March 2007 Archives

Today's announcement that Government is dumping $1,000,000 to revive indigent sports clubs like Somerset Bridge Recreation Club (main article not online) - while promising more welfare over time - surely confirms that entitlement and dependency is in the eye of the beholder.

Can't afford medical help? You're on your own. If you're struggling to find a place to live and request financial assistance you're contributing to a culture of entitlement, but if you need somewhere to kick a ball they'll 'invest in sport'.

Buying votes isn't cheap you know. The pre-election spending spree continues...

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Can someone tell Gwyneth that politics isn't high school. Picking a party leader and potential premier isn't something from an episode of Sweet Valley High.

"I remember specifically saying to him (Wayne), David Dodwell is not your friend. His response to me was ‘you don’t know what you are talking about’".

David is indeed Wayne's friend, one of his longest and closest, but he made the difficult choice to put the island's best interests above his friendship with Wayne, as did others. I know it was hard for them all, because Wayne is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.

And Michael Dunkley was never 'out to get Wayne'. Michael is the ultimate team player. That isn't to say he isn't without ambition and hungered to be leader, but Wayne's collapse in support was due to his own leadership faults.

And, did Gwyneth ever give a thought to how Wayne got to be party leader? By taking out his friend Grant Gibbons.

And she calls Wayne naive? Please.

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Wayne Furbert's resignation speech:

The last couple of months have been challenging for the United Bermuda Party and especially me as its leader.

All of my life, all I have ever wanted, is what is best for the people of Bermuda.

I have worked day and night to make Bermuda a better place, reaching out to others and showing them that someone does care.

I am proud of who I am.

I also believe there is a season for everything:

A season to cry,

A season to lift up,

A season to tear down and

A season to let go.

This particular season for me has come to an end.

After a great deal of consideration and reflection with my friends and family, I have decided that the best way forward for the United Bermuda Party is for me to step aside.

Therefore, I am tendering my resignation as leader of the United Bermuda Party, effective March 31, 2007.

I want to emphasize that I take this step for one reason only:

I want the best for the people of Bermuda, and with all this uncertainty it cannot happen.

The United Bermuda Party is not perfect.

But for all its faults, I believe in my heart that it offers this Island the best hope for a unified and positive future.

Although I am disappointed by this turn of events, I am comforted by the fact that I have always put Bermuda first, that I have the support of my family and that I am guided by a higher wisdom.

You see we have this treasure called Bermuda, and the reason I fight on is because of it and not because of my own self-gratification.

Although I have been troubled on every side, I am not distressed.

Although I am perplexed, I am not in despair.

I have been persecuted, but I know that I have not been forsaken.

I have been cast down but I have not been destroyed.

I know that many of my family, friends and supporters are hurting.

Many of them have called me and said that they are angry, and that they want to get even by not supporting the United Bermuda Party.

I ask you not to let your anger cause you to seek revenge.

If you wish to get even, then get even by showing those individuals that you are bigger than they are, and that you do not play by their rules.

If you wish to get even, then help me heal this country.

If you wish to get even, then help me tear down the remaining walls of racial discrimination, bigotry and intolerance.

If you wish to get even, then help me build a healthier country for all our people, so that our children can live free and in equality.

If you want to get even, then live out the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King by standing with me and saying hate only begets hate.

The cause to fight on is greater than Wayne Furbert.

Keep my dream alive by helping me to fight for homes for those who are homeless.

Keep my dream alive by helping me fight for lower health care costs for our seniors.

Keep my dream alive by helping me turn around the education system for our children.

Keep my dream alive by helping me improve our democratic process, and making parliamentarians more accountable to the people.

I look forward to the opportunities ahead to continue to serve the people of Bermuda and the people of Hamilton West.

My faith in this country and our people is as strong and as positive as ever. I love Bermuda, and I will always be ready and willing to serve.

I would like to leave you with one thought that has always carried me through difficult times, and it is from The Good Book.

“And we know that all things work together for the GOOD to them that love the Lord, and are called according to His purpose.”

Whatever my future, thou has taught me to say it is well; it is well with my soul.

For the last time as Leader of The Opposition, I would like say:

May God bless you and may God bless Bermuda.

Thank you.

March 29, 2007

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Wayne Furbert has announced that he is resigning as UBP leader effective tomorrow.

More to come when I know it.

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A reader writes:

I've never written to your blog before but thought you'd find what I just saw speeding down the road perhaps amusing (in the same way one finds children playing dress up amusing) or concerning (as I do).

I was driving west at 7:30 this evening (Wed. 28 March) on S. Shore Road, just as I was passing the Pokiok entrance guess who went past me at about 50 or 60 mph (no kidding) guessed it, our premier in GP1 which comes complete with not only a flag on the hood, driver and flashing strobe headlights but now also a black CRV in front with matching blue strobe's the tiny faux presidential motorcade...funny except for the speed (and the utter disregard for walkers, joggers, kids on bikes etc who are using the PUBLIC road at that hour) and the fact we pay for all this BS.


