Saturday, October 21, 2006

Helter Skelter Smelter

BC Pires
Trinidad Expres
October 20, 2006

You think life or the PNM easy? Last Friday, one measly week after I dismissed COP parachute-leader/UNC ship-jumper Winston Dookeran as unworthy, Prime Minister and PNM political leader Patrick Manning himself elevated Dooks to the status of senior electoral threat by singling him out for persecution (i.e., recognition) in Parliament, ahead of the nominees of Basdeo Panday. You'd think Patos would be a little grateful to anyone who said they didn't think Dooks has done what it takes to persuade us all to support him; instead, he makes me look foolish.

And it got weirder over the weekend, when the Prime Minister appeared to coolly announce an abuse of his position and/or power. A mind-numbing terror of losing the next general election to a pickup side headed by a best-we-could-do leader is the preferred one of only two explanations I can think of for Mr Manning's bizarre and dangerous declaration at the PNM convention last Sunday that he knew two COP members would soon be "snatched... by the long arm of the law"; unless it's a case of, once is mistake, twice is habit. Mr Manning, you would recall-and, if you can't, the Privy Council will soon remind you, at a cost of a several million dollars in legal expenses, when they deliver their judgement-that Mr Manning has opened his mouth before and let, not just 'tory, but possibly defence and counterc'aim jump out, when he suggested to Chief Justice Sat Sharma that Sharma resign and spare the country the embarrassment of the criminal prosecution of the leader of the judiciary.

The Prime Minister's declaration that he knows two COPpers will be snatched by the law comes "dangerously close" (as the judges say when they want to hint that something is in fact so, but they're not going to actually say so just yet) to giving credibility to the CJ's charges that he was set up for political reasons. It is unthinkable that a sitting prime minister could even contemplate such a statement-yet it has been made, with defiance, has drawn the fire of the DPP and his own Attorney General, and has not been retracted or passed off as a joke, like when he told people to watch TV instead of having sex; as if cable could ever be that good (Showtime's Late Night excluded). Since he has revealed he wants to go into preaching when he's done politicking, I have no doubt he prayed on it -but he obviously didn't firetrucking think about it.

If it wasn't fear of the COP that made Patos talk that faecal matter, it could only be delusions of grandeur. Has he exhibited those before? I'm imagining a line of intelligent people at the convention, groaning inwardly, even as they grinned and took it, thinking, "How we going to defend this now?" Who, amongst his loyal troops, will tell Mr Manning that he has by himself made Mr Duck & Run more palatable across the board?

My own guess is, the PNM ought not to be terrified of, nor even worried about the COP since time will probably show the COP support to be the same hopeful handful of people who voted in the Keith Noel Referendum and who think of themselves as citizens with responsibilities as well as rights. But Mr Manning, and his attitude to the COP and Dooks, may turn out to be the best weapon they have.

Non-aligned people-and perhaps even some PNMs-share the worry of the COP and UNC about what a PNM government with a constitutional majority will be like if one effectively elected by 1253 people in three constituencies treats the rest of us as poorly as this one. If they are willing to ram their version of morality down our throats now, what will an executive president with a direct line to God do? Will oral sex be declared illegal? Will fornication be banned? Will women be required to wear clothing that does not provoke lust in men? It sounds over the top, perhaps-but suppose I'd asked, last Friday, would a Prime Minister accused of trying to remove a Chief Justice for political reasons declare that two of his political opponents would soon be arrested? Or, would an abortion ban be sneaked into a Constitution? The over the top and the everyday are a blink apart in modern Trinidad.

If you want a metaphor for this administration, it is not the collapsed Tarouba sporting facility that Brian Lara is probably wishing they'd named after Ricky Ponting. Look behind the holier-than-thou posture adopted to cover what is actually the Devil-may-care handing over of our own precious agricultural land to heavy foreign industry if you want the sign of the PNM times: the smelter-in-the-park. Doesn't that sound suspicious, just from what they called it? If you advocate a smelter-in-the-park, what's your next bright idea? Daycare-in-a-crack house?

The more time passes, the more it is revealed that the PNM does not care about the country, only about staying in office-no matter how genuine their individual commitment to the country's interest might be. If you cannot disagree with something as monumentally stupid as a smelter-in-the-park or as openly threatening as the Prime Minister announcing criminal prosecutions at a political rally like Kim Jong-il, the time may yet, or even soon, come when an illegitimate-but-legal leader like Kamla or a just-as-illegitimate-but-more-popular leader like Dooks may become more attractive than one appointed by God-if only to prevent Him from acquiring the power to smite the wicked.

-BC Pires is only a messenger sinner. You can e-mail your Kevlar three-piece suits
to him at


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