Saturday, February 25, 2006

Dubya and Dubai

It's been entertaining to see the hysteria surrounding the deal to sell the firm that manages six U.S. ports to a United Arab Emirates firm. There has been a bipartisan eruption of dismay and disbelief at this, and the President, who wasn't involved in the decision (there's a shock) has admonished the opponents of the deal for being racist.

There is a certain satisfaction in all this. This Administration has hearkened back to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to justify all sorts of abrogations of our rights and liberties domestically and treaties internationally. Bad behavior, whether it's reclassifying documents, holding U.S. nationals without habeas corpus or torturing prisoners, is justified due to the fight against terrorism. There are some shameful commercials running now in Minnesota which again tie the Iraq war to the 9/11 attacks. Now, let us be clear about this; Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and none, not one, of the 9/11 hijackers was Iraqi. Neither did Iraq have weapons of mass destruction and many in our intelligence community knew it and were ignored or suppressed. Now we find ourselves with over 2,000 dead Americans, thousands more wounded and maimed and a bill approaching half a trillion dollars.

Compare that to the United Arab Emirates, where Dubai is located. Two of the 9/11 hijackers were Emiratis (both on United flight 175), money to fund the operation came through banks located in the Emirates and the country has been a common route for weapons proliferation activities, including facilitating the transshipment of nuclear weapons materials to Iran from A. Q. Khan, the head of the Pakistani nuclear weapons program and probably the world's worst proliferator.

Now, given the utter lack of involvement in 9/11 of Iraq and the war there we've pursued regardless, doesn't the involvement of actual Emirati personnel and financial institutions in the 9/11 attacks and the participation in weapons of mass destruction proliferation activities give this Administration even a moments' pause? I watch television and these patriots on the commercials tell me that the war in Iraq is justified and reminds us of the 9/11 attacks with photos even though, to reiterate, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. (The commercials also tout the great strides in Iraqi democracy, about which I don't give two hoots, but are silent regarding weapons of mass destruction or the utter lack of planning for the postwar occupation). Then I see the President wonder why there is any concern when a nation who had citizens participate actively in the 9/11 attacks takes over running several major ports.

Should we be all worked up? You know, probably it's no big deal, running the ports involves scheduling trucks and maintaining cranes, more than likely a company from Dubai is as good as anyone. The security at these ports is lax already, it's not likely to be any worse now, if you can call that reassuring. Also, the people who actually do the work of running the company tend to be Westerners, American, British, Australian, etc., not actual Emiratis. Realistically, it's probably not a security threat, but our President has used hysteria at every turn to justify the Iraqi war and the excesses of the war on terror so should not be surprised when that same hysteria is turned against him on what can only be described as a tone-deaf political decision.

In at least a snippet of good news, our President during his State of the Union speech talked about our addiction to oil and all the alternative energy programs we're working on at the same time the actual National Renewal Energy Laboratory announced that it had to fire 32 people working on ethanol and wind energy projects due to a $28 million funding cutback. As part of a tour to tout his energy programs Mr. Bush visited the lab. The hypocrisy of touting these energy sources as the key to future on one hand and simultaneously firing the actual researchers on the other was apparently too much for even Mr. Bush to bear and the Department of Energy rustled up $5 million to restore the positions cut, although the actual employees hadn't all been called back the day Mr. Bush visited. The lab's funding is still down $23 million from last year. They're going to cut back on employee travel, conferences and subcontractors.

Bikewise, it seems a quiet time of year. The initial novelty for new winter riders has passed and we're into the dreary, ugly part of the season. The evenings seem pretty bright, the worst of the cold snaps is behind us, the snow's ugly, the streets dusty with sand and salt so that passing cars can leave a salty taste in your mouth. There is a Bike Swap at the Saint Paul Academy School Gym on Sunday which I might go to. I had planned to do a circuit of all the stores carrying used bikes to see if there were any good 3-speeds available for the Lake Pepin Three Speed Tour (for a friend of mine, I despair of finding one my size) but my buddy bought a Rudge off eBay so even that isn't needed now.


Frostbike said...

Good rant, thanks Matt!

The Donut Guy said...

Great post. Mind if I link this post on my next entry?

kentuckyliz said...

Ah...the last part of winter before spring bursts forth and makes possible our drugs of choice...


You'll probably be cycling before I'll be rowing. I have to wait until all danger of frost and snow and freezing temps has passed before I can get my boat out of winter storage in Oak Ridge TN...I plan on April 1, while I'm down there working the John Hunter Regatta.

So...5 weeks and am I training (rowing machine and weights)? No! I have been lazy this winter. I really must get off my fat arse and train...otherwise I deserve any boat repair bills I get when I drop the thing for being too weak to lift it.

Why am I so unmotivated?!

Unknown said...

Regardless of what the President is doing, Minnesota is moving forward in the areas of biofuel and wind energy.

We already use more biofuel (ethanol and biodiesel) than any other state. We have approx. 200 E85 stations statewide, far more than any other state or provence in North America. We rank 3rd in the nation in wind-generated electricity.

Some exciting new developments:

* In Morris, a wind generator will be used to greate hydrogen fuel, which will be sent to several special pumps on I-35. This will allow experimental vehicles to travel back and forth from Duluth to Minneapolis using no fossil fuel whatsoever.

* An MN ethanol plan will soon be powered by gas generated by local sawmill waste instead of natural gas. Another bidiesel plant has similar plans to get off the fossil fuel grid.

* Our first in the nation biodiesel mandate (calling for a two percent blend) may soon be increased to a five percent blend.

See the Lung Association's website for more details:

Michael Lemberger said...

Hmmmm...why would Dubya want to promote alternative energy?