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Tilting at Windmills

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February 22, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

(MUCH) MORE ON THE DUBAI PORT DEAL....I'm still open to argument on the Dubai port deal, but this is looking more and more like a mindless feeding frenzy to me. So far, I've only heard a couple of arguments against the deal that are even colorable.

First, Atrios points out that Dubai Ports World (DPW) isn't a private company, it's a state-owned company. It's one thing to have a foreign company operating some of our shipping terminals, but a foreign state?

The problem is that this is just the nature of the shipping business. As the Financial Times reports, state-owned companies already operate terminals in the U.S., including China Shipping at the Port of Los Angeles and APL (owned by Singapore's state-owned NOL) in Oakland. "The US container port industry would be unworkable without companies controlled by foreign governments," says a British analyst. Furthermore, DPW and Singapore's state-owned PSA are the third and fourth largest port operators in the world, and China's Hutchison Ports already refuses to invest in the U.S. If all of these firms are shut out of the country, we lose access to some of the best and most efficient port operators in the world.

Second, Matt Yglesias notes that "Giving Bush the benefit of the doubt is not a sound policy as a general matter." That's an excellent point. And causing Bush some political pain is a worthy goal.

But there are limits, and encouraging the xenophobic jingoism that's driving this controversy is a little too much for me. Unless there are serious substantive reasons to oppose this deal, I'm not willing to jump on the bandwagon solely because it's an opportunity for some righteous Bush bashing.

I also did a bit of Googling to find out what a few actual port operators thought of this deal last week before it turned into quite such a media circus. They seemed pretty sangune about the whole thing:

New Orleans: Gary LaGrange, president and chief executive of the New Orleans port, said he was surprised by the sale but not overly concerned.

Baltimore: F. Brooks Royster III, director of the Maryland Port Administration, which oversees the public marine terminals, said an infusion of money from Dubai Ports World might help the port expand. Two days later: "Theyre not here to insert terrorists into the country....I dont have a concern in that regard."

Philadelphia: William P. McLaughlin, public affairs director for the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, which owns major general-cargo terminals on the Pennsylvania side of the river, said security and other port operations issues are spelled out in the lease and should not be affected by the change.

Miami: Port of Miami-Dade executives aren't concerned. "They are not buying the Port of Miami," said Deputy Port Director Khalid Salahuddin. "They are buying part of one of the operators at the port."

Tampa: Amid growing criticism of a deal to give a United Arab Emirates company a major presence in U.S. ports, Tampa Port Authority commissioners....authorized port director Richard Wainio to sign a contract to bring the British company at the center of the controversy to Tampa to run cargo handing at the public agency's docks.... Wainio called the deal with P&O a critical step for the port and the region.

What's more, as I noted earlier, dock workers themselves would continue to be American union members, and port security would continue to be provided by the Coast Guard and U.S. customs. It also seems noteworthy that DPW's acquisition of P&O would give it control of port operations in lots of other countries besides the U.S., including P&O's home country of Great Britain, and everyone else seems to be OK with that. What do we think we know that Britain and Belgium don't?

In the end, there's nothing left to this controversy except the raw question of whether the government of the United Arab Emirates is sympathetic to international terrorism and therefore likely to implement policies that would make it easier for al-Qaeda to infiltrate ports in the U.S. something most analysts seem to think is pretty far-fetched. God knows I wouldn't mind some congressional oversight on this question, especially if it prompted some serious action on actual port security, but if turns out that the UAE is really untrustworthy then I'd like to find someplace else for the Navy to park their ships too. The port of Dubai is the busiest port of call for the United States Navy outside the continental United States.

In the absence of serious evidence of untrustworthiness, though, I'd prefer to walk the liberal internationalism walk instead of jumping ship for short term political gain. I've said before that engaging seriously with the Arab world is the best way of fighting terrorism, and I meant it. This is a chance to do exactly that.

UPDATE: The Council on Foreign Relations has a pretty decent Q&A-style rundown of the port deal here.

UPDATE 2: I just want to make something super clear here. If jumping on the Dubai hysteria bandwagon merely hurt George Bush politically and prompted some additional interest in port security, I'd be all for it. What do I care if the DPW/P&O deal goes through? But the whole thing feeds on a mindless anti-Arab jingoism that's genuinely dangerous, and that's why I'm not joining the fun unless I hear some really good reasons for doing so. As liberals, we're either serious about engaging with the Muslim world in a sensible, non-hysterical way or we're not. Which is it?

Kevin Drum 2:29 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (298)

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Comments

Kevin - good info.

Posted by: MountainDan on February 22, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Great posts, Kevin. I was beginning to get a little indignant about this situation, and you've made me feel a little ashamed for jumping the gun.

Posted by: Brandon Claycomb on February 22, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

"I've said before that engaging seriously with the Arab world is the best way of fighting terrorism, and I meant it. This is a chance to do exactly that."

Then let Bush do the right thing, and suffer the political consequences. After twenty five years of suffering politically for being right, I'd like to see that shoe on the other foot for once.

Posted by: brewmn on February 22, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

I asked that before:
Kevin, why don't you mention this other UAE company of the past, (in)famously scandalous BCCI, the "Bank of Crooks and Criminals" (CIA)?

There has been a great report on the investigations in, guess where, Washington Monthly:
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2004/0409.sirota.html

Posted by: Gray on February 22, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, good info, but when oh when will you ever learn Kevin?

If the roles were reversed do you think Rove and the Republicans would play nice because it is the right thing to do?

No.

They re-wrote the rules of the game, and until we learn to play by them we will always lose.

That said, I think the best thing the dems can do here is stand aside and watch the GOP implode.

Posted by: David P on February 22, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Dude - The royal family of the UAE has met persoanlly with Osama Bin Laden after he had attacked the US. The port company is owned by the UAE.

What am I missing?

Posted by: DanF on February 22, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Not going for short term political gain by people like you is why we have Bush ruining the country. Everything bad for Bush is good for the country.

Posted by: David Margolies on February 22, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Also, you say "engaging the Arab world," but i am not sure enriching a bunch of dictators is going to endear us to the bulk of the Arab population.

Posted by: David P on February 22, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

engaging seriously with the Arab world is the best way of fighting terrorism

i'd say the third largest port management company in the world is probably already engaged with the rest of the world.

Posted by: cleek on February 22, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

I think that the real issue here is not about whether Dubai should run the ports but how the decision/approval was arrived at.

Bush and Rumsfeldt now deny having any knowledge about the issue.

Laws may have been broken.

Josh Marshall: "The NY Times reported today that the law governing this sort of deal, when "the acquiring company is controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government," requires a "mandatory," 45-day investigation. That was never done, and what's more, "Administration officials ... could not say why a 45-day investigation did not occur."

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/22/politics/22port.html?pagewanted=1

The big story is here is that this is another example of the complete incompetence of this administration.

Posted by: arkie on February 22, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I find it amazing how fast Bush is backpeddling.

He was so sure of himself yesterday and now he says that he didn't even know about it when it was approved.

It seems to me that you shouldn't go out on a limb when you haven paid attention to the facts.

Posted by: neil wilson on February 22, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

If this was a good idea why didn't Bush co. follow the law and do the mandatory 45 day review? Your view that this is purely xenophobia misses the larger point, that Bush is undermining every democratic institution and/or law that gets in his way. This is no way to run a democracy.

Posted by: MaryAnne on February 22, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Oh goody, let's let Frist and the usual gang of thugs get the credit for blocking this.

Let's not worry about the little ole 45 day mandatory investigation that was circumvented.

Democratic Wimps for $50: A prominent blogger that talks the talk, but just cannot walk the walk.