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A reader sends in a surefire sign that the election is imminent:

"They just repaved middle road through de doc's constituency"

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Just as a quick follow-up to my post on today's poll, someone pointed out to me something that hasn't got any play in the Gazette's analysis (not online for some reason) of the results: while Wayne Furbert's favourability has bounced back to September 2006 levels, his unfavourability exceeds his favourability:

:: 37.9% have a favourable impression
:: 42.1% have an unfavourable impression

So while the headline is "Furbert's popularity surges", the more relevant stat is that despite his bounce back in favourability, more people have a negative opinion than a positive one.

That is no formula for success.

Regardless, the poll doesn't change much, Wayne's time is up.

As confirmation of why Wayne, as nice a guy as he is and as much as I like him, just isn't cut out to be party leader and a potential Premier, it's this line from the Bermuda Sun today:

When we spoke to him by phone, he sang a song, said he was all right, but also said: "My fate is not in my hands."

He "sang a song." Time for a change.

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I'm not a fan of the Zimbabwe/Bermuda parallels, but I can't resist on this one.

In Zimbabwe they actually arrest members of the opposition, in Bermuda, David Burch threatens to...

I suppose this is one instance where we should be thankful that our Government is all talk and no action.

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Two things come into play today on the UBP's leadership saga:

1) The Royal Gazette runs poll results showing a bounce back in favourability for Wayne Furbert, but the numbers still aren't that great. [More on the poll later. Contrary to the campaign to present the PLP under Dr. Brown as overwhelmingly popular and the UBP in total disarray, the PLP's lead is barely outside of the margin of error.]

2) UBP MP Neville Darrell has come out backing Maxwell Burgess for leader. While the rule in politics is to expect the unexpected, I really can't see this one coming to fruition after Maxwell was dismissive of his UBP colleagues only a couple of months ago and undermined the party's re-election prospects with his comments. That's not quite the way to generate support for a leadership challenge. But it does make things a little messier.

Regardless, it's time to wrap this up. This can't go on into the weekend. There needs to be a resolution by Friday.

But I just can't see Wayne hanging on. I think they're past that point. The question now is who will take over.

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Yet again, I was polled last night, by Total Marketing and Communications, in what is presumably the Government's regular Omnibus poll, although this poll was quite a bit shorter than the usual ones from TMC, so it does make me wonder if it was a special order with a focus on health care. It was also free of much of the extraneous commercial questions that businesses tack on to the Omnibus poll.

One question that did jump out at me (not word for word):

"Are you aware of the existence of the Government's Medical Clinic?"

"Have you ever used, or taken someone to use, the Government clinic?"

Hmmmm. Government's polling (albeit briefly) the Medical Clinic.

But here's a question, if it's used mostly by those with limited financial resources and those who are homeless, won't any poll results be skewed away from those without a phone?

And...doesn't the Government already know exactly how many people use the clinic. Just count the files.

Anyway, I'm not sure what the significance of the question was, but it was interesting that it was included in a poll when we've been repeatedly told that it's a done deal.

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The slow-mo leadership challenge at the UBP continues, with a meeting last night of MPs and the Party Chairperson ending with no definitive resolution.

I said a few days ago, when the current challenge became public, that the MPs should end the uncertainty and either replace Wayne or not. I still believe that to be the case, particularly with an election almost certain to be called within the next 2-3 months, however now that the process has been set in motion, a couple more days isn't going to make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. It's important to get this one right.

The past few years have seen any number of leadership challenges in both the PLP and UBP, which probably is ultimately a good thing as the parties work through some albeit messy internal matters, with the UBP trying not to do it in (too) public of a way. Watching the Jennifer Smith/Alex Scott/Ewart Brown battle play out publicly made for great spectator sport but plenty of hard feelings.

What UBP Chairperson Shawn Crockwell said today is true: the UBP's leadership process is more difficult as an Opposition, because their numbers are smaller than when they were the Government. With a disproportionately low number of seats versus popular vote (down to 13 after Jamahl Simmons' departure) out of a reduced Parliament (single-seats took it to 36), the numbers involved in selecting the leader are quite small and in the absence of a clear successor it makes it hard for one person to command a meaningful majority.

Unlike the PLP which had a clear potential challenger to Jennifer Smith (current Premier Dr. Brown), the UBP don't have a clear front-runner but a number of people who would be good leaders - if they wanted the position (something that is often overlooked when putting forward the potential successors).

And as we saw with the PLP and Dr. Brown, dislodging a party leader can take time and can need a gentle touch, not brute force as Dr. Brown's wing tried in 2003 to poor results.

