When you lie with dogs…

This debt-ceiling thingy seems to be playing to perfection for Obama and the democrats.   Republican leader, John Boehner, despite strong language, threats and perhaps, perhaps everything short of bodily harm, failed to get enough votes to get his debt reduction proposal through the republican-led house.  The teaparty membership held strong.

The teaparty is in lala-land.  Their belief system is like that of a drunken megalomaniac.  They are drunk with power over the republicans and believe they can do the same with the country.  They are not rational, they see no compromise and they are driven by hate for a black president.

Mark you, I’m not saying that every teaparty member or politician is racist.  But the teaparty was born out of hatred for Barack Obama.   Even before he was sworn in, teaparty members were saying that their sole purpose was to remove him from office.  He has had more assassination threats than any other president.

They went after his family, his character, his race.  Racial epithets were used to describe him and his family.  He was never given a chance.  There was a racial backlash despite Obama trying to defuse his racial factor.  And the GOP joined in the fun, going along for the ride.  How is that working out for ya, John.  How thrilling is ride now that you are crashing?  Guess what?  When you lie down with dogs, you are going to get up with fleas.

So the teaparty’s hatred has maneuvered the GOP into a position of splitting apart.  The moderate faction of the republican party is displaying increasingly open disdain for the ‘new nuts on the block’.  Rational people know that there is a great possibility of default and the possible disastrous results that could follow.  They don’t want to take that chance.

The teaparty believes that the rest of the world will just give America a bligh.  I wonder where they get that idea from.   They still believe in American superiority, invincibility and immortality.  Sorry freaks, but that is history.  America is not as beloved as it once was.  If nothing else, Ronald Reagan and George Bush put paid to that.

So here is what is likely to go down.  Boehner and moderate republicans will have to draft a bill (probably drafted already) totally cutting out the teaparty, but which will get ‘reluctant’ democratic support.  He knows that a ‘teaparty’ plan will never pass in the senate and so the republicans will be blamed for failing the country.  You cannot base a plan on screwing the poor and middle-class and not expect a bloodbath next election.  Especially when as a republican, you are getting entitlements of your position while advocating cutting for everyone else’s.

So Boehner’s plan that will increase some taxes and have some budget cuts. It will be liberal enough so some democrats will ‘reluctantly’ agree in the interest of the country.  The president will sign it, shake Boehner’s hand and make him look like a reasonable man.  And the teaparty will go bonkers, stark raving nuts.

They will cut their own throats by rebelling against the moderate republicans… which is a bad idea… but they will have no alternative.  They are already calling for Boehner to be replaced as House leader by a teaparty member… despite them not being in the majority amongst the republicans.  Nitwits… but they are the poster-boys for megalomaniacs.

They will expose themselves as the extreme reactionaries they are, become ridiculed in the press, lose backing from the GOP and big money will fund ‘reasonable’ candidates.  And next year under the leadership of the Bachmanns, the Joe Walshs, the Grover Norquists, they will be swept out.   Some form of insane sanity (as against insane insanity) will return to the political spectrum and life will go on.

Will life be any better for the rest of us little people?  Hell no!  There is an African saying, “When the elephants make love, the grass suffer.  When the elephants make war, the grass suffers”.  How true.

To its credit, the teaparty was trying to bring a real problem to the fore… that of the continuous overspending.  But nothing driven by racial hate can come to any good.  If they had done this during the George Bush era, then they would have some credibility.  But their racial hatred turned into intransigence and they forget the first rule of politics… be prepared to compromise, to give and take.  They wanted to take.  And Obama played them for the fools they are.

 

 

Keep an eye on the ref

If I had the investment funds I would be moving mucho dinero into anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication stocks.  Too many people are on edge with this drama about the debt ceiling.  The fear is palpable.

Relax.  Don’t rush the pharmacist just yet.   America’s credit line will be raised. Armageddon will be postponed.  First thing to know is that August 2 is an artificial and arbitrary deadline.

I’ve had several recent discussions centred around this ‘crisis’ manufactured by the politicians, and movers and shakers, and delivered by the media.  I’ve even seen a headline, “Don’t get caught holding US dollars when the default arrives”.    Won’t happen.   In all discussions, I’ve looked at the face of nervous people who apparently feel they are looking at a financial apocalypse.  The power of the press.

But if you are really nervous, don’t buy gold, unless you have digestive system that can digest metal.  Like money, gold will end up worthless… unless you have like a thousand plus years to hoard it… and even then.  Buy guns.

What we are looking at is the beginning of the end of the teaparty.  This brinksmanship is a joint effort to rid the society of these pests.   Saw what happened in Norway? A right-winger.  And he had guns, not gold.

The republicans desperately want to lose the teapartyers without seeming to do so.  There will be lots of crocodile tears when they are rendered extinct, but secretly it will be good riddance.

How long can republican leader John Boehner hold the line that there should be no new additional sources of revenue from the rich when it is clear that many corporations while paying little or no taxes are making massive profits?  He can’t, especially when the financial markets are beginning to get nervous… thinking that Boehner might not be able to rein in the divisive teaparty.

Lets get some background on Boehner.  He voted for every budget-busting, high-spending measure proposed by George Bush.  He voted to raise every debt ceiling request under Bush.  So when did he become a fiscal disciple?  November 4, 2008… the day a black democrat was voted president of the United States.

……….

Boehner and every politician claim to represent the wishes of the American people, but the American people overwhelmingly want higher taxes on the rich rather than massive cuts in public spending.  Yet, the republicans are facing the other way, fighting for a minority of less than 3% of America.  And that number is even lower because many well-off individual Americans are not opposed to extra taxes.  Standout exception of course being major corporations.

While both sides often ignore the people (as I think they should), where it comes to economic welfare, the republicans always defer to the wishes of the elite.   They really do believe that this country belongs only one set of Americans.

Judson Phillips, teaparty nation president said, “The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote. It wasn’t you were just a citizen and you got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you’re not a property owner, you know, I’m sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners”.

This isn’t difficult to understand.   If we were to follow his logic all the way through regarding the founding fathers, only white males would be eligible to vote.  But really what he is saying is that most minorities, youth, students and elderly should not have voting rights.

This has been a central theme of the republicans for several decades, but moreso with the teaparty wagging the dog. Today there are aggressive moves being made by states with republican leadership to block the voting rights of the above groups.

……….

The tea party and the republicans remind me of this boxing story.  Between rounds, the battered boxer slumps in his corner and the trainer says to hum, “Don’t worry, he ain’t laying a hand on ya”.  To which the boxer replies, “Well, somebody better keep an eye on the ref because someone is sure beating the crap out of me”.

So, Boehner is holding the line as long as possible because he wants the teaparty leaders locked in while still hoping to retain some of their empty-headed massives when the leadership get their heads chopped off.   Don’t fret, enjoy the drama.

………

A not so new idea is floating around courtesy of internet emailing, labeled “This is a very good idea”.  And it is. I would go further.  Why is it that politicians have so many advisors paid for by taxpayers when the pols always vote the party line anyway.  The party needs one advisor, paid for by the party.  Cut the rest.  Not original, not practical but something to think about.  Politicians aren’t going to make themselves extinct.  That’s why there is no 3rd party in the USA, or Jamaica for that matter.

………

Let me give you an example of the low level of political discourse in this country.  Jack Cafferty, pundit on CNN, posed not for the first time, a kinda face-off between the public sector and the private sector.  And as to be expected, the usual potshots at government workers flew.

Many pundits start with the basically stupid premise that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector.  Really.  Have these people never heard of the oil industry (BP proved efficient I’d say), the banking sector (especially in 2008-09), the airlines, ATT, health insurance companies, even the news media (like Fox, MSNBC and CNN are really efficient truth-telling machines).

Perhaps what the government should be doing to improve efficiency, is ship jobs overseas.  Send park maintainance to Mexico, technology to India and accounting to China.

The truth is, the American worker sucks, like many workers everywhere.  But Americans for the most part have lost the ability to be efficient and productive.  Very few private sector businesses offer decent customer service anymore.

So when people point fingers at the American public sector, they need to target the American workforce… but more correctly to the management of said workforces.  That’s where the low standards start.