Question: Who is....

Posted by: jerry on February 22, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Yes, good info, but when oh when will you ever learn Kevin?

If the roles were reversed do you think Rove and the Republicans would play nice because it is the right thing to do?

No."

Exactly! Kevin may have a neutral position, ok, but at least he could present a roundup of critical voices, joining those who want to put up some pressure on the administration to explain the deal. And why doesn't he say that at least one UAE company of the past, BCCI, has turned out to be downright criminal? The sheikhs couldn't be trusted in the 80s, why shall we trust them now???

Posted by: Gray on February 22, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

I agree, the concept of the deal is not troubling on its face. However, the execution is worrisome. I think the admin has given away its lack of real concern over security by not registering the potential security issues involved. This is clearly evidenced by the apparent lack of care that gave us:1)a unanimous committee clearance on a deal unknown to one of its members (Rumsfeld) 2)failure to comply with the law governing the process (45 day exam) and 3)Prez's acknowledged lack of involvement. The whole thing feels careless or inept, take your pick.

Posted by: david on February 22, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

It seems like there might have been some type of deal in place. Residents in UAE have a 14 percent approval rate of the US. The fact that the Navy uses Dubai to such a great extent might inflame these numbers. Lets say that in return for the Navys contained use of Dubai, the US must allow this deal to go through. This might have been decided on along time ago, hence the confusion on Rumsfeld and others on when the deal had become approved. I wouldnt be surprised if they end up say that this deal is essential to Iraq.

Posted by: bziller on February 22, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

hey jerry, there are plenty of blogs that toe the leftie-blog party line on every issue. the reason Kevin is popular might just have something to do with the fact that he's not afraid to discuss opinions and approaches that aren't exactly the same as everyone else's.

Posted by: cleek on February 22, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Kevin. I agree with you completely on this matter. However, I am enjoying immensely the grief that Bush is getting on this.

Posted by: kathyp on February 22, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Let's say this contract had gone through without any fuss or even noticed by the press. Then in a year or two something bad happens at one of these ports such as a bomb. Then word gets out that the company in charge is owned by Dubai. What you say (or scream) then?

Actually, this is big news is that it again shows the utter incompetence of the Bushies to follow the rules (they weren't) or to control the news cycle.

Posted by: Big Red on February 22, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

The problem here is the total lack of accountability. Bush has no explanation for why the administration simply waived the mandatory 45-day investigation required by law. Neither he nor Cheney was aware of any efforts to check out this company -- and indeed, they were unaware of the deal itself. Now they want us to just trust them that the levels of oversight required by statute just aren't necessary, becuase somebody in the administration has really thoroughly checked things out. Count me unimpressed.

The broader issue: if port security is so central to the war on terror, how come we are making no efforts to build capacity here in the U.S. -- preferably in public-sector agencies rather than private companies -- to operate ports efficiently? Why is privatizing port operations so necessary for efficiency? It seems to me that this just puts the profit motive on the wrong side of the port security question. The fact that we're talking about a foreign state-owned company makes matters worse, but not a lot worse. Let's stop privatizing our ports!

Posted by: JR on February 22, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Dubai is the busiest port for the U.S Navy? Wow. Whatever happened to Golf Juan, France, Cannes, France and good old Alongapo, P.I. Now they were some well used liberty ports.

Posted by: Chief on February 22, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you have poor political instincts-- I don't mean that in the sense that you don't know when there's blood in the water (though you don't). I mean it in the sense that you don't realize how politically tone-deaf you come across when you can't see why people are so agitated with the fact that port security is being handled by a company owned by the UAE government. Port security is probably our #1 most important issue facing us when it comes to dealing with terrorism, and you have no idea why peopleare agitated about this blindly ignorant move on the part of the administration.

Posted by: Constantine on February 22, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

After 911 new regulations required airport security personell to be American citizens. It led to a lot of layoffs (particularly at airports in immigrant rich regions, such as SFO).

This seems like an almost perfect parallel.

Posted by: Saam Barrager on February 22, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Given that Kevin can't seem to come up with a good argument against the deal, how about this? [reposted from the thread below.]

I haven't yet seen the following point made explicitly anywhere, which I find odd, because it strikes me as basic.

Let's even suppose that the UAE company actually WOULD do a good job at port security, and could be trusted to do so.

Still, it would be a very bad thing to grant the company the contract.

One key reason to refuse to hand this contract over to a company controlled by UAE is to communicate to countries that it will DAMAGE their ability to do business with the US if they coddle terrorists.

Really, if governments like UAE don't see any downside to cozying up, even literally, to bin Laden, what IS going to convince them to treat terrorists like the monsters they are?

What message is being sent to governments across the world if we simply go ahead with this deal as if it's routine business?

Posted by: frankly0 on February 22, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

So...

This controversy is "just a little too much" for the Political Pussycat, huh?

Most. Overrated. "Liberal." Blogger. Anywhere.

Posted by: Libby Sosume on February 22, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

The port of Dubai is the busiest port of call for the United States Navy outside the continental United States.

This is meaningless, since the port of Dubai is en route to a costly, needless ground war in Asia.

The one thing people need to know is that the UAE is ruled by a royal family, and royal families tend to look to maintaining their power by any means necessary. One bullet can change the entire scope of how the government of the UAE organizes and runs itself--it is not a democracy and it is not a harmless country.

If we don't mind having a company linked to the UAE running six of our ports, then let's allow them to run six of our major airports.

Why not?

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I've called you the Manchurian Blogger before and I'm calling you again. The CIA blew a chance to get bin Laden in Afghanistan because he was having lunch with the UAE royals. This is a security/commonsense issue, NOT a xenophobia issue. I resent you framing it that way, where we have no choice as liberals.

Posted by: reef the dog on February 22, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

What is the connection between the Bush family, UAE, Terrorism and BCCI?

Posted by: Boronx on February 22, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

You are doing a heck of a job Kevin...

Posted by: koreyel on February 22, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

yeah, this is probably not a real problem for US security.

But it is definitely a real opportunity for Dems:

1) push the "rule of Law" story, asking why the legally mandated 45 day review did not happen. Why does the administration consider itself above the law?
2) push the point that the real issue is not "port management" but rather "port security" which Republicans have repeatedly voted against.
3) let the Republicans twist and turn in the stew of thoughtless anti-arab reaction, a storyline of their own creation which leads inexorably to mindless condemnation of this deal.

Posted by: morris on February 22, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Surely the point is that Bush is now reaping the whirlwind. After 5 years of shouting "wolf!" as a way of justifying everything, for him to turn around and say "nothing to see here, just move along" is just too much to bear. Even - especially - for his own side.

You may be right on the facts Kev, but you seem to have missed the politics of this completely. It's got incompetence, cronyism, and lawbreaking all rolled into one - it's a metaphor for this whole administration. Why let them off the hook?

Posted by: craigie on February 22, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't worry about it cleek, I mainly want to introduce jeopardy style smearing of one of our liberal bloggers that is the most fun to hate on.

Wussy Democratic Bloggers for $100: Most. Overrated. "Liberal." Blogger. Anywhere.

Posted by: jerry on February 22, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Arkie: I'm not sure what the deal is with the 45-day review. It might be a big deal or it might not. I need to learn more.

Gray: BCCI is a red herring in this regard. The UAE is a banking haven, but so is Switzerland.

Constantine: Port security is not being turned over to a company owned by the UAE. Port operations are. Big difference.

