Sometimes I believe that, if the PNP hadn’t appointed Velma Hylton to the Tivoli Enquiry, the JLP would’ve done it.

One certainty is there’s only one political party with anything to fear from this Commission. Dudus’ extradition fiasco cost the JLP a general election and it must feel an eerie sense of déjà vu as the PNP organizes to air JLP dirty linen in public all over again, rehashing every painfully embarrassing detail under the guise of an Enquiry into the Tivoli Massacre.

So, what’s a poor, under-appreciated political party to do? Clearly, it must pray for a suitable red herring to help block or delay the bitter medicine. Enter stage left, Velma Hylton. If the PNP hadn’t appointed her, the JLP might’ve considered lobbying behind the scenes to have her appointed as the required diversion.

Delia, oh, Delia, Delia all my life.
If I hadn’t a shot poor Delia,                                                                                                                                                                 I’d a had her for my wife.
Delia’s gone, one more round, Delia’s gone.

So, it’s all hands on deck as the phantom “bias” card is played and re-played. Confusion is spread like wildfire. Nobody appears willing to grasp the fundamentals so even the Pinochet case is trotted out to hammer home the point that only the “appearance of bias” is enough.

One more time: WHAT BIAS? The point here isn’t the standard of proof (appearance enough) it’s the absence of anything to prove. To be a judge in your own cause you must somehow be connected to the Commission’s “cause”. Lord Hoffmann was (appearance only) “connected” to the “cause” of Amnesty International’s case through his wife who was an employee of Amnesty International. To quote from In Pinochet’s head note: “It is said that the links between one of the members of the Appellate Committee who heard the appeal, Lord Hoffmann, and Amnesty International (“AI”) were such as to give the appearance that he might have been biased against Senator Pinochet”. Velma Hylton is connected to NOTHING except a submission made 12 years ago which was arguable then and is arguable now. Again: Against (or for) WHOM is there an appearance of bias from Velma Hylton? It’s all smoke and mirrors.

But, to those expecting a genuine Enquiry, I borrow “Fahget it!” What’s unfolding before you is a beautiful game of political knockout football between teams with the analogous winning chances of Chelsea versus Yeoville. The men from Yeoville, underdogs from the word “go”, but hell bent on creating an upset, need more than football skills to win. They need to disrupt Chelsea’s play.

I went up to Memphis and I met Delia there.                                                                                                                       Found her in her parlour
and I tied to her chair.
Delia’s gone, one more round, Delia’s gone.”

So, the PNP begins this political football game with every advantage and has scored from the kick-off. The very first “Term of Reference” reads:

1. To enquire into: the situation in Western Kingston and related areas…. prior to the attempt to execute a provisional warrant in extradition proceedings relating to Christopher “Dudus” Coke…….

ROFL! What does the situation in Tivoli “prior to the attempt” have to do with an enquiry into the conduct of any government agency or official (which is all a Commission of Enquiry can do)? Which government department, agency or official resided in Tivoli?

WE WANT TO KNOW WHY THE SECURITY FORCES INVADED AND WHY THEY KILLED 76 PEOPLE. Their responses might include that they felt obliged to invade because of “the situation in Western Kingston….prior to the attempt to execute a provisional warrant…” including that Tivoli was barricaded. Let them introduce and explain THAT piece of brilliant military strategy rather than directing the Commission to start making ultra vires enquiries into Tivoli’s circumstances. This is a second invasion dressed up as an Enquiry. Gotta make sure Tivoli’s dead.

First time I shot her I shot her in the side.
Hard to watch her suffer
but with a second shot she died.
Delia’s gone, one more round, Delia’s gone.”

What we want to know is the prior situation at Jamaica House. Why was the decision to sign the warrant broadcast publicly hours in advance thereby making it impossible to be peacefully executed? But, no, the PNP has an obsessive fixation with casting Tivoli as some sort of demon possessed district so, to that party, the death of 73 in Tivoli is but an excuse to “enquire” into Tivoli’s situation leading up to the incursion. Ugh.

She was low down and trifling
and she was cold and mean.
Kind of evil make me want to grab my sub machine
Delia’s gone, one more round, Delia’s gone.”

The second “Term of Reference”:
..whether, and, if so, under what circumstances, state officials and law enforcement officers came under gunfire attacks during May 2010….

Why are we assuming this might have been so? Why don’t we simply enquire into what Jamaicans want to know which is WHY DID THE SECURITY FORCES INVADE AND WHY DID THEY KILL 76 PEOPLE. Let them explain they were shot at if that’s their story.

The third Term of Reference:

the circumstances under which, and by whom, several Police Stations and other state property (including police or military vehicles) were attacked…

This is insane. No Commission has jurisdiction to comply with these last two terms of reference. This is police work. How can Commissioners enquire and pronounce from a conference room on anybody’s guilt or innocence regarding allegations of arson, shooting with intent or whatever? Which government department is accused of this?

C’mon man!

Not until the fourth “Term of Reference” do we get to the sole justification for this Commission:

the conduct of operations by the security forces of Jamaica in Tivoli Gardens and related areas during the State of Emergency…..

That’s it. That’s all. One Term of Reference required. The rest is pusillanimous politicking bearing no resemblance to a genuine Commission of Enquiry. If the JLP was a serious Opposition instead of a Poppy Show, they’d immediately focus on the Terms of Reference as the object of its attack. Instead, they insist on the standard Jamaican political response of tracing individuals. The PNP handed them Velma and they took the bait with mouths agape. Now, Velma’s gone but the Commission and the prejudicial Terms of Reference remain. Doom remains steadfast on the JLP’s horizon.

Jailer, oh, Jailer; Jailer, I can’t sleep.                                                                                                                                       ‘Cause all around my bedside
I hear the patter of Delia’s feet
Delia’s gone, one more round, Delia’s gone

In 1994, country music/rock n roll legend Johnny Cash was in a lengthy slump after decades at the pinnacle of his profession. Facilitators of talent, trying to make their jobs seem more important than reality allows, are always trying to tweak talent. So, successive producers, in the name of “variety”, tried to modify Johnny’s style. When Jack Clement tried to create a “twangy” sound with barber shop quartet singers and strings, Cash rebelled and fell into musical oblivion.

Then, a modern miracle: Young producer, Rick Rubin, co-founder, with Russell Simmons, of Def Jam Records and more famous for his rap and heavy metal productions (Beastie Boys; LL Cool J; Public Enemy; Run DMC; etc), approached Johnny (by then a forgotten voice) and offered him a contract based on Rubin’s belief in minimalism. It was music to Johnny’s ears and their first in a series of inspired albums in the twilight of his life and career, American Recordings, was recorded, except for two live cuts, in Rick’s living room or Johnny’s cabin. This stripped-down approach meant Johnny’s voice was accompanied only by his acoustic guitar and, voila, the original greatness returned. The opening track, Delia, about a trifling woman, sends the time honoured message “Can’t live with ’em; can’t live without ’em.”

Johnny Cash was one of the most complicated, profound and brilliant singers/songwriters of all time. He summed up his life thusly: “I am persuaded that nothing can separate me from my love of my God, my wife and my music”. His marriage to June Carter (of the famous Carter Family) was the love story of the 20th century. He’s the only artiste inducted into the country music, rock n roll and songwriters’ Halls of Fame. If you haven’t listened deeply and seriously to Johnny Cash, half your musical life is lost.

Peace and Love


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