Monday, February 27, 2006



The very first mention on DWT of Bush's outrageous ports sale was called "Why Is The Republican Congress Letting Bush Sell Off Our Ports To A Shaky Arab Emirate?" (exactly a week ago, Monday, February 20). A lot of hot air has been expelled and righteous indignation has been played out in front of the TV cameras but, the question still remains the same. Although every survey and poll shows that Americans overwhelming-- and vehemently-- reject this deal (today's AOL poll shows that only 9% of respondents want to see it go forward Bush is still as adamant as ever that this is "a done deal."

Bush, or BushCo-- whatever you want to call the regime-- seized power for a reason and, believe me, that reason wasn't to protect America; it was to enrich itself at the expense of America. This ports deal is worth billions to the Bush family and the family retainers and their cronies and contributors. They care as much about the national security dangers inherent in this deal as they cared about the warnings they got before 9-11 (first from the outgoing Clinton Administration, which they ignored with a smirk, and then from their own CIA, which they also ignored) and about the potential for catastrophe in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina.

Last week we saw a whole gaggle of ingenuous congressional Republican hacks try to get out in front of the parade of angry citizens who were apoplectic over Bush's ports deal-- arch-hypocrites like Peter King (R-NY), Mark Foley (R-FL; the one ridin' in the boat with Osama), and, worst of all, Bill Frist (R-TN), who should have been jailed long ago for all this bribes, corruption, fake charities and insider trading deals. Today the media is abuzz with the "compromise" Frist worked out with Bush. But, basically, the so-called "compromise" is just a cooling off period to get people's minds off the ports. Maybe Cheney will shoot someone else or they'll rattle some sabers at Iran or.... well, distracting the public's attention is the one things they actually do well, so I'm not worried about them coming up with the appropriate weapon of mass distraction.

The way the mainstream media is framing the "compromise" is to say that BushCo "will conduct a highly unusual second review of potential security risks in a business deal it previously approved for a United Arab Emirates-based company to take over significant operations at six leading U.S. ports." The new 45-day investigation-- by which Bush broke the law when he tried sneaking this through last time-- is geared to avert a showdown with Congress. Frist, predictably, is demanding senators back off and wait to see what the investigation comes up with. Same for loudmouthed windbag Peter King. John McCain, who's head has been so far up Bush's ass since Rove agreed to let him be the next president, has been one of the few senators supporting Bush on this. “The President’s leadership has earned our trust in the war on terror, and surely his administration deserves the presumption that they would not sell our security short.” Huh???

TIME Magazine ran a story over the weekend about how the Republican Party is trying to find a face-saving deal for Bush and, of course Peter King has eaten it right up-- as he always does. But the main point, never broached by TIME or anyone in the "polite media," is that this deal is worth too much money for Bush and he's determined to deliver for his family's Dubai business partners-- regardless of the political fallout and regardless of the consequences to the security of the country. When he says he's not giving up on this, he means it.

And no one comes close to Joe Conason in explaining exactly why Bush has dug in his heels so firmly on this deal. For the sake of the people who put him in office-- and have gotten him through life-- he has to deliver! "For the president, his administration's lenience toward the Emirates recalls the unpleasant history of Harken Energy, the loser oil exploration firm that provided him with a handsome profit when he unloaded his shares during the summer of 1990. Years earlier, Harken had been rescued from bankruptcy by timely investments of millions of dollars from the scandal-ridden Bank of Credit and Commerce International, also known as the 'bank of crooks and criminals.' Although dominated by Saudi friends of Dubya's dad, BCCI was headquartered in the Emirates, specifically in Abu Dhabi."