And of course I know there's blood in the water. I wouldn't waste my time writing if this if there weren't. The question is whether we give up our principles in return for some Bush bashing. In this case, I'm just not willing to join in the xenophopic hysteria unless someone gives me a really good reason to.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on February 22, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

The real question is why Americans aren't owning and operating our own ports. Maybe we should let Mexico bid on Border Patrol contracts? What right does America have to keep Angola from bidding on the Secret Service contract? Isn't that the logical conclusion of liassez-faire trade?

This idea that all contracts are fungible and should be open to any bidder is dangerous. The question for Kevin, and other free traders, is what US contracts should be closed to foreign companies. None?

Besides which, there's a huge and obvious difference between our relationship with Britain and virtually every other country in the world. If you want consistency of principle, fine: no foreign country (even the Great British[sic]) should be allowed to operate critical, security-vulnerable infrastructure in the USA. There are plenty of Americans who would do the job just fine.

Posted by: Tim B. on February 22, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

This DSSC post calls attention to the many times various Repub senators have opposed better port security. One benign aspect of the current uproar is that it just might lead some of them to change their votes.

Posted by: penalcolony on February 22, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, this is NOT "engaging with the Arab" world in any significant way shape or form.

This is engaging with a few very rich arab investors who are most likely royalty - these are not the sorts of engagements likely to improve the relationship between America and the typical angry male arab youth.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on February 22, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Read this post by Digby

...and get a clue, Kevin.

Posted by: Libby Sosume on February 22, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK
I'm still open to argument on the Dubai port deal, but this is looking more and more like a mindless feeding frenzy to me.

"As ye sow, so shall ye reap". The Administration had it coming, regardless of the merits.


The problem is that this is nothing new. As the Financial Times reports, state-owned companies already operate terminals in the U.S., including China Shipping at the Port of Los Angeles and APL in Oakland.

Why is that a problem? Single crystallizing events often provide opportunities to address problems that aren't new.

Segregation wasn't new when Rosa Parks was jailed, either.

If all of these firms are shut out of the country, we lose access to some of the best and most efficient port operators in the world.

Horrors! The US might actually have to develop the ability to operate its own ports efficiency, rather than relying on companies owned by foreign totalitarian regimes!

Unm, seems to me, developing that capacity itself would be an important gain in national security. Certainly a lot more than whatever gain there was from shutting out China from producing berets for the US Army. So I'm not surprised, at all, that people see this as a security issue, because it clearly is. Even if not in the simplistic way ("UAE=Arabs=terrorists") that some of Bush's insane base frames it.

Indeed, the "mindless feeding frenzy" that parts of the right is engaging in provides an opportunity for Democrats to get out with a reasonable argument on security between the corporate shills on the "free market" right and the bigots on the "evil Arabs" right, arguing that, yes, free trade may generally be good, but port operation is a critical capacity for the national security of the United States, and relying on state industries of non-free foreign states to provide it is bad for security, and, further, subsidizes totalitarianism.

But there are limits, and encouraging the xenophobic jingoism that's driving this controversy is a little too much for me.

You don't have to encourage the xenophobic jingoism to hold a strong line either on the apparent Administration violation of the law requiring additional review of when foreign government corporations are involved, nor do you need to encourage that xenophobic jingoism to criticize the real security issues that this deal raises. Indeed, one can criticize the irrational aspects of the right-wing response and turn the discussion to the real issues raised.

Unless there are serious substantive reasons to oppose this deal, I'm not willing to jump on the bandwagon solely because it's an opportunity for some righteous Bush bashing.

There are serious substantive reasons to oppose the deal. Port operation capacity is a critical national security capacity, and this deal underlines how the US is increasingly reliant on exactly the kind of regimes on which it should not be reliant to provide that capacity.

It also is yet another instance of the Bush Administration violating the law, and provides a pivot to discuss the general disregard for the law in this administration.

It also seems noteworthy that DPW's acquisition of P&O would give it control of port operations in lots of other countries besides the U.S., including P&O's home country of Great Britain, and everyone else seems to be OK with that.

Since when is, even assuming its true, "everyone else seems okay with it" any kind of argument on the merits? You seem to have developed the journalistic tendency to grap a bunch of ready sources, and judge an issue by what they say, rather than thinking about the issue itself. If I wanted that, I'd read a newspaper.

In the end, there's nothing left to this controversy except the raw question of whether the government of the United Arab Emirates is sympathetic to international terrorism and is therefore likely to implement policies that would make it easier for al-Qaeda to infiltrate ports in the U.S.

No, actually, there is quite a bit more left to it, though of course that's the issue that has mostly caused Bush's base to explode. The problem with Democrats failing to take advantage of issues like this is that, unlike the Republicans who have gotten very good at this, Democrats seem (institutionally, not individually) pretty bad at finding the useful issues raised by events and pivoting the discussion. Instead, a controversy erupts, and Democratic pundits want to look at the two sides, and if the one challenging the Administration is wrong on the details, be "fair" and defend the Administration, even when the controversy raises other issues that are (a) more important than the focal point of the initial controversy, and (b) more damaging to the Administration and potentially beneficial to Democrats than the focal point of the initial controversy.

The security issue here is the US, as this deal illustrates, is increasingly dependent an autocratic regimes, including major strategic rivals like China, to perform core operations like running US ports, and is losing or has lost the capacity to carry out that function, important though it is not only for trade but for security, on its own.

The "grand narrative" political issue is that the Bush Administration has once again chosen to ignore the law, and by doing so once again jeopardized American security.

Those are the issues Democrats should be pivoting to.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

It would help me to understand the issues if I had some idea about the amount and nature of classified or confidential information that the company would handle.

Posted by: grub on February 22, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Personally, I don't want any foreign business (especially not one that is state-owned, regardless of the state in question) managing our ports.

Paraphrasing Neal Stephenson: the first thing any living being learns, and the last thing to go away when it dies, is control of its own sphincters.

Posted by: mmy on February 22, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Just like Whittington was sure that Cheney knew precisely which direction his shotgun was pointed when he pulled the trigger.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on February 22, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin -- Thanks for your post. I agree with you completely on the xenophobia, but there is something to the rule of law, "I'm GWB, trust me," and cronyism angles.

Posted by: Jane on February 22, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is just as confused as Bush. He thinks this is all about anti-Arab jingosim.

Everybody: Honk is you think this blog is misnamed (Political Animal), given its current occupant.

HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK

Posted by: Libby Sosume on February 22, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

I think that this news coupled with last night's Frontline episode is really too much. Add the little seasoning of getting drawn into the mug's game abortion thread below and its the trifecta.

When is some Democratic leader going to have the cojones to stand up and question this disaster of a foreign policy? At least the various Cold War adventures might be justified on the basis that we didnt' really know the Soviet Union would collapse in 1990. But what justification now?

You watch the special last night, and its clear that these jihadi's don't have the slightest fucking clue as to what they are trying to achieve, other than someone told them that we are the enemy and we are occupying their country so boom.

If we didn't insist on a pointless world-wide military presence, these same guys wouldn't even be able to point out the United States on a map, let alone run around bombing our troops.

And, there wouldn't be any issue of dealing with the UAE or anyone on some commercial port deal. Now, because of the ridiculous foreign "policy" put forth by this administration, you actually have to potentially worry about this, slim as the chances of terrorist infliltration might be.

Posted by: hank on February 22, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Agree with Kevin's assessment, even as a rabid anti-war leftie.

Upon hearing of this manufactured outrage, my first thoughts were, "you guys do know we have a huge military presence in Dubai?"

((It's funny when conservatives, or liberal hawks and pundits (redundant, I know) get all indignant over the dictators and monarchies in the Middle East, and profess to want to bring democracy to them - "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!))

