Saturday, October 24, 2009

Parasite!

–noun
1. an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.
2. a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another or others without giving any useful or proper return, as one who lives on the hospitality of others.

Synonyms:
2. sycophant, toady, leech, sponge, hanger-on.

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.


par·a·site (par'?-sit')
n.
1. Biology An organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host.
2. 1. One who habitually takes advantage of the generosity of others without making any useful return.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


parasite par·a·site (par'?-sit')
n. 1. An organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.


You guys get the drift? Parasites are nasty little things that feed off their hosts, sometimes to the point of destroying them, but give absolutely nothing in return. In our politics, that person is a fixed part of the food chain. In our politics, sometimes we even have layers of parasites, i.e. the ones who are running the state feed off our taxpayer funds and the leeches attached to them feed off their fat host in turn. Otherwise known as catching the crumbs from the master's table.

What we are seeing now, the implosion of the two major political parties, is the result of their parasites taking turns draining the ultimate host to the point of near death. The spoils are fewer, and the scrambling for them both more vicious and more desperate. The ultimate host is our beleaguered, nearly destitute country, and every leech in every hue is responsible for Belize's deplorable condition. See, a greedy leech will kill its host, and therefore ultimately destroy its sole means of support. This is the message behind the fable of the golden goose, but we never learn, do we?

The easiest way to recognize this leechlike political creature is to look for someone who, before entering politics, was near bankruptcy (in business) or of a certain salaried income level. He (or she) enters politics and is suddenly, inexplicably, oozing wealth from every pore. He/she builds a multimillion dollar mansion; he/she brings their business from pending death to crazy wealth; he/she can own multiple houses for rent when the bank was once foreclosing on the only house they had.... Again, you've seen it and you know someone whose foot fits that metaphorical shoe. Unexplainable wealth elsewhere triggers investigation, but not in Belize, because parasites on the other side are satisfied merely to think "my turn will come." You see, parasites cannot survive without their host body to feed on. Parasites cannot successfully run an honest business, and parasites are never satisfied with a decent, honestly earned income. When in opposition, parasites' names are called in foreclosures, and parasites get listed for unpaid bills of every kind. But parasites out of power cannot loudly condemn ruling parasites lest they cut off their own path to wealth.

Have you ever met someone who holds no official position but who can still get things done almost effortlessly? Think of land transactions, trade license and property tax discounts, passage of goods with no duty paid, that kind of thing. These days it seems you can even include the phrase nolle prosequi in their repertoire. This parasite manifests the kinds of sudden, unexplained wealth gains mentioned above, and is nine times out of ten attached leechlike to the side of a powerful minister. The tenth parasite has assumed a position that gives power to make a profit without toadying to a Minister...except to keep the position, of course. This parasite will use his(her) affiliation to cajole, bully, bribe public servants to get things done for himself and his friends, legality be damned.

How about our elected leaders? Now, it's not fair to say that all of our elected leaders or their opposite numbers are parasites, but the growing unpopularity of our two ruling parties and the growing stigma attached to politics as practiced in our little nation state means that there's plenty of opportunity for the leeches to become legislators. Remember the UDP in 1998 and for the following five years? No one would have anything to do with them, and so they had to take any and all comers, leeches included. Today's PUP is paddling a similar watercraft up a similar creek.

In order for this country to survive...and maybe one day thrive, the few elected leaders that aren't parasites ought to wake up, step up and crack down on their colleagues. Those elected leaders ought also to be pushing for reforms that clip the wings of their fellow demigods, but no politician willingly gives up his own power, so here we remain. In political expediency (or will) lies the rub: will the current Prime Minister apply discipline in a decisive manner even when it may be politically damaging to do so? None have before him. From 1993 to 1998, Manuel Esquivel was managing a very fragile coalition, so that his Ministers could misbehave with impunity. The events of 1998 to 2008 include many more stories of Ministers pillaging our national accounts...and we know how that went. Now we have a rogue Mayor, but she's far from the only sinner. Were Cabinet to turn a mirror upon itself.... The question is, will Z be the sole example made in the name of transparency? If the UDP even makes an example of her, that is.

At the rate we're going, the messages being delivered through the endless red and blue scandals are: 1) don't get caught; 2) if you do get caught, brazen it out. At no point has anyone demonstrated why you shouldn't do the nasty in the first place. And the leeches continue to suck the host dry, and we as a people continue to tolerate them.

Whose turn is it next? Let's set them straight from now. No more leeches! No more leeches! No more leeches! Come on, say it...no more leeches!








Sunday, September 27, 2009

Poor Little Rich Barry

I've been watching this whole episode of the new 'environmental' deposit law with more than a great deal of amused cynicism. See, to understand this law you have to go back to the PM's announcement in the House when he said (if I may paraphrase) that while he dislikes free trade, regrettably we are signatories to the CSME treaty. In other words, instead of encouraging exports, which we need to do badly, the PM wants to keep our borders closed and padlocked, which mentality explains why we're still an importing economy. Because free trade goes both ways, and were he to speak the language in the proper way, he would encourage our producers to take the next step and become exporters. He'd encourage other countries to shop in Belize instead of charging duty to those of us who stretch our dollars across the border. Alas, if only foresight were a thing readily available to our leaders.

Anyway, though economic ignorance often rules the day, the duties finally came down on the two relevant imported beers. Naturally, the local brewer went into hysterics because his gazillion years of protection had ended. So the brewery people duly raced up to Belmopan, put the well-practiced poor-me whine on full volume, and the result is this 'environmental' law that'll require everyone to put down a deposit of 25 cents on a perfectly useless bottle for absolutely no reason except that the local brewer is feeling a little pressured by the first real competition he's felt since Crown Beer died...or was murdered. Check it, Belikin has to spend real money on advertising! They had to buy Joe Bradley! What a barrel of laughs, thinking that we'll switch to Belikin just 'cause Joe says he drinks it. Ha! Everybody knows what Joe drinks, and it's not Belikin..

Now me, I do drink the occasional Belikin, but I'm still looking forward to the day, and I'm sure it's still quite some decades away, thanks to said local brewer, when I can drink a Corona in this country instead of hauling my ass up to Chetumal to do it. Hell, I work hard all week, and when Friday comes, as a taxpaying consumer, I deserve a choice of beers, no? Well, no, apparently not, because poor old Barry will starve. I saw him recently, and by my judgment, he could stand to lose a few pounds, so maybe we should all boycott Belikin while they try to take away our right to choose.

But do notice that Hilly is suddenly an environmentally conscious boy, and see how he's banging away on the airwaves, telling anybody who'll listen that he and his bosses are environmental angels. The peeps living behind the brewery in Ladyville know different, but it's fun to listen to. Doesn't matter though, as bogus as the law is, it'll pass, because Barry wants it to, and because he's made promises to the UDP. Mind you, he won't keep them any longer than he has to, after all he not-so-secretly hates the UDP. Wanna know the truth of his politics? Buy him a couple of drinks and ask him.

