It used to be that I could honestly celebrate the day with fond thoughts of home. This year, it just quite isn't so. Between the unconstitutional detention of Mohammed Saeed, the deep-sixing of liberal non-sectarian candidates of parliament and the posturing of one supposed "dignitary" whose monthly kickback was only a little more than that of the two chauffeur's combined; it all seems tainted now.
Hope is what we were sold not too many years ago. Hope is all we had. And for hope's sake alone will I privately celebrate this day, a day for my home to stand proud of itself and its people.
So, if any of are planning on dropping by the Willard Intercontinental in Washington DC, please inform them of my regrets. Ashat Mamlakatul Bahrain...
Three months or so following the events surrounding the controversial Dr. Saleh Al Bandar, Bahrain's second parliamentary elections hit the front page. Of course, it gained that spot on the Washington Post online edition for pretty much the wrong reasons. The WP aired out all the salient points that Bahrainis themselves are disallowed from discussing. Of course, it did cover its bases by giving much maligned Information Minister Mohammed Abdul Gaffar, a platform to tell us that the sky is polka-dot green with pink sparkles.
The New York Times, on the other hand, took heed of what happened to Mahmood Al-Yousif and downplayed the Bandar report by presenting other opposition stumps. In another article, the WaPo indicated that spirits are high inspite of tense campaigning amidst all the controversy.
Ultimately, this is about Bahrain gaining recognition for the right reasons. And while the New York Times may actually care about its exposure to a tiny Desert Island, I applaud the Washington Post for scratching beneath the surface and presenting to the world the true growing pains of a young democracy. Yet for as much that has been made of Dr. Bandar, very little was known about Ibrahim Al-Sayed and what he went through as a liberal Sunni candidate.
While the squeakiest wheel may get the most oil, sometimes it's not the only one that's broken.
The AP has been flashing a bright title that quite noticeably got my attention. It blared out that Immigrants were now subject to indefinite detention. It brought up the plight of 40-year old Qatari PhD student Ali Saleh Al-Marri.
The AP states the case to be the first where a person legally in the United States, arrested on the basis of a legitimate investigation has been denied the protections of the writ of habeas corpus, or any proper judicial oversight for that matter. They've gone on to imply that this affects ALL foreigners in the United States, even those eligible for naturalization; maybe even those who have already naturalized too!
While I don't particularly care for the way that Shrub and his cronies have prosecuted their War of Terror (to quote Borat), I think the AP may have overstated the case. To begin with, the government had cause to detain Al-Marri, he was legitimately suspicious, had connections to suspicious individuals and was caught with several pieces of incriminating evidence. Albeit the evidence amounted to fake identification,a set-up for money laundering and rather thorough information about Hydrogen Cyanide. I'm not entirely unhappy that someone like this is a subject of investigation, but I can't conceivably see this as being Flomax material.
The Sniff Test starts going wrong about three years ago, when the feds got the State of Illinois to drop its charges related to fraud, and then took indefinite custody of him to elicit information about the greater Al-Qaeda plot that he was involved in. Except that they had already nailed everyone else around him. Which tells you how much credibility the Catch-a-Brownie program has in the realm of reality and common sense.
Here's where I have the problem with the AP story. It categorically states that this Act affects Immigrants. It does not, Al-Marri was here as a student, which is a NON-immigrant status. Granted that immigrants are still legally foreigners, and very few are involved in terrorism related activities. The Justice Department's argument is inherently a bad one, one that the Court of Appeals will hopefully strike down in a fit of sanity.
Additionally, the story does not address the real issue; that in order to secure his detention, the Military dropped his civilian charges, for which there would have been a sure conviction or two and kept him under the more dubious allegations of being part of a terror cell. Al-Marri is not another casualty of the War on Terror, he is a posterboy for why this man's Washington is more interested in politicizing than protecting the United States.
Apparently, everyone else is thinking the same thing as I am about my Maryland Terrapins football team. They've won their last five contests by a grand total margin of 13 points. I had left this team for dead when they struggled against Western Michigan, when they were clobbered by West Virginia, when they couldn't close out against Gerogia Tech and when they were getting their lunch handed to them by Virginia. Yet they pulled out a victory against the vaunted Miami Hurricanes last night in the most improbable of fashions, by losing just about every component of the game, save for the scoreboard.
I am still leerily suspect of this team's offensive capabilities. They did not have much of a running game against Miami or Clemson, albeit they were the best run defenses in the ACC. Against Clemson, an anemic offense suddenly found the umph to pull out a last minute drive to set up the winning field goal. Last night, it was stud defense led by a pair of little guys who basically choked Miami's vaunted offense. Let's not forget the Hurricane pass that was inexplicibly dropped by a wide open Ryan Hill in the endzone.
This team just happens to always have the ace in the hole. Last night, it was the cornerback duo of Josh Wilson and Isiah Gardner. They had two turnovers between them and busted several passes against bigger and faster receivers. It's is ballers like that who evoke memories of Terrapin basketball legends Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, Joe Smith, Dominique Foxworth , Scott McBrien and John Lucas; undersized, unheralded, underestimated. All big-time players who came up bigger than anyone ever expected. Guys like that makes me proud to be a Terp!
Notes: Much props to the ENTIRE Terrapin football team, who donated their meal money to the family of slain Miami player Bryan Pata. And in the midst of all the tragedy, Maryland now has it's own problems, with Donnie Woods, who suffered a head injury and had to be airlifted to the Baltimore Shock Trauma Unit. Times like that what make you reconsider enjoying spectacles of violence...
Unlike Ali G, who finds creative ways to annoy his targets, or Bruno, whose schtick is aimed at an anonymous generic industry; Borat sets up his marks to incriminate themselves. That is comic genius, which is why I am glad to part with my hard-earned money to help Make Benefit Glorious Wallet of Sagdiyev.
There was a point at which I was sorry for some of Borat's victims, maybe it was just my own guilt for enjoying so edgy a comedy. Or it was just the shudders from seeing two naked Cossacks take a hand-party so personally. Or I suppose some sadness at seeing just how in my adopted home, I'm only a county or two away from such poorly informed and quite shameful ideas.
And to point out jut how incredibly vapid Americans are, the WaPo went so far as to interview America's Kazakhs (out of the total of 60 of them) to gauge their opinion of how Borat was representing them to the world. Here's a clue, members of the fourth estate, Borat's schtick is about representing the US and its less appealing nature to the world.
