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A Few Words on the Dubai Ports World Imbroglio (Lileks, As Always, NAILS It...!)
James Lileks' Screedblog ^ | 02/22/2006 | James Lileks

Posted on 02/21/2006 11:41:27 PM PST by KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle

A few words on the Dubai Ports World imbroglio, written without pause or editing, which is probably just as well. Short version: the administration may have thought it was helping a Valuable Ally and probably a pal, end of story. But it plays like Bush defending eminent domain to condemn a neighborhood to build a mosque.

I don’t make predictions, because – well, who cares? You either repeat the conventional wisdom and hide with the herd when you’re wrong, or buck the prevailing opinions and get a reputation as a “maverick” when you’re wrong, again. Works for some. But if I had to make a prediction, I’d say this: the Dubai-ports fracas will become a flap, quickly swell into a firestorm, then become a debacle before settling into the history books as a “historic miscalculation” – providing the Republicans only lose the Congress. If they lose a city, it will be a “critical turning point.”

Do I expect the managers of the ports to start installing Al Qaeda operatives in key positions, so they can wave through all the containers with small nukes for national distribution? No. But such a scenario does not exact tax the imagination, which is why it’s such a stupendously bad idea.

It’s remarkably tone deaf. It’s possible that the Administration did some quiet polling, and asked the question “How much Arab control over American ports are you comfortable with,” and misinterpreted stunned silence as assent. It’s possible the Administration believed that this would be seen as outreach, an act of faith to solidify a Key Ally, and didn’t think there’d be much hubbub – but if that’s the case, it’s the best example of the Bubble Theory I’ve heard, and I’ve not heard much convincing evidence. Until now. The average American’s reaction to handing port control over to the UAE is instinctively negative, and for good reason. There are two basic reactions: We can’t do this ourselves? and We should trust them, why?

As for the first, the assertion that American firms were the lower bidder is unpersuasive, rather like saying that we should have outsourced the flight crew for the Enola Gay to Japanese nationals because they knew the terrain better. As for the trust issue, well, wanting port control to remain in American hands is not a matter of Arabiaphobia, any more than selling Boeing to China means you harbor deep hatred of Asians. Some things ought to be left in local hands. It seems absurd to have to make that argument in the first place. The UAE is not exactly stuffed stem to stern with pro-American individuals; the idea that the emirs will stand foursquare against infiltration by those who have ulterior motives is the sort of wishful thinking that makes buildings fall and cities empty. I’m not worried that some evil emir is putting a pinky to his monocled eye, and saying Mwah! at last I have them where I want them! I’m worried about the guy who’s three steps down the management branch handing off a job to a brother who trusts some guys who have some sympathies with some guys who hang around some rather energetic fellows who attend that one mosque where the guy talks about jihad 24/7, and somehow someone gets a job somewhere that makes it easier for something to happen.

That’s a lot of ifs and maybes. But I don’t want any ifs and maybes. You can't eliminate them all, of course, but I would rather we had a system devoted to worrying about ifs and maybes instead of adopting an official policy of Whatever.

We’re told we’re at war, and we reach back for the wartime memories we all saw in the movies and read in the novels: Yanks walking along fences with a dog, rifle on the shoulder, searchlight playing on the ground, stealthy foes ever at the perimeter. It was never that tight, of course; it was never that dramatic. But there were the constant imprecations to be vigilant, because peril lurked. That would have been undercut, perhaps, if the Roosevelt Administration had given port control to Franco.

Well, not the best analogy, perhaps. But the specifics don’t matter; arguments about the specific nature of the Dubai Ports World organization’s global reach and responsible track records don’t matter. Because it feels immediately, instinctively wrong to nearly every American, and that isn’t something that can be argued away with charts or glossy brochures. It just doesn’t sit well. Period. It’s one thing for an Administration to misjudge how a particular decision will be received; it’s another entirely to misjudge an issue that cuts to the core of the Administration’s core strength. That’s where you slap yourself on the forehead in the style of those lamenting the failure to request a V-8 in a timely fashion. Doesn’t matter whether it was a deal struck between the previous administrators and the UAE; that’s not how the issue will be seen. And it certainly doesn’t matter once the President gets all stern on the topic and insists he’ll veto any attempt to keep the deal from going through. At that point, millions of previously resolute supporters stand there with their mouths open, uttering a soft confused moan of disbelief.

