Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Yeah, I admit it. It took me the better part of 24 hours to untangle this US port insanity. When I first heard about it yesterday, I was en route to the birthday party of NOBB#2 (the second oldest Niece of Bungalow Babe) in Great Neck and heard only a smidgen of the story before being cajoled by Little Babe to move the dial from NPR to Radio Disney. The news was so unbelievable that I figured I had heard wrong. (WHAT??? Handing over control of our ports to the UAE? NAH!!!)
Pushing the thoroughly incredible news from the forefront of my mind, I spent a charming evening with the five little N&NOBBs (nieces and nephews of Bungalow Babe), my beloved MOBB (mom of Bungalow Babe) and dear DOBB (dad of Bungalow Babe), heading back to Manhattan at 10:30 with a talkative Little Babe, then falling asleep within minutes of walking through the front door.
By morning, it was clear that I had heard correctly but with the verification of the news I was overwhelmed by a sense of disbelief. (WHAT??? Handing over control of our ports to the UAE? NAH!!!) Now that I've read dozens of articles and blogs, and listened to talking heads and pundits and press conferences with politicians on both sides of the aisle (special thanks to Wolf Blitzer and Lou Dobbs), I must conclude one of three things:
1-- That this inexplicable decision to hand over oversight of six major United States ports in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans and Miami to a "subsidiary of United Arab Emirates government-controlled maritime management firm Dubai Ports World" (thanks for the wording, CNN.com: www.cnn.com) must be a bizarre, half-baked and swiftly boomeranging public relations strategy to win support among Administration-hating liberals.
2 -- That this inexplicable decision to hand over oversight of six major United States ports in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans and Miami to a "subsidiary of United Arab Emirates government-controlled maritime management firm Dubai Ports World" (thanks for the wording, CNN.com: www.cnn.com) must have to do with Bush Family interests.
3-- That this inexplicable decision to hand over oversight of six major United States ports in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans and Miami to a "subsidiary of United Arab Emirates government-controlled maritime management firm Dubai Ports World (thanks for the wording, CNN.com: www.cnn.com) must have to do with some scary-ass deal that none of us really wanna know about.
So, here's what I'm thinking. Unless #2 or #3 are actually true, Bush and some thinking-outside-the-box strategist (or strategists...perhaps those forward-thinking Bush twins?) musta come up with this counter-intuitive move, high-fiving each other after they dreamed up the concept, leaning back in their chairs as they fantasized about the PR shock 'n awe 'n admiration it would inspire around the world.
How else to explain why the president of the country that is on the Search and Destroy list of Arab and Muslim radicals choosing to compromise the security of his nation's ports by handing over a contract to the United Arab Emirates -- hometown of two of the 9/11 hijackers and homebase of the Dubai banks that the terrorists drew their funds from?
How else to explain the president that won/stole the second election by scaring the shit out of everyone about the imminence of another terrorist attack on our soil turning now to a country that is a known threat to the United States and basically handing them the keys to our house? Come on in. The kids are sleeping upstairs.
The Bush brainstormers must have been convinced that this move -- so bold, so unexpected, so liberal -- would win support from those nasty critics of wiretapping and racial profiling and US support of Israel. And, as Bush himself said in his Charles Lindbergh-like press conference aboard Air Force One today, it really looks bad around the world for America to oppose this deal just because DPW is a Middle East company and furthermore, he would exercise his veto power should Congress oppose him. Hrrmphh!
The bipartisan tsunami of outrage (credit to Dana Bash of CNN for using that apt and most 21st century word in her emotional dispatch this evening) to Bush's outta-touch-with-reality move today was most gratifying. I haven't especially liked Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist in the past, but I loved the guy today. Also lovely to behold were Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and NY Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) standing shoulder to shoulder on the issue. King, incidentally, is no less than the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
And speaking of homeland security...isn't it frickin' weird that the pasha of paranoia -- Michael Chertoff -- is standing foursquare behind this bizarro proposal??? With no details being released on the process that his office went through to investigate DPW, I would expect him to be a wee bit more sensitive to the American public whom he managed to scare to death over the past few years and offer some proof of DPW's America-friendly agenda.
Okay, I gotta move on...
Some highlights from my day: I got the chance to try out the Ab Lounger (As Seen on TV...check out http://www.fitnessquest.com/scripts/cgiip.exe/WService=/link?src=KWPABUC) at my gym tonight. How cool is that! They had just unpacked the contraption when I finished with my low-tech crunches on the mat. Timidly, I asked the highly-muscular trainer Keith if I could test-drive the Ab Lounger and 25 crunches later, I know my six-pack impressed the hell out of him.
Following in the footsteps of this cool experience, I hailed the cab of an extremely joyful Egyptian driver by the name of Ahmed Ibrahim. Extremely joyful and extremely famous, it turns out. Plying me with laminated newspaper articles, he told me that he is the Matchmaker Cabbie (check it out at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002164720_cabbie30.html) and this is his last week of driving a cab because he is going to have a television show about him.
Yeah? I inquired, squinting to read the newsprint in the dark of the backseat. Well, he replied. The TV show would take time, but a movie would be coming out. Mazel tov, I told him, though not in those exact words. I could make out the masthead of People Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. Yup, he was the real deal. A celebrity cabbie. "Google me," he urged me as I got off at my stop, right across the street from Columbia University.
I thought it was a good idea to refrain from asking him what he thought about Bush turning over the control of our country's ports to an Arab country.