This port controvery exists because it fits the ONLY ACCEPTABLE method of criticizing Bush on foreign policy - from a MORE HAWKISH POSITION. Or, as the wishy-washy war-supporting "muscular liberals" around these parts try to position themselves, as the COMPETENT HAWKS.

But giv'em a break, how else can dumbass sold-out pundits (NYT, TNR, WashPost, etc), craven Democratic politicians, and "leftie" blog writers criticize Bush, after they've effectively bought into every foreign policy initiative of the Bush administration and the PNAC crowd?

Democrats: We're the COMPETENT HAWKS. We'd still kill 100,000 Iraqi civilians, but we'd have done it with better planning. And we'll give you TRUE HOMELAND SECURITY.

Wonder why a less agressive foreign policy isn't "politically viable?" Cuz all these dumbasses keep saying the same things.

Posted by: luci on February 22, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

There is no "mandatory 45-day investigation requirement" for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. (I've had to deal on matters involving CFI oversight in the past.)

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I, for one, feel better about having this trashed out in public rather than just letting it go off behind the scenes, as the Republicans would have wanted, as they would like to be able to do everything.

Something that damages the glory that is W isn't just 'short-term political gain', it is really something deeply necessary.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

What the fuck is up with people excusing a country that coddles terrorist financiers by pointing out that Switzerland might have done the same? Is Switzerland somehow above criticism? Are they trying to by into our shipping terminal operations?

Are you really putting UAE principles of banking secrecy ahead of American principles of nailing the bastards?

Posted by: Boronx on February 22, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's right. Getting back at an inept lame duck President is not a good enough reason to whip up mindless jingoism.

Liberals should have values. And respect for others and the rule of (just) law should be two of those values. That's much more important than scoring cheap political points.

BUT - If what Atrois says is correct and the deal did NOT go through the full review required by law. Then refer to the "rule of law" value and let's pound away.

There are too many legitimate targets of attack to waste our time on illegitimate targets. Plus, it's not right.

Bravo to Kevin for doing the legwork on this.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 22, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK


William P. McLaughlin, public affairs director for the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority said.........security and other port operations issues are spelled out in the lease


.
whew.....glad we got that settled....

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on February 22, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

How about this?

The price for doing this deal with a country whose royal family's presence on a hunting trip with bin Laden prevented a missile attack from taking place in 1999, is that everyone who has a relationship to bin Laden that is less close gets released from Guantanamo.

The rank hypocrisy of holding people indefinitely in prison because they might know something about al qaeda, while making a business deal with people who are on a first name basis with bin Laden is a reason for some indignation.

What's the US intelligence relationship with Dubai? Has the royal family been interviewed? Have the managers of this company been vetted for relationships with bin Laden? Have they got any useful information about him?

Posted by: JayAckroyd on February 22, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

"In the absence of serious evidence of untrustworthiness, though, I'd prefer to walk the liberal internationalism walk instead of jumping ship for short term political gain."

Jeeezus. These poeple like to go on hunting trips with Bin Laden's crew. What more do you want?

Posted by: Libby Sosume on February 22, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

The UAE is much more closely tied to 9/11 and Al Qaeda than Saddam Hussein ever was.

The burden isn't on people to come up with reasons why we shouldn't turn over our ports to these people. The question is, why in the world should we?

Posted by: Boots Day on February 22, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Arkie: I'm not sure what the deal is with the 45-day review. It might be a big deal or it might not. I need to learn more.

Kevin: We already know that the adminstration has stated that the review wasn't done and that spokesmen don't know why. Do you need more evidence of incompetence and a disregard for the law?

Posted by: arkie on February 22, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

I just want to make something super clear here. If jumping on the Dubai hysteria bandwagon merely hurt George Bush politically and prompted some additional interest in port security, I'd be all for it. What do I care if the DPW/P&O deal goes through? But the whole thing feeds on a mindless anti-Arab jingoism that's genuinely dangerous, and that's why I'm not joining the fun. As liberals, we're either serious about engaging with the Muslim world in a serious, non-hysterical way or we're not. Which is it?

It's just bad policy. The race card is getting played because the deck is so thin right now.

This has nothing to do with being anti-Arab. It's about keeping the operating capacity of our nation's ports out of the hands of a nation that has a leadership structure (a royal family, no less) that has been sympathetic to al Qaeda.

And people can oppose something that the Bush administration is for based on what's right or wrong and not a misguided sense of accomplishment about finding some 'blood in the water.'

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

What I'm interested in is the question of whether the Bush Administration yet again failed to do their homework. This is the sort of area where they absolutely suck, and it appears as if they've sucked yet again.

The reason it matters is that even intelligent, well-educated people can't be expected to become instant pseudo-experts on a question like this. I've got no idea what a major port looks and feels like, and I've got no idea how port security works, or what the risks might be of a foreign company running such a port.

I rely on the experts in government to deal with this sort of thing for me, and so do we all.

But there's no indication that any sort of nuts-and-bolts due diligence was done on this deal, nor is there any indication that there was any sort of oversight. Bush didn't know about the deal until after it was done; neither did Rumsfeld. The 45-day investigation required by law - was it done? Nobody seems to know.

Has anyone stepped forward and said, "I was the one whose shop reviewed this deal, and I put my imprimatur on it"? Everybody's saying they think someone reviewed it, but it's completely unclear who actually did.

Maybe this is a big deal, and maybe this isn't. But what the Dems should do is take advantage of the Republican-generated flak to publicly make the point that this is how the Bush Administration screws up everything.

Posted by: RT on February 22, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: the "administration" (by which you mean the Committee on Foreign Investment" did not violate Exon-Florio.

a good summary in layman's terms can be found here:

http://www.treasury.gov/offices/international-affairs/exon-florio/
The CFI unanimously approved the transaction..they are under no legal obligation conduct a further investigation.

Usually you have some legal basis for your claims...on this one you jumped the gun.

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Saddam; falsely alleged that he met with al Qaeda representatives = Evil dictator! Must invade! Must liberate!

UAE; actually met with Osama bin Laden after 9/11 = Outsource US port security to them!

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on February 22, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Why do the liberals have to squander opportunites like this?

It may not jive with our internationalism, but surely Kevin must be aware that not complaining about this confirms for the people that we are not serious about security.

Obviously there are two competing interests here. (A) Our principle that we should not be xenophobic and do everything we can to win the hearts and minds of the people in the Middle East. (B) Our need to show to the voters that we are serious about security even when it means exploiting the xenophobia of most of the Americans.

Under current circumstances opting for (B) is a win-win situation.


Actually if we opt for (A), I am sure that Swift Boaters will jump one more time.

Posted by: lib on February 22, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK
Getting back at an inept lame duck President is not a good enough reason to whip up mindless jingoism.

That's completely irrelevant. The issue isn't "should Democrats whip up mindless jingoism?" -- the jingoism is already whipped and is driving the issue all over the media, mainstream and alternative.

The issue is "how should Democrats respond now?". There are several possibilities: (1) Agree with the xenophobes; (2) defend Bush from the xenophobes; (3) ignore the issue; (4) pivot to issues other than those raised by the xenophobes that this action raises.

I'd argue that (4) is what we'd ought to be doing; Kevin seems to favor (2).

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see the deal as a significant issue. To me it is the kind of thing that makes me wonder why people getting into an uproar about it can't find something more important to get into an uproar about.

For the right I guess it makes some sense. They get to say they criticize the president and do it on an issue that doesn't matter much, while thier xenophobic base loves bashing some arabs and thier pseudo-libertarian base loves bashing any state owned company.

