Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thanks for the assurance; no thanks for the inaccuracy

THE GRENADA Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement overnight, assuring that it is committed to freedom of the media.

It was a timely and useful assurance, and everyone should take the administration at its word, without ever letting their guards down.

While the statement went on to give the assurance, it tainted it with – well – at least one inaccuracy; that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) never asked for “an apology nor retraction.”

Having seen the e-mail sent to ‘Advocate’; and having determined it is authentic; then the claim in the press release that it did not happen is bogus.

A colleague of mine calls it a blatant lie. But I’ll be kind. It is just an innocent inaccuracy.

While as Prime Minister, the buck will always have to stop with Tillman Thomas, I have this sneaky feeling that his soldiers let him down on this issue.

Whatever you may think about the man – and having seen him operate up close and personal through the years – I believe that he genuinely believes in the issue of freedom of the media, almost to a fault.

He is a man of considerable faults, but some admirable strengths as well – and I firmly believe on that issue – this is one of his strengths.

Richard will have to correct me, if it’s an “inaccuracy” (and unless someone in the PMO is trying to set me up too), that the whole hullabaloo about the Advocate report was not an idea of the PM.

And that all the back-and-forth were done without his knowledge and approval – even though in his name.

You see in this mad rush for showing who can fight for the “leader” more, as they jostle as headless ants for positions they’d only hold for one year more, there are a few determined to show they can be “effective” – even if they inadvertently lead their boss down a river, while selling his main pitchman a bridge.

Truthfully, and sincerely, I felt sorry for Richard too. His job to sell this – forgive the French –crap, is a difficult – maybe impossible – one.

He is a good man who has to work for a bad team in a woeful situation.

And as a man, who in his previous professional life, has walked down the road himself of having the powers-that-be maneuvering to stifle his voice, he would not turn-coat on the fraternity – no matter his current job description.

Having– some might say – oddly defended both Richard and his boss, then the question will remain: Who let the dogs out?

Help me here Minister of Information. Help me here Chief of Staff.

Brief me please on how this really went down; and brief your boss as well. And while at it, apologize to Richard for the hand he has been dealt.

It is neither Tillman nor Richard who has been openly complaining about “local radio stations not carrying out the mandate of the government.” (What are those mandates anyhow?)

It is neither Tillman nor Richard who has been saying that we have to manners those useless announcers “on all those stations” who have nothing good to say about the government.

(Now I have problems with many announcers too; but not because I want them silenced; I’ll just love if they can learn the craft better and get even a stronger voice).

It is neither Tillman nor Richard who publicly took a dim view that most of the radio stations had refused to carry the recent budget debate.

It is neither Tillman nor Richard who called VOG to complain about Roy T reading one of my blogs on the radio.

But Tillman and Richard – all those things came from your offices.

Now that you issued this broad statement of assurance about media freedom; give me one more public assurance – that when you get to the bottom of those things, these people who are found responsible will no longer work in the PMO.

You see, unless you do that – then you become guilty too. And their positions, become your positions.

And knowing you two as I do – and appreciating you two as I do – I don’t want that stigma to stay with you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I am only asking the questions

OVERNIGHT I got the opportunity to see the “controversial” report in question that got the ire of the Prime Minister’s Office; and earlier this morning I also got to see Richard Simon’s TV interview on the issue.

Now to be fair to Richard, I am near certain he doesn’t have a enough of a clue of the internal happenings of the National Democratic Congress because (a) don’t think he has the time to really do an independent investigation (b) he really does not need to because that is not his beat and (c) that he is not held in such confidence as to be openly and genuinely briefed.

He said he was trying to correct some inaccuracies.

What I did not get clear is who determined they were inaccuracies?

How does Richard know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are?

Did the Prime Minister himself tell him that they were inaccurate? Did the Prime Minister really tell him so? Did he? Can he watch the nation with a straight face and say so?

Thomas is a politician, maybe he can.

Did any other party official tell Richard so?

Could he get the senior executive members of the party to deny the truth of the report on the record?

And when he said in his letter that it was not true that the Prime Minister has been meeting in some constituencies without the knowledge of the MPs, did he speak to Michael Church and Sylvster Quarless and Alleyne Walker?

