Friday, February 27, 2009

A “Red Letter Day”

By Marcus M. Mottley

Today, February 27th, 2009 is a “red letter day” in the annals of the history of Antigua and Barbuda. On this day, the Government, under the leadership of Baldwin Spencer, made a courageous decision. It decided to take back what was pirated from us!

Now… to be fair to the pirate (not that I want to or feel any obligation to be fair to him) he had plenty of help in his piracy. Some may say that his piratical acts had some kind of legal standing. But I say, legal or not… the pirating of Antiguan lands was not right… is not right… and it does not matter what kind of legal papers he and his ‘red mates’ buccaneered.

Yesterday was also a “Red Letter Day” – a scarlet day really - because of the sorry display of concern showed by the pirate’s mates. They showed their true colors! One after the other they stood up and disgraced themselves in their unflinching support for the disgraced pirate of the West Indies. But, I guess they should support him fully since one or two of them, even though their checks are reportedly bouncing… have properties and land holdings that came straight out of monies from the pirates ill-gotten ‘pieces of eight’ (pirate coins).

For them, it was a “Red Letter Day” and scarlet day of disgrace!

In listening to them, it sounded as if he was whispering in their ears. They could not have represented him any better. I listened as the cute one warned that the government should wait.  A reasonable warning if one is myopic. But myopic he is not… so there must be another more invisible reason… Remember the source of this caution… certainly not from someone who has proven to be cautious in the past…. passports, labour permits… etc.

I listened as one UPP Minister described the potential disaster that faces us if the SEC’s receiver gets jurisdiction of the lands around our airports.

I listened yesterday as another UPP Minister… one who used to benefit from courting the pirate, described the litany of reasons why the Government needed to take quick and decisive actions. This minister, the one who used to court the pirate, did a good job in outlining the facts… Now I suggest to him that his company divests itself fully from the pirate rather than giving paid for support on one hand and pretending to ‘officially’ criticize on another. But that is another matter for another day. Forgive me, I digress.

I listened as the Prime Minister detailed the many concerns that the Government had for the people of Antigua and Barbuda, for the workers at the pirates companies, and for the many persons who were owed monies by the pirate!

It is interesting to note that many of those persons who worked for the pirate and those companies and small business whom he contracted are members and supporters of the red army! Now here it is that the very Government that they sought to displace… the very party that many of them have railed and actively campaigned against in recent weeks… that very party is trying to save their red hides… and necks!

But… they are Antiguans and Barbudans… well… some of them… And, we must look out for them…

So for them, this is a “Red Letter Day” too. They will be able to keep their jobs and run their business… and reconsider who they should vote for!

Today is a “Red Letter Day” of disgrace for those leaders on the red side. They want us to wait to see if there is more evidence of piratical wrong doing and we should wait to see if the SEC was going to bring charges against the pirate!

Do they not read? Do they not notice the long list of horrendous illegal shenanigans that had been perpetrated on people all over the world by this global pirate who resided in Antigua… A pirate who they helped nurture when he was just learning his piratical trade? Are they not ashamed of the role that they and their red group played in helping him to build his piratical, illegal empire?

They want us to wait? Well… the U.S. Government is not waiting! The pirate’s hench-woman was arrested yesterday and today she is facing serious charges. I think the prosecution asked for US$1 Million in bail but it was set at US$300,000.  Guess who is next!

So, the Government has taken its courageous stance while the pirate’s red chums have demonstrated not caution but cowardice.

But their cowardice is understood… They are hoping that the pirate is exonerated… or better yet… not even charged! They are hoping that neither they nor their surrogates’ names are documented in any of the many documents that have been and are being seized. They are hoping that they will still get the $15 Million dollars that he promised them. They are hoping that they will not have to give back any of the ‘pieces of eight’ that they might have received…

They are hoping that this whole thing will go away before March 12th.

The Government today put Antigua in a position where we now own what we should not have given away. No… we are not in the clear… There probably are a lot of legal battles ahead of us.

But, today, we are in a stronger position than we were in yesterday… we can now fight from a position of strength.

Today, we are in a better position than we were five years ago when the red army was giving our lands away willy nilly as their primary… one and only… investment and development strategy.

On March 12th Antiguans and Barbudans will ensure that the people responsible for nurturing and harboring the Caribbean’s worst pirate ever… will suffer his fate. Only two weeks ago, they were tying their political fortunes and the future of Antigua and Barbuda to the future and fortunes of their buccaneering champion. On March 12th they will collectively suffer his scarlet fate.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Crime Wave Will Stop!

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.


I am guessing that the current crime wave that Antigua is experiencing will stop after March 12th. As a matter of fact, I am willing to bet on it.


Because I believe that the current crime wave is driven by… if not coordinated by… elements in our society that would like to see a change in the government.

The crime wave will stop… but not because of any change in government!

As I listen to and watch the behavior of some of the supporters on the other side, I notice that they are angry, bitter, aggressive and appear to be on the edge of violence.

On one occasion, several young men were driving around in a truck pinning those red plastic sheets to posts and trees and anything else that they could attach them to.

They clipped their red plastic sheet to a tree that was on private property. When the owner protested, those young men became very loud, boisterous, threatening, and appeared to be on the edge of violence.

Now, that may seem to some to be a far leap from criminal behavior. But, what if the owner had confronted them? What would have happened? The owner later took down the red sheets… and that precipitated more threats… they returned and put the sheets up again… at which time the owner called the police!

But those behaviors – violent rhetoric and threatening actions, indecent language, shouting and frothing at the mouth, waving various implements that could easily be used as weapons – Those behaviors – indicate more than an undercurrent of violence. They indicate a desperation… a willingness to go beyond the accepted and normal rhetoric that accompanies political competitions. Or should I say… that used to accompany political contests.

Not any longer.

These days… the opposing side seems to understand that this is the last chance for some of their champions… who may very well spend some future time at 1735!

Indeed, if we listen to the threats… public threats… purportedly of one senior candidate… reportedly a member of parliament… “Blood will flow!” 

If he could make that threat in public… can you imagine what he is saying in private? Can you imagine what he might be telling those young men who he pays to pin up those sheets of plastic? Can you imagine what other behaviors – public, private and clandestine – he might be actively planning and be involved in?

