July 2007 Archives

It's Tuesday, which means that like every other day of the week, some Government stooge is creeping me out. Don't they have something better to do?

Friday I had a nuisance libel suit delivered, today's installment of Let's Creep Out Christian saw a special delivery of two books, hand delivered by the PLP's taxpayer funded political operative, the always unintentionally entertaining Mr. Commissiong.

I'm honoured that he dragged himself away from his urgent taxpayer funded work of standing around to pump up the attendance at PLP candidate announcements to pay me a visit. Too bad he did a drive-by and didn't hang around.

In light of this kind gesture of dropping off two painfully predictable book choices, Dr. Hodgson's Second Class Citizens; First Class Men and Robert Jensen's The Heart of Whiteness (I read the first awhile ago thanks and read the review on the second - which is almost as long as the book) I thought it only appropriate that I reciprocate.

As I'll be near a mega bookstore soon, I though I'd prepare a reading list for Mr. Commissiong and his colleagues.

I'm taking suggestions for my list, please send them in, but so far I've got:

If It Weren't for You, We Could Get Along: How to Stop Blaming and Start Living

Corruption and Government: Causes, Consequences, and Reform

Ethics 101: What Every Leader Needs To Know

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War

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As is inevitable in the internet age, footage of the booing and heckling of the Premier at the Collie Buddz concert has shown up on YouTube, first picked up by Dennis Pitcher at 21 Square. Not a very Bermudian welcome.

I hope no MPs who were at the concert were drug tested afterwards. They couldn't help but test positive after breathing in that air, as a reader writes:


There was so much weed at the Collie Budz concert that passing aircraft on their way to Europe had to fly around the column of smoke above Snorkel Park. And in the middle of it, there was Grandpa Brown trying to look hip.

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A reader sent in a link to a blog post, or actually a blog post on another blog post, that addresses the age old - or at least blog old - topic of comments.

Seeing as the village idiot showed up this weekend to spam the Caption Competition with his usual idiotic lies and racist hatred, I figured that now was an appropriate time to throw this out there.

This very much encapsulates my philosophy on blog comments, particularly in Bermuda's political arena: They're not worth it; a few mindless idiots insist on shouting down anyone who dare challenge their ideology and will destroy an otherwise interesting site:


"...to the extent that comments interfere with the natural expression of the unedited voice of an individual, comments may act to make something not a blog.... The cool thing about blogs is that while they may be quiet, and it may be hard to find what you're looking for, at least you can say what you think without being shouted down. This makes it possible for unpopular ideas to be expressed. And if you know history, the most important ideas often are the unpopular ones.... That's what's important about blogs, not that people can comment on your ideas. As long as they can start their own blog, there will be no shortage of places to comment."

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No matter how much they may want to downplay things, I tend to believe what people saw and heard with their own ears, not what someone who is paid to spin things wants people to believe.

They say 5,000 people were there. Let's just say the talk of the booing is everywhere today. Everywhere; rewrite what 5,000 people witnessed at your peril.

Here's a sample sent in by email, not to mention the myriad of tales being told in person to me today. They're all consistent, the booing was loud, sustained and across the board:

Basically, after Rodigan and Rory from Stone Love left the stage for the first time, the MC introduced a ‘special guest’, and everyone thought it would be some other performer not on the flyer. So Ewart comes out in this white suit, and at first it was just a shocked silence when he started talking, honestly dead quiet, no one could really believe he was actually on stage. Then the boos started, and I was at the back so I could only hear the people around me, but I would say something like 60-70% of the people around me were booing. It got worse as he went on, I couldn’t even hear what he was saying, but then he started naming off Collie Buddz tune names, it started to quiet down a little, and when he took off his jacket and everyone saw the ‘blind to you’ t-shirt, they started cheering again because they knew CB was coming on soon – then he just walked off stage and CB came on

and

Lets put it this way... If the crowd reaction decided the upcoming election.... The man would be without a job!!!!!! He was heckled, booed and straight up verbally abused.

and

Just spoke to a colleague who was there – she said it was overwhelming how negative the reception was. She said that she was standing at the front and so it was even more pronounced because it was coming from behind her. She said that the cross section represented was so broad and that the response was universal.

and

The lights went down, the MC told us he had a special guest, and suddenly Ewart Brown appeared. The response was booing, there is no denying that. Bermudians don't want politics mixed up in their Saturday night. Ewart Brown and his massive ego will probably think twice about which stage he gets on from this point forward. People can spin all they want, Ewart was booed by the crowd and that is a fact.

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The winners of this week's caption competition are:

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Photo courtesy of The Royal Gazette

1st Place - Bermuda Rasta: In a rare display of political cunning, the UBP unveils its secret weapon.

2nd Place - Geoffrey Faiella: "Now, if you bring your nose out from the paper and cross your eyes a bit, you should be able to make out the shape of a fish. I think this one's a red herring."

-At the Magic Eye Conference

3rd Place - Bermuda Rasta: Yes, that's correct - I'm counting my prayer on Thaao's show as an "event"

Honourable Mentions

- Gumby House: Dr Brown proudly announced his proposed replacement for the post of Auditor General.

- Blankman: How did I spend $27,000 on lunches? Well, when he told me to "settle some scores" I thought he said "Go to Scores", and the rest is history.

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For those interested in the nuisance suit, I was served Friday, as was the Royal Gazette and the Mid Ocean News with a writ.

So I now know that this is apparently the article at issue that involves me. Good luck finding anything libelous.

Sadly, my lawyer has prohibited me from wise-cracking about it here. Damn him.

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The musicians are at it again:

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Now where were we on the youth vote?

Dr. Brown decided to make a cameo last night to introduce Collie Buddz up in Dockyard. He wasn't well received by the crowd. There was a decent amount of booing and a general uneasy feeling as he pranced up and down the stage. At the end of his babbling, he took off his jacket, where underneath he had a tee-shirt with, "Blind to you, haterz", printed on the back. Classy.

When Collie Buddz came out, he said "I hate politics", and the crowd exploded. Nothing like paying 50 bucks to have to Ewart Brown infiltrate my Saturday night. I think he is making some serious mistakes and has really underestimated how disenfranchised the youth of Bermuda have become. He might be better to wait until the students go back to University to call the election.

I'm not entirely surprised; somewhat surprised at the booing, but not surprised that they see through his act and pandering.

Dr. Brown is an anachronism to many of my era and after. His act is very dated and increasingly irrelevant to a youth interested in the future, not the scores he wants to settle from his past.

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Take comfort Bermudians, in the knowledge that our Government is not alone in being unable to see the humour in what they do.

New Zealand's Parliament has voted itself far-reaching powers to control satire and ridicule of MPs in Parliament, attracting a storm of media and academic criticism.

The new standing orders, voted in last month, concern the use of images of Parliamentary debates, and make it a contempt of Parliament for broadcasters or anyone else to use footage of the chamber for "satire, ridicule or denigration".

The rules apply any to broadcasts or rebroadcasts in any medium.

They also ban the use of such footage for "political advertising or election campaigning", except with the permission of all members shown.

The new broadcasting regime coincides with the introduction of Parliament's own continuous in-house TV feed, which will be made available to broadcasters.

At least they have a TV feed. Let's hope our guys don't get any ideas or Peter Woolcock loses his livelihood.

Here's The Daily Show's take on it:



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This week's caption competition is for the true believers.

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Photo courtesy of The Royal Gazette

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I didn't catch the Government broadcast on the Southlands project, but a reader did, and he also caught the Brown Bag Lunch news segment:

Wondering if you saw VSB news tonight?

They had a clip of the Premier on one of his “invite only” lunch dates describing the tunnel at the Southlands project. He said that the tunnel is going to be for tourists (hotel guests) to go under South Shore road. He then went on to say that the South Shore road would go up and over the tunnel that allows the tourists to get to the beach. He also explained that this was in the drawings “he saw”. His final point was that the Southlands objectors were essentially making up lies so that people would object to the construction.

The funny thing about this clip is that we had just watched the 20 minute video produced by the Bermuda Government with Premier Brown himself, Minster Butterfield, Minister Lister and a host of others explaining the Southlands development and SDO, in which they showed the plans including the tunnel along South Shore road in detail. AND, OF COURSE, the tunnel is for cars not for tourists!! As a matter of fact, Minister Lister dedicated 3 minutes of the video to explain the tunnel in more detail (18 ft high for all trucks and cranes in Bermuda, sidewalks, open roof at the junctions, lighted, etc.).

I am shocked (I guess I shouldn’t be too shocked anymore) that as Minister of Tourism and Premier, Dr. Brown was either unaware of the tunnel (as Minister of Tourism shouldn’t he know what the hotel looks like…especially as controversial as this one!) or he was just blatantly lying about the project.

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I've been away for the past couple of days and am catching up on the rapid pace of Bermuda news right now.

One thing that did interest me was Wednesday's story on the Auditor wanting to review Faith Based Tourism (a good idea - story not online) and then on Thursday backing away from it, although the Gazette stands by their story.

In this instance, I think that the Auditor's public comments went too far.

It's fine and completely understandable for him to suspect that the events listed by Andre Curtis were largely fabricated (a conclusion a lot of people seem to have reached), however Mr. Dennis should not have said that publicly.

I'm not sure how the process works for initiating an audit on any specific project or department, but it was inappropriate to make the statements he did before he had more information.

Thursday's story where Mr. Dennis back-tracked from those comments is interesting, but probably a matter of reading the article, cringing as many do when they see how these stories get written, getting a bit of push back internally, and deciding to tone things down a little.

That's not to say an audit shouldn't be done. It should. But the Auditor General's office should be restrained in their public comments, particularly before they have performed their audits.

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A couple of readers have similar thoughts:

With all the talk around election timing, the exploitation of Dame LBE's death to rally the masses, and the timing around the Privy Council, I haven't heard anyone mention the upcoming Labour Day rally in early September. I wouldn't find it hard to believe that Dr. E could time an election immediately following the Labour Day parade and celebrations. The college kids will have gone back to school, but I'm not so sure they turned out to be the support base he anticipated anyway.

and

So, if he's got to give 5 weeks notice, he's gotta drop the writ in next day or two if he wants to hold it before Labour Day and kids going away.

Labour Day could be it. I wouldn't be surprised if Dr. Brown calls it around Cup Match, but more speficically Emancipation Day for the symbolism (We already had the Sally Bassett statue not-so-subtle message).

The window is closing though. I think it's pretty clear that the election was going to be called immediately after Dame Lois' funeral to capitalize on that good will, but that the police report leak nixed that and continues to be the elephant in the room.