……..

I have often been asked is how to differentiate between ‘good art and bad art’.  I’ve never found a good answer because art is subjective but I will be foolish enough to try to provide some thinking points.

I tend to opine that there is a very narrow margin of ‘bad art’. What we personally like isn’t necessarily good or bad, it’s what appeals to us.  There are many art pieces that I can’t understand, but my lack of comprehension doesn’t define those works… because there are many whom find them appealing.

It might be easier for me then, to define what to me is ‘bad art’ so that you can perhaps understand what I believe is ‘good art’.  My first category of ‘bad art’ is one which doesn’t come from inside the artist.  For example, when someone buys some paint and a canvas and suddenly wants to become a selling ‘artist’, or when an artist produces (not creates) something simply because it is currently trendy.

But I’m sure I’ve been wrong in making those judgements.  That’s because those feelings are not measurable and sometimes inconsistent. Flipping, I’m sure that some works I’ve thought authentic were actually mass-produced for Walmart.

And many of those pieces I would have labeled ‘bad’, have found an audience.  But then who am I to judge authenticity?  I have seen mass produced works from Singapore that  have been bought by ‘collectors’ who don’t know better, while fabulous pieces made by talented artists are summarily dismissed as ‘not interested’.  Is my feelings better tuned than their money?

Bad workmanship should also be qualified as ‘bad art’.  Bad photography, bad sculpture, bad paintings.  Painters whose brush strokes are absolutely sloppy, and not deliberate… they have never been taught to do better.  Photographers who don’t know one end of a camera from another, and who uses the ‘hit or miss’ approach made easier by digital technology but believe that each of their images makes them a great photographer.

But muddying the waters are those who insist that craftsmanship is but a minor factor in the creation of a work of art and that the more craftsmanship is evident, the worse the art is.  Some of these people argue that the end-product, that which we stare at, is less important than the process, which we don’t see.

Pardon me for not expounding on that but that concept is frightening to me.

People inside and outside the art world struggle to define who an artist is and what art is… after many years of art being in existence. Some would argue that experience shapes one into an artist, while others claim that experience is less important than a college degree.

Many artists talents blossom late in life, after 40 years behind a desk.  Who can deny them their place? I have seen copiers, without a scintilla of own imagination, reproduce fantastic paintings from a photograph.

The point is that there is no template for being an artist… we come from diverse times, experiences, backgrounds, learning and talents.  One of the things that clearly define an artist is consistency.  In today’s world, particularly with technology, many people can produce one or two memorable pieces of art.  I have seen the amateur once in a while, produce a really good image.  But producing a few random exciting pieces doesn’t necessarily make that person an artist just as prescribing painkillers doesn’t make me a doctor.

The fact that so many intangibles surround art, and that everyone from diverse backgrounds is likely to approach works of art differently, it is very difficult to define ‘good or bad art’.  Yet ‘bad art’ does exist.

I think that anyone who wants to get into collecting art, needs to immerse themselves into the art world through reading, going to galleries and museums and through discussions with artists.   What you like is a product of a lot of things, mainly your own background.  Still, sometimes it is useful to build a mechanism inside of you to overrule that history and come to new understandings.  And in the end, it is something intangible, that ‘something’ inside you that will tell you to obtain one piece over another.

Anyone who wants to jump in on this subject is free to do so.  I freely admit that there are many areas of uncertainty in myself as to what constitutes a work of art.

Me, well I have some talent, have a message and just love what I do.

 

 

 

 

Inna deep hole? Stop digging!

Let’s get one this straight in this ‘debt ceiling crisis thingy’.  There is no crisis.  Both houses will vote to raise the debt ceiling.  The worse that can happen is that the president has the power to do so and will.  There is far too much at stake.

What is interesting is how Obama got the republicans to paint themselves into a deep hole… and they have ignored the maxim, “When you are in a deep hole, stop digging”.  However their hatred for the president is so great they can’t help themselves and Obama knows that.  So now he is turning up the pressure.

Let’s look at this objectively.  What has Obama done that has stirred up such enmity in the republicans?  Why is the republican leader in the senate Mitch McConnell voicing such disdain for a democratic president who gives so much to the republicans that even democrats are questioning his belief in the democratic principles?

McConnell says that the sole goal of the republican party is to ensure that Obama is a one term president.  But what has Obama done that is any worse that the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, or the operations of George Bush in his entire presidency?   I mean, there are times when I feel that Obama is an actual carbon copy of Bush.  The conservatives really should love him.  But they don’t.

It all goes back to the topic that America doesn’t want to face.  Race.  Yes, I’ve said it.  Race.  Obama is black and that destroys the myth of white male dominance.

Ok, I can hear the sceptical, ‘c’mon Louis’… so here it is.

The tea party is inherently racist.  I have been amongst them and the racism overt and covert, is palpable. These people are not used to black people, they are uncomfortable with an intelligent black person and they are terrified with a black man in the highest profile of power in the United States.  The white House.

But don’t take my word for it.  Just google racist references made about the Obamas by republican politicians.  There‘s no end to them.

In a blog last year, I had warned what would happen that the tail (the tea party) would start wagging the dog (the GOP).  Well, ask McConnell and Boehner how that is working out for them.

Right now, the GOP is in a mess.  No one seems to be in leadership and there is no unification of message.  Cantor contradicts Boehner and everyone contradicts McConnell.  Chaos.  And Obama is playing them like a drum.

Worse of all, the GOP leaders have already told Wall Street that they are going to raise the debt ceiling… and everyone including Obama knows that.  So what cards do they hold?  None.  Right now they risk the wrath of every major voting group in the US as they appear to be putting at risk, children, the elderly, medicare and social security recipients, government workers, social services, including health, police and firefighters.  And the only ones they are defending, will soon desert them… extremely wealthy people.

We all know that if this was a republican president, we wouldn’t be talking about debt.  And if the republicans win the 2012 presidency, all that talk will vanish.  Afterall, under George Bush they spent like there was no tomorrow.  But the American public has too short an attention span to appreciate this and that the one thing Obama has to fear… that the ‘brilliance’ of the American electorate cannot be underestimated.  That trait is a bottomless pit and when you think American voters can’t be any worse, they will prove you wrong.

I remember being at a polling station years ago where there was an initiative on the ballot not to raise property taxes by a few dollars as against reducing the quality of services such as police, health response, firefighting response, libraries, parks and service.  Most of those who voted against raising property taxes did not own any property.

This is symptomatic of many American voters… to vote against their own interests then whine after.

Think what I’m saying is the product of my demented mind? Not so fast, my friend.   Remember this Daily Mirror headline back in November 2004, when George Bush was re-elected?  “How can 59,054,087 people be so dumb?”.  Iiiii ammmmm not alonnne.

But back to the debt ceiling.  The republicans control congress so the democrats by themselves can’t raise the debt ceiling.  But I figure that this is the point where moderate republicans are gonna use this as an opportunity to face off with the tea party.  If not now, when?   The tea party on its own, cannot block the vote if moderate republicans join with the democrats.   So the debt ceiling will raised… and we will see the traditional republicans taking back control of the GOP.

………………..

The more that is coming to light about the Casey Anthony trial the more it bears out the above.  I still don’t know for sure who killed the child.  I can guess but I was never ever going to get too overwrought about this trial.

But now I’m hearing what went on in the deliberation  room, the more I have to shake my head.  The jury decided to make central, an issue that they weren’t asked to… that is, how the child died.  And their findings were based on the prosecutors not being able to prove that.  Wow!  What brilliance.

In many cases of murder, the manner of death is impossible to prove.  In some cases, the state goes to trial without a body.  But the law does allow for certain assumptions based on certain facts.  It was irrelevant how Anthony died.  What was relevant was whether one believed the mother that the child drowned, she went to a party, and disposed of the body without saying anything for months.  A jury of my peers indeed.  Oi don’t think so.

…………………

And while on the subject of the British press. My last blog warned that the News of the World scandal will have its reverberations here in the US.   This before any of the media recognized that it wasn’t just a British thang.  Now they are thinking, especially since senator Jay Rockefeller is asking the same thing.   Remember that Fox News and several British papers under the microscope for illegal activities are owned by Rupert Murdoch.  This ain’t finished yet.

