Thursday, October 08, 2015

Pay attention.

If you weren't paying attention, son, know now then that school is in session. Kid, things have taken a turn for the stupid these past few days so you'd best sit up straight and pay attention because this might not be important stuff but they surely affect important stuff.

First off, the frivolous shit. Did you know Parliament ran out of money to pay off its electricity Bill?  Yeah, that happened. It took the President's Chief of Staff for Kenya Power to get off its high horse and switch the juice back on. I don't know how you run up a bill of ten million unless you are Bidco or the East African Bottlers Company, unless you are having a bad day with your bankers, but for whatever reason Parliament's beancounters seemed to have missed the impending Kenya Power kaibosh. Who's is in charge in that place, anyway?

Did you ever, ever think that the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution would hold hands with the national Executive to stick to Parliament? Me neither, but that's what is happening. Some Rift Valley MP - variously lampooned as a greenhorn, a mole and a renegade - has decided he's had it with a powerful Cabinet Secretary and he's going to get the CS impeached. The wing of the coalition the CS is associated with cries foul. Totally unrelated - wink, wink - the CIC goes to the High Court and asks the constitutional court to declare certain bits of the Standing Orders - the Parliamentary Rule Book - unconstitutional. The Court agrees. 

Of course the speakers are having none of it. Knowing full well that the "sanctity of Parliament" will not be violated by process servers, the Speaker of one of the annoying chambers declares he has absolutely no idea whether a court has "stayed parliamentary debate," only that they will have the impeachment debate come hell or high water. It's only a matter of time before he gets yanked back into line and told in no uncertain terms is his chamber impeaching the CS - or any CS for that matter.

Turns out last week was the last good week to hold onto your dollars,  kid. Now that the Central Bank has made 48 billion for itself in profits because of a "weak" shilling, you might start to hear talk of market operations or some esoteric central bank speak and the shilling will make a miraculous rally against world currencies. It's not the first time that I have been shafted by the CBK.

But the thing that you need to keep an eye on is all the praying taking place around the country these days. Well not really countrywide; this praying seems to be loudest in certain parts of Mt Kenya and the deep Rift Valley. The last time there was all this praying some guy had his case thrown out of court because it turns out many witnesses against him were lying little shits who had been coached and paid to make stories about how he met with militia leaders and gave them money. If prayers worked then, revealing the unholy truth for all the world to see, why can't they work this time round even if the ones praying loudest have the whiff of the porcine around them?

So pay attention. Things are happening. If you can stand the stench, you might yet find truffles in the troughs.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

There are limits.

I can't help everyone. No one can. Not even the Gateses and their billions together with the Oracle from Omaha's billions. For each and every one of us, there is a finite number of people we can help in our whole lives. That should give us pause, but it very rarely does.

Obviously there are at the top of my list those whom I have no choice but to love and to help, even if they still think I am an idiot: the two Old Gals, Her and Her's future mother-in-law. They come first. Always. So what if its nepotistic? I love them very much. Deal with it. Then come the Necessary Evils and the Siku Kuu Brigade, though I think the Chairman still trumps them all. Then come the nicer friends, the ones you know you love but won't admit it to them. After that, I have to prioritise.

That sounds harsh. But that's because you think I should walk around with sackcloth on my black and my hair covered in ash. Maybe the Dalai Lama can pull it off, but no one in this world can care for everyone and anyone that pretends to love the whole world quite likely will one day pick up an AK-47 and set the world on fire.

What makes this beggar worse off than that one, this crippled child worse off than that one, or this blind woman worse off than that blind woman? This world is full of suffering and my heart is simply not big enough to carry all that suffering. I will pick and choose, where I can, those for whom I will direct my charitable efforts. If it turns out that that is one person, what's it to you?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Cast iron? I think not.

