It's Too Damn Hot Out Here For a Penguin


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As the good Dr. said, I've just returned back from Panama to find that I'm invited to be the 11th side of 13sides (Dr. N, Tony the Pony, and the octagon being the first 10 sides). I'm not as funny as the rest, so I figure my contribution could be field reporting. Sort of like Anderson Cooper from the 90s, without the sodomy.

For those who haven't been there, Panama is like Miami, only more people speak English. The growth there in the past 15 years is startling. There're huge buildings, the downtown area is very clean, and there are more malls than in a 13-year-old girl's wet dream.

I arrived in Panama, coincidentally, the same day as President Bush, last Monday. While Panamanian government officials chauffeured me around the city and wined and dined me to bring American jobs to their country, the rest of Panama was protesting my President. I asked if they were protesting the free trade agreements (CAFTA) and was told "No. CAFTA will do more for Panama than the US." I asked if it was the USAID and other money we give them that pissed them off - maybe it was a pride thing. "No, we've used that to build schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure." I asked if it was the canal - built by Americans, run for them for 85 years, then given to them outright- did they want to give it back? "Ha, ha, ha. No, we'll keep it, thanks." (And thank you, Jimmy Carter.)

"It's the US presence in Iraq," I was told. "Many Panamanians think it's wrong for the US to interfere." I thought about that for about 10 seconds. Maybe it would be hard for Panamanians to understand how the US could invade a country, overthrow an oppressive dictator, install a constitutional republic, and create a peaceful, free, independent country. Then I remembered something. (Panama is paging Mr. Noriega, Mr. Manuel Noriega. Please meet your party at the isthmus of Central America.)

What did I learn? Panama is 95 degrees when it's raining: hypocrisy is best served hot.


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