To give a little extra information, some government official a while back instructed all the local media to not speak about Dr. Saleh Al Bandar and the report he compiled about attempts to gerrymander election districts along sectarian lines (among other charges that have long been whispered on the island, but gone uncorroborated in print). At first, he quietly slipped a copy of his findings to His Majesty the King, and to His Excellency the Prime Minister. When his boss, who happens to be a rather ambitious member of the Royal Family packed him on the first plane out of the country, Dr. Al Bandar proceeded to quietly slip a copy of said findings to the leading opposition.
On one hand, the report just about gave complete and instant credibility to every charge made by the opposition in the past thirty odd years. That alone ought to have raised SOME skepticism. Yet, instead of scrutinizing the report and its allegations, the government buried it under a public gag order, raising EVEN MORE skepticism.
Technically, Mahmood did violate the gag order. However, his thrust from the beginning was not about Dr. Al Bandar's report, but about removing the climate of sectarianism that has historically been foreign to Bahrain's atmosphere. Starting from His Highness the Crown Prince Shaikh Salman Ibn Hamad Al Khalifa, various prominent Bahraini establishment figures fully supported his efforts to oust the role of bigotry from Bahrain's public life.
The issues raised ought to have been dealt with. Instead it has blown up in our nation's face and threatens to take down some of Bahrain's finest treasures. I stand with Mahmood, I stand with his decision to unite Bahrain under one flag.
For those of you who have paid enough attention to my writing, you will know that my personal inspiration for blogging was a result of stumbling on the website of one Mahmood Nasser Al-Yousif. The site was unique and one of a kind, just like almost every Bahraini you would have met. In a part of the world where conformity and is valued over individuality and creativity, the islands of Bahrain were rife with individuals who bucked the trends who punched well above their weight class.
Mahmood was one of those. He is the Godfather of Bahraini Blogging; his site reaches several thousand people around the world. His writings and video logs rival any pronouncement by the archaic Ministry of Information in credibility among the world's internet cognioscienti. This same Ministry of DisInformation has decided to make his the 16th website to no longer be available in Bahrain.
So while Jamal Dawood has stuck his fingers into the eyes and ears of Bahrainis, the rest of the world will have no problem learning of exactly what Mahmood thinks of him. The Gulf region has long been plagued by its rapid entry into the modern world, going from sleepy backwaters and parched deserts to major oil producers and global trading and banking centres. Bahrain, Dubai and to a certain extent, Oman were the few oulets to the outside world and thus developed exceptional "social" skills. In the past several decades, the trend emerged where western public relations firms were hired to put the likability veneer on us sand-niggers. At least they were thought to do so better than those of us who had perhaps lived for significant periods in both worlds. So now with the shills in place, what need was there for a true "Dragoman"?
And for not being a shill, the MoI is attempting to silence Mahmood. But to what end? Most of Mahmood's readers live outside of Bahrain, where the MoI's opinion counts towards a hill of beans. The rest of his readers in Bahrain, know enough to get around the internet blockade; so even there the opinion of the MoI matters about as much as a jebel al-falafel.
As disappointed as I am when this happens to anyone; the fact that it has happened in my home, and to a person whom I consider a friend, is absolutely INSULTING. I know enough about Mahmood that as long as his family is unharmed, he will wear this as a badge of honor. But he will wear it just below the badge of true global ambassador.
It was about a month ago that the blogosphere went into overdrive about the deployment of the Carrier Group USS Eisenhower to the Arabian Gulf. Keyboard analysts took this to be a shot across the bow of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it's mad mullahs and stark raving Anti-Semite President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Given what was making its rounds in the news, it seemed quite plausible. Iran was under intense scrutiny for its alleged nuclear "weapons" program and Ahmadinejad was routinely criticized for his extremist views on Israel. Was the United States planning to go to war with Iran?
Of course, all of that was jettisoned as soon as we found out that a sitting congressman was engaging in sexual improprieties over Instant Message with congressional pages. For those of you who haven't necessarily lived on this side of the Atlantic, know this; Americans are severely, hypnotically obsessed with sex. All of them, it doesn't matter whether they are consevative liberal or whatever, sex trumps everything else.
So if I could distract you for ever so long from Senate hopeful Harold Ford, Jr.'s romp with a white woman, you will probably be interested to know that Ahmadinejad didn't exactly say what we thought he did, nor, as it turns out, does he have the authority and ability to follow through with his threats. In the same vein, the Carrier Group Eisenhower shipped out because of a plausible Al-Qaeda threat to the oil processing facilities in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
I too, am incredulously bewildered that this military would actually commit forces to counteract a real threat, instead of one conjured up by a PAC.
It's 50 odd days since Bahrain's parliament was dissolved. Bahrainis were actually relieved now that they didn't have to put up with an inept government body more concerned with what mannequins in store windows were wearing, than what was happening with the national budget.
Yet, like the invisible hand, stupidity seems to find another way to inject itself into running your everyday life. Take a gander at this article from the GDN (emphasis mine):
MANAMA: Bahrain has banned the import of clothes, such as T-shirts,
which sport slogans that contravene religious and social values.
The ban was ordered yesterday by Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.
This followed a report in our Arabic sister paper Akhbar Al Khaleej
on Saturday, highlighting the proliferation of T-shirts with Satanic
and drug-related slogans.
The Premier, speaking as he received ministers and senior officials,
also instructed officials to study the causes of certain social
phenomena and malpractices, particularly the heavy death toll on the
He also urged tough sentences for violators who break the law or endanger others' lives or property.
This my friends is what we call, the "bait and switch". Also known as "red herring" on the other side of The Pond. Inspite of a thin separation between the issues, it clearly gives the reader the impression that the one leads to the other. The more socially conservative elements of Bahraini society have long pushed for the elimination of heavy metal music, raves or any of those decadent imports from the west. Incidentally, this a cause that even the Southern Baptists have largely abandoned.
My suggestion for His Excellency to lower the heavy death toll on the roads, and especially to preserve religious and social conventions in Bahrain, would be to ban the importing of weekend Saudi's.
I have to admit that I have had very little sympathy for Steve Irwin, more popularly known as Croc Hunter. It's been over a week since his tragic death, and I really can't find it in myself to grieve for him. I suppose in my book, he brought it on himself. I do feel sorry for his family, and I would never wish harm on him. All I am saying is that given the nature of his life, and the risks he took, no one should be surprised that the day came that the dice did not roll his way.
