October 1, 2008
Our Parliament is never a place for the quiet and dignified exchange of ideas. It exists somewhere in the murky region between the UK Parliament and the Korean Parliament. We don’t actually have fisticuffs but we have been known to have the odd teacup tossing during the break. This past couple of weeks has been something of a thrill for political observers such as myself. It all began with the doze worthy laying of the 2008/2009 budget last week and has been a virtual amusement park ride ever since.
We had the opposition response presented rather well by the always animated Kamla Persad Bissessar and the subsequent debate. Basically the opposition ripped the budget apart and the government spent hours saying what a great job they are doing. Frankly, watching the National Security Minister standing up and lauding his accomplishments and the government’s vision in the face of a 400 plus murder toll was a bit too rich for my blood…but I am sure it had a certain macabre dramatic value.
The highlight of the week of parliamentary shenanigans was undoubtedly the stellar presentation of Dr. Keith Rowley, the maverick PNM member for Diego Martin West and former minister. As I mentioned in an entry way back when he fell out of favour with the PM and was cast into the political outhouse. He came out swinging on Monday with what amounts to one of the best moments I can remember in the Parliament for the past twenty years. Speaking from the government benches he called the PM to task for a lack of accountability and for questionable practices. It was gripping and resulted in surprising desk thumping from both sides of the house.
In his closing of the budget debate the PM lashed back yesterday. After convincing the Speaker to suspend the standing orders for him to speak for an unlimited time – unheard of and most peculiar – he went on to attack Dr. Rowley in what might best be described as unstatesmanlike and at worst as mean spirited. He even suggested that $10 million had gone missing from the Ministry of Housing under Dr. Rowley’s stewardship. Why he waited for over a year to make the accusation or how he failed to notice that as PM at the time he was also accountable I have no idea. I am looking forward to the fallout in the coming days.
I am now watching the finals of America’s Got Talent and as soon as either Eli Mattson or Nuttin’ but Stringz wins I will post the result and hit the publish button. If anyone else wins I will shake my head and wonder before pushing the publish button.
Ah well they picked Neil E Boyd..the one who breaks into tears every 3 minutes. God help them. Eli will get a recording contract in 2 seconds and much more than the million dollar prize.
Oh God…if they vote this way in the elections the world will shudder….oh right…Dubya got in with them too.
September 13, 2008
Didn’t have a chance to blog yesterday but we an interesting day at the station with not one but two Olympic medalists popping in to say hi. Richard “Torpedo” Thompson, fresh from his medal winning performances at the 2008 Olympics came in accompanied by Ato Boldon who has 4 Olympic medals to his credit.
I am not the biggest sports fan but it was still very cool to have the two of them in the same place at the same time and naturally, Kodak Z612 in hand , we took a few pictures of the event. Despite the fact we all work in television it doesn’t stop us from indulging in moments of starry-eyed sucking up. Interestingly, Richard is from Cascade where I live. It amazes me that an country that has a relatively tiny population of 1.3 million and land area that is smaller than many metropolitan areas in the Northern Hemisphere seems to have such a large number of world famous people. I mean we have two winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature ( though we share Walcott with St. Lucia) and , as of 2008, a goodly number of Olympic medalists.
Other than that the PM managed to amaze absolutely no one by winning a vote of no confidence in Parliament. Given his party has a majority and the history of those who have crossed him is not a pretty one thus preventing any possibility of internal revolt I suspect the Opposition was just trying to give vent to their views. They managed to do that in the marathon 12 hour sitting of Parliament but it also allowed the ruling party to indulge in quite a few hours of self-aggrandizement themselves. The whole thing took place against a ridiculous backdrop of thousands of government day workers wearing government red t-shirts chanting their support for the ruling PNM in Woodford Square right next to the Red House. Apparently, according to the Mayor of Port of Spain permission had been granted for the square to be used for an “arts and crafts display”. With the dozens of public buses ferrying the throngs in and giant screens showing the Parliament Channel live it honestly didn’t look like any handicraft show I have ever seen.
The end result of all this – nothing gained and nothing lost by either side. In other words it was a typical day in T&T politics.
July 14, 2008
Some of you may be wondering how you got here. I say this because globewriter.com normally directs to my site hosted on Apple’s .Mac servers and built using the IWeb application ( brimming with beach ball goodness) but I have been forced to redirect that domain here. Why? Well a while back I expressed my abject horror that Apple was transitioning from Mac.com to the icky and silly sounding mobileme.com service. This was all in order to appeal to the hordes of iPhone owners who needed the latest buzz term called “cloud computing”. Fine…though in my mind there was nothing wrong with the Mac.com domain. That transition started last week Thursday and, not to put too fine a point on it, has been an experience comparable to the launch of the Titanic. Actually, at least the Titanic had the courtesy to put people out of their misery fairly quickly, so scratch that comparison.
