Friday, February 14, 2003


Raven has been doing a lot of reading this week—some of it over my shoulder, yes—but
he has also called my attention to things that he has been reading in Internet while I have
been working.

True to his trickster nature, Raven always gets a gleam in his eye for anything to do with
conspiracies. This week he has spent a lot of time reading a 90 page PLAN written in
2000—before Bush stole the presidential election--reviving the Bush Padre plan from 1991
on the build-up of US military forces with the goal of taking over the world’s resources and
squashing any threats of competition—especially from the European Union.

Raven passed me this excerpt from the article in the Common Dreams site that got him
reading the PLAN:

Published on Tuesday, February 11, 2003 by
Full Spectrum Conspiracy?
by Joy-Ann Lomena Reid

...Now that they have come in from the cold, the ultra-hawks of the
neoconservative movement -- political veterans Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney,
Paul Wolfowitz and Condoleezza Rice, and their extra-governmental think-tank
and media cohorts (men like Richard Perle, Daniel Pipes, Bill Kristol and William Safire),
are pressing their long-hatched agenda from inside the Bush administration -- or so the
conspiracy theory goes.

Their goal is "full spectrum dominance" -- an unchallenged America
sitting astride the world -- controlling its natural resources and reshaping or replacing
governments that don't go along with the program, and even controlling allies (with
something akin to economic blackmail) in order to prevent a collusion of would-be equals
from growing up in Europe. The key to getting the program started is Iraq, which as early
as 2000, the Rumsfeld Cabal (conspiracy lingo here,) were plotting to invade.

The narrative for the plot comes in the form of a report drawn up in 2000 by the neo-conservative
Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a think-tank peopled by Cheney, Rumsfeld,
Wolfowitz, Florida Governor Jeb Bush (the president's brother,) Lewis "Scooter" Libby (Cheney's
chief of staff) and others. The document was entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies,
Forces And Resources For A New Century (Check this for link) and it was published in September
2000 -- a full year before the 9/11 attacks.
The document maps out a "proposed" global strategy for America in the 21st century -- and its
tenets are being followed almost to the letter by the current Bush administration....
I took the bait. My eyes slithered through the 90 pages of mostly double-column text that
spells out the Bush administration’s Game of Risk strategies to control planet Earth.

Rave, I think you hit pay dirt with this one. The early bird getting the worm, and all that.

“Or the early worm gets the bird....”

Thursday, February 13, 2003


In Sergio Ramírez’ book of essays, “Mentiras verdaderas” (True Lies),
he talks about the most emblematic figure in the mythical zoo of Nicaragua:
el pajaro del dulce encanto (the bird of sweet charm, literally). This
bird is a creature of singular beauty, with a highly colored plumage that
takes one’s breath away when it appears (okay, Raven, when he or she
appears) winging along out of nowhere. Its sweet charm lies in the fact
that it cannot be grabbed hold of and held. It must always be admired from
a distance, because if someone grabs it, it immediately turns to excrement
in the person’s hand.

Raven was reading over my shoulder as usual last night, and when he got
to the line in which the operative word was “mierda”, he let out one of his
ear-splitting shrieks of joy. “Serves the bastard right!"

I asked him, expecting to be too deaf to hear his response, which bastard he
had in mind.

"Wasn’t it Benito Juárez who said ‘El respecto al derecho ajeno es la paz’
(Peace is respect for others’rights)?”

It had served Benito Juárez right?

“Of course not! He was a hero. He impounded the property of the Catholic
Church. They had to wait more than a century for Salinas to let them start
running their scams again.”

I saw where he had been the past couple of days, but I still wanted to know
if there was something less than the obvious lurking behind his rhetorical
question about Juárez. (With Raven, there usually is.)

Raven turned his head so that only one of his beady eyes was giving me the eye.
“Don’t you read the papers? The government of YOUR country is going to war
to get its hands on the planet’s oil. Besides the obvious similarity in the appearances
of oil and shit, hasn’t it occurred to you when those bastards grab for other people’s
stuff, everything turns to shit?!”

Raven crossed his feet with a feigned resignation that was vaguely reminiscent of
Jeanne Moreau sitting on a stool in a tavern in Brest in the Fassbinder film “Querelle”
and singing “You always kill the thing you love....”

I thought about grabbing him by the neck, but....

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

At the same moment as the world staggers toward some
kind of apocalyptic future, certain items from the menus of
the past are being recycled and offered for consumption.

Yesterday in these pages Raven took us on a brief flight
back to the times of—let’s see—Chaucer, in “The Pardoner’s
Tale”? Or maybe Luther, poised to nail his indignations to a
church door? Simony—or the selling of blessings and pardons—
and Luther’s reaction to that crass mercantilism were major
factors that led not only to the Protestant Reformation, but also,
eventually, to the Enlightenment. Suddenly, the rector of the Basilica
of Our Lady of Guadalupe has slapped the Mexican Catholic Church
back to the Dark Ages. That means centuries before the Virgin
may, or may not, have printed her image on Juan Diego’s “ayate”.
(Perhaps that percursor of tee shirts printed with everything from
beer logos name it...caused the rector to feel legitimized in
his plan to splash his blessing on cigarettes lighters bearing the
Virgin’s likeness?)

