Hon. Speaker Tyler, I Told You So

By: James Thomas-Queh

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

September 15, 2016



First, I take my hat off again to Cllr Tiawan Gongloe for his brilliant exposé: “The Evolving Trouble At The Capitol Building – A Threat To Our Collective Security” (www.theperspective.org/2016/0901201602.php).  Your highly professional and credible political and moral voice  has driven Speaker Tyler to take an honourable exit  out of the crisis at the Capitol; thus should ease the threat to our collective security – perhaps.

Oh, I repeat - how Liberia needs just few more Gongloes to steer the future of a nation in search of genuine patriots, unifiers, humble and honest political leaders. At this tender age of 60 today, Cllr, you will be barely 65 in 2021,  I pray that you continue to enlighten and impact this new generation of Liberian youths and at the same, keep the torch burning over the fantastic legacy of our “Progressives”. And I have no doubt that history and time are on your side.


On my recent pilgrimage to Liberia  just few months after the brutal death of Harry Greaves, I expected  this tragic event to have still been the much talk of the town, but it was not. However, there was a sort of ominous atmosphere, and despite the severe financial pinch and tax harassment from the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA),  the beach resorts were relatively customers overcrowded. Well, only once I overheard someone around a beer table adjacent to ours said: “What a great lost” – in reference to Greaves’ death.

On the political front, I witnessed keenly the pre-general elections 2017 manoeuvrings all around. There was this popular code- word   “coalition” . And mind you, not a coalition of the opposition parties against the ruling UP, but  a strategy purely designed to find or co-opt any credible living party onto the empty bandwagon of the moribund Unity Party to resuscitate it  and legitimise  its candidates for 2017.  Of course, it is a near  impossible task; but worse, the main influential proponents of this strategy have no conviction or trust in its viability, and neither do they have any identifiable political party affiliation. Precaution – no one is certain which way the ties would turn when we shall have reached the bridge.

Thus from what I saw, heard and analysed- including the decaying state of the UP, I  returned from Liberia totally convinced  that only a combination of two things could make the UP to ever win the 2017 general elections. First, a massive electoral fraud through the connivance of the NEC and the international community; and second, co-opt the two main living opposition parties – LP and CDC – and in the process, neutralize the others that have the potential to mobilize the populace against any electoral fraud. But for the UP to accomplish this impossible miracle, I deduced that there would have to be lots of “political corpses” along the pre-general elections trail.

By “political corpses” (not dead bodies – God forbids ) I mean those politicians that would be enticed financially, blackmailed, coerced,  tax harassments, etc to change camps. These are the “political dead bodies”, if you will – and the regime is already replete with so many. In other words, entrapping others should not be a problem.

So, when I later heard that the Liberty Party chairman had been appointed as a Minister of State without portfolio, I said: “wow! – the ball has started rolling with a big catch.” Then , as if by a sheer luck, the Sable Mining corruption saga came out of the clear blue sky. And believe me, if the extraordinary speed with which the President reacted to this saga had been the trademark of her government for the last 11 years, I am certain the Liberian people would have offered a third term to the  UP on a silver plate. But that is not the case; the saga, from all indication,  was a mere double-edge sword to kill and bury two at one blow: first, the UP through the indictment of Varney Sherman; and second, the National Legislature went down with Speaker Tyler’s debacle.

But apart from  these two institutions long ago agonized, it is the implication of the  Speaker that interests me the most. Because some months back I wrote an article entitled: “ Merits/Demerits: Analysing Speaker Tyler’s Recent Assertion, Actions and Speech (www.theperspective.org/2016/0125201601.php). After playing the devil’s advocate  -  lavishing praises at the Speaker for his courage to stand  up to the power that be and his ingenuity to make money and create jobs -  I gave him the following  advices and warnings:

1) On his spectacular departure from the UP, here was my advice and warning: “I regret that the Speaker did not reform or transform the Unity Party from the moment he suspected it of not being at the service of the people and nation. I have said before that the  forming of multitude of “personalized” political parties is not too health for a nascent democracy….