While the results under Wayne's leadership haven't been great, he is a longstanding and valuable member of the party who deserves to be treated with respect and dignity in any challenge to his leadership.

So while some have suggested a single challenger should step up and directly challenge, that's not really the UBP way - and if there is one lesson that the UBP MPs probably learned over the past few months, it's that if someone feels mistreated then they can cause a whole lotta hurt (Maxwell Burgess).

So in my mind they're rightly moving slowly but deliberately towards resolution, which while seen as a 'split' may not be that absolute.

People who are drawn to the UBP tend to be collaborative not combative (versus Dr. Brown's adversarial approach both inside and outside of his party); they work to build consensus even on controversial topics - evolution not revolution - an approach that I think tends to ultimately produce the best results.

Collaboration is the culture of the UBP since its inception, it had to be in drawing together historically divergent groups; the PLP's more monolithic base proposed revolution while the UBP's coalition proposed more gradual change ("Make haste slowly", a UBP leader's phrase that Alex Scott took a liking to in his waning weeks).

So I'm not entirely surprised things are unfolding the way they are. It's taking a little longer than some would like (although Wayne never had a strong position), and does offer the opportunity for the press to feast on the apparent indecision (even the so-called "UBP-owned" Royal Gazette).

But I fully expect this to resolved in the next several days with a new leader, and if that's what it takes to keep Wayne on board as a candidate for the next election then it's worth it.

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Well that didn't take long.

Only 5 months into his time as Premier, the Doc reaches for and takes a gulp from the poison independence chalice. Take a big long draw I say.

What is it about independence? The lure seems just too great doesn't it.

But I can't get over how insulting the Premier was towards the vast majority of Bermudians who are opposed to Independence: we just need to be educated. You see, if you don't agree with Dr. Brown and the PLP elite you're uneducated and ignorant; incapable of weighing the information yourself and reaching the pragmatic conclusion that there's nothing in it for us, just the politicians.

So go ahead Dr. Brown. Hang that albatross around your neck.

They never learn do they?

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Today's installment from Matthew Taylor's 3 month serial on the UBP leadership saga makes it pretty clear that time has run out for Wayne Furbert.

You don't have to be able to read between the lines to see that.

I imagine he won't last out the weekend.

I'm disappointed for Wayne as I know that this was a position he personally aspired to, and that he genuinely wanted to do good things for Bermuda and cut through the polarisation.

And like any party leader Wayne has his deficiencies, which have been well discussed, but he never seemed to grow into the position and exert the strong hand that was needed over the past 6 months.

So while I'm saddened for Wayne personally, I'm optimistic for the party.

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Just a reminder that 5PM today is the deadline for objections to the draft SDO at Southlands to be received by the Department of Planning.

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If today's story by Matthew Taylor in the Royal Gazette is accurate, I have only one thing to say to the UBP MPs:

Either pull the trigger or put down the weapon.

And when you do decide, can someone let Matthew know once and for all. He's having a ball over all the uncertainty.

Uncertainty is bad. End it now, either way.

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KJAZ 98.1FM (said in a deep baritone please) has asked me to let you know that the topic on today's talk show with Civil Service chief Kenneth Dill is anything related to voter registration and Parliamentary procedures.

If you've got a question you'd like answered then Mr. Dill is the man, not "The Man", but the man today.

1PM - 2PM is the time slot on 98.1FM.

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Business Week has an interesting look at how the land crunch in and around Tokyo has inspired some architects to come up with some innovative designs.

Make sure to view the slide show.

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A reader, and lawyer, chimes in on the implications of the opposition to the Southlands development by senior civil servants in the Ministry of the Environment and the Department of Conservation:

This morning's news that both the Department of Planning's and the Department of Environmental Protection's officers have opined that the Southlands development is undesirable and not in the best interests of Bermuda may turn out to be quite a thorn in Government's side.

The Premier, who has been swanning around with the developers and generally treated like royalty has repeatedly talked publicly in terms that suggest that the development will simply be rubber-stamped. The civil servants' reports to the Minister on behalf of their respective departments could be just what the objectors need to hang their hats on to launch a legal challenge, however. Although the Minister has a discretion to approve the development, either by way of the normal planning process (on appeal from a rejection by the DAB) or by way of an SDO, administrative law dictates that her discretion is fettered by the proviso that he decision be reasonable.

In a legal context, 'reasonable' has a specific meaning - a decision is unreasonable if it is such that no Minister could have reasonably come to it. It's a high standard for objectors to meet, to be sure, but when you consider that the only information that the Minister has to rely on is that supplied by government officers, who are clearly opposed to the development, there is certainly a reasonable argument to be made that any approval of the development would be perverse and, therefore, unreasonable in a legal sense. What this space - this could end up being very, very sticky for Government and put them in a tight corner...........