I'd like to introduce you to another gentleman, one Rob Levin. I must tell you that I had never heard of Mr. Levin or PDPC before coming across this article. It is the announcement of his passing away, four days after he was struck by a motorist, while riding a bicycle. It was a hit and run, and according to the story, Mr. Levin wasn't wearing a helmet. These are not light matters to consider, as a man has just died leaving a widow and child behind. I only bring this up because in a bitter, bitter twist of comedy, this particular report came out the day after the fateful accident.
Irony, it's like goldy and bronzy, only it's made of Iron.
We're coming up on the mid-term elections in the United States. The primaries were rather heavily contested. Here in the DC area, we've heard quite a bit from everyone and their grandmother. The ballsiest of whom was Ben Cardin, who made no qualms of his disagreements with one George W. Bush. He won his primary handily.
Politicos are working hard to ensure greater power for their party in both houses of congress. The grand prize is the worst kept secret in Washington. Democratic voters want a democratic majority that will investigate and hopefully impeach George W. Bush. Republicans clearly don't want the trough feeding to end. Not while America hasn't yet regressed to the 1820's.
Both parties are gearing up for hotly contested races. This is partly to explain why the Bush administration has gone to the reliable voodoo of Islamic Terrorism. The media seems to smell the change and is aggressively going after the Bush administration, even so far as to confront the president on all his major policy decisions.
Without a doubt, both parties are taking no prisoners. It's still the days of Tammany Hall and Richard Daley, the techniques have just become are more sophisticated. Very Sophisticated. Even in the vicinity of the Capitol City of world's flag-bearer of democracy and liberty, there is no shortage of controversy over the voting machines. Lost in the confusion over "Verizon Voting" (Are you tired of Dropped Votes?) was a case of outright chicanery.
And this is exactly the kind of democracy that has been exported to the Middle East. Mahmood has the goods on the controversial Diebold machines which are to be used in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Bahrain. Yes America, freedom may not be free, but exporting it's machinations can be very profitable. Or at least entertaining.
In a life not too long ago, when I was still wet behind the ears and knew as much about politics as I still know about ice hockey, libertarian ideals of free markets and free living appealed to me. Having grown up in Bahrain, where there were no income taxes, abundantly available cheap imported labor, I went to a private school and had relatives who routinely received private medical treatment (whether from doctors we were related to, or from abroad), the Libertarian treatises had some sense of appeal. Mostly on the grounds of "better the devil you know than the devil you don't". Even in this country, I found several relatives whose political rhetoric, money and even careers have been ties up with the Republican party.
Not so much anymore. Even my cousin, who once worked two steps away from Tom Ridge, was reluctant to help turn Pennsylvania red in the last Presidential election. In retrospect, my ill-informed sense of the political scene were colored by a smug sense of elitism that has thankfully been beaten out of me.
The reality of life is that you never get something for nothing. Betting the farm for marginal gain only comes back to bite you in the butt. Unfortunately, betting the farm seems to be le mode du jour. America seems to be leading the race to the bottom, squeezing every last penny of profitability from every corner of the globe. Even Western Europe allows its heavily weighed collective conscience to temper its economic relationship with the world.
To get some background on Libertarianism,
it is quite a fantasy world. It makes some sort of sense and is very
appealing to the individual ego. The problem is that it is workable
only on a small scale. Once you get outside the constructs of small
tight-knit groups, it quickly deteriorates into unmitigated chaos.
There is always someone who can offer the one thing you end up
specializing in, at some nominal discount over you. On the global
scale, it renders the individual as much space to roam as a Tokyo
subway commuter; his destiny arbitraily decided by the unintended
consequences resulting from the execution of impersonal decisions made
in undisclosed corporate boardrooms. You can see, in a nutshell, what
the big fuss over globalization is all about.
Libertarianism has been the driving force in American political
rhetoric for the last few decades. The agendas of public political
discourse have long been run to keep pace with that set by Free Market
Radicals. It was only until fairly recently that it informed actual
policy, and that too, for a very short time. Stirling Newberry describes the Macro-sized game of Liar's Poker
being played straight out of the Libertarian playbook. I proves but one
thing, that Libertarianism is the political equivalent to the Perpetual Motion Machine. The allure of free living on the high hog shows itself under highly elusive circumstances and in a state of suspension of disbelief. However, the chase for full efficiency never yields but more disapoointment and a taller tower of cards that require more cards to keep building. Actually, come to think of it, Libertarianism turns out to look more like the equivalent of a Ponzi Scheme.
And The Financial Times is ready to declare it dead. Furious spending on Libertarian think tanks merely add to the speculation that it is in its death throes. Why do I care? Because the insanity needs to stop. It needs to stop now. Life for too many people on this planet is reduced to a game of "Dog eat dog", which is clearly a contradiction to basic Libertarian principles. Reality sets in when one attains the maturity to realize that in order to get what one wants, one may have to put in the time, resources and enegry that one may not want.
On the day after a UN Cease-fire was brokered, life pretty much went back to normal for most people. The United States and the United Kingdom went back to spooking air travellers with "Islamic Fascism". As if Al Quran Al Kadheem was the last gift of Mussolini. And Arab oil princes went back to partying it up. Or at least that's the perception.
The Lebanese finally accepted Resolution 1701, but with reservations. That was enough to just about everyone to look away while Israel completely ignored them. So the reservations the Lebanese had very rather well founded. Especially since they knew that Hezbollah would not appreciate a ceasefire agreement being hammered out without their input.
Mahmood lambastes the Khaleeji practice of public ass-kissing. Now it's not as if this is a run of the mill event. The princes of Bahrain and Dubai acheived top honors at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. No small accomplishment, but yet again, Bahrain and Dubai can't seem to keep away from competing with each other. This is straight out of Austin Powers III, except without cheesy "Daddy wasn't there" songs. Congratulations are due anyway. Shaikh Nasser is quite the media darling, and his recent accomplishments give that phenomenon credence. You will note that Prince William, second in line for the British crown is among his classmates.
The British press of course vented their frustration at having to change traffic patterns for the Royal entourages to have lunch. So they're upset about having a security detail provided by Scotland Yard. As if they would prefer imported guards who may or may not know about British Law and Customs. Or they would prefer the liability or embarassment if anything happened and Britain's top cops weren't fully involved. Even King George the W has to be protected by local details, which is probably why he tries to run them over.
Anyway, even though 1701 had been made public, protests in the United States went on as planned. Here are pictures from the rally in DC. Why? Because talk is cheap, we'll believe peace when we see the end of Israeli aggression and America's interest in keeping the air raid sirens going. We'll believe that the Gulf is ready to be a modern economy when it makes a greater priority on being productive rather than their place in line for favors.