On the good side: we’re probably done with Shotgungate, and the DailyKos people will start getting worried about dirty nukes smuggled in through the ports. On the dark side, for conservatives: woot, there it is – the politically inept, base-confounding, intuitively indefensible decision. Oh, it may be the right thing to do, in the end. Maybe you’re overreacting. Wait, study, read, reflect. But hope you don’t have to go on a cable show and defend it, because you’d feel greasy.

Advice to the administration: If you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot, don’t use a bazooka. You may aim for the pinky toe but there’s nothing left below the hip. The recoil should not be your first clue you grabbed the wrong gun.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: absolutegarbage; apologists; bds; blindfaithcankill; bushbots; dhimmitude; dpw; dubaiports; dubaiportsworld; iran; islam; islamofascism; israel; jameslileks; newworldorder; ports; saudiarabia; treason; trustbutverify; uae; waronterror
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1 posted on 02/21/2006 11:41:30 PM PST by KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
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To: Alouette; SJackson; veronica; Slings and Arrows; TheBigB; martin_fierro

Ping


2 posted on 02/21/2006 11:42:05 PM PST by KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle ("It'sTime for Republicans to Start Toeing the Conservative Line, NOT the Other Way Around!")
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To: Stellar Dendrite; Itzlzha; flashbunny; Travis McGee; NRA2BFree; Happy2BMe; Spiff; Pelham; ...

pong


3 posted on 02/21/2006 11:43:47 PM PST by flashbunny
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
>>>>Advice to the administration: If you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot, don’t use a bazooka. You may aim for the pinky toe but there’s nothing left below the hip. The recoil should not be your first clue you grabbed the wrong gun.

Good stuff from James Lileks. I agree.

4 posted on 02/21/2006 11:47:33 PM PST by Reagan Man (Secure our borders;punish employers who hire illegals;stop all welfare to illegals)
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
The recoil should not be your first clue you grabbed the wrong gun.

Bazookas don't recoil.

5 posted on 02/21/2006 11:54:22 PM PST by Cannoneer No. 4 (Our enemies act on ecstatic revelations from their god. We act on the advice of lawyers.)
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
And we thought W had lost it when he nominated Miers, or when he ignored us on the southern border...leave it to Bush to dig an ever deeper and more confounding hole.
6 posted on 02/21/2006 11:55:22 PM PST by ARCADIA (Abuse of power comes as no surprise)
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To: All

I also predict that this we're about to see this thing turn into a firestorm.......


7 posted on 02/21/2006 11:56:15 PM PST by Doofer
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To: Doofer

Hey Doofer take your time and give your post a once over before hitting that post icon........[grin]


8 posted on 02/21/2006 11:58:18 PM PST by Doofer
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
Completely Missing the Point ping!

I like Lileks but he's already behind the cycle on this.

I bet he modifies this position within a week.

9 posted on 02/22/2006 12:01:24 AM PST by Darkwolf377 (atheist)
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To: Doofer

Change your password, you should - Yoda your account has hacked.


10 posted on 02/22/2006 12:01:46 AM PST by Slings and Arrows ("I'd rather hunt with Cheney than drive with Kennedy." --fanfan)
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
No one's asking and no body's answering just why the U.A.E is pursuing the contract. What is their interest?

If it's purely financial, why shouldn't an American based firm be reaping the benefits?

I've read on these threads that only Haliburton would be capable of fulfilling the contract. I'm guessing the reason for that is capital. But wouldn't that be preferable to foreign interests and alleviate all the concern?

11 posted on 02/22/2006 12:02:56 AM PST by freedom9
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To: Cannoneer No. 4
Bazookas don't recoil.

He never said it had a recoil; perhaps it's the lack of recoil that provides the "first clue" ;-)
12 posted on 02/22/2006 12:03:51 AM PST by ARCADIA (Abuse of power comes as no surprise)
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
Wait, study, read, reflect.

Please do. This is simply extremely interesting, and Bush's reaction more interesting still. A presidential veto over a matter such as this? Doesn't that strike anyone else as curious?

13 posted on 02/22/2006 12:04:48 AM PST by Billthedrill
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
And it certainly doesn’t matter once the President gets all stern on the topic and insists he’ll veto any attempt to keep the deal from going through.

Bush veto something??

Suuuuurrre he will...

14 posted on 02/22/2006 12:05:43 AM PST by liberty_lvr (Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.)
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To: Billthedrill
Doesn't that strike anyone else as curious?

I thought he had hocked his veto pen on EBAY 6 years ago. Now what's it going to cost us to buy him a new one?
15 posted on 02/22/2006 12:06:44 AM PST by ARCADIA (Abuse of power comes as no surprise)
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To: Darkwolf377
The UAE is not exactly stuffed stem to stern with pro-American individuals; the idea that the emirs will stand foursquare against infiltration by those who have ulterior motives is the sort of wishful thinking that makes buildings fall and cities empty.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

16 posted on 02/22/2006 12:06:45 AM PST by KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle ("It'sTime for Republicans to Start Toeing the Conservative Line, NOT the Other Way Around!")
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle

It would have been nice if he'd had a clue about his subject matter.


17 posted on 02/22/2006 12:07:03 AM PST by jess35
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
Sounds to me like someone should whisper in GWB's ear that this sounds like firing all the Secret Service agents and outsourcing their jobs to the French Foreign Legion.

On the other hand, it might be instructive to read picrell's thread of 9:45 pm on the 21st. I'm not claiming that that's what is going on here, but it should be considered. (Sorry, I don't know how else to reference that thread.)

18 posted on 02/22/2006 12:07:13 AM PST by de Buillion (Give us your perverts, pedophiles, and sodomites. San Francisco wants YOU!)
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To: freedom9
If it's purely financial, why shouldn't an American based firm be reaping the benefits?

Because the contracts are OWNED by a British firm and no American company wanted the contracts at their sale price?

19 posted on 02/22/2006 12:09:26 AM PST by jess35
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To: ARCADIA
The recoil should not be your first clue you grabbed the wrong gun.

Something which does not exist should not be the first clue?

Sounds to me like Lileks doesn't know a recoiless rifle from a rocket launcher.

20 posted on 02/22/2006 12:10:58 AM PST by Cannoneer No. 4 (Our enemies act on ecstatic revelations from their god. We act on the advice of lawyers.)
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: freedom9; KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle

here's a really relevent article exerpt from MM: (and MUST READ also Kathleen Parker's most recent 'death wish' analysis of GB)here's Michelle Malkin:

"Make no mistake. I stand with critics on both sides of the aisle who want to stop the secretive deal transferring operations of our ports to the UAE — a Middle Eastern government with a spotty record of fighting terrorist plots and terrorist financing. The issue is not whether day-to-day, on-the-ground conditions at the ports would change. The issues are whether we should grant the demonstrably unreliable UAE access to sensitive information and management plans about our key U.S ports, which are plenty insecure enough without adding new risks, and whether the decision process was thorough and free from conflicts of interest.


From every angle — political, safety, and sovereignty-wise--Dubai Ports World's business transaction (made possible by an unprecedented $3.5 billion Islamic financing instrument called a "sukuk" that upholds sharia law) looks bad and smells worse."


22 posted on 02/22/2006 12:13:38 AM PST by Sarah
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To: Cannoneer No. 4
From every angle — political, safety, and sovereignty-wise--Dubai Ports World's business transaction (made possible by an unprecedented $3.5 billion Islamic financing instrument called a "sukuk" that upholds sharia law) looks bad and smells worse."
23 posted on 02/22/2006 12:15:23 AM PST by Sarah
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
The UAE is not exactly stuffed stem to stern with pro-American individuals; the idea that the emirs will stand foursquare against infiltration by those who have ulterior motives is the sort of wishful thinking that makes buildings fall and cities empty. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

And they would do this because...?

24 posted on 02/22/2006 12:15:59 AM PST by Darkwolf377 (atheist)
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To: freedom9
"No one's asking and no body's answering just why the U.A.E is pursuing the contract. What is their interest?"

They have purchased the British company that already has the contract for the 6 ports. I, too would vote for Haliburton.

25 posted on 02/22/2006 12:17:25 AM PST by de Buillion (Give us your perverts, pedophiles, and sodomites. San Francisco wants YOU!)
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To: jess35
If it's purely financial, why shouldn't an American based firm be reaping the benefits?

Because the contracts are OWNED by a British firm and no American company wanted the contracts at their sale price?

Yep.

I guess the same FReepers who were against Federalizing the airport now want us to Federalize the ports.

26 posted on 02/22/2006 12:17:47 AM PST by Darkwolf377 (atheist)
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To: jess35

Yes, it is interesting that so many don't seem to know that it is owned by a British company now... That is hasn't been under American ownership. The simple fact is, no American company wanted it for the asking price.


27 posted on 02/22/2006 12:18:02 AM PST by DB ()
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To: Darkwolf377
The UAE is not exactly stuffed stem to stern with pro-American individuals; the idea that the emirs will stand foursquare against infiltration by those who have ulterior motives is the sort of wishful thinking that makes buildings fall and cities empty.

And they would do this because...?

Same "reason" as last time out, most likely.

28 posted on 02/22/2006 12:21:48 AM PST by KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle ("It'sTime for Republicans to Start Toeing the Conservative Line, NOT the Other Way Around!")
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To: freedom9
If it's purely financial, why shouldn't an American based firm be reaping the benefits?

You haven't read yet that no American company bid for the business?

29 posted on 02/22/2006 12:27:59 AM PST by Siena Dreaming
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle

Sorry but I will trust the judgement of a President who has killed more islamofascists than all Presidents combined, than a keyboard commando who imagines he kills them with keyboard strokes.


30 posted on 02/22/2006 12:32:46 AM PST by Dane ( anyone who believes hillary would do something to stop illegal immigration is believing gibberish)
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To: Darkwolf377
"I guess the same FReepers who were against Federalizing the airport now want us to Federalize the ports. "

I am sensing that many/most responsible Americans of both political parties, and many FReepers, are looking closely at this proposed "deal" and finding it wanting for whatever reason. I really believe that most Americans want NOT to "federalize" the six ports, but to Americanize them.

However, please take a look at the post by pickrell at 9:45 on the 21st(last evening). It might well be relevant.

31 posted on 02/22/2006 12:32:50 AM PST by de Buillion (Give us your perverts, pedophiles, and sodomites. San Francisco wants YOU!)
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
Every one is blowing their stacks. I do oppose the deal because I think the politics of it stink. You wonder what they're thinking in the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department because they lost their political sure-footedness. Its one thing if the Democrats throw mud at you. A self-inflicted wound was a totally unnecessary gambit.

(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie. Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")

32 posted on 02/22/2006 12:33:36 AM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: Sarah
The Ports Issue -The President is right on this one
33 posted on 02/22/2006 12:35:59 AM PST by Cannoneer No. 4 (Our enemies act on ecstatic revelations from their god. We act on the advice of lawyers.)
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Hooboy.

Who ever thought that Hillary's political Tin Ear was communicible?

President Bush MAY be absolutely right on this, or maybe it is another strategery that is beyond my grasp... But given the entire political and social situation in the USA, it was a totally foolish move, at least the way it was done. WORSE than Harriet Miers.

Generally, (other than border security) I WANT to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt... But the fact that Jimmy Carter is about the only other person 'with a name' who thinks that it is a good idea should send up warning flags to everyone who has any more than half a functioning brain cell.

And the fact that President Bush, who NEVER has felt the need to veto any bill that has been sent to him, finds this the only thing important enough to veto really bothers me too. Why is this more important than something like Constitutional issues like the stifled 'free speech' through McCain Finegold?

I can see just about everyones points on this; except that I don't see this as racism. That they are Arabs doesn't bother me. That they (from the CEO down to the janitor) MAY be Muslims who believe literally and totally in a Quran which demands that people be converted or subjugated to mohammedism or killed violently DOES worry me.

Even if no one in the UAE company will be directly involved in port security, they will still be briefed or be able to closely observe security operations. And even if they personally are good guys, no telling who they will talk to; They will have family back in sandy places who may be threatened if they don't cooperate with terrorists.

All I know for sure is that this is a funny thing for President Bush to 'draw a line in the sand' over.

I'm against it, barring further information... If it is some sort of grand strategery that will benefit Americans, well, I guess that I and the other reasonable people who oppose it will have to be embarassed by failing to trust President Bush's grand plan.

But in the mean time, better safe than sorry, I say.

And if it is strategery that can't be made public, then President Bush has to 'toss the dice' and suffer the short term political fallout if it is the right thing to do, and hope that we don't have any real fallout in either the short term or the long them because of it.


34 posted on 02/22/2006 12:36:07 AM PST by LegendHasIt
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To: Dane
a keyboard commando who imagines he kills them with keyboard strokes.

... ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... yeah. Yeah. That's what Lileks was claiming, all right.

Yooouuuuuuuuuuuuu betcha.


35 posted on 02/22/2006 12:36:31 AM PST by KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle ("It'sTime for Republicans to Start Toeing the Conservative Line, NOT the Other Way Around!")
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To: Sarah
Battling port hysteria with knowledge
36 posted on 02/22/2006 12:38:11 AM PST by Cannoneer No. 4 (Our enemies act on ecstatic revelations from their god. We act on the advice of lawyers.)
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To: jess35
Because the contracts are OWNED by a British firm and no American company wanted the contracts at their sale price?

But, are those contracts transferable? I doubt it very much.
37 posted on 02/22/2006 12:38:49 AM PST by ARCADIA (Abuse of power comes as no surprise)
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
Just pointing out the fact that President Bush has killed more islamofascists than all Presidents combined and given his track record would not put the US in danger.

Just a question for all the naysaying "know it all" pundits such as lileks and malkin.

How many islamofascists have they killed pontificating from behind their keyboards.

38 posted on 02/22/2006 12:40:48 AM PST by Dane ( anyone who believes hillary would do something to stop illegal immigration is believing gibberish)
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To: Cannoneer No. 4

read this:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1583271/posts

also, I agree with the blog you referred in one sense: I don't think that the Arabs should be involved in transportation either. We have out-sourced our own security, and the Arabs haven't been sleeping as we have. They've been plotting for years, putting all the pieces in place, and are a very patient people. We're idiots.


39 posted on 02/22/2006 12:42:55 AM PST by Sarah
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To: Dane
The UAE is not exactly stuffed stem to stern with pro-American individuals; the idea that the emirs will stand foursquare against infiltration by those who have ulterior motives is the sort of wishful thinking that makes buildings fall and cities empty.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

40 posted on 02/22/2006 12:43:58 AM PST by KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle ("It'sTime for Republicans to Start Toeing the Conservative Line, NOT the Other Way Around!")
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To: Dane
Sorry but I will trust the judgement of a President who has killed more islamofascists than all Presidents combined, than a keyboard commando who imagines he kills them with keyboard strokes.

Yeah we know. You are owned by this administration. The President could gas your dog, torch your home, shoot your family, and toss you in front of a firing squad; and, your final words would still praise his administration.
41 posted on 02/22/2006 12:44:49 AM PST by ARCADIA (Abuse of power comes as no surprise)
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle

You got that right!


42 posted on 02/22/2006 12:47:00 AM PST by sheik yerbouty ( Make America and the world a jihad free zone!)
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
The UAE is not exactly stuffed stem to stern with pro-American individuals; the idea that the emirs will stand foursquare against infiltration by those who have ulterior motives is the sort of wishful thinking that makes buildings fall and cities empty

The United States isn't eaxctly filled with pro-American people either, an example.

johnny(jihad) walker lindh.