So kids, in the name of free trade, consumer choice and the environment, once Barry's Deposit passes into law, pay your shilling extra, drink your (newly affordable) imported beer, and raise a toast to the plastic continuing to line our streets with impunity. I guess the way to get that cleaned up is for someone to begin importing a beer in plastic bottles.


Ah, Z...

I'll just say it right now, just shoot it straight from the hip: Z is no fool. Okay, there, I've said it.

But I'll say this as well: as smart as she is, she is utterly lacking in ethics and morals, and she has absolutely no sense of personal responsibility. In place of these things, she has survival skills second only to the legendary cockroach, the one who is expected to survive nuclear winter. Mark my words, Z will survive this latest episode, and will have no conscience whatsoever about having to sacrifice a few of her minions, her order-takers, to do it.

Mr. Davis, you're a fool. Kiran Squared, so are you both. You remain silent, you protect her; your names are in the news nonstop. The way things are shaping up, your fingerprints, and only yours, apparently will be found on the shovels that were used to bury the metaphorical bodies. So...TALK!

Throughout history, the most basic of leadership lessons have included the rule that the leader takes the blame for what happens on her watch. It's why the captain of the Titanic went down with his ship. I have yet to hear the mayor display enough maturity and leadership to take the blame for all these misadventures at City Hall. At the same time that she's not responsible for the bad deeds, she seems to be the only person who can be credited for what goes right, and her Councillors are so cowed or compromised that they too opt to remain silent in the face of it all.

At the higher levels and the party levels, Z enjoys the protection of powerful ministers, the kind who are also incapable of distinguishing right from wrong beyond making sure the law works for them and theirs and that the votes and the money flow their way. She is therefore the anointed heir to the Mesopotamia throne, misdeeds be damned. We are led by financial sociopaths, it seems. Their mantra? We can do whatever we want, the PUP did worse. That truth is fast fading away for you guys, nor did we vote you in so you could be ten percent less corrupt. You've turned out to be the same breed of dog in a different collar.

No, the guiltiest heads will never roll, and Belize is worse off for that fact.


Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are!

"If home is where the heart is, then Belize is my home." -Lord Michael Ashcroft

I'm confused.

This is the accurate state of mind for anyone trying to disentangle Michael Ashcroft's usual murky maze of corporate relationships. In this particular case, Ashcroft emphatically claims not to have anything to do with Telemedia, but keeps popping up like the proverbial bad penny.

The Hayward Charitable Trust, reputed owner of 70% of Telemedia, is, if you click on its website, a joke. Proof of the joke is the hastily put together homepage, which states "The Hayward Charitable Trust was set up in 2009 by MAA [Michael Anthony Ashcroft] to help do some good stuff for people who live in Belize. This includes paying for some buildings BLAH BLAH BLAH etc. etc. Insert text here." It also has "Our current projects include building a shrubbery, one that looks nice, and not too expensive." It is interesting to note that while we've been hearing about the Hayward Trust for some time, it is only in 2009 that it was set up.

This 'joke' is apparently tied in with several companies having links to Ashcroft, and has lawyers in common with Ashcroft. According to his spokesman, Ashcroft helped set up the trust for the benefit of charities and Telemedia employees. Now, according to this week's Reporter newspaper, their lawyers are pressing for action using the UK-Belize Bilateral Investment Treaty of 1982, Article 5 of which apparently states that "investments of nationals or companies of either Contracting Party shall not be nationalised, expropriated or subjected to measures having effect equivalent to nationalisation or expropriation."


So my question here is, who is the UK national or company bringing the action? Those of you who live overseas may not be familiar with Ashcroft's typically opaque way of doing business, but here we have the brand-new (2009) Hayward Charitable Trust owning approximately 70% of Telemedia, supposedly for Belizeans and therefore by inference Belizean, but there has to be a UK national or corporation involved in order to bring suit under the terms of the UK-Belize BIT. A release from Hayward Charitable Belize Trust sent to local media and posted on the blog Developing Telecoms Watch (and probably a million other places) states that Hayward indirectly owns 70% of Telemedia and "is entitled to protection of its interests under international law and it will invoke the Investment Treaty between the United Kingdom and Belize to ensure that it is afforded such protection." However, searches for a UK-based Hayward Charitable Trust do not yield anything that mentions aid to Belize charities or Telemedia employees. Hopefully someone can clear up this omission.

Now that you're as confused as I am, let me summarize: an unheard-of Belizean or UK charity, which has zero visibility except as the reputed owner of Telemdia, is invoking its rights, which it may or may not have under a treaty our successive governments forgot to cancel. Michael Ashcroft may or may not be involved, but while he's highly visible in the matter, says he has nothing to do with the thing, except as advisor. Ashcroft, a dual citizen, is able to use his dual nationality to absolute advantage in two countries, which reminds me: don't we have a suddenly silent question still pending on dual citizens in high places?

I can't wait for the next few chapters.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Traitorous Greed

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed”  –Mahatma Gandhi

“He who is greedy is always in want.”  –Horace

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." –1 Timothy 6:10

The Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of the most objectionable vices which has been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral) fallen man's tendency to sin. It consists of "Lust", "Gluttony", "Greed", "Sloth", "Wrath", "Envy", and "Pride".  –Wikipedia

 When you think about it, if it weren't for the uncontrolled, insatiable greed of a few, we would probably be a lot further ahead today as a country. The most obvious case in point for this argument is the politician who takes a bribe to change or introduce a law, but there are so many other ways that greed holds us back.

Imagine, a billionaire who made his fortune in our country, but made the country poorer in the process. His minions take his sizable paychecks in order to look the other way as he grinds us under his boot. Some of them are paid well enough to participate in the pillaging of our country with as much conscience as a serial killer. And some of those well-paid financial sociopaths are our own leaders, past and present. Make no mistake, our unlovable billionaire may be temporarily down, but he's not yet out -not as long as avarice rules us. We can be bought, he knows. Everybody has a price, he's sure of it.

Imagine, a politician who, with no pretense of conscience, commits the wholesale version of the very sins she once rallied the unions to condemn. She may have once been the hope of many, but now most just hope she will disappear. But think about this: if she does go, is her potential replacement any less greedy? Are his fellow councillors, in the main, innocent of all sin? Or are they merely waiting for their current leader's outsize greed to be moved out of the way so that they can have their turn at the feeding trough?

Imagine, a multimillionaire who has, over nearly forty years, achieved success by destroying his competition -not less than five companies- in Hiroshima-like fashion. Competition and a possibly superior product are not enough; it's best to smash bottles and sabotage factories -the enemy's bankruptcy is the only acceptable option. And yet, successive governments, generations of corrupt politicians, have been persuaded to look the other way, have even fought to protect him, while he's fed his insatiable greed, but only because he let a few tasty crumbs fall from his table into their gaping, voracious mouths. Only he must survive, and an entire country must be held hostage to please only him. The politicians profess to worry about jobs he provides, even as they carefully overlook the jobs he's destroyed. The stench of greed chokes us all.