I remain unconvinced that the people who started the ‘red shirt’ gangs several years ago, are not not behind the perpetration of violence on the people of Antigua in order to make a point regarding the level of crime at this time.

And if they are not directly responsible, they are implicated because of their irresponsible rhetoric that would lead their supporters to think that they condone these acts.

As a matter of fact, I don’t hear a single voice from that side asking anyone to stop the violence. I don’t hear them joining with people of good will in protesting the recent crime wave and committing to helping to bring the perpetrators to justice.

On second thought, why should they? Some of them will themselves be brought to justice – soon!

Justice day is coming – both for the perpetrators of the crime wave, those who are behind it, and for the perpetrators of corruption, money laundering, fraud, theft, drug running, and the use of their political influence for personal gain!

On March 12th, let us send a loud and stirring message that the angry red wave of crime must stop to be replaced by a blue and peaceful wave of peace and social responsibility!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Another Reason To Vote UPP!

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.


The ongoing debacle related to the real-life Pirate of the Caribbean demonstrates how important it is for politicians to show wisdom in selecting and giving the green light to investors. The debacle gives every voter in Antigua and Barbuda a clear and precise reason why they should choose the UPP on March 12th.

As I looked on over the years, it was clear to me that there was every reason to turn on the red light when it came to this Pirate. It was not only clear to me, I was willing to write about it every chance I got. When you search this Blog site for the many references to the word “Pirate”  you will see what I mean.

But, those who were in a position to turn on the red light… failed to do so… Instead they gave him the green light in return for his gold… Ill-gotten gold as it turns out!

On this site, I have also spotlighted the many reasons why we should not have been dealing with him. Why could they not see?

And then there were the many ordinary Antiguans who, for a few pieces of silver, were willing to turn a blind eye and, in some cases, willing to sell their hard earned reputations! Now their names are sullied! Many are still respected for their great deeds prior to their association with the Pirate, but this added chapter in their biography is one they could have done without!

And they are not alone, as other greats from around the region and the world were sucked up in the Pirate’s gloss… a gloss which is at least now severely tarnished!

The UPP and its leadership seemed to have tried to work things out with the Pirate. But… as we know him… it was his way… or the highway. The highway of course being the way of highway bandits… as he was…. and has proven to be.

When Baldwin Spencer finally decided that enough was enough, the Pirate had already turned to the other side promising them millions of dollars to ensure their win.

Now, I am not certain that this was courage on the part of the UPP leadership, or that there were too many irreconcilable differences between them and the Pirate.

Whatever the case, there was a severing and a rending of the relationship – at least a ripping apart and from the Chief Servant and his closest allies within the Party. In this, Mr. Spencer showed leadership. He showed what I have always known of him… that he is an upstanding individual and a man of the people. Torn he might have been because of the possibilities of what the Pirates dollars could do to transform Rural West… but firm he remained on the principle issue: Antigua was not for sale.

It is sad that the leaders of the red tide never had that sentiment… for them… Antigua was for sale to the highest bidder. This sentiment they proved year after year… Robert Vescoe, Dato Tan, The South African Arms Deal, The Airport Scam… and many more… And these are the ones we know about!

Additionally, the Pirate has admitted that he gave several of their ministers in excess of US$100,000 prior to the last election to “help the Antiguan people”. The Antiguan people never saw any of that money. It went into the Swiss, US, Bahamaian, Bermudian, and Asian bank accounts of the corrupt lot of them. And if the Pirate admitted to give them that amount… you can imagine what he gave them that we won’t mention. Some of them took that money to build tens of houses which they now rent. These are men who did not have a red cent to begin with.  Now they are well heeled and strut about as they money class… with moneys from the Pirate’s ill gotten treasure propping them up.

These people are the alternatives to the UPP. They gave away Antigua to the Pirate for pennies on the dollar and stuffed their own pockets in return. Now they want us to return them to power!

If Antiguans wanted another reason to re-elect UPP… this financial debacle – a debacle of global proportions – a debacle which has brought disgrace to Antigua and further sullied our name… this debacle – is just another reason to uplift the UPP on March 12.

The choice is clear… vote UPP on March 12!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Something Is Wrong!

Where Were Our Financial Regulators?

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

The history of the Caribbean is filled with colorful characters most of whom were born elsewhere. Some of the most colorful of these were the pirates and privateers who raided, raped and plundered their way to vast amounts of treasures. Some of them were even knighted for their plundering. These included men like Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins, Sir Christopher Myngs and Sir Henry Morgan (The Pirate). The one thing common to all of them is that they can be described as infamous!

Curiously, one should ask why these men of infamy were knighted. The answer of course is that they gave fabulous amounts of monies to the "Crown" and to the political elite of the day... and were rewarded for their largess.

These days we have modern day pirates. Yes, some attack ships off the coasts of Africa, while others ply their trade in other parts of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. They too contribute to the political elite of their era in order to have a license to continue their plundering.

And there are other modern day pirates. These include people like Bernard Madoff who was recently arrested for perpetrating over US$50 Billion fraud on his investors. Remember Kenneth Lay of Enron and Dennis Leo Kozlowski of Tyco who were both charged with massive fraud and corruption as CEOs of their companies. Their names will also go down in infamy! They too contributed handsomely to the coffers of the political elite... who turned a blind eye to their marauding and plundering of investors and shareholders!

Antigua has its own modern day 'knighted' pirate of whom I have been writing for over five years! He is a pirate that many embraced. Let's not forget that both administrations - the former and the current - embraced him. Yeah, yeah, yeah... the current administration had an on off relationship with him. The former administration... well... they wrapped their arms around him - then and now! He too contributed handsomely to the pockets - if not to the party - of the political elite here in Antigua! Did he contribute to others too... so that he could continue to maraud and plunder - metaphorically speaking of course?

But, as we have seen in the foregoing... pirates names go down in infamy. And so will the name of our current, modern-day knighted pirate of the West Indies.

Of course the problem for us is that Antigua's name is also now associated with this now infamous privateer... with his private company charged with privately misleading the people who succumbed to his piratical ventures. We made him a "Sir". We gave him additional legitimacy! We helped him to legitimatize some of his reportedly ill-gotten gains by giving him good land for bad money.

