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 naïve, 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.


  1. My turn to come up on the soap box. The PM had his turn. I actually thought I saw a halo around his head.....but nah, that would have taken it a bit too far. Corruption is well and rampant is our little tarnished jewel - Belize. Law and regulations.....what's that. Fire the whole damn lot of them Take their salaries.....use them for some schemes that never come thru, or better yet, raise the pay of the Mayor and the City they can pay for better vision...and see the crap on the streets. They can't keep their noses clean, how the hell can they keep a simple thing like streets clean. Oh yes, I forgot, they can......they will just 'raise the taxes" again - from the business people, who just too tief. Now as a business owner, I see red-i.e blood(Not the UDP color. Lunping all of us as tief.and not just the Chinese, and the Indian community. How many of them have legitimate businesses, are they registered. Do they pay Trade Licenses, Property Taxes, GST, Business Tx, and Import duties, as the rest of us. Or do they have special priviledges. like a cut in property and trade license - in exchange for a wedding trip to India. Seriously, PM, you need to start with your lot in Cabinet. And then move down.
    Am will to put the tip of hair on the block for you..because I do believe that you mean well, but you can't speak for the rest of your 'ghetto' government.

  2. As a lawyer, our Prime Minister ought to know the weight carried by that wise old aphorism, "justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done."

    Now, while this quote developed as a result of the judicial review case, Rex v. Sussex Justices, Ex parte McCarthy ([1924], the principle at its root contains lessons that ought truly to be carried near and dear to everyone's heart, not least our politicians'.

    You see, what this established was the principle that the mere appearance of 'bias' is sufficient to overturn a judicial decision.

    In that light, and keeping dear what that means, I remphasize what has been said here, "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’."