For ten years, we watched one man control an entire government, the embodiment of vicious gluttony. You want something done? Best to go to this guy and pay your fee, he's more powerful than the actual PM. He can get things done, and no matter how evil he may be, he runs the show, so get over your morals or get out of the way. Think that mentality is yesterday's news? Think again, the demons have possessed new bodies and this year is no different from the ten or so that went before it. Greed pulls us under, fills our lungs, prevents us from breathing and growing.

But knowing all this, you're reading this and thinking 'okay, but what do we do?' We have to continue letting them know that we have no tolerance for greed and its ravages. Boycott the greedy boys' businesses; remind the corrupt politicians that they work for us, not the other way around; tell the Lands Department officer that you aren't paying and if your papers get lost, you'll report his suggestion of a bribe -do the same for that Customs officer at the border, and the cop who wants his piece for doing the job he's already paid to do. Tell your friends, your family, your neighbours to stand with you, for greed cannot survive in the face of defiance; it is fed by complacency, fattened by apathy. 

When you begin to realize that you can't wait for a savior to come along, when you begin to realize that it starts with you, is the day you'll begin to pull your country back from the edge of the precipice.



Thursday, June 18, 2009

On Dual Citizenship in the House

This isn't a long one, I just have a few questions that were forwarded to me:
  1. Who will benefit from amending the Constitution to allow dual citizens to sit in the House?
  2. Everyone seems to be thinking about Belizean-Americans, i.e. people who were born in Belize but have acquired citizenship in another country since. Has anyone thought about the other way around? Will people born in, say, Guatemala, qualify also?
  3. Will Economic Citizens qualify under this amendment?
  4. What restrictions can possibly be placed on such a person who may end up negotiating key agreements or treaties on our behalf with their 'other country.'
  5. Obviously, these dual citizens can then qualify for being Prime Minister -again, what happens when a Guatemalan Belizean sits in that position?
  6. Our relations with Taiwan are pretty critical to our financing these days. What happens if a Chinese-Belizean becomes PM and instructs that we vote against Taiwan in the U.N.?
I suspect that Item 6 hits close to home in an opposite kind of way, but any way it all goes, this notion cannot bode well for Belize, for all the above reasons and many more besides. If you have a problem with this amendment, be sure to speak to your area rep, and make sure everybody you know does so too.

We've sold our citizenship, let's not now give away our House!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Government As Business

You know, if my boss runs his business the way the politicians govern, I'd better start looking for a new job, because bankruptcy's right around the corner. Think about this, you have the market cornered on certain items, things that people are paying top dollar for. Then a man comes by, he has a fancy accent with the matching clothes, and he tells you that you aren't smart enough to maximize the use of those assets, so you'd better sell them to him. It turns out he's right, because you're stupid enough to do it! Then, having done it, you punish your regular and loyal customers because they haven't got the money to pay your bills so you can continue your lifestyle without cutting costs.

Our country has squandered so much of her wealth, and flushed so much of her moneymaking talent and potential down the toilet, that now we're economic slaves, reduced to begging at the feet of our global masters. This slavery will continue for at least the next couple of generations, because no one talented or disciplined enough to find a way out of it has yet appeared. Okay, not fair, we have had the talent, but either it's so crooked it can't see straight, or no politician will allow the talent to do what's needed because that'll derail the gravy train. The Solution of the Day for everything is to tax those who can't fight and not to upset those who give a lee trouble to pay.

The last set of idiots sold all our assets for a pittance, and then bought two utilites back, then resold one, then...oh, who can keep up? What I do know is that all these transactions cost us taxpayers in ways we still haven't yet uncovered. These same idiots put serious national revenue-generating opportunities into private hands for a pittance (and no doubt a commission), while they mortgaged our eyeteeth just to finance the government's daily operating costs.

Now the current idiots-in-charge, rather than looking to seriously correct these misdeeds, or to find new revenue-generating opportunities, merely decide to take on the con artist in the fancy threads, publicize the never-ending (and hideously expensive) battle so that we'll be impressed with their diligence, and do absolutely nothing else. Okay, maybe BEL would disagree that they are doing nothing else, but really, what have they done to create new sources of revenue for the country? Sell land? No, not really. I mean, land is being sold, but the revenue isn't going to official coffers, you read me?

Let me put it all another way: Monaco and Las Vegas got rich off gambling; Switzerland and Cayman get their wealth from offshore banking (sorry, Mr Barack), Panama's flag registry has done well for the country's bottom-line, and so on. Where are we? Nope, we've given away all that. Favourable taxes on gaming, offshore and flag registration in private hands...what else can we give away? Oh yeah, the Boledo! Or is that gone already?

According to Channel 7 last night, the government has lowered the gaming tax of 15% because the casinos were only paying 4% anyway, so they doubled the rate to 8%. Whaaaa.....? Guys, that's just schupid! You reward these guys for not paying their full tax by lowering it to half of what it was because then you'll be penalizing them by making them pay double what they were paying because they said that's what they could afford? Nawww man, that can't be it!

I guess I'm not as smart as some, because I'd have thought that the simplest way to do things would've been merely to enforce the law that the previous idiots let the casinos break. After all, looking at the amount of Belizeans who've lost their homes and businesses because of gambling, I wouldn't think casinos are having trouble making ends meet. And if they are having problems, let me hereby advise the government that 'things thin' with me too, so starting with my next paycheck I'm advising GOB that I can only pay 4% of my income tax...of course, if they want to lower my rate to 8%, I'm willing to negotiate.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

You will agree that some of the actions of the previous government, especially in the latter half of its tenure, were atrocious. They were atrocious enough to incite riots and demonstrations, remember? Hell, the actions of the previous government are directly responsible for the mayor Belize City has today! How can we ever forgive them for just that one deed?

The current government though, that's the one in charge right now, so that's the one we need to focus on. And in less than two years, this mob has managed, using the chorus "the PUP did worse," to actually be worse than (or equivalent to) the notorious PUP in a surprising number of ways. For example:
  • What is this new and improved practice of giving import permits only to the party faithful and excluding the honest small businesses from the opportunity to better their lot? The PUP did it too, but this lot have taken it now to a fine and authoritarian, even monopolistic art. I guess they are better than the PUP, hmmm?
  • What about grants/loans to party faithful who don't need it? Old news, BLUE news.
  • What about contracts signed without authority, contracts with national impact that are forgiven by a casually tossed 'she meant well?' Yes, that seems familiar too.
  • What about ministers out of control, who get more out of control because their boss wants an impossible burden of proof from those who speak up? Deja vu strikes again.
  • What about the truckloads of contraband goods that pass through our ports and borders unchecked while a few villagers lose their two dory loads? Uhhh, check that off the blue list too.
  • So much more, little of it original, much of it refined beyond what the original inventors imagined. Our evolution is no longer from red to blue to red to blue. It's from bad to worse, and so on. Down the slippery slope we go!