Did Richard even ask Glen Noel, who is the common dominator in attending all those MP-absent meetings?

Did he listen to the audio of the Prime Minister’s comments about what he did and can do and will do at the General Council meeting in Carriacou on Sunday?

Glen, if Richard says you say that is not true, I would say Richard lying on you.

But Richard you said the Advocate report quoted no sources. Fine! What’s the source of your rebuttal again?

And when you said the Prime Minister had no slate or no candidate preference – can the Prime Minister get on record as saying that?

And can he ask the party executive members?

Man, I am with your standards. I need a source. I want to believe you bad, but I need a source.

And if the Prime Minister says he is not running with Joe Gilbert and with George Prime – and can say that openly – is he leaving those spaces blank?

While at it, ask him for me, is he running with Alleyne Walker still? And Sylvester Quarless? And Glynis Roberts?

I just need a source man.

But, what if the constituency branches elect them to run again – what will the Prime Minister do?

Hijack democracy again (boy that’s just me trying to get under George Grant’s skin), or do a Herbert Blaize?

And what is the Prime Minister doing asking people to support his team?

Oh Tity man you got the thing wrong. The Prime Minister has a team not a slate.

Get a lesson from Richard in semantics.

Richard, my dictionary says about the word team: number of persons associated in some joint action.

It says of slate: a list of candidates, officers, etc., to be considered for nomination.

Can we inter-change them? Or am I getting too brilliant for my own good?

Teach me man; teach me. Doh leave me hanging so!

And since we are talking about politics, what so damning about any political leader having a slate or a team, that it puts him in such a bad light, there needs to be an apology or retraction?

(Oh! I just get it. He is Mr Democrat, and he supposed to wait on the process. But it’s allyu that believe in democracy. Good for allyu. I never got caught up in that managed farce).

BTW, if he thinks he was slandered and his character was smirched, then take Advocate to court nah!

Another question – with the caucuses he has been holding without most of the MPs and the party executive, why are those not political strategy meetings?

The last time I used the word caucus, I was rebuked by George Grant. He said it is inaccurate, it was just a meeting, not a caucus.

But my dictionary lying to me again! It tells me caucus is a meeting of party members.

Oops sorry! Maybe George Grant has a point.

Are those meetings with real party members?

Boy, I just asking the questions. I don’t have the answers.

Since you in the business of correcting inaccuracies, teach me man!

The Prime Minister said on record he has discussing with elders and people close to party the way ahead with elections a year away.

What is this? A strategy meeting, or a comedy show?

Semantics again! Here you go Hamlet.

My dictionary tells me strategy is a plan, method or series of manueuvers or strategems for obtaining a specific goal or result.

It also tells me about comedy: a dramatic work in which the central motif is the triumph over adverse circumstance.

So can I call those meetings a comedy show?

Eh, George? Eh, Richard?

Now I am getting too fancy.

But since you have the facts and are in a position to correct inaccuracies, I suspect you can find the answers to my more serious questions

Remember I don’t have the answers. I am just asking the questions.

PS: On a personal note. Pardner accept my sympathies. Sorry for the trouble I got you in. I just don’t hope “they” setting you up.

Do the government work, and tell them leave you out of the party melee.

Glen is quite capable of handling that part himself – as the “chairman” of the Prime Minister’s slate.

Opps! Sorry!

What do I know?

I am only supposed to be asking questions.

Monday, March 26, 2012

It’s not about two friends of mine…..

But the powers that have gone mad

IN THE INTEREST of full disclosure – Rawle Titus is not just a journalist, but a friend of mine.

So, too, is Richard Simon, the press secretary to Grenada's Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.

In both those cases, we all go way back – and appreciate them at both the personal and professional levels.

I may not agree with everything they have done professionally, and I am sure they have not with me either.

And that’s fair.

People who have sought through the years to take pot shots at Richard, I have always thought are unfair.

Richard works for the Prime Minister, and as long as he in this job, it is to protect his image and to boost him however he can.

He does not have to agree with him on everything or, for that matter, on anything.

That’s how a professional behaves.

If I were in his position, I’ll do the same.