My understanding is that 32 days is the minimum time which must pass between the filing of the writ and election day, which puts us squarely into Labour Day territory.

My guess is that they're looking for a window where things look a bit rosier than the very messy scenario that has shaped up over the past several months (leaked Police report, Privy Council cliff-hanger, Faith Based Tourism, Southlands SDO not-yet-announced-but-clearly-a-done-deal, polls show UBP slightly ahead/a virtual dead heat but having gained a lot of ground since March). It feels very much like the UBP in 1998 in that regard, they were waiting, waiting for the smallest little positive up tick to try and go on, but it wasn't there.

And don't forget that I was solicited by the PLP for focus groups. The message from those was probably not very positive.

The tone and content of the Main Event rally suggests to me that the PLP's election strategy is all about bringing out/energizing the radical base and hoping that can carry the day (exactly what Karl Rove resorted to to get George Bush re-elected). The problem though is that that strategy can alienate the undecideds, you then have to really focus on the nuts and bolts of getting out your vote.

The militant, extremist, radical language and message that were deployed will turn off swing voters but energize the true believers. The question is, can the UBP deliver a message that pulls over that swing, or do they stay home?

I think the PLP's campaign is largely known now after their rally last week: demonize the UBP and exploit the memory of Dame Lois to cover up Dr. Brown's problems (see Pat Gordon Pamplin's quite good take).

The UBP will take a more balanced approach I think; they'll oscillate between pointing out the PLP's failings and pointing out what they'll do. It's pretty obvious that they're holding back a lot of their platform so that the PLP can't get their response lined up before they call the election.

But if you've been paying attention the UBP's Throne Speech and Budget replies for the last few years have been very much a shadow agenda - despite what the "all they do is criticize" robots try to present. It's undeniable. They've laid out ideas for years now, they just don't get as much attention as the criticism, and the PLP want to try to present the UBP as always criticizing, never suggesting.

I'd be interested in other people's interpretations and predictions.

I've been meaning to ask:

What campaign do you think the UBP will run and/or should run?
What do you think the UBP need to do to win?

What campaign do you think the PLP will run and/or should run?
What do you think the PLP need to do to win?

I won't ask for seat predictions yet. It's too early. But I will say that this is an election where a handful of votes will be hugely significant.

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The Royal Gazette
Opinion (26 July, 2007)

One of the best things about politics is the unintended humour of it all; the blatant hypocrisy, the self-important personalities, the thin-skinned bullies, the opportunists and the revisionist history for example.

Friday’s PLP “Main Event” at West Pembroke school field had them all, let’s just hope that the school children weren’t around to have their impressionable heads filled with some of the most hateful stuff you can hope they never have to hear.

The PLP’s 2007 campaign has started where the 2003 one left off: racially divisive and destructive for the future. And you wondered why the UBP’s Parliamentary Code of Conduct was rejected out of hand by the PLP?

If the events of Thursday night hadn’t been so offensive they’d have actually been comedic. Well, even then it was comedic, unintentionally for sure, but a virtual comedy routine nonetheless.

What else can you call trotting out Jamahl Simmons to talk about a leopard not changing its spots, when he’s done it five times now (PLP, NLP, UBP, IND and PLP again – not the ABC though…yet) in a decade, then comparing the UBP’s Shawn Crockwell to a pedophile before hilariously invoking a biblical reference about himself as the Prodigal Son. How very Christian that speech was.

What else can you call an event that in the year 2007 saw a new PLP candidate refer to someone in the UBP as a “confused negro”; welcome to the 1960s. Who said dinosaurs were extinct.

What else can you call an event which saw the PLP Leader incite his devotees to draw their swords to ‘slay the lying, vile, underhanded, vengeful UBP dragon!” (Does that qualify as a bladed weapons offence?) Someone’s been counting down the days to the new release of the final installment of Harry Potter it seems.

Evidently Dr. Brown got a little caught up in the moment and forgot that he was at a political rally not a Harry Potter convention. Come to think of it, maybe Dr. Brown was waiting in the book release line outside a New York bookstore with the 10 year old dress-up wizards, before “flying in for The Main Event”.

Speaking of wizards, the whole rally had a whole “Wizard of Oz” feel to it actually.

Dragon’s and negroes and paedophiles. Oh my!

I was looking for the munchkins and the Lollipop Guild, but evidently they weren’t among the 500 – or was it 1,000, or was it 5,000 attendees (as new PLP candidate Walton Brown’s ‘news’ site was reporting for half of Friday) – in attendance. Maybe the difference was attributable to whether you counted the Presidential entourage or not?

It’s not hard to pick out a Cowardly Lion, a Tin Man and a Scarecrow among other characters on the stage, but I’ll leave that up to you. Whichever way you slice it – and there’s a lot of material here but I only have a word limit – “The Main Event” was both a national disgrace and a comedic triumph.

Just follow the yellow-lined road to the Emerald Field and behold the Wizard – don’t pull back the curtain though, you’ll find the act is all a big manipulative fraud.

No doubt after all this racial incitement, Dr, Brown probably spent the weekend with the white oligarchy he just demonized at those exclusive institutions called The Mid Ocean Club or The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club where he’s a member.

Now that’s funny!

It’s just a shame that “The Main Event” was the foundation for a modern day political campaign and not a Not the Um Um or Saturday Night Live skit; the rally was the carefully planned, scripted and choreographed launch of a political campaign…in the year 2007. Divide and conquer never loses its appeal does it.

Believe it or not, seven years into the new millennium, the content of the PLP’s campaign to determine our future is built around racial slurs not issues. The list is long and shameful: “slave masters”, “confused negroes”, “lying, vile, underhanded, vengeful dragons”, pulling mortgages, “racist dogs”, “throwing out the milk with the rest of the garbage” and threats of a race riot if the heat isn’t reduced.

If it’s a comedy it’s a farce. If it was intended as drama it’s a tragedy.

The comedic element to this is of course the hypocrisy of a party that has been predicting that the UBP is going to run a nasty campaign before initiating theirs with such unbridled small-minded hatred; it’s the PLP putting words in UBP members mouths – Phil Perinchief did exactly that when he claimed that the UBP has talked of dictatorships – so that they can then attack them for things they’ve never said; it’s a party that demands that people are respectful of their MPs, while they ruthlessly smear anyone who dare take an alternative view.

The problem here – or at least one of the many problems – is that the PLP’s campaign has started on such a shrill note that it is hard to imagine how much worse the racism will get. And it will get worse. You can’t pivot from “Don’t vote for the former masters and their confused negroes” to “by the way, have you seen our housing plan?” and expect the latter to be heard.

Supposedly, elections are about the future. So far, it’s more like back to the future. Intolerance and the political exploitation of racial wounds is not going to move Bermuda forward. Tolerance, ideas, accountability, integrity and honesty will.

There was none of that at “The Main Event”.

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I'm flattered. Honoured. Encouraged. Amused.

As many of you have contacted me this morning about me being named in a writ filed by Dr. Brown, I figured I'd make a quick comment.

On Friday the Premier apparently took out a writ, specifics yet unknown, against myself, the Royal Gazette and Bill Zuill, The Mid Ocean News and Tim Hodgson. Nothing has been served yet, and he has up to 12 months to serve it or drop it.

I'm actually pretty amused that Dr. Brown is so worried about my little website that he wants to try and silence me.

The fact that he dropped the original writ filed strategically to coincide with the Court of Appeals hearing over the Chief Justice's gag order ruling shows that this is all just tactics, posturing and intimidation.

No-one is as yet aware of what the libel complaint is, and when I say no-one I'll include the Premier in that. I don't know what the presumed libel is, and I bet he doesn't either.

This is just the refinement of the strategy to anticipate the Privy Council rejecting the appeal and permitting the publication of the rest of the police documents and try and silence the potential outlets for it.

As one of my legal beagles speculates:


Looking at the RG article this morning, which says that the previous writ was discontinued, it would appear to be just a ploy to shut you up: as they hadn't yet served the writ, they could discontinue it without costs and refile with extra defendants, as it's easier than applying to amend the writ to add defendants. Again, I don't expect anything to come of this. What will happen is that they will apply for an injunction against all of you shortly before the Privy Council delivers its judgment, thereby delaying further dissemination of the BHC even longer. There's no way they'd actually try to sue you all for libel. The BHC documents would have to be put into evidence, which would then allow them to be published verbatim by the press on the basis of qualified privilege.

So thanks for the laugh Mr. Premier. And to my readers, thanks for the support.

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A reader cc'd me on this letter to the editor to the Gazette. It's not been published yet but it's well worth a read:

I read with disgust the articles in the Royal Gazette on the topic of faith-based tourism. I am disgusted not because of the desire to attract "faith based" groups to Bermuda -- although I have serious doubts about the wisdom of government (vs. a private sector funded promotion which would cause me no concerns) catering to this particular segment of potential visitors while neglecting others (recall the apathetic attitude the government exhibited when the R Family Vacations cruise of a couple thousand people canceled its visit to Bermuda).

I am disgusted because of the flagrant mismanagement of tax dollars which is revealed by the story. It doesn't take a mathematical genius to take a $400,000 fee and divide by the required 2,200 visitors to equal $181.82 per visitor cost for the promotion if in fact it proves to successfully attract the number of visitors required by the agreement.

I have referred to Matthew Taylor's March 20th article in the Gazette "UBP: we are not getting value for Tourism money" which indicates that Bermuda Tourism was spending $62.97 per visitor to attract non-cruise visitors to the island compared to competing tourist destinations listed that spent between $9.35 and $22 per visitor. If Bermuda is already attracting visitors to Bermuda at a cost of less than $63 per head, then I'm at a loss to understand why the Ministry of Tourism wants to increase its marketing spend per head nearly 3-fold to $181 in order to attract a couple thousand tourists from a specific segment.

Is it because those willing to travel to "faith based" events are fabulously wealthy and likely to repeatedly patronize Bermuda's pricey $600 per night hotels or upscale restaurants, and perhaps do some shopping in town to pick up a Prada bag at Lusso or a $20k watch at Crisson? If so, then perhaps a higher marketing cost per head would be justified to attract clientele most suitable to the product Bermuda has to offer. However, I highly doubt that is the case here.

Instead, we get a pricey marketing initiative with questionable economic justification and an apparent unwillingness of government to provide a good explanation as to why the faith based tourism initiative is a good deal for the taxpayers of Bermuda.