I can reeeead theeeee fuuuuture!  Not really, just plain common sense.

………..

So the police declined to prosecute Deshon Marman, he of the saggy pants on US Airways. Well, well and well.   There was nothing to prosecute and Marman is on his way to a big payday.  Both the police and the airline were being absolutely stupid.  The police should have had the discretion to halt it from start.  Surely, they had better things to do.  Interestingly, when you read the posts on this story, the racists are still out in full… nary a mention of that normal gentleman who previously was allowed to fly on the airline in nothing but women’s underwear.

Racism is stupid and practiced only by stupid people.

………..

To the Arts

Pardon me for not introducing my artist self earlier.

Since getting into photography during my time at the University of the West Indies, I have been intent on producing images ‘Beyond the ordinary’.  With years of editorial and commercial photography under my belt, I started to use my photography to represent my social activism.

I refer to my work as ‘digital constructions’, which is using the computer to create near reality single images from disparate bits and pieces of my own photography. But my art pre-dates computers as back in my birth island of Jamaica, I had been creating strong, powerful, single and multi-layered images sans computer.

I look at the world around me, the inequities, the ‘disbalance’ of societies, the necessity to re-programme myself to survive and even attempt to change a world that has become increasingly hostile to itself.

My work is generally themed around a whole slate of social causes, which includes the environment, nationality, gender, race, religion, homelessness, poverty, exploitation, sexual orientation, discrimination.   My work extols viewers to look at the world around them and even examine themselves and their positions in regards to the positive movement of the world.   My work even forces even me to daily examine my social positions and ask myself the question, “What am I doing about bettering the world?”.

My art lends its voice to the plight of the poor, the downtrodden, to those who have little or no voice in society but whom need the general public to have greater awareness of the world we all inhabit.

Sometimes the messages are subtle, sometimes overt, oftentimes ambiguous.  At times, I do require the observer to think through a piece knowing that doing so will yield them more information and thus greater impact.

My work is always undergoing evolution but from the beginning, I was drawn to creating images ‘Beyond the ordinary’… creating images that evoke the feeling that “I’ve never thought of or seen it that way before”.

The attached image was taken during a ‘gas demonstration’, which I believe was during the 1980s.  I was hit by a coconut thrown at the police by demonstrators, was the target of about six police teargas canisters, and was also detained by a M-16 carrying policeman.  Won’t tell you how I got out of that one.  Memorable, but not necessarily fun.

Next time, I post my professional bio.

 

 

 

 

 

Saggy pants and blue bikinis

This country is race-divided but also in race-denial. A new trend in discussing race is that when a black person is offended, he is called a racist. Offense is the best for of defense.

Many of you might have heard about Deshon Marman who was evicted from a US Airways plane and then arrested, simply because he was wearing one of those ‘sagging’ pants.  Now, I’m not a fan of that fashion, not because I think its vulgar or inappropriate, but because it is impractical.

It is fashionable, and every generation has a popular set of clothing that our parents strongly disapproved of.  But disapproval of a fashion statement like ‘saggy pants’ is not a reason to throw someone off a plane.

Of course when the incident first happened, a whole lot of people came out with statements coloured by racism.  They defended the actions of the police and crew, which in my view were inherently racist.

Yet here is something many people would not have heard of.  Just days before Marman’s arrest, the same airline allowed a man wearing nothing but women’s bikini underwear, matching bra, a see-through top, black high stockings, and high heels, aboard their aircraft.  He was allowed to fly even after some passengers complained.  The man was of course, white.

Compare and tell me, Racism or not?

………

And while we are speaking of race.  Have you guys ever heard of the ‘marriage pledge’ being passed around and signed by several republican candidates.  It asks them to pledge to oppose any redefinition of marriage.  But here is an interesting insertion, “Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President”.

Really?  Now what this has do with marriage fidelity is beyond me, put it points out several things.  Racists cannot help themselves.  What normal people see as racism, they think is ok.  This definitely is a case in point.

……………

Still more race, perhaps.

Casey Anthony was found not guilty by a jury of her peers and the decision is still causing widespread feelings.  After watching the decision, I wondered how long it would take to bring OJ into the mix.  Not very long.  But I also notice that with the obvious parallels between the two cases, the righteous indignation against the Anthony decision is far milder than the ‘not guilty’ verdict for OJ.

Makes me wonder what if Casey Anthony was black?

Another thing of interest is how the hallowed halls of justice have become the setting for a new reality show… the nation must be entertained at any cost, and how we have come to accept trial by media, and the media manipulations of public opinions and perceptions.  Interesting.

………

A few weeks ago, the Jamaican Observer ran a study that Caribbean nationals residing in the US showed a decline in their health the longer they live in the US.  Not surprising.

This nation suffers from obesity, and blacks perhaps disproportionately suffer more.

Ever think about a correlation between the high level of obesity in poorer neighborhoods and the amount of fast food outlets populating that community?  Think its just accidental?

But this goes beyond just health. Many Caribbean peoples carry their mores from the Caribbean with them and in those parents, we tend to see strong, successful families, with children who do well at school.

But there may be a change. More Caribbean parents might be falling for the trappings and traps of this country, or are failing to set strong ‘home-country’values for their children. The predictable happens.  Poor school grades, delinquency, gangs, drugs, failure, jail.  There is a cause and effect here.

This country is tough and unforgiving and many Caribbean nationals fail to survive.  They would have been better back home where there is a familiarity, stronger moral values and stronger social support.

……

Another story in the Observer spoke about a survey claiming that many young Jamaicans feel that they would be ‘better off’ overseas (perhaps they should look to the above quoted survey).  This is not new. It has been going on since West Indians first started their mass trek from the Caribbean to the UK, USA, and Canada.

But a lot of these ill-conceived ambitions were built and are still being built on lies. These lies were perpetuated by national misinformation, and our own parents, relatives and friends have been propagators of this propaganda.  Many of us today still carry on the tradition.

That is not to say that many West Indians have not made themselves somewhat financially better off than if they have stayed in say, Jamaica.  But there is generally a steep cost and there is still a failure to comprehend the difference between Standard of Living (SoL) and Quality of Life (QoL).

Lets step back to the ‘tradition’.  Many of us remember the photograph of ‘Uncle’ standing before a big shiny car, in front of a big house.  We obviously concluded that Uncle had made it big, not knowing that Uncle didn’t drive that car and certainly didn’t live in that house.  It was for show because he couldn’t bear to have his family and friends think that he had failed to ‘make it’.  And generations after did the same.

Even today, many of us fail to talk to young people and have them think carefully before migrating.  I always tell young people that if they feel they must, get a university education in the Caribbean first.  Coming up here without the coping mechanisms is dangerous.  You’d be surprised how quickly new migrants find themselves in trouble.  Actually you won’t.  You know at least one story of immigrants falling flat on their faces.

Like granny says, ‘Si mi an’ come stay wid mi is 2 different tings’. Being a tourist and living in America is not the same.  With good support, fine.  Without the proper foundation, trouble.

As to SoL and QoL, this is something that even Americans fail to appreciate.  I tell people that the farmer back in Jamaica with 2 acres of land, a woman and 3 kids living in 2 rooms, are better off than many of us living here.  While we earn more money and have ‘nicer things’, we live miserable unhealthy lifestyles, in fear and on the edge of despair always.

I’m never tired to telling stories of many Jamaicans who scorn the ‘unfinished homes’ of the Jamaican rural, but who in the last few years have found themselves losing their 4 bedroom mansions to short sales, if they are lucky.  While in Jamaica, the countryman is riding out the storm, in the unfinished house, HE STILL OWNS.

………….

In my last blog “I do drugs”, I forecast that gas prices were about to rise.  This when the prices had been falling for weeks.  At my gas station the price towards the end of June was $3.55 per gallon.  A week later, it jumped to $3.65.  Well, it will be fluctuating over the next few weeks but not going too high in the near future.

Reading this fluctuation is not rocket science, at least not as inexplicable as the mass media is making it out to be.

