Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Apprentice

President Bush used his powers under the US Constitution to make a recess appointment on Monday. John Bolton is the new ambassador to the UN until January 2007. The term ‘recess appointment’ originated in the behaviour of schoolchildren when they were allowed out of classes to run around and scream and shout and call each other names. George picked John to manage his UN team and all the Democrats and Republicans immediately started to run around and scream and shout and call each other names.

The Democrats think John is a bully and that he won’t play the game fairly. They wanted someone who would be a team player. They point out that the UN game is a noble pursuit and that it is the world’s favourite pastime and firmly believe it is the only game in town. The Republicans are very happy with John. They point out that the UN game is fixed and that the home team has not had a winning season in about 40 years. (They are particularly hopeful for John because he can stare down opposing batters and say ‘Piss off’ in 37 languages.) While the politicians were carrying on like a bunch of children, John reported for duty at the New York headquarters of the United Nations on Tuesday. By Wednesday he certainly understood the depth of the crisis the world faces: insufficient sanitation and clean water, unsafe working conditions, crumbling infrastructure, mis-management, corruption and waste. And those are just some of the problems at UN Headquarters.

The cornerstone of the UN complex in New York was laid on 24 October 1949. There are four buildings: the 39-story Secretariat, the General Assembly Building, the Conference Building, and the Dag Hammarskjold Library. The entire complex is technically not part of the United States and enjoys diplomatic immunity. That’s very useful because if it didn’t the whole property would be condemned. Roofs leak, a marble wall in the library has threatened to collapse, there’s no sprinkler system, the buildings are full of asbestos, 25% of the heating is lost in the winter and the machine room emits electro-magnetic radiation. In all, UN Headquarters is perfect for training peace keeping troops for duty in Bosnia.

The other problem with headquarters is the shadow. Apparently, back in 1949 the Mayor of New York promised to keep development in the neighbourhood ‘in harmony with the dignity and purpose of the UN’. As a result, delegates can’t pop across the street to a massage parlour or an xxx-rated theatre during breaks in the Global Women’s Rights debate. But Donald Trump built a 72-story residential building across the street and the Trump World Tower is about 350 feet taller than the Annan World Tower.

In order to regain the dignity it deserves, the UN is proposing to spend over $1 billion to fix up the old place. The Donald says the UN’s plan will cost more like $3 billion; he also says he can do the job for about $600 million. (Apparently Trump is not planning to sub-contract the plumbing to Kenya.)

So Ambassador Bolton has a chance to make the President happy. He can arrange for Trump to save the UN a lot of money and, if he’s lucky, Donald might say to Kofi ‘you’re fired’.


Blogger birdwoman said...

I thought that the term 'recess appointment' originated to third graders playing doctor...

"Donald might say to Kofi ‘you’re fired’"

That's one ep of the apprentice that I'd watch.


1:27 PM  
Anonymous dv said...

Hmm ... aren't cultural differences fascinating.
I thought a recess appointment was to have a man carve a nice little niche in your wall as a place for a tasteful Readers Digest gift

6:02 AM  
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outstanding read. (and write)

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