People woke up a few days ago to Jack Warner making some incredible comments. The social media pages were abuzz and if our country was any bigger we could have crashed servers with the video clip of the Minister of national Security featuring in yet another interview while managing to leave shame safely tucked away in the last decade.
He remains forever within the reach of scandal, though.
Notwithstanding his penchant for economy with the truth, it is difficult for Mr Warner to say something that actually surprises me. Like most of the country, I too am now almost immune to the disease caused by whatever new allegations he faces. Almost immune.
And in that adverb, perhaps, lies a sad tale of how we have all evolved where Uncle Jack is concerned; an evolution which is both noteworthy and sad at the same time.
Now I have always been—and expect always to be—a firm believer in freedom of the press. Free press, yes, useless press, no. Emphatically no!
An article that Michael Jordan is the best basketball player ever is to me useless press. Or writing that Lionel Messi is the best footballer the world has seen over the last three years. Or that the PP, the AG, the CoP or the MoNS does not now have a handle on violent crime. Completely useless, a waste of vital resources and, in my case, valuable morning time.
There is also the issue of useless advice.
To me, useless advice is a current West Indian cricketer talking about achieving success in difficult times. Or Abu Bakr recommending that the country focus on the negative effects of dangerous crimes. Or even Calder Hart lecturing UWI School of Business graduates on the need for transparency in the business sector.
Yet within three months’ time, a political lifetime I am told, Jack Warner has been at the centre of not one but two useless articles. Articles so useless I wouldn’t even use the paper they were printed on to wipe a dirty lamp shade. Articles that are so crazy that even a lunatic certified by St. Ann’s might call them mad.
I can sum up the way I felt about the front page article where Jack Warner accuses Orville London of poor money management and accounting practices within the THA in one word: useless. And I can sum up Warner’s last rant about not being investigated by the IRS in three words: totally, totally useless.
Now I have no inside information about London’s handling of the THA’s money. But on his public record, I trust him infinitely more than I trust Warner.
Of course, ‘trust’ is used loosely here because London is a politician and only a fool or a madman does not know that at least in T&T ‘trustworthy politician’ and ‘competent policeman’ fall into the same category. I trust my 5-year-old son to guard a litre of ice-cream and a spider-man character cake more than I trust Warner with a piggy-bank full of rusty one-cent coins.
In a sense, though, saying you trust someone more than you trust Jack Warner is itself useless because everyone knows you can’t trust him at all.
Everyone, that is, except the Prime Minister and perhaps some members of the PP.
Two precious mornings of mine have been wasted reading articles about Jack Warner questioning London about money, spending and his accounting record, seeing Warner pelting stone like if he is without sin. I had to keep going back to both headlines ever so often to confirm that there was no mistake and it really was Jack himself making these comments.
Once or twice, I even checked the date, thinking maybe this was an April Fool’s joke or something. But I eventually came to the obvious conclusion: Jack Warner have more belly than a calabash and is such a low-down dirty s.o.b that he could even make Keenan Ivory Wayans blush.
Where morality is concerned, T&T, Jack Warner is way down the totem pole; right after Allen Sanford and just before the as-yet-unconvicted Calder Hart whose presumption of innocence is therefore also maintained. With his public record—the list is loooooooooooooooooong, starting in 1989—what gives him the right to question anyone’s money handling practices or integrity?
He is also the last person in T&T, maybe even on earth who can seriously claim that his public life is a blameless example of wonderful and trusting leadership. Ignorance may be bliss—temporarily!—but I am willing to bet that the IRS doesn’t accept that as a permanent excuse.
Hear Uncle Jack as he is quoted in one of the newspaper articles referred to above:
“For 48 years, you had a PNM government ruling T&T and they did not do in 48 years what we have done in less than 48 months. Why? And they are so bold-faced, they have prepared a THA document purporting to improve the political life of Tobagonians and one of the main things they have mentioned in it is that they must be given the right to fix their own salaries.”