And why did we not do our due diligence? I know that people don't want to ask and answer those questions. One person told me that it was now "Water under the bridge". Well... it is water that will be recycled if we are not careful. He is not the first pirate and privateer who has come to Antigua's shores and was embraced by the politically naive and the politically corrupt. He will not be the last.

But when the next one shows up... we must do out due diligence and continue to investigate and ask questions all the time... for as long as it takes. Where is the treasure coming from? Is it clean? Why is this pirate paying triple the wages of everyone else? Why is this privateer willing to pay premium dollars - extremely premium dollars... for lands and other property? Something was wrong. No one asked questions. No politician asked questions (they were busy with outstretched hands - willing to give him anything he wants... public promising to give him anything he wanted when and if they were elected - having given him everything he wanted the last time that they were there!)

Something was wrong!

As it turns out even the financial regulators... the regional financial vault keepers - turned the other way... turned a blind eye! How come? Did he touch them too?

Something was wrong! As a matter of fact as it turns out... Something is wrong! But it took American regulators and investigators to find that out!

Something is still wrong! Why didn't out financial regulators sound the alarm when ordinary people like myself and "the analyst" who called in almost everyday to a local radio station kept sounding the alarm.

I think we need to look at our own financial regulators... Something is wrong there too! At the very least they are asleep at the wheel...

At the very least!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Sticky Situation

Change Your Manifesto!

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

The world is reeling from the reported sinking of the ships belonging to the Pirate of the West Indies. From Houston to New York, Hong Kong to Bombay, Caracas to Christianstead - to Antigua... people are in shock!

I cannot for one minute understand why they are shocked! Over the years I have outlined and enumerated why I was concerned. Who takes $15 million and gives it to a campaign that is destined to lose anyway? Who takes another $1 million to purchase a piece of property that is worth $200,000 at best? Who sinks hundreds of millions of dollars in a high-flying business where everyone else in that business is losing money?

Those are like schemes where you give me a twenty dollar bill and ask me to give you a one dollar in return! Duh!

So now we are in a sticky situation!

The sports where he promised hundreds of millions on two sides of the Atlantic is reeling from the late breaking news. The chairman of the sporting body across the Atlantic is being asked to resign! No such request is being asked of the chairman of our regional sporting body... because... well... most people supported the Sir Pirate's initiative! Most people were glad to see the money being spent and flaunted. So now - all of those people are mum - with sticky mud on their faces.

A sticky situation indeed.

Yesterday... ordinary Antiguans made a dash on the Pirate's treasure chest... trying to get money. Of course... many of them did not succeed and many of them might not get their money...

And don't talk about the political party, whose candidates are seeking to be elected on a platform where they promised that they would give the Sir Pirate "everything he wanted." Of course this was in return for $15 million dollars - above the table... No telling how much was beneath and into their pockets! I heard someone say that their almost every page of their manifesto referred to the pirate and his money. He would do this and he was going to do that... and they would give him - well... anything he wanted. And now... He probably won't have a thing to give! Election day is March 12... a mere three weeks away... That party is going to have to change their manifesto!

Change the manifesto! As a matter of fact... change their leaders who would give Antigua and Barbuda away to the flim flam pirate! Their leaders did it before after having pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in 'under-the-table' pay-offs!

A sticky situation - for everyone. But for that political party... it is not only sticky... its messy... it's a stinky situation!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What They Always Knew About the Pirate!

But Was Afraid To Say... Out Loud!!!

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

I don't know anyone in Antigua who has not been uncomfortable with the obscene flaunting of money around Antigua over the last ten years or so. I don't personally know anyone who was not suspicious that something was 'fishy' about all that money being thrown around 'willy nilly'!

In one of my last blogs I wrote about people being paid good salaries to do nothing... or next to nothing: A thousand dollar per week to trim hedges; $800 per week to water lawns and pluck weeds from the grass; Thousands of dollars per week to lay tile... and then the same persons are told to take up the same tiles three or four times in order to correct a minor - 1 centimeter wide flaw! Of course these tiles are the most expensive... Ceramic tiles made in Milan... Expensive... very expensive... Dig them up... the whole floor actually... and replace them to correct the error!

Other executive and professional types were hired, placed in air-conditioned offices... to do what? Again absolutely nothing! As a matter of fact, I understand that a former Government official, who had a highly visible Ministry job, said just before he went over to his new digs, "A fuh me time now... a fuh me time now!" Time for what... to make real money of course... said to be in excess of $15,000 per month... US dollars of course! And now... that same former, highly visible, very talkative official, now sits with downcast eyes, at his desk... with absolutely nothing to do... just like those guys watering the grass after it rains. Doing absolutely nothing and collecting a fat paycheck. Apparently he ran afoul of the Pirate of the West Indies for giving him bad advise about how to intervene in Rural West!

Major businesses were started that had absolutely no chance of making a profit. No chance. None. Zero. And when I say major businesses - I mean investments in the billions... sky high investments!!! And then those sky-high businesses were later sold for pennies on the dollar... after losing God alone knows how many millions of dollars.

Anyway... I digress... We always knew that something was afoul and now something is afoot. I don't know of any pirate that did not get his comeuppance. A rapier in the heart... a musket ball to the chest... a hangman's rope... But these are modern times. And just like modern pirates have evolved in their pirating ventures so have those who search for and eventually destroy them.

But we are ahead of ourselves... no such final drama has played out... yet! What is being played out on the world's front pages, online and offline, is the pubic scarring and tarnishing of the Pirate of the West Indies.

I hope that this is a lesson to all those who believe that we in Antigua.. the West Indies... the Caribbean... should seek and find, wine and dine the types of investors who are willing to flaunt their riches and give away money like water. Of course some of the those same people... particularly the politicians... were not averse to holding out their hands... above and beneath the table... to collect some of the crumbs that fell from the Pirate's mustache and from his table!

And, of course, not only were our politicians willing to line up to get some crumbs... but so were some of the West Indian most notable sporting figures. How can we forget the very recent gladiator like spectacle when a pirate's ransom was won by his mascots!

Again... I digress... I guess you heard the news... And in doing my research today I found out that the Pirate of the West Indies had problems with the US Drug Enforcement Agency in 1999 with pirated drug money which found its way into his treasure chest. He eventually had to pay millions of dollars to the US Government.