However today it did become a good opportunity to ridicule Bush on his veto threat. He still hasn't vetoed anything right? He is seriously threatening that this will be his first veto? Of course it is an empty threat like the others, but it is still a stupid one.

Posted by: jefff on February 22, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

So, as a preface, this stuff used to be my job. I did logistics for companies that had product manufactured in Asia that was imported to the US by ocean container and then shipped by train to the Midwest. I'm also working on a post-grad certificate in this.

Port operations means scheduling ships, loading and unloading, operating cranes, providing fuel, and otherwise handling product (mostly containers, these days). Most of the containers are sealed before they're put on a ship, and Customs (not port operations) inspects about 5% of them. Those containers are then put on trains which may belong to foreign corporations, are offloaded in privately owned rail yards (in the city where I live, our choices are the Burlington Northern or the Canadian Pacific) and often picked up by immigrant truck drivers to be delivered to their ultimate consignee.

Although the culture of a port operator would affect efficiency, it would still be very difficult for the company to have a serious effect on national security.

Posted by: Hillary on February 22, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

If jumping on the Dubai hysteria bandwagon merely hurt George Bush politically and prompted some additional interest in port security, I'd be all for it. What do I care if the DPW/P&O deal goes through? But the whole thing feeds on a mindless anti-Arab jingoism that's genuinely dangerous, and that's why I'm not joining the fun.

Fair point, Kevin. For me the fun is that the Bush Administration and its surrogates have sown the wind of mindless anti-Arab jingoism and now Bush is reaping the whirlwind.

That said, I completely agree that giving Bush the benefit of the doubt is not a sound policy as a general matter, and so I am not particularly inclined to defend Bush's policy either. I'd perfer to characterize it as yet another screwup from an incompetent Administration (isn't is a laugh that Bush's feeble recent defense is that he wasn't aware of the decision?).

Posted by: Gregory on February 22, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin I think that the core issue appears to be (again) that the Administration did NOT do the full review required by law.

They were supposed to do a full 45 day review. And they didn't. Thus it appears that the deal is OK. But the full review required by law wasn't done. And thus we really don't know.

What we do know that a lot of these big contracts do get fixed. So it could be horrible.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 22, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not against furriners working in America, working on American ports. Personally I think we're heading into a global era and a lot of the concepts like "foreigners" and national pride and things like that are going to pass away. I should be able to hop anywhere in the world and take any job I want, as long as I'm qualified; the borders need to start coming down.

However, I am against cronyism and mismanagement of existing systems, and I don't see Kevin speaking to those issues. This seems like something that just happened and no one who should have known about it knew about it. That's the thorn that sticks out as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: Adam Piontek on February 22, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

...in short, what craigie said at 2:48 PM.

Posted by: Gregory on February 22, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

RT and all the others:

The CFI (the ones who are supposed to do this) reviewed the transaction and unanimously approved. There is no 45 day requirement. Period.

Read Exon-Florio or at least the summary I posted above.

Learn some facts before you opine without knowledge.

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum is truly tone deaf. He keeps shouting Xenophobism. Some commenters have asked you questions to which you've refused answers.

Let me put it this way, whether it is privately owned or state owned, U.S. ports operations or security should be handled by the American govt. When will the commercialization of basic govt. duties end? We gave logistics and support oerinted duties in the military to private companies. Protection and security work for govt. officials are being done by mercs. What's next? Should we hire these mercs to replace the Security Service if they can better protect the President?

The bottomline is this, Kevin would fall of his high horse if the company were owned by the Iranian or North Korean govts. What would be your excuse in those cases? Please stop tring to lecture us on the difference between operations and security. At the end of the day, the two have to harmonized for things to work smoothly. Ergo, a long term concern for 'scared Americans'.

Posted by: GOD on February 22, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't Dubai British-based but UAE funded?

Posted by: Andrew on February 22, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK
the "administration" (by which you mean the Committee on Foreign Investment" did not violate Exon-Florio.

Your link contradicts that, at least based on the facts I've seen reported (that, while a regular "review" was conducted, an "investigation" under Exon-Florio was not).

a good summary in layman's terms can be found here:

http://www.treasury.gov/offices/international-affairs/exon-florio/

The CFI unanimously approved the transaction..they are under no legal obligation conduct a further investigation.

Per your link, an "investigation" as opposed to merely the standard review is mandatory, not optional, when, as seems from the reports pretty clearly to be the case here:

o the acquirer is controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government; and

o the acquisition "could result in control of a person engaged in interstate commerce in the U.S. that could affect the national security of the U.S."
Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

But the whole thing feeds on a mindless anti-Arab jingoism that's genuinely dangerous, and that's why I'm not joining the fun. As liberals, we're either serious about engaging with the Muslim world in a serious, non-hysterical way or we're not. Which is it?

You tell me Kevin? Because you seem to be unable to distinguish between distrust for bloody royal dictators who are soft on terror, and "the Muslim world".

They're an indispensible aid in the war on terror?

Tell me, how many UAE princes are sweating, fighting and bleeding in Iraq?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on February 22, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's position coincides with Joe Liberman type democrats: never miss an opportunity to help GWB.

Posted by: lib on February 22, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm just not willing to join in the xenophopic hysteria unless someone gives me a really good reason to."

Answer the two following questions:

1) Let's say you are a Japanese baseball fanatic. If your brother's best friend's sister from Tokyo owns a contract to run all concessions at Yankee stadium, are you more likely or less to get tickets to the playoffs in 2006 -- or at least get the chance to move around the stadium and watch the game selling hot dogs?

2) If you are a young arab anti-bush terrorist and your best friend from childhood marries into a Dubai family that will soon operate ports around the United States. Have your chances of planting an explosive at an American port increased or decreased?


Posted by: Matthew on February 22, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

It's not merely a matter of imposing political pain on Bush. Intelligent commentary on all security issues has been stifled by the Rove's meme: "Pre 9/11 worldview vs. Post 9/11 worldview." Attacking the Dubai ports deal is terribly significant, as it forces Bush to repudiate the "Post 9/11 worldview" frame on which he has hung everything -- and almost everybody!

Posted by: DJ on February 22, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry but the bottom line is that the American public does not want an Arab foreign nation with prior terrorist ties getting anywhere near its ports no matter what kind of work it will be doing in managing the ports.

This nation has recognized the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan.

The fact that we are having this debate is proof enough that the deal should not happen. Any risk in port security is too much risk. Why do we need to even go there?

Posted by: kimster on February 22, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Digby sums it up well in this excellent post,

"Perhaps the best way to put this is that the administration seems to trust the leaders of the United Arab Emirates more than the US congress or the secret FISA Court."


http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2006_02_19_digbysblog_archive.html#114063032010821744

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Having said that I think everyone should read the Dubai point of view as expressed by Bart886 in this post,

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_02/008272.php#830329

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I think that's a valid position Kevin. It does seem to be the nature of the business and ground operations would not change. It's home office paper deal only. I do wish the home port was owned and run by the home. I think they should be a local government entity and not a private interest.

Posted by: Mark A. York on February 22, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

If jumping on the Dubai hysteria bandwagon merely hurt George Bush politically and prompted some additional interest in port security, I'd be all for it. But the whole thing feeds on a mindless anti-Arab jingoism that's genuinely dangerous

Yep....similar to when the Democratic politicians, afraid of electoral consequences, played along and rode the "Invade Iraq" gravy train. They couldn't then turn around and say, .."no, really, Saddam had nothing to do with Islamic fundamentalist movements, was basically contained, was substantively complying with the UN, and we didn't have any actual evidence of WMDs"....

Was too big a turnaround for the population to make.

