Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Where Does David Brooks Draw the Line?

During his appearance on last week’s Colbert Report, NYT columnist David Brooks glowingly referred to himself as “the conservative with whom liberals can get along.” No, David. We don’t get along with you. It’s just that your arguments are so lame that few liberals are compelled to bother taking issue with you!

Take your column (don’t bother linking “unless you’ve paid for an argument”) on the Dubai Ports World deal, “Kicking Arabs in the Teeth.” Basically, your point seems to be that we shouldn’t discriminate at all between foreign nations who want to operate in the U.S., particularly when we are willing to eat their hummus! Well, what if the foreign nation willing to pony up the billions necessary for this deal was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, or Kim Jong-il's North Korea? Would you still be so open-minded? I don’t think so!

It’s not a matter of whether or not we should discriminate. Under the policies of an administration you support, we discriminate all the time. We discriminate when we decide to occupy a nation like Iraq when there was no connection to the Arabs who conducted the 9/11 attack. Not only does this administration kick Arabs in the teeth - to use your phrase - it tortures them in a lot of other ways as well (warning: graphic!) Apparently while laughing, taking pictures, and probably stealing their hummus!

Few but you, Mr. Brooks, would argue that there isn’t a line at which we should discriminate, when it comes to foreign nations controlling U.S. assets with security implications. We just need to determine where the line is. Let me suggest that we keep things simple and use the same line used by this administration in determining whether an Arab should be waterboarded, or stripped naked and forced to commit degrading acts. If a foreign nation is known to have had a connection with Al Qaeda, then it does not get to manage U.S. assets where security is at stake. If that means we’ve got to find another source of hummus, so be it! In fact, here’s a recipe so that Americans can make their own damned hummus!


  1. I must disagree with you stridently on this issue. I'll link one of my posts to save the energy of explaining it in detail ( but allow me to paraphrase. This is an issue of rewarding a friendly Arab state by binding it to us economically. I hope that most of you would concede that if a corporation from the UAE is not fit to manage port operations, then no company from the Muslim world is fit to do so, for we have few if any stronger friends from the Muslim ranks. If indeed we have done as much ill to Arabs as you say we have (proportionally speaking this is a midterm election fantasy) why should not we seek to redress this through deals that stake hundreds of millions, indeed billions, on DPW's ability to operate a safe, secure port? It is a win-win situation. The security remains in the hands of governmental agencies, while DPW has expressed its willingness to adopt additional measures above and beyond that which P&O undertook. For the majority of the politicians on both sides of the aisle, this is not about security but about scoring political points.

  2. I agree with your comment to Born at the Crest of the Empire. Americans need to see the blood and the horror of war, that these are real people just like you and me, and maybe - just maybe- they'll arouse from their pathetic, tsk, tsk, isn't it awful as they change the TV channel from carefully crafted soundbites and Bush propaganda to Desperate Housewives.
    I am glad to see that you published links to the torture photos. I did too, on both blogs, but received no response at all from our readers. Well, I did - in emails from the lurkers. I was accused of beng cruel, insensitive, and even that I got my jollies from viewing nude young men! I do not like to subject people to horror but we spoiled, petted, pampered, shielded-from-reality Americans need something to blast us awake and stand up and DO SOMETHING to stop this obscenity of a war. And impeach that person in the oval office.

    Bush didn't even want Americans to see the coffins coming home, and he blessed sure doesn't want us seeing the bloody, graphic horrors of what he's doing to our troops and to an entire nation of other human beings.

    In some of the reports I've read there was mention of sexual abuse of the prisoners, including forcing them to masturbate for the cameras. it also mentioned photos of "simuated" sex acts by the guards. On one of the photos you published it appears that a prisoner is being forced to perform fellatio. In one of the photo galleries I have there is a young Iraqi with white substance dribbling from his mouth and I wonder if it is semen. Such degradation and shame these people were forced to endure, and how much they must hate us.

    You want graphic? I'll give you graphic if you have not yet seen the sites. Access Robert Fisk's site. He is an independent UK journalist and isn't muzzled by anyone. His url is . There are scads of links to click on; just click on titles. Some are no longer available but many are. Click on "Pictures of Destruction and Civilian Victims of the Anglo-American war". There are 20 pages with 20 to 40 photos per page. Click on small pics for enlargement. Graphic? I worked many years in the emergency room of a large metropolitan charity hospital and I know all too damned well the blood and death and agony and grief and maiming my human brothers experience.

    Click on "A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words". Click on More images after 2003. Click click click until you can't stand it any more.
    I have more. This is enough for one time. Or you can visit my blogs. and scroll down past all the political crap until you come to the Iraq stuff. Might be archived already. No big deal to access an archive. is for war postings and you can check out pertinent posts. One about the unembedded journalists photos is graphic.
    I wish these photos and videos could be aired on every TV station in America so our people would wake up and see what we are doing in Iraq, Afghanistan, have done to other peoples, and now considering doing it to Iran and Syria, and making noises about 2 countries in So. America. We are sowing seeds of hatred and death and I fear the harvest we must reap will be bitter indeed
    If you have friends and fellow bloggers who are not too squeamish or sensitive to tolerate it, pass these urls on, spread the word, enlist some anti-war sentiments.

  3. Giraffe7:01 AM

    Investors from the United Arab Emirates helped fund the $23 million Neil Bush raised for Ignite, the learning systems company that holds lucrative No Child Left Behind contracts in Florida and Texas. Remember he's the one involved in the Saving an Loan scandal. The port deal is probably pay back time.

  4. Anoncon - I understand the argument you are trying to make, but I can't accept it for two main reasons:

    1. Your premise is like saying the right thing to do if there is a gang of bullies terrorizing you in the schoolyard is to cut a deal where you do the homework of one of the bullies in order to bind you, educationally. While you might not get beat up by that bully, you can still get beat up by his friends, and you increase the influence that bully has over you - because he can now get you kicked out of school if he gets caught or if he rats you out!

    2. I don't trust that the Bush administration has America's best interests in mind (EVER!), as you seem to have. He has none nothing to lead me to trust his judgement or motives.

  5. First, to call Robert Fisk a reputable journalist is ridiculous. It's like someone on the right quoting David Horowitz as an authority on something. Fisk's moral compass cannot appreciate the ills done by any but the Brits, the Americans or the Israelis. To focus so much on the antics of a handful of rogues while ignoring mass graves and all manner of crimes of a much more serious nature is to practice a moral and journalistic double standard.

    Second (to Seenos), your analogy casts the UAE as a country of shakedown artists. They are a friendly country whose support has been invaluable to our troops, particularly our navy. They lack many of the trappings of a democracy, but they are economically free and most of the obstacles to free expression are not pursued in practice (as opposed to Iran, a state that has all of the trappings and none of the substance). By diversifying away from oil they also provide opportunities for the young, men who might otherwise be tempted toward extremism. Certainly we need to limit our dependence on foreign oil, but we should also cultivate ties with those states favorable disposed to us. It shows other states, be they 'neutral' or even hostile toward us, that there are benefits to a Western orientation

  6. your analogy casts the UAE as a country of shakedown artists

    Point taken! I'll change my analogy to one where you cut a deal with another kid to do his homework in exchange for helping you fight the bullies. The fact that he is willing to help you doesn't mean he is willing to adopt your way of life. It just means that he is getting a benefit for something that he may not even be successful in doing. Meanwhile, you are only the slightest bit safer from the bullies, and are putting yourself at risk in other ways, particularly if the other kid has a known historical connection to the bullies!