Jack's Game

If haven't been following the very entertaining exchange between HBO's John Oliver and the increasingly deranged and/or delusional Jack Warner, you've missed a good chuckle or two.

It's hard to say which guy is funnier: the one who's trying to make us laugh or the one who is doing it unintentionally.

My personal favorite in the exchange is Jack's reply to the video Oliver paid to broadcast in T&T. Not so much because of anything Warner says - much of which is utter nonsense anyway - but because of the background music, which starts out way too loud and seems to get louder until it's drowning out whatever it is Uncle Jack is saying.

Oliver makes good use of the inherent comedic value of Jack mumbling away while the violins crescendo but sadly misses the best, most delicious irony of the whole thing, which is that - according to the composer - Warner stole the music.

“This video was brought to my attention by an email from a concerned fan that recognized my original music in the background,” Greg Dombrowski told The Washington Post. Dombrowski runs Secession Studios in Los Angeles, which most recently composed the music for the “Steve Jobs” film trailer. “Needless to say I was absolutely shocked and appalled that he stole my music to suit his corrupt agenda.”

Dombrowski, a soccer fan and supporter of MLS team LA Galaxy, said he's contacted his legal team to discuss options."

I sympathize with Mr Dombrowski - and what were the odds that of all the composers in the world Jack would lift his music from an MLS fan? - but when you hear Warner accused of stealing, "shock" is not most people's first reaction.

At the time this was taken Warner had already accepted a million dollar Qatari bribe but he needed photos with Obama to use in his political ads. I've always wanted to know how much silverware came up missing after he left.

At the time this was taken Warner had already accepted a million dollar Qatari bribe but he needed photos with Obama to use in his political ads. I've always wanted to know how much silverware came up missing after he left.

However all that that may be, and keeping in mind that Oliver's job is to make people laugh not investigate international criminal conspiracies, his message was nevertheless disappointing because it missed the whole point. By a mile.

Like most writers and bloggers and fans in general, he's focused on Jack's supposed secret cache of documentation regarding Sepp Blatter and how Warner plans on unleashing this "avalanche" (much like the "tsunami" he promised us in 2011 and which we're still waiting for, making this the world's first tsunamilanche) of information which will finally rip the roof off FIFA HQ and lay bare the evil misdeeds of S. Blatter, Proprietor.

Unfortunately, it says here that Oliver - and the rest of us - will be waiting a long, long time.

As in - probably - forever.

The key point here, the thing which you cannot lose track of, is that sitting down there in Port of Spain, reporting in person to the Police station twice a week as the judge ordered him to do, Jack has one goal and one goal only:

Prevent being extradited to the US.

One wag commented that US Attorney General Loretta Lynch has graciously offered to facilitate a Warner family reunion, but since his sons started singing to the FBI to save their own skins it's doubtful even that is much incentive.

The Warner boys in happier times, spending Daddy's money during the World Cup.

The Warner boys in happier times, spending Daddy's money during the World Cup.

In any case Warner knows full well that once he sets foot on US soil the only place he'll be talking with Daryan and Damon is in the visitors room of a US Federal Prison. Jack will be the one in orange.

So while you and I and John Oliver want Jack to spill the beans on FIFA in general and Blatter in particular, Warner has much bigger fish to fry. On the scale of things he currently cares about, nailing Sepp Blatter is pretty low on the list.

In any case, he really doesn't have much of a beef against his former BFF. Warner was forced to resign from FIFA in the face of the Great Trinidad Cash-O-Rama, which was hardly Blatter's fault. It was a clumsy, badly executed bit of hubris, with Jack believing that he could get away with handing out big envelopes full of money more or less in public and nobody would find out.

Instead he got caught red handed and not even Sepp - who after all had arranged for FIFA to, in his words, "forgive" Warner for illegally kiting $5 million in Germany 2006 World Cup tickets in defiance of very specific FIFA rules forbidding such activity - could save him. (Another ExCo member was permanently expelled for selling 12 tickets, Warner sold upwards of 5000.)

In fact, as Warner himself told reporters a couple days ago:

"I worked with Blatter for 30 years. I have a thing called loyalty under any conditions, under any kind of tribulations, whatever of course I may suffer. I know loyalty and therefore when a fella is down or seem to be down, I won't push him down,”

“If (Blatter) is down, I give him a helping hand but there are people in this country and outside who like to demonize people. I am not like that and therefore don't expect me to tell you anything about Blatter or FIFA. I am not like that.”

In any case, Blatter likely has as much on him as he has on Sepp and anything Jack has would likely incriminate both of them anyway. "Here's some evidence that Blatter knew I was taking bribes and let it happen" isn't the kind of thing that will keep Warner out of jail.

But here's the main point, the part that John Oliver misses with his "Let us see the documents" plea:

"The documents" whatever they may or may not be, are all he's got to negotiate with right now. With Lynch, with the T&T government, with FIFA, with Interpol, with whomever else is gunning for him.

Consequently, he's simply not going to hand whatever he has over to some journalists.

But the bigger picture here involves domestic T&T politics; Jack needs the government's protection from the clutches of the US Marshalls, and this is where it gets interesting.

On the off chance that yo don't follow Trinidad & Tobago politics all that closely, the country is currently run by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Her party, the UNC - Jack was the Chairman - took power in 2010 after an election which, frankly, Jack Warner financed pretty much lock stock and barrel.

In return, the PM - who formed a coalition government called the Peoples Partnership (PP) - named Warner to her cabinet, first as Transportation and Works Minister and later as Security Minister while winning his seat from Chaguanas West with 70% of the vote.

Jack was subsequently dumped when the CONCACAF auditor's report came out naming him as a thief, crook and liar. He ended up resigning his seat, forming a new party, the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) and winning the subsequent special election.

Now, as it happens, there's another election coming up in early September, and it's apparently going to be tight. Despite what you may have heard, Warner's new party -which he calls "Green" without the slightest bit of shame or irony - does not poll well nationally and basically consists of him and his wallet. He'll keep his seat but he has no chance of making much impact.


Unless he can slime Persad-Bissessar and her fellows with a bunch of dirt about where their money came from, which is what he's talking about in all those videos. He's not speaking to you, me or John Oliver, he's not threatening Sepp Blatter (who can't help him) and he's sure not talking to the foreign press which is suddenly flocking around him down in Port of Spain.

Rather, everyone down there understands that Jack is threatening Persad-Bissessar and the UNC with exposing some dirty secrets which will get them tossed out of office.

The only times he's mentioning FIFA is when he implies that FIFA sent money to the UNC in 2010. How and why that would have happened is anyone's guess.

(Jack also passed along a bizarre story a day or so ago about him andsomeone else finding a bag with four ounces of "ganja" outside the PM's window. No one is sure what's up with that, except as a kind of shot across her bow.)

Essentially, if all that money which went to all those candidates and was primarily responsible for putting the PP - and himself - in power came from bribes and kickbacks and all the rest of Jack's nefarious crimes, that's a scandal which could easily bring down the government.

And the fact is, as we all know, that's exactly where all that money came from.

As indomitable T&T journalist Lasana Liburd says, "like a cornered cat, he's doing his best impression of a lion."

Warner isn't trying to destroy Sepp Blatter, or FIFA or Chuck Blazer or anyone else.

He's trying to save himself by threatening to bring down the PM if she doesn't protect him.

It's a deadly game, but it's all the game he's got.