……………

Did I just hear a republican congressman McCarthy (Ca) claim that jobs are lost because ‘we are spending too much’? What kind of convoluted logic are the republicans spinning?  People don’t believe this.

………….

Readers might not have caught the media happenings in Britain with the criminal scandal about News of the World’s ‘journalists’ hacking into the phones of politicians, celebrities and even dead people.

There is a major cover-up going on by both the government and the owners of this scandal rag.

Why should we on this side care?  The owner of News of the World is media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.

Watch this story.  The reverberations won’t be limited to the UK alone.

………………

Continuing on our series about art, the following is the continuation of the last submission.

How to buy

Many people with big, empty, monotonous wall space, think that they have to buy a big piece… and of course, the bigger the more expensive.  But you need not start big.  If you want a collection, it’s not where you start but where you are going, and the journey to get there.  And the journey is where the excitement lies, as your collection takes shape and continuously evolves.

So you can start small, with one or two pieces.  You can collect things you like, artists you like (preferably one with consistent body of work), a style you like, themes, or by size.   You can mix media… paintings, sculpture, photographs, mixed media, ceramics, Japanese prints, African sculptures, masks… whatever.

When your collection starts to take shape then you have a showstopper.  Friends and visitors will browse, compliment you, ask questions and talk behind your back.  Of course, not everything will be complimentary (afterall they are your friends)… but then it could be worse (it could be about your Wal-Mart art).

You will find that once you start collecting, you will be drawn to find out more about the art, the artist, the style, the period and so on.  You will want to know more because art opens up a whole new side of us… a total discovery.

But art isn’t just that.  It is communication, understanding, appreciating, searching for more fulfillment beyond the job, the shopping sprees and the stress that today’s society dumps on us.  Art gives us an outlet… whether we do it ourselves, or appreciate the work of

those who do it well.

And finally, what we have on the wall says something about us.  Could it be conversely, if we have nothing on the wall…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do drugs

Recently I was talking to someone and the subject of marijuana came up.  This person claimed that they didn’t rationalize marijuana as a drug.  An old argument that I have heard ad nauseum, and I can empathise.

I support at least the de-criminalising of the weed.  When you look at it, there are far worse drugs out here, creating far more damage than ganja… and some of these are legal.  Alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and a host of prescription drugs.

The war on drugs has been a costly failure, filling the pockets of a chosen few while costing lives, wasting lives and filling the prisons with people who ought not be there.

Heck, the government could make a lot taxing ganja, and also save money by not putting some users in jail.  I agree with all that.  But it is foolish to deny that marijuana is a drug.  It is a mind-altering substance and like most mind-altering substances, strong people don’t need it.

Of course I do drugs.  I drink a little wine, rum, beer and a vodka shot every now and again.  But the difference with what I do and the weed smoker, is that the cops ain’t gonna arrest me for sipping my hazelnut flavoured mocha cappuccino.

I might very well support the legalization of ganja, but don’t tell me now, or even when that happens, that marijuana isn’t a drug.

……

Memorial Day is Urban Week in South Beach.  The last one a few weeks ago saw one major incident in which a black man was killed by the police.  Remember that ‘urban’ is the code word for ‘nigger’.

Amongst other things, the Miami Beach police became a little ‘Francoist’ if you get my drift.  They seized several cameras, harassed anyone seen with a camera phone, even the legitimate media, and essentially anyone whose skin was darker than JLo.

So. I saw a story on a local station by this local ‘bigwig journalist’.  And he was doing a story which essentially was “Do we really need Urban Week?”.  This was of course to be balanced with a perfunctory ‘investigation’ of the police action.  It was such a sickening performance of journalism, he could have just have added, ‘As if anyone cares what happens to these monkeys’.

He never questioned any answer the police chief made, even wit obvious gaping holes in what the police chief said.  Obviously, a pact was made, ‘We’ll just go through the motions to satisfy a minority that we hate”.

Which by the way is the feeling of many in South Beach. The shooting incident was just one incident of one man amongst over 200,000 visitors.  Yet again, it is painted as if every African American in South Beach was part of a violent mob. Now I’m not saying  that everyone against urban week is racist, but I know that a lot of the opposition is driven by race.

But just a moment my friend, this is where good ol’ capitalism trumps even racism.  Urban Week increases visitors to Miami by over 300,000 annually.  300,000.  That’s a lot of moolah pouring in to the clubs, restaurants and hotels.  So guess which will win out in the end… the racist feelings of the residents, or the greedy wallets of the businessmen.  I just love when 2 dinosaurs fight.

By the way, mucho violence interrupted after Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins.  The violence was far beyond what happened down thar in Miami Beach. I guess the fans must be ‘urban’, or perhaps because they are Canadians their race don’t count.

….

In order to attempt to legitimise slavery, backward-facing ‘historians’ are making a big case out of ‘blacks defending the south during the uncivil war’. I have no doubt that some did.  Did some even fight as soldiers?  Perhaps, perhaps as bait and fodder.  And guess what, when someone in blue is shooting at me because I‘m wearing grey, hell yes I’m gonna shoot back.

But one cannot use the extremes or the exceptions to create a rule or write history.  It would be a lie to say that no black supported slavery.  But black support would be an exception, and even an early example of the ‘stockholm syndrome’.  It happens.

But did blacks in any large numbers endorse their own slavery? Hell no!  Slavery is evil.  Accept the misdeeds of your ancestors and get over it.

…….

For some time American gays have been following the exploits of a blogger ‘Gay girl in Damascus’, who not only chronicled her ‘gayness’, but her role in events happening in Syria.  Then it was rumoured that she had been kidnapped by the Syrian government for anti-government activism.  Many major media followed her.

As it turned out, this lesbian blogger, wasn’t gay, wasn’t Syrian, wasn’t living in Damascus, and wasn’t even a girl… but a white American hetero-male living in Scotland.  It soon turned out that one of those investigating the identity of the ‘Gay Girl’, Paula Brooks, editor of a lesbian new site called LezGetReal.com, was in fact a white 58 year old American heterosexual man.

Now a rash of heterosexual men posing as and giving opinions as lesbians are being ‘outed’.

Now I understand the motivation, trying to bring the issues of gays to the forefront.  But hey, many of the best writers are gay.  They don’t need a hetero to write about their issues, especially when those issues eventually prove false.

Now every real lesbian website is suspect, and the gay agenda will be set back a step or two, not advanced.  Want to do something.  Step out as a heterosexual person and state your position.  This subterfuge does no one well.

….

Several weeks ago when I was talking to someone who had fears about gas prices reaching $5 a gallon by summer, I told them that it wouldn’t happen.  That was just part of the media/political campaign to add to the steady diet of fear cloaking the American people.

It was obvious. OPEC had already announced that there was a glut of oil in the marketplace.  And it was already reported that the increased prices were due to speculation in the American stock market.  And any media person should know this.  Even when prices started to fall, they kept pushing the sad-ass line.

Why?  Fear is a good way to keep people unfocussed, confused and in check.  Unfortunately, gas prices soon will move back up a bit.  But certainly not to the fear-mongering figures of $5 a gallon.

…….

Here is the first of a series on collecting art.

Collecting Art is itself an art form. Living with art is not just about style but also a reflection of how you see yourself, how you feel about the world and its rich cultural history. There are several ‘accepted’ ways to collect art.

One is for investment.   This is where you buy a piece hoping that it will appreciate in price depending on the artist or swings in the market.  The thing is that many people end up buying pieces that they don’t really like but to which they are steered to on the belief that it will turn out to be a good investment.

But it is vile to try to live with a piece that you don’t really feel attached to, that doesn’t really appeal to you, because someday it might be worth ‘something’.

A second method is to buy decorative art.  Many times people buy art (and ‘art’) to fit in with their décor.  Most of the furniture is red so they buy art that has red as a distinctive color.  You have seen it.  The thing is the art itself is not distinctive, tends to look like it’s off some production line in Shanghai, and not much of a conversation piece… unless you think you can carry a conversation starting with ‘Oh that, I bought it for $19.99 on sale at Wal-Mart’.

And when you want to get rid of your red sofa… oops!

