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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Our Friends in Dubai

The plan to lease all those American ports to a company in the small country of the United Arab Emirates carried more than its share of astonishment, and that's saying something, considering how incredibly prolonged this period has been in which we hear so many revelations of the misdeeds of those in power in the U.S., one after the other, every few days, and on and on.

Of those maybe the most surprising and baffling was the reaction of the Bush people as soon as the Emirates deal was made public, a few weeks ago. On hearing that his own people in the Republican-controlled Congress meant to throw up barriers to the plan, GW Bush said flatly that he would veto any attempt to do so. At the same time his second-highest partner in mischief, Secretary of State C. Rice, came out with a statement in which she hastened to reassure what she called "our good friends in Dubai." Her tone clearly sent the message to these newfound buddies of ours that at the moment there are some badly misguided souls in the U.S. who aren't fully acquainted with the issue, but, as soon as they are brought up to the requisite speed, they will recognize how wonderful this deal will be for everyone, and ever afterward no more will be heard from them, and they and the American public will return to their normal oblivious grazing in the Republican pastures like the good sheep they have been for the past six years, and business will go on as usual.

But speaking of sheep, Bush and Rice don't seem to be aware of the saying that I got from a Russian chess book, which has bearing on the laws of unintended consequences, and every chessplayer knows that in that game, as in life -- though clearly not among those with dictatorial pretensions, like that pair -- there are plenty of such developments. I don't know if this adage is popular in the U.A.E. or in other parts of the Muslim world. Maybe it's thought of as being disrespectful there, but, taking my chances, I like it because it's even more elegant than the more usual, "Man proposes but God disposes." It goes, "My goat would have gotten to Mecca if it hadn't been for the wolves by the side of the road."

In this Dubai deal one of the wolves is the total failure of the Bushel of Rice to give themselves any backout room in case opposition rose from too many quarters. And in this case it surely did, on both sides of the Congressional aisle, and -- still more shockingly -- on the part of the vaunted American people. Being such an inveterate oddball, I almost never find myself included in the majority opinion, but the latest polls are saying that as much as 70 percent of the U.S. public opposes this deal along with the whole idea of leasing its ports to foreign interests.

Sam Seder, the co-host together with the sadly usually missing Jeanine Garafolo on their AirAmerica show, "The Majority Report," has long since offered a theory to explain this apparent huge misstep of a veto vow by GW Bush. According to Seder, and others since then, this may well be like a deep combination in chess, a series of moves in which a sacrifice is made to achieve a result that won't be immediately apparent, in this case giving cover to the many Republican Representatives and Senators who are facing tough opposition in the upcoming elections, due to all the corruption and incompetence that can be laid at the feet of themselves and their party mates while they were supposed to be serving the People. They can say to the voters, "See? Who says that I'm not my own man? I don't go to Washington merely to ride in limousines and to march in lock step. I don't always side with the President. The Dubai deal proves that."

If true, that is a very deep combination indeed, and the Republicans have made such a consistent mess of things since they've been in power that I refuse to concede their ability to look as far ahead as Sam Seder. Also it's too dangerous a game to play. Combinations more than a few moves deep are hard to calculate, and often there's a kicker waiting near the end that you just don't see and it ruins everything, and then your only hope is that your opponent doesn't see it when the moment comes. But lately more light has started to be shone on a lot of things, and I hope and expect that that will continue to be the case.


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