Pictures paint a thousand words; or so we are told on a regular basis. One indelible image tells more to the mind's eye than all the bellowing told to a bored ear. Authoritarian communities have long feared the chaos of common knowledge being more common. Even more so when conjecture can be construed from ambiguous evidence.
Progressive civilizations have decided that trying to control what your people know and learn is just not worth the effort. In many cases the myth becomes more powerful, more damning and more dangerous than the truth. And as most atheists will grudgingly concede, myth is much more difficult to address than the truth.
So why in the world do the Arab governments of the Gulf insist on propagating more mythology and animosity? The Ministry of (Useless) Information blocked access to the servers of Google Earth and Google Maps for all users in Bahrain. Internet users are understandably upset. And the conjecture was quick in coming.
It's only been in the recent past that Google provided enough resolution around Bahrain to see fine details to the street level. Not having been on those fair desert isles for several years, I meant to catch up and see how things had progressed. I was rather pleasantly surprised at how many fewer empty lots I saw in comparison to what I remembered there being. Perhaps part of it was my memory being an imprecise recorder of events and images. And of course having to be very attentive to details and landmarks to get my bearings.
I was a little surprised at the detail provided on ASRY, Mina Salman, the US Naval facilities, BDF firing ranges and Shaikh Isa Airbase, lovingly referred to as Shakey's Pizza by the USAF. Nevertheless I was sufficiently enlightened about the kind of facilities our government had developed for national security and commercial infrastructure.
My greatest surprise was when I started following along the western and northern edges of the island. For years I had thought those to be farms and what remained of Bahrain's legendary mangrove swamps. I had expected to find the small villages surrounded by haphazard farms, interspersed with updated housing complexes. To my surprise, I found: nothing. Somehow it felt like the edge of the islands went further than I had remembered them to be. (actually there is some truth to that with all the land reclamation that has been going on).
The villages I had expected to find weren't ensconced by communal farms, but rather by private estates, some more magnificent than others. Nearly all were lush with date palms, garden and orchards, while the rest of the islands looked barren and desultory. Many of the mansions had similar layouts, looking like angel wings. Clearly they belonged to a similarly minded group of people with the privileges above the rest of the country. A group that has been accused for years of acquiring land "extra-judiciously" (a most charitable epitaph by some accounts).
Along the coast, anything that is not a marshy outlet seems to have been turned into a private beach. Possibly through artificial means, and protected by erosion controls. Of course, this has supported my privately held theory that the sea/land dichotomy doesn't support natural beaches on Bahrain's coast.
That said group would stand accused of enjoying ill-gotten gains and then deny access to evidentiary materials that may or may not give credence to counteracting claims only serves to further suspicion in the minds of neutral observers. In other words, thanks to the Ministry of (Useless) Information, the Khalifa family just looks guilty. I daresay, they end up looking more guilty than they really probably are.
So they shut down access to the Google servers, which only provides images and perhaps a few town names. Enterprising Bahrainis got around this by using Wikimapia, which allows you to add notes and comments. Indeed many of the "private" properties have been referenced, some with less than flattering commentary. See if you can find the abode of the man described as "the Greatest Thief in Bahrain". (clue: It is NOT Mr. Ten Percent).
On the other side of the pier, things are improving slightly. They have perhaps had the software blocked since time immemorial. But just this past week, Saudi citizens were granted the "right" to take photographs in public. With notable restrictions that include women and private mansions. If one may recall, Saudi princes have the notorious reputation of abusing the principle of eminent domain. Eminent Domain works differently in Saudi Arabia. All princes are on the government payroll. Hence they are government "officials" who may take possession of land by royal authority. So now answer me this, at what point does public land claimed by a public official, whose income is primarily from "public" sources, become private property?
Again, whether the stories are true or not, and granted that ones personal privacy ought to be respected, the Al Saud princes just look guilty.
So as I am catching up on my blog reading, I came across a rather fascinating discussion on Marginal Revolution about time management. A commenter asked for Tyler Cowen's advise on using his time more effectively than lazing around after a hard day's work by watching 'Friends'. If you asked me, it's more a matter of willpower and being proactive about using his time to more nobler pursuits. On the other hand, I wouldn't begrudge the person for using their time to unwind and detox their brains.
What really got my eye was the comment about Do it NOW! The gentleman said that he's "found that it always seems like I'll have more (free) time later to do all that stuff, when in reality my free time is gradually decreasing as I get older". I never seem to understand how people actually think that they'll have more time to accomplish something at a future date. At the end of the day, literally, you're deadline is a lot closer than had you taken care of it earlier. In this world of constant interruptions and distractions, how can you look me straight in the face and say that you have greater flexibilty for more interruptions and distractions on a smaller allocation of time.
We really shouldn't be talking about time management as much as Interruption and Distraction Management. Interruptions and distractions are unavoidable; what pisses me off is when they start taking over your life and you feel like nothing is getting done. And having open-ended deadlines and too much time on your hands are in my opinion, forms of interruptions and distractions as well.
Personally, I've always enjoyed being able to get to work early and have the most pressing items taken care of before other people get to the office. Taking care of even some of the mudane things to be prepared for future urgencies makes a huge difference. There's nothing like having a client call at 9:01 and you've got the figures he needs rather than having to make small talk for 15 minutes while your computer has to be boot up, your files pulled, the network to be accessed and you fumble with your password five times before it locks you out. And God help you if the stuf you're working on requires other people in the office to be on top of things, an they just aren't. You've got to be ahead of yourself and THEM. Trust me, I've seen heads roll for far less while fat cats get bigger bonuses for far worse. I once had a boss that I got into the habit of "nagging" to get some of the mundane things done ahead of time.
That particular individual just turned out to be more of a firefighter, and believe me we had a lot of fires to put out. I was just frustrated because had a few things been done on time, we could have avoided one big explosion. The worst job I had was one where I was too dependent on others to get my job done, and a lot of it could have been done in half a day, but I had to stretch it out over the week. As you can imagine, it took months to get the simplest thing done and I became unhappy very quickly. In hindsight that place was more about playing mindgames, turf wars and petty politics than actually being productive.
In any case, the key for me has always been to be organized, even if other people don't understand my system, and have a rough but realistic idea of what I am going to accomplish that day. I almost always surprise myself with how much more I get done than I expect to.