Conason points out that this isn't just ancient history. The Bush family's intimate connections with the despotic and reactionary UAE "royal" families-- odd in itself for someone always running off at the mouth, however insincerely, about bringin' "democracy" to the Arabs-- has grown stronger and stronger and, as with most things Bush, you just need to follow the money trail. "Consider," Conason continues, "the Carlyle Group, the huge, politically wired private equity firm that has employed both the president and his father-- and from which the members of the Bush family and their closest associates, such as former Secretary of State James Baker III, have profited handsomely in recent years. With its sole Middle East office headquartered in Dubai, Carlyle has managed to attract substantial funding from the UAE government, which controls most of the tiny nation's oil wealth and channels that money into foreign investments. Last year, to cite only the most recent example, Carlyle's newest buyout fund won an infusion of at least $100 million from the Dubai Investment Corp. -- another state-owned outfit created by the ruling families to reinvest the enormous inflows of capital from rising oil prices and oil consumption. If that individual deal with Carlyle represented only a small fraction of the Emirates' investments, the upside potential of the relationship could be far greater in the future. The directors of Dubai Investment expect to invest as much as $5 billion every year for a long time to come. No doubt Carlyle will ardently bid to manage a slice of those billions -- and the president surely understands that maintaining good relations with the Emirates will enhance the prospects of the family's favorite equity firm. But to deprive Dubai of its $6.8 billion ports acquisition might well have the opposite effect. For a company that trades on its political influence as well as its business acumen, such incidents can be pivotal."

Believe it or not, Bush's brother Neil, the bankrobber, also figures into this mess. He's a real player in the UAE, constantly in pursuit of investors and government contracts there and he seems to have found a place where he is treated with the "respect and deference that have always eluded him in his own country. For reasons that must be painfully obvious, UAE royals have been quite eager to engage the former Silverado Savings and Loan director ever since his eldest brother entered the Oval Office. That embrace only intensified after 9/11."

Fortunately most of the Democrats in the Senate-- Lieberman (who still calls himself a member of the Democratic Party for some reason) excepted, of course-- are not buying into the GOP spin on this. And Chuck Schumer is introducing a bipartisan bill to stop Bush and his apologists in their tracks.

Despite the far right's endeavor to "shrink government and drown it in a bathtub," as their ethically-challenged/Abramoff-tained ideologue Grover Norquist demanded, all they've accomplished in their 5 or 6 years in power is destroying what works, jeopardizing the whole country and leaving us with a bloated, insanely expensive and incompetent bureaucracy (mired in corruption) that is a dumping ground for wild-eyed fanatics and the talentless sons of Bush contributors. And, despite Norquist and his followers, it turns out you need a government to protect the country-- from people like the Bush family and their foreign partners!

Today's NEW YORK TIMES carries an enlightening story by Robert Pear pointing out that alarmed governors-- of both parties-- think Bush's policies are ruining the National Guard. For the first time since Bush took office, most Americans now rate the Democrats more trustworthy on national security than the Republicans. Duh!


Looks like the Department of Homeland Security opposed Bush's plans to sell the 6 ports (before they found out about his financial stake in the deal)! Hat tip to Sean Paul at the Agonist.


CROOKS AND LIARS just broke the news that Bush's great friends in Dubai have been pressuring CNN, so far unsuccessfully, to make Lou Dobbs shut up about Bush selling the U.S. ports to that very shady, oil-rich emirate.


At 9:54 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Thanks for the link to Joe Conason's SALON piece. I can't tell you how excited I was to discover that this is, at least in part, a Neil Bush story!

I still insist that as a "national security" story, this one is mostly bogus, like pretty much all the bogus "national security" issues the Bush administration has fobbed off on the witless American public. As Paul Krugman and others have pointed out, though, it's not just poetic justice but actual cause-and-effect that has caused this episode to boomerang on the Bushies; after all, they were the ones who under Uncle Karl's watchful eye made phony national-security issues a prime tool for tapping into and then manipulating and exploiting a hopelessly gullible public's bottomless reserves of paranoia.

But there's no question that this the ports sale is a 100 percent legitimate "crony capitalism" issue.

I'm sure a lot of other DWT readers also play the "If the Shoe Were on the Other Foot" game, imagining the media and public outcry if even the tiniest of the Republican malfeasances in the Age of Bush had been perpetrated by (gasp) Democrats! And when you think back to the microscopic coverage of poor, sad Billy Carter, and then compare the free pass Neil Bush gets as long as he isn't caught in the act of looting a bank, well . . . you have to wonder, how do they do that?

It's just so exciting to know that Neil's style hasn't been crimped, that he's still out there, in his own inimitably inept way, plying the family business: influence peddling and trading on family and crony connections.

Why, I guess you could say that the Bushes think of their cronies as family! And what a family!



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