Money rules, gang. The new, ultra-modern cardinal rule is: party before country, and money before all. If you wish to run for political office, remember that and everything else will follow automatically. For example, it will go without saying that doing the right thing or the lawful thing is neither essential nor even advisable. A reputation as a good and honest person will work against you in our political world. A conscience? That'll take you to the edge, man -political suicide follows that kind of thinking.

Mr. Barrow, is this what you want those of us in the next generation to learn?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wanted: An Honest Mayor

Remember West Landivar? The residents won their first round against David Gegg, but it's not over, I'm sure. As for King's Park, you can't have forgotten so quickly what happened there. Mr Wagons, a confirmed racist himself, decided to whip out that often-abused word to defeat the residents, and when it didn't work, he got Zenaida on his side...he's pretty blunt and open about how he did that. Now, residents can't park in their driveways and a formerly peaceful, family-type neighbourhood is overrun by traffic and container trucks, and the peace is gone. This one has been a public and nasty battle, and is a classic example of what Zenaida is and does -for herself, with no regard for right and wrong, legal or illegal.

But how many of you know about the quiet battle that Bella Vista has been fighting? The only neighbourhood in the country with zoning legislation in place, a quiet area of hardworking families, Bella Vista is now under siege from David Gegg and other unscrupulous individuals who think laws are for suckers. David Fonseca's City Council developed Bella Vista's legislation at the urging of the residents, and it is a model for the rest of the city's neighbourhoods to follow. Unfortunately, lack of political will (moral weakness, as I think of it) prevented his City Council from following through with enforcement.

Now, this UDP City Council is itself acting in contravention of its own legislation solely on the Mayor's orders. And where is Zenaida? Well, according to the evidence, firmly in the camp of the wrongdoers...Mr Gegg isn't shy about saying how he got her there either, and he has publicly and viciously insulted those residents who are simply asking that he abide by the law. One resident recently wrote a letter to the City Councilors as a last-ditch effort before taking the matter to court, and it is damning in its account of Her Lordship's inaction, obstruction and outright sabotage. The letter is also copied to the Prime Minister, to Doug Singh, and to Lee Mark Chang, but you may be sure that none of them will do anything to thwart the Mayor. Such is her power (and their weakness), and such is her untouchable corruption.

When she's under attack, the Mayor's standard practice is to sit with her questioners and say whatever comes into her mind as an answer people want to hear -usually lies, and often blatantly self-contradictory, not to mention self-congratulatory. Today she'll blame Cabinet for her ineffectiveness, then tomorrow she'll blame her Council. However, in all this the pattern is that she is never effective, and it is never her fault. A little bit of martyrdom, some implied gender bias, the humble mention of God, and the recipe is prepared for her continuing without recrimination from those who could control her.

Meanwhile, laws and morality become less relevant each day her rule continues.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Apathy vs Bull Crap...Again, Where's the Rage?

When will we get angry? You know the kind of anger: where you feel your head will explode, and you want to throw things, smash stuff, roar epithets at the top of your lungs until your throat becomes sandpaper. When will we get that angry?

Newborn Andy Jones died last week, a victim of a horrendous chain of events that add up to a serious indictment of our healthcare system and its custodians. Aside from a chorus of oh-poor-things, only Amandala seems to be angry enough to say 'Bull Crap!' I think that's an excellent choice of phrase, by the way. But where's OUR anger?

One of our readers mentioned it: Roldan Trapp, a father of five, was killed in a hit-and-run. Oddly enough, even though the pickup was found, no one seems to be able to trace the owner and arrest the culprit, nor have we heard why that's not possible. Mr Trapp has, in the meantime, been relegated to the rank of stray dog -no one cares, for the dead are gone. Where's our anger?

Glenford Williams, a security guard, was shot in an attempted holdup. He lies critical in the hospital. Half a dozen or more surgeries later, he'll never be the same, if he survives. Juan Carlos Castillo and Peter Guenther, the two men murdered in Cayo in the past week might, if they could be asked, regard him as the lucky one. So might Rosa Cornejo, the businesswoman from Belmopan who was tortured and killed. What will come of all of these murders -what is it, 37 so far for 2009? Will anyone ever again hang in this country? Hell, will anyone ever again even be convicted of murder? Where's our anger?

Holdup jacking murder robbery killing mugging rape incest fraud arson shooting theft stabbing assault, it all runs together in the news, a hypnotic, mind-numbing ritualistic nightly repetition of the same damned and deathly chorus. And it has numbed our minds to anger; we're emotional zombies.We do know fear though, it is our friend and constant companion. We lock ourselves in our homes, afraid to go anywhere. We are silent in the face of controversy, afraid to rock the boat even though it's already sinking. And while the schoolyard bullies arm themselves, we cower and hope it'll be the neighbour and not us who gets it when the time comes. Where's our anger?

"Thank God I don't have to go to PG/Dangriga/San Ignacio hospital to deliver my baby. Poor Cenaida."
"That poor man, that's why I never ride my bike on the Northern."
"Ah, security guards have the worst jobs, that poor man."
"Hmm, those people must have been into something, to be murdered like that, poor things."

Not me, never me, it can't, it WON'T happen to me...we are so condescending and selfish and full of false hope in our denials. Remember this, every time something happens to someone else, the odds of it happening to you are shortened. Unless things change, your turn WILL come. And there will be little or no interest or follow-up. And no one will speak up for you...or for me.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where's the Rage? What's the Recourse?

In modern 21st century Belize, a young mother, Cenaida Raymundo, had to deliver a baby on her own, by herself, all alone, in a hospital, only to have that baby die from brain damage. Little Andy's umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, something that isn't normally lethal (not in this century, not in a reasonably competent medical facility), something that happens every day. His death was unnecessary and outrageous. All of it boiled down to a hideously perfect combination of neglect and incompetence by medical 'professionals' who apparently are as capable of caring for those consigned to their care as are the vultures 'backa dump.' Well, the vultures would probably deal more tenderly.

The details of Cenaida's ordeal are hideous, even medieval. And they are not, in separate parts, unique stories. Putting the mess before the humans, the non-response to a mother's terrified screams for help, the inept and half-hearted attempts at transport, the cold-blooded quips about praying for another's death in order for a turn at the ventilator, these are not unheard of, not at all without multiple precedents. And each of them on their own is disgusting, unacceptable.  Put together, as in this family's experience, they are scenes in a Halloween movie...horror!