There is a third avenue, and that is starting a meaningful collection.  Now you think that that means expense.  Well, it certainly will be more expensive than Wal-Mart or Walgreens.  But it will carry a much higher form of uniqueness and validity.    You will only purchase it if you like it. And you will have a true conversation starter.  And it will have a longer shelf life of enjoyment.  And there is the possibility, that because the artist is legitimate, it could very well appreciate in the future… but that wasn’t why you bought it in the first place… that’s only the gravy.

Next time we look at how to buy art.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m back.

I’m back.  I guess I could hype and say “I’mmmm baaaaack!”.  But no, I left quietly and without fanfare and will return the same way.  So why did I stop blogging in the first place?

After a while, it seemed so useless… rant after rant without anything changing.  Not that I expected to change the world… and I do know that I did reach people.  In fact, I’ve had almost 13,000 comments.  Unfortunately most of those were after I stopped blogging and in the technical world, those comments are called ‘spam’.  Ouch.  Yep, I have been spammed.

When the floodgates of spam opened, that just sapped my remaining energy.  Imagine trying to delete over 700 spam a week, trying to separate trash from real comments.  It was overwhelming.

But enough of that.  Over the period of rest, I decided to re-formulate this blog and it will be a process of evolution.  I will still blog serious stuff, but the blogs will be shorter and likely more frequent.  Also, I will be adding a segment on art, which is the primary focus of my being.   But I will still put it out there.  No PC crap.  Tough talking yo.  A spade, no matter what you call it, is still a spade.  I’m back.

What have I missed?  A whole lot.  It was all I could do not to get back behind the keys.  One of those burning issues is of course the economy… and I will start there.

The republicans have formed their point of attack at first, around jobs and the state of the economy.  But as they reasonably suspected, the recovery was on the way and that when the economy improved, they would have no chance of beating Obama in 2012. So they decided to focus on both job recovery and the national debt, knowing that one or the other can bring down the Obama administration.

The problem about this focus is that they are sabotaging the United States of America. Job recovery is not compatible with reducing the national debt.  Like having a triple whopper and a diet coke but expecting to lose weight.  To improve the economy, any administration has to increase programs that create jobs.  This necessarily means that government will have to have a larger budget and in the case of any administration over the last 50 years, necessarily borrow to meet payroll demands amongst other things.  This will increase debt.

On the other hand, a focus on the debt means reducing government, by cutting government-backed projects and employment.  Cutting employment feeds unemployment.

The intention is to force Obama to fight on 2 different incompatible fronts… and to some extent they have succeeded.  This country has a crumbling infrastructure that will get weaker and more expensive to fix the longer they are not attended to.  The republicans have cut that.

They have also forced job cuts in key sectors including education, social services, emergency services and the police… all in the name of cutting the deficit.  So they personally are making more unemployed while blaming Obama for the high unemployment. Education will continue its downhill plunge and they intend to blame Obama for that.   If crime rises, well, that’s on Obama too.

In any sensible country, such a tactic would backfire day one.  But this is America my friends, … where most voters are incapable of common sense and hypocrisy is acceptable.

………..

Many must have seen or heard about congressman Anthony Weiner and online affairs with numerous women.  Move over Tiger Woods.

What’s wrong with these guys?  Obviously products of power and living in a sexually repressed nation.  Most places, we’d just have a mistress or solicit a ‘ho every now and again. But politicians and religious moguls just feel that they have to put their ‘thing’ digitally as well… even after knowing about the fall of a colleague just weeks before because of online sexual egotism.  Dumbs and dumbers.

Listen, technology is great but like fire and water, the digital age should not be allowed to master us.  Anything you put online, can come back to haunt you.  Digital footprints are harder to erase that real ones.

One of the things Weiner did was sex on facebook, though I’m not sure you can call that sex.  But that brings me to the insidiousness of facebook.   Shortly, facebook is introducing a feature where people’s faces will be tagged even if the person who posted the images, don’t want the images tagged.  It will be done automatically.

“Great,” you say, “Saves me time”.  Well let me just let you think about the implication of that for a while.

Facebook is a dangerous master.  It is changing society but not for the better.  It is making many people less sociable, more homogenous, more narcissistic, lazy thinkers, and ass-kissers.  It appears to me that facebook is creating little ‘pseudo-societies’ where the self-absorbed can populate it only with people who daisy chain each other.  Daisy chain? Look up the sexual reference.

True case in point.  I was recently ‘unfriended’ by Hilaire (no need to know more), a lawyer I know who seems to be addicted to fb.   He is always on it (have no idea when he gets to do any lawyering… but that’s his employers business).

Recently, on one of my infrequent ventures into this lalaland, I happened to post some rebuttals to things Hilaire said, me thinking of course foolishly, that this would be an exercise of rational discourse.  More fool me.  As someone more savvy explained, “There is a reason why there is a ‘like’ but no ‘dislike’ button”.    Ooooh.

As imprudent as Hilaire’s post was, there were enough people to rain praises on him for his ‘unique’ insight… notwithstanding that his online criticism of someone was already old news.  “Nothing new here folks, keep on moving”.

But I’m not part of anyone’s mutual admiration society and stated my disagreement.  Wham!  It was like I was carrying a “Ban automatic weapons” placard at a gun convention.  The beatdown came, even though all I was trying to do was to stay within the salient points.  Nice try son, but it doesn’t work that way.  Some people don’t let facts and logic get in the way.

When I replied to someone whose idea of expressing her intellectual self-importance was to try to amateur psycho-anal-yse me (bad mistake), well I was ‘unfriended’.  Boohoo.

So, if you decide to go on fb, be careful, be very careful.  It’s seductive, deceptive, and addictive.  But through fb, your personal information becomes a part of a worldwide database including marketers, the FBI, security agencies and employers.  My expert tells me that potential employees have their facebook accounts scanned before they are employed.  So what you put up today, can get you employed or fired.

By the way, while writing this piece, I checked my fb account.  The first thing up was a page informing me to “Keep my account safe” while telling me that my protection was low.  Then it asked me to give them my phone number.  Like right, I’m reeeeally gonna give you another piece of personal information.  Thank you but no thank you very much.

………………

 

For many years now Art has been my saving grace, the thing I do to keep my sanity.  My entry into art began back in 1984 when I joined my university’s photo club.  But I never intended to become an artist… it was too high a calling for me.

But as my work progressed, more people impressed on me that I was an artist.  I won this, I won that but it was but a past-time, something to not only keep me occupied but sane.

When I was freaking out because of significant pressures of life, it was art that I turned to, and it began becoming a part of me.  This led to an increase in art, and a slide away from ‘working for the man’.  More accomplishments followed with the most important being  my one-man show ‘Beyond the Ordinary’ in 1999.  The plaudits grew but I still couldn’t fully reconcile myself as an artist.

It was only when distinguished artists as Karl ‘Jerry’ Craig, Cecil Cooper, Donnette Zacca, Christopher Gonzalez and others affirmed my work and accepted me into their fraternity, that I believed. Trust me, not everyone who says that they are an artist is, and being an artist is not easy.  Personally and professionally, it is a long arduous journey, filled with pain, rejection, self-doubt and failure.  But those only make us stronger.

As an artist I believe I’m here to serve.  Not like the politician who yearns for power, or the priest who yearns for control.  Most artists serve as either our consciences, or as  bringers of calm, reflection and beauty.  This is my passion.

……..

But as I said, I wanted to keep this short.  More anon.

 

 

 

At least the French have balls…

With the important November elections just around the corner, the media is filled with practically nothing but politics.  BO-ring!

Most times I would be caught up in election fever, but this election is different, and not because the democrats (a party that I don’t belong to by the way), will apparently lose ground… though I’m not sure they will lose as much as the media predicts.

I’m bored because every time I think the American voter has bottomed-out on stupidity, they prove me wrong. The intelligent American voter is going the way of the dodo… becoming extinct because of its own stupidity.

A good % of the American votership has lost the ability to think for itself.  At one point they thought according to the party, then according to their church, but now they think according to a curious but deadly mix of party, church and corporations.  Yes, corporations.