Let's be clear... no one is gloating. No one is glad at what has happened. Remember that a lot of ordinary and innocent folk has invested in many of the Sir Pirates vessels and others have put their money's in his treasure vaults for 'safe keeping'. In that they erred... How can you give your hard earned dollars to a pirate whose only goal is plunder for profit?

Let us hope that this big international situation does not seriously impact our small country.

Let us hope that our politicians on both sides learn that we should not try to attract shady investors like the Pirate. They did not do, have not done their due diligence... any land lubber could see that the pirate was after the lands that we love.

Let us hope that our leaders - on both sides - will no longer be blinded by shiny pieces of ill-gotten silver waved before our faces then snatched from sight!

I don't wish ill on anyone... And because life is precious... I hope that the Sir Pirate comes out of this fully alive... having not lost physically... and surviving with at least a patch over one eye and a wooden leg! The Antiguan parrot who he bought to labour at his side... should move to his sit on his shoulder!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rally Round the ARG

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

On this day, Black Friday 13th February, all Antiguans and Barbudans need to rally round the ARG!

Our cricket has been dealt a serious body blow. It was a self inflicted blow! (See the previous Blog).

The decision had been made to abandon the 2nd Test Match between England and the West Indies which was to have started today at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. The match was started and our bowlers had serious problems with their run up. I understand that not only was the area of their run up sandy... but the whole field was almost like a beach! Sand everywhere... hidden by the grass!

Anyway, a decision has been made to play a test match which will start on Sunday instead. It will be played at the venerable Antigua Recreation Grounds.

I understand that there are thousands of English cricketing fans here in Antigua - most of them from England. They have invested in visiting our country in order to see this match. It is a good thing that a new match will be started! At least for their sake!

Now... we need to turn out in our numbers... not just to support the Windies... but to save face! We have an obligation to be there - in record numbers! We have an obligation to show up just like those thousands of English fans some of whom paid up to US$5000 just to come and support their team.

We are right here... let's get out and support cricket in Antigua... at the historic Antiguan Recreation Grounds!

Rally Round the ARG! On this valentine weekend, let's show some love for cricket!

What A Black Friday Disgrace!

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

Since the decision was made to build a new stadium, I have been complaining... sometimes bitterly... to my close friends.

Here we were building a US$60 Million dollar sporting facility. Not just a sporting facility... but a cricket stadium. Our first error was that we succumbed to the Chinese - who were funding the project - and allowed them to build it. The Chinese building a cricket stadium? Chinese? Why not a New Zealand, Australian, Indian, or British company? Why not a company which has a track record of building cricket stadium?

Anyway... the Chinese built the Sir Vivian Richards stadium. I am no architect or builder so I cannot and won't comment on the quality of the finished product. But, I can say it "looked good". And, I was proud to be there on the first day of cricket during the World Cup matches.

A US$60M project... Let me ask you the reader this. If you were building your dream property... let's say... a US$1M home. Who would you have doing the landscaping? Would you give the job to the guy who normally cuts the grass in your yard? Or would you call a trained, qualified professional to do the job? If you have a top of the line Mercedes - would you get the guy on the side of the road... who worked on your old Ford to tune up your new car! Hello... not even to change my tires!

In our US$60M project, I think that we gave the job of developing the grounds of this project to the equivalent of a weed-wacker, lawn-mower, cutlass carrying landscaping enterprise. Now don't get me wrong... this type of enterprise normally does a good job around your yard. They may even do an excellent job around the premises of a small hotel - after the initial work had been done by a professional.

And now we are paying the price for the poor - almost criminal - decision to give a big job... a critical task... to a seriously unqualified company. And this particular task was the most important one in the building of this facility. Unlike basketball, football, baseball and rugby, the quality of the cricket grounds and the batting pitch in particular is critical. There can be no error in the quality of the soil, the quality of the drainage system and the types of grass on the grounds.

Let me be clear that I am no expert. Not even close. But as a cricketing fan, I understand the importance of a test match being played on a quality field. I also understand that when a new field is being built from scratch... when the field does not have a history of cricket being played on it... that some sort of scientific analysis should be done regarding things like soil types, above ground flow of water, below ground drainage... and probably a ton of other things of which I would be unfamiliar. I would also think that the experts would need expensive scientific and computerized instruments to carry out these explorations and analyses.

As a matter of fact, one would have hoped that these things would have been done prior to the decision to build the stadium on this site. But... as I understand it, these analyses were not done before. I would have hope that they would have been done as the physical stadium was being built. As I understand it, the level of analysis that I would have been comfortable with was not done.

Our US60M investment was taken lightly. The project was rushed... and the proper prior work was not done. The proper work that should have accompanied the project was not done. And... quite apparently... the work is yet to be done.

Does the field need a modern subsurface chamber system which is used worldwide in baseball parks, soccer stadiums and cricket stadiums? Should the soil be changed to ensure that the water is able to drain in a more 'infiltrative' manner to ensure quick run-off when it rains?

We needed to have given this project to a company with a track record of building drainage systems and playing surfaces for big outdoor sport stadiums. We needed to have gotten the best that money could buy. The best that money could buy... not the cheapest that money could buy... not buy local... not buy political... not buy incompetence... not buy good intentions... not buy friends... not buy because they had a track record of hotel landscaping... not buy because they normally cut the grass on the other field... No!

Now... I understand that recently the job was given to a regional company for remedial work. Well... when I heard this, I said to myself... "There they go again!"

Why could we not get a "world class" company, with a "world class" record of this kind of work, so that they could do a "world class" job on our "World Class" US$60 Million Sir Vivian Richard Stadium?

No - we settled for regional standards... mediocre standards in my mind... paying mediocre money for less than mediocre results!

And so today... Friday, February 13th, Black Friday... we have eggs on our faces. This is embarrassing. We feel disgraced. I feel disgraced. I feel that we have been shortchanged. I have long felt that we were shortchanged.

Going forward we need to think bigger and demand better. We need to make the requisite decisions for the levels of the projects that we have envisioned. We need to set our standards higher. We need to demand world class standards for our world class projects.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

13+ Reasons To Support ALP!

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

In the interest of being 'fair and balanced', I think that I should present readers with reasons why they might consider voting for the ALP in the upcoming elections.