Who by the way comes from the same county of all the sudden outraged barbara boxer.

Like I said I will trust a President who has killed more islamic terrorists than all presidents combined, rather than the musings of keyboard commandos.

43 posted on 02/22/2006 12:49:29 AM PST by Dane ( anyone who believes hillary would do something to stop illegal immigration is believing gibberish)
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To: Cannoneer No. 4

Hi,
This so reminds me of all the logic and reasoning behind the US backing of Palestinian elections.
Were YOU surprised that the democratic elections led to the election of a TERRORIST group? All the pro-palestinian US and Israeli groups were taken aback: didn't the arabs want peace? didn't they understand the implications of this vote? what about all those nice words, and promises?
We look at the Arab world through rose colored glasses. Iran is promising to destroy Israel, and doesn't even bother to deny that if he were to start a nuclear war that millions of Arabs would also perish. No MAD deterrent here! Their death is WORTH it! Only to kill Israel.
And we hang onto some obsolete logic that the Arabs, once invested in the US would have some interest in keeping the ports safe... just like the 19 pilot bombers had some 'interest' in the US lifestyle.
We are blind.


44 posted on 02/22/2006 12:49:36 AM PST by Sarah
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To: LegendHasIt
"And if it is strategery that can't be made public, then President Bush has to 'toss the dice' and suffer the short term political fallout if it is the right thing to do"

Please take a look at pickrell's post of 9:45 last nite (21st). I'm not saying that that applies. Bush has been A total idiot about Mexican border security, and it is now exploding out of control, with mexican MILITARY incursions into the US (FOREIGN MILITARY ATTACKS ON THE US HOMELAND) and GWB just sits there like he's cool with everything.????????

45 posted on 02/22/2006 12:50:52 AM PST by de Buillion (Give us your perverts, pedophiles, and sodomites. San Francisco wants YOU!)
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To: ARCADIA
Yeah we know. You are owned by this administration. The President could gas your dog, torch your home, shoot your family, and toss you in front of a firing squad; and, your final words would still praise his administration.

IMO, Don't give up your day job to make a career in stand up comedy.

46 posted on 02/22/2006 12:51:18 AM PST by Dane ( anyone who believes hillary would do something to stop illegal immigration is believing gibberish)
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To: Dane
The United States isn't eaxctly filled with pro-American people either

So I'm gathering, re: select postings tonight.

Some, apparently, have already forgotten.

Others have not.

47 posted on 02/22/2006 12:51:46 AM PST by KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle ("It'sTime for Republicans to Start Toeing the Conservative Line, NOT the Other Way Around!")
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To: de Buillion
GWB just sits there like he's cool with everything.????????

When does cool become clueless, bumbling, or treasonous?
48 posted on 02/22/2006 12:53:32 AM PST by ARCADIA (Abuse of power comes as no surprise)
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To: Dane
I've killed a few there Dane. More than GWB has with his own hands anyway, and a damn sight more than you have as well I'll wager.

This is a really stupid move on the Presidents part. It's stupid because it's politically tone deaf. It's stupid because it lets treasonous vermin like Schumer actually look like they care about Americas security.

It's stupid because it puts a country run by Arabs anywhere near vital US installations.

Oh, and anyone who thinks you're conservative is believing gibberish.

L

49 posted on 02/22/2006 12:55:23 AM PST by Lurker (In God I trust. Everybody else shows me their hands.)
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To: KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
Others have not

Like me and I'm glad that there is a President now who is taking the islamic terrorist threat seriously and has a record not surpassed by any previous president, and not keyboard blowhards who if they were in the President's current position would be urinating their pants at the decisions he makes daily.

But I guess some would rather trust keyboard commandos than a president with a strong track record on defeating terrorism.

50 posted on 02/22/2006 12:56:22 AM PST by Dane ( anyone who believes hillary would do something to stop illegal immigration is believing gibberish)
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