Hesham has finally said what all the rest of you have been thinking (well, at least those of you that still care...). I have pretty much dropped off the face of the blogging planet since last October. Several changes have happened in the meantime on a personal level, the most important of which are my nuptials. That's right, DIB is growing up and starting a family of his own. That change alone was enough for me to drop blogging altogether, and it was a tough fight squeezing out a post a month.
Up until now, BonsaiMark of Cerebral Waste was the only one who knew about the big changes in my life. I wasn't too keen on making it public since Rose and I had decided we did NOT want our family life to be paraded on the Internet. Deep down, I'm still undecided about where to draw that line. I've always found blogging fascinating as I could express my opinion without necessarily having to expose everything about myself and subject myself to rigorous scrutiny in return. The concern doubles up as soon as other people are involved. Rose has commented on here before and she too has questioned on occasion why I haven't been more regular about posting.
To be honest, I was just waiting for the opportune moment when inspiration would strike me again. Hesham's demand seems to have done the trick. I will make mention of a couple of things. One, I was SO SO sorry to have missed all the fireworks going on at Mahmood's Den where uber-Republican Steve the (Partisan Hack) American (if American means ultra-right wing, bomb Barry Goldwater's grave for being too soft, liberals are kaffir blah blah, ooh is that a cheesy poof?) got his money's worth from none other than Mahmood himself. Longtime readers will know that I rarely pass up an opportunity to confuse that boy with the facts, and had I been aware of what was going on at the time, I would certainly have thrown in a couple of quality parting shots. Even if it were only for entertainments sake.
Secondly, on a more serious note; I do stand horribly conflicted over what has transpired in Lebanon. I feel like I can make all the stink I want about it, but I truly have little hope that the United States will ALLOW the situation to improve, much less actually do anything to restore the balance. I've had several conspiracy theories running through my head, only to realize that to be the last thing we need around here. The madness has to stop, no two questions about that. Israel has nothing left to gain, Hezbollah has swept up all the dividends, even if they never get to fire their bastard rockets at Abu Hasan's neighbor (serious bonus points if you know where that's from).
It's not unfortunate that this happened. What's unfortunate is that there are enough people in America, Israel, Iran and Southern Lebanon that so wanted this to happen and couldn't wait for the opportunity to bring it about. Know that I lose sleep at night doubting you will ever get your just desserts.
Now proving that Mohammed Khalid and Jassem Al-Saeedi's brainfarts are contagious to skullcaps of another kind, Bahrain's Catholic community is up in whimpers about the latest assault to their "feelings". The worldwide sensation "The DaVinci Code", which is yet to be released in Bahrain is already proving a lightning rod for the bleating of well-prodded sheep.
For those of you haven't read the book, or seen the movie or did some additional research and consulted the works of actual scholars, "The DaVinci Code" is a spectacular work of fiction. It's a fast paced thriller which uses intentionally provocative material as its backdrop. Why? Because it is sensational and fool's part with their money for shits and giggles like these.
I give it a lot of credit for being a great read. Eighth grade level reading, but the best eighth grade level reading out there. Dan Brown is a great fiction writer and good for him that he can create quite a lot of buzz. He was immaculate in his research. The only verifiable factuality I have caught him on so far, is the scenery of the Temple Church in Fleet Street in London. But I wn't givie it away...
Other than that, he has pulled out so much mileage out of conjecture, it's absolutely unbelieveable. I'm alright with that. Because it is his perogative and right to do so. His use of conjecture is what has insecure Christian leadership the world over to get their rosaries in a twist. That it so directly competes with their own drawn out conjectures of Jesus Christ is what gets them all up in a tizzy. The point is that the historical record of Jesus and his life tells us only so much. Dan Brown has merely filled in the blanks in a manner that seems to indicate that there is more to Jesus than we think we know. Ultimately this is true. Regardless of how we got the accounts of the gospel, it is the most reliable and verifiable record of Christ that there is. That said, the gospels ae incomplete and don't get their own version of facts straight. But the version we have has worked for the past 17 centuries, so why fix something that ain't broke?
Here's where I do have a problem. I have a problem with opinions being made, and spokesmen being held up, who have no idea what they are talking about. They do no research; they can't debate the points made, actually they WON'T debate it with actual research; because that involves exposing the lack of critical analysis and evidence to support the claims made by church fathers for centuries.
At the end of the day, the Christian faith has withstood innumerable challenges, not the least of which is the embarrassing behavior of its own constituencies. No one's been burned at the stake over Dan Brown's works of fiction yet, but the extremely stupid remarks of people like Sevi Mathunny who has made opinions without any thought or research hurts MY feelings.
Reading the book made me realize something, that what I have been told in church for twenty-odd years is a narrow, tight interpretation that highlights only what makes Jesus and Christianity look good. As far as I am concerned, questioning such interpretations is the most mature spiritual act anyone can take, and Sacred Heart Church's act of denying their parishioners the freedom to mature their faith is unconscienable and only gives the claims of Dan Brown's book another leg to stand on.
As lax as I have been about posting in the past six months or so, it really wouldn't be like me to pass up on a good ruckus. Which is what has the promise of going on in the tiny island nation of Bahrain, my homeland.
The little emirates of the Arabian Gulf are characterized by little turf wars and heavily protected service industries. This explains the insistence of each principality for having individual airlines, national banks, a cacophony of satellite news channels and of course, ever spiraling public ego projects.
The ones in the most enviable position are the telecom corporations. Residents of each emirate have one and only one monolith that sets prices, effectively having your phone a very short leash. Which means the simple act of making a call involves a lot of bending over.
None of the Gulf telecom monopolies enjoys its status the way Batelco does. Bahrain Telecommunications Company has the smallest market and the most expensive service. Even with the addition of MTC-Vodafone to (limited) areas of the market, Batelco stills provides poor service for comparatively exorbitant prices. Batelco is so patently unfair that it was charged with providing cell phone service for post-war Iraq. It's not too much of a stretch to call it the Halliburton of Gulf phone companies.
I just recently found out that my own father just about had enough with the boys in blue and cut his landline. Pops still has a cell phone with them, but he doesn't talk much (unless he got it from work, which means that it's on the governments dime anyway). The frustration is mounting, especially now that Batelco has put it to broadband users. Batelco has introduced bandwidth quotas, and punitive charges for those who go above that.
Bahraini Internet users are livid and are starting a campaign in response to Batelco's arrogance. And that's what I'll call it. In the last several days, Batelco has been quick to go on the PR defensive, but slow to actually pay attention to the desires of its customers. I've waited long enough, I'm joining the fight. Even if it is symbolic; I don't pay any of my money to Batelco, but I'm behind the boycott. It's high time that consumers in the Gulf united and forced choices into the market. A good option would be to organize your own cooperatives like these so as to mantain consumer control.