While I'm willing to initially give both Mr. Curtis and Dr. Brown the benefit of the doubt and assume that Mr. Curtis was aware the FBT contract for legitimate reasons and not as a political pay-back, the resulting implication is that there may be incompetence in the Ministry of Tourism such that they are unable to make sound fiscal and economic judgments about how to effectively spend tax dollars.

It is an insult to the taxpayers of Bermuda if government thinks that it need not respond to legitimate questions such as the ones recently raised by Wayne Furbert regarding the FBT initiative because the taxpayers aren't clever enough to do the math and realize that all of us should be screaming for the answers Mr. Furbert has requested.

I applaud Mr. Furbert for his efforts as a watchdog for the public purse and hope he persists with his efforts and is joined by his colleagues responsible for critiquing government's tourism and financial activities until such time as the Ministry of Tourism provides the information and answers we all deserve.

Jason Benevides
Paget

Well said.

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A reader writes:

Every day I read and see whether the political agenda of the day is going to top its predecessor – watching how far this government can push its people around before they push back - waiting for that tightly wounded rubber band to snap hoping it would not cut this country in half.

I wonder about the people in charge of our country and who are they feeding, ‘their’ public or ‘our’ public? Whose hand I am really feeding, my family or someone pocket and what defines a conflict of interest – the ethics of a politician (good for my country) or as a businessman (good for my business).

I see unethical politics broadcasted (literally) over this 21 square mile community and yet when questioned why, we’re met with stonewall of silence – from the “no question allowed” press conferences to the “past is the past, deal with it” rhetoric – even worse playing on fear and race to get their message across.

Unbalanced and unchecked government does not serve its people – it just divides them. Transparency becomes tangled in webs of truths and lies until it snags us all and we become food to anger, hate, and despair - controls of fear.

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” (V for Vendetta, 2005)

Who is afraid?

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I just watched the excruciatingly bizarre damage control no plantation questions press conference from Andre Curtis over Faith Based Accounting. I didn't feel convinced, nor did Mr. Curtis. What a strange event that was.

It seems a few others weren't convinced either:

The media's coverage of Andre Curtis and "pay to pray" is overaccepting, although many Bermudians seem to understand that this is a political handout. The list of events he provided seems to have been drummed up just for the media. If the goal is to attract at least 2,000 tourists to Bermuda, surely some of these should be marketed in advance. There's no mention of any of them on the web never mind on the Dept of Tourism website. Funny also how the November event is called "Taking It To The Next Level". This, of course, was Doc Brown's slogan in the manifesto he released during his PLP takeover. Stay tuned for "Solid as the Rock (of Deliverance)" and "All the Way (for Jesus)".

and

So how does a potential tourist sign up for one of these events... I can't seem to find anything on the internet? Seems if Mr Curtis wants to be open and transparent that some marketing materials that he produced might be useful, or maybe some venue details... Surely if something is going to be held in less than 2 months there would be some concrete evidence of that...

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Lawyer Charles Richardson has a piece that he has sent out for distribution, on the topic of Jamahl Simmons's attack on Shawn Crockwell at the PLP's rally entitled "Why should I be outraged?".

Fundamentally I agree with him, which is that Shawn's conviction (as with anyone) is entirely relevant to voters and is almost certainly the first hurdle he must overcome in order to win the trust when he knocks on a door. And rightly so.

Shawn gets that. What he was convicted of was a serious crime, he came clean after making a hugely stupid decision that seemed totally out of character for those who knew him and served his time productively and now must live his life squeaky clean, knowing that he will forever drag this with him and that his political opponents will attempt to smear him.

I've come to know Shawn reasonably well over the past 3 or 4 months. We cross paths occasionally and chat once in a while about different issues. Before that I really didn't know him and when he was announced as UBP Chairperson someone had to tell me about the conviction.

I don't agree with Mr. Richardson though in the rest of the article.

Mr. Richardson goes to great lengths to suggest that Shawn's background somehow makes comparisons invalid, because Shawn came from a more stable environment and Charles did not.

I'm not sure how relevant that argument is. They both made decisions that they knew, despite their upbringing, were wrong, and paid their dues and appear contrite. Shooting two people isn't really in the gray area of bad parenting.

But setting that all to the side for now, what I think is missed by Charles's response is threefold:

Firstly, Dr. Brown has trumpeted Social Rehabilitation and removing the stigma of criminal convictions for those who have been rehabilitated. So for the Premier to trot out Jamahl at the rally to attack Shawn on his behalf after he's been rehabilitated undermines that whole argument.

Secondly, what Shawn found offensive about the attack, as did most people I've spoken with, was Jamahl's attempt to emulate Dr. Brown's "racist dog" schtick with the pedophile double-speak. That made the criticism completely over the top, personal in nature and inflammatory. (I get the impression that Jamahl is so angry at Shawn because he stepped up and immediately stopped the bleeding of Jamahl's attempt to mortally wound the party and the Pembroke branch. Indeed as Shawn points out, Jamahl actively recruited him for both the NLP and UBP.) Mr. Richardson ignores that segment of the article entirely which I think undermines his whole argument.

Thirdly, I think that Mr. Richardson is incorrect in saying that Shawn has never addressed the question of why people should trust him now. I think he has a number of times, particularly on the radio talk shows when the Police report was first leaked and the Premier's troops attempted to change the debate to Shawn Crockwell. Shawn called in a few times, as did his father.

Ultimately this is a question that he has to address with each voter on the doorstep when he looks them in the eye and shakes their hand. I believe he will present his case well, and is on a good path with his life, his career and his family.

Ultimately, the only option that he has is continue to live his life in the best way possible, knowing that this will always be with him, and not let this hold him back.

But I think Shawn knows that. He has never excused his behaviour. He has accepted full responsibility for his actions and is now trying to make a contribution to the society that he let down. I can say that I have no worries about Shawn from our conversations and his behaviour.

He hasn't hid from anything to do with this, avoided the topic or tried to spin it as an act of political resistance as another rather high profile individual - who I hear will be a PLP candidate - has with his conviction.

What went down at the rally though was a low attempt by someone who seems willing to say anything to ingratiate himself to his latest audience, in a way that was particularly crass. That's what I found most offensive, along with the obvious lack of commitment to the idea of Social Rehabilitation by the Premier and his party.

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This week's caption competition winners (belatedly posted which hit the entries somewhat I think) are:

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1st Place - Smoking Gun: When Mary was told she would be taped for the 7 oclock news this isn't exactly what she had in mind.

2nd Place - Darkside: Protesters pictured shortly before Mr. Hunt's bike fully "wound out".

3rd Place - ubu: And here a photo of the 2 police detectives, recently absconded from the Kent Service, who discovered the 'stolen' BHC files buried on the Southlands property. Nelson has just fled the scene on his scooter.

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A reader poses two very cogent questions, the first I was going to ask myself, the second hadn't really occurred to me:

1. Why is the PLP with apparent impunity allowed to use government schools to host rallies and announce candidates (Warwick - Pembroke and now Clearwater). Whatever happened to separation of government and party?

2. Is Premier Brown prepared to (a) give up his foreign spouse, or (b) some of the property he has acquired, under the new amendment to the Immigration and Protection Act -- since it would seem his American wife is a beneficiary...

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By the way, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that today is the four year anniversary of the Great Deception - the immediate post-election coup of then Premier Jennifer Smith by now Premier Dr. Brown and his cadre.

"We misled you because we had to."

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A press conference without questions is a monologue.

When the reporters were instructed not to ask any questions at yesterday's press conference over the Faith Based Accounting, er I mean Tourism, they should have simply stood up and walked out en mass.

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Channeling Shaggy, Dr. Brown says "It wasn't me":

Premier Ewart Brown on Friday night dismissed claims he is polarising Bermuda and insisted his Big Conversation project would help solve race problems on the Island.

Speaking at the latest Bermuda Race Relations Initiative meeting — this time with the theme The Colour Of Money — the Premier denied recent allegations that his methods are dividing blacks and whites. “I have been called, even in recent days, a divisive figure,” Dr. Brown told more than 100 people at Berkeley Institute.

“I was born into a divided society. I found it that way and I’m determined not to leave it that way.

But that's not the best part.

This is:


He claimed that with an election in the pipeline it had been a risk to launch the Big Conversation, in which blacks and whites have been encouraged to talk about race in a series of get-togethers.

The point of launching The Big Con(versation) with an election in the pipeline is precisely to polarise people. I wrote about this in March for the Gazette, and the PLP's Main Event rally last week confirms my suspicions.

There is only one party in Bermuda politics that can gain from polarising people around race...which is ultimately why only the UBP can bridge that divide (of the current two parties); the PLP's whole identity is built around race, their short term political interests are served by stoking lingering racial wounds, which they do quite effectively.

Someone tell me what the UBP gains from dividing Bermuda along racial lines?

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Dr. Brown has shaved off his facial hair (a couple of weeks ago I think) - a big no no for modern day Western politicians (especially the women).

It's rare to see politicians with facial hair nowadays, other than the odd exception like New Jersey Governor Corzine, but a goatee...never.

Maybe a soul patch though. Hmmm. Maybe Dunkley should grow a soul patch?

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This week's caption competition is nothing short of criminal.

crimescene.jpg

Image courtesy of BEST.

PS Sign the petition

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The United Bermuda Party has responded to last night's vitriol that was the launch of the PLP's campaign:

I am sorry that the PLP have taken to the low road at the outset of their campaign. Personal attacks and mudslinging are not what this country wants to hear.

What Bermudians want to hear is what political parties are going to do to make their lives better.

We have a lot of people in this country right now, every day, struggling to stay afloat, struggling to get by.

They want solutions and answers. They don’t want name calling and character bashing.

Mr. Simmons must be very careful the way he calls names and categorizes people. Trying to destroy people publicly is low and does not advance anyone’s understanding of how this island can be made a better place.

Shawn Crockwell made a mistake early in his life, he admitted it and he paid for it.

He has earned his way back to become a citizen who is committed to serving people.

We’re very proud of Shawn, so much so that we elected him chairman of the party.

My colleagues and I will stand by Shawn anytime, anywhere.

We will defend him anytime, anywhere.

He is a good man. He is a positive force, who wants to make this island a better place. He is working hard like the rest of us in the UBP to make this island work better for its citizens.

Full statement here.

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Can we break through the BS here.

Early this week PLP Senator Wayne Caines was talking about race riots, and back-to-the-PLP Jamahl Simmons and now PLP candidate Walton Brown were talking about dirty, ugly elections.

Let's be clear. These weren't, as they were presented, concerned words of caution. They were promises. The kind of double-speak like the "I wouldn't call the member a racist dog because I can see he's not a dog" kind of statements. These sort of disingenuous, "we wouldn't want to call Michael Dunkley a drug dealer" kind of attacks.

