offset the expenses of this grand undertaking with the purchases of memorabilia, to boost the economy for a brief interval.

Since November 30, 1966, the country has enjoyed prosperity, economic stability, stable government and better living standards; but the foundation for these successes were the early men of vision, intellect, foresight, and ambition, who represented the interest of the citizens first and foremost.

VISIONARIES

The merchant class dominated politics in Barbados for over 200 years. The Black population could not vote until 1831 or hold office in the legislature until 1840. Trade unions were introduced in the 1930s by descendants of emancipated slaves who formed movements for political rights.
In 1938, Grantley Adam (1898-1987) a leader of one of the Trade Unions, founded the Progressive League (he was the lawyer who represented Clement Payne in his case against deportation to Trinidad), which later to became the Barbados Labor Party, specifically to rescue Barbadians from the strong grip of social injustice and economic ill-treatment. He achieved significant social and constitutional reforms including: the right of women to vote on the same terms as men; establishment of a Labor Department; amendments to the Education Act; the setting up of Erdiston Teachers College; improved working for shop assistants; and increased old age pensions. Adams later became the first Premier of Barbados in 1958.

Errol Walton Barrow (1920-1987) left the Barbados Labor Party in 1955 to start his own Democratic Labor Party, replaced Grantley Adams as the Premier of Barbados. Errol Barrow was an experienced pilot and flew bombing missions during WW II. Affectionately known as ‘the Skipper’, Barrow and the DLP made free education available at all levels, started the Social Security scheme, and improved the school meal service. He led the way to diversify the economy to place more emphasis on Barbados’ tourism development rather than sugar dependence. He also co-founded both the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) and Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Under his leadership, he led Barbados to full independence, and his DLP was the majority party from 1966 to 1976; which returned to power in 1986, until his death in 1987.

Charles Duncan O’Neal (1879-1936) used his social and professional status to change the consciousness of a nation. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University in Scotland, was a member of the elite class and held a high social position in the Barbadian community, chose to dedicate his life to social reforms, assisting the poor, and actively rejected the racism of the 1920s and 1930s. He established the Democratic League in 1924, and in 1932 he won a seat in the House of the Assembly.

The above-mentioned notables are just a few people who have given outstanding service to Barbados; contributed to the improvement of the economic and social conditions of Barbados, demonstrated visionary and pioneering leadership, extraordinary achievement and the attainment of the of the highest excellence, so according to the Barbados’ Order of National Heroes Act who are honored every year on April 28th.

The political parties: Barbados Labor Party under Mia Mottley; the Democratic Labor Party under Fruendal Stuart and the People’s Empowerment Party (PEP) under David Comissiong hardly distinguished themselves with any clear objectives how to handle the challenges of the economy, the growing debt burden or public service delivery. They seem more immersed in the style and rhetoric of the personality of the leaders rather than a commitment to solving the countries’ problems.

Barbados in its infancy depended on the leadership and vision of proponents of good governance and advocates for social justice and economic reforms. Barbados now needs innovators and reformers for the next 50 years, which currently seem lacking during these crises.

‘Bad’ Friday

There is nothing ‘good’ about Good Friday. A day, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ is by any measure, a horrific day; and being betrayed by one of your gang members with a kiss, makes it worthy of severe condemnation. For the Christian community, it is a day of intense sorrow and grieve, which is hardly conducive to joy and merriment. “Holy Friday’, “Grieving Friday”, or ‘Mourning Friday’ seem more appropriate, to literally drown in one’s unhappiness at the loss of a loved one. Now, Easter is a jubilant day, the resurrection, and rebirth is worthy of a celebration – a day to rejoice and say, “Good Easter”.

Today is really a bad Friday for the Ted Cruz and Donald Trump campaigns, in some misguided attempt to crucify each other through their respective wives on Twitter. The feud started with the Cruz’s Super PAC, ‘Make America Awesome Again’ circulating a very tasteful, I might add, 2000 GQ semi-nude picture of Melania Trump in the Mormon stronghold of Utah, where Tuesday’s primary was held with the caption, ‘Meet Melania Trump. Your next First Lady, or You could vote for Ted Cruz on Tuesday’, of course, the Donald is not going to let the attack go unanswered and threatened to spill the beans on Heidi Cruz, whatever information he has on Ted’s wife has put him on the defensive. A case of people in glass houses, should not throw stones.

Worse yet for the Cruz camp, the famous National Enquirer published a story of Ted’s multiple affairs. If you think the Enquirer is just a gossip rag, ask Tiger Woods, John Edwards, Jesse Jackson, Eliot Spitzer, and Bill Cosby about its credibility. You can be certain that the tabloid source has its ‘ducks in a row’, and there is some grain of truth in their assertions.

Of the five mistresses, three have been identified as Katrina Pierson; Sarah Isgur Flores, and Amanda Carpenter. Interestingly, Katrina Pierson can be seen on TV as spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, also worked for Ted Cruz; Sara Flores was campaign manager for Carly Fiorina, and Amanda Carpenter, a CNN contributor was a former speech-writer and campaign worker for Ted Cruz.

Apparently, these shenanigans have been common knowledge on the DC circuit since last February. The stories were put on hold not to embarrass the holy roller and devout Christian. Furthermore, a Texas police report from 2005 claims that Heidi Cruz was a ‘danger to herself’ when officers found her sitting near Austin Expressway, suggesting that Ted is not the anointed one that he claimed to be.

The path to the White House has become a little easier for the Democratic nominee. If history is to repeat itself, the Democrats have always save the country from economic ruin. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Democrat, served as President from 1933 to 1945. He assumed the Presidency at the depth of the Great Depression, and helped the American people regained faith in themselves. Roosevelt’s New Deal program of social reform: Social Security; heavier taxes on the wealthy; new controls over Banks and public utilities; and an enormous work relief program for the unemployed, brought America back to prosperity.