The rise of corporations and its influence in American life has been documented.  And there is no doubt that corporations have always been a shadowy figure influencing policy and politicians.  They spent heavily in the past pouring money into both parties, though always heavily favouring the republicans.

But with greater influence came greater scrutiny and regulations to minimise the influence-peddling.  But the recent ruling by the supreme court essentially giving corporations the rights of individuals, removed financial limits and its free-spending through ‘private bodies’ not financially accountable to anyone.

An enormous amount of money is being channeled into the republican party through so-called 501C entities, which is exactly what Barack Obama warned about… foreign corporations are now in the position to influence elections.

All this would mean little if we had an intelligent voting public with the ability to see through the disguises and recognize the implications.  But the American public has long stopped being intelligent.  Perhaps, it can be argued, they never were.  If this is so, then they are at their dumbest point ever… or their most racist.

It is clear to me that many Americans distaste for Obama is racist-backed.  There it is.  I said it… for the 50th time.  Racism and stupidity… not a wonderful combination.

When I look at what the decisions are likely to be in November, I see only a wholesale endorsement of the corporate ideology, a willingness by Americans to accept the sanctity of corporations, and the belief that corporations are their friends.

We’ve had several republicans ass-kissing BP oil in the midst of the world’s greatest oil disaster, with only the most absolute ignorant not knowing that the disaster is greed-driven, adding to a healthy dose of disrespect for regulations, the environment and the people of the gulf coast.

Yet today, we hear practically nothing of what is happening to those affected by the ‘Big Leak’, and most people aren’t aware that the reparations, and clean-up are not going as the companies PR voices are shouting.

Wall St and the American financial system screwed the country and the world, but people with virtually no income at all, are worried that the rich won’t get more than their fair share of tax breaks, and at he same time, eschewing regulations.

The health industry, particularly the insurance companies (which just poured a whole heapa money into republican candidates) though raping their policyholders for years, find a forgiving mass of idiots, still willing not to regulate these recalcitrants.  And the one thing that can improve the country’s health care status… well, its ‘too socialist’ for them.

I have no idea where Americans get the idea that corporations are their BFFs.  You might want to buddy up to them friend, but in truth they want no part of you.  Corporations view consumers as nothing more than cows to be milked to death and then thrown to the slaughter.  Their relationship to us is strictly exploitative and thus adversarial.  Profit is their motive and in today’s world, your benefit is of no importance to them.  Tout them up if you wish, that’s your stupidity, but don’t make them out to be my friend.

Several tea partiers (all republicans are tea partiers) stress that they were business people and know how to run a business.  My question is, “Ok, so you were successful.  How did your workers do, and what is the aftermath of your profit-making?”.

With all the pillaging done by corporations, Americans are still eager to cast a vote against government, than against those defending corporate looting.  Not too amazing when you see the low-grade education the schools turn out today.

Let’s look at the stupid argument about the ‘rising debt’, showing how many are worried about the future.  Don’t worry about the debt your grandchild will carry if your grandchild won’t live to see adulthood because of cut-backs in healthcare, education and services.

And education is a good point.  The Obama administration is spending $3.5 billion to transform the worst 5000 schools in America.  But I guess that’s too much debt for those children in the future.  Let’s turn them out jobless and without a hope for a decent life as long as their part of the national debt is lower.  Idiots.

McDonalds will love our future kids… fat, dumb and shot up with steroids, so that their only qualification for a job is being able to recite, “Want fries with that?”.

China on the other hand, is pouring trillions into education, while America turns education into an elitist activity and falls to the bottom of developed countries.

A recent report by the University of Massachusetts stated that more jobs are created by government spending on infrastructure and education than by tax breaks.  Wow! Breaking news.  Only thing is, simple commonsense should have keyed us into that conclusion years ago.

Let me say it again, “Tax breaks do little to create jobs!”, so those fools who advocate that the rich should get richer, please applaud the oppulent flying overhead in their private jets while you are stuck in traffic on poorly maintained streets.

There are a whole slew of people who are likely to abandon Obama… for what?  For not getting to your pet hang-ups in time?  Please?  It shows that too many people in this country slept during civics classes.  The issues in this country cannot be helped by magic and even if so, Obama is no magician.  I suppose the nature of America’s mentality expects solutions like a pull-tab can.

Gays are gonna vote republican.  Good luck finding solace there my friend.  The wars not ending fast enough?  Well, I guess Sara Palin will just move on in there and create world peace in a smile.

Obama hasn’t stopped global warming, in 2 years?  Well, let’s give the drill, drill, drill, cut down all the trees crowd a chance.  They sure will solve that problem.

Take the example of Michelle Rhee who is in charge of Washington schools.  She’s very passionate about improving Washington’s and America’s education standards and is one of the leading fighters in education reform.  She is a democrat but admitted that she almost voted for McCain/Palin in ’08.  Why?  Because Obama was backed by the teachers unions (with whom she is often at bitter wars with), and because McCain talked a better education plan.  This even with Obama’s better record on education.

Yet this supposedly brilliant woman, was intent on throwing away her principles as a democrat solely because of one issue.  We can call her self-absorbed, self-interested, self-involved and even selfish.  I call her, and those like her, stupid.  That’s the democrat today, yeah, yeah.

Nobody but Americans make decisions based on the minor bad rather than the major good.

A CNN anchor recently ridiculed the French for rioting because the French don’t want their retirement age moved from 60 to 62.  But Americans criticize them for standing up for their rights, while feeling proud working 40 extra hours a week without pay, for the corporation.

Bro, the man exploiting you is not a good thing.

And dude, have you ever stopped to think why the life expectancy of most European countries is higher than the United States?

At least the French have the balls to say ‘Hell. No!”.  Where do Americans draw the line?  Oh, when the government bans ordinary citizens from carrying weapons of mass murder, in church. Hmm.

So, will there be a last minute change of heart and common sense by the American public?  Or will be ‘stupid is as stupid always was’.  I wouldn’t hold my breath much for the former.

As the French are likely to say, even while rioting, “C’est la vie”.

 

Just watch Law and Order

The trial of Mark Myrie, better known to Jamaicans and reggae lovers as Buju Banton, as taken some of the spotlight from the beleaguered government of Bruce Golding.  The trial in Tampa has completely overshadowed the shadow that the prime minister is operating under.

As I write, the jurors have the case under consideration, and their judgment is awaited as to whether Myrie is guilty or innocent as to the charges of conspiracy to obtain and traffic in cocaine.

I would not bet on an innocent finding.  It’s for a good reason why America, with 5% of the world’s population, has 25% of the world’s incarcerated.  They love to throw people I jail.

Tampa is not regarded as part of the enlightened south, even though it has a higher than national average black population.  American jurors as is in most of the world, tend to give greater credence to the state than to the defendant.   Worse still, Myrie is black, he is foreign and he fits the ‘profile’ of the urban youth.

Americans are not happy about ‘foreigners’ and drugs, and Myrie, irrespective of whether or not he intended to traffic in cocaine, has at least revealed himself to have more than a passing familiarity with the drug.  Because of that, these jurors are not going to argue the difference.

Many Jamaicans has used this case to argue the issue of ‘entrapment’ and I sympathise.  I have argued against it and know that a good portion of those black youth trapped in prison is there due to entrapment.  The same goes for many caught in the net of the ‘war on terror’.

But entrapment is part of the US’s police tactics and no jury is going to rule for Buju’s acquittal simply on that basis.  The best that his supporters can hope for is a hung jury but he is likely not to be bailed, and the retrial will imprison him.  Retrials rarely suit the defendant.

What interests me is the suspension of common-sense on behalf of Buju by many Jamaicans, considering our so-called animosity to criminality.  When one dials back to the Golding/Dudus situation, the general sentiment was that all “criminal fi dead’, especially as it is known that drugs fuel the arming of gunmen and that many gunmen are ‘coked’ up before they go out killing.   Buju is finding sympathy where many ghetto yout’ find contempt and condemnation.

Many of his fans are citing the legal philosophy of ‘Innocent til proven guilty’.  But I don’t see them applying the same doctrine to others, namely politicians and the people of Tivoli.  Can someone tell me the difference?