Jamahl said that personal attacks would unfortunately come, and then two days later he's comparing the UBP's chairman to a paedophile and endorsing Walton Brown with the worst kind of vitriolic Orwellian double-speak personal attack.

The PLP have been harping on about politics of personal destruction, hate, character assassination etc. as a defense mechanism for the alleged misdeeds of their leadership, yet made that the foundation of the launch of the campaign last night.

It's all phrased far too carefully and cynically to be accepted as sincere in the least.

And, most worryingly, can we stop pretending that Wayne Caines was concerned about a race riot. He was signaling an intent to trigger one if necessary. He's not the first to bring it up, but it's his party, his boss, his colleagues who have been calling people white supremacists, talking about the KKK, media tyranny, racist dogs, returns of the 40 Theives etc. and ratcheting up racial red herrings to shield themselves from accountability.

There's only one side here that is behaving in a way that could incite a race riot.

The UBP's response to the leaked police reports have been persistent yet quite restrained actually, which is why the PLP are becoming more and more shrill. It was Glenn Jones's misdirected email that made it clear that the PLP strategy was to try and draw the UBP into an overtly political fight over this:


All of this could, as well, be scripted, produced, documentary style, by acknowledged talent which is immediately available to the Premier, and presented as a government report. The Opposition would make an issue out of that, would mount their own TV production attacking the government, and would thus make it a nakedly political issue.

The Premier and his followers are saying that if you keep demanding that we behave in a manner expected of public officials, there will be violence.

This is a dangerous game to be playing, but shows the lengths they'll go to avoid scrutiny that is routine in every other modern democracy.

It's time to get out of the 60s. Time for a change. Only then will this racial politics be buried forever. This exploitation of race for short term political gain is what is holding back racial progress, both economic and social.

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A reader writes on the 5,000 in attendance:

Worrying that a pollster should have such difficulty with basic numbers.

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Newly announced PLP candidate Walton Brown's Bermuda Network News (light use of the term 'news'), had an article up this morning declaring "More than 5,000 attend PLP rally".

Really. 1 in 8 registered voters was there? I don't think so. Neither does The Royal Gazette or The Bermuda Sun who put the number in the hundreds approaching 1,000.

Now, where are we on that discussion of media bias? That puts BNN firmly in the out and out party propaganda category.

Two people I spoke to who were there put it at "400-500" or "500-600".

These attendance numbers are always imprecise, but 5,000? That's shameless. I guess someone told them that that number was too big of a lie, so it's been changed to "More than 1,100 attend PLP rally".

It reminds me of the rather mischievous headline that the UK was going to 'extend control over colonies' and that we'd lose power to govern because of this, when the truth was that this was a simple review of the territories.

No mention of the fact that the 'news' site is owned and run by one of the subjects of the article who was announced as a PLP candidate at the rally.

No shame.

Orwell would be proud.

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What a joke Jamahl has become. Evidently leopards can change their spots, almost every election cycle. 5 times and counting (PLP, NLP, UBP, Independent, PLP again).

My prediction back in October was correct, he's boomeranged:


Obviously I wish this whole situation had reached a better outcome, but I get the impression that Jamahl wanted out, and it seems highly likely that he'll boomerang back to the PLP.

I saw Jamahl last week at Harbour Nights. We chatted a little, but he couldn't look me in the eye. Now I know why.

What a farce. It's a shame. We really got along well and we'd exchanged some correspondence after he left the UBP, but his disgusting attack on Shawn Crockwell is completely unacceptable and says more about him (and the PLP sponsors of his attack) than Shawn.

So much for Dr. Brown's commitment to Social Rehabilitation. I guess that, like most things is just a hollow slogan.

I guess he felt that he needs to get back his street cred and prove himself to Dr. Brown. It's sad that he is allowing himself to be used like this. As a reader says:


[Jamahl] has clearly been coached in the Ewart Brown "racist dog" double-speak when he says “the lowest person, other than a paedophile, is a person who puts drugs into the community and I don’t think you would want someone who was sent to jail for being a paedophile to go into parliament". Effectively, he's saying "I'm not calling Crockwell a paedophile, but if he was one, you don't want him in Parliament, do you?"

He needs to take some time away and gain a little perspective rather than charging right back in while professing he wants to stay "behind the scenes".

The whiplash must be un-treatable as is the lack of credibility.

Pitiful.

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A reader picks up on the misnomer that that leaked Police report was about people's personal lives:

I picked up the point too, about the “personal lives”. Look this isn’t about personal lives, it’s about public monies and elected officials in their exercise of their public duties and responsibilities. That’s the point. We need to make actual transparency and accountability common place around here – and not the subject of news media investigations and court proceedings. See now, today, how they dodge and avoid question on faith-based tourism. This should not be acceptable and there should be mechanisms in place to call people to account when it comes to public funds and publicly-funded initiatives.

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Yeah, it's the media who are polarising people and setting things up like a boxing match, not a Party who titled their rally with a boxing reference: "The Main Event", and talk in the most extreme racial language as misdirection for providing answers.

“But we are seeing people ‘going into their corner’ like in a boxing match and we have to be careful that we are not creating the petrol in which this blaze will burn — whenever you go through an election period passions are at a fever-pitch.

Sigh. These claims are becoming more and more absurd, and more and more patently false by the day.

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I read with bemusement Thaao Dill's interview in the Gazette which deviated into blogs, and more specifically my assertion that Bermuda's media is timid:


He’s a regular viewer of the Island’s blogs, and is frustrated by constant references — particularly from politics.bm’s Christian Dunleavy — to Bermuda’s “timid press”.

“People assume that the media here is softer than it should be, but I think that’s intellectually dishonest as a perception,” he argued.

“One: as a community Bermuda wants nothing more from its citizens than to be polite.

“The press speaking to people with a pickaxe and a shovel is not what Bermudians want. It completely goes against the ethos of people here.

“Two: the people that make these complaints are self-proclaimed pundits that wish they were reporters. They wish they had the opportunity to get in these situations but for whatever reason they’d rather just backseat drive an interview.

“I have asked questions that I know have annoyed the heck out of the Premier, (UBP chairman) Shawn Crockwell, Michael Dunkley. You can ask them, but you can’t force them to answer.

“Then they say the press are timid just because they haven’t answered. It’s wild, man.”

Intellectually dishonest. I'd call intellectually dishonest trying to suggest that a non-timid media is a rude one. Bermuda's media is timid. That's easily proven.

Exhibit A is the Bermuda Sun article on the PLP's candidate announcement of Zane Desilva without even so much as a mention (which is all that the Gazette managed) of the fact that he was the central cog in the wheel of the major allegations of corruption in the leaked police report, including alleged kickbacks and mixing of public and private project funds.

When someone with this cloud over their head wants to run for public office and be entrusted with the management of public funds, the press have a duty to do more than to ignore it or just say "He refused to comment".

The candidate roll-out press conference should have been an out and out grilling, politely of course, to try and get some of these questions answered. Like who were "EB" and "NB" on the business plan for a 5% cut for the asbestos removal to Cuba?

But back to the idea that I want them to rude. You can be aggressive respectfully, assertive and persistent in getting to the bottom of the story.

Also, I note the fact that he says that his favourite guest to interview is Senator Burch, easily the most impolite politician in Bermuda:

While diplomatically claiming nobody has been a bad guest, Mr. Dill declares Senator David Burch as his favourite interviewee. “I dig him man!” he said. “He just doesn’t care about anything other than his job. He doesn’t care if people don’t like him, or necessarily understand him. He just really wants to get things accomplished.”

But I thought that all Bermudians wanted was politeness? Whatever.

Finally, I think it's worth pointing out, as I did to Thaao in an email, that I have no interest in being a reporter and that I'm not doing schtick although I work hard to generate a few laughts.

Thaao may be playing a character, but I'm not. I don't make money from this, I have no corporate boss to tell me what to do, and no advertisers to please. I say what I say because it needs to be said, and our timid media is missing a huge swath of political coverage, may the chips fall where they may.

The issues I write about (accountability, racial tolerance, good governance, modernizing Parliament) are ones that are fundamental to a properly functioning democracy. I make no apologies for that, whether Thaao thinks it's sincere or not.

I guess it works for Senator Burch but not me.

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You know, I always crack a smile when I hear this line that this election is going to be dirty, ugly, the nastiest ever or some other turn of phrase to that effect.

As I recall, the last one was pretty nasty.

And the funny thing is that the PLP and the PLP's self-adulating blog continually refers to the dirty tactics of the UBP, the UBP's politics of personal destruction, etc. the truth is pretty well summed up by Jamahl Simmons in today's Gazette article, but he doesn't go far enough in laying out the chain of events:

He said last time the UBP didn’t go negative as it was felt it would only drive the PLP’s numbers up.

“So the focus was on what we would do. There was a lot of emphasis on the housing plan. For four weeks we ran pretty much unopposed. In the final two weeks, the PLP came out with their campaign and buried us.

“They ran essentially a two-week campaign while we ran a four-week campaign. My sense in retrospect is we peaked too early. They were able to come out after we had said everything we had to say and had become competitive and monotonous so then the ground was fertile for people to listen to them.”

So the UBP ran exclusively on their agenda at the last election until Bam! (to quote Emeril) the party was the target of "Back to the Plantation", shysters, Uncle Tom's, sun-burned-not-really-black-UBP-candidates from the PLP in the final weeks of the campaign.

Now where we on dirty? These campaigns have been dirty for some time now, and the day to day politics is pretty dirty with the continual racial attacks and racial scapegoating.

I'd also take issue with an aspect of Jamahl's analysis where he said that:


“The release of the BHC files has set the standard for the election of what is acceptable. It has opened the door for a lot more attacks on people’s personal lives. We are entering a new era in politics in that regard. I think this is the first election where we will see issues really pushed to the bottom.

My main contention with that statement is that the Police report raised serious questions about public funds and the use of them by public officials. The personal life angle is a red herring.

Regardless, I've always considered it personal when people are called Plantation owners or subjected to racial slurs which ostracises them from their communities based on their political affiliation. But maybe that's just me.

There's a lot of other things worthy of comment in that article that I hope to get to tomorrow.

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Due to circumstances beyond my control, I will be spending the better part of the next 4 weeks off of the island.

Obviously for a political junkie like me that timing is not ideal, but that's the way it is, and frankly politics is a distant second right now.

