Wednesday, November 14, 2012

From web shop operations to the legality of a referendum ...Perry Christie has been staggeringly confusing... ...Given his utter confusion, one can imagine how voters feel... ...A NO vote is the only logical choice amidst the great confusion Christie has wrought

Flip-flopping and dissembling: Christie’s credibility collapses
Front Porch

By Simon

In the debate on gambling we have a prime minister more engaged in zero-sum game-playing biased towards special interests rather than an open, straightforward approach that would benefit the majority of Bahamians.

In the lead-up to a promised referendum – rejiggered to an opinion poll – relative of legalizing web cafes, Perry Christie has appeared dissembling, confusing and incorrigibly incompetent.

We are being treated to 50 or so shades of gray, rather than conclusive answers to clear-cut questions.   Whatever the poll tally, an early loser is Christie’s credibility, having crashed, with poor odds of reviving any time soon.

Channelling the contortion of former U.S.-presidential candidate John Kerry that he was for the second Iraq War before he was against it, Christie said there was a report before saying there is no report from his UK-based consultants.

Children are taught early that a contortion often leads to another, then another, resulting in one becoming so tongue-tied and twisted into knots that one begins to resemble a pretzel of irreconcilable contradictions.

In a story in this journal, Christie performed an acrobatic flip worthy of Cirque du Soleil.  Fasten your seatbelt: It’s going to be a bumpy ride following Christie’s flip-flopping:  “‘What report?  What report?’ he [Christie] responded, when asked if he would release the consultants’ report before the referendum on gambling...‘It was never a specific report.

‘It’s no physical report; there are three or four pages of advice that you get from time to time.  I don’t understand the question of whether there is a report to be released.  There are like five, six, seven different letters to us — no report.’

When asked if he would release the written communication from the consultants, he said, ‘No, why would I want to do that?  For years and years we’ve been receiving advice as to casinos and changing casinos, so what is the relevance, that I’m hiding something on it?’  What curious choice of language.


Christie might double as a magician with the report which he said existed, now only a few pages of advice.  The story confirmed: “However, Christie previously told The Nassau Guardian that the UK consultants presented a ‘report’ to him, but he said he had to review it before he could reveal their advice.”

Confused?  There’s more.  The story’s subtitle, “Christie not clear on how web shops operate”, was highlighted when he was asked a question about the operation of web shops: “‘I have no idea how they do their operations’, he said.  ‘The details will come in the legislation.  It only becomes relevant if in fact there is a vote for us to go ahead.’”  Further: “He said he wrestled with the decision to exclude a national lottery from the ballot.”

Let’s see if we can unravel this tangled web cafe weave that is being spun into a yarn.  Christie claims that he has no idea about certain web shop operations.  Well, shouldn’t he have made inquires before calling a referendum on the very web cafes of which he claims to have limited knowledge.

It’s the ever-so-handy ignorance defense Christie employs, like his claim that he doesn’t know if various web shop enterprises gave money to his party at the recent general election.  Watch for his ignorance defense on other hot-button issues.

In terms of web cafes, surely a well-informed leader and self-described great democrat like Christie would want to dispel his veil of ignorance on matters which speak to a potential conflict of interest and the need for good governance.  Curiously, in claiming ignorance of these matters he is also claiming to be woefully incompetent.

Indeed, if Christie is so studiously ignorant of matters widely-known among the general populace, and critical for decision-making on web cafe gambling, he clearly lacks the credibility to make informed judgments on this complex issue.


Inexcusably, he is counselling that various matters that should be known in advance will only become relevant after a yes vote.  There it is: Christie thinks that he’s that clever and voters that stupid to buy such nonsense.

Christie offered that he: “ ...wrestled with the decision to exclude a national lottery from the ballot.”  Was it the sort of wrestling one might watch on television in which promoters know the results beforehand, and after heavily betting on the outcome?

Nevertheless, as there is supposedly no report and only a few letters from the consultants, what was Christie wrestling with?  By the way, how much were the consultants paid for the few letters of advice?  And, if there is no detailed report, why should we believe his claim that a national lottery is commercially nonviable?

The Nassau Guardian’s story noted: “Christie said those who are concerned about how web shops would operate in a regulated industry should be satisfied that the government would impose ‘stringent and effective’ laws on the market.”

Suppose a flip-flopping, fast-talking travelling salesman asks for a blank check for a vague-sounding scheme, the details of which he will give you only after you hand him the check?  It would be folly to handover such a check.

Given the jackpot of lemons of foolish talk, inconsistency and reluctance to share certain information, the Christie administration should not be handed a blank check on the question of web cafe gambling.
The Guardian story read: “Last week, the prime minister said the referendum would only ask Bahamians to vote on whether they wish web shops to be legalized...”.  Here’s where knowledge of how web cafes operate is critically important for such a seemingly ill-informed prime minister to understand.

Today’s web cafes are gambling enterprises through which customers may bet on all manner of games from overseas lotteries to games of chance one might find in a casino.


In being asked whether such cafes should be legalized are we essentially being asked to green-light private lotteries and online casino gambling?  All of which appears at variance with what Christie said in a House communication: “Based on the considered advice of the government’s UK-based, international specialist consultants, it is no longer considered that a national lottery would be commercially viable at this time.”

A national lottery is less viable if competing lotteries are being run by private interests who will pocket the vast majority of the profits.

But a national lottery is commercially viable if the web cafes become national lottery outlets instead of a cartel raking in windfall profits for formerly criminal enterprises.

In a shameful betrayal of the national interest and the common good Perry Gladstone Christie has opted for a private lottery system that will mostly benefit the greed of a few, instead of a national lottery that will overwhelmingly benefit the needs of the many.

Christie also said in his communication: “ ...Neither the extension of casino gambling nor the removal of the prohibition on casino gambling by Bahamian citizens and residents will be the subject of the forthcoming referendum. ... To be completely clear, therefore, the forthcoming referendum will focus only on web shop gaming.”

Sadly, when this prime minister says that he intends “to be completely clear” that may signal that contradictions and convoluted rhetoric will follow.  Unless we are absolutely clear on the gambling to be permitted in web cafes, the legalization of web cafe-related casino gambling may be in the offing.  So Bahamians will be permitted to legally engage in this type of casino gambling, but not in casinos?

Christie’s claim of neutrality in the debate on gambling is a farce wrapped in a series of flip-flopping riddles, chronic contradictions and breathtaking hypocrisy.

Of his rush to have a vote on gambling, Christie said with a straight face that the opposition would have to get used to his supposedly newfound pace of decision-making.  Of course that had to be a joke.

The sad truth is that Christie and his government are chronically incompetent whether they are late-again or rush into a bungling and inept decision.  With Christie, no matter the pace of his decisions, competence has never been his strong suit.

From web shop operations to the legality of a referendum on this issue, Christie has been staggeringly confusing.  Given his utter confusion, one can imagine how voters feel.  A no vote is the only logical choice amidst the great confusion Christie has wrought.

November 13, 2012

The Nassau Guardian