Another blast from the (literary) past was detonated last week by
The Usual Suspect—aka Saddam Hussein. In Paris it isn’t necessary
to wear a gas mask nor wolf down handfuls of cipro capsules in order
to read “Zabiba et le roi”, a love story on the order of “The Thousand
and One Nights”. It took a couple of years to get permission to publish
the book in French translation, but when it first came out in Iraq the CIA
and Mossad hired translators and code specialists right and left to root out
any secret messages as well as elements which could reveal more of
Hussein’spsychological profile.

By means of the dialog between Zabiba and the king, Hussein presents
his ideas about the loneliness of the absolute monarch, the contribution
of women to social and national development, and the struggle against
enemy conspiracies, at the same time as he reiterates the inescapable
character of the power of the people and examines the question of sexuality
in arab societies. Interesting—too bad the book’s chances of coming out in
English are so low....

The model for Hussein’s bestseller—the perennially compelling Thousand
and One Nights—showed Scheherezade spinning a new and fascinating tale
every night in order to prevent being beheaded by the scimtar of King Shahriyar.
(Are Shahriyar’s descendants still receiving due payment for his contribution to
the conceptual prototype of The Big Hook of vaudeville usage, and the gong
from the show of the same name?) The general consensus appears to be
that Hussein’s characters are not intended to be “real”, that the king is just a
mouthpiece for the author. Maybe—but another possibility occurs to me.

My question, and maybe it’s not a fair one since I have not read the book, is:
couldn’t the book itself be an analogy—or in literary language, a metaphor—for
Hussein’s own situation? Maybe Hussein is Scheherazade, spinning the story
of the book in an effort to forestall the entry of a new “intelligent weapon” (the site
underdark.netdemons gives scimtars only a 25% chance of having intelligence)
through the window of his bedroom in Bagdad?

Raven isn’t buying any of that. The image of Saddam Hussein in a belly dancer’s
costume has him rolling on the floor. (Raven isn’t known to subscribe to
The Tragic Sense of Life.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Raven is really down in the beak today.

Seems that it had never occurred to him, despite
all of his scams and scatological capers that have
been the source of legends for millennia (well, that
may be overstating his audience drawing power just a
feather), he discovered when he read this week’s Proceso
(over my shoulder, of course) that he had been rotundly
one-upped by the rector of the Basilica of Our Lady of
Guadalupe in Mexico City!

Turns out that this guy, monseñor Diego Monroy Ponce,
has pulled off one of the All Time (for the Book of Records)
Scams: He managed to sell exclusive rights to the image
of Our Lady of Guadalupe for 12.5 million dollars to a
company called Viotran, based in Disney World! (well, at
least in Orlando, Florida) whose previous dedication had been
the transfer of money between Mexico and the US. According
to the CONFIDENTIAL contract signed by Monroy Ponce
and Viotran’s agent, María Teresa Herrera Fedyk, only Viotran
may use the image of the Virgin on posters, jackets, lighters,
telephone cards, plastic and wooden products, cds, watches,
candles, votive lights, ceramic articles, textiles, holy cards, gold
and silver objects...and anything else that it occurrs to them could
bring in a few bucks. These are special lighters, candles, condoms
(oops, maybe not those), etc. because they will be guaranteed to
be “BLESSED” by either Monroy or by the archbishop Norberto
Rivera Carrera. All profits will be split 50/50 by the Basilica and Viotran.

Raven finds this singular—and I as a lapsed protoCatholic do, too—that
the guy running the Basilica has managed to sell exclusive rights to
traffic with a religious image in the PUBLIC DOMAIN (not to mention
arguably being a big part of Mexico’s patrimony) to a US hot bucks
company (maybe the idea came because a US company holds the
copyright to Mexico’s national anthem?) This beats the archbishop’s
1999 papal visit Sabritas potato chips campaign (which a lawsuit stopped
in its tracks) all to hell. Legal specialists—especially those in canon law,
have indicated also that a deal of this magnitude must have had the collusion
of the Vatican, in that any deals over 250,000 dollars must be approved by
that entity.

Meanwhile, Monroy Ponce is buying up expensive houses in Michoacan and
Mexico City (on the deeds he has had the audacity to identify himself as a
“professor”, as opposed to a con artist of the first order) and along with the
Viotran agent is spearheading a campain called Help Your Loving Mother to
raise funds for the Basilica—because 20 million visitors a year have tapped
out the budget for keeping toilets clean and paying security guards to see that
nobody runs off without any rosaries without paying.

Raven is unconsolable. How did this one get by him?

Tomorrow: Saddam Hussein's bestselling book--some thoughts.

Monday, February 10, 2003

Yesterday Colin “Good Cop” Powell (henceforth referred to
in these pages as GC) called the Franco-German proposals
to disarm Iraq “distractions” that wouldn’t “solve the problem”.

What, precisely, is The Problem? That the US is not among
the top 5 countries in petroleum reserves? GC is right; proposals
to disarm Iraq are a distraction.

Raven spent most of the weekend distracted....

Raven is transfixed
by his face in a puddle
of dirty water
on the dock. Where fishermen
have emptied out their buckets

aromas of fish
leave a tantalizing stew,
and Raven tries to
identify each species
by its distinctive perfume.

This exercise in
discovering essences
of other creatures
prepares Raven to assume
their shapes, their identities,

add to his power.
He is sure he sees the quick
glisten of a fin
opening under his wing,
his beak becoming a mouth.

skyward, the puddle leaves him
gasping on the dock.
Raven’s foolishness, his pride
made him grab the bait, again.

And solving the Other Problem, aka Terrorism,
is like shooting at Raven on a moonless night
with a shotgun.