1. To protect former ALP ministers who are under a cloud of allegations from the possibility that they may go to jail!

2. To honour the memory of Papa Bird and continue his lineage though 'Baby' Bird!

3. To be like your great grandmother who would have voted for Papa Bird and also supported Moody Stuart!

4. To show gratitude for the thousands of low paying, no-skills-needed, non-productive, non-established jobs that ALP created.

5. To ensure that ALP will continue to bring in people from everywhere, give them passports, and make them immediate citizens... and to make sure that all those people who are here illegally can get immediate amnesty and also become citizens.

6. To ensure that politicians can make money from passport scams and other corrupt practices that were rampant over their 28 year reign. Some pennies might trickle down to you and you can use that to pay your electricity bills.

7. To continue and even refine Birdanomics: Don't develop or train your people; Keep them beholden to you for low paying, non-skilled jobs; Borrow money from the rich Sir Pirate of the West Indies and others; establish low-paying jobs and contend that there is no unemployment; Under-educate your people so that they won't understand your plan to rob them blind; suck Social Security, Medical Benefits and State Insurance dry... and use the money as if it's government income; fix the roads every five years and point to that as economic development;

8. To make sure that ALP politicians fulfill their promise of giving away the country's resources to that rich Sir Pirate of the West Indies.

9. You want a government job, so that you can go to work any time and you don't even have to go if you do not want. You will still get paid... whenever there is money.

10. Every five years, you want your turkey and ham, twin bed spread, kerosene stove, Pentium III computer, good used fridge, shower curtain, pots and pans, 500W microwave and, sand and chip stone to build... just tell them you will vote red... or tell them you live in St. Peters.

12. You are a government worker who likes the idea of not getting paid at the end of the month...

13. You want Antigua and Barbuda to be known as a country that has a very poor international image, is seen as a haven for international criminals, and a country whose leaders have large bank accounts in plenty of far off countries.

14. You are not Antiguan and you want to use the name of a dead person to get an Antiguan passport! You know exactly who you should go to!

15. You really, really, really like that heavy-set (used to be very fat) guy in red who was shown on TV dancing, twisting, wriggling, jiggling and wining up - on one leg...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Right Track! Right Direction! Wrong Speed!

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

I am reminded of an old car that I once had. I had problems with the windows... When I tried to wind up the glass for the left front door... it would go up real, real slowly. I checked it! It was not off track... it was on the right track between the rubber frame. But, for some reason... it was very tight! It was going up... in the right direction! But it was frustratingly slow... until I sprayed some lubricant on the track! Then... whishhhhhh - up it went! Right Track! Right Direction! Really Quickly! Just as it should!

This article should be seen as a little lubricant for the UPP - that they need to use after we re-elect them!

Those of us who have supported the UPP over the years knew that when and if they were ever elevated by the people to be the stewards of our government they would need more than one term to put our country back on the right track and heading in the right direction.

And they have done that... more or less! There are many things they can be critiqued and criticized for. But the one criticism that I have - even understanding that they need more than one term - is that they have moved much two slowly.

The Mount St. John's Hospital; The Car Park; The St. John's Library; The two major projects that had been planned for Rural West; The Airport Project; Conducting a thorough revamping of the Civil Service; The Transportation Board Building at Herberts... and those are the projects that jump out of my mind without doing any research.

Yes... they have had problems... But problems are what we put them there to solve. Yes... these are major projects... but major projects are the natural and normal domain of governments.

Yes, there were management and administrative problems... But much of that was because they embraced the ALP way of running government by allowing Ministers to administrate and manage rather than making policy decisions and allowing their technocrats, consultants and administrators to do the job of developing, implementing and delivering!

Another reason for some of their management and administrative problems had to do with the UPP's decision not to crack and crush the stranglehold that the ALP leaning permanent secretaries had on every ministry and their collectively purposeful decision to stymie their new UPP Ministers.

Slow was the go as the UPP tried to deliver its Agenda for Change!

So, for the most part, they have been on the right track. They are heading in the right direction. But, they are moving much too slowly.

Only now, on election eve, are we seeing progress with the some of the efforts regarding the allegations of corruption. In many communities, we are now seeing new roads or re-paved roads. In other communities, new lights poles have gone up. In others, clinics have opened, a few sports facilities have been developed and a few others fenced.

Just yesterday, we heard that the UPP Government had received the Lindquist report. Even more importantly, reportedly the Government received a settlement from Bruce Rappaport which amounted to US$12 Million!

All of this on the eve of the election.

What does this say to me? It says that the UPP can move more quickly when the push is on... when the heat is on... when they must!

Being on the right track and going in the right direction is only two thirds of what's needed. You need to be fast!

My mother is 94 years old, and she remembers when it took two weeks to travel to England by boat. Now you can get there within eight hours. In this age of speed... we now have email instead of snail-mail (post office mail). We have instant messaging versus telex and cable messages. Whether you are in Antigua or any part of Africa, the technology is available so that you can now see some of the UPP's meetings on live video stream as they happen. We have video conferences where the consultant in Washington DC can attend and take part in the meeting in your High Street office along with you and your colleagues... virtually!

We cannot wait for the snail's pace of the slow train... even if it is on the Right Track and going in the Right Direction! UPP needs to really speed it up!

Speed up the development in the Point area, in the Gray's Green Community, in Old Road, and in all the other communities in Antigua!

We need speed to deal with the deepening economic crisis that is hammering the world. It is clear that that tsunami is about to hit Antigua... we need speed in our preparations and in our responses... rather than speedy excuses and explanations as to what took us so long to respond.

We have a generation of young people who will not tolerate the "It takes patience" and "We got to get it right" mentalities! As a matter of fact, they won't understand those mindsets... it is foreign to them.

Why is this important for the UPP? Well, maybe not now... but definitely in the next election, a significant percentage of these young people will be voting. They will have heard this year's excuses and they will not want to hear them again. I don't and neither will they.

Get that UPP train running at full speed... as a matter of fact you may need to put in a new engine... and if it runs so quickly that it goes a little off track... well... no problem. We will bring it back on track at full speed... while turning corners... even adjusting our direction... without slowing down.

Right Track! Right Direction!

Now let's get plenty Acceleration!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Develop the Grays Green Community! Now!

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

Each time I am in the Grays Green Community a deep sense of frustration - and even - anger - grabs me... holds on to me and sometimes... chokes me up and makes my eyes moist!