These bandwagons can turn into lynch mobs. Ask the families of 100,000 dead Iraqis.

So, when will Kevin have the courage of his convictions, follow this line of thinking to it's logical conclusion, and call BULLSHIT on the War on Terror?

Playing the MORE HAWKIER, COMPETENT HAWKS role can have serious consequences (legitimizing a basically flawed premise)...OTOH, it has short-term political gains. Decisions, decisions.

Posted by: luci on February 22, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Wow! calling us xenophobes makes us defensive and therefore the Bushes (i.e. Rove) roll over us again. What a strategy! We should try it sometime to their faces given that republicans are, for the most part, far more likely to be racist than demos or liberals, according to a recent national study. but, also, far less likely to become defensive when so called. Attack is a better strategy, as they well know.

Posted by: maryanne on February 22, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

The CFI unanimously approved the transaction..they are under no legal obligation conduct a further investigation.

My understanding is that the CFI has only once failed to approve a transaction since 1988 -- out of over 1500 cases.

If true, approval is functionally almost meaningless.

Posted by: Windhorse on February 22, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

But you forget two crucial points, CM:

1. Nathan can't read and

2. Nathan can't read

Posted by: solar on February 22, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

More importantly, the management of both DP World and P&O is riddled with ridiculously honest British ex public schoolboys. :-)

Posted by: Gari N. Corp on February 22, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

But the whole thing feeds on a mindless anti-Arab jingoism that's genuinely dangerous, and that's why I'm not joining the fun.

Kevin Drum

Nobody is asking you to join the fun, moron. We're asking you to understand -- which is apparently beyond your ability -- that much of the opposition to this has nothing to do with "anti-Arab jingoism."

It is an incredibly stupid move on its face -- from every conceivable standpoint. It is absolutely impossible to defend on any grounds. All your bullshit rationalization is tantamount to trying to prove a negative: that this won't hurt national security. You can't prove a negative, jerk, so stop trying.

Lots of reasonable people from both sides of the aisle who are not racists fear that this move is another mindless, incompetent strategic error by the gang that can't shoot straight. If a democrat suggested it, he/she would be impeached.

What is so hard to understand about this? You're in a hole, stop digging.

Posted by: Econo Buzz on February 22, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Rule of Law

I agree with those who assert that the Bush administration failed to abide by the law.

Amendments. Section 837(a) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1993, called the "Byrd Amendment," amended Section 721 of the Defense Production Act (the "Exon-Florio provision"). It requires an investigation in cases where:

o the acquirer is controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government; and

o the acquisition "could result in control of a person engaged in interstate commerce in the U.S. that could affect the national security of the U.S."

Now somemight argue that the term "could" should be read narrowly, but even then there is little question that it "could" affect the national security even if the possibility is remote or unlikely.

Secondly, this is not a matter of treating UAE different from the UK because if the UK government was buying it, they would be subject to the same provision (a private UK goverment held it)


Posted by: Catch 22 on February 22, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

This is so hypocritical coming from Kevin. The same guys who said it was ok to kill a few innocent Arabs with a missile as long as you kill a Al-Qaida leader with them. Winning hearts and minds indeed!!!! You make me laugh Kevin, try to be consistent.

Posted by: GOD on February 22, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Just a small question: if the workers are American, the security is American, the ports themselves are American geography, how did they become controlled by foreign entities? I'm not asking to be trite. Sneaker production gets outsourced to Malaysia because of lower production costs there, but this is the ultimate in non-footloose industry: it literally can only take place at the port in question. What does Dubai have that makes them the preferred managers of ports? More MBAs? doubtful. Better relations and understanding of American dockworkers? doubtful. Better engineers? doubtful, all their engineering came from us in the 1950s. Why the hell does the management of a home-country port ever get out-sourced? It makes no sense. It's not like we're Dubai's colonial holding, and their amazing new technology of big boats is beyond our cultural understanding...

Posted by: random on February 22, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

For me, at least, Kevin's post brilliantly sets up and tears down a straw man.

The point in my mind is not in the first instance that there are Arabs who will own a major operator of US ports. The problem is that there is a legal procedure which, as I understand it, requires a 45-day period of analysis of a deal of this kind. As we are quickly learning in other contexts, the Bush administration apparently did not feel bound to follow the law in this case. That is the initial problem. After an appropriate evaluation (not hidden in the back rooms of the Bush crony network), then I might still be convinced that Arab ownership of these activities is a problem. But, really, how are we supposed to evaluate the situation if the whole matter is hidden and review is conducted in secret, without congressional oversight or even the involvement of principals in the implicated government agencies?

So please, spare me the "you are all a bunch of hypocritical Bush-haters" horse shit.

Posted by: Baldrick on February 22, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Rep Duncan Hunter knows why it's a bad idea for a foreign power to take over a U.S. Port

See
"U.S. turns a blind eye..." at
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_n14_v13/ai_19329282

How's that for hysteria?

Posted by: dunkan hunter on February 22, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Nice Kevin. If we're bothered by this port mess we're xenophobic gits. Nice. Maybe we're bothered that the people who run UAE and therefore run this company like to party with OBL. For most people, all you'd have to say is- 'the owners of this company party with OBL', and they'd get it. Not Kevin. Kevin, whenever you get in one of your 'tut tut you crazy liberals' moods all I'm reminded of is a contrary teenager.

Posted by: Doug on February 22, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

It is completely obvious that turning ownership of the docks over to an Arab company would give terrorists a splendid opportunity to case the joint.

Posted by: Thinker on February 22, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

I was polite the first time. Your position Kevin is exactly the sort of mindless adherence to dogma which has lead to this country being run by crony /corporate/cultural facist Republicans.At least half the American people want to throw away the Bill of Rights out of fear of terrorists and you want a government of a country which finacially backed the 9/11 terrorists and was home to two of them, a government that recognized the Taliban, but does not recognize Israel, a government which regularly met with Osama Bin Laden and a government which may have played a role in nuclear proliferation by Pakistan, to run our ports? I sincerly do not care whether it is fair, xenophobic, racist etc, it is just plain dumb to give a government with that recent history control over any aspect of the operations of 6 of our major ports. Next you will suggest that North Korea be given the concession for running our missle defense systems. While Dumbya has presumably painted himself into a corner on this one, your position is what leads to cracks like the one about Democrats wanting terrorists to get therapy. Get real or become irrelevant.

Posted by: terry on February 22, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

But, GOD, no money changed hands, so what reason was there *not* to kill them?

Posted by: Boronx on February 22, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still not convinced economic engagement is working in China or having a military that is mutually dependant upon international private and state-owned corporations is a good thing. I don't really see any changes in the last week. I just find the it all a bit disturbing.

I'm still not sure I get the free trade dogma. Current trends in property rights, evironmental protection, and trade will eventually lead to my home being condemned and adjacent wetlands rezoned to allow a Dubai/China joint development -- 1000 homes and a giant foreign state-owned department store. Surplus federal land sales will likely head the same direction. Free trade and giant corporations are clearly very efficient. Just what exactly are they very efficient at doing? Growth? War? Bypassing regulations? Paying off politicians?

Posted by: B on February 22, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus Kevin. DPW is STATE OWNED by the UAE (royal f*ckin' family). That is the SAME FAMILY that was buddy-buddy with OBL to the point of preventing a cruise missile attack on OBL years ago for fear that the strike would wipe out the royal family along with OBL (Boo-hoo, they are in bed with OBL, die in bed with OBL).

The UAE is NOT OUR FRIEND. Saudi Arabia is NOT OUR FRIEND. Giving taxpayer dollars to either is NOT doing us any good. None. End of story.

