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 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.