The area is still undeveloped! Still high in crime! Still high... very high unemployment! Still high levels of drop outs! Still a lot of garbage around the streets! And the gutters... still... well... very smelly!

Unemployed young and old men hang out on the corners... still. As a matter of fact... many of the adult men... in their forties... were students of mine at the Greenbay School! Many of their children are now hanging out on the opposite sides of the corners that their dads hang out on... or just around and behind Knuckle Block!

Their fathers are unemployed. The children are undereducated and unemployed! And many of them are drug users and alcoholics... or both.

Historically, over 40 years ago the ALP leader decided that he would purposefully ignore Rural West... and even though they won the seat several times... ALP did nothing for the community. Absolutely - unequivocally nothing.

Forty years later, we have a new dispensation... where the leader of the new era... not only lives in the area... but is a product of Greenbay... born and bred! And we are proud of him.

In the new sunshine dispensation, we expected that a new era would have been ushered in where, for the first time, the people of our community would be first in line. First in line after having been taken for granted for forty years. First in line because we had been purposefully and vindictively dissed for forty years.

But forty years later... and five years after the Prime Minister of the new dispensation took the reins... the same Prime Minister who was born and bred there... nothing... absolutely and unequivocally nothing has happened!

Now... yes... I heard the Prime Minister outline what he says he has done. A clinic in Grays Farm. A mini-clinic in Five Islands. School meals program at both schools... Greenbay and Five Islands! A few roads here and there!

Yes... Mr. Prime Minister... those have been done! But, they amount to absolutely and unequivocally nothing. In the context of the last forty years: Nothing! In the context of the vindictiveness of the ALP regime: Nothing. In the context of what the people of the Community expected: Nothing.

In the context of the years of blind support that they gave to you Mr. Prime Minister... what you have done amounts to ZERO!

Now I know that you explained that your portfolio is that of Chief Servant of the the whole nation. Fair enough! But we put you there. Your Chief Servant status came as a result of the people of Rural West putting you in a position to be elevated. How long have we supported you knowing that your party would not win? But the people of Rural West never abandoned you! Indeed, you deserved our support! Indeed, you had been a good steward of the community. Not only were you good... you were faithful! And so we were faithful to you!

But today, the community still looks abandoned! It still looks left behind! Unemployment is very high... under-employment is even higher! Crime is high... sky high! The housing situation is atrocious. The health situation is precarious. Poverty is a constant reality.

After the last election, when the Sunshine Government was ushered in... people had a new look in their eyes... the look of hope... the look of anticipation that the Agenda for Change was a manuscript that spelled a changed agenda for Rural West!

Now five years later... hope - like the look in the people's eyes - has dimmed!

Now I heard the Prime Minister ask the people to be patient... Patient? After forty years? Patient because he has the whole nation to think about? What about the people who put you there... year after year after year... And just when you triumphed... you seemed to have forgotten... Now you ask for patience.

I heard your plans... and promises on Sunday night. And I can tell you... as I stood there... the tears were not far away... Because I have heard them before... promised by ALP politicians... who had no intention to deliver... I had heard them before... and I knew then they were empty... And I even heard them before... from you... in 2004 and hope sparkled then only to be dimmed now.

I do not accept, Mr. Prime Minister, your excuses... that you were busy... that you had to take care of Rural East... they were well taken of by their just-come - turn-coat politician. You said that you were busy with - well all the others... so busy that you forgot your own.

Well... no more promises.

I no longer live in that community. But that is where my heart is. That is where I lived for 34 years of my life and where my home was for 45 years. That is where I taught. That is where I played. That is where I coached soccer. That is where I learned to dog paddle. That is where I climbed my first coconut tree. That is where I caught my first fish. That is where I dug into a crab hole and got pinched! That is where... well... that is where all my firsts are! I am emotionally and spiritually attached to Perry Bay, Tinning Village, Greenbay, Grays Farm, Hatton, Cooks Hill, Donovans, Christian Street... Just like you are...

Or just like you used to show that you were.

Get back to your roots, Mr. Prime Minister. Get back to the community that birthed and bred you. The community that you served and served well in a lot of capacities. The community that you spent endless hours making important contributions. Get back to the community that supported you... through thick and thin... and that will continue to support you...

Let me be clear! People like me will not support ALP. There is nothing that ALP can do to get my vote... or the vote of people who think like me! And taking money from the Pirate of the West Indies... will not help the ALP get any more votes. Not in Rural West! I ... and people like me... will continue to make sure that the history books are closed on ALP - in Rural West and everywhere else. They will not win another election... not in Rural West! And no amount of money can buy our votes!

However, Mr. Prime Minister that does not mean that you can take us for granted. Not for another five years... not for another minute! As a community... as a family... your family... we still support you. But we are tired of being taken for granted... by anybody... particularly one of our own.

Your first duty is to the your community - YOUR community! No more patience! No more waiting! No more promises!

So when we re-elect you... Mr. Prime Minister... take your community from the back burner put it on the front burner... front and center... your number one priority... First in line!

This is our time... for change! And we will once again elect you to be the deliverer!


Monday, February 09, 2009

That Pirate Does It Again!

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

When the infamous pirate of the West Indies was throwing around money in Antigua, people lined up with the hope of lining their pockets. Those who lined up - apparently included the Government of Antigua. I guess I should say successive Antiguan Governments. For such is the case and such is the truth. They held their hands out for moneys and because nothing comes free... they gave away the people's lands.

When the infamous pirate was giving moneys to West Indian sporting enterprises... millions of dollars... even formerly culturally and socially conscious sporting greats got sucked into the pirate's money trap. And of course, even less famous sporting figures lined up to reap the apparently cheap harvest of dollars in a recent Roman type spectacle. They soon realized that this may well have been a one-only occasion... since the pirate's return on his investment is seriously in doubt. (No obvious real estate lands here! But he might well have hit the ultimate psychological real-estate jackpot for the minds and hearts - not only of Antiguans - but West Indian peoples everywhere.)