But as a reader always likes to remind me, my trips tend to coincide with lots of political action, and the next 4 weeks are going to be ones of intense political activity with an election about to be announced by "The Main Man" (creepy cult of personality and megalomania alert!) at the Main Event on Thursday.

Anyway, because of this I can't promise how regular updates will be, and how much content of my own I will be generating, although I expect it will remain a reasonable amount.

In light of this I will be posting as much reader feedback as I can - as I have doing for the past week or so - and I'm going to lob some questions your way in a subsequent post that I think will generate some good feedback that I can publish anonymously.

If you can give me your perspective I'd appreciate it and I think it will make for interesting reading.

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A reader sends in a sign an election is imminent:

Progressive Minds (PLP 'Youth Blog') appears to have been effectively shut down, thereby insuring that no one says anything 'off-message'.

Another reader sent in their experience on what appears to be the now defunct site, which hasn't had any activity in weeks and was reigned in through selective comment approval and selective comment editing after they couldn't control the message post-BHC scandal:

Not impressed with the "progressive" minds site at all. Understanding that it is a strictly partisan site, with most posters being full 'dyed in the wool' party supporters, I still would have thought, as the forum was open to any and all who registered, that they would expect non PLP views or even overtly ant-PLP views to be expressed. Arguments and heated discussions would of course be expected, and if you go by other blogs, name calling could certainly be anticipated. After some particularly vitriolic comments were made (more so from a certain PLP fanatic) the admin(s) pulled the plug. They restricted posting to most posters it seems, but amazingly, the one who was most in need of control... the one who was MOST offensive and quite frankly out of control... was allowed to continue posting. Out of complete disgust I have ceased to make any attempts to post after being blocked. Not that I thought that would upset anyone.... but low and behold I get an email from PM, asking me to come back.... they miss me! This just has to be an auto generated email... nobody would have the gall to send that out on purpose.... surely!!!

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I'm being cc'd and bcc'd (as are others) on inane email exchanges from the self-appointed PLP truth squad berating anyone who dare take an opposing view.

The underlying message that seems to be being peddled is driven by paranoia.

Anything and any one who doesn't fall in line with the PLP is some sort of UBP front, whether it's the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (Southlands opponents), the Facebook Students Against Independence and Government Corruption, the Voters Rights initiative or the All Bermuda Congress.

Paranoia is a very unappealing trait for a political party.

The PLP may want to reign in the truth squad; it's awful early to be this shrill. It'll be hard to sustain through the coming weeks and will become more and more of a turn off to the discerning voter who is quietly making up their mind.

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A reader writes:

The interesting thing about Brown's foot soldiers, is that they just don't seem to understand. I'm a white expat, but a Spouse of Bermudian. My son is Bermudian. I, therefore, have a very keen interest in Bermuda politics although zero influence and zero participation.

I couldn't give two hoots about the colour of someone's skin, nor do I really care if the PLP or the UBP win an election. There may be ideological differences between the two that are worthy of debate but that's it.

What I don't want, like or tolerate is the continuous lying, the endless vile racism (and yet the playing of the race card at any opportunity), bad governance, and the alleged plundering of the public purse. Brown is in this purely for his own gain, he doesn't represent anyone other than himself.

And yet as you mention in your opinion piece, we the public don't have access to public records about public projects for which we are paying. It's plain wrong.

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This week's Caption Contest winners are as follows:

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1st Place - Fast Eddy: Charles, being a hands-on bloke, had to check for himself if they were hollow point or standard issue.

2nd Place - Smoking Gun: "Permission to come aboard?"

3rd Place - Fast Eddy: Hey Prince Charmin', don't squeeze the Charmin.

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The Royal Gazette
Opinion (16 July, 2007)

If there’s one thing that is becoming more and more apparent as every day passes, it’s that the 2007 election is shaping up to be a lot like 2003.

All indications are that the PLP are headed into yet another election with a leader who has little internal support (with good reason), and, if 2003 is anything to go, fully intend on replacing if they mange to cling on to the Government.

That’s not a mischievous assertion on my part, that’s about the only thing that can be read into the series of comments by aspiring and rejected PLP candidate Ianthia Wade, departing PLP MP Renee Webb and recently removed from his incumbent constituency PLP MP George Scott made.

Let’s start with the harshest comments first and then work our way back.

Ms. Webb released a barrage of criticism that makes me look like a shrinking violet; the MP described her party leader and Bermuda’s Premier as believing that ‘rules are made for others’, that he uses ‘people to get what he wants and then steps on them’, and that ‘integrity and honour at the top are not what we currently have’.

Hot on the heels of this white hot assessment came Ms. Wade, who quite astoundingly made an out of the blue call to The Royal Gazette begging voters to support her party despite its leadership; outright pleading for the public to ignore their instinct and gut feelings of lack of trust and disillusionment.

Finally, George (Don’t you know who I am?) Scott was rolled out in a stop the bleeding damage control candidate announcement after weeks of public turmoil and infighting. The best endorsement that he could muster was little more than the statement that he’s ‘a party man’ (translation: This sucks but I’m doing this out of loyalty).

In the wake of the BHC scandal, and with the isolating and self-indulgent Presidential style of the Dr. Brown, these public comments – and the suspiciously silent members of the PLP – strongly suggests that the not-quite-a-whisper campaign of “vote party we’ll remove the problem after the election” is in full swing; Dr. Brown looks like he’s about to get a taste of his own medicine.

What this really reveals however is just how weak the party is; they’re either unwilling to take a principled stand against alleged misdeeds by their colleagues, preferring to continue on with a leader and other colleagues mired in multiple ethical scandals, or they’re about to go into a second consecutive election fully intent on again misleading the public. Actually, it’s probably a combination of both; lack of principle and the need to mislead.

We deserve to know fully the facts around the extent that public officials mixed private and public business at the BHC, asbestos removal and other public projects. We also deserve to know how public funds have been spent around the mysterious faith based tourism initiative.

Unlike religion you see, politics isn’t about relying on faith. Lord knows that history is replete with faith being used as a front for all sorts of misdeeds, both financial and otherwise.

Hell, we shouldn’t even have to trust our politicians. Sure it would help, but trust is a bonus; we should have access to information about anything that involves public funds and the public interest, not suffer through politicians who continually dance around issues with vacuous evasive statements such as:

"The Opposition's wrongful assault is not just an assault on this Government and Mr. Curtis, but an unprovoked and unnecessary assault on a religious effort, an effort which has lifted the hearts of many tourists and touched the souls of many Bermudians."

The Devil’s in the details as they say (no more religious puns, I promise).

The UBP have laid out detailed and overdue plans and a fundamental reform and opening up of our political process. The PLP? They’re relying on the slogan they ridiculed so shamefully used against the UBP in 2003 with their racially divisive “Trust me” ads.

The only proper response to questions involving public funds is to lay out the details? What is going on in our country when information is withheld on public project after public project, with a trite sound-bite offered in its place?

What is going on in our country when we start parsing illegal versus unethical and charged versus not charged? What ever happened to right versus wrong?

Forget the Ministry of Social Rehabilitation. We need a Ministry of Ministerial Rehabilitation.

This compulsive secrecy and incessant evasion leads one to believe that the reason the Premier shut down Parliament one week earlier than anticipated is because he didn’t want to answer Wayne Furbert’s Parliamentary Questions on the Faith Based Tourism and to debate the damning Cedarbridge mold report – a report the Education Minister promised to much fanfare would be tabled and debate in full – before an election. Postpone the pain until November seems to be the plan, much like the BHC Police Report.

Delay, delay, delay. Evade, evade, evade. Confuse, confuse, confuse.

In fact, the PLP seem to be in such dire straits that they’re resorting to the same scare tactics that they to this day decry they were subjected to while in Opposition; with the Premier, in full attack mode, reaching way back, dusting off the cobwebs, and tossing out the “voting for the UBP will see a return of the 40 Thieves” bogeyman; that’s the 2007 version of “Don’t vote yourself back on the plantation”. And to think that the PLP have been criticized for not being environmentally friendly. They certainly believe in recycling.

This desperate 40 Thieves meme is no different than the claim that business would flee Bermuda if the PLP were to win in 1998.

Don’t believe the hype. The PLP are not the romanticized party of the past that they pretend to be and the UBP aren’t the demonized party of the past we’re told they are.

Times change. People change. Parties change. It’s time for change.

It’s clear that the PLP would love to keep us focused on what happened in the past, rather than what is happening right now.

But the public deserves better. We deserve to go into an election with all of the information in front of us, not tied up by legal maneuvering, Parliamentary tricks and a replay of the events of July 2003.

Don’t be misled again.

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A reader writes in on my assertion that silence equals approval - well sort of:

"Their silence can only be read as approval of the behaviour of their colleagues."

Not sure if I can agree with you on this one. Is it a case of approval or fear - or just a question of biding their time?
Coincidentally, we were talking about this in the office this afternoon. Just who are Ewart's most vocal defenders? Ermm...Laverne Furbert, Alvin Williams, Rolffe Commissiong, Calvin Smith, fair weather loose-cannon Julian Hall - not exactly top table material.
You're right - Cabinet, and even Government backbenchers, are notoriously silent at the moment. The question is, why?

I actually agree. The silence means one of two things: they approve of the behaviour or they're biding their time for another post-election coup if they can win this thing. I'm leaning to the latter, or actually a combination of tacit approval and biding time.

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A legal reader writes in on the decision to abruptly end the corruption investigation:

Since we all know Ratneser's "decision" to not allow the Police to proceed againt the multiple politicians had NO basis in law, I ask you why is no one asking - indeed shouting for the case to be reviewed again by a Crown Prosecutor?

These are offences which are indictable, hence there is NO time limit for expiration, and since no trial yet either, no double jeopardy!

I say we get a second opinion other than Ratneser's dubious (at best) recommendations...

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A reader writes on the fatal flaws of the argument that is being heavily peddled by the apologists for unethical politicians that merely not breaking the law is the standard our politicians should aspire to:

Good governance is about so much more than whether behavior is criminal or not, and I fail to see how anyone can take pride or solace or comfort in the fact that there was a criminal investigation that did not result in the country's highest elected officials being questioned and charged --- and that because, according to the DPP, our laws were/are out-of-date. Have they forgotten too, that he recommended civil action? Good governance is about setting the highest standards for our elected officials and holding them to account through a system of openness and transparency, the absence of which has been underscored by the BHC scandal.

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In light of today's story in the Mid Ocean News where a contractor alleges that antique Bermuda cedar beams were milled and used for finishes in Dr. Brown's home, I thought it worth actually backing up a second.