It is no secret that the drug status of many of our leading entertainers is suspect.  Buju is no exception.  I was at his last concert in Miami and was part of a conversation as to how ‘coke-free’ he was that night.  Nobody thought he wasn’t under some influence greater than ganja.

As to trafficking, when I used to shoot album covers, the ‘entourage’ of a noted ‘gorgon’ openly discussed in my presence, trafficking cocaine to the US under cover of a concert tour.  There is definitely a strong connection between the Jamaican music industry and cocaine trafficking.

Yet many seem to find all kind of weird conspiracies against the ‘innocent’ Buju Banton, he previously without sin.  No matter what anyone says, Banton is on tape tasting cocaine.  One does not test the quality of cocaine if one doesn’t at least use it.  That image is too powerful to explain away.

The homosexual connection is a red herring.  It wasn’t gays who ‘got’ him.  They might hate Banton with reason, but their influence doesn’t run that deep within the judicial system to be able to organize a ‘sting’ against Buju.

What has happened to Buju is a warning to all those entertainers who have been associated with drug trafficking.  There is no ‘wickedness’.  For all its faults, the US government generally doesn’t target people without some reasonable belief in their involvement in criminal activities… unless it’s political or racial.  The system is flawed and many are jailed because of these flaws, but there is usually a good faith basis for initial investigations.

I wonder though, what is the possibility that the trapping of Buju came as one other tactic to pressure Bruce Golding because of his unwise holding up of the extradition of Christopher Coke?  The timing is suspicious because US law enforcement must have had an inkling about Buju’s involvement in cocaine previously.

This arrest and trial most likely is the making of Buju himself, quite likely driven by a history of getting away with it on previous occasions.  I have seen that in drug users and traffickers… the feeling of invincibility.

I like Buju’s music but I feel little sympathy for someone so talented being weak enough to fall prey to drug use.  And the truth is, I find his testimony that he was only trying to one-up the state informant as to his history in drug trafficking to be absolutely unbelievable.

I sit next to a man who boasts he is a drug trafficker and our relationship ends there (perhaps not since I’m a writer and would be curious in the context of journalism).  Buju if he were innocent, should just have shut up.  Cock mout’ does kill cock.

Many of Banton’s fans want too much to believe his testimony, as if his testimony is necessarily the truth.  Really people.  You must have considered that criminal defendants tend to lie.  Just watch Law and Order.

I’m sorry that so many Jamaicans have come rushing wildly to Mark Myrie’s defense because to some respect, it makes us no better than those who are fascinated enough by someone’s celebrity status, to overlook their flaws.  But Buju Banton in America is no Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton, and at the end of the day, I suspect that Mark Myrie will be found guilty.

 

Deficit Thinking



It has been a long hot summer and its not finished.  Someone pointed out a common thread in my recent blogs… my constant references to the low intellectual quality of a substantial percentage of Americans.

Its not that I hate Americans, but c’mon, its really not difficult to find a prominent story of someone whose capacity for stupidity is higher than their capacity for common sense.  One has to wonder the cause of the erosion of American intellect over the last 50 years.

Far from being a world leader, Americans are dragging the rear in almost every positive quality. But they are leading in the worst traits.

The era of looking to America for positive leadership is done. The fact that Barack Obama is immensely popular with Europeans, is certain to enrage Americans.  But that is because of their own worse qualities… stupidity, arrogance, xenophobia and racism. Pity.

***

Finally Obama is taking the fight to the republicans.  But will he continue?  Along with his attack on the ‘Just say No” republicans, he has released a new stimulus infrastructure ‘jobs’ bill of over $50B, targeting the nation’s roads, airports, bridges, etc.  A good idea really, but some of his cowardly democrats have shown fear and whittled down the figures.

But timing might be everything, and putting both together might just work in November… even though I wouldn’t bet too heavily on it.  After all, this is America where stupidity is likely to reign, and the democrats have shown the ability to rescue failure from the arms of victory.

My problem is that the dems aren’t explaining the benefits of this new stimulus, and also not defending the president’s rejection of tax cuts for the rich.

Tax cuts for the rich don’t work.  Giving a multi-millionaire a couple extra thousands isn’t going to make him spend all that much more.  That’s researched, written about, proven fact.  More often than not, that money never makes it into the productive sector.

America’s economy is consumer-driven by the middle class, not the rich.  But those can’t buy if they don’t have money to spend.  We are just holding strain right now.   With the job market so tight, employers are exploiting workers.  Workers are being less productive.  What they earn is saved for the ever round-the-corner rainy day.  So, no spending, and the economy won’t grow without middle class spending.

Give them jobs, they earn, they spend, others earn and they spend and so on… and the country gets out of the recession.

What’s the effective argument for the spending. Firstly, America’s economy will only grow with middle class spending.

Next, America’s infrastructure does need fixing, if not today, then tomorrow… and tomorrow will be more costly.

It is natural for the homeowner to feed his family rather than fix his house (infrastructure), but more often than not, he will end both starving and without anywhere to sleep.   But government isn’t similarly constrained.  They can borrow at much better rates than we can.

The arguments about deficits are plain stupid.  A big deficit is tomorrow’s worry, eating is today’s.  A man dying of hunger can’t worry about tomorrow’s credit card debt when his children are starving today.

People need jobs, the infrastructure need repair.  Win-win.  People have money, they spend, the economy grows, they pay back their loans.  People with no money can’t pay back their loans.

***

The democrats are hoping to tie the republicans to supporting the interests of the rich over the interests of the middle-class and poor. And they are hoping that this strategy works against the republicans come November.

Cases in point.  The republicans voted against a bill to resuscitate small businesses, while they are fighting tooth and nail to give billionaires tax cuts.

But the polls are not supporting the democrats.  Americans have a strange relationship with the rich. Understandably, they all want to be rich.  But the reality always is that most billionaires become rich by abusing the trust of others.

Yet Americans love the Robin Hood figure… stealing from the rich to give the poor.  That has to be a contradiction.

In truth, Americans and corporations (the super rich) are in a kind of domestic abuse relationship, the main difference being that corporations beat up on Americans and openly treat them with contempt.  And like the abused spouse, ‘He loves me because he beats me so bad’.

So Obama in trying to stimulate the economy, while still keeping an eye on the deficit, is opposed by the republicans because they want the rich to get tax cuts also… and to hell with the deficit.  To hell with the fact that tax cuts to the rich don’t have a major effect on the economy.

Here are the numbers.  Tax cuts for everyone will cause a loss of $4 trillion in revenue to the government.  The rich as defined by Obama, are those who make over $200,00 a year.  This constitutes about 3% of those targeted for tax cuts.  Cutting this 3%, will increase government revenue by $700B, or cutting the potential deficit as supported by the republicans by $700B.

But the republicans will support this deficit causing measure only if the full $4 trillion is thrown into the pot, or $700B more than the democrats are willing to support.

So if the minority of 3% doesn’t get its 17.5% of the pie, the republicans will make sure no one gets anything.  See, 3% getting nearly 20% of the pie.  That to the republicans seem fair and Americans are dumb enough not to see that.

***

And speaking of timing.  Perhaps Obama and his political chessmasters are playing a brilliant game.  One can’t help but be impressed about the strategy that carried him to the presidency.  Perhaps something like that is at play again.

The tea party/republican relationship is combusting, big time.  The recent primaries (Sept 14) are proving that the republicans cannot control the tea party, as I had previously warned.

The teaparty, as senseless a group of people as there is, took the country by a storm.  Their only agenda was to ‘get rid of the black president by all means possible’.  The republicans saddled the dragon, thinking that they can always control the beast.  Now they are being eaten and don’t like it one bit.  They realize they have lost control.

This bickering probably won’t necessarily unify the democrats who are scared and foolish. Georgian democrat Jim Marshall says, “We should not be raising taxes in the middle of a recession,”.  Really.  So they think that not giving a tax cut is raising taxes, and they equate the rich 3% not getting a tax cut the same as the perilous plight of a middle class mom with three kids not getting one.  Interesting.

If they are senseless there, here is where they are absolutely stupid … thinking that pandering to the tea party will get them some mad hatter votes.  Not a chance in hell my friend.