We are all mourning the unnecessary and painful loss of a newborn Belizean who died yesterday before he had a chance to live. This tiny baby, little Andy Jones, one of our citizens, was sentenced to a tortured death through neglect, and I sense that without public outrage, without major outcry, nothing will be done beyond a light slap on a wrist or two. I sense this because I haven't heard any mea culpas yet, not from the PG hospital, not from KHMH, not from any vote-seeking politicians. Even Dr Pitts seemed to think it unnecessary to utter a single word acknowledging the magnitude of the loss, and the horror, that this family has endured. Pathetic! KHMH authorities couldn't even find it fit to break with policy to help an anguished Cenaida get little Andy's body home...their alternate suggestion only piles on the nightmares.

Unless we speak up, unless we stomp our feet and throw a tantrum, nothing will be done to prevent this happening again and again and again. Say something! Let not this child have died in vain!

Click the links below to read the stories:
Mother delivers baby herself in PG hospital - Amandala 
Female farmer's terrible experience in delivering her baby in PG hospital - Amandala Letters to the Editor 
Cenaida Raymundo's Baby Dies - Channel 7 
Director of Health Services Promises Full Investigation - Channel 7
Mother claims negligence in death of newborn - Channel 5

...And investigation into baby's death underway - Channel 5 


 Then make some noise!!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Incorruptible Ostrich

The trouble with having lawyers in charge of the country is that they have a different perspective from normal folk. We see right and wrong; lawyers see legal and illegal. And unfortunately, when the lawyers are leaders of the lawmakers, if something is illegal, that's easily fixed. If something is legal, it doesn't really matter whether it's wrong or right, the only thing that matters is that no one will go to jail...ever! Ethics and morality have been put through the shredder and are no longer relevant in our democracy's struggle for survival.

The media is abuzz this week over one TV station's offer of a reward for information leading to the conviction of individuals involved in corruption at the Ministry of Lands. Earlier this week the Prime Minister was on another TV station proclaiming his personal incorruptibility. I don't dispute that the PM himself is not corrupt, but he should be careful for whom he puts his head on the block, as he has now done for the Lands Minister.

The PM has long asked for proof of corruption, and he renewed that request again this week, specifically in relation to the Lands issue. The problem is, being mortal, he suffers from a blind spot where 'friends' are concerned. Being a lawyer, he deals with that blind spot by demanding a level of proof normally reserved for a courtroom. Minister Coy is, to date, the only minister unschooled (let's be polite) enough to leave that kind of proof. You can bet that his colleagues have learned from his mistake, and then go double or nothing that Coy's not the only member of Cabinet who operates in the certain knowledge that Ministerial rank puts you above the law. Remember, he gets to be Minister again after a six-month holiday, and we haven't heard of any real penalties for the constituent he intervened to protect...click here to email info about penalties, I'd love to be corrected.

A memorable example of the triumph of denial over doing what's right would be Ms Haylock's contract between NICH and one Gegg. This document was procedurally suspect, ethically questionable, but not actually illegal, and so Ms Haylock, a good friend of our leader, was excused with a light slap on the wrist while the Minister who dared to question the transaction was given das boot, an outcome many pundits predicted. And so it will apparently go into eternity, cyclical but endless.

Let me say very clearly here that "the PUP did way worse," "this is the way it's always been" and all the other similar expressions are absolutely unacceptable to us voters. Equally unacceptable is the notion of a leader who closes his eyes and proclaims his personal innocence while others run rampant. "I didn't burn down the house" does not absolve you if you stood by watching the flames consume it. We fired the PUP because we didn't like what they were doing; doing ten percent less doesn't mean your crowd is better, it just means they aren't (yet) as bad. But yes, I do acknowledge that it is progress to have an incorrupt leader -it just isn't enough progress.

Prime Minister, Edmund Burke said it best: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Do you want to go down in history as the incorruptible leader who presided over rampant, unchecked corruption? Or would you prefer our descendants to remember you as the true leader, the statesman who made the hard decisions, who punished even his friends harshly if they did wrong, who made our country a shining example of democracy and discipline? It's not too late for the latter.

What will your legacy be, Honourable Prime Minister? Incorruptible ostrich or exemplary leader?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Much Ado About Absolutely Nada

So Z loaded her favorite currency into the matrimonial purse. So what? By which I obviously mean, "Congrats Z, on making it official!"  Anyway, other than the fact that after much speculation we are thrilled to know she opted to marry locally, this ain't no big deal in the scheme of current affairs. It doesn't stop crime or lower the cost of living or clean up the city...except for the parking spots along the wedding route for one afternoon.

I do congratulate the Moyas on mixing work and play for their honeymoon in Barbados. Being the above-board lady that she is, I am absolutely certain that Z's paying the tab herself for all the plane fares and hotel and such, so kudos to the newlyweds on not fleecing the country to pay for the pleasure portion...not everybody would be so straight-up, you know?

For the media, can we PLEASE not see anymore wedding pictures? Please, let it go. I mean the fact that the Mayor got married and that the colours were white and cotton candy pink and that they kissed for the paparazzi -that did set tongues wagging though, didn't it- and that all the uppercrust of a specific political hue were present...eh, enough! The defiance of swine flu protocols...well, some are more equal than others, according to a story about a certain farm in which the (oops!) swine ruled. So those leading boars et al deemed worthy of attending would automatically be deemed impervious to the virus, no?

As I said, let it go. In a city where the Mayor rules as an absolute monarch over subjects living and dying in unnecessary poverty and squalor, it is somehow fitting that a royal wedding be held in the midst of the misery. Ah, let them eat [wedding] cake!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Democracy Is For Suckers

Oh Dean. Dear old Dean, fourth Honourable Prime Minister, yet to be Right, but Honourable nonetheless. I have a simple question for you, and I hope that you'll be able to provide your voting public with a simple, no-nonsense, monosyllabic kind of answer. The question is, when will you start to really run the country?

It sounds like a funny question, I know, and you're probably inclined to be a little offended. But bear with me here, I'll get right down to making my case.

Ihe first fact is, crime is only getting worse. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but your Cabinet's decision to put Crispin as Top Cop didn't exactly scare the criminals off the street. Hell, what does it matter if the cops do start arresting all the bad guys? They'll get off in court anyway. Between Dickie Bradley and witness intimidation, a criminal has to be pretty stupid (or broke) to get convicted these days -and if he does, he won't hang anyway. Which leads me to a good question: what are your fellow legal eagles doing about crime besides profiting from all the court activity?

That was crime. Now let's talk about Lands and Immigration, both the bane of the common man's existence. All of your friends probably have no problem getting their passport or their land title, but the rest of us look at transactions in either department as less enjoyable than to a trip to Hell in high summer. So when are you gonna get Gapi to start doing his job? Actually, when are you gonna start taking more than a politically-biased look at Gapi? You'd be amazed what you'll find...the rest of us are quite dismayed.