Ordinary Antiguans too lined up for their share. Lots of work... apparently doing nothing. I once saw about 30 guys working on the cricket field day after day... pulling out weeds, watering one spot and watching it for an hour or two... taking a break under the shade of a fat tree... then repeating the process 10 yards away. And plenty people got work over the last few years. And, according to them, they were well paid. (Pirates always pay well... with their ill-gotten treasure - which of course they flaunt). Anyway... a couple of weeks ago, the pirate, in preparation for the upcoming election, and in order to unduly influence it, laid off hundreds of workers. Of course he had a good cover. The world financial system, where he apparently plies his piratical wheeling and dealing, is in a mess... probably because of other pirates like himself.

When the infamous pirate promised dollars for development in exchange for apparently non-developed land... politicians on both sides of the aisle put their open hands on the table... (quite a few under also). Of course, as pirates do, if they failed to do precisely as he commanded and demanded... he cut them off... not their hands or their necks, but their supply of pirate treasure. Or... like pirates throughout history, he hanged them... out to dry.

And he is again at it.

Now we hear that according to one senior politician, that 'reprobate' has reportedly given $15 Million to the red tide so that they can fulfill their promises to him. They publicly indicate that they will give him whatever he wants! Whatever he wants! They will give up the people's lands... again. Not only lands... prime lands... and only they know what else!

Of course the current administration had their own hands out at one time. As a matter of fact, they have had a schizophrenic relationship with the 'reprobate' as they called him. It was an on and off relationships, characterized with a lot of start and stops, a lot of pushing forward and pulling back. They could not make up their minds if they could trust him or not. They wanted his money... but not his demands.

When they pulled back... he pouted. He fussed. He fumed. He threatened. He played both sides against each other. And then, he went west and embarrassed the 'Chief Servant' in his own constituency.

Of course within the same party he was doing his own pushing and pulling, promising and agitating. He wants to anoint his own leader. One with whom he has a legal history. One with whom he has had financial wheeling and dealing - prior to the 2004 Administration. Some people say that that he has courted his own man within the cabinet of power and that that man has been courded and wedded to be elevated to ascend the full throne of power.

I don't know what has happened to that. But I do know that pirates don't put all their eggs in one basket... they don't bury all their ill-gotten treasures in one hole... Maybe they do still have a relationship... maybe not... I would bet - yes!

But he is placing two bets on two different horses... just to make sure. He certainly is putting several millions (More than $5M - I hear) into the pot in the west. He wants to make sure that if the blue wave wins that the Big Man is not there to lead them... His man... the man he has courted... he is hoping will be elevated...

Well... those of us with any sense of decency... with any sense of national pride must send a strong message to the blue wave. It is the same message I heard repeated by the Chief Servant on Sunday night.

Don't be bought! Don't succumb to promises of piratical riches! Don't deal with the 'reprobate'!

Stand up... we will vote for you. We will support you!

"Chief Servant You Are In Safe Hands!"

What A Crowd!

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

King George V Ground was packed! It was filled with a sea - an ocean of blue and yellow!

People from everywhere... the young, the old, the middle-aged, the infirmed, people in wheel-chairs... They were all there...

They came to endorse the candidacies of Lenworth Johnson, Bertrand Joseph, Winston Williams and the Honourable Prime Minister, Baldwin Spencer! They also came to hear the date of the election!

The atmosphere was a carryover from the motorcade that was held earlier today! Festive! Supportive! Confident!

A lot of substance was shared tonight! The candidates and their colleagues gave the massive crowd the reasons why they should give UPP five more years! They highlighted the fact that the ALP was running scared and that there was only one reason why ALP was contesting the election: They wanted to avoid justice!

But Justice Day is coming! It will be here within 21 days!

Yes the Prime Minister indicated that he would dissolve Parliament tomorrow... Monday February 9th.

The election is just starting to warm up! People are getting ready! As a matter of fact I think that the people are more ready than the candidates! And so they were disappointed when they did not hear a specific election date!

But the people are ready and they demonstrated that today and tonight!!!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Massive Parade!

By Marcus M. Mottley

Today's parade... the UPP motorcade was massive. I stood and watched as it passed by on All Saints Road. Cars, trucks,pick-ups,lorries, big buses, little buses, SUVs, vans, motor bikes, ATV's, and all kinds of alterations and adaptions of these. There was even a man in a superman suit (he wasn't flying).

The motorcade kept passing and passing and passing... for over 100 minutes...

The people seemed to be in a festive mood... waving and shouting and singing and carrying on.

They had flags, banners, posters, and assortment of promotional materials. They wore blue.

They wore gold. They wore yellow. And the owners of red vehicles made sure that their vehicles were adorned and covered in blue and gold.

Of course the favorite vocal refrain was: No pain like labour pain! Vote UPP again!

Of course there were a few people who tried to be spoilers... like the truck adorned in red... with a handful of ALP supporters.... who somehow got caught in the middle of the parade... they were quickly, quietly and firmly removed by the police! Of course they were in no danger from the peaceful UPP multitude. And then there were the three ALP supporters, adorned in red, who stood at the side of the road cussing and carrying on as the BLUE WAVE rolled on! That only served to stir up the people as they passed... horns blared, the music was turned up a little louder, people shouted - drowning out whatever nonsense the ALP die-hards were trying to say!

It was good to see! It had a good feel! And the sounds - they are worth remembering! I am glad I was there to witness it... Of course my 94 year old mother was at my side... waving and hailing people as they passed! My sons were there too! And... Cleon... well - she was already in the motorcade!

A massive motorcade!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Uncomfortably Comfortable

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

January 5th 2009: Last evening I attended the commissioning of the new UPP election headquarters - or 'command center' as they called it. Reportedly there was a massive crowd! Why reportedly when I was right there? Well it is hard to tell the size of crowds when the people are tightly packed on a narrow road. The claim was that the road was packed solid for over two blocks! I was standing in one place for the duration of the activity… and that made me uncomfortable.

In any case there were many other issues with which I was uncomfortable… some decidedly made me warm under the collar.

The first issue was the fact that UPP imported a band – all the way from Jamaica, the Fab 5, to play for the event. Why was the UPP so willing to spend the kind of money that they obviously did in order to have this band from Jamaica? Is it that we don’t have any quality bands in Antigua that could have done as well or better? Or, is it that all of the quality bands or already committed to the other party?