Surely the first step here is to establish whether the whereabout of the beams are known or not. Of course, one can conclude that this is not known or it would have been declared sooner, but someone in an official capacity needs to be on record.

If it is a given that the historic cedar beams - property of the people of Bermuda - are missing, then surely if the Premier wants to refer to the leaked Police Report as 'stolen' the beams are in fact also 'stolen'.

The closest that we have come to an official acknowledgment of the theft of the cedar beams is today's comment from the Mayor of St. Georges:

St. George’s Mayor Mariea Caisey yesterday declined to answer questions on whether or not the work was completed as planned. Asked whether the beams had been restored to the site she said: “I’m not touching that one with a ten-foot pole. It’s water under the bridge. The renovations were completed years ago.”

Or is it a 10 foot beam? Water under the bridge? Is that what we call thefts now? Ms. Caisey is the Mayor of St. George's. That comment is a dereliction of duty. Her job is to look out for St. Georgians and it's historic designation, which has been damaged by the loss of the antique beams - a piece of the heritage of St. George's.

The obvious questions then become, and surely the press have an obligation to ask these:

1) Can the Mayor and/or the Minister of Works & Engineering confirm the whereabouts of the antique cedar beams from the St. George's post office.

2) If the whereabouts are not known, do they consider them to be stolen?

3) If the whereabouts are not known, has an official complaint been made to the Police by the Corporation of St. George's and/or the Minister of Works & Engineering?

4) If the whereabouts are not known, and a complaint was not made, why not?

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This week's caption competition is a handy one.

0711_prince_charles_wenn.jpg

WENN

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| 30 Comments

Bumper day in the Mid Ocean News today with some interesting angles on the dubious Faith Based Tourism scheme (since when did Bermuda tourism become a charitable venture anyway) and those infamous cedar beams.

In the absence of any denials or demands for apologies/retractions I'll presume they've got it about right.

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A wisecracking reader writes in on the PLP store.

Gotta hand it to them. Lots of pop and sizzle.

Coming soon: the PLP Grab Bag to store your party loot, the PLP Bandanna to gag your local reporters, and the PLP Credit Card which has no spending limits and the bill is sent to someone else.

Cynic.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the UBP re-released their re-released web site. Much better.

Still no blog. But you know what, judging by the mindless self-congratulatory drivel that gets spun on the PLP's blog, and the slow motion train wreck that is now dying a slow death through the venom of one out of control racist, censorship and selective editing of criticism known as the youth wing's Progressive Minds blog, that's probably a good thing. (Apologies for the run-on sentence.)

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The PLP announce BHC Police Report central player in almost all the major allegations (asbestos kickbacks, 'consulting' fee, mixing of funds between Dr. Brown's home and the BHC project, ), Zane "I am head n**ger in charge of Bermuda" DeSilva as a candidate in seat 30.

Talk about giving the electorate the middle finger.

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Interesting quote from Orwell that feels appropriate as we head into an election:

"The energy that actually shapes the world springs from emotions — racial pride, leader-worship, religious belief, love of war — which liberal intellectuals mechanically write off as anachronisms, and which they have usually destroyed so completely in themselves as to have lost all power of action ... He [H.G. Wells] was, and still is, quite incapable of understanding that nationalism, religious bigotry and feudal loyalty are far more powerful forces than what he himself would describe as sanity."

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Hey Glenn. You sure about this statement?

Around the world reporters stand up when heads of state, or in this case heads of government, enter a room. It's commonplace. No one has to demand it. It's expected. And the expectation is widespread.

Why then, does no-one stand at this press conference by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and California Governor Terminator?

And what about the Canadian Prime Minister who remarked to US President George Bush:

It was "something I never thought I'd see," observed the prime minister, "which is have the Canadian media stand when I entered the room."

I believe Glenn will find that this is a decidedly American phenomenon not a worldwide one.

And what was the point of that letter anyway?

Hat tip to MF for the links.

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It's somewhat reassuring to read that two former PLP MPs voiced their concern to Dr. Brown about the BHC revelations. They were clearly guarded in their comments to the press, but it's a start I guess. Baby steps.

But, as Tom Vesey points out today, what about the current batch? Where is the rest of the Cabinet and MPs on this? Their silence can only be read as approval of the behaviour of their colleagues. Do they really want to be seen as condoning the allegations laid out in the BHC report?

I can only guess that they do.

Shame indeed. And shouldn't the press, in the wake of Renee Webb and Ianthia Wade's comments, be calling up each MP and asking them if they support Dr. Brown as Premier?

Or are we going to go into another election where we're being misled, with a coup planned if the PLP can hold on to the Government?

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The Privy Council have indicated that if it wasn't for the Premier's lawyers - ahem, I mean the Commissioner of Police's lawyers - sandbagging the media by having an unannounced immediate hearing at the Privy Council once the Bermuda Court of Appeals rejected their appeal, that "it might have taken a good deal to persuade them that the Chief Justice erred in the exercise of his discretion, and that the Court of Appeal was wrong to dismiss the appeal."

Clearly the Government's lawyers are aware that their appeal faces almost certain rejection, which is why this was always really about buttoning up the press until after an election.

It also explains why I've been told that the Premier's taxpayer funded lawyers are already trying to delay the ultimate hearing of this before the Privy Council.

Taxpayer resources are now being used to protect conflicts of interest over the public interest.

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Setting aside the dispute over the authenticity of the election date memo, can we now admit what we all know; that Rolfe Commissiong is a political operative and not a 'consultant to the Premier'.

And can we have our tax dollars back please and put him on the PLP payroll where he belongs.

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The Bermuda Bravery Award Association is taking nominations.

Hmmm. Son of the Soil anyone? Larry Dennis?

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With all the focus on unethical versus illegal, we still haven't really had the conversation in Bermuda that needs to be had on reforming the political system to prevent future BHC scandals.

What we need is a comprehensive statement on the values of public service in Bermuda similar to Canada's, not the current system in Bermuda where one of several excuses are predictably offered:

* The UBP did it.

* It wasn't illegal/I was never charged

* The Plantation defence

A couple of weeks ago a reader sent in a link to an interesting article called "Exercising Ethics" written by a Canadian lawyer.

Money quote:

Public servants are expected to perform their responsibilities to the highest ethical standard; and because they are representing the public interest in the course of their work, that standard is higher than that expected of employees in private corporations.

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Photo courtesy of The Royal Gazette.

Very entertaining entries this week, some rather close to the wind, even for me - as well as a record number from Smoking Gun (do you have a life?).

The winners are:

1st Place - Adjustah: "No, no stolen documents here...you guys are sure we're looking for a mole, right?"

2nd Place - SmokingGun: "The PLP discovered an inconvenient truth about Bermuda. Limestone is white."

3rd Place - SmokingGun: "Premier Brown prepares to take Bermuda to the next level."

Honourable mentions -

Proteus: "The Bermuda Sun wants to know: 'So how do you get your news?'."

Darkside: "BREAKING NEWS: "Son of the Soil" discovered near Verdmont!"

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It is either the height of dishonesty, or the height of delusion, for PLP members in the know, such as Alvin Williams, to continue to suggest that "UBP surrogates" are behind the leaking of the BHC POlice Report, as he did in last Friday's Mid Ocean News Column (not yet online).

Mr. Williams and like conspiracy theorists need look no further than the front page of the paper which he writes for over the past two weeks which has been running a series of articles on longtime PLP member and financial supporter Harold Darrell.

Mr. Darrell appears to have been the victim of a demonstrably real conspiracy, a genuine and well documented "nefarious scheme(s)". A conspiracy that just happens to involve members of his own party who are currently fingering everyone else as plotters.

Hmmm. Quite cheeky for the Mid Ocean News, the breaker of parts 1 and 2 of the BHC scandal, to be running a series on a bona-fide PLP supporter with a real axe to grind.

Connect the dots.

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Signs an election is imminent?

I was 'surveyed' on Friday night by Bermuda Opinion Survey (Research Innovations - the PLP pollster, aspiring candidate and party news agency). Well, not quite a survey, but 5 questions to see if you fit the profile to fill out some Focus Groups:

1. Do you intend on voting?

2. Age category

3. Highest level of education

4. Family income bracket

5. Would you like to attend a discussion of various issues and be paid $100 for your time.

This could also be a sign that the PLP don't have all of their pieces together right before the calling of an election - or, are awaiting the outcome of these Focus Groups before pulling the trigger. If the election isn't called within the next 2 weeks, I think the window is gone and we're looking at December (that is if the Premier wants to catch students who start leaving at the end of August).

But I think the quote from Friday's Gazette story sums up why the Premier feels he must call it now, despite all the bad news from the BHC scandal, internal fighting and public discord and condemnation of his leadership:


One PLP supporter said: "I definitely feel an election is going to be called. Dr. Brown is not going to make anyone feel you can do anything to change his mind. It would seem like a weakness."

The source said to let up in the face of recent controversy would be to give credence to the suspicions. "He has to keep moving forward."

If there's one thing Dr. Brown can't tolerate, it's being seen to be weak.

However, one can't rule out Focus Groups and polling revealing a huge crisis of confidence in the incumbent party mandating a pull-back to try and make up for lost ground. But the Privy Council appeal looms.

My money is that it gets called shortly.

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This week's competition is "Diggin' It":

Photo courtesy of The Royal Gazette.

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Okay, okay. I hear you.

Due to popular demand, I am compelled to point out that if 'Brown Rice' was 'subtle racism', what do we make of 'Brown bag lunches'?

Gasp. Could it be? Self hate; or maybe just some wordplay?

I won't hold my breath waiting for the outrage.

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Clearly today was 'stop the bleeding day' in PLP land, with the announcement that George "Don't you know who I am" Scott is being sacrificed in Constituency 28 after being unceremoniously booted out of his incumbent seat 27, where the UBP's Wayne Scott has been busting his hump for the past couple of years and is well-positioned to deliver a key new seat for the UBP (hence George Scott's removal). Constituency 27 will be interesting and competitive this time I predict, constituency 28 will not.

If you think this wasn't a damage control announcement you're kidding yourself; note that the Premier and Mr. Scott didn't take any questions. It will be interesting to see if more announcements quickly follow or if it goes all quiet again. I expect more, because it would appear that the Premier is going to take his chances and go to the polls with the BHC scandal fresh in voters' minds.

In case you haven't noticed, Dr. Brown has become a liability to both his party and the country. The problem appears to be that his party is too weak to remove someone they know needs to go. You can feel his support dwindling both internally and externally daily.

Can't you just picture the morning strategy meeting after Renee Webb's brutal honesty yesterday and Ianthia Wade's cry for help today?

