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The war comes to the front door. November 30, 2003

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Father John Dear at peace rally.

“I looked out the front window of the house where I live, next door to the church, and there they were–all 75 of them, standing yards away from my front door, in the street right in front of my house and our church, shouting and screaming to the top of their lungs, ‘Kill! Kill! Kill!’ Their commanders had planted them there and were egging them on.

“I was astonished and appalled. I suddenly realized that I do not need to go to Iraq; the war had come to my front door. Later, I heard that they had deliberately decided to do their exercises in front of my house and our church because of my outspoken opposition to the war. They wanted to put me in my place.

“This, I think, is a new tactic. Over the years, I have been arrested some 75 times in demonstrations, been imprisoned for a ‘Plowshares’ disarmament action, been bugged, tapped, and harassed, searched at airports, and monitored by police. But this time, the soldiers who will soon march through Baghdad and attack desert homes in Iraq, practiced on me. They confronted me personally, just as the death squad militaries did in Guatemala and El Salvador in the 1980s, which I witnessed there on several occasions.

“I decided I had to do something. I put on my winter coat and walked out the front door right into the middle of the street. They stopped shouting and looked at me, so I said loudly, publicly for all to hear, ‘In the name of God, I order all of you to stop this nonsense, and not to go to Iraq. I want all of you to quit the military, disobey your orders to kill, and not to kill anyone. I do not want you to get killed. I want you to practice the love and nonviolence of Jesus. God does not bless war. God does not want you to kill so Bush and Cheney can get more oil. God does not support war. Stop all this and go home. God bless you.’

“Their jaws dropped, their eyeballs popped and they stood in shock and silence, looking steadily at me. Then they burst out laughing. Finally, the commander dismissed them and they left. “

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All Pawlitics is Local November 17, 2003

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Bailey Very Blue

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Our new Monday feature finds our pundit pouting…

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Miss Monica: So we�ll start with a local subject first, this time. Any comment on today’s inauguration of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and his promise to save California from its budget deficit, currently estimated at $25 billion dollars?

Bailey�s Spokesperson: Go ahead. Rub it in.

MM: Beg pardon?

BS: (Sigh). Next question.

MM: Um, okay. The business scandals plaguing wall street?

BS: Bailey doesn�t like walls.

MM: Ah. So I take it he supports full disclosure and open-door policies?

BS: (Sigh!)

MM: Right. Moving on. What about President Bush visiting London this week?

BS: Bailey would like to visit the Queen. Sounds like fun. Buckingham palace has a lot of stuff that would be good to scratch. But obviously something will have to be done to clear out those Corgies before he arrives.

(Long Pause).

MM: Well, then. The wildfires have been extinguished. How about the recent torrential rains?

BS: Bailey thinks rain sucks.

MM: And?

BS: It sucks because he can�t go outside. But then, sometimes when it�s sunny, like on election day, he and millions of other cats aren�t allowed to go outside either.

MM: That�s it?

BS: (Sigh!)

MM: O-kay. How about something lighthearted? Putin-shaped chocolates?

BS: Bailey will wait until they come up with Putin-shaped tuna cakes.

MM: How about�

BS: No, wait! The official answer to that question is: Bailey makes his own Putin-shaped chocolates. That�s when he�s not making Schwarzenegger-shaped chocolates.

MM: Maybe we should continue this interview another time, when Bailey�s feeling more chipper.

BS: (Sigh)…

Drought… Heat Wave… Fiery Conflagration… November 14, 2003

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Okay, sure, we’re used to that. Even the recall election seemed like Business as Usual, in the end.

But … snow in South Central?

Miss Monica is now expecting floods, followed shortly thereafter by plagues of frogs and locusts.

Iraq: Lawless by Fiat? November 11, 2003

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WASTE, FRAUD AND ABUSE

“American companies are barred by law from paying bribes or taking kickbacks abroad. But Iraq is still largely a lawless place. And one company director for a British firm doing business in Baghdad says that makes all the difference. ‘I’ve never seen corruption like this by expatriate businessmen. It�s like a feeding frenzy,’ he says. One prominent Iraqi businessman said he was told he’d have to raise his bid by $750,000 to get a major contract, so long as he kicked back that amount to the contractor’s rep. The businessman refused to identify the contractor, but did say, ‘No Iraqi would ask for a bribe that big.’ NEWSWEEK witnessed such behavior directly: An Iraqi-Anglo joint venture did a relatively small job in the magazine’s Baghdad bureau. When a final price had been agreed, the company’s Iraqi manager said, ‘Shall we add a commission of 10 percent?’ Commission? ‘Well, you would keep that of course,’ he said. In other words, a kickback. When NEWSWEEK declined, he said, ‘You’re the first one who didn’t want a commission.’ … “- Newsweek, November 3, 2003.

The “feeding frenzy” of corruption that Newsweek describes may be due, in large part or in its entirety, to Executive Order 13303, “Protecting the Development Fund and Certain Other Property in Which Iraq Has an Interest,” which was signed by President Bush on May 22, 2003.

On August 8, 2003, Ruth Rosen of the San Francisco Chronicle summarized this order as follows:

“[T]he president’s order appears to place U.S. corporations above the law for any activities related to Iraq oil, either in that country or in the United States. It also declared a national emergency as the justification for sweeping aside all federal statues, including the Alien Tort Claims Act, and appears to provide immunity against contractual disputes, discrimination suits, violations of labor practices, international treaties, environmental disasters and human rights violations. Even more, it doesn’t limit immunity to the production of oil, but also protects individuals, companies and corporations involved in selling and marketing the oil as well.”

To criticism of the order from the Government Accountability Project and other watchdog organizations, the Administration has countered that the intent of the executive order would become clear once regulations being drafted by the Treasury Department were issued. However, I was unable to find on the Treasury Department website any mention that regulations have ever been considered or issued.