How about we offer Bahrain companies some deal on our port operations? Bahrain is a good country. How about Kuwait? How about Jordon? How about ANY friggin' M. East country that isn't run by a bunch of super-rich sheiks with close butthole buddy ties to OBL or Al Qaeda?

DPW is not, per se, a security risk. The MONEY that we hand to DPW goes into the coffers of the UAE government (and pockets of the Sheiks) which THEN goes on to Al Qaeda and other fine people and groups.

Then there's the issue of the LAW BEING VIOLATED...again. Where was the REQUIRED 45 day investigation on this? What about Snow and Sanborn's connection (very cozy connection) with DPW and the magical way DPW "won" the contract? I'm sure there was NO cronyism here, no payola. Afterall, EVERYTHING BushCo does is aboveboard and above reproach. They NEVER violate the law and never ever practice corrupt, abject cronyism. And the UAE Sheiks NEVER rub elbows with Jihadists, Islamists, or Osama. Never.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on February 22, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Again, just to repeat my argument from above, how about refusing UAE the contract simply on the grounds that UAE cozied up to bin Laden, and therefore won't get business from the US, ESPECIALLY that involving our own homeland security? Where we absolutely have to do business with them, we will, but when we don't, we won't.

They can do or say anything they want to try to remove the doubts of our officials, and the doubts of the American people. It doesn't matter. They have to pay a price for their intimacies with bin Laden, and this is one of them. It's punishment.

Maybe other governments will get the point, you know? And maybe that's a very good point for them to get.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 22, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

you are correct that the Byrd Amendment requires an investigation beyond an initial review under certain circumstances. assuming that those circumstances exist here: it should be noted that the administration has stated that an additional review was conducted. that appears to satisfy the Byrd amendment.

Why? cause Exon-Florio doesn't state that the investigation MUST last 45 days. rather, it states that it must be completed WITHIN 45 days. big difference...I'll grant that some of the news stories have been sloppy on this.

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Just another post in Kevin's quest to be named Internet Editor of the New York Times (or perhaps the Washington Post).

And the analysis is the same: if you value "balance" and "objectivity", there are two sides in a conflict, and one side hides and lies all the time, which side do you end up supporting? Why, the side that lies of course, as they will have no scruple about saying whatever they need to say to get you to think they are "reasonable" and "centerist". Which you just eat up.

Right up until the day they drag you out of bed and hang you.

Cranky

Just to be clear: can some one point me to the location of serious, grown-up, reality-based policy making in the Bush Administration?

Posted by: Cranky Observer on February 22, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

craigie said it.

The political process means, you know, engaging in politics. That doesn't mean xenophobically ranking on the UAE. It does mean not rushing out all Joe Lieberman to defend Bush against critics in his own party.

Stand aside and let this do its own damage. Reserve commentary to pointing out how the deal was done--nepotically, incompetently and lawlessly.

Posted by: shortstop on February 22, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Just to expand upon my prior post, it would be completely unnecessary for the management of the Arab company to be terrorist, a secretary, a janitor, a minor level employee could obtain effectively case the joint.

Really - this is just so obvious.

Posted by: Thinker on February 22, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

I wasn't worried about the deal until Bush threatened to veto anything that delayed or questioned the deal. If W doesn't want us to know about it, that seems like a good enough reason to do a proper investigation.

When did he try to keep things secret that worked out for us?

Posted by: freelunch on February 22, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that the usual wing nuts have not already posted 100 snipets from RNC talking points on this thread demonstrates the salience of this issue.

Posted by: SavageView on February 22, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

If you're not corporate, you're little people.

Posted by: allen on February 22, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

To echo, sort of, what cmdicely said above, the hurricanes in the south have snapped a lot of people out of it and we need to move forward here before they get snapped back in again.

Helping GWB out of his own clumsiness can't help anyone.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I am not someone who usually advocates a blanket of suspicion over all Muslims, but if you notice the cartoon fiasco, and if you have read the Clash of Civilizations, I think it is clear that Muslim loyalties always, always, go against the infidel, no matter how moderate someone says they are..

I am a disciple of Sam Harris, and I suspect all people who insist that they know who God is and what he wants.

And Middle East royal families (god I hate calling any human, royal) have divided loyalties....one to money and worldly success, and one to either paying off the extremists or helping them.

And it is not about our workers or our ports but who and what is coming into the ports that we don't inspect.

Posted by: lilybart on February 22, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum, King of the Contrarians...watch him self-aggrandize...

Posted by: coffeequeen on February 22, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

The politicos who are bellyaching the most are the ones who want to be able to say that they're not simply Bush Toads. It's political fatuousness.

[insert Faulkner cliche]

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 22, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Getting rid of this generation of especially graceless Republicans has to be our exclusive priority. It's the one central thing we can do that would help the most people, especially it would help the Middle East more than if they had a company running a few ports, simply because it will mean the Republicans will have that much less opportunity to kill and torture them.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

I think you're correct, Mr. Drum. There's plenty of ammo for Bush-bashing without resort to crypto-xenophobia.

Posted by: sglover on February 22, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone have any idea what a Sharia compliant bond issue called a sukok might fit into the question of the dollars?

Ok here's more.

Posted by: Deckko on February 22, 2006 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Suggest STRONGLY that you folks look up the location of the UAE. The strait of Hormuz is of great strategical importance, as it is the only sea route where oil from Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, as well as most of United Arab Emirates can be transported.
--

There is more here than meet the eye. This is a sweetheart deal for the UAE. They are being set up as a staging ground for an invasion of Iran. They are also an excellent geographic base for MidEast logistics.

I say this a payoff fo the next war: Iran.
--

Posted by: Jay in Oregon on February 22, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

How would a private US company compete against a state-owned company like DPW?

Posted by: Indie on February 22, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

> The fact that the usual wing nuts have not already
> posted 100 snipets from RNC talking points on
> this thread demonstrates the salience of this
> issue.

Yup. Nice link at Kos to Rush Oxycontin Limbaugh getting a good reaming from one of his listeners too, which is probably one reason the trolls haven't been spun yet.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on February 22, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

I say this a payoff fo the next war: Iran.

Another good reason that has nothing to do with "fearing brown people" or muslims for opposing, strenuously, this "deal" (with all its value-add cronyism for Snow and Sanborn and...everyone else in BushCo?).

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on February 22, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

The problem isn't that the company is run by Arabs or Moslems. The problem is that the company is run by people with documented ties to the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Bin Laden. Read the 9/11 report.

Posted by: Alex F on February 22, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

"In this case, I'm just not willing to join in the xenophopic hysteria unless someone gives me a really good reason to."

Aren't you a Democrat, party of racists?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on February 22, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Jay in Oregon, "This is a sweetheart deal for the UAE. They are being set up as a staging ground for an invasion of Iran. "


That's really excellent, totally consistent. Not at all implausible. Completely fits with W's reaction and threat to veto any opposition.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, there is some over-reaction, and there really does seem to be little risk. But there is a reason to keep pushing this issue. Why does Bush want it so bad? Why is this the thing that makes him even think of a veto? The fact that the UAE is involved adds to my speculation that there is a there there.

Keep pushing on it. It will be fun and may turn up something far more interesting.

Posted by: The Anti-Kevin on February 22, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

"The question is whether we give up our principles in return for some Bush bashing."

I think liberal principles went out the window when you guys embraced the preservasion of the Taliban.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on February 22, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Most. Overrated. "Liberal." Blogger. Anywhere.
Posted by: Libby Sosume

Worst. Use. Of. Single. Words. Separated. By. Periods. Ever.

