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Friday, February 24, 2006
The uproar over the deal to sell half-a-dozen US ports to a company owned by the government of Dubai has been rather amusing, to be honest. It's another delightful case of overreaction by American politicians, more interested in posturing than in governing.
"Wait a minute. Are you supporting the president on this?"
I'll try to explain. My initial reaction was, what the hell are we doing selling the in doors to this country to a nation so deeply involved in terrorism, and from which two of the 9/11 conspirators originated?
That's the reaction that politicians want you to have.
And I'm not above reacting this way. A friend of mine often says, only half-jokingly, that "Not all Arabs are terrorists. But all terrorists are Arabs." I know this isn't true, of course. There is plenty of ugliness going on in places like Indonesia, Africa, and let's not forget Timothy McVeigh, The All-American Boy. The Arabs don't have a lock on terrorism, although they don't seem terribly eager to distance themselves from defining themselves by its use.
But the US (over)reaction to the ports deal is more about seeming tough with midterm elections just nine months off. This company from Dubai will be running the ports, not dealing in security, which would still be handled by the US Coast Guard. That may or may not make you more comfortable.
I'm sure you already knew that the Port of Los Angeles is run by a Chinese company. And if you know anything about Chinese business, you know that the reality is that the port is being run by the Chinese government. That should put you a bit ill at ease, no matter how much you enjoy kung-pao. The Chinese are very happy to sell us as much consumer garbage as we can absorb, but as the world's only other superpower, do not pretend that the Chinese government has our best interests at heart. It should also give you pause that the only thing keeping the United States economy out of depression, is that the Chinese are floating TRILLIONS of dollars of our debt. We won the Cold War with the Soviet Union because we spent them into bankruptcy. The Chinese government is going to demand repayment at some point, and a serious crisis will ensue.
But, we're talking about Dubai.
I don't think there are that many entities in the world capable of managing something as enormous as a port. My personal feeling is that ports should be run exclusively by the military, and that the government will use profits to pay for the operation. There must be profits, after all, why would a company go into business to operate ports without a profit incentive?
The thing that should disturb you, is that the president is so obviously in bed with the oil sheiks that he can say, "I don't understand why it's OK for a British company to operate our ports but not a company from the Middle East..."
Well, let me see if I can explain it to you.
The English have been our staunchest allies for over a century, and have been our only reliable partner in this trumped up War On Terror.
The Arabs, on the other hand, have funded terror operations globally, and continue to inflame their own populations with anti-US hatred.
Aside from that, they're pretty much the same, aside from the clothing.
So, if the president, who presides over a criminal, and criminally negligent administration, can't understand why Americans might be a bit apprehensive about this port deal, what can he understand?
I suppose that the truly distressing part of all of this is that Bush is utterly disconnected from the concerns of average Americans. The irony, of course, is that this deal with Dubai, which in truth, is perfectly legitimate and sensible, is under scrutiny because of the president's constant reliance on fear of Muslims as a tool to maintain his own power, and to push his own fundamentalist agenda.
And let's face it: If Dubai doesn't run the ports, Bush will hand them to Halliburton. Then we're really screwed.
posted at 11:37 AM
One more young writer slid away in the night
Over the border he will drown in light
Hold it - wait a minute
I can't read my writing, my own writing!
Like tiny insects in the palm of history
A domino effect in a cloud of mystery
My writing is an iron fist
In a glove full of vaseline
Dip the fuse in the kerosene
I too become a dissident.
Courting disaster we ran in the night
Wings of an angel torn in flight
Check it - verify it
It's all here in writing, down in writing!
At the hands of the press
And in the eyes of the government
I fell from grace
I too became a dissident
Like tiny insects in the palm of history
A domino effect and an early end to this story
My writing is an iron fist in a glove full of vaseline
But dip the fuse in the kerosene
I too become a dissident.
Thomas Dolby had more than just one song, you know.
posted at 1:08 AM
posted at 12:53 AM
If anyone is aware of who might have written this, please let me know. I like to find out from where eloquence doth spring.
"The world of organized religion is like a room full of people pointing at the moon. You spend all your time arguing about whose finger is the right one, and completely forget how beautiful the moon is."
posted at 11:31 PM
How's it looking?
I sense waning enthusiasm.
posted at 2:05 AM
Denmark + Cartoons
Do a Google search for that, and the pictures are all of angry Muslims, and things on fire. It's quite an age in which we live.
I've given all of this some thought, and I've kind of gotten to the bottom of what it is that bothers me about all of this. As usual, it is hypocrisy.
The Muslims are angry because the prophet Muhammad is never supposed to be rendered visually, lest it lead to idol worship, and especially not as wearing a turban made out of a bomb with a lit fuse. More sensible, I suppose, would be to just not worship a picture of a guy. But Islam is old, like most religions, and people were stupid enough to buy into a lot of things back then.
So a Danish newspaper publishes some drawings of the prophet, editorial cartoons really, that speak more about the current state of Islam, and it's not all flattering. But let's face it, like with most things, a few bad apples have ruined the image of Islam for the millions of peaceful followers of this faith. What to do? One way might have been to look at these drawings and say, "Well, I suppose I can see why people may think we are all about violence and terror. Perhaps we should work toward altering perceptions, and try to change some minds. Let's show people what we really believe."
Or, you know, we could smash things and burn down buildings.
"How dare they represent my faith as violent! Death to them all!"
Christians sit back, cluck, and shake their heads. "See how they are? See? Oh, they're such hypocrites."
And this isn't even the pot calling the kettle black. This is the kettle calling the kettle kettle.
But I want to focus on the Muslims, while I can. The newspaper claims, and rightly so, that this is a free speech issue, and ultimately it is. All speech must be protected, and especially offensive speech. No one needs to protect the weather forecast from fundamentalists. It's new and radical ideas, and truly ugly things that need protection. I don't like to see hatemongers in the streets chanting disgusting things, but if a government or theocracy can stop them, then they can stop anyone. Let them speak; rational people can discern truth from garbage.
And the Muslims are not against free speech. You would think they were, but you are so wrong. Pick up almost any newspaper in the Arab or Muslim world, and you will see just how open-minded they are. Sure, criticism of elected leaders is a bit scarce, but that's likely just because everything is so great in these countries. You sense that I am being ironic, and have become frustrated. Let me get to the point.
Have a glance at the editorial pages. Find any cartoon that is about Israelis, or more specifically, Jews.
"I can't read Arabic! Which ones are the Jews?"
Hmm, does the character have a hook nose? Is there blood dripping from its hands? Has it just killed and eaten some children?
Those are the Jews.
And this stuff is in there every single day. The Arabs have the right to print whatever they wish, because they need to sell newspapers, and they have freedom of speech, of that sort, at least. If these publications wish to fan the flames of hate, it's not really my place to tell them their business. But they need to not be such disgusting hypocrites when their own beliefs are mocked.
No one gets a free pass. No one is innocent.
posted at 10:06 PM
Do I have any business telling other people what to think? Probably not, but I think I'll do it, anyway.
Things may be getting interesting again.
posted at 10:19 PM
The rent is due.
posted at 10:37 PM
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