Another issue was the fact that although there were a number of religious ‘acts’ and two Bishops– none of them really said or did anything that I think remotely suggested that this was a dedication or ceremonial opening of a new headquarters. In truth, throughout the evening no one, not the ‘hidden’ mysterious voice that seemed at times to be playing the role of the 'Honourable' Mistress of Ceremonies, not even the Prime Minister, paid much attention, if any, to why we were invited to this event! As far as I can recall, the Bishops did not bless the place. The mysterious ‘Honourable’ Mistress of Ceremonies who I can’t remember being introduced, or introducing herself by name, did not reference the building, or the new office, or ‘election command center’.

And then there is the matter of the building itself. I was very uncomfortable with whom it is rented from. I groaned when I was told the name of the owner. Here we go again: Same family. Different part of the family tree maybe? Whatever - same name! Here we go again with these unseemly relationships! I wonder who engineered that pathetic stroke of un-genius.

Then of course, there was the missing parliamentary representative. The Prime Minister claims that he was absent because his wife had taken ill. There is much that can be said – but of course all of that would be speculation. The least that I can say is that his absence was profoundly curious! He was missed only to the effect that the numbers did not add up... I kept saying one is missing… one is missing… Then it dawned on me who the one was… And for that reason the excuse did not add up either. As a matter of fact two were missing… the representative from Barbuda for whatever reason was not there… At least… he was not introduced to us and no excuse was given for his absence.

The core of my discomfort, however, was centered on all the accolades and dramatic tributes that were heaped on the Prime Minister before his presentation. Most of Fab 5’s songs featured the Honorable Prime Minister and the introduction read by the well known voice of the ‘hidden’ Mistress of Ceremonies heaped praises and compliments on him. And then there was the love song that one of the featured singers sung for him as he stood there listening and blushing… “Everything I do, I do it for you”! I certainly like the lyrics “Take me as I am - take my life - I would give it all - I would sacrifice” as a testimony for this giant from Rural West. But I am distinctly uncomfortable when a party elevates an individual above the party.

Last night was not about the building or the command center. Last night was not about the members of the UPP election team. Last night was not even about the UPP. As a matter of fact – even the Chairman of the party was missing from the program. Last night was not about the supporters of the UPP. Last night was not about the opposition. Last night was not about the pending election.

Last night appeared to be about Baldwin Spencer. And for that reason I was uncomfortably comfortable.

I was and continue to be distinctly uncomfortable that UPP finds itself in a position where it has to highlight the party leader rather than put the major emphasis on the party and its other candidates. The Baldwin Spencer that I know would be uncomfortable with this. As a matter of fact Baldwin Spencer was uncomfortable. In his own words, at the microphone, he said “Wow, this feels like a coronation.” And a coronation it appeared to be!

Last night I was squirming in my shoes. Not that he does not deserve the accolades. Not that he does not deserve the tributes. But this is not about Baldwin Spencer. The situation we find ourselves in as a nation is millions of times bigger than any one personality.

But… I also saw the necessity. I saw several psychological and practical reasons for the attempt at ‘coronation’. I more than saw the necessity… I was comfortable with the fact that it was attempted. I was more than comfortable… I leaned towards supporting it… even in my discomfort.

First of all, in politics as in most anything else that involves human beings, the cult of the individual deity or leader is paramount. Whether it be Krishna, Yahwe, Allah or the Christian God. Whether it be Jesus, Mohammed or Buddha. Whether it be Napoleon, George Washington, Kennedy, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Hitler, Fidel Castro, or Mandela. Or whether it be George Walter, V.C. Bird, Barack Obama or Baldwin Spencer. The cult of the individual leader works. And sometimes works well. And it seems to work particularly well when the party is faced with opposition on various fronts.

In the current situation, UPP is faced with opposition on several fronts. On one front is the obvious opposition from the ALP. I say obvious but by no means do I imply trivial. The ALP led by Lester Bird is a force to be reckoned with. On another front there are of course the want-to-be parties that are nibbling at the heels of the two major parties. They are this moment are inconsequential.

Less obvious but definitely significant are the not so hidden forces of the moneyed who are attempting to hijack the democratic process by reportedly sliding millions of dollars into the coffers of individual candidates of both major parties.
So what does all this have to do with my being uncomfortably comfortable? And specifically why I am comfortable with last night’s focus on Baldwin Spencer? Well… it is rumored that key individuals of the moneyed class are trying to fund and buy Mr. Spencer’s demise… either to have him lose his seat or more demonically… to have him lose the support of the candidates that he currently will lead into the elections. What does this mean? It means that if UPP wins, the moneyed pirates of Antigua, would like to see a UPP parliamentarian – one who used to be in inner circle of the ALP – uplifted to the leadership of the government and replace Mr. Spencer.

So… in my mind, last night was an attempt by those in the party who continue to support the Prime Minister to send a strong message not only to the electorate, but to his not-so-hidden detractors within his own Cabinet. The message says that Baldwin Spencer is the leader of the party. Baldwin Spencer is the people’s champion. Baldwin Spencer is the conscience of the UPP. Baldwin Spencer represents the roots of the party. Baldwin Spencer represents the common folk of the party. Baldwin Spencer is the people’s choice to continue to lead the party into the future.

Last night was a warning to those who would usurp the leadership that no just-come turn-‘coat’ politician who was part of the problem in the past can come into this – from that – and take over. It is a warning to those who ‘court’ the favors of millionaires and who themselves have benefitted millions for court-ing millionaires, and who have not paid their dues by court-ing the people of Antigua and Barbuda cannot and will not be allowed to connive against the natural leader of the country.
Those within the UPP courtyard, who court the American millionaire pirate, who court the middle-eastern pirate family, who court the worst inclinations of their parliamentary colleagues, who have continuously clandestinely undermined and stymied the financial decisions of the Honourable Prime Minister, and who have done so at home and abroad, should take warning. Take heed.

Last night was also a warning to those others who have become rich in five years – not from the ministerial or parliamentary representative salaries – that they should tread cautiously. None of them on that stage last night received any particularly noticeable response from the people. As a matter of fact, with the exception of the candidate from City South , most of the responses were tepid… at best. The crowd reserved their accolades for the man of the night. Their livelihood and their lifestyles, continue to be at the whim and fancy of the common folk… enabled, maintained and perpetuated through the people’s champion.

So last night the crowd gave tribute to the Honourable Prime Minister through their vociferous cheering. They indicated that they approve of him and that they support him.

I did too.

Although I was – and still am – both comfortable and un-comfortable!