Tom DeLay's resignation yesterday prompted quite an uproar across the country. While most Americans were thankful that this year's face of corruption was finally sent home packing, partisan conservatives were quick to label everything a liberal conspiracy. I amused myself greatly listening to the same wingnut rants about the liberal media suppressing the truth about Democrats while pouncing on every opportunity to slam Republicans. And this was C-SPAN.
Here's the deal. When I hear a conservative opinion that hasn't been provided by Faux News, then maybe I'll listen. Until then, enjoy the martyrdom and vapidity that comes from paying Rupert Murdoch to do your thinking for you. We can talk about jobs outsourced to India, China and Mexico after you're done outsourcing your mental faculties.
To the point, yes, everyone knows that Ted Kennedy drove off a bridge and is ultimately responsible for the death a young woman. But that was in his capacity as a private idiot, not as a Senator, which he has been competent enough to be for several decades. Allegedly, John Kerry shot some kid's hockey puck into the woods when he was in college. Again, in his capacity as a sophomore, not as Presidential Candidate. Cynthia McKinney assaulted a Capitol Police Officer for mandating that she go through security because she did not have the proper identification. And then she starts howling about racial profiling. This is pretty simple; she's an idiot and her peers concur. These things are to be dealt with privately, as private matters.
Tom DeLay on the other hand, is a hardened crook. If I recall, the entire point of the Declaration of Independence was directed at assholes like him and to limit their influence on public affairs. Between the judiciary and the American voting public, there are ways of handling those that think they are above the law. But those that think that they are above their publicly appointed responsibilities to serve the people? Drawn and quartered my friends; drawn and quartered.
So while the yahoos from all over jebus-land go ape shit over Rep. McKinney, we have news of one Brian Doyle who was caught last night using Department of Homeland Security computers, phones and time to set up sexual liaisons with underage girls. The deputy press secretary for the uni-bureaucratic agency that streamlined all of America's federal crime-fighting resources into one color-coded chart, had no problems flashing his badge and office phone number to a minor on the internet. Sort of like this creep who flashed his badge to get out of a similar mess. Doyle did this on the internet, where you have no idea who could be watching.
And in Doyle's case, it was the Sheriff's Department of Polk County, Florida. Good for them. I hope the bastard gets nailed (in any which way you may be imagining)! Between these two detectives, I believe that officers of the law who enforce the law equally and fairly ought to be highly commended and deserve more than their fair share of respect.
On a side note, I'm absolutely ecstatic that the University of Maryland women's basketball team pulled off a comeback victory over Duke to win the Women's NCAA National Chapmionship. This year's men's team was a bunch of pussies that were shown up in turn by George Mason, who went to the Final Four, and by the Lady Terps who are bringing home the whole shebang. Shame on the seniors of 06, we won'r be missing you. Incidentally, Maryland and Stanford are now the only schools to boast National Titles in Football and Men's and Women's basketball. Stanford however is the only school to also have won the College World Series.
I pull up my browser this morning to see Bahrain mentioned in all the wire services. Having understood how the media operates in this day and age, I know that since it led, it probably bled. And sure enough, it was news that a dhow, a traditional Bahraini boat, had capsized.
Dhows have long been a mainstay of the Arabian Gulf. As much as the outside world tends to associate Arabians with camels, it has been the dhow that has sustained us for centuries, be it trade with China, India and Africa, for fishing and pearling, or for their most modern use, tourism. It's little wonder that more than a handful of emirates along the Arabian coast incorporate the dhow into their national symbols.
Which is why it becomes even more tragic for me that such a calamity has befallen us in this manner. We don't expect for our dhows to sink. It just doesn't happen. Which comes back to how and why the boat went over capacity to begin with. Whether it was the boat's owner, or the tour company that chartered it, even down to the captain who commandeered the vessel; someone ought to have enforced the maximum capacity of the boat before pushing off.
It's nice and convenient to tell the media that the boat was overloaded, but that little fact didn't seem to escape anyone's mind when they were taking cash and punching dinner tickets. And if a dignitary as important as Shaikh Khalifa Ibn Salman Al Khalifa, the longest serving Prime Minister in the world, was embarrassed enough about the incident that he was personally consoling survivors, then you have to know that this matter has got just about everyones attention.
Just when the Bahraini Blogging crowd had given up badgering me to join them for their monthly Blogger Meetups, myself and the inimitable Tariq Khonji put one together of our own. Tariq, a senior reporter for the Gulf Daily News, Bahrain's leading English language daily, was in Washington last week as part of a professional development seminar.
We had a fun evening of talking and quite an adventure at it to! I arrived at his hotel on Tuesday evening, right when the weather people said a snowstorm was supposed to hit DC. So I had done my research and picked out a few good restaurants in a five block radius that would appeal to an out of town guest.
Tariq brought his Greek colleague, Dmitrious, who I must say is a proper gentleman, and a pleasure to have been around. I think Tariq and I hit it off pretty well, and for this I am glad. Considering how I nearly got him killed.
Tariq and Dmitrious seemed to want to defer to my judgment for what to do for the evening, while I was more interested in what they wanted to do and make the appropriate arrangements. Of the suggestions I came up with, they were both rather enthusiastic about TGI Fridays. Which worked out well, since the Internets told me there was one a mere three blocks away.
So there we are walking down Pennsylvania Avenue, dodging traffic, chatting away; mind you it was around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hovering around 0 Centigrade. Dmitrious was fine, as was I, but I think Tariq was having a difficult time. By the time I realized we had overshot the Fridays, we were within sight of the White House. So I dithched that and decided to shoot for the Old Ebbit Grille. As you can see, I did my research for all of this; I'm meticulous like that. I'm also scatter brained, so I left all the addresses at the office.
After I couldn't find the Old Ebbitt Grille, we stumbled on McCormick & Schmitts, where the wait would have been over an hour. I'm aplogizing profusely and Tariq is probably restraining himself from strangling me. Of course I'm worried that he was going to freeze to death.
Just when I was feeling so good about jay-walking without the condescending remarks and getting yelled at, Tariq nearly gets run over. I guess I forgot to tell him that unlike in Bahrain, when you step out into the street, drivers aren't nearly as polite as they are back home. Oops.