Remember President Clinton, taking over a stagnant economy 1992 and creating a surplus when he left office, only to be squandered by George W Bush by initiating the ill-fated tax-cuts for the rich, of which the country has never recovered. President Obama inherited an economy comparable to the Great Depression, which his policies singlehandedly saved the car manufacturing industry, provide healthcare for many Americans, remove the troops from Iraq, climate change legislation, nuclear agreement with Iran, and renew diplomatic ties to Cuba.

A Democratic Administration will certainly provide us with many good days.

An Unholy Alliance

Today, I witnessed another Donald J Trump infomercial as Ben Carson throws his support behind him for the Presidency. Well, ‘politics make strange bedfellows’; what possibly could bring these two unlikely characters together – a devout Christian, and a racist demagogue – is equal to a Catholic priest and child molester teaming up to a build an orphanage for young boys.

Mr. Carson, a savior of souls and Mr. Trump are now both committed to ‘Saving America’, and ‘Making America White Again’, neither have the gravitas, temperament, attitude, or an understanding of world politic to become President. Moreover, Mr. Carson demonization of President Obama, has not won him any favors with the Black electorate for his condescending rhetoric which would serve him well in the Trump camp. Ben has lost his credibility with the evangelical following – to endorse the same man who referred to him as a pathological liar; the same as a pedophile – who now perceives him as just as an opportunist and a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Carson claimed to have prayed about this decision to join Trump’s campaign and it was sanctioned by a higher power. Now, that is certainly misleading. I would not call it a lie, since it is unverifiable. Carson has obviously sacrifice his sacred principles for a gig on the Trump ticket to stay relevant in politics, after his inept campaign for the Presidency. Trump mentioned Carson in the press conference as a possible policy expert on education and healthcare. A man who deemed Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act as modern-day slavery, and is an ardent proponent of charter schools, home schooling and elimination public schools. Not really a candidate with interest in providing education and healthcare to everyone in our society.

Apparently, some members of the Republican Party are coalescing behind Trump – if you cannot beat him join him – but the establishment is adamant to stop him at all cost, whatever it takes. Trump has successfully exposed the hypocrisy of the party. The Republicans have perfected the art of ‘dog whistling’, a strategy of communication that sends a message that the general population will take a certain meaning from, but a certain group that is ‘in the know’ will take away the secret, intended message, often involves code words. For example, Republicans say ‘school choice’ which is really an effort to cut back on public schools; when Romney states 47% of the electorate are takers, which really means Black people do not want to work and depends on the Government for handouts; and my favorite, ‘tax cuts’, which means the less money paid to Government, the less services to be provided and the rich get richer.

The stalwarts of the Republican party have a history of the rhetoric that Donald Trump advocates on immigration; Mexicans, Blacks and women. Maybe, he did not get memo, or miss the meeting on confusing the public.

I predicted the fall of Trump back in the summer of 2015, but to my surprise, he is still going strong with more and more people flocking to his rallies; like onlookers to a terrible accident. The Trump’s show is full of exaggerated emotional behavior done for show or to get a reaction, ignoring the dignity or good taste of a Presidential candidate; this offensive display must come to an end. I cannot believe this is what the people want. But the crowd also wanted Barabbas.

The Presidency

The political contest for President of the United States continues intensely; the debates for the year are over, and during next year’s primaries and caucuses, each candidate will accumulate as many delegates for consideration as the official nominee for – the Democratic Party and the Republican Party – at their respective national conventions.

After watching the debate of the Republican Party, it occurs to me that there should a ‘litmus test’ for persons seeking the high office of Presidency. The current list of the 14 Republican candidates, aka as ‘the clown car’, seem to have limited knowledge of the Constitution of the U.S. and the philosophy of the system of government. If these tremendously successful men in their respective field are not aware of the three equal branches of the U.S. government, then how will they support the empty promises they decree on the campaign trail when in the White House. The United States is neither a dictatorship (a ruler of the people, based upon military or political power); a theocracy (government led by religious belief or culture); or an oligarchy, a power structure in which power effectively rest with a few people; but a Representative democracy, a political class of elected representatives trusted to carry out the duties of the electors, unfortunately, these officials may be responsible to any group in society, or none, once elected.

Jeb Bush has accused Trump of a ‘lack of seriousness’ as a Presidential candidate, but this statement can apply to most of the candidates on the Republican side of the aisle. The lies and misinformation committed by Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee are shocking and beyond belief. When Chris Christie suggests that as President he would shoot down any Russians that violate a proposed a no-fly zone, or Ted Cruz wanted to carpet bombed the city of Raqqa. These acts would be considered war crimes according to the Geneva Convention, including but not limited to: intentionally killing civilians or prisoners, torture, wantonly destroying property, rape, using child soldiers and holding hostages.

As I stated in an earlier blog, Trump is using Hitler’s playbook of the 1930’s. His policies and statements are more suited to a dictatorship than to a democracy. Denying a groups’ entry to the United States on religious grounds is unconstitutional, or infringing on the rights of citizens by denying access to the internet, or group punishment to the relatives of those accused of a crime. Israel commits this act on Palestinians without condemnation from the United Nations or the US government. Trump’s pompous boasting has recently been saluted by no other than the dictator himself – Putin.

The President must be an individual with impeccable character, high integrity, impartiality and to represent all citizens. Bluster, bullying and bizarre rhetoric are not the qualities of good leadership.

President Barack Obama, a constitutional lawyer, has been the epitome of a true leader, maintaining a true sense of dignity facing insurmountable hurdles and incredible obstacles for most of his Presidency. Yet he has had great achievements considering the opposition’s pledge to stymie his accomplishments.