Q: How do we change the narrative here?

A: Promise George something in return for sacrificing himself in 28, pose for the cameras with a couple of die-hard supporters in the background to make it look like all is well, and then get the hell away from those scary reporters.

It's also obvious, based on the syrupy announcement that the Premier will host 'Brown bag lunches' on the Cabinet lawn and use the attendees as fodder for trite press releases full of platitudes and shallow photo-ops, that the his handlers have told him that he's too isolated and elitist and needs to appear approachable, accessible and more tolerant of opposing views, after being under siege and in a lockdown for the past 5 weeks desperately attacking anyone who doesn't mindlessly support him as part of the great-white-UBP-media-colonial-conspiracy.

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From the better late than never file, I've uploaded the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce's Southlands and South Shore Segment, broadcast on Monday July 2nd in 3 segments (minus the first 60 or so seconds which I missed):

Part 1



Part 2


Part 3

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A reader writes:

With regards to your most recent post about the clearly upset Ms. Wade, her comments actually dictate that anyone who cares about the PLP should definitely NOT vote for them in the upcoming election, because if the people ruining the party can't be removed by people within the party, then they'll have to be removed from without - by the voting public. In her own way, she's actually pleading for it, for someone to do something to help the party she once loved but no longer recognizes.

If the opposition within the party is as weak and desperate for change as Ms. Wade makes them sound, then only by voting out the whole party can the PLP purge itself of these undesirable persons and start over according to the nobler vision of like Ms. Wade and Ms. Cox.

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There's spin, and then there's dishonesty. What follows is the absolute height of dishonesty and desperation; whomever is maintaining the PLP website site has really drunk the Kool Aid.

The party website published a quote from today's RG article where Ms. Wade laments the poor treatment of candidates and current state of the party which is turning off voters, to try and portray her comments as an endorsement:

In this morning's Royal Gazette, Ianthia Wade, widow of the late PLP leader Freddie Wade, encouraged Bermudians to enthusiastically support the PLP.

Ms Wade noted, "I still support the party and I am encouraging people to get out and vote... the party is greater than any one or two people, including me."

Absurd. Ms. Wade is clearly disillusioned and hurt, but trying her best to stay loyal to a memory of the party she once knew, despite, the BHC scandal, it's current leadership and candidate selection crisis.

Ms. Wade was asking people to hold their nose and vote PLP, not 'enthusiastically' support the party.

Glaringly absent was a link to the article itself, just an out of context quote, attempting to leave the impression that this was a ringing endorsement rather than an effort to stop the flight of support.

Even worse, the sentence they quote is actually two distinctly separate fragments of sentences reordered and put together to cut out the inconvenient truths.

Here's what the PLP created:

Ms Wade noted, "I still support the party and I am encouraging people to get out and vote... the party is greater than any one or two people, including me."

Here are the two sentences in their entirety:

“I thought it was important to call and say even though I am not selected I still support the party and I am encouraging people to get out and vote.”

and

“But the concern they have is not necessarily with the PLP — it’s with one or two individuals. But the party is greater than any one or two people, including me.

A fundamentally dishonest and desperate misconstruing of Ms. Wade's comments. Shameful. Sure, Ms. Wade was trying her best to look at the bigger picture, but it was obvious that all is not well.

Funny though. The site didn't quote Renee Webb yesterday. But I guess that even out of context her quotes were still devastating.

Here are a few more quotes from today's article that put it all in context:

Noting rising disillusionment she said PLP supporters needed to look at the bigger picture.

“A lot of people have been saying to me they don’t intend to vote because they are frustrated and concerned with the BHC information and leaks and even the process with the selection of candidates.

“People feel they just don’t have the level of trust in terms of the Government.

and


“The reason I have called (The Royal Gazette) today is I don’t want people to look and say ‘Gosh, if they have treated Freddie Wade’s widow like this and Tannock and George then I am not going to vote for a party I can’t trust and believe that they are going to be fair’.

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De Onion is disillusioned. I understand the frustration and hear it constantly, but now is not the time to step back, now is the time for everyone to step up:


Reasons I’m fearful
Anti-white racism is becoming more acceptable.
- hostility to whites at the Premier’s Q&A
- friend getting called a “white bitch” and spat at
Government is resorting to lies, damned lies, and statistics to attract support
- tourism statistics
- graduation rates
Government is spinning reality with professional spin artists
- BHC
- Premier’s personal staff
- Premier has said that he will never lie - but may not tell the truth
The environment is being run over
- unplanned, poor building control
- new hotels without consideration of the social or environmental costs
- longline fishing
- importation of soil
Judicial system is unable to prosecute both common criminals and white-collar theft
- I sat on a jury and a thief walked free on a technicality
- BHC (’nuff said)
Complete lack of governmental accountability
- hundreds of millions unaudited
- millions over budget on a number of projects
- millions stolen and only one prosecution

So if we’re not careful we’re going to end up on a 21 square mile island that formerly was home to unique species, sea life, and trees replaced by Brazilian Peppers and concrete with a population of 80,000 with only a few hundred more housing units, a whole huge band of society who will always be poor because their often single parents were too busy fighting to survive to deal with parenting, while the contractors who build hotels, the locals who grease the wheels, and the foreign investors who own them make millions, politicians totally lacking any sort of moral fortitude rob the citizens blind and tell us that we’re getting laid when we’re really getting fucked, an opposition that are called house niggers whenever they bother to do any critical thinking, a generation of educated, talented young people who see the negativity and choose not to come back to Bermuda, choosing life in the cold rather than deal with the bullshit at home, prisoners who come out of jail and commit another crime because it’s the only thing they can do to survive, the dirt poor dying in the street because they can’t afford healthcare, and somehow I’m not HAPPY about this? What the hell is wrong with me?

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A conservative MP in the UK has questioned the new Secretary of State on the arrest of the Auditor General and received the following written answer:

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications of the arrest and detention of the Auditor General for law and order in Bermuda.

Meg Munn (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Women and Equality), Department for Communities and Local Government)

The Auditor General in Bermuda was arrested and subsequently released on police bail in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation by the Bermuda Police Service. It would therefore not be appropriate to comment further.


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Let's watch them try to pin this one on the UBP:

"The fact that the Premier is circumventing the process is astounding, but not surprising. His modus operandi is that rules are made for others not him.

"The fact that he is trying to boot out George, who was one of his supporters for leadership, is in keeping with who he is.

"He is known to use people to get what he wants and then step on them.

"The same way he betrayed both former Premiers by not being up front from the beginning that he was going to challenge them, points to the man he is, George is just another victim.

"In the lead up to the election of the Party Leader, I indicated publicly that I supported Paula Cox because we need a person of integrity at the helm of our country.

"Integrity and honour at the top is not what we currently have, and it will continue to unfold under Dr. Brown's leadership."

...Said PLP MP Renee Webb.

The house of cards is crumbling.

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On Sunday I invited people to weigh in on the timing of the calling of the election in the post leaked BHC Police Report world; I asked essentially whether Dr. Brown would rather call an election before the Privy Council rule on the gag order, or if he would wait and try and ride out the immediate fallout of the scandal.

The majority of people seemed to agree with my assessment: that he'll try and go in the next few weeks rather than face the electorate under phase two of the scandal if the Privy Council rule in favour of the public's right to know as many people expect:

My feeling was that Dr brown was going to announce the election on the Friday after LBE's funeral. Her passing had rallied the "troops" and the election would be held during the summer meaning a younger voter base. This announcement, in my opinion, was only postponed by the arrest of Mr Bascome the evening before. At the moment Dr Brown is in a quandary. Does he wait and hedge his bets that the Privy Counsel overturns the Court of Appeal, and thus hiding any "questionable dealings" Or, does he ride on the "UBP are conspiring against me" platform and make the election an emotional issue. Since Dr Brown know's (more or less) exactly what is in the "missing" ** police report on the BHC; and two courts have already blocked his attempt to hide this investigation from the public. Dr Brown will call for the election to take place before the Privy Council meets, thus the end of July. ** Missing, because other that the fact the police can't find it, I see no evidence that anything was "stolen".
The other school of thought is that the immediate damage is too great and he can't go to the polls with so much speculation about the report:
This is a tough question, mainly because I believe that the emergence of the BHC scandal, and the fact that Brown is tainted by sleaze at the moment, has really thrown a spanner in the works insofar as the PLP's election plans are concerned. Certainly, every indication was that an early summer election was on the cards. I don't think that an election by the end of 2007 is likely now. I think that we're going to see Brown and the PLP try to ride out the storm for as long as possible, in the hope that the whole thing will blow over. Whilst it is tempting to think that they may call an election before the Privy Council ruling is made (which will almost certainly come down squarely against them), it is arguably just as dangerous to go to the polls before the public find out what's in the rest of the leaked documents. There's far greater potential for scare-mongering and rampant rumour when we don't know what's in those documents, than when we do.

And then of course there's the question of calling an election and the full report being posted on the internet somewhere, really putting the cat among the pigeons.

I guess we'll know the answer in the next 2-3 weeks. Clearly though, the BHC report has defined everything.

But judging by the Housing propaganda piece on TV tonight, as well as the veracity of the few remaining PLP attack dogs in the Letters to the Editor and on the talk shows, I'm still inclined to think they're ready to go.

But, one reader sent something in that raised a very interesting angle that I for one hadn't considered. I'd be very interested in the thoughts of anyone on this, but particularly any lawyers or constitutional law experts:

A General Election campaign, in a democracy, should be conducted in free and open environment to allow the electorate to receive and weigh up all the different points of view of all political parties or individuals (PLP, UBP, Independent etc). A general election campaign conducted in a time, where the incumbent political party has gagged the press through a series of legal proceedings, cannot be democratic and be considered a free and fair election.

If a General Election were called whilst press freedom is still hung up in the courts, then it should be the duty of those of different political persuasion to the incumbent (not only the UBP, but Independents and others) to legally challenge the calling of a General Election opposition in the Bermuda courts and if necessary, appealing to the Privy Council.

That's an extremely interesting scenario that I certainly can't say I've seen tested.

Your thoughts?

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A devastatingly accurate Letter to the Editor from the always interesting "SAM from Warwick" today.

Money quote:

The point I’m making, and what South Africa finally learned, is that black empowerment is important, but it has to go far beyond just an economic initiative to redress the wrongs of the past. It has to go far beyond selective redress to benefit just a few or select individuals. As a black man, I am discouraged that my Government is creating narrow-based economic opportunities and not broad-based growth opportunities for everyone. A more serious issue is that they are leaving fundamental inequalities intact, or just sidetracking the old and present white elite with a new black one.