Now, a few people have called me and said Richard got Rawle fired from the Grenada Advocate newspaper.

Knowing the two gentlemen as I do, I don’t think it was anything personal, and I don’t think Richard got Rawle fired.

The system got Rawle, and Richard just manages to work for the system.

And I have no less regard for either gentlemen today, than I had of them yesterday.

As a graduate from the University of Hard Knocks – I am acutely aware of how the cookie crumbles. And I have the scars to prove it, though I never want to complain too loudly.

We must get the message – the system will get you – whoever you are – once you are “manish” enough to stand up to it.

And it does not respect old friendships.

In debating what’s before us, let’s not get the real fundamental issues muddled in personalities.

You don’t have to like Richard or Rawle or both, to understand what’s at play here.

MWAG’s new stance now against Tillman Thomas should be no different from their stance against Keith Mitchell when he was in power.

Thomas, as Prime Minister now, is the head of the “system” as Mitchell once was.

And as the head of the snake, they will do whatever they are allowed to do, and can get away with, to protect that system.

There is always going to be a natural tension between those who head the system – and those whose day job it is to question the system.

That’s why all politician love those who question the system when they are out of it; and watch them with suspicion when they get into it.

And then they find ways to justify their attitude – as if they are in defense of some broad unquestionable power that is beyond reproach.

Naturally, the Prime Minister’s Office will soon respond to this new development (see the MWAG statement), with a response they were just “asking” a newspaper to correct some “inaccuracies”; and they are guarding against “irresponsible” Journalism.

(BTW, through the years I never understood who ever appointed the system to be a guard against anything irresponsible; when their conduct; their spending; their policies; their politics – are the epitome of irresponsibility).

It is one thing for anyone to point out inaccuracies, which any responsible journalist must correct if it is found beyond doubt to be such.

But since when do you demand “an apology and retraction” in two letters about some perceived “inaccuracy”, without it being seen as undue pressure when it comes from an office as powerful as the Prime Minister’s?

And when the reporter says he is satisfied with his information – after cross checking it again – you still insist on an apology – to the point where he had to standup not just for his dignity but his manhood – so that a frightened Barbadian team – unschooled in Grenadian political realities – got cold feet and sent a man home they concede that they never had to question his professionalism before.

If the letters from the Prime Minister’s office were not meant to be used as undue pressure – why the demand for an “apology” – if you said it was just some inaccuracies?

And if the reporter decided to stand by his story, isn’t the normal thing in that circumstance to release your version of events – and let the public decide?

Anything more will be to try to bully people from your position of strength.

Just as a side note – seeing the story in question was really about internal party going-ons – how come agents of the state in the Prime Minister’s Office were the ones that were back and forth on the issue?

Do they really know what’s going on in the party to ask for rebuttals?

And what about the Prime Minister’s much vaunted separation of powers?

Or is it like democracy, and press freedom? Are all those virtues, just virtues when they are convenient?

And then, they will have the gall to come up with this talk about “irresponsible” reporting.

We should be more afraid of irresponsible government.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sharing the experience!

I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with the folks at Tarakon Records on Kevin's Lyttle's new single - WINE AND GO DOWN -- the video for which was officially released overnight.

The release party however will be a red carpet event in south Miami next Friday, where we hope to be graced by the presence of some friends such as Flo-rida, Brick and Lace, Wayne Wonder, Shaggy and Kymani Marley.

Of course Kevin, who has had a stellar career having been around the world and back on the wings of the worldwide smash Turn Me On is on the comeback trail, with a full album due later this year.

Having heard some of the material myself, it is some very exciting stuff, and there are collaborations with some of the biggest names in pop music -- and I am looking forward for the ride.

It has been the pleasure to work on this video from the ground-up -- from the day late last year when the ideas were just some scribbled notes on my yellow pad to the launch last night.

We had a good team and some really good times -- never mind the long hours - working on this -- with all the folks in the back office at Tarakon Records, the more-than-willing dancers and a production crew that never complained about every new demands.

Had has much fun shooting (with my new HD toy) and editing, as in the actual directing -- and we've managed to build a cool team over this project.

We can now sit back and enjoy-- or maybe get up and dance to WINE AND GO DOWN.