Hairshirt Tuesday, MSNBC announces. November 6, 2003

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“Forget casual Friday. In corporate America, this was Hairshirt Tuesday. Federal prosecutors simultaneously indicted one of the most high-profile figures in recent corporate scandals, targeted the world�s largest retailer for its alleged violation of immigration law and decided to retry a former star banker on obstruction of justice charges….”

Miss Monica has her own announcement: MSNBC: Not From This Planet? Hirsute fashion statement notwithstanding, Tuesday was nothing out of the ordinary. It was a day like any other in the Corporate Crime Blotter.

How bad were the California wildfires, really? November 5, 2003

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This bad.

No, they really love being patronised. They do. November 5, 2003

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Think you’re PC? Think you’re not racist?

Think again.

Oh, and for the humour-impaired and the Republicans out there… it’s satire, kids.

In the Devotion Mailbox: Saludos de M�xico November 4, 2003

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Expedition de Srta. Monica al infierno
Miss Monica’s Trip to Hell

Saludos,
Te he mandado unos correos, supongo que has de estar muy ocupada, pero dime como estas????
– Fransuame, Mexico

Greetings,
I’ve sent you an email, I suppose you are very busy, but tell me how you are doing?
– Fransuame, Mexico

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Querido/a Fransuame,

Srta. Monica fue con su amigo Boofie a San Diego el domingo pasado. Era como conducir en Mt. Vesuvias. Porque escucharon un hombre loco, los cogieron en una zona de la evacuacion. Srta. Monica tiene una nueva regla: ella circundara un bloqueo del policia, pero no dos. Este, sin embargo, es el tema de una historia futura. A pesar de el humo, estoy bien. Gracias por pedir.

(Y me disculpo por cualquier error en el espanol. Todavia tiendo para hablar “Spanglish”, desafortunadamente. And then there’s the damned accent marks, which blogger turns into question marks. But we’ll figure this out, perhaps manana …)

Dear (I can’t tell the gender) Fransuame,

Miss Monica went with her friend Boofie to San Diego last Sunday. It was like going into Mt. Vesuvias. Because they listened to a crazy man, they ended up in an evacuation zone. Miss Monica now has a new rule: she will go around one police blockade, but not two. But this, however, is a story for another day. Despite the smoke, she is well. Thanks for asking. (And sorry for any errors in the Spanish. Miss Monica still speaks primarily “Spanglish”, unfortunately…)

Bailey Tries His Paw at Political Commentary November 3, 2003

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Bailey Blue, pundit

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Who better to be a political commentator than a seasoned politician who recently ran for Governor of California? Who better to air his opinions than a cat who really has some stinkers? We present our new Monday feature:
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Miss Monica: Does Bailey care about President Putin freezing shares of Yukos?

Bailey’s Spokesperson: No, that�s too far away.

MM: The Bush administration reshaping its strategy for Iraq?

BS: (Yawn).

MM: The Republican party demanding an advance viewing of the new Reagan biopic?

BS: Have any cats been defamed in the movie?

MM: Probably not. I think Reagan had a dog.

BS: Who cares, then?

MM: Episcopaleans electing a gay bishop?

BS: So? They had a messy beginning, too.

MM: Indian Gaming?

BS: Irrelevant. Bailey doesn�t know what an Indian is. He likes game hens, though. Broiled.

MM: The California wildfires?

BS: He didn�t like the fires. They smelled. The helicopters were flying all over the place. They were very noisy. His partner, Hennessy, was coughing. That was annoying. And Bailey was outraged by reports of people leaving their cats in their burning homes. He could understand dogs. But not cats.

MM: This isn�t going very well, is it?

BS: Well, look. Bailey cares about the energy crisis. Because if there�s no energy, it’s either too cold, or too dark, or too hot.

MM: And Bailey�s solution to the crisis would be?

BS: Well, that�s not Bailey�s problem, is it? And the grocery store clerk strike — Outrageous! Nothing should stand between Bailey and food. Nothing.

MM: So does Bailey support a resolution that would favor the strikers, or the grocery stores?

BS: Who cares? They just need to stop. And Bailey would like to pass a bill that would prevent gardeners from using power tools, and would make them cut the grass by hand.

MM: Ah. Like the actress, Julie Newmar. She lobbied for a ban on leafblowers.

BS: We don�t know who she is, but we like her already.

MM: She played Catwoman in the original Batman series.

BS: Awwww. Bailey likes her a lot.

MM: The governor elect, Arnold Schwarzenegger?

BS: Oh! Now you�ve hit a sore spot! Bailey wants to comment that Jessica Simpson, who couldn�t tell if Chicken-of-the-Sea was chicken or tuna, was probably allowed to vote, while he, Bailey, was locked in the house for the whole day, along with millions of his supporters.

MM: So�

BS: Bailey, not only can he tell the difference between chicken and tuna, but he can also tell when his personal servant is being cheap and buys the store brand.

MM: So Bailey feels he was robbed?

BS: He wants to know, who�s the smarter species now?

MM: What do you mean?

BS: Who�s smarter? Bailey or Jessica Simpson? That should determine who was elected governor. He was also disturbed by a Halloween show that showed that not only can rats climb up your drain pipes, and enter your house through the toilet, but that while they�re in your house they�ll eat your cat food. Horrifying.

MM: That�s not really political commentary, though�.

BS: It’s important to Bailey, which is all that matters. Rats should be outlawed. Also, he and his fellow Felinians in the Felinian Brotherhood demand henceforth to be referred to as �Feline-Americans,� instead of �Cats.� And furthermore�.

MM: O-kay� I think that�s all the time we have for this today. Thank you.