“Notwithstanding, the Honourable Speaker having departed the UP, and under the same breadth charged its Chairman, Hon. Varney Sherman, of being a coward and a bold face liar – he must certainly know some important secrets or have a razor in the bottom of his shoe – to plunge the UP into a total schizophrenia and final demise. But if he should fail, I doubt whether his party could even reach 2017 in whole or as a skeleton (author’s note)”.

Well, the irony is that the both men are now sitting on the same bench, accused and indicted of an alleged corruption. Apparently the Speaker had nothing in the bottom of his shoe, but so, so breeze.  As for its part, the UP died a natural death and was officially buried on July 7, 2016, at a colourful convention similar to the last one of the TWP just before April 12, 1980. As for the Speaker’s new party, I suspect it may not to be too far from the coma level.

2) About the Speaker’s new established business empire, I cautioned him as follows: “Furthermore, the Honourable Speaker has broken an hypocritical moral taboo, that enrichment through the state largess and corruption is acceptable when that wealth is displayed ostentatiously and reinvested to save the same citizens left in destitute. But if the Speaker – instead of branching off quietly into a prosperous business magnet – wants to use the same wealth to lead the Liberian people; then I think he must be pushing his luck little to far beyond the accepted moral bound. Because he might find it difficult to prove how different – if not worst – would he be from a regime that enriched him on the backs of a starving population…(author’s note)”.

At the beginning of this government a good friend asked me what position I wanted. I replied that my only desire was to do business. Disappointed, the man reminded me that in Africa business and politics were inseparable – and even in democracy.  This fact, I am certain, could  not have been lost on the mind of Speaker Tyler, the wise and audacious politician he seeks to portray. So, as one of his ardent defenders, I am eagerly awaiting to read his first business financial report: profits, number of employees and  how many tax agents of the LRA have visited  his “Jandy’s Paradise”  from the time  the President snubbed the   invitation to the dedication  of the “Paradise” up to the Sable Mining corruption saga? 

But whatever the case Mr. Speaker, you have fought a good fight, and I think your unexpected stand has awakened  the moral consciousness of the National Legislature. So, here is my last advice: if I were  you, I would take this occasion and resign honourably from the speakership; cut your losses while it is still time.


While the circus that unfolded at the Capital may have reinforced our nascent democracy, it is also amazing that such schemes  of diversion - replayed so many times to divert attention from major national problems – have succeeded each time. True, there is always an immediate public uproar, suspicion and conspiracy theories but when quickly subside, the country is still further down the slop.   Why has this sort of public attitude become so prevalent, differs from our normal ostrich mentality?

Some of the reasons  already known can be condensed  in these new fashionable phrases: “What goes around, comes around; John’s palm oil wastes on John’s rice, and Your sins shall follow you”. What is defined in these phrases too are the characters and personalities of the targets which make them the easy preys (or soft-targets) to take the blames for the regime’s failures.

Let us look at some examples in the first instant. If Speaker Tyler who probably came from nowhere, brought to fame by the UP regime; overthrew the first Speaker;  become a new-rich over night; formed a new party with arrogance, etc - is brought down and ridiculed by the same regime – there should be no much tears as ‘What goes around, comes around. “ If  Senator Varney Sherman, Liberia’s top lawyer (born in the courtroom), uncontested chairman of the UP, who took the airwaves quickly to condemn the TRC report as unconstitutional;  declared publicly to put his vote and money to where “his interest is” (and not necessarily to a program and conviction of the presidential candidate), but only to turn around and publicly accuse his government of corruption (July 26 oration 2013), and then again told poor university graduates  that the country led by his own UP for almost 11 years is practically bankrupt – so,  hauled before the court and indicted for an alleged corruption by the same government – that illustrates a perfect ‘John’s palm oil waste on John’s rice.’ If Harry Greaves, one among the principal actors that helped to topple the Doe regime, and the civil war that ensued and its known end result; a principal loyalist, architect and beneficiary of the current regime, but who turned around and tried to reveal the secrets of our well protected ‘Zoe Bush’ to make himself the new voice of the poor masses – unfortunately and sadly, we are told, he went swimming at night (imagine!) and drowned -suicide. For most Liberians then this is not a mere fate of destiny, but simply “ Your sins shall follow you.” And poor Michael Allison - the son of Doe’s fearful Minister of Defence, Gray D. Allison - would forget his illustrious lineage and put his trust and month in a system he knew nothing about to become the first famous whistle blower of Liberia. Drowned; his demise brought to light how Liberian officials – traditionally  not fond of water -are now addicted to night swimming.