Posted by: kc on February 22, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

No one's asking you to join xenophobic hysteria, but not all of the opposition fits into that category. More important, helping Bush out of his hole isn't the only alternative to jumping into the UAE-bashing. Sometimes, as with Harriet Miers, the best choice for Democrats might be to shut up, sit back, and watch the fight.

Nothing you say is going to reduce the number of mindless Arabophobes on the right. LGF isn't listening to you. So unless you have something to say that will drive a further wedge between the Republican camps, the best thing is to shut up on the subject.

Posted by: KCinDC on February 22, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary says: "Although the culture of a port operator would affect efficiency, it would still be very difficult for the company to have a serious effect on national security."

1. A Marine Amphibious Transport Dock is sunk in Dubai harbor with the loss of 900 Marines and 425 crew;

2.US demands investigation with early background results indicating Al Quaeda operatives particular to the royal family participated in or funded event;

3.UAE stonewalls further investigations, as Saudi Arabia has done in the past;

4.US places severe economic and banking restrictions on UAE;

5. UAE closes down port operations for six major ports.

Posted by: manowar on February 22, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Referring to the "government" of the UAE is misleading. It's a relatively loose confederation and in most ways the individual sheikdoms pursue their own path. In particular, Dubai is one of the most western of all Arab countries. In fact, it's being self-conciously run in immitation of Singapore -- a commercially-oriented entrepot. We have nothing to fear from the current Dubai govt. To the extent the US has any friends left in the Arab world, Dubai is one of them.

Furthermore, it's worth noting that the current Dubai-owned airline, Emirates, is a huge Boeing customer and is an industry bellwether -- other airlines do as Emirates does, because Emirates is very successful. So piss them off, and Boeing stands to lose a lot.

The great thing about ports is that they're static assets. Were the Dubai govt to be overthrown by a group of truly noxious Islamofascists, the US can simply force the ports to be divested. They're not going anywhere. It's not as if they could be secretly destroyed or anything.

A stopped clock is right twice a day. It's that time of the day for Bush.

Posted by: foobar on February 22, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Dennis the Peasant" has some real good stuff on his blog about this today, Kevin be sure you check it out.

http://dennisthepeasant.typepad.com/

Posted by: GMF on February 22, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

foobar say "The great thing about ports is that they're static assets. Were the Dubai govt to be overthrown by a group of truly noxious Islamofascists, the US can simply force the ports to be divested. They're not going anywhere. It's not as if they could be secretly destroyed or anything."


That's right, the current adminstration should be able to get everything back up in a couple of days.

Posted by: manowar on February 22, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

I've never been much for jumping all over Kevin for his Master Milquetoast act, but in this case, Jesus...

Your whole attitude seems to be "I don't want to win this way". Well, you know what? -- I don't want to LOSE the way we've been losing for the past two election cycles: with a coating of "Bush will save us, Dems will hand us over to terrorists" trumping every other ill in society. The Bush regime has done more to destroy this country than any administration since Buchanan's, but have skated by thanks to this plenary indulgence they got on 9/11. We're now being handed a ticket out of that situation...and you don't want to take it, because it doesn't seem cricket? That mind-set will take us all the way to total right-wing dominance. Learn to fight, for Christ's sake.

Put it another way: do you think Max Cleland is much upset that a debatable political issue is being drowned in political posturing?

Posted by: demtom on February 22, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Why are you falling for the right-wing talking point that being against a foreign country being in charge of our country's ports is somehow xenophobic?

It's a pure Rovian straw man.

With that argument you obviously believe that any discussion of the failures of the NeoCons or disagreement with Israeli policy is anti-semitic.

Come on. You are better than this. I spent most of the morning disarming trolls who put up a better case.

Posted by: Guy on February 22, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

So far, I've only heard a couple of arguments against the deal that are even colorable.
-kevin drum
*************************

colorable? what the hell does "colorable" mean?

Posted by: Olaf glad and big on February 22, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Damn Kevin. There are other ways of engaging than giving a small group of corrupt sheikhs with ties to Bin Laden the keys to US ports.

Let's sponsor business initiatives, let's push Arabic language courses in US schools and get more cash directed at education programs in Arabic countries. Let's find ways to raise the profile of moderate Muslim leaders and reward them.

Let's NOT reward a few more Bush cronies -- who are crooked and compromised and close to the Taliban and Al Qaeda when it suits them -- just because they can play the race card.

Stop legitimizing Bush's bullshit excuse to cover another reckless crony giveaway.

And stop finding reasons for Democrats not to plant the knife in their opponents!!

Posted by: Sean on February 22, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

In response to your "update 2", Kevin, perhaps the clear Dem response should be:

Republicans are reacting out of baseless fear because they know there are glaring gaps in the system. They know our port security lacks , and it terrifies them so badly all they can do is point fingers at people who vaguely resemble those who hurt us.

Democrats aren't interested in jingoistic fearmongering. They're interested in real solutions to a real problem. It is long past time for effective port security measures to become more than just a pretty promise to the American people.

Posted by: seattlebird on February 22, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Opponent of the deal are looking really ugly.

I'm curious, how does the opposition to the port deal correlate with opposition to social security and health care reform.

Can bush call expose opponents as being nationalistic and racist and at the same time attack private account opponents? Can bush be working to stack the deck in favor of his policies after 2006?

Is this a non-partisan rope-a-dope?

Posted by: aaron on February 22, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

And Middle East royal families (god I hate calling any human, royal) have divided loyalties....one to money and worldly success, and one to either paying off the extremists or helping them.
Posted by: lilybart on February 22, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly!

And if you're even remotely familliar with Medieval European history, you know how monarchies operate and how they maintain power. Cronyism. If you're a king, and if you keep your Barons happy, you maintain your hold on power.

Of course, there was always the Magna Carta - which came about because King John didn't keep his Barons happy. And every time any monarch ignored the Magna Carta at any future point in time, he got away with it because he was keeping his Barons happy.

Now, if one of your Barons happens to be a religious fanatic, or if he's tied up in some terrorist group (whether he's a true believer, or using them as a bargaining chip for power - more frequent these days since military power is centralized, and it was not in feudal systems), then you "keep your Baron happy" by either funding his activities under the table (example in KSA: Madrassas), or by turning a blind eye to illegal activities.


In the case of Osama bin Laden, and his relationship to the Saudi Royal Families - either he became a "true believer" and finally figured out that he couldn't play both sides anymore, and be true to the cause, or he just pissed off the House of Saud one too many times, and they felt they could afford to stop "keeping him happy". - A mistake on their part, until you consider that the US Government is in the pocket of the House of Saud, so they've got other, bigger Barons to protect them.

The Bush Monarchy operates in a similar manner, stroking his Barons with tax cuts, no-bid contracts, and failing to enforce regulations. Now that Bush has effectively kept the UAE royals happpy by pushing for this deal, maybe we don't have to worry about terrorism sponsored by the UAE royals or their proxies. Economic blackmail. Which really, is another form of appeasement. And this is why Bush isn't worried about the security aspect, because he's certain there will be a quid pro quo, because he believes the UAE royals to be honorable. Let's hope the UAE royals can keep THEIR Barons happy. Because if they don't, we could end up with another Osama bin Laden on our hands.

But to quote Baby Herman - it still stinks like yesterday's diapers.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on February 22, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Drum - the Joe Lieberman of the blogosphere.

What a fucking tool.

Posted by: dave on February 22, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

What has surprised me the most about this matter is that foreign owned companies operate US ports. (And since Vancouver is one of the largest Pacific Rim ports I am now wondering who operates us). That seