Friday, March 10, 2006

Ignorance Based Fear Mongering 1, Reality Still Holding At 0

Apparently Bush's message took better hold than he could have imagined - and both Dems and Reeps ran with it. Presto - no ports deal for Dubai. The Chron takes a look at the general culture of foolishness that led to the death of a deal that security experts generally agreed presented no threat.

What worries me here is that, on some level, Congress and the American people might congratulate themselves, thinking they've taken some affirmative step toward increasing port security.

All the news reports I saw focusing on the danger of unscreened truck drivers being allowed in and out of the ports . . . .

Pop quiz: What percentage of containers are screened before they enter US ports?

You think the ports are any safer now? You think more money will actually go toward port security? How about in Blue California? Last I recall, Texas ports seemed to be well funded. LA and Long Beach, not so much.

But great job Congress. Great job George Bush. See, that rampant Anti-Arab sentiment came in handy after all.

And, really, shouldn't we be better than this?

One House Democrat, Rep. Harold Ford of Tennessee, produced a television commercial for his coming Senate run in which he is shown walking through the Port of Baltimore as pictures of a member of the Taliban, wearing a black turban, and two Sept. 11 terrorists are shown. "I'm running for the Senate because we shouldn't outsource our national security to anyone,'' Ford says in the ad.
I've really liked Harold Ford. But he should be ashamed of running an ad like that. I'm ashamed that he ran an ad like that.

This political ick factor for this issue is uncomfortably high. There are some who acknowledge this:

Democrats insisted their cause was not anti-Arab but applied to any foreign operations at U.S. ports, and they pushed measures to require that U.S. companies be the only ones allowed to manage terminals. The legislation would fundamentally alter most of the nation's largest ports, including the Port of Oakland, where terminals are managed by companies headquartered in Japan, Singapore, Denmark and Korea.

"This is not aimed at any company, it's not aimed at any country, it is aimed at trying to send a big wake-up call to our own government that we've not done what we need to do on security in our ports and so much else that has basically been neglected since 9/11,'' said Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

Such words did little to convince skeptics that opportunistic politics hadn't trumped policy.

"They are full of s -- ,'' said Zogby, himself a Democrat. "They know just what they are doing.''
I think that just about covers it.


Anonymous said...

I agree with the overall theme of the post - bad move Congress.

But do you really think the anti-Arab sentiment is Bush's fault, rather than say, the 19 Arabs who flew plains into select targets on 9/11? Bush has been doing his darndest to draw a distinction between the bad men who killed/are killing/want to kill Americans, Isrealis, westerners generally, and Arabs and Muslims broadly speaking.

Part of this is simply the inherent difficulty of a free and open society - a lot of people in that society are not so rational.

Anonymous said...

Um, blaming an entire category of people for the sins of a few is, how shall I say it . . . wrong.

I think there are about 8 million analogs I could come up with to illustrate the point. For starters, plenty of middle aged white men have raped and murdered people, do we make sweeping generalizations about middle aged white men? I mean negative generalizations.

Bush has done - pardon my French - jack shit about drawing a distinction between the good and the bad brown men of the world. Exhibit A - the Iraq War. Remember where the 19 men didn't come from? Remember which country DIDN'T plan 9/11?

Ah, right, Iraq. But hell, one Arab nation or another non-nation, what's the difference, right?

Without generalizations and fear, Bush would be dead in the water.

Seriously, you don't see any of this? You think he's really, truly drawing distinctions and urging American's to moderate their hate and fear of far-off lands and cultures?

We must be living in two different countries.

Anonymous said...

CD, I didn't say that blaming an entire category of people wasn't wrong - I said GW didn't do that.

Um, remember how Bush gave a whole list of reasons for Iraq: WMD's, UN violations, violations of international accords, human rights violations, etc.

Granted, they did obfuscated the relationship between Iraq and 9/11 - although it is clear that there are and were some strong relationships between Iraq and terrorism generally and even al Queda specifically.

You are dumbing down the justifications for war and blaming GWB for the stupidity of every ignorant American (including our elected officials). He's a powerful buy, but really, not THAT powerful.

and yeah, I do think he's really trying to draw distinctions. I think his willingness to do business with Dubai, and to defend the contract with the promise of an unpopular veto is evidence of this. I also think his willingness to stay in Iraq for the long hall, and try to establish a real liberal democracy, his unrelenting criticism of Hamas are both evidence as well. I think he wants a better life for the people who have lived under those regimes precisely because he does not believe all the brown people are evil and they do deserve the opportunity for freedom. I don't necessarily agree that his approach to bringing about that opportunity is the most prudent, but I think his motivation is legit.

Dan said...

It's about 20%, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing about 5%.

I think you're generally right about this. It's Bush's fault. He's said we should be afraid, and now that's come back to bite him.

In fairness to some of the Dems, one of the bills that was submitted in dealing with this port issue would have prohibited ANY foreign controlled company from operating the ports. Granted, that was just one response.

Anonymous said...

Ruby, you and I have clearly been drinking from different vats of kool-aid. Everything you say seems directly from the songbook as Bush would like to have it sung. I would be the counter, of course.

Bush continually added reasons for going to war, yes, as they each were proven wrong in turn. WMDs you say? And please, the only reason there was any momentum in the first place was because of Bush's trumped up 9/11 connections between Al Q and Iraq. And there were, of course, no ligitimate connections anymore than we were an accomplice in our own attack by letting the guys live and learn to fly here.

I'm certainly not dumbing down the justifications for war. It started as a search for known and certain WMDs which was made more palatable by the recent terrorist attacks on our county. When no weapons were found, suddenly we had gone to give freedom and democracy to a country in need. Uh-huh.

I don't blame GWB forthe ignorance of Americans, only Americans are to blame for their own ignorance - which at this point is willful. They are to blame for their own stupidity as well. However, Bush lied and misled all to shit about the 9/11-Iraq connections and now it is coming back to bite him in his self-righteous ass. He really is that powerful, isn't he? Powerful enough to make a nation of people not really so sure about his leadership roll over and give him another 4 years because you don't switch horses mid-ill conceived war?

He's trying to draw distinctions now, sure. It's convenient. And for a change, correct.

I don't believe anything sincere comes out of that man's mouth. I don't believe he really thinks any Arab is a good Arab. Is that a serious allegation? Yes, it sure is. But having sat in rooms for lengthy discussions with other neocons who have said unflattering, broadly drawn things about Arab nations and people, I find it hard not to impute the same to Bush based on his words and conduct to this point.