JLP bank­ing on chik-V bite

Jamaica Gleaner - - IN FOCUS - Mark Wig­nall is a political an­a­lyst. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com and ob­serve­mark@gmail.com, or visit his blog at mark­wig­nall.com.

POLITICAL DE­BATES are usu­ally bor­ing events, but in the few times they are not, the main features take the form of words balled up like a fist and de­signed to take a big­ger mes­sage than just the ob­vi­ous.

I am not so sure that politi­cians would pre­fer to cuss each other across the aisle in­stead of en­gag­ing in fisticuffs. Ei­ther way, both op­tions are dis­gust­ing and en­ter­tain­ing at the same

time as it al­lows us, the peo­ple on the right side of the cage, to have an ex­tended glance at the qual­ity of the per­form­ers inside and a long-term view of what our vote gen­er­ated.

In last Wed­nes­day’s de­bate at the CPTC stu­dios, JLP coun­cil­lor from Span­ish Town Ken­isha Allen, an ob­vi­ously quite ca­pa­ble woman, earned some amount of de­ri­sive laugh­ter when she said, “Port­more, I am speak­ing to you: If a mos­quito has ever bit­ten you in your life, do not vote for the PNP.”

Now it is quite pos­si­ble that the many mos­qui­toes that oc­cupy in­ner-city pock­ets and sec­tions of Port­more are very tribal and have, at times, ex­er­cised their fran­chises and bit­ten mainly de­pend­ing on whether one is or­ange clad or garbed in green. Those in the up­town, or­nately gated com­mu­ni­ties hover some­what, but it is much harder to pen­e­trate the two-coloured air con­di­tion­ing.

Se­ri­ously, though, when one sees the big­ger political mes­sage in Ms Allen’s jest­ing, the thought be­hind the political strat­egy must have been planned. Tribal? Us­ing mos­qui­toes?

As a political an­a­lyst, the main crit­i­cism I have with the Ja­maica Labour Party ad­min­is­tra­tion’s political strat­egy is that the party has waited too long to hold the lo­cals. Nine months. The ‘joke’ from Allen was a stark re­minder from those who may have for­got­ten that it was in the time of the Peo­ple’s National Party, which con­trolled gov­ern­ment and the parish coun­cils in 2014, that the mas­sive Chik-V out­break crip­pled this na­tion.

In the nine months since the JLP won the gen­eral elec­tion, some of the hard-core sup­port­ers who will be vot­ing may have a bone to pick with the Labourite gov­ern­ment on the smor­gas­bord of mur­ders pre­sented each week, and, be­cause con­trol of the mur­der rate seems quite be­yond its abil­i­ties, the

eas­i­est and most ef­fec­tive way to present a protest vote is to hurt the JLP in the parish coun­cil bal­lot box.

Allen was bring­ing back that fo­cus of PNP fail­ure in pub­lic health in 2014, and, fail­ure it truly was, as the then health min­is­ter, Fen­ton Fer­gu­son, was seem­ingly just as sur­prised as the rest of us when the painful mal­ady ar­rived, al­though he had am­ple warn­ing to em­power the na­tion.

AR­DENNE, WOLMER’S GIRLS GET­TING NUM­BERS RIGHT

As a boy at­tend­ing KC in the 1960s, there were times when groups of us would ar­rive at the Ar­denne High cam­pus on sports day, mainly to in­gra­ti­ate our­selves with the girls, but also to

make com­par­isons of KC’s huge foot­print in sports with Ar­denne’s ten­ta­tive steps.

“Your fastest run­ner could not make our B team, tcha!” would be the typ­i­cal taunt, as if that would more en­dear the girls to us. The fact is, Ar­denne has al­ways been a top-qual­ity school, but in the 1960s, KC was the go-to school for six­th­form maths.

The pic­ture has changed some­what – in Ar­denne’s favour. Last month, it was re­ported that 33 stu­dents from Wolmer’s Girls’ School had scored full dis­tinc­tions in CSEC maths in grade 10. In my time, only those boys with spe­cial maths ap­ti­tude would take the over­seas exam in fourth form (grade 10).

Now it seems there is a stir­ring of a bet­ter brand of maths teach­ing, to the point that en­tire groups of stu­dents can be turned on to, and made to ex­cel at, maths. At Ar­denne just re­cently, it was re­ported that 94 stu­dents in grade 10 did what those bright sparks at Wolmer’s did last month.