The first lesson for our future politicians from the examples illustrated above is to remind them that Liberians do not forget; they are certainly forgiven by nature.  Unfortunately, there is no room for forgiveness under this regime. Worse, not only that the government is parked with disloyal, back-stabbing and arrogant  troupe of officials, but also they are so far away and totally disconnected from the rest of the  struggling population.  As a result, no one would want to venture to the guillotine to save any official or anyone perceived as gravitating around the fabulous  state largess.

Is this to mean that one can not quit a democratic government and later become its most outspoken critic? Yes, you can – but, first get in with a strong conviction and integrity and leave on time with both intact; second, make sure your back is clean 99% ,  at least; and third, then you can be assured of an attentive and loyal audience and not paid  followers. Anything short of that, it is better to stay in or leave and keep your mouth shut – loyalty obliged.

The second lesson for our future politicians is to do away with  the shifting-blame syndrome - creating scapegoats constantly to cover up our inherent inaptitude to confront and solve our national problems or correct our errors. It is evident that every target in the mentioned examples has some perfume of a blame on his head – either for exposing the “kafu” or simply be made  the big  bogeyman to shoulder the responsibility for national policies failures. Unfortunately,  our country has been a victim of this blame trick for a considerable long time. Below are some of our landmark satanic verses to serve a reminder:

Well, I bet after 2017 we would definitely add: “ What the President, a Nobel laureate, did not accomplish, we can never achieve it.” This may sound like a joke,  but it is sad to say that our country has been run more like  a chronic alcoholic who constantly puts his problems into the liquor bottles, and fails to acknowledge that he has any problem, including the liquor. Of course, whenever he gets a bit sober, the reality still hits him harder in the face,  bigger  and more complicated; then he quickly reverts to the old habits – deeper into the bottle. And the cycle continues.

How to relieve our nation of this burden is  our challenge now and the future. And the problem may not necessarily be our institutions, but the integrity, character and personality of our leaders.

Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah
Mr. Queh,

It is people like you who disseminate misinformation. Your very silly claim here that: Gongloe´s "exposee" is what "has driven Speaker Tyler to exit out of the crisis at the Capitol"; proves you are not only silly but you are a LIAR!

Now read Gongloe´s conclusion which could in no way have prompted or driven Speaker Tyler to have recused himself; but in fact, was simply telling the Speaker, constitutionally, it is your right and power not to recuse yourself, for the Anti- Tyler group, their, acts and omissions are totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!:::

"According to the Constitution of Liberia the Speaker is the head of the House of Representatives. The Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and other officers so elected may be removed from office for cause by resolution of a two thirds majority of the members of the House.” It should be noted that the Constitution did not use the indefinite article “a” when referring to the Speaker as presiding officer. Instead it used the definite article “the” when referring to the Speaker as presiding officer of the House. This means that under the Constitution of Liberia, there can only be one presiding officer. The Constitution provides for a Deputy Speaker and not an alternative speaker. Therefore, the Deputy Speaker cannot concurrently perform any of the duties of the Speaker of the House. He is the deputy to the Speaker as the nomenclature of the position clearly states."

"In the light of what have been discussed in this article, it is the view of the author that it is unconstitutional for any member of the Government of Liberia, acting in his or her official capacity to do business with the group of members of the House of Representatives that is meeting under the gavel of the Deputy Speaker." Tiawan Gongloe

AGAIN, Mr. Queh, Tiawan Gongloe was simply telling the Speaker, constitutionally, it is your right and power not to recuse yourself, for as is the case with the Anti- Tyler group itself, so it is with, their acts and omissions ALL OF WHICH are totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!:::

Next time if you want to give yourself self praise or your "I told you so" YOU SHOULD THINK BEFORE WRITING ; AND NOT THE REFVERSE!

Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah at 06:23AM, 2016/09/17.
sylvester moses
I agree with Mr. ZoeJallah or whomsoever that the Counselor Gongloe piece didn't influence the decision of Speaker Tyler. Frankly, it was baffling that the admired pro bono lawyer, and Human Rights advocate would disregard case law, precedents, and legislative practices in the US (which constitution and laws Liberia mimics) to cite an incident in Iceland, and then wallow in the following:

"Many persons, including this author, hold the view that whenever there is a cloud over the integrity of a public figure, such as Speaker Tyler, the most honorable thing to do is to recuse himself".

Without presuming to know what the brother meant by "cloud over integrity of a public figure", it seems by that reasoning most of the powers that be should have been recused from certain duties. Of course, such rationalizations, though well intended, feed into the authoritarianism of the present bad governance.

Notwithstanding our contrasting views regarding the take of Counselor Gongloe, I concur with the inferences and conclusion of Dr. James Thomas Queh. His article demonstrates an uncanny grasp of the trials ahead for Liberia. And if our country should successfully tip toe around the land mines of 2017, we would need sober analyses like his.
sylvester moses at 12:19PM, 2016/09/18.
Mathew Queh
I found a very interesting as we continue to discuss our political dilemma in this information age.However,
I hope that we stop the name calling when we read some else opinion of what he or she wrote.We can disagreed. Mr.Zeo
Jalleh calling Mr.Queh a liar, silly and disseminate misinformation in the article he wrote is inappropriate .I hope, if Mr.Jalleh can go back to fully analysis the two articles I do believe he will take back the names calling.
Mathew Queh at 09:54PM, 2016/09/18.
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah

Iceland’s embattled prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, has become the first major casualty of the Panama Papers, stepping aside from his office amid mounting public outrage that his family had sheltered money offshore.

What was planned as a mass protest in Reykjavik on Tuesday evening turned to muted satisfaction as demonstrators vented their anger following revelations that Gunnlaugsson once owned – and his wife still owns – an offshore investment company with multimillion-pound claims on Iceland’s failed banks.

“We were hoping parliament would be dissolved,” said Steingrimur Oli Einarsson, a fish oil trader, one of a few hundred to brave a freezing northeasterly wind on parliament square in downtown Reykjavik.

“Of course we’re happy the prime minister has stepped down. But we are not satisfied with who is taking over from him, and with the fact that the government itself is still there.”
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Gunnlaugsson’s office said in a statement that he was not resigning, but “handing over the office of prime minister for an unspecified time” to Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, the agriculture and fisheries minister.

Gunnlaugsson was “very proud” of his success resurrecting Iceland’s economy after the 2008 financial crisis, the statement said, and “especially proud of his government’s handling of ... the creditors of the failed Icelandic banks”.

Outside parliament, Sigrin Eiroksdottir, a pre-school teacher, said the occasion “doesn’t really feel like any kind of victory. There is so much still to put right in this country in terms of ethics, of how the world looks at us.”

Lara Gardarsdottir, an illustrator, said: “It’s good news he’s resigned, yes. But we need far more drastic change. We’re left with the same gang in charge. And the guy who’s replacing the prime minister, a couple of days ago he was saying he saw nothing wrong in what he’d done.”

The move still requires the formal approval of both the junior partner in the centre-right coalition government, the Independence party, and Iceland’s president, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, and a snap election is still a possibility.
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The country’s leftwing opposition parties, who earlier this week presented a motion of no confidence in the government, said they were by no means satisfied. “It is clear our demand for new elections still stands,” the Left Green party leader, Katri­n Jakobsdottir, said.

The prime minister, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, had earlier sought to remain in office by asking to dissolve parliament and call new elections. But after the president turned him down, the prime minister met senior Progressive party officials and reportedly suggested himself that he step down.

The Independence party leader, finance minister Bjarni Benediktsson, whose name also appeared in the leaked documents in connection with a Seychelles-based company of which he once owned a third, was holding talks with Grímsson, who flew back early from the US to sound out all of Iceland’s parliamentary party representatives as the island’s political crisis deepened on Tuesday.
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Thousands demonstrate in Reykjavik calling for PM’s resignation – video

The leaked documents from the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama reveal Gunnlaugsson and his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir, bought a British Virgin Islands-based offshore company, Wintris Inc, in December 2007 to invest her share of the very substantial proceeds from the sale of her father’s business, Iceland’s only Toyota importer.