The benefit white and some black people received due to white privilege and black elitist privilege in the past, was done and is history. We cannot change anything about the past and the pain associated, other than remember, learn from and respect it. Reparations will not help, but we as black people have to stop justifying the improper behaviour of our present Government ... because they were born black and now represent a black political party publicly, but privately represent a few black and white individuals economically.

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With the politically orchestrated re-intensification of all things racial in Bermuda politics, I couldn't help but think of one of my favourite comedy sketches of all time, Eddie Murphy's Undercover White Guy from his stint at Saturday Night Live in the 80s.

20 years later it's still funny, arguably funnier, particularly with the antiquated stereotypes of whites in Bermuda that are trotted out by some on a daily basis.

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Today's Gazette article on the public school system's graduation rate doesn't shed any light whatsoever on the sudden increase in year over year percentage graduation rate.

And I say graduation rate for a reason. Because if you look at the actual number of graduating students year over year you see a 17% increase (173/148), rather than the 50% increase implied by the graduation rate, which seems at first look to be a less valid measure.

The Gazette does a decent job of laying out some of the unanswered questions to put the rate in perspective, as well as the Hopkins report's criticism of inconsistent reporting methods, but what jumps out to me as the area of major discrepancy is that there are 97 fewer students in the Cedarbridge graduating class this year than in 2006.

So, the obvious question becomes why is the 2007 graduating class 2/3rds the size of 2006? Where did those 97 students go?

If you assume the same class size in 2007 as in 2006 (309 students) against the reported 173 graduates in 2007 you end up with a 55% graduation rate, versus 47% last year, which seems believable.

I'm not trying to be negative here, but if the statistics aren't credible then we have no foundation for measuring performance. And I simply can't accept that in a year which was as disrupted as 2007 was due to the mold infestation you would see such improved performance.

If you keep it simple, and compare the actual number of graduates year over year you see a 17% improvement to a 55% graduation rate, which is a step in the right direction but still an unacceptable result.

This all reminds me of the manipulation of tourism numbers, which are trumpeting a higher occupany rate, but off of a much lower number of available beds.

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phonehome.jpg

And the winners are:

1st Place - Lewis Padgett: Always prepared, the Government has purchased the old C & W dish, that in the event the Privy Council appeal should fail, they stand ready to take their case to the Galactic Federation of Planets.

2nd Place - Loki: Not content to selectively publish posts on its own website, progressiveminds.bm tests out new system to eradicate all dissent from the internet.

3rd Place - Reality: Glenn considers drastic measures to recall his yahoo mail...

Honourable Mention - Ex Parte for most creative use of C&W CEO Eddie Saints' name: Catholic Church embraces new technology, new Saints beatified.

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Forget the Hopkins Report. We've discovered the solution to the public school systems poor performance: Introduce mold.

Someone talk me through this. In 2006 Cedarbridge had a 53% graduation rate. 2007, a year with major disruption caused by the mold infestation, school evacuation and teacher sick-outs, saw the graduation rate improve to 80%! A 50% improvement in a 12 month period?

I don't buy it. I'd like to buy it. But I can't. It makes no sense. Improvement would be more incremental than that.

What happened in the past 12 months to produce such a big change over a consistent pattern of declining rates?

Someone needs to put some explanation around these numbers. This doesn't seem credible on the surface.

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tunein.jpg

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The Royal Gazette
Opinion (02 July, 2007)

Four weeks and counting with no denials; law suits, plenty of lawsuits and threatened law suits, but still not one denial about the allegations in the BHC Police Report.

Instead we’ve heard plenty of noise but very little clarification about the extent to which high level public officials participated in the exposed alleged improprieties at the BHC.

The longer this goes on, and the more attempts are made to suppress and obscure the information about apparent misappropriation of public funds, the more the public will reach the inescapable conclusion that the information yet to be revealed would cause us all to reel in horror at the extent of the corruption and breach of public trust.

It is notable that the response to this scandal by those implicated in alleged wrongdoings and their proxies has been to try and confuse the issue and make the unethical but not illegal actions secondary to other considerations.

It is also notable, and undeniable, that with every court ruling in favour of the public’s right to know about public officials and public funds, there is an accompanying intensification of blame the media and opposition syndrome and racial red herrings, when the truth is very much the opposite.

Mr. Julian Hall for example, like the Premier, managed to tie himself in knots in an effort to confuse, redirect and obscure the facts. Mr. Hall’s arguments were so contorted that only his chiropractor would have benefited.

Essentially Mr. Hall’s argument boiled down to “well, unethical they may be, but their critics are racist”. In fact, Mr. Hall lumped every Bermudian who wants to get to the bottom of the BHC scandal as either a white supremacist or a white apologist.

That’s quite a wide net; you either agree with everything that Dr. Brown and the PLP have ever done or will do, or you’re a white supremacist or a white apologist. I’m sure that won’t sit well with most people.

This all or nothing, black or white, the-best-defence-is-a-strong-offense (offense in all meanings for the word) feels remarkably similar to the media strategy of George W. Bush as his Presidency began to crumble along with his war in Iraq.

Mr. Bush’s approach to building support (and subsequently losing it) was quite simple: He portrayed things as good or evil: You’re either with me or you’re with the terrorists. The Bermuda version is black and white, as usual: “You’re either with Dr. Brown or you’re a racist.”

The other interesting aspect was Mr. Hall’s ability to hold two absolutely contradictory positions with such certainty and ease.

Mr. Hall happily trotted out decades-old leaked police information which suggested that there may be racism within the Bermuda Police service and heaped praise on then Opposition member Alex Scott for presenting this to the public. In the next breath he proceeded to criticise the leaking of police information about apparently unethical Government politicians. So it’s okay to leak information about racist cops but not unethical politicians?

It’s okay in both circumstances. Anyone who provides credible information in either event is doing the public a great service. We don’t need racist cops or unethical politicians. And we certainly don’t need racist unethical politicians.

Mr. Hall isn’t alone in his selective use of principal in defending the allegedly unethical behaviour of our public officials. The Premier and his publicly funded army of spin doctors have produced some rather extraordinary examples as well.

The Premier was widely quoted during a radio interview as refusing to answer the now public allegations of misappropriation of funds at the BHC, abuse of power and undeclared conflicts of interest by himself and some of his colleagues as ‘demeaning, embarrassing and insulting’.

Strangely, late last week, he released a statement denying allegations that hadn’t even been reported, but had been looked into by reporters but never reported…because the claim wasn’t deemed credible – responsible journalism indeed, a far cry from a “media frenzy”. Dr. Brown is now in the peculiar position of having denied things he wasn’t accused of but not those he is.

And then there are the misdirected talking points by the Premier’s Press Secretary and former Royal Gazette reporter Glenn Jones, which revealed that answering the allegations would be a ‘zero sum game for the Premier and the Government’.

Now, that’s a very interesting statement. Zero sum games are ones where once you add up a participant’s gains and losses they equal zero, ergo in this situation, some allegations might be deniable but others aren’t. Whoops. And even if there is no benefit for the Premier in answering the allegations, what about the public's right to know?

And then there’s the idea that this is some UBP and media conspiracy to destabilise the PLP’s election prospects. I think by now almost everyone knows who the un-named ‘Son of the Soil’ is (as well as the other individual who was questioned by the Police), and they are by no means UBP or “the media”.

This is clearly an inside job, this isn’t a UBP effort to oust the PLP; it’s a PLP effort to oust Dr. Brown. That is patently obvious to all but the most deluded.

What really is intriguing however is why the investigation by the Bermuda Police and Scotland Yard included the FBI and Homeland Security? Surely that is what the massive legal effort to prevent further publication of the investigations findings is intended to cover-up.

Why on earth the FBI and Homeland Security – two US agencies – would be interested in a localized corruption scandal in Bermuda is beyond me? The Premier suggests that the involvement of these agencies and subsequent lack of charges ‘exonerates’ him. To the contrary, the investigation appeared to reach a premature conclusion, and leaves hanging some particularly concerning and serious questions about what we still don’t know, and won’t know for some time pending the Privy Council appeal – unless the file appears on the internet somewhere that is.

Every Bermudian must be wondering just what potential revelations could warrant such an extraordinary effort to conceal information from the public. What is so damaging that has caused this cover-up to go to such lengths over the past four weeks?

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By now many (including me) anticipated being in the election period, mostly because it was clear that the PLP were trying to get their candidates in place and were making grand pronouncements about the massive victory they anticipated under Dr. Brown.

The first apparent hiccup to the calling of an election appeared to be the internal battle taking place in the PLP between Dr. Brown and the branches with respects to candidate selection.

And then, with the BHC police report leak, everything changed, and Bermuda has spent the past month trying to process a massive scandal with Dr. Brown as a central player as well as other existing and past Cabinet Members and PLP MPs.

In light of everything that has gone on in the past 4 weeks or so, I'm going to put a question out to my readers:

When do you think Dr. Brown will want to go to an election, and why? (Email me here)

My sense is that there is a very strong possibility that Dr. Brown will - despite the scandal and his huge trust problem - very likely go in the next few weeks, for a late July or early August election.

Why do I say this? Well, ultimately I think that it comes down to the decision of the Privy Council over the media gag order.

The odds seem very much in the favour of the gag order being rejected by the Privy Council, as it was by the Chief Justice and the Court of Appeals.

If that's the case, once the gag order is lifted the revelations will start coming again in probably September/October which would mean that the BHC scandal will restart at that time, making a December election (assuming that Dr. Brown wants the students back, a group he has invested very heavily in courting) extremely tough.

I imagine there's some polling to be done to see just how much damage the Premier and his party have incurred over the past 4 weeks and if that has translated into support for the UBP, but ultimately Dr. Brown will bite the bullet and roll the dice of a campaign with a media gagged than one without (which was what the whole legal challenge has been about - buttoning up the media during an election).

Which leads me to think that with Parliament adjourning on Friday until November - an adjournment that occurred a week earlier than originally indicated after the Premier has done his best to avoid Parliament for the duration of the BHC Police Report legal battle - the odds are in favour of an election being called in the next couple of weeks.

I also think that the recent locking down of the PLP blogs, to quieten the voices of dissent in the comments and create the current mutual admiration society, is indicative of the closing of ranks and very tight message management needed during a campaign.

I'm very interested in your theories and rationales. I'll anonymously publish the ones I think most interesting and then take a stab at what the PLP and UBP's campaigns could look like, which I'll also be inviting readers theories on.

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