On the business side, judging from the 'railing up' I've been hearing, it looks like all of the business community feels like there's a gigantic bullseye painted on its collective back. The only folks who aren't murmuring are the, um, 'naughty' ones...many of whom are your most boisterous supporters. According to them, life is good, taxes are optional, and who the heck cares if a law or two disintegrates under their treatment? Unethical + immoral + illegal = untouchable due to political connections. And to think we were silly enough to think that you lot would be better than the last -we didn't realize that 'better' meant 'more skilled.'

I really don't mean to lecture, and I admit that armchair quarterbacks and backseat drivers are my least favourite people, but honestly, there is more to governing than trying nonstop to nail the Lord's carcass to the wall -not that I have a problem with that, we just need more from you. Here's what we want: control your ministers; stop defending your friends and overlooking their misdeeds -bad is bad no matter who you are; begin to set an example for the rest of us by starting the cleanup at the top.

Mister Prime Minister, we need Belize to be cleaned up, and in order to achieve that, we need you to start exhibiting that real leadership you promised. When should we expect to see it?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Things That Go Bang In The Night

It hasn’t yet hit the news, probably because our local news organizations have one-track minds on Election Day, but another grenade took flight last night.  Those of us who live in the general vicinity of Buttonwood Bay felt the shake and heard the sound of the explosion.  By this morning we knew: Comptroller of Customs Gregory Gibson, or at least his house, was the target of the tosser who threw the grenade.

I’ve never met Mr. Gibson, but like every other citizen of this country, I know about the generally corrupt nature of his subordinates.  After all, who among us has not come across a customs officer who is suddenly, unexplainably wealthy?  By no means should you assume that I’m saying all customs officers are corrupt, but the ones who are really, really are.  Mr. Gibson, however, hasn't had a whole lot said about him, and when no one in this town can get any decent rumours going, well, that fact says something about you.

So basically, I figure, as do most people, that someone tried to kill Mr. Gibson merely for doing his job.  Mind you, this does not bode well for my country, when people attempt to destroy a guy for his honesty.  Remember the pseudoephedrine a few months back?  I doubt this incident is delayed revenge for that, so I’m forced to wonder what’s leaking through Customs now.

Mister Prime Minister, Members of the Cabinet, let’s quit trying to pretend that the crime situation is under control; that our forces can handle the problem.  We need to be honest about what’s happening to our tiny country, or we’ll never be able to fix it, will we?  Tonight I’m too tired and angry to be eloquent.  I just want my country back.  It's time to quit treating us like children, patting us on the collective head, telling us that it isn’t what it looks like and that we don't understand the global realities.  Get real and get on with fixing the problem before the few remaining Mr. Gibsons of our world do get blown up. 

Give me my country back!  In the name of patriotism, begin to give good people like Mr. Gibson the weapons (and the forces) they need in order to fight for our right to a decent, safe way of life.  It's time to get serious, deadly serious.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

On The Move

Those of you who follow these scribbles of mine will know that Friday night’s revelations on Channel 5 regarding Mayor Z’s possible ineligibility to run gave me nothing less than the kind of laughter that sets your whole body shaking and sends tears streaming down your face.

However, it does take the fun out of it if this is how the race ends, so after I got done laughing, I got down to some serious thinking –well, sort of serious.  First, what sort of proof was provided that she’s now fully resident at the palatial estate beyond the river and overlooking the sea?  Did someone provide pictures of (shudder) her underwear drawer?  Did they find a dresser full of hair-teasing tools and lotions and potions meant to keep her looking adorable for all except the Belize Times?  In other words, what constitutes incontrovertible proof?  I look forward to seeing if Z deems this one worth answering come Monday.

I will say that I do agree that if you’re not willing to live in a municipality, you ought not to wish to govern it either.  Therefore, I think that the quoted amendment was not only appropriate, but too long in coming.  Kudos to the UDP lawmakers no matter what their motivation was –and I hope they are not now persuaded to reverse course on the matter.  Remember the various City Councillors in the past who went abroad and ‘forgot’ to resign?  But maybe, since Z built and moved out to her mansion when she was Mayor, she kind of knew how her leadership of the City would turn out, no? Call her desertion more of an admission, if you will.

Over not a few drinks this weekend, I and some of my friends did wonder who spilled the beans re HomeGate.  I gave it 50/50 that it was her own party, and one or two others agreed.  Others in the group tended to cling to their faith in the diabolical nature of the PUP, and I gave them their props too.  Either way, this is an unambiguous test of the UDP leadership: will they suffer their own law to be overturned so as to maintain their candidate at any cost?  Or will they use this as the ‘out’ to rid themselves of a serious political liability?  Also, will Jules get his groove back where City Hall scoops are concerned?  Either way, Monday’s news should be interesting; let’s see what happens next. 

However this latest episode turns out, I will wend my unwilling way to the polls come Wednesday to cast my vote for God-knows-what to lead the City.  While I may vote for Chubby, let me make it absolutely clear that I do not regard him as anything other than a ‘NO’ vote for Zenaida.  Let’s face it, the man is so boring I can’t even stay awake long enough to mock him.

Yuh knoa, I wonder if Z has a spare floor in The Bates Motel in case we all need to move out of Belize City –or in case Creole Waggans wants to open a Ladyville branch.  She and Mr$ Moya can’t be using all three, can they?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

PUDP...It's All The Same To Me

What the hell is going on with our leaders?!  City Council allegedly couldn’t make their payments to Social Security (yet Mayor Zenaida could pay her brother’s business) for several months.  Her only answer to the ongoing accusations on the matter is to, in her usual arrogant way, state that she has answered the matter already and that the previous City Council was equally irregular in its payments.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that why we fired that crowd?!?!  And didn’t you promise us that you’d be better?  Well, saying they were just as bad doesn’t exactly scream improvement, does it?  The more things change....

Speaking of how bad things are at City Hall, where’s our Municipal Audit?  Mr. Auditor General, are you allowing yourself to be compromised by political necessities?  Because I’ll tell you this: you are paid by us and as such you answer to us, and we want our audit -before March 4th.  Hell, if you’re just a little behind, feel free to give us what you’ve got and tell us when the rest will be ready.  You readers remember when Ralph wouldn’t allow any criminal charges against his brother?  This crowd promised to be better.  The more things change….

Connected friends can avoid paying taxes with impunity while businesses that already pay more than their fair share get taxed further to pay for those friends.  Try avoiding your SSB payment for a month and see what happens.  Try owing money for your trade and liquor license and see how long you can stay open.  Try to keep from paying your property tax and see how that goes over with Zenaida & Co.  Try talking Customs down on the duty they want to charge you and see how helpful they are.  Ever made a mistake of a few cents on your GST or Business Tax or been late by a day on either?  But there are those who can do all that and much, much more.  It's just not Archie Lee's turn anymore.  The more things change….