Since this is neither a Maths nor a History lesson, I won’t bother to point out to the former history teacher that the PNM didn’t govern for 48 years. There are, after all, none so blind as those politicians who will not see. But I am glad to note that Uncle Jack was apparently appalled by the idea that the THA should have the right to fix their own salaries.
I mean, what type of lunacy is this? Are members of the THA trying to give FIFA competition?
And then there is this gem of a comment from Mr Suddenly-holier-than-thou:
“… corruption with public funds was rampant and was being used (sic) to enrich private citizens, houses were being given away with no transparency and cash donations were being made to all types of activities.”
I would give anything to have been present when Mr Jack Warner spoke this sentence and be able to see his expression. Did he keep a straight face? I couldn’t when I read it in the newspaper. Forget one calabash, try a thousand; the man put not only a capital G in gumption, he put all eight letters in capitals!
But the day must come when we tell politicians how we really feel and stop feeding the misconception that we are a senseless mob who can’t see through smoke screens, whole lies and half-truths.
Why else would Jack now care about Tobago? Why else would he offer to give useless information about Orville London’s money practices? What could have made Jack wake up on the right side of his bed and start believing that auditing is a necessity? Suddenly, just like that, he just get a ‘vaps?’
Why were good money handling procedures not an issue in the lead-up to—and the aftermath of—a certain November day over 20 years ago? How is it that record keeping was not on top of Mr Warner’s agenda regarding Haiti and the TTFA/TTFF and the 2006 World Cup and the money that is still outstanding to the Soca Warriors?
Where are the public records regarding his non-ownership’ of the Centre of Excellence and Simpaul Travel? Where are the truthful answers to questions about questionable business regarding World Cup tickets and contracts awarded during the Under-17 World Cup
And the beat goes on and on.
Jack Warner, meanwhile, seems determined to pay the piper so that he can call his own tune and continue to march to his own beat.
Day does only run, remember, until night ketch it and one day, one day congotay…
But there is worse.
Here, for those who missed it, is Minister of National Security and often Acting Prime Minister Jack Warner in yet another useless interview where he is never asked anything that really matters and evidently continues to think that pulling wool over T&T people’s eyes and taking candy from a baby are one and the same thing.
Ah mean, as the late Keith Smith would say, why else would he think that he can say this and not cause everyone to simply hold they belly and start laughing hysterically?
“I have never faced a court or have an enquiry against me. Nobody has accused me, I never take money from anybody pocket and I have no allegations of any kind.”
As I heard that comment, I was forced to wonder just how Jack Warner really sees the citizens of this country, to ask myself what he really thinks about the voting public. I was also forced to wonder about the country’s journalists, who sit or stand so much in awe or in fear of the man that is Jack Warner that they cannot find the heart or the courage to ask one basic question that would immediately expose the utter absurdity of the claim and underline for all to see the man’s amazing propensity for economy with the truth.
And the questions recurred when I read the report in the press the next day. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful for the journalist(s) to remind Jack of his laundry list of questionable financial affairs? Wouldn’t it have been easy for the article in question to take the time to point out that Jack’s claim of ignorance is not a valid excuse?
I also couldn’t help but wonder about those in authority and about which leader is going to have the courage—or to take another perspective, the folly—to finally hold Warner accountable for something bigger than a breach of contract.
The same article that carried that last priceless quote had Mr Warner taking the time to add this:
“I am sad that we are allowing ourselves to be the laughing stock of the world.”
For once and only this once, I agree 100% with him. Because when I had first heard his my-hands-are-clean comment on the television, the background music that came loudly out of nowhere into my head through my ears was David Rudder’s “Chant of a Madman.”
Jack Warner, I found myself thinking, is either a complete lunatic who is simply waiting on his room assignment and the arrival of a strait-jacket from St. Ann’s.
Or maybe we all are.
The writer of this piece thinks that Calder Hart and Jack Warner will make good All-Fours partners. And maybe fellow inmates too, not necessarily at St Ann’s…