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I'm just getting back into the swing of things after spending the better part of the past two weeks in airplanes, and I do have a few things that I'd like to catch up on that I think deserve some attention.

But in the meantime, there was a great article in the LA Times about the impact that blogs can have on driving issues into the main stream media.

The specific example is how Josh Marshall's blog, Talking Points Memo, easily the blog I'm most addicted to, was the main medium that dug out the huge story in the US right now over the firing of US Attorneys.

The second half of the article included a section that I felt sums up pretty well what I try and do over here - that is write opinion not journalism.

So while I certainly come at things from a specific angle, my potential biases are declared, whereas those in the traditional media can be much more subtle and undeclared (take the Bermuda Sun's rather rapid swing lately towards unadulterated fawning of the PLP in their news articles - more on that in a subsequent post).

Here's a few paragraphs that capture political blogging versus journalism pretty well:

The blogs that have captured the most attention are those that devote themselves mainly to politics and public affairs. These are almost always run by partisans of one side or the other. In that, they are nearly the opposite of the sort of coverage presented in traditional media, whose coverage at least attempts to be neutral on questions of policy.

This neutrality is a favorite target of bloggers who say that mainstream journalism objectivity disguises hidden biases of the form, if not the writer. The bloggers contend that these biases can render neutrality into bland, even neutered reporting that rewards those intent on manipulating it.

Many critiques from both sides of the blogging-MSM divide are accurate, if sometimes misplaced. The chief criticisms of blogging from defenders of the MSM are, one, the pajama charge — that is, bloggers are not professional journalists and don't do much reporting (thus the image of them sitting at home in their pajamas) — and, two, the incivility charge, that many bloggers use impolite language.

Most bloggers, in fact, are not journalists and do little if any reporting. But most bloggers don't claim to be journalists. They're bloggers. The incivility charge is true too. Many bloggers use bad language, but so occasionally does the New Yorker, and no one accuses it of lacking manners.

I try not to use bad language, but I can be impolite at times.

And, as a reminder, my declared intent here is to "Inform, amuse, provoke"...with "provoke" in the sense of not merely aggravating people - although my opinions clearly can have that effect on some of the blind followers - but as in provoking thought.

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I never spent any time at, but I've been told the forums are no longer available.

In light of that someone who was suffering from 'serious withdrawal symptoms' has created a new forum, The Bermuda Talks Forum.

You need to register.

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Well, I've been glued to the internet scoreboard all day watching Bermuda vs India in the World Cup, and must say that despite the impossibility of a win, the game today seemed to have lots of compelling stuff.

A first ball wicket for Malachi Jones in his first ever world cup delivery.

76 for Hemp.

A couple of spectacular catches.

Some clear progress and a litte discipline at the wicket. Now if we could eliminate the 5 ducks we'd be in good shape.

But all in all it seemed, from afar and over the internet, a fun match with some invaluable experience gained.

A friend who was following the match on a South African website sent over this commentary for Malachi Jones' wicket, which pretty much encapsulates the small victories and moments that will capture the imagination of us all:

"Jones to Uthappa, OUT, OMG! what a catch by Dwayne Levorock! And what wild celebrations! Let no body say anymore that a fat man can't jump! Uthappa has a nervous poke, away from the body, at a length-delivery outside off stump. It flew to the right of Leverock hurled himself - hard to visualize, I am not lying but that's what happened- to his right and plucked it single-handed. And the celebrations followed. He ran off to nowhere in particular, changed directions and again went on a jig. The players mobbed him, few other went down in heap in midwicket in celebration. All over each other. Bermuda are overjoyed. The bowler is the bottom of that heap and hold on he is crying. Tears of joy! What a start!"

Great stuff. Well done today Bermuda.

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Over the weekend, I caught the news replaying some of the Government's latest emergency press conference over the neverending Cedarbridge mould problem.

What caught my attention was the Health Minister, Mr. Perinchief, advising that a full time nurse would be stationed at the school (presumably with breathing apparatus on) for students or staff who experienced problems.

So...the obvious question is, doesn't this undermine the student/staff's dignity by providing them with a publicly funded medical facility? Wouldn't this make them not just sick, but indigent?

Shouldn't they take solace in the knowledge that while their lungs may be riddled with mould - courtesy of the Government - that they'll feel better about themselves if they use a private nurse off premises?

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There's a new Bermuda blog on the scene called by an anonymous author.

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The Royal Gazette
Opinion (14 March, 2007)

"The hijacking of race": An open discussion cannot happen in the run-up to an election

As the likely summer election creeps closer by the day, the best indicator of the soft launch of election season will be the increasingly frequent insertion of race into every issue, no matter how tortured the connection.

