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       March 4/06


       UAE, Dubai Port, DP World.  Most of us never heard of these names prior to the latest fiasco about managing 6 of our U.S. ports: New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami, & New Orleans.

       At first, our U.S. Coast Guard spoke on the record, saying that having the UAE company manage our ports was a dubious proposition in regard to security, that the deal might support "terrorist operations."  Now they are saying the opposite--it's just fine.  Did a message come down from the top?  The very top? And is this like our military commanders telling us they don't need more troops in Iraq while saying the opposite in private?

                       A new name enters the picture:

       A spokesperson for ZIM, an Israeli shipping company, has come forward to say that they have been happily dealing with DP World in the United Arab Emirates for years, with absolute security, and he is writing a letter to Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer to allay their fears.  Of course Zim cargo ships have to fly under flags other than Israeli in order to land in Dubai without getting blown up.  I would say to the CEO of Zim, that he suggest to his own Israeli government that they should have the Arabs (DP World)  manage Israeli ports, and see how that flies.  (think I heard a thud!)

      And I would suggest to President Bush that he forget the racist crap he glibly threw in the face of the American people (his now previous supporters) when they reacted negatively to the prospect of Arabs managing their ports.  It's said that half our ports are already managed by foreign companies, so what's the big deal?

       Well, the UAE was chummy with Bin Laden after the attacks on U.S. embassies; it maintained relations with the Taliban before and after 9/11;  it was the country from which two of the 9/11 hijackers sprung into action, the country that is the financial center of the Persian Gulf, and which hosted the banks from which the two hijackers withdrew their funds to finance what they did to us. 

       Beyond whether or not the UAE would securely manage our ports--and it may be that they would-- the American people experience a high degree of discomfort when contemplating the idea of Arabs controlling our shipping terminals.  Their emotional reaction, their fears, are based on real history. 

   We all have a right to be who we are, Arabs included, who are different from us in the way we are different from them, and who no doubt have a lot of legitimate gripes with the West, but three thousand innocent Americans lost their lives on 9/11, killed not by Japanese or Germans or Italians, but by Islamic terrorists, a bunch of them from Saudi Arabia.  Saying this, is not racist. It's stating facts and it's common sense to expect that Americans would be seeing a lot of very red flags.


       Sen. John Warner says that UAE is "a vital ally," which  means we have a critical military relationship with them: i.e. our Navy makes about 65 visits to Dubai ports each month; but it also means big money deals in the works:

   Major U.S. corporations are very cranky about the way all of this has surfaced, since billions of dollars in business negotiations with Dubai might hang in the balance and tilt to the negative side if Dubai is insulted by the American reaction to its management of our ports.  It's business, folks, believe me, albeit with serious political problems for the Republicans.

       Consider the fact that Treasury Secretary John Snow, who is chief of the Committee On Foreign Investment, was in the recent past the CEO of CSX, the international transport company which sold its terminal business to Dubai Ports (UAE) in 2003.  Interesting?

       Well the man that Bush nominated to be the U.S. Maritime Administrator is David Sanborn, who it turns out was close to Snow at CSX before he--Sanborn--went to work at Dubai Ports. 

 It's business, folks, with a slight odor, which I guess is not too bad, and not a surprise,  but Mr. President please don't imply that Americans are racists pigs in regard to Arabs just because you want cover up what really exists.


       So Bush has told us: "If there was any doubt in my mind...this deal wouldn't go through."  Meanwhile he's got 45 days to try and persuade congress that they don't know a good thing when they see it; although it may be a different matter altogether if he even bothers with trying to persuade the rest of us, the great American unwashed.

       Of course, the Dems are making political hay out of this mess, screaming "Security," as the Republicans absolutely would if the shoe were on the other foot, which is not to say that security is not the issue it should be.  Security should be primary in regard to our ports. Consider, if you will: Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi pointed out that a mere 5% of the containers entering our port terminals are inspected.  Whereas 100% of containers entering Chinese ports are looked into.  Are we fools?  Certainly not the clever Chinese. They must know something we don't know. And they are very smart.  Look at the deal they have with us, buying our treasuries to help support us while we buy up tons of their cheap goods--our workers be damned. 

    One could imagine Mr. Bush--for the moment, that is-- not being entirely unhappy with this uproar, since it has distracted us, as did Cheney's misdirected birdshot and subsequent stalling, from the largest issue of all: an Iraq possibly on the verge of a disastrous civil war, not to mention the kick-in-the-shins soldier poll (hyperlinked below).

       It must feel lonely at the top, bearing in mind that ideologues Wolfowitz and Perle have moved to greener pastures and well out of the line of fire for their sterling contribution to unilateral warfare; with Rummy left behind, no doubt wishing he'd never heard of Iraq; and Cheney withdrawing into the shadows perhaps considering resigning after the midterm elections.  And a ton of Republicans distancing themselves from the President and his lousy poll numbers because they want to be reelected in November.


 President Bush has cried "terrorism" over and over again, accompanied by endless orange alerts and Condoleezza Rice's auto-repeat mantra: "mushroom clouds," (prior to the 2004 elections) while implying not too subtlety that he, Bush, was not only the good ol' boy you'd like to have a beer with, but the only one who could bring security to America and its people, who were then suitably frightened enough to believe him and reelect him.

       And so the man who harped and harped on security while taking us into an insane war, is the same guy who now tells us we're over reacting in knee-jerk fashion to Arabs managing our ports.  You can't win, folks.

        By the way, on the TV show "24," didn't the gas canisters arrive in a port shipping container? Huh? Did the dealmakers in the White House back room who made this UAE arrangement, miss the show that evening?  Get with it, guys!

  Anyway, beyond all this--real security in this country means opening every damned container that enters our terminals.  If the Chinese can do it, so can we.



        March 3/06    

       So Bush knew beforehand of the disaster about to unfold in New Orleans.  What's next? Will holdout Republican voters continue to give moral support to his Titanic-like presidency while Republican lawmakers scramble for the nearest lifeboats?   I don't think so.

                                       A quote from

        "Tonight, the AP revealed secret transcripts and video tape proving that President Bush was briefed on the specific threats posed by Katrina before it hit land and did nothing to keep us safe." 

         Bush keeps hitting iceberg after iceberg.  The next chunk of ice seems to be revealed in the Soldier poll of the brave group of guys on the ground that were formerly a major symbol of support for his war on terrorism.  See what has to say about Katrina and what Bush knew.  It's all so plain, I have nothing to add.