For the last two weeks we’ve been watching the trip itinerary of Lech Kaczyński, the President of Poland.

For those uninformed it looks something like this:

The Government: “It’s not a holiday season, Mr. President”

President, stomping his foot: “I wanna go.” Boooo…

The president wants to go to an EU summit and have his say in our politics. The thing is that not everyone can have their say. Neither the president, nor you, nor I. There is the government, with the prime minister, chosen in democratic elections, and they are the only guys who have the right to say anything about how the country should be governed.

The president seems to think that the word “president” before his name implies that he’s some kind of George W. Bush. Well, no, not in Poland. The president of Poland is nothing like the American president. He can accept or reject the government’s propositions, but if he rejects them the Senate can outvote him. He can send our army to a war… And that’s pretty much all he can.

Otherwise he’s not like a president, he’s like the British Queen, and I don’t recall Elizabeth II go to EU summits and decide about the UK’s politics.

Unfortunately Mr. Kaczyński isn’t the only person oblivious as to his competencies. An average Pole has about the same picture of the presidency in Poland. They vote for people who have certain opinions about politics, while all they should do is to choose the best looking candidate. The president, like the English royalty, should be just for representing us at various functions, looking nice, smiling a lot (or as much as a Pole can), and chatting up other kings and queens about weather.

Who should be our president then?

The Pontiff seems an obvious choice. Unfortunately he’s dead, but then we might use one of the many monuments, and let his moral authority do the rest.

It was proven that Polish girls aren’t gorgeous, but surely we could find one. How about Ms. Szapołowska?

Grażyna Szapołowska

She’s not very clever, but that might be for the best. She can act though, and that’s even better!

We might also go sentimental and get ourselves a king. Following the May 3 Constitution here’s our guy:

Prince Alexander of Saxe-Gessaphe

Prince Alexander of Saxe-Gessaphe

See? He smiles!

OK, I know, he looks rather German, but then he is German, like the British royalty anyway. On the other hand he’s Catholic. Wait! A German Catholic? That’s like the pope! Which leads me to…

Since we’re such a Catholic country anyway, why not give the crown to Vatican?

Emblem of the Papacy

Emblem of the Papacy

There are very good points for:

  1. Our king would be above all other kings.
  2. He would have a cool triple crown.
  3. And a genuine power via God’s grace.
  4. He’d be the best of all Catholics!
  5. Father Rydzyk and alike would be successfully prevented from criticising the head of our state.
  6. Our king would care more about heavenly wisdoms than earthly goods.
  7. All popes would learn Polish.
  8. No newspaper would laugh at Polish kings without risking offending all of the Catholics in their country.
  9. Our country would be supported by over billion people all over the world.
  10. He’s already rich, so he’d cost us less than presidents. We’d save on bodyguards too. The Swiss take care about it.
  11. He’s already the head of Vatican, and you don’t hear that they’re going bankrupt any soon.
  12. The papal emblem would have the Polish eagle.
  13. Our kings wouldn’t be boring. I heard the next one will be black.

… 100. The pope already has a plane!

Are there any againsts? Nope. There’s no reason to suspect the king of Poland of any mischief, because traditionally our kings have nothing to say, and the popes, unlike the Kaczyński bros, are famous for their adherence to tradition.

We might also go the Polish route and choose a Czartoryski. That would be this one:

Prince Adam Karol Czartoryski

Prince Adam Karol Czartoryski

Guess where he lives! Yep, the Isles. He smiles the Polish way though, and he’s the Spanish king’s first cousin.

But then since we can give the crown to anyone, why not choose freely? How about…

King Abdullah

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

Just think of the hectolitres of cheap fuel!


Two Russian Jokes

August 29, 2008

There are two Russian jokes (although likely they’re both Polish in origin) I was reminded of while reading Scatt’s Those Missiles over at Polandian. Both come from the 1980s and refer to propaganda.

This is the first (and likely the only) joke in my life I actually managed to memorize, and I still remember it, even though I was maybe 14 when I first heard it. It’s from the repertoire of the Bez Jacka (Without Jacek) cabaret. Commercials, as we all know, refer to product promotion – something virtually unknown in Poland back then, with this one exception:

A brisk stream winds down the deep tundra or taiga scenery. A deer nibs on grass on a nearby meadow. Birds sing a cheerful tune. The sky is blue and clear.

There, at the brook’s bank a woman crouched, and with sweeping movements of her hands washes her cloths, pressing the fabric against a stone.

Suddenly, a Cossack emerges from behind a tree, and tiptoes towards her. When he takes his hold of her from behind, she screams: “Help! They f*ck me!”

Off voice: “They f*ck you, and they’ll keep f*cking you, as long as you don’t buy an automatic washing-machine.”

That more or less explains Russian methods of persuasion and enticement as seen through Polish eyes. It might be not certain whether we need those missiles, but it’s certain that we wouldn’t need them at all if we weren’t f*cked by them so often. In the end one needs to buy the automatic washer anyway, the only difference now is that we can choose our supplier.

The second joke refers to Public Relations that is how information is being presented:

– Is it true that Victor Semyonych won a car in a lottery in Leningrad?

– Yes, it is. – Yes, it is. But it wasn’t Victor Semyonych it was Fyodor Kovalenko, and it wasn’t in Leningrad it was in Moscow, and it wasn’t in a lottery it was in the Red Square, and it wasn’t a car it was a bicycle, and he didn’t win it but they stole it from him.

One might think that Russia bitches now over the missile defence system because they’re unhappy. While I don’t know whether they’re happy or not, I know that in Russian tradition it’s always good to bitch when one has a good pretext, even if it’s not necessarily a real reason.

Of course the anti-missiles in Poland are not a threat to Russia in the least, but there are other benefits coming from bitching that should be considered:

  • it’s always good to make some rumour – people notice you

  • it’s good to present yourself as a victim, especially when your usual image is more of an oppressor

  • it’s even better to do it in order to turn everyone’s attention from Russian troops in Georgia – at least not all of the news lately were about the victims of Russia, some were also about Russia the victim

  • it is a great opportunity to let the Russian people, whose democracy looks somewhat too closely to autocracy, know that their lives are endangered and only Putin can save them – after all there are millions of them and it’s easier to keep them quiet that way

  • it’ll come off handy when Russia puts a new embargo on Polish products

  • it’ll be a good point in Russia’s negotiations with the EU

  • whatever Russia does now they’ll say that we started it

  • there’s always a chance that someone will believe them

  • there’s always a chance that someone will be scared by their threat

Does that mean that Russia is going to attack Poland? No. But when they do you bet that they’ll use the missiles as a pretext. However, the missiles will never be a true reason. As Poles say: every pretext is good.

Yet, as long as they make the rumour there’s nothing to worry about. Whenever Russia attacks it’s done quietly and without any prior announcement, just like the Cossack in the first joke.

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