And it’s begun, with the budget’s racial scapegoating of employers, the announcement of a Government sponsored forum on race, and racial comments creeping into even the dump saga courtesy of Senator David Burch.

The premise on which this election tactic is predicated is that Bermuda’s overdue for an ‘honest discussion on race’ according to the Premier.

This statement unintentionally raises a very serious question which must be addressed before this discussion can begin: Is an honest discussion on race possible in the political arena?

I don’t ask that question to attack all politicians, but the examples of dishonest political discussions on race are everywhere; the most obvious recent example being Dr. Ewart Brown’s ‘racist dog’ attack on Dr. Grant Gibbons in Parliament, a speech which was founded on a lie (that Dr. Gibbons has attacked Dr. Brown’s wife) and whose racial punch line (tying the term ‘political eunuch’ to slavery) is tenuous at best.

If that shameful display was supposed to lay the groundwork for an ‘honest’ discussion on race we’re in trouble. To be honest, the run up to an election is the worst time to discuss any issue in depth, but in particular one like race.

Politics, particularly election time politics, is a zero sum game; you either win or you lose — there’s no prize for second place. This reality makes the political arena incompatible with an ‘honest’ discussion about race; that conversation requires a starting point of not trying to ‘win’ something but to exchange experiences and perspectives in an effort to foster empathy, understanding and hopefully reconciliation.

Do empathy, understanding and reconciliation sound compatible with a political campaign to you? One of the tragedies of Bermudian political life is that the issues which should be the focus of our attention (education, crime, housing, healthcare etc.) seem to generate little enthusiasm, whereas if we were able to harness the energy created by the mere mention of race we could put BELCO out of business.

Discussions of race in Bermuda are uninteresting, predictable and futile for one simple reason: race is no longer an issue; it’s been hijacked as a political device.

In that context we’ll never reach a greater understanding between the races, or the implementation of policies to address the resulting historic inequities of racial segregation. Those of us who believe that politicians can lead us to the racial Promised Land are hopeless optimists, naive or a politician. It’s time we took back this issue from the politicians, not hand it over to them so they can run us through the ringer one more time.

Like most of us, I’ve read and exchanged hundreds of thousands of words on race in Bermuda. We’ve undoubtedly made progress, but today we appear to be at a fork in the road where this progress can quickly unravel if we continue to permit race to be wielded as a political weapon to polarise the community; divide and conquer is a proven method to win votes.

We all know the jibes: the UBP is the white party, the PLP is the black party, so-and-so is too white, so-and-so is not black enough, sell-outs, shysters, black buffoons, Uncle Toms, or the latest being “a black man with a white man’s heart”. I could go on but I won’t.

And who are the authors of each and every one of those examples? Politicians. That alone is proof that politics isn’t the platform for this discussion. Ultimately, even the best intentioned politicians have a very simple goal: to get elected. In that context they often believe that the ends justify the means while others are just utterly convinced that they’re in the right.

One of the things that I’ve come to appreciate is that there are basically two types of politicians when it comes to race: those who appreciate that political jousting is ill-advised and approach the topic reluctantly and with reverence, versus those who delight in talking about it at any opportunity because they know they’ve got it totally figured out and effectively shut down discussion.

The latter tend to rarely offer any depth or insight on the issue, just cheap shots, while the former offer thoughtful efforts geared at promoting dialogue and understanding which is tragically lost in the political shouting match.

Discussing race in Bermuda has become so predictable, so repetitive, so boring that it’s counterproductive. It’s a distraction to the real issues, and if a political party can convince you that their performance and ideas are secondary to their (and your) race they’ve won.

The outcome of this is that we have one side which preaches ‘blackness’ (for lack of a better term), while the other preaches diversity. I prefer the latter; however I believe the term ‘diversity’ is used far too simplistically.

‘Diversity’ in the Bermudian sense means black and white working together, which is great, but diversity goes much deeper than that; the truth is that there is a great deal of diversity within the races.

And I’m not talking measurements of melanin; I’m talking about diversity of opinion, philosophy and an approach to life. That aspect rarely gets discussed, or even acknowledged.

We are told that whites think one way, and blacks (should) think another. How wrong is that? This is the aspect of diversity which needs surfacing if Bermuda is to move forward and put the political division behind us.

We continue to allow race to dominate the real differences of philosophy and ideology. Is the PLP really progressive? Is the UBP really conservative? Or are they both loose coalitions built around an outdated racial argument? The PLP’s current leader, Dr. Brown, is hardly progressive, or labour, for that matter.

He’s the most unrestrained pro-big (foreign) business Premier Bermuda has seen in a long time — if you’ve got the money he’ll listen. One PLP member described Dr. Brown’s philosophy as ‘racial capitalism’, which is about as accurate a description as I can think of. If however you define the PLP as purely a racial movement then he fits nicely.