After only 45 minutes of wandering around the heart of Washington DC, we did finally get to Fridays. And who would have thought that among three guys, it would be the Greek who would stop and actually ask someone for directions? For the record, it was catty-cornered from where I thought it would be, and behind several trees, which is why I missed it the first time.
Now that Tariq was in a warmer environment, he was freer to express himself. We had a great evening of talking and comparing notes on all our favorite characters from the blogging world. And don't bother to ask, what was said at Fridays, STAYS at Fridays.
At the moment, Tariq is off travelling around the country for the rest of his stay. I guess it is a seminar crawl, taking him of all places to South Dakota, which just recently experienced a dump of snow. So that's how that Free Trade Agreement is working out. Bahrain sends over top journalist. America sends him back with Frostbite.
Allright! Courtesy of Deadspin, we have this image that showed up in the Bryan-College Station Eagle newspaper last week. I'll be taking your best shots at captions for the image. The best ones will have my enduring respect. If we have a clear winner, I'll actually utilize some of my dwindling brain cells to think of a deliverable, affordable prize.
So the past week has been a hullaballou about the imminent change of ownership of six US seaports, one of which is barely 30 miles from my current location. Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike have roundly condmened the sale to a nation that provided material support to 9/11 hijackers and was among a few that actively supported the Taliban regime of Afghanistan.
In the middle of all this, you had Arabs cry foul and accuse congress of racism and bigotry. After all if national control of the ports were the issue, then why was it allright for a British firm to hold the lease? And a president that has for four and a half years now, wagged the green menace in our faces, suddenly alters course and hands over the keys to the very people he's convinced everyone to distrust.
Deep down, this is the issue. As much as Shrub touts Arab democracy and teh rule of law, he stills falls into the old clap-trap that Arabs somehow cannot function in a truly egalitarian environment. Shrub is convinced that Arabs cannot handle due process and cannot compete in a global environment without special favors to the elite. That's why jetloads of Saudis left this country a few days after September 11, why Guanatanamo inmates have yet to see trial, why he circumvented inspections in Iraq with a war, why the Saudis were never thoroughly investigated after September 11 and why Dubai Ports World never went through the proper channels and oversight to consummate this takeover.
It's as if Shrub is convinced that Arabs just cannot undergo the slightest scrutiny or examination and will just crumble under the weight of having to demonstrate their competence/innoncence/business savvy. And who better to show his intolerance of scrutiny than the man who never had his National Guard records released, or his filings with the SEC or his own activities as President
If Dubai Ports World is up to job, and its record of managing 30 ports across the world indicates it could be, then its credibility will hold up to congressional inquiry. If DPW is credibile enough then it ought to stand up under the microscope, the same way a suspected jihadi can stand being tried fair and square.
Khalid Mohammed and his ilk can pat themselves on the back for getting one step closer (or rather one more step backward) to the middle ages. After whipping up a storm and a half over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), and grumbling about allowing Swedish women being allowed to watch a soccer game, the Scandanavians are fighting back.
Sweden, which made good on their promises to move away from oil-fired heating and electricity in the 70s, has now declared that it won't be party anymore to inflating Arab bank accounts. That's right, Sweden is giving up fossil fuels and by 2020 plans to never need a drop of oil for anything. No more tankers from the Gulf, or even the North Sea. No more elbowing at the trough and having to bid over India, China and United States of the SUV to be held over the barrel by "Krazy Vahhabis". Therefore, no more trips to Dubai, no more tankers from Kuwait, no more insurance policies from Bahrain and no more fighter jet for Saudi Arabia.
Sweden will get creative about its energy needs, moving towards hydrogen and ethanol powered cars, nuclear and hydro-electricity, steam heating. They will also explore renewable sources such as wind and wave power as well as biofuels.
I hope the beardos are happy that there are fewer white devils who want our black gold. Soon there will be no market for what we are selling and we can all go back to living like Yemeni hillbillies. Maybe then they will realize that the Peninsula needs the world more than the world needs the Gulf.
Ed's Note: I INSTANTLY regret what I have said, as Yemeni Hillbillies have it INFINITELY better than anyone ever would under 'Krazy Vahhabis'. Just ask The Religious Policeman, who has been thoroughly interrogated by DIB's good friend at Cerebral Waste ...
While the rest of the world carries on about cartoons and flag-burnings (an activity protected by he Supreme Court, I might add), Washington looks to dust off the old welcome mat to the poor, tired and huddled masses. Apparently the house is set to pass an immigration bill that includes amnesty provisions for illegal aliens.
Off the bat, let me state that while it is prudent for a nation to control who does and does not warrant access to a nations territory and services, and to participate in its economy, it is a situation that has universally been short of meaningful relevance to the real needs of the emigrant and the new country. That's true to varying degrees of any nation on the face of this planet. The "systems" in place are ripe for abuse and exploitation; they are inefficient and always late to the party. Government regulated immigration deservedly has the reputation of offering yesterdays solution tomorrow. I am of the opinion that technical legality for immigrants in this country is arbitrary. Members of Congress are on record describing the INS (now BCIS arm of DHS) as having archaic and outdated requirements that every foreigner is bound to violate at some time in their life. Sort of like the tax code.
It is no secret that immigration policy in this country is set to the needs of the business community and their need for cheap and efficient labor. What "programs" exist to help acclimatize new arrivals to the norms and culture of this country are largely initiated by citizens and private civic organizations. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but you try addressing the burgeoning needs of 15 to 50 million people with mostly volunteers. While most Americans enjoy the experience of welcoming people to their shores, there are those outspoken few for whom the costs of integration outweigh the benefits and would just as well throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Now every person ought to be guaranteed the right to promote and rally for the cause that they deem fit, and I could not in good conscience begrudge anyone such rights, which they ought to be on every inch of this planet. Just as I ought to be guaranteed the express right to disparage them in my opinions, as invaluable as they are to all of you.
The Minuteman Project has rallied all the supporters they can get to fight any attempt by congress to give American businesses and the foreigners they employ an easier conscience about they way they conduct business to meet needs that Congress clearly fails to address. This bill is about making things right for the 11 million undocumented workers and the enterprises that exploit them. Or at least the opportunity to do so. Amnesty does not guarantee anyone the right to residency, it merely means that they will not be prosecuted for infractions of the labyrinthine and archaic regulations that mandate their existence in this country. Why are they archaic, labyrinthine and convoluted? Because of nut jobs like the Minutemen who really only care about preserving White Anglo-Saxon hegemony over the American political and cultural landscape. Minutemen are all over Arizona and California, where much has been made of the report released over a decade ago that indicated the Golden State would have a white minority in less than half a century.