The Labour Ministry wants businesspeople to pay more severance to their employees –three and five times more than they’ve planned for.  Not a bad idea, until you look around you and see how quiet things are with businesses.  Then the government complains about businesses not lowering their prices.  How can they?  What costs have declined for them?  Not taxes, labour, or utility costs, that’s for sure.  You see, the PUP claimed to be all about social justice, then proceeded to help their favoured few shred the economy.  The UDP claim to be all about social justice, and are doing everything to help their favoured few take what’s left.  The more things change….

The current Prime Minister says that “corruption has been eliminated at the topmost level of government,” meaning him personally, one assumes –or maybe the Governor General.  Who the hell cares that one athlete is clean when the whole rest of the team is on steroids?  Same argument goes for any member of PUP who sanctioned what happened by keeping silent while it was happening.  Guilt by association, it’s all the rage around here.  The more things change….

Look guys, economic patriotism does not mean killing the cow for a steak dinner tonight then wondering why you can’t have milk with your cereal tomorrow.  Economic patriotism means keeping your local businesses in business and able to do business without the constant fear of starvation through taxation.  Economic patriotism actually means embracing certain free market principles so that consumers have a choice and local businesses have to learn to compete and work toward exporting their products in order to thrive –protectionism kills innovation and quality, did you know that?  Have some pasta and think about that.  Hell, economic patriotism even means creating a climate that allows shoppers to be able to afford to shop in their own country -but remember, do it without starving businesses to make it happen.

You know, you can at least try to pretend you love your country.  So far you aren’t fooling anyone into thinking that you want to win the job again in 2013.  Did you notice that there’s a global crisis on?  Has anyone told you it’s now hitting home and that your actions determine how Belize comes out of it?  Trust them, they’re not the ones telling lies.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Of Cliffs and Cane

I’m only a relatively uninformed bystander watching what increasingly appears to be the economic version of a headlong stampede toward the cliff’s edge. 

Let the above statement serve as my disclaimer. I am hereby freely acknowledging that I know nada about sugar cane and the cultivation thereof -I don't say 'growth' because I think that word applies (or should apply) more accurately to the industry currently under vigorous discussion. So, unlike many people out there, this is me not pretending to know what I don’t know. 

However, I am curious about how we turn back from this looming disaster when the main beneficiaries seem ever more cemented in their position.  When I listen to Mr Magana, for example, I hear the sound of engines revving instead of tires screeching.  No brakes, no u-turns up to now, and the cliff's edge is ever closer.

In a way, I guess standing on the sidelines may afford me a better view of what is going on, though there are also elements one misses by seeing the whole forest and not individual trees.  What I do know is this: we have an endangered industry, and this lee argument puts it that much closer to extinction.

I'd like to know a few things about the way forward, and for ease of reference I've listed them below, carefully numbered and not at all indexed by importance, chronology or alphabet:
  1. Is the Core Sampler truly the root of all evil? I feel the need to capitalize the name, because this seemingly offensive piece of equipment appears to have taken on a life of its own, and may yet go the way of Gapi's t-shirt, that is, be burnt in effigy. Seriously though, doesn't this thing have some use once we cure it of its alleged propensity to tell nasty little fibs on innocent sugarcane? Like, say, data collection?
  2. If Nemencio Acosta is to be fired, how will this help the industry? What was his offense? Who should replace him, and why that person? Who the heck is Nemencio Acosta, and why'd his mom call him that? Must've caught hell in school, true? Schoolyard bullies can be so cruel... Will his replacement have a better name? I fancy something like...Alvaro, or Placido maybe.
  3. Is this business of pushing quality over quantity for cane production a 'red' herring? I mean, just because the EU, numerous trading partners, Tate & Lyle, dozens of Belizean experts, and both the last government and this one say that failure to improve quality will mean the end of the industry, that doesn't make it true, does it? Because everybody knows the EU consists of a bunch of pranksters who never really mean what they say. They send out these goofy memos between rounds of Pin the Tail on the Ex-colony, that sort of thing.
  4. Okay, the last one was a low blow. I'm sure that Mr Magana and his brethren are aware that they have to change their ways -I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt in generous helpings, but wasn't that where the Fairtrade money was to have come in useful? What's the story behind Fairtrade anyway? Hey, they make pretty good chocolate though; you can get some at Brodies...no, they aren't sponsoring the blog, but if you could forward this to them, maybe...
  5. If the core sampler is sent on its merry way, and if the farmers concede that improving quality is the way forward, and if Fairtrade, or the EU, or my Fairy Godmother (who really is too old to be wearing tutus...but I digress) make funds available for this quality improvement business (you're counting the ifs, I hope), then what is the acceptable measure and compensation for quality that will reward the farmer who improves his crop?  I mean, there's gotta be something that won't send the guys back to the dump for more old tires, right?
I'll leave it there for now, as I, like the rest of non-agricultural Belize, continue to watch the endless sequels of this saga. I am, I will tell you, perched on the edge of my ratty old recliner each night, watching that cliff get closer...and closer...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Kamikaze Cane Farmers

Someone died today. Whatever the circumstances of his death, he didn't have to die. Today, though it would be easy to find the comedic elements in the tragedy, to find them I'd have to go past the fury that's blocking my vision. Why fury? Because someone died today, and his death was unnecessary.

For the benefit of strangers to my country and those who have logged on from their mid-jungle gopher holes, let me explain briefly that sugar cane and politics have always been a combustible mix in Belize. You see, our politicians have neither strength of will nor courage of conviction, and it takes a great deal of both to take on the cane farmers.

In some respects, today's clash has been coming for decades. In another way, it has been coming for about three years. Either way, what you have is an ailing industry producing substandard product and being propped up and indulged by successive governments.  Sounds sensible, doesn't it?  No, I didn't think so either.

Now, the core sampler in question is a tool for measuring quality. Higher quality logically means more sugar per ton of cane delivered. In a world where commodity prices aren’t the best, and quotas are disappearing, it should go without saying that Belize’s survival interest lies in producing the best possible product, to get the best possible prices.

Instead the cane farmers are willing to fight to the death for the right to kill their industry. And at the cost of one life today, they won one more battle for their self-destruction. Tonight the core sampler is unplugged, and “same-old, same-old” triumphs yet again.

Mr. Politician, as a taxpayer, I feel I have the right to tell you this: if these guys want to destroy the industry, don’t help them do it by indulging them for the sake of votes.  Because when the sugar industry dies –is murdered– you’re going to expect me to pay for the farmers to avoid starvation.  And I won’t have it!

In other words, don’t expect me to donate the fuel for the cane farmers’ kamikaze flights.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Headlines You'll Never Read in the Belize News

Increased Illegal Immigration from China -Officials Blame Deep Potholes for Providing Access

Breaking News! Insiders Confirm Zenaida's Hair is Real

Political Parties Agree...to Disagree -Public D'uh Rating Hits Unprecedented High

"Clear the Land's" Secret Twin Brother, "Clear the Sea" Identified as Gaspar Vega

Attorney General Admits Justice System "May Have One or Two Flaws"

PUC Head Agrees to Salary Decrease in Line With Fuel Price Reductions

PUP Party Postponed Indefinitely -No Cheese for Wine-rs

Honesty Not Best Policy, Survey of Belizean Politicians Reveals

Former Finance Minister Makes Statement to Court -Says "Nyah-nyah, Can't Catch Me!"

And finally...

Mayor "Just Dizzy" About Roundabouts, Says Trees in Parks are "Highly Overrated, Yuh Knoa?"

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My Big Fat Kruffy Wedding

That's what one of my friends calls it, this 'wedding of the century' between our PM and his Princess Bride.

Kim, my dear, you don't know me, but since I apparently already think of you as my First Lady, I feel compelled to give you a leebit…er…I mean, a modicum of advice. You see, we Belizeans don't really care that you're getting married. For the most part we tend to think, if we bother to think about it at all, that it's about time Dean made an honest woman out of you, whatever that means. We do wish you well, most of us. It is, I would say, a story written by Barbara Cartland, if she came to Belize, dropped all the noble titles, added a three-year-old daughter to the love story, and spoke more fluent Kriol…or any Kriol at all.

However, when you decide to go to a newspaper to tell them that you want a private wedding without any fuss, what you will get is…well…fuss. When you decide to fly in the Bishop of Belize for your wedding, that’s fuss. When you tell the newspaper that the dress is by Monique Lhuillier, and that the groom will wear “Armani or something like that,” yep, you guessed it, that’s fuss too. A guest list of 110? I think you’ve succeeded in importing a fair amount of fuss and extinguishing the desired privacy. But you’re marrying a big, important guy –whose marital history is way too detailed for such an article (a kid in jail needs mentioning for this?)– so a certain amount of fuss is in order, and I can see why you’d look forward to a cozy chat with the Savannah Morning News. Just don’t then say for the record that you didn’t want ‘fuss.’ That’s more coyness than our culture can handle with a straight face.

Regrettably, the long lenses of the Belizean paparazzi do not stretch to Savannah, and that, I’m guessing, is the point. Perhaps Ms. Landers will report on the event now that she's brought it to our attention, no? Honestly, I personally don’t care what country you get married in, that’s your prerogative as Princess Bride. However, if you had wanted less fuss and practically no bother to speak of, you could have still done it here somewhere –our paparazzi don’t work weekends.

Kim, we wish you well as you walk down the aisle with Dean, it apparently is a marriage made in designer heaven. May you have a long and happy life together. And most of all, we thank you for the laughter you’ve given us courtesy of the Savannah Morning News.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Blagojevich Doctrine


Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has done a lot for America (and the world) in the last couple of months.  On center stage we’ve had a country (and the world) reeling from the effects of a recession so deep that nobody knows where the bottom is (nor does anyone want to find out), and then the biggest political clown we’ve seen in some time enters from stage left.  If you take it from the point of view of dark humor, which I do, this guy provides serious comic relief.  Admittedly, if I were an Illinois voter/taxpayer, I’d probably be pretty miffed at me for laughing.

Whatever, I’m a Belizean voter through and through.  Even when I wonder why I’m bothering, I still hike down to the polling station in my division, brave the long lines, and dutifully cast my vote for the person who in my opinion might be the least crooked and the most likely to give half a damn about my country even while he/she’s picking my pockets clean.  I’m not kidding about the pockets; the last gal who got my vote of semi-confidence has even taken the lint!  Maybe she needs it to mop the marble floors of her sumptuous abode, you know?

What do I think of Blago?  I’m thinking the man is merely a victim of geography.  Be honest, if he were politicking here, what he’s accused of would seem to be business (and politics) as usual, right?  Let’s say someone here taped [your area rep] discussing a board appointment on the phone.  Do you think the conversation would have been much different?  I mean, other than the cuss words used –like maybe saying r—s instead of f—k every so often?  Sadly, we sort of expect this stuff by now.

I admit, I don’t especially care at this point which party’s in power at what electoral level; they have become all the same to me, except that some are better con artists than others.

What does bother me is this question:  is our current PM just na├»ve, or is he disingenuous?  It’s a fair question, given his statement of certainty during his New Year’s Address, where he said “…it is my proudest boast that the corruption at the very top, which became endemic under the last government, has been utterly and completely eliminated.”  Whaaat?!

PM, I do know lawyer-speak when I hear it, so I figure that what you mean is that YOU’RE not corrupt because you’re the guy at the very top.  And in that respect I’m willing to believe you.  But unless you make all the rules, enforce them yourself, fire your entire Cabinet and never leave the country again so that no one else ‘acts’ in your place, that’s not good enough. 

Prime Minister, my ma teach me when I mi small ‘nuh fi sway fi nobaddy.’  She also taught me to ‘si wid yuh own eye.’  Now here’s me, giving you a chance, figuring you mean well, that you’ll get things under control, and then a mere eleven months after you got the job you’re trying to trick me into thinking that the biggest, most entrenched thing out there done fix?  That the air is now clear of the toxic, smog-thick stench of corruption and that we can toss our gas masks out for SEL to maybe pick up if they were paid this week?  No, no, NO man!!!  Are you really willing to swear for your entire Cabinet?  Because we need more than just you being straight to achieve incorruptible governance ‘at the top.’

Plus, residents of your largest municipality are finding that corruption can be deadly at municipal government levels too.  We’ve found out firsthand that it becomes both contagious and corrosive when mixed with arrogant, aggressive incompetence. This corruption spreads the garbage and, like acid, eats ever-deeper potholes into our neglected road surfaces.

Prime Minister, YOU don’t have to be corrupt in order for corruption to rule.  All you have to do is turn a blind eye to it.  Do you know the cost of that blindness?  It makes for impotent leadership, which in turn leads to anarchy.  Trickle-down corruption, even now in full flood, creates an ineffective judicial-legal system, reduces tax collections, and encourages both actual and economic vigilantism.  In short, the people have begun to take the law into their own hands and to keep their tax money to themselves too –we’ll talk about that some other time.

Mr Prime Minister, it isn’t enough to say that YOU’RE not corrupt; you must be seen to be actively rooting out corruption, starting at the level just below the ‘very top’ (if I correctly interpret your lawyerly hair-cleaving) and energetically ripping it out at all levels –without political prejudice, if you please!  Use both hands and your teeth if need be.  Only when you’ve done this can we truly have the “sunlit terrain of justice and prosperity that we all desire and deserve.”

Meanwhile, I’ll continue watching Blago and wondering if he learned his politics from us.  If he ever says r—s I’ll know the answer.