Gunnlaugsson sold his 50% stake to his wife for a symbolic $1 at the end of 2009, eight months after he was elected to parliament as an MP for the centre-right Progressive party. He failed, however, to declare an interest in the company either then or when he became prime minister in 2013.

His office has said his shareholding was an error due simply to the couple having a joint bank account and that it had “always been clear to both of them that the prime minister’s wife owned the assets”. The transfer of ownership was made as soon as this was pointed out, a spokesman said. The prime minister also denies he was required to declare an interest.

The Guardian has seen no evidence to suggest tax avoidance, evasion or any dishonest financial gain on the part of Gunnlaugsson, Pálsdóttir or Wintris.

Gunnlaugsson’s office said in the statement that the couple had provided “detailed answers to questions” about the Wintris assets, which they had “never sought to hide”. The holdings had been reported as an asset on Pálsdóttir’s income tax returns since 2008 and all relevant taxes had been paid accordingly in Iceland, it said. No parliamentary disclosure rules had been broken.

But Gunnlaugsson’s political opponents and many ordinary Icelanders, more than 10,000 of whom staged a first mass protest outside parliament on Monday night, have been outraged at what many see as an attempt by their prime minister – even if he has done nothing illegal – to hide money offshore.
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Iceland’s prime minister walks out of interview over tax haven question – video

Such allegations are particularly incendiary in Iceland, which was brought almost to its knees in the financial crisis of 2008 by the recklessness of a small group of bankers and businessmen – several of whom are now in jail – who used offshore companies to conceal their dealings in high-risk financial products.

Plunged into a deep depression from which it has only recently recovered, Iceland had to be bailed out by the International Monetary Fund. It also introduced strict capital controls on the amount of money that could be taken out of the country – another reason why the question of offshore holdings inflames Icelandic opinion.

Gunnlaugsson is also accused of a serious conflict of interest for failing to disclose his involvement with the company.

Wintris held millions of pounds worth of bonds in Landsbanki, Glitnir and Kaupthing, the three big Icelandic banks that collapsed in the crisis with liabilities of more than 10 times the country’s GDP – and whose bankruptcies the prime minister’s government was responsible for overseeing.
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Opponents are also angered by what many Icelanders see as hypocrisy: Gunnlaugsson rose to power as part of a grassroots group called In Defence of Iceland, pledging to protect the country from its “vulture” foreign creditors and relieve the burden on ordinary Icelanders – and stressing how important it was to keep Icelandic assets in Iceland.

On Tuesday even members of Gunnlaugsson’s own party called for him to resign. City councillors from his own constituency of Akureyri said he should step down over what they described as a crisis of confidence.

Opposition MPs are much more outspoken. “People just feel humiliated and very, very angry,” said Birgitta Jónsdóttir of the radical Pirate party, which opinion polls currently estimate is the country’s largest with the support of between 35% and 42% of the electorate.

“After what happened to this country in 2008 we needed honesty, transparency and integrity from our leaders,” Jónsdóttir told the Guardian. “None of these things have been evident in this whole story.”

Árni Páll Árnason, leader of the opposition Social Democratic Alliance, said Gunlaugsson’s position was simply no longer tenable.

“I think it’s obvious that we cannot tolerate a leadership that is linked to offshore holdings,” Árnason said. “Iceland cannot be the only western European democratic country with a political leadership in this position.”
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Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah at 02:25AM, 2016/09/19.
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah
Mr. Matthew Queh,

Diversed views and opposed opinions must tally with the facts! Mr. James Thomas-Quehś views and opinions failed misserably vis a vis his obligation to meet-up with such standard. Evidencing such failure on the part of Mr. Thomas-Queh is seen in this conclusion by, through, and of Mr. Tiawan Gongloe:

"In the light of what have been discussed in this article, it is the view of the author that it is unconstitutional for any member of the Government of Liberia, acting in his or her official capacity to do business with the group of members of the House of Representatives that is meeting under the gavel of the Deputy Speaker."