The legislative authority of the Republic is derived from the people and, at the national level, is vested in and exercised by Parliament. ~ Article 94(1)
1. Executive Authority derives from the people of Kenya and shall be exercised in accordance with this Constitution. 2. Executive authority shall be exercised in a manner compatible with the principle of service to the people of Kenya, and for their well-being and benefit.~ Article 129
The national executive of the Republic comprises the President, the Deputy President and the rest of the Cabinet. ~ Article 130(1)
Judicial authority is derived from the people and vests in, and shall be exercised by, the courts and tribunals established by or under this Constitution. ~ Article 159(1)
That, in essence, is the separation of powers in the constitutional scheme we promulgated for ourselves in 2010, three years after neighbour set neighbour's house on fire, committed beastly acts against neighbour, and murdered, rampaged and pillaged like a marauding hyena in a pack of fellow hyenas.

The checks and balances part would take a keener reading of the Constitution. Take public finances; you would think that with the financial autonomy of the three arms of governemnt, things would finally be simpler. But it is the national executive, through the Kenya Revenue Authority, that has the authority to collect taxes nationally, which, in turn, become the national revenue, not only to be shared shared between the two levels of government but among the three arms of government. The sharing, ironically, is done by Parliament, even though it does so based on the very strong recommendations of the national executive through the National Treasury, the Commission on Revenue Allocation, the Auditor-General, the Controller of Budget and the Kenya Revenue Authority.

Or, think of the "judicial authority vested in and exercised by courts and tribunals" and remember that when the Judiciary decrees something, the only institution with the coercive power to enforce the decree is the national executive through its police or its agencies with police powers. The Judiciary can pass a sentence of imprisonment for life, but it is the Kenya Prisons Service that will actually enforce it; the Judiciary does not run its own prisons.

What about Parliament, you ask? Can it really do what it is threatening to do without seriously jeopardising the constitutional scheme of things? It all depends on whether you believe that Parliament is primus inter pares or not. Twice now, parliament, in the guise of the Senate, has been thwarted by the Supreme Court when it came to the impeachment of the Governor of Embu County. More recently, it emerges that without the intervention of the Chief of Staff of the President, a functionary who appears nowhere in the constitutional scheme of things, Parliament would be without lights today as the President of the United Republic of Tanzania came to give his address before the National Assembly.

Ignore the bombast and rhetoric of the one who would have you believe that the Constitution is cast in cast iron, immutable to the laws of politics and human emotion. As with every other human relationship, this document we tend to venerate, is subject to compromises that would seek to make it smoother to read and live by. Sometimes it is the national executive and the Judiciary ganging up against Parliament; sometimes it is the national executive and Parliament taking on the Judiciary; and sometimes it is the Judiciary seeing the wisdom of not standing in Parliament's way as it confronts the national executive. 

So long as mad men do not spill onto the streets with simis, rungus, guns, Molotov cocktail and hatred for their fellowman in their hearts, this is the best constitution scheme that we have at the moment and it is in our best interests to see that the compromises and accommodations are not against the "well-being and benefit" of the people.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Mali ya uma.

If you want to, you can pretend that you don't want to pay for things you want. It's okay; those are the little white lies we tell ourselves in order for us to believe that we are not like them, you know? them? the greedy, grasping, amoral denizens of that imperturbable, impassive, impregnable (the "imp-" part of my thesaurus caught my eye this morning) Leviathan we all know as "Government." (The upper-case "G" is how you distinguish it from Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and the perennially benighted South Sudan.)

So go right ahead. Lie to yourself. Deep down, though, tell me, honestly! don't you think that being the Director-General of the Communications Authority isn't simply divine? No, don't get me wrong; I am not saying that he is the reincarnation of the Jesus you pray to; no, no, no. I mean, the office he holds, the position he occupies, the throne he settles his hindparts on must be a pretty nice place. I mean, in 2014/2015 an uppity auditor reported that the D-G got 6.13 millions of our shillings as travlleing allowances. That is a six and six other zeroes after it! (No one counts the a hundred and thirty K anymore, though I have a feeling the D-G most definitely did.)

What was that you were about to say? You were going to say something officious, weren't you? You were going to take That Tone of Voice and use words like "unconscionable" and phrases like "ballooning wage bill," weren't you? I would probably do the same, and just like you, I am not going to admit that half the outrage comes from the fact that I don't have a 6.13 million shilling year and given my particular skillset, well, at least my mother loves me.