With the tea party out of control and the republicans struggling to field their own candidates, the way might just be clear for the democrats.   But cowards that they are, they can’t hold their ground.

Trust me, if they don’t back Obama on this there will be a backlash from their own supporters. The rich still won’t support the democrats and the working man will be incensed enough to withhold his vote.  There is only one feasible direction for the democrats,… no tax cuts for the rich.

***

I don’t know, but I can’t help being frustrated by the intellectual quality of this country.  So a dumb-ass preacher declared that he was going to burn some Korans.  So what?  That shouldn’t make more than the local paper. But no, everyone up to the president is chipping in, bringing attention and power to this glory hungry stuntman.  Leave them alone and they will… poof!

The media is complicit in this because they know it sells.  Stupidity is like crack to a crackhead.  Americans can’t get enough of either.

And what the hell is Obama doing speaking on this?  Will he never learn when to just shut up?  He has an agenda and from the first day he gets distracted.  Man, this stupid preacher is wallowing in his new power.  He was ne-eh-ver going to burn any Korans and even if he did, there are ways to deal with that.  Me, I would just electrify his pulpit the next Sunday.  Allah strikes back. That would stop all the copycats who are now about to come out of the woodwork with stupid attention grabbing threats like this.

***

The Jamaica Labour Party no longer sees itself as viable as long as Bruce Golding leads the party. He is clearly dead weight and there will soon be a move to chuck him out.  If I were the People’s National Party, I would throw all my weight behind him.  Let the JLP be weighed down by his carcass. Consummatum est.

 

Liar, Liar

Liar, Liar

The Dudus/Manatt, Phelps and Phillips (MPP) affair continues to create sinking sands beneath the feet of Bruce Golding since he and his government have once again been caught in a lie.

According to email transcripts printed by the Sunday Gleaner (August 22), there is the clear implication that both Golding and Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne had more than a party interest in keeping Dudus out of the hands of US law enforcement.

It also implies that Lightbourne lied not only to the country, but to parliament in claiming that she had no knowledge of the involvement of negotiations with Manatt, previous to March this year.

The Gleaner revelations have opened a floodgate of criticism and distancing from Golding in particular, as many who have previously found it convenient to give him the benefit of the doubt, now have no doubt as to the government’s culpability regarding Dudus.

Once the Gleaner turns against Golding, it is a sure sign that his support amongst the ‘upper classes’ is damaged goods.  Even several Jamaica Observer columnists (despite a recent cartoon) are asking real questions.

Golding wants the private sector and other organizations to send him questions for his answering… which is disingenuous.  The appropriate place to tell the truth is parliament… but then again he has already lied to parliament.

Apparently when the going gets tough, Golding gets going, in another direction.

His recent words are instructive, “… when I got this job I understood clearly that I am accountable to the people of Jamaica, not to any board room, not to those who sit at the pinnacle of any private sector empire and not to those who own and control particular instruments of media dissemination… I am accountable to the people of Jamaica, and it is for them that I work, and it is to them that I will give account at the appropriate time”.

The appropriate time.  In political parlance, that means never.  With elections 2 years away, Golding intends to deny, deny, deny.

While his honeymoon with the general public has long been over, it continued with those who controlled the major media, the private sector organizations, and the Norbrook mafia.   The ship, at least publicly, is deserting the rats.

Golding and his cronies have no shame.  My call for his resignation, doesn’t include the entire government even though they are all accessories.  Both parties are seriously deficient to meet the needs of the Jamaican people, but I accept that the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) deserve, by reason of our previous insanity, a reasonable chance. Golding however, is not the person to lead Jamaica.  He is morally corrupt and incompetent.  Seaga knew that also.

Still, as much as he intends to hold unto power, his hands might be forced sooner than later… and not by the Jamaican people.  People’s National Party (PNP) general secretary Peter Bunting suggests that several members of the JLP ‘s hierarchy might be indicted for extradition.

In my June 1 blog, “Just short of death”, I wrote these words, “News coming to me from legal circles in New York, has more than strongly hinted than a super indictment has been amended to include three top ranking Jamaica Labour Party members on charges of obstruction of justice, money laundering and conspiracy. Who are they? Well let’s say if these names ever get released in the near future, there should be little surprise. Why am I not releasing the names? Because as much faith as I have in my source, there is always a lot of politics that can play out in this situation and I wouldn’t be surprised if deals are cut with the Jamaican government and the United States justice and state departments. The level of the names could destroy the present government. I suspect that with one of the indicted, no easy deal can be cut because not only has there been several money trails leading to that person, but said person offended the US state department in an attempt to secure a safe location for Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke. The thing is that I wonder how far the US government is willing to go in this thing because as I have been told, they have been following money trails via the Dudus connection for some time. Apparently, because the justice department was slowly turning the screws on the Jamaica government instead of taking a big hammer approach, several connections were flushed out and have now made the wanted list”.

So who are these people?  Well, all three are ministers in the government and only one has immunity for the time being, but not for ever.

One of the three, I’m told, was the person directly running Dudus, the direct link between the prime minister and Dudus.  As I see it, one, probably two, will have to be sacrificed for the ‘greater good’.  But the world is not level, and one never knows what deals are being cooked up between governments.  And anyone who believes that the US government doesn’t do deals with crooks, are still living in ‘neverneverland’.

However, it is very likely that the US government will wait until after the next election to send these warrants.  This is not the time to be accused of toppling a Caribbean government, even a corrupt one.

The JLP, as long as it is headed by Bruce Golding, is becoming a pariah in our nation.  I wonder how long before another ‘gang of five’ or ‘western 11’ begins to emerge.  With elections just 2 years to go, it is a sure bet that some are estimating their chances to become ‘prime minister’.

Golding was never respected by the ‘old guard’ JLP and draws his power mainly from the James Robertsons and Darryl Vaz’s of the party.  But like any other beast that eats its children, the JLP is not above turning on itself and publicly eating its innards.  It won’t take much to topple this government.

***

I find it amusing how like the above cartoon, Bruce’s defenders try to find an ‘immoral equivalency’ between the PNP scandals and the JLP’s current dilemma.  There is none.

No one can deny that both parties are laced with corruption but there is no comparison  between the Trafigura scandal where no one died, and Golding/Dudus where several hundred people died and tens of millions damage was caused to Jamaica as a result.

And there is no two ways about it.  Either Golding was himself in league with dangerous criminal elements, or he is the most incompetent leader in all Jamaica’s history, including colonial governor Edward Eyre.

***

Years of brainwashing has made a large number of the American people, stupid.  I don’t think that there is another country in the world where the people would so stubbornly fight against their own self-interest.  Tell them that McDonalds is poisoning them and they rush to defend the right to eat toxic foods.  Just to prove what?  How stupid they are.

Corporations are bleeding this country dry yet people defend them with a zeal born of stupidity.

BP poisons the waters, fast foods corporations poison the children, insurance companies rip off their customers, Wall St screw the public… but idiots argue that it is un-American to put these malefactors under scrutiny or in any way regulate them.  And the people always end up getting bit in the butt.

Miami taxpayers are the major financiers of the proposed new Marlins stadium, not by their will but by the commissioners who ‘represent’ them.   During negotiations, attempts at determining the Marlins finances were blocked by the courts.  So, the politicians negotiated in good faith and the taxpayers are left with the tab.

But good faith was not a two-way street and it turns out that the Marlins generated a $50m profit last year.  Current mayor, Tomas Regalado, who to his credit as commissioner didn’t support the stadium deal, is trying to renegotiate the deal.  But all he is getting from the Marlins, is the finger.

And in another story of shameful pandering to the rich, the father and son developers who bribed Broward County politicians to support their developments, have been given four year probationary terms.

Charges of bribery and perjury were dropped against Bruce and Shawn Chait, so they are not going to prison… but the politicians (Broward County commissioner Josephus Egelletion and Tamarac commissioner Patricia Atkins-Grad) they corrupted are.

So, isn’t this like arresting the crackheads because the dealers got caught and blabbed on them?  I would think that it is more important to jail the corrupter than the corrupted.  But being rich buys special treatment, just ask fans of Paris Hilton.