The 4 hour transition has turned into a days long screwup with many parts such as the web site hosting still not working properly. The whole mobileme site was not working properly until the weekend and even then only sporadically but the web sites were fine. Now, it seems the sites are not showing up properly and my blog seems to have vanished although it still seems to be working via RSS. This wouldn’t be so bad except that I pay for the service that provides me with email, web hosting and my online idisk.
Thankfully, when .Mac was being difficult a few months ago I cleverly decided to mirror it here on wordpress a decision that reveals i had the wisdom of Solomon for at least a few minutes. Had I not made that decision I would be sitting here frustrated that my blog and almost a year of writing might be lost and I would have great difficulty reposting close to 300 entries using cut and paste. It also turns out that people read the wordpress version more by a factor of 10 so I guess if anything the .Mac site is now the mirror. If it ever comes back up I may redirect back to it or you can add it at http://web.mac.com/globewriter/Site/Blog/Blog.html
Other than that trauma the PNM Convention happened this past weekend and the PM announced that he will be pushing for constitutional reform. He noted that the changes ( when finalized) would require a special majority of parliament to pass and that he was sure the opposition would not support it. In that eventuality, he blustered to the throng of admiring fans, he will “go directly to the people”. As soon as someone explains to me how that makes sense in the context of a parliamentary democracy I will be a much happier person.
April 3, 2008
Well I had Opposition Leader ( and former PM) Basdeo Panday on again today and, as was expected, he showed his skill at answering every question as if he had the script days beforehand. Actually, having interviewed him several times before we were able to have a conversation which just happened to be on camera. I had him on primarily to talk about the “laptop incident” which he managed to get a great deal of mileage from.
In the hands of an expert even the smallest thing can be made to have great significance. This is not to say the matter of him being suspended from Parliament was a trivial matter as it most certainly wasn’t. I am of the view the House Speaker exercised extraordinarily poor judgment in enforcing a rule that, at best, was foolish. I really can’t see the difference between perusing a screen and reading a newspaper – a frequent sight in the chamber. The fact that many members choose the time to sleep is an even more offensive affair but apparently, to the speaker, not as shameless an act of effrontery as scrolling on a keyboard. Mr. Panday essentially called the speaker a “stooge” for the ruling party. Not an unsurprising take on the matter from his perspective.
Other than the interview it was a normal day of phoning around arranging future interviews and being tortured at the gym. Vashtee called a short while ago to say that there has been an explosion in downtown near the cathedral and that one person has been taken to hospital. I have not been able to confirm this but it has been just about three years since the last unsolved series of explosions in the capital. Let’s hope that it was just a vendor’s cooking appliance and not the start of another series of disruptive events.
The PM also addressed the nation this evening to talk about food and crime but said nothing that has not been said before and until something concrete is seen coming out of his visions I think it is best we file the speech under the “lots of talk” category.
March 30, 2008
Just when I think this country could not get any stranger something comes along to remind me that there is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of strangeness lurking in the shadows. Yesterday Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday was forcibly ejected from Parliament for ..heaven forbid..using his Parliament issued laptop. It seems the house speaker sent a circular last week outlining his position that only people who plan to participate in the debate may use their laptops. Now one would think that those who didn’t plan to do so would need to fill their free time..but such is not the case. The speaker, confronted with the horrifying sight of the 70 year old Mr. Panday peering at this laptop screen, asked him if he was planning to participate in the debate. The redoubtable Panday replied that it really depended on what the government had to say. In my mind, that was not an unreasonable response to a rather silly question but the Speaker deemed it otherwise. He instructed Panday to leave the house. Panday retorted with something on the order of “you’re not the boss of me” at which point the police were called and Parliament adjourned.
Frankly I think any 70 year old who is able to use a laptop for anything but a footrest is to be highly commended. That the Speaker would choose to throw him out of the house for something so trivial speaks of his luddite ways and shows someone who is obsessed with trivialities. The fact that the matter to be discussed was rising food prices makes the Speaker’s actions even more unspeakably stupid. As I said, the strangeness just keeps on coming…funny if it weren’t so sad.
I have been treating myself to a few new tech toys lately including a new iPod ( i know..nothing wrong with the old one) and a new Bose home theatre system. The latter also required buying several hundred dollars worth of cables and switchers to accommodate my various devices. The iPod is great for the gym and for watching movies at work and the Bose adds a whole new dimension to my classical and jazz collection which I now find myself listening too all the time. The only downside of all of this, and indeed modern life, is the plethora or remotes. Yes, some of them are allegedly universal remotes but they never seem to be able to control all the functions of the device in question. I now have seven remotes occupying an unseemly amount of space on my coffee table. I suppose if I were in a relationship with an Italian they would be great for pelting but as it is they just sit there causing me stress when i try and figure out which one I have to grab at any point. I am considering taking up juggling so as to put them to a more amusing use.