There is very little in common between our stated national objectives and the facts on the ground. We are like the termites my father studied for his PhD. When we burrow inside the wooded frame of your home, or some badly laid concrete, we will, quite literally, eat you out of home and hearth. That is us and Government; it is never, ever "our" money so we see nothing wrong in spending it as fast as the taxman collects it. We have also, in the bargain, become the pastmasters at rationalisations and justifications. Do you remember the mta-do? attitude by the Elgeyo-Marakwet MCAs who had gone to the DRC to benchmark "athletics facilities" before coming home and jetting off promptly to Mombasa to write their report?

Now, I have met people who treat money very seriously. They may be profligate, but they are profligate with money they have worked their butts off, and I don't mean shaking their money-makers at "sponsors" or serious arse-licking for serikali tenders. These people might spend, every now and then, like pirates on shore leave, but they keep a beady - a very beady eye - on their fundamentals. Keep costs down. Keep expenses down. Extract maximum efficiency from your resources. And never, ever trust a stranger with your wallet. In case you haven't noticed, these guys are not batting their eyelids to be appointed to a cozy sinecure like the Director-General's; they are sitting pretty wherever they are.

The ones who did bat their eyelids are the one who had the gumption, the moxie, the chutzpah, the cheek of it, to stare us in the eye and use oily, unctuous phrases like, "It is an honour to serve the nation" and "I will dedicate myself for the good of the country." The moment the camera lights went off, the ink barely dry on their "letters of appointment", they were lining their pockets so fast you would have though money was going out of style! (Just ask Edward Ouko to publish the reports on office refurbishing between 2013 and now and marvel at how quickly desks, chairs, coffee tables, corner tables, shelves, curtains, nets, vases, telephone handsets, carpets, mats, toilet-paper holders, and shower heads are worn down so as to need replacement.)

What we have is a perfect symbiosis between hypocrisy and apathy. It is how w can simultaneously be angry at wastage on a colossal scale, envy that it is not us doing the wasting, and indifferent to it all because, "Ni mali ya uma."

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Our damn job!

Graft assails the public administration of this country at every turn. The President has unequivocally declared a war on graft, but he faces hurdles at every turn. He started with his own office, but even there, there were obstacles. Removing them has been like pulling teeth: painful and tough. But he seems determined.

The Chief Justice has joined forces with the Inspector-General of Police to clean out the murk in the corridors of justice, attempting to streamline the process of dealing with traffic offences where the collaboration between the police and judicial officers has been blamed for the endemic corruption in the Judiciary and the police service.

But it is recent revelations of graft in county governments that have fired up the ire of the people. Wheelbarrows have been priced at over a hundred thousand shillings; social media accounts have been set up at a cost of millions of shillings; mobile phones have been purchased for twice their retail prices in the market; hospital supplies have been priced at rates that boggle the mind. It seems, as one wag put, that graft has been devolved with the devolution of the government. This brings up, every now and then, doubts about the viability of devolution.

Yet, the train has left the station. Devolution has advanced in fits and starts, but it has advanced all the same. What we face are the vestigial remnants of KANU-ism, a virulent resistant strain of corruption from the 1980s that simply defies the odds and keeps on keeping on. Many of the men and women overseeing the implementation of devolution in county governments are holdovers from the KANU era, having survived Mwai Kibaki's nascent reforms. Kenyans are determined to see devolution succeed and it is these holdovers who threaten the entire project.

Once you're in, you're in. We made the choice, consciously as voters, to ratify the draft harmonised constitution in 2010. We have no choice but to ensure that the scheme we chose for ourselves works for us. Keeping an eye on those we have elected to govern us to do their job without threatening the scheme is our responsibility and it is one we must take seriously if we are to make a better nation. It is not enough to mouth the platitudes that politicians spout every now and then.

This is the Information Age, and the information available to us is available as a right, not a privilege. Even with the retrograde provisions of the Official Secrets Act, we still have available to us information that is vital to protecting our democracy and our form of government. Few of us have the money to run recall elections, but that shouldn't stop us from holding our elected governments to account. While we can't simplify our relationship with our elected representatives to that of employer and employee, but we can demand certain things of them: probity, integrity and good judgment.