On the flip side, the policies that the UBP touts today are hardly textbook conservatism as the party is often characterised. Instead they reflect the broad ideological coalition they’ve assembled and is decidedly centrist, a mix of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism.

A recent Royal Gazette editorial had it right when stating that the traditional political labels have very little relevance to the parties today.

The persistent use of race as a political device is preventing the real issues and the real differences between the parties being debated openly; race is sucking up all of the oxygen. That is a tragedy.

What will serve Bermuda best over both the short and long term is the promotion of diversity of opinion both between and within the races. An ‘honest’ discussion of race designed to promote someone’s re-election prospects isn’t going to achieve that.

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I'm still short of time for the blog this week, but I was asked to post this link to an online petition opposing the issuance of an SDO for Southlands.

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On March 7th I said that updates would be light for 10 days, to which a reader immediately sent me the following email:

"Cool.... usually when you do this a lot of crap hits the fan!!"

Well, I hear he's right, with David Burch evidently forgetting to take his meds before the Senate today where he said that he'd like to arrest UBP Senator Gina Spence for her work in St. George's with the homeless squatters at Club Med. [Translation: Gina Spence is too effective.]

The absentee Premier Dr. Brown who has been off the island for the better part of the last 3 weeks might want to pay a little attention to the homefront for a change rather than playing international man of mystery

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Well, the PLP's websites are back after going AWOL for about 24 hours. The progressive minds blog appears to have lost some comments, so maybe there was a drive crash or something and they had to roll it back to an backed up version.

Whatever, these things happen but a little embarrassing on the heels of the childish slamming of the UBP's site by the PLP.

I couldn't resist the dig. Normally I'd have ignore it.

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From the Department of What Goes Around Comes Around:

The PLP's website, and that of their Youth Blog Progressive Minds, both have disappeared. [see screen shot in this link.]

And this after the PLP's chairman engaged in some gratuitous criticism of the UBP's revamped website with this memorable quote:

"As with most things, we'll do it better than the UBP."

Time to get down off your high horse David. Did you forget to pay your website bill?

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A number of readers have wrote in with similar comments on the Gazette article entitled Cox hits back at her boss":

“Most regrettably, the comments attributed to Mr. Greenberg do not reflect that he is current with the legislative amendments and operational changes that consistently have been taking place within the BMA,” Ms Cox said.

After a stout defence of improvements already made and others in the pipeline, Ms Cox, in a clear criticism of her private-sector boss, concluded: “As the Minister of Finance, in protecting Bermuda’s national economic interest, when I comment on the world stage, given the far-reaching ramifications, I seek to ensure that I am informed, accurate and prudent in my comments. This is advisable across the board.”

That rather rude quote begs the following question from a number of readers:

Does that mean under the Burgess Doctrine, ACE would be in their rights to fire her for dissing the company just like the BHB was right to fire that doctor over the indigent clinic comment?

Over to you Mr. Burgess...

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Activity will be light for the next 10 days.

If you want to send through comments on any issues I'll post what I can.

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I would guess that the reason the PLP are so prickly about the topic of the dump fire, is because the area residents who have historically voted for the PLP in a big way are probably asking themselves the following question:

"Is this what my PLP vote gets? Government allows a massive fire to start at the dump, through sheer negligence, smoking me out of house and polluting my drinking water, and the Minister for Public Safety implies we're trying to profit from it!"

Meanwhile, the rest of the island are asking the logical extension of that question:

"If this is how they treat their friends...."

The way this fire was allowed to start, and the way the PLP Government has responded to it, speaks right to the issue of trust and compassion...

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Here we go again.

Someone parse this gem for me: Michael Dunkley (white) calls David Burch (black) 'arrogant' and Burch promptly accuses Dunkley of racism for calling him arrogant while calling Dunkley (white) 'arrogant' himself?

So it's only racist in one direction?

Sheesh. And Burch was doing so well keeping quiet since Dr. Brown took over.

Mr. Burch seemed particularly irked that Mr. Dunkley would refer to his leadership as arrogant.

The Minister said: "I always find it fascinating when white people think that strong black men are arrogant just because they're strong.

"Mr. Dunkley should be able to recognise arrogance. He demonstrates it on a daily basis."

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I'm not sure if anyone cares, but I saw John Mayer at Madison Square Garden last Wednesday with a surprise appearance by Alicia Keyes for "Gravity". Great concert.

Like with most things nowadays, someone posted it onto YouTube. So if you're interested in a great 9 minute jam (shaky camerawork but good audio) here it is:

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Can you blame people for thinking that politicians disagree over anything and conduct themselves like children when PLP Chairman David Burt engages in playground sniping over the UBPs revamped website?

Accepting donations online is something that the PLP will do when we update our website. Like most things, we’ll do it better than the UBP.

Like housing, crime, education...whenever they get around to it they'll do it better. So there.

