January 16, 2008

The Cruelty of King Abdullah

In the course of kissing, hugging, dancing and holding hands with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, President Bush found time to put in a word for justice and decency. Not, this time, on behalf of the young woman who was going to be flogged for the crime of having been gang-raped, abudcted while in the company of a non-relative male (originally her sentence was 90 lashes, but it was increased [before her pardoning after international pressure from New Zealand and elsewhere] to 200 because she attempted to influence the "court" through the media), but on behalf of American SUV drivers. Please oh please, King, for the love of God & Allah, open the Royal Spigot. My people await this supreme act of generosity! Maybe the Minister of Oil had already told us to take a hike, but Bush had a Hail Mary plan (to mix religious orthodoxies) of his own. He's tight with Ab-doo-lah, the House of Saud and the House of Bush go back a long way, and surely the King, whom Bush has tirelessly protected from scurrilous insinuations (okay: factual and accurate allegations) that he rules a land where 78.94736841052631% of the 9/11 hijackers were born and raised, could grant a Royal Solid, don't you think? Bush went so far as to redact from official government reports any evidence that Saudi ministers were involved in financing the plot. All those blacked-out pages, and this is the thanks he gets? We sell them $20 billion worth of our best military toys, let them buy our biggest banks, let it all go that they were one of the few countries to recognize the Taliban, and you're tellin' me King Abdullah won't turn the goddam valve a little counter-clockwise?

Maybe the King is simply performing an intervention. Remember when W himself said we were addicted to fossil fuels? And now he's over in the King's enormous, country-sized sand box begging (like any junkie who's thought through the true consequences of his rash decision to get off the stuff) for petroleum. For our own good, the King is keeping the liquor cabinet locked up. If Bush is too weak to face the inevitable recession his previous bravado has brought on, the King, his goateed, fat, father figure, will be strong for him.

However -- I am reminded that a
Berkeley prof once told us that Saudi Arabia is not so much a nation as a family-owned filling station. We need to remember that oil is what the Saudis do; what's under all that sand is all there is. The famous Ghawar field is sputtering out, they're pumping ever-increasing quantities of seawater into the wells to force the light, sweet (now salty) crude out. By constraining supply, they keep the price way up. What they have left is going to be sold for the highest price possible, because they foresee the day when those thousands of robed playboys, the Princes, who depend on the King's largesse for Monte Carlo condo payments, yacht upkeep, gambling debts, cell phone bills, and all those European whores on retainer -- will have to dip into savings, not income. The Saudis have finagled hard to keep the price in that nice $90-$100/ barrel range, and while they'd like to help you out, Georgie, out of deep respect for all you've meant to each other...

Besides, think it through. They'd just be encouraging us. If we'd gotten realistic a long time ago about mileage standards and had built a decent railroad system, we wouldn't have to import any Saudi oil at all. We have to concede that, as contrary as humility (and intellectual honesty) is to the American ethos. But Bush, that clever poker player, is reminding Abdullah that an
America in recession can't buy as much oil. Ever thought of that, King, huh? (Bush snickered with the cleverness of that ploy - hehhehhehhehhehhehhehheh!) Unfortunately, the King responded by saying "I've got two words for you. China. India."

You have to read your audience, I guess. These could be the wrong people to stir with appeals to conscience. We’ll import as much oil as they’ll let us have, pay their price, and shut up about it. We have no choice. Do we, George?

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