Mr. Chatterbox

By staff February 1, 2008

I’m getting more and more curious about that fence they’re planning to build along the border, because it seems that my Mexican next-door neighbors have just built a fence to keep me out. I can’t imagine what their problem is. Maybe Pee Wee kept running into their yard. Maybe it was me sunbathing in my Speedo. Who knows? But suddenly a big wooden fence appeared, and I must say, it’s not very neighborly. I peek through the cracks and watch them roasting their goats and drinking their ponche and singing and having a grand old time and I’m thinking, what’s wrong? Aren’t I good enough for them?

This is particularly ironic since I was raised “south of the border” and consider Mexico my second home. Now, anybody who spends any time at all in Mexico comes to love it, and why not? Mexican history goes back 10,000 years and includes mighty empires and ruined cities that boggle the mind, plus all sorts of intellectual accomplishments, like the invention of zero. (By that I mean, the concept of zero, not that they didn’t invent anything.)

But perhaps the most unusual thing about Mexico, and something that is particularly relevant at the moment, is its attitude toward religion. You would think it would be the most religious place in the world, and on one hand, it is. But this is exactly what caused the problem. The Catholic Church got a little too powerful. It was virtually running the country, getting all sorts of tax breaks, controlling education, impeding any sort of social reform. It must have been really bad because they finally had a revolution, several in fact, and today the separation between church and state is absolute.

Vicente Fox loosened things up a little, but back when I was a kid the church was allowed no role in public life whatsoever. It was forbidden to wear clerical garb in the street, so you never saw nuns or priests. At Sunday mass, the priest would say, “Since it’s against the law to make social announcements from the altar I can’t tell you about the potluck supper that’s coming up Wednesday night.” And I’ll never forget the day the President’s daughter got married. It was at a church just down the street from us, so I went over to watch all the fuss. All the limos pulled up and everybody went inside—everybody but the President. He stood outside and waited. So strong was the prohibition against the President of Mexico entering a church that he couldn’t even attend his own daughter’s wedding.

The lesson I learned from all this is that religious hypocrisy works both ways. Here the President has to at least pretend he’s religious. And in Mexico he has to pretend he isn’t.

And as for that fence. On that issue I side with the greatest Republican of them all, Ronald Reagan. He envisioned a sort of commonwealth of North America, with the citizens of the U.S., Mexico and Canada able to come and go across their borders at will. To that I say “amen.”

At least in the United States. In Mexico, it’s still against the law.


Isn’t the Presidential election great? This time we’ve outdone ourselves in the sheer number of wonderful candidates. Why, there are so many good ones that you may want to vote for more than one, something that you may actually be able to do if Kathy Dent is still Supervisor of Elections.

Here are just a few of my favorite candidates.

Hillary Clinton. Imagine! A woman finally running for President. I’d vote for her in a minute except for two things. 1) I don’t like women, and 2) NO MORE DYNASTIES.

Mitt Romney. I saw him on Meet the Press last Sunday and boy, does he know how to talk his way out of anything. He reminds me of myself when I’m talking to the boss, and believe me, that is not something we want in a President.

Ron Paul. For months I thought Ru Paul was running, then I saw his picture. No, absolutely not. Again, he reminds me too much of me. It’s always about how everybody else’s ideas are stupid, and how we tried that already and it didn’t work.

Mike Huckabee. No, for the simple reason that we can’t have a President named Huckabee. Just like we can’t have a President named Ferry. Or Plunket. It demeans the office.

John McCain. Boy, is he turning into Norma Desmond or what? Old, tired, and demented. And with that equally nutty Lieberman in tow. What a pair. No way.

Rudy Guiliani. I love him! The poodle-walking mistress. The slush fund. The psycho police chief. The dressing in drag. Go, Rudy!

Barack Obama. Oh, why not? We’ve tried everything else. How much harm can he do?

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