But even funnier, is this bit:

"What I do find interesting is that their hastily assembled solution still asks people for the state and zip code and requires them to submit their ‘employer’ to comply with Federal Laws."

Now, how would Mr. Burt know that, unless he'd either tried to join the party, volunteer or donate online? Hmmm. Maybe the PLP Chairman is a double agent who secretly supports the UBP? Welcome to the fold. All are welcome Mr. Burt.

And another gem:

"...he was ‘disappointed’ there was no blog feature included...He indicated that the PLP’s youth wing called Progressive Minds had beat the UBP to the punch in that regard launching a youth spirited blog in the past few days."

They have a days old blog...congratulations. Welcome to 2001.

Better late than never I guess. I suppose the UBP could borrow one of Mr. Burt's lines: "Like most things, we’ll do it better than the PLP."

This "nanny nanny boo boo" response to the reporter's questions reveals a strange hyper-sensitivity, or perhaps an inferiority complex.

Sure the UBP's site is bare bones at this point, but the PLP's isn't all that impressive either, and never has been.

Does the 'P' in PLP stands for petty?

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The UBP's new website is now live.

I had a quick perusal and while I expect a lot more content to come, they've streamlined it to be focused on candidates, issues and the plan for the next election...which is all that really counts at this stage.

You can also join and donate online.

So get out your credit cards and go take a look.

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The Mid Ocean News runs three very good letters today (buried at the back of the paper), which I've reproduced below.

With respects to the first letter that comments on a not surprising but revealing essay penned by the Premier's 'consultant on race', I have heard about this but not seen the actual essay.

If someone can provide it to me I'm happy to publish it here, in the effort to further the honest discussion on race.

February 27, 2007 A FEW months ago an essay expounding the fanatical racial theorising of one of the Bermuda Premier’s close advisors did the email rounds in a number of off-shore companies.

It was a bizarre and unsettling rant on what he perceived to be the threat of miscegenation to the “purity” of the black race in Bermuda.
He was very much opposed to the “mixing” of the races (professionally,
socially and romantically/sexually) and recommended the Government do its bit to discourage this sort of thing.

Strangely, he had emailed this message to about 30 of his closest friends, one of whom forwarded it to a leading member of the corporate community, so there can be no question this individual’s “thinking” on the subject is reserved for behind-closed-door meetings with fellow true believers.

It was a very ugly screed, one that could easily have been written by one of those brain-dead, backwoods Southern segregationists in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, only with the racial roles reversed.

Since this is the sort of poison that is being poured into your Premier’s ear (at taxpayer’s expense since this individual was recently given a Government position), certainly any number of off-shore companies which have been asked to make “donations” to Dr. Ewart Brown’s party in recent months will be more than happy to follow backbencher Derrick Burgess’ recently reported suggestion (or should that be “warning”?) that they “keep out” of local politics.

And more than a few might be more than happy to relocate when an opportunity presents itself because they are getting tired of paying a form of unofficial taxation to this Government while being told by this same party they should not countenance any form of political representation.

Although a few companies cling to the hope they are taking out a form of “political insurance” with their large contributions to the ruling party, many others realise they are buying nothing with their money: certainly not moderation, nor tolerance nor business-friendly policies (witness the Finance Minister’s recent across-the-board attack on an industry that actually employs her during the Budget debate).

With incendiary zealots now in positions where they can actually influence the direction of Government policy, I imagine things will get worse in Bermuda on the race relations front before they ever get better. Good luck to you all but I plan to be elsewhere.
City of Hamilton

February 26, 2007
GOVERNMENT Minister Derrick Burgess has today fired a shot
across the bow of the expatriate community, demanding it not involve itself in local politics. I couldn’t agree with him more. So does that mean Mr. Burgess’ Progressive Labour Party Government will be returning all of those $25,000 cheques signed by members of the international corporate community that were recently collected at Dr. Ewart Brown’s coronation festivities at the Fairmont Southampton? And will the governing party’s representatives now stop knocking on the doors of off-shore companies demanding five and six-figure contributions for their “election warchest”, demands that have
been interpreted by more than a few industry power players as thinly veiled shakedowns (pay us or your expatriate accountants and actuaries will go the way of the Elbow Beach chef or the Global Construction site manager ...)?
City of Hamilton

February 23, 2007
IT has become depressingly clear that we are dealing not with a democratic government but with a dictatorship by intimidation. It has become terrifyingly obvious that people now run the risk of losing their jobs and being booted off the Island for having an opinion other than that dictated by Papa Doc Brown’s PLP. Just this morning some rent-a-protester (with a name horribly similar to that of Osama Bin Laden) was photographed with an untidy placard demanding that Christian Dunleavy be fired for having an opinion with which he disagreed.

