Friday, February 24, 2006

The Conservatives and Me.

Shortly after the UAE port deal story broke, I had the “opportunity” to take an unexpected trip by car through the Central Valley of California, driving from the Northern SF Bay Area to Fresno and back on successive days. During the 4 ½ hour drive down, I got a steady dose of outrage on liberal talk radio – but surprisingly, as I moved up and down the dial, I also found plenty of anger on conservative shows as well. Normally, I wouldn’t pause for more than a few minutes of these shows; but as I listened, it became clear that I suddenly had some common ground with the residents of the conservative bastion that I was driving through.

As I drove back the following day, I heard much more of the same – and it hit me that I could now actually consider having a reasonably pleasant conversation with the right-wing farmers and ranchers who occupied the region. I decided that I would stray from barreling up the I-5 freeway and divert onto Highway 33, which passes through the farming towns of Gustine, Newman, Patterson, and my target destination, Crows Landing. Crows Landing is the home of the only fiercely conservative relatives in my family – the ones I prefer to avoid at all costs. In fact, I had avoided them for so long that I have no idea where they actually live, but it was somehow liberating to feel that I could drive through their town, looking for the most redneck truck stop café, and have a ready topic of conversation with any local I happened to meet.

Well, Crow’s Landing is small, and the only place to eat turned out to be a small taqueria that was operated out of a trailer in the parking lot of a feed store, so I stopped next to the tractors and pickups that were parked nearby. Since it was a takeout place, I never did get to have that conversation with a local conservative. I ended up eating my carne asada super burrito in the front seat of my car, in the shade of a large tree next to the Harvest Community Church, where I’m sure I would normally get the willies and have to leave immediately. It was quite relaxing! As I pulled out of town after finishing my lunch, I resisted the urge to stop and buy a cowboy hat from the guy selling them, like boxes of fruit, from the back of a large flatbed truck – to commemorate my new kinship with these conservatives.

And as I drove off down the highway, I imagined myself joining them in singing the chorus of a song that I had recently heard on the radio - a song with which they were surely familiar. We were singing it to George Bush in response to his support for the deal that would allow the United Arab Emirates to manage American ports. The chorus went like this (with "credit" to Toby Keith):

Justice will be served
And the battle will rage
This big dog will fight
When you rattle his cage
And you’ll be sorry that you messed
with The U.S. of A.
`Cause we`ll put a boot in your ass
It`s the American way.


  1. It is amazing how this one issue has united us all. Bush always said he was a uniter. Maybe we all just misunderestimated him.

  2. I find it remarkable that a political party that bristles at the very notion of profiling someone at an airport based on his country of origin or the slightest affront to our civil liberties suddenly decides that the economic realm requires such prejudgment. I disagree with most conservatives on this issue but at least they're being consistent.

  3. Giraffe9:26 AM

    The conservatives are being consistent here. They just follow the money.

  4. Giraffe9:41 AM

    Seenos, You think like an investigative reporter. Wish we had more of you.

  5. When I said I disagreed with the conservatives I was referring to those who oppose it. In that they are also willing to at least entertain the idea of profiling and consider illegal immigration a clear and present danger they are consistent. To oppose profiling, to care little about immigration and then to turn around and huff and puff because a UAE company is to take over operation of ports (Clinton presided over the purchase of West Coast ports by China, in no sense of the word an ally) is inconsistent.

  6. Giraffe9:32 AM

    Consistently ignorant about how to keep the country informed of its secret deals and underhandedness.

    Being consistent is not a good thing when you're making a bad decision.

    Repeating mistakes over and over just to be consistent is not a virtue. Think about it!

  7. AnonCon - just to be completely clear then, where do you stand on profiling and immigration? And while you are at it, where do you stand on detainment and torture of "enemy combatants," (of which it is unlikely that there are any middle-aged white men)?

  8. Profiling - Within reason its not necessarily evil, and everyone does it. Even if you consider police searches that lean heavily towards members of certain ethnic groups as wrong, nobody is upset when police profile by age. I am twenty-four and expect a cop to cast me a warier eye than he would a seventy year old woman. It would be remiss of us not to acknowledge that Islamic terrorists are likely to be men between 18 and 35 and of Middle Eastern origin. This does not mean we should strip search everyone who fits that bill, but nor should we riot if numbers suggest that airport security is more likely to afford them scrutiny than other groups. As ever, a middle ground need be forged between the rights of the individuals concerned and the need for security.

    Immigration - I have serious qualms about illegal immigration, but I think legal immigration is part of what has made us what we are. I believe that asylum laws (particularly concerning Cubans) should be liberalized and visa programs expanded in countries that are nondemocratic and stifle dissent (ie Iran).

    Torture of enemy combatants - To me this is largely an advertising issue. These individuals are not protected by the Geneva Convention and are thus not afforded the status of POWs. There is no law against, and certainly precedent for, summary execution of non-uniformed combatants...this is not to say we should do this, only to say that in even recent history such people have not been treated mercifully by the soldiers of even the most democratic of nations. Interrogation techniques, even for POWs, are not necessarily proscribed, and while we probably shouldn't be gouging eyes out I am willing to offer latitude. When the lives of our soldiers or of innocent civilians hang in the balance forgive me if my heart doesn't bleed because someone doesn't get three square meals and ten hours of sleep. My biggest problem with torture is that the stories of it, sufficiently blown out of proportion so as to fit on the editorial pages of Al Jazeera, the Egyptian state press organs, and the New York Times, tend to reinforce what the people of the Middle East have long been told was true of us.

  9. AnonCon - permit me to do a little "profiling within reason". The fact that you are 24 years old and have the opinions you do is telling. You obviously have done a lot of book learning, but knowing your age leads me to believe that these opinions comes to you from somewhere other than experience.

    I can't help but now picture you as Alex P. Keaton.

    He was a TV character from way back in the 80's.

  10. While I certainly take no offense, I have been blessed with and/or endured a breadth of experience that would probably surprise you.