Things like overpriced wheelbarrows and curtains threaten to distract us from the tasks at hand, but if we are farsighted and committed to the big picture, we might yet succeed. If we play our roles as electors properly, we will surely come out of this transition period stronger and better. We must have faith in our institutions, enough faith for us to take hard decisions, such as foregoing the frisson of satisfaction we get by electing the men and women we have been familiar with for ages. If we elect the men and women who share our desire for development and good government, we shall be in with a chance. It is time for hard decisions. We can't foist it on future voters. This is our time and it is time we acted like we had damn sense!

Friday, October 02, 2015

A dose of its own medicine.

The Old Guard lives in fear that the Young Turks are out to rob of them of their cozy sinecures. When Paul Muite was appointed the chairman of the Law Society, with Willy Mutunga as his deputy, Baba Moi may not have quivered in his boots, but he was no longer at ease. The Law Society, even after some of its members came after its Council for "engaging in politics," distinguished itself for living up to its ideals, especially that of civic education on the law. In the annals of the Second Liberation, the Law Society was a Young Turk in and of itself.

That is not the case today. Thirteen years after we saw off Baba Moi's project, things have come full circle. The Uhuru Kenyatta we rejected in 2002 is now President of Kenya. The William Ruto who stood foursquare behind him in 2002 is now the Deputy President. The Law Society, just like the moribund KANU, is riven with factionalism and corruption. The abortive Annual General Meeting on Saturday, the 26th September, exposed the Law Society's dark secrets, if only for a few hours.

Perhaps it has something to do with the period of relative political peace after Mwai Kibaki was sworn in as Kenya's third President or the wave of optimism that washed over the nation after that seminal day. For some reason the Law Society stopped playing the unofficial role of the Fourth Arm of Government that it had played all through the 1990s. It no longer cared to hold the government of the day to account, maybe because so many of its members were serving on commissions, boards and committees of the government or representing the government if fee-paying briefs that proved to be quite lucrative.

Either way, the Law Society turned inwards and became just another association. It engaged in may of the behaviours that we had collectively abhorred, none as abhorrent as the campaigning for places on the Council of the Law Society. Big money spending became the norm and the Chairmen and members of the Council became just another group of politicians out to line their pockets.

If it wasn't for the International Arbitration Centre and the spectacular overreach by the Council, most members of the Law Society would have been content to make their views made only during the ho-hum AGMs. But when the Council made it an express rule that all practicing advocates must contribute to the proposed arbitration centre, even after the Council had indicated that it was securing a very large credit facility with a bank, many youthful members had had enough. Their agitation will expose more than the avarice of the members of the Council and their KANU-era thinking. 

These new Young Turks may not have the gravitas that Paul Muite or Willy Mutunga brought to the game, but they are a harbinger of the less-polished things to come that nevertheless change the game. These are not lawyers prepared to let "decorum" act as a fig leaf for the profound money-grab perpetrated by the Council; they have worked hard for their fees in extremely hostile circumstances and they will not sit idly by as the Council threatens their livelihoods. If it means destroying the Law Society in order to save it, so be it. I can't say that I disagree with their tactics or their objectives.

We are frequently asked to venerate the old, the aged, because of their experience and wisdom. But the harsh reality is that these are the same people, an entire generation, that has impoverished our nation and destroyed venerable institutions, such as the Law Society. The old deserve respect and veneration when the sum total of their experience and wisdom has been  for the good of the people, but the deserve neither respect nor veneration when they have been the source of unfairness and untold misery. The Law Society is getting a dose of the medicine it had given the government of Baba Moi. Like they say in California, payback is a female dog.

Don't go crazy.

Ever noticed how some people lose their shit when they read online comments about what is and what isn' or some such shit. Some random person you follow on Twitter decides to declare some random act the coolest thing since Jesus brewed chang'aa in Cana, and suddenly you life has taken a turn for the worse and you obsess over that thing for the next month, driving everyone crazy in the process. Until some other random person you follow on Instagram declares pig entrails sautéed in a 2003 Sauvignon Blanc and garnished with parsley-fused real Kenyan kachumbari to be the Meal of the Year and off to the races we go.

We are not immune to this craziness; many of us, especially the active ones online, get influenced to one degree or another by what we read from those we follow or those who follow us on a variety of subjects. How we react to the online peer influence is important; it either helps us understand our world better, or it crushes our spirit and deadens our soul.