Fearing that Washington will someday recede sovereignty over what was once New Spain, they use language like "invasion" and "assault" to describe the simple act of a Latino wandering as far as his empty stomach will take him to do the crappy jobs that Americans won't do, for wages they won't even laugh at. Recall that the greatest source of discrimination against Black Americans came not from their slave-owners although heaven-forbid that was bad enough, but from poor white farmers who couldn't compete with the big plantations and their slave labor. Exploit one group of people and drive prices down to where only the most powerful and conscientiously challened can feasible participate in the market while the rest now have to sell their assets to you. Hey, it may not be much, but it's the American Way.
Whether border-hoppers are sent home or not, Whitey won't be getting a job he isn't qualified for. The ones that are here are willing to work for less than you would be. If they are sent home, then wages rise just enough that for the 11 million you send away, only about 3 million new Americans will get hired. What are the odds that you will be one of them?
So the economics don't add up. The only thing that unites antagonists to illegal immigrants is their own personal insecurities and bigotry. Read about the brouhaha raised in the Virginia legislature to affect the handful of illegals in that state. It's clearly more about helping white kids sleep better at night than actually make any real changes to how many brown people that blight Virginia's bus-stops and DMV lines. Infact, the political feasibility eventually came into question and the commonwealth dropped the move as quickly as it thought it up. Then follow the story of this woman who joined the Minuteman rally, you'll soon find that she too is an immgrant to this country, born in post-war Germany. If you ask me, she still habors some level of sub-conscious ambition for the establishment of a master race. Not once did she ask any white person whether they were here in this country legally. Nothing has quite the rotteness as the stench of hypocrisy.
And they have clearly learned the political language of the 21st century. Want a highway in Alaska? 9/11! Want to spy on people and circumvent the established judicial system to do so? 9/11! Brownie go home? You get the picture. For the record, all of the 9/11 hijackers came here legally. Some of them fell afoul of their visas, but I'll let you in on a little secret. By offering amnesty a) it doesn't affect those who overstay their visas (they have OTHER provisions in the law to work around) and b) it allows the government to vet the ones who are here to do harm.
Let's say that there are a few dozen terrorists here illegally. Are you going to watch your friendly neighborhood law enforcement sift though ALL 11 million illegals to find the needles in the haystack? If you offer amnesty, and say five million take up the offer. Maybe two or three million actually get to stay. Guess what, Unlce Sam now has a paper trail on a good portion of the problem population. So guess what amnesty does for you? It cuts the stack in half, and now you have a way of tracking people for the duration of their stay in this country. And those that are genuinely here to provide for their families don't have to be harassed. And we can stop wasting the time of law enforcement busting Cornflake Bandits and Suitcase Snipers. So you can take the cock and bull about illegal immigrants as a security threat and stick it right up there with the Reagenesque fable of the Welfare Queen.
Of course, no minuteman party is complete without their old friends, the Nazis. Now I know that any reference to Nazis ought to completely decimate my argument you have to make. However, I don't have to make any point with these nuts. They were there to throw their white weight around. Just like how Republicanism is a rallying banner for the likes of Pat Robertson and Tom Tancredo, so too are the Minutemen for fascists. Here's a pencil, draw your own conclusions.
The Minutemen enjoy their celebrity status having been endorsed by such luminaries as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tancredo and Dana Rohrbacher. While the Governator has sort of tried to stay away from the limelight as far as this issue is concerned, the others revel in its notereity. And no Rep Rohrbacher, there is nothing wrong with protecting your family, but there is something wrong with equating E Pluribus Unum with Whitey Whitey we're allrighty
Allow me to dissect for you, the everyday goings-on in the Arabian Gulf. Khaleejis are by nature very sensitive people, who don't like to argue, at least not publicly. Every once in a while you'll get a solid show of bravado, but quite often the offending party will back down when challenged. Of course, there is a protocol of negotiation, the purpose of which is to save face for all parties. However, God help you if you've ever truly poked the hornet's nest unnecessarily and find yourself the target of actions brought about by your own provocation.
Abdul Hakim Shammary, an elected member of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry did just that when he sent, of his own initiative an email campaign to support the boycott of Danish goods into Bahrain. Bahraini Blogfather Mahmood Al Yousif, rightfully took umbrage at Shammary for using his position and the resources of the BCCI (c'mon fellas name change is more than ten years overdue) to propagate his personal views.
If you read the thread, you will see rather quickly that Mr. Shammary quickly changes his bent and tries to diffuse the situation between him and Mahmood while leaving his public remarks for all to see. But the quandary is subtly obvious. As Mahmood notes, the mandate of the BCCI is to protect the interests of Bahrain's business community, not it's religious one. However when religious leaders influence peer pressure enough to hold sway over the average consumer, then the business community has to accommodate that into their business models.
So lets say that we could resolve it so that whichever business chose to follow today's direction of wind and whim, could do so, and those that would chose to keep their inventory insulated from non-economic pressure would do accordingly. Would anyone have cared if a BCCI board member sent out an email to all on its listserve, advising them of the economic consequences of each course of action? Instead you have someone who has given no shred of evidence one way or the other, but has fully endorsed the popular whim of the day, if for nothing else than to inflate some religious personality's ego into thinking that his word is the same as God's.
If the Chamber even wanted to go as far as to endorse the boycott, then it ought to have been put to vote under proper rules of order. Certainly not by the personal initiative of someone hiding behind a title. Mahmood is right to lambaste him for his impudence, and as Blogfather to drag Shammary through the mud. What I sorely missed was any discussion of how to correct the situation or even to discuss what an appropriate response to controversy was. It's really sad that the position taken was, agree or disagree with me, but for heaven's sake spare me the consequences of my actions.
The role of such organizations are to ensure that private enterprise attains acceptable standards of fairness and competitiveness in its pricing, its practices and policies through peer review. It's a form of self-policing that is better achieved than through punitive regulation that seeks to impose ideology and politics over good business sense and responsible corporate citizenship. Yes, I know I'm always the one howling about corporate corruption, so what does it mean I advocate for the foxes to run the chicken coop? I'm not; I'm saying that in the absence of proper peer review, the public has no choice but to enforce strict limits on abuses of the system. Enterprise is not an abuse of the system. Greed and exploitation most certainly are.
But that's besides the point. It used to be that you could always expect a good haggle or negotiation with an Arab trader. The exchange with Al Shammary has shown a new generation who will only too politely say its their way or the highway.