Maths can only be ef­fec­tively taught when teacher-stu­dent in­ter­ac­tion is en­cour­aged by the teacher. That seems to be what Wolmer’s Girls and Ar­denne have been prac­tis­ing. If it has not been al­ready done, I would like to see it taken a step fur­ther – stu­dent re­views of the teach­ers and con­stant feed­back.

First, let us recog­nise what is at the root of success in maths teach­ing. Our bright­est and best in this coun­try still leave this coun­try a few years af­ter grad­u­at­ing univer­sity. At the same time, we know that those na­tions who pos­sess a stock of those highly schooled and trained in the sciences, tech of all sorts, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics will be those na­tions best po­si­tioned ei­ther to build

their na­tions’s economies or mi­grate with their skills for a bet­ter life. In the next three decades.

WATCH TRUMP WITH PUTIN

When he was prime min­is­ter of Gre­nada in the 1970s, Eric Gairy was a man who was more there than here. When bolts of wis­dom struck him re­peat­edly, he would speak at the UN about it start­ing a cam­paign to study a most press­ing con­cern in the world at that time: uniden­ti­fied fly­ing ob­jects (UFOs).

He had at­tached to his raw, political street side a mili­tia known as the Mon­goose Gang. Once when he was be­ing in­ter­viewed about his coun­try’s crime-fight­ing strate­gies and it was pointed out that he was us­ing many of the ex-crim­i­nals who made up the Mon­goose Gang to deal with con­trol­ling crime, he ut­tered these words, “It takes a thief to catch a thief.”

At this time, the world’s great­est con man is headed to the White House, and he has al­ready per­formed his first ef­fec­tive con job by con­vinc­ing Pres­i­dent Obama that he will re­tain much of Oba­macare and keep the NATO al­liance as strong as ever with­out the rigid en­force­ment of the col­lec­tion of al­lies’ in­di­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions.

There can be no doubt that Trump’s con­nec­tion with Rus­sia and its au­to­cratic, un­demo­cratic leader, Vladimir Putin, has been solid for some time, and it seems to be on firmer foot­ing since the shock win for Trump.

Trump’s ex­pe­ri­ence has been all about busi­ness. Al­though he has gut in­stincts for a few other mat­ters, it is known that he knows noth­ing about for­eign af­fairs/re­la­tions. In the mutual over­ture ren­di­tion tak­ing place be­tween Trump and Putin, what im­por­tance does Trump place on ad­vice from those highly trained and ex­pe­ri­enced in those ar­eas? Does he un­der­stand the spe­cific strat­egy to em­ploy to meet the mo­ment?

Al­though I be­lieve Amer­i­cans in the diplo­matic ser­vices and US in­tel­li­gence agen­cies know more than Trump about the many sides of Putin, they would much pre­fer if in any in­ter­ac­tions with him, cau­tion and low ex­pec­ta­tions be the caveats.

In the case of Don­ald Trump, he is go­ing in head first, and it may prove to be an ab­so­lute geopo­lit­i­cal night­mare. But then again, who knows? Maybe Putin will meet his match with Trump be­cause at their core, they share the same philo­soph­i­cal frame­work when it comes to seek­ing power, tight­en­ing loy­al­ties, and pit­ting ri­val against ri­val.

The most cru­cial con­sid­er­a­tion is the ex­tent to which Trump will dis­play this frame­work in the next six months. Putin and Trump know each other be­cause they are swish­ing around in the same Jacuzzi of ideas.

That Obama could ac­tu­ally re­port that Trump in­tends to un­ravel Oba­macare by only a lit­tle bit is prob­a­bly not proof that Trump is a con job as it is that Obama’s sense of fair play can­not ex­ist in the same space as the scary man about to oc­cupy the White House in Jan­uary.

FILE

RIGHT: The Ja­maica Labour Party’s Des­mond McKen­zie shakes hands with the Peo­ple’s National Party’s Angela Brown Burke fol­low­ing Wed­nes­day night’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment de­bate at the Cre­ative Pro­duc­tion and Train­ing Cen­tre in Kingston. The Aedes ae­gypti mos­quito, which trans­mits the chik-V and Zika virus.

AP

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama (right) meets with his suc­ces­sor, Don­ald Trump, in the Oval Of­fice of the White House in Washington on Novem­ber 10.

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