Now pray tell us, Mr.Matthew Queh, how does such conclusion above from Mr. Gongloes tally with Mr. James Thomas-Quehś conclusion that: Gongloeś"exposee" is what "has driven Speaker Tyler to exit out of the crisis at the Capitol"?
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah at 03:45AM, 2016/09/19.
j. yanqui


I think this is the statement Mr. James Thomas-Queh commented on.

"This conclusion has nothing to do with whether or not the right thing for Speaker Tyler to do was to recuse himself. Many persons, including this author hold the view that whenever there is a cloud over the integrity of a public figure, such as Speaker Tyler, the most honorable thing to do is to recuse himself/herself. For example, not long ago, the Prime Minister of Iceland, resigned his post when his name appeared in the Panama documents. He did not wait for a conclusion of the investigation to say whether he was guilty or innocent. But, this high standard held by public office-holders in other parts of the world is, unfortunately, not a common practice in Liberia."


J. Yanqui Zaza

j. yanqui at 03:47AM, 2016/09/19.
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah
Hi in return, Mr. J. Yanqui Zaza,

it is said in a Navajo proverb, that "one cannot wake another who is pretending to be sleeping." Do not waste your time to defend James Thomas-Quest who has been caught in his dishonesty as a result of his vain quest to give himself an undeserved ("I told you so") self-praise.

In other words, please take into account that the author, a lawyer, says "this CONCLUSION has nothing to do with whether or not the right thing for the Speaker to do was to recuse himself".

In other words, that "STATEMENT" is or was a MERE DICTA - an opinion which DOES NOT embody the resolution or determination of the specific case before the court.

Hence, Mr. Yankui, with the specific case at bar and indeed, THE CONCLUSION of the author being THE CONSTITUTIONALITY of the Speaker refusing to step aside as argued by the author both in letter and spirit; it becomes a deliberate MISREPRESENTATION for not only Mr. James Thomas-Queh but also anyone who claims that: the author´s(Gongloe´s) "exposee" was what "has driven Speaker Tyler to take an honourable exit out of the crisis at the Capitol"!

And if we should go by the author´s argument and or conclusion, SUCH CONCLUSION AND ARGUMENT fundamentally strengthened the then resolve of the Speaker to reject stepping aside, since according to the spirit and letter of both the author´s conclusion and argument, both the group calling for his recusal, and their acts and or omissions were all illegal, illegitimate, and unconstitutional!

The truth of the matter as far as logic and the facts are concerned here is that Mr. James Thomas-Queh simply decided to hide behind such dicta or irrelevance to give himself his vain self praise of "I told you so"! And this is inter alia what made him a LIAR!

Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah at 01:14AM, 2016/09/20.
James Thomas-Queh
Mr. Zoedjallah,

Thanks for reading so intensely only the first paragraph of my article. I regret the "progressives" hate, hypertension and spell that it might have brought upon you; and much so that you have never gotten out of the trance to read the article in toto. And for the lawyer you pretend to be (vain self praises too, perhaps) that could constitute a serious professional handicap.

Leaving you with that advice Mr. Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah, I have no doubt that using only the pen to express our hate, anger, insults and respect for the opinions of others, our emerging democracy shall survive.
Keep up your commentaries.
James Thomas-Queh at 04:07AM, 2016/09/20.
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah
Mr. James Thomas-Queh,

Deceivers usually write or speak in generalities. Our advice to you is you desist from such bad behavior. You believe by mixing some truths with some lies, your objective or intent to deceive is bound to prove successful.

Why would one not "read so intensely the first paragraph of your article" when your views, opinions, and what motivates or motivated those views and opinions of yours (the recusal of the Speaker) are fundamentally based or grounded in the first paragraph of the very article of yours!?

Our advice to you is you desist from such bad behavior!! That said, my friend; if branding us as "haters" etc. is the price we have to pay for "using the pen" to debunk the lies or collarborative acts of whether "progressives" or reactionaries, conservatives,or de facto mercenairies, then we accept such branding as a badge of honor!

Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah at 04:55AM, 2016/09/22.

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