It is now quite obvious that the PLP and its shock troops aren
’t above using its Government power over immigration control to intimidate Mr. Dunleavy’s employer into doing just that.

We have seen this ruthless PLP dictatorship get a chef at Elbow Beach sacked and removed from the island for making a joke. We have seen the Auditor General booted out of his office for questioning the PLP Government’s accounts.

We have seen a (black) construction foreman thrown off the island to sooth the damaged ego of some no-account also -ran PLP politician. This piece of vicious vengeance was backed up by the BIU, whose job it should have been to defend the worker involved, not the egotistical arrogance of the politician, for whom no right thinking person can have a vestige of respect left.

Apparently no one involved in this witch-hunt thought that the man being railroaded off the Island deserved a hearing at all. To such depths has Bermuda’s erstwhile democracy sunk.

Dr. Wakely of the Medical Clinic lost her job for expressing a perfectly valid medical opinion on behalf of her patients that was contrary to the received dogma of the PLP. The messenger, it is now clear, will be shot without trial.

All of this vicious seeking of revenge by the PLP and its more
lunatic-fringe adherents is merely an expansion of the now time honoured “race card” defense beyond its usual intent to intimidate to the point at which serious injury is imposed on those who question the almighty PLP. Mr. Ottiwell Simmons used to liken dismissal to industrial capital punishment.

We haven’t heard from him lately. I guess it isn’t the firing but who is being fired that actually concerns Otti.

If we have learned one thing from the recent sackings, deportations and accusations of racism (even against blacks) it is that the Government’s position is invariably wrong when it resorts to such expedients. If the PLP position is indefensible and someone has the audacity to point it out, they can be sure of a full broadside of intimidation. This now happens with distressing regularity as the greed, vanity and pomposity of our ruling politicians cloud their already limited ability to reason.

Consider the inflated (at the public’s very considerable cost) entourage with which Papa Doc Brown now surrounds himself including even some kind of bodyguard to protect him from attack or assassination on his numerous forays into the dangerous outside world, where no one will have even heard of him.

He has a “chief of staff” and four or five other expensive props to the ego, none of whom actually seem to do anything to justify their very substantial salaries.

All this preposterous pomposity, far from doing anything for Bermuda other than further inflating the enormous ego and outrageous cost of our otherwise quite ordinary Premier, will bring us into international ridicule and contempt (if anyone actually notices it, that is).
All of this could almost be considered as just plain laughable in an island as small and essentially insignificant as Bermuda, but for the fact that it is escalating so rapidly. The similarities between the behaviour of the Brown government here and the late Papa Doc Duvalier in Haiti and more recently the unfortunately still living Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe are obvious, if still lesser in scale. If this tendency towards ruthless dictatorship continues, however, it would seem entirely probably that Bermuda will end up in impoverished misery and starvation like the unfortunate citizens of Haiti and Zimbabwe. Like Papa Doc Duvalier and Robert Mugabe, the cronies of Papa Doc Brown will reserve what little is left of the fat of the land for themselves. Any one who complains will be shot.
City of Hamilton

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Today's Royal Gazette story about Premier Brown promoting business links between US and Bermuda companies contains a couple of zingers, but here's one that screams that there's more to it:

"For example there's a construction company that built the Atlanta airport that could have an interest in building a hotel in Bermuda, but there would have to be a linkage between a Bermudian contractor and an overseas contractor and then together they could bid for a large job."

Just an example. You know, this construction company 'could have an interest in building a hotel in Bermuda', they could... theoretically, you know...hypothetically speaking.

Maybe it's just cynical ole me, but doesn't that statement really mean:

Dr. Brown has a friend in Atlanta who he's pre-selected to build Southlands (presumably) but he needs a Bermuda business to make it all appear legit.

This idea that Bermudians "have been reluctant or unaware that these linkages can occur" is total nonsense.

These linkages have been going on with major construction projects for years here, the former BC&M construction is now BCM McAlpine, with a major foreign linkage and off the top of my head the ACE building was built as a venture between a local and foreign contractor.

The fact that, as the Mid Ocean News reports today, Dr. Brown bought a property to operate as a new private healthcare facility at Winterhaven days before announcing the publicly funded Medical Clinic will be shut, shows that the line between the public interest and his private interests is blurry at best - if it exists at all.

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As perversely pleasurable as it is to watch a Minister publicly melt down under the weight of his own stupidity, I thought this little tidbit from the UK press today is relevant to the discussion about deporting foreigners who aren't nice enough to our privileged Parliamentary class:

But the House of Lords held that the legal definition of "racial group" went beyond colour, race or ethnic origin to include nationality, citizenship and national origin - even if they were not specified in the words used by the offender.

Mr Rogers, who is incapacitated by arthritis, had been sentenced to 80 hours community service.

Thanks to RD for the tip.

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