There are many in my online community who make authoritative declarations on a range of subjects. I respect some of them well enough to not dismiss their ideas out of hand. But many are the equivalent of the village mad man; they may have the grammar or the chutzpah to say some things, but I seriously question their motives or their intellect, especially when some of them purport to declare with finality that they have the answers to some of the most intractable problems faced by humans: what do men or women want? How do I raise my children? Who was better: Tupac or Biggie?

Do you want to be the one to take advise about the person you care about most from a person you have interacted with only online, who sometimes declares things to be what you know to not be, and who's sanity is in doubt given the vehemence with which they hold onto certain shibboleths close to their hearts? I think not. Life is not, I think, meant to be lived in fear that what someone says may contradict what you know, deny the value of your experience or shatter an illusion that makes your life bearable.

I am not you; you are certainly not me. If I want to listen to Bob Dylan while reading Proust and downing substantial volumes of Kenya Cane, I don't think that your opinion on the subject is valuable or necessary. If you want to call people you disagree with mean names, that is no skin off my nose. You are you; I am me. I will make my choices and whether they make me happy or not, they are not intended to make you happy or seek your approval. You're free to laugh when it all goes tits up so long as I get to do the same when it goes tits up for you. If not, you can block me and I shall return the favour.

Demand the best

Some of my online interlocutors ask why our service industry, apparently vaunted, does not live up to its reputation because of the quality of certain services they have paid for. One of them wonders why when she leaves her vehicle at the mechanic's to be repaired, the quality of service is low; while another wonders how it could take a tailor two weeks to repair a pair of trousers without repairing but ruining it in the end.

One of them has written a book on crowning the customer and his trousers would not be ruined if he recalled the words of wisdom in his book. He shouldn't feel bad about that; few of us raise a ruckus about the poor services we receive. We let it slide. We do not want to cause offence. We do not want to confront someone whom we treat as a friend. I think that is a mistake.

People who work for me or who's services I pay for are not my friends. Ours is a contractual relationship. I don't owe them anything other than their fee; they owe me nothing other than a job well done. If I ask for a cold Heineken and the barman offers me a cold Tusker, I will reject his offering, even if he has opened the bottled and poured me a glass. That is not the service I asked for; I will be damned if I pay for it. If the proprietor of the bar takes the price of the Tusker out of his pocket, so be it: I was not at fault.

If I ask the mechanic to replace the brake pads on my car and he chooses to adjust them instead, I will not pay him for the service. If I ask my tailor to adjust my trousers so that they fit better and instead he tears them apart, I will not only not pay him but I will demand compensation.

Because of our instinct not to cause offence, because of our desire to go along in order to get along, because we do not want to be seen as troublemakers, we are prepared to suffer poor service and petty criminality. It is how supermarkets get away with blatant theft: handing out sweets in lieu of cash as change. Assuming that because of their pricing mechanisms, each transaction requires a three-shilling change, and there are a hundred similar transactions a day, in a supermarket chain with twenty venues, that is a daily theft of six thousand shillings. In a month that is sh 180,000. Petty theft of such scales should piss us off.

One of my online interlocutors, despite the amount of evidence adduced, will keep dealing with a poor service provider because it is the patriotic thing to do. I tried the patriotism route; I ended up on the tarmac in Bujumbura, scared shitless every time the cleaning crew stomped past my seat hauling blue buckets - BUCKETS! - because the hoover "has broken down." Kenya Airways is the choice I will make long after I have worked down the list of alternatives, including Air Bujumbura, Fly540, JamboJet, Precision Air and JetLink - airlines, one and all, that don't overpromise and always underdeliver. With them, there are no nasty surprises.

We must demand excellence for the services we pay for. It is the only way things get better. If we are prepared for mediocre service, simply to save a shilling, we cannot complain about the quality of service we get. Thus, if your mechanic operates in the shade of an acacia tree out in the highway, doesn't seem to have a business licence to his name, asks you to fetch your car before sunset, and will only do a "good" job if you keep a beady eye on him, then, my friend, accept his services and fees at your own risk.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Trouble comes knocking


Yeah, Her! Phone calls. Texts. WhatsApp. Twitter DMs. It all feels like a dream, somewhat. I don't choose my words. I say what I feel, I say what I mean. I hope She does too.

There is a simplicity to it all that is so complex. It means something, I feel. It feels...true. That discombobulates, a bit.

It's 9 O'clock. The power is out, so I don't know if this device will hold out a bit longer. But all that is meaningless because all that occupies the mind is the sense of Her. The fact that after all this time there is much to reveal, much to discover fills me with anticipation. Is this what the Prof and the Doc went through? I don't know. They say very little about that.

Panic. That's the word. Panic. One minute I'm staring at a hundred lines of a draft that I have worked on for months, years. The next minute her face, uncharacteristically hiding behind Ray Ban frames (yes, I noticed) was there and I...panicked. Was something wrong? Why was She there?

Purple. I remember purple. But I don't remember what happened next. Did I tell Her that she looked completely bewitching? I don't know. I know that for three and a half minutes, my heart skipped so many beats that my phone's heart-rate monitor thought that it was a coronary incident. Believe you me, my friends, when I tell you that it was the best two hundred and ten seconds of my life. Bar none. (Maybe not Jamhuri Day, but pretty close.)

Now I am in trouble. Mary, Lilly, Olivia and Maureen have all these fancy ideas about what it all means. Spoilsports! I need time to work out through the fact that I panicked. And then promptly wished for a snifter of the Double Black.

Thank God there are only nineteen of you who read this blog and that all of you are remarkably stoic. If you were the chatty commenting type that would be mortifying. I wonder what you make of my musings? Are there some of you who think, "What an idiot?" Probably. I doubt very much you read these musings and rethink your deeply held convictions. Anyway, I'm in trouble now.

There is a chance that I am now in a headspace where everything tends towards the panicky when it comes to Her. What did you do when your life got upended the way mine has? Did you confide in your BFFs? Did the "gang" weigh in on the pros and cons? I don't know. What I do know is that for once I am putting on the kilos simply because I have no reason to think of the what ifs and the what might bes. That is a good thing, right?

So, there she was, looking all svelte and shit and I was thinking, this room is all women. That can't work. So, after the "What are you doing here" panic, I spirited Her away from the door, hurriedly made perfunctory chit chat, got Her in the lift and then went completely nuts for three or four minutes, cooking up sentences in my mind about who She is, what She means to me and why Olivia, Maureen, Lilly and Mary need not concern themselves with Her and why She smiled so prettily at me. I am so in trouble.

Gods and Kings

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. ~ St Paul's First Epistle to the Church in Corinth, 13:11
What did you make of the spectre of grown-assed men and women in the school uniforms of children, ostensibly making the point that the education of children and the protection of the employment rights of teachers were their stock in trade on that particular Wednesday? It would have been believable if the run-up to that display of juvenility had not been marred by the disturbing image of a grown-assed man with a massive red lollipop in his mouth declaiming with gusto something about his mummy, or the smug refusal by a grown-assed woman to accept that the institution of which she is a member is the principal reason why everyone wants a fat cheque from the government every month, teachers included.

It is stated, over and over, by Kenya's political leadership that their leadership is ordained by God Himself. The people who hearken to the blasphemous words of the politicians should remember Samauel's admonition ot the Israelites when they demanded a king for themselves, like other nations.
10 And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king. 11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. 13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. 14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. 15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. 16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. 18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day. ~ 1 Samuel 8
It is for this reason that when our leaders debase themselves in the agora, offer expiation to false gods, lie with impunity, engage in the most licentious behaviour, and do all this without an ounce of shame, that we must ask ourselves whether we have committed an unspeakable sin against the universe for it to shaft us so royally.

The dispute between teachers and their government offered the opportunity for the self-proclaimed God's Anointed Ones to sit down and reason as adults, not engage in the brinkmanship that children engage in when they are discovering themselves. All the parties involved behaved atrociously, some more than others. Neither will bend because neither thinks of the children or the future; all are thinking only of their embarassment. None of them, as St Paul asks, has put away childish things, including their hubris. We will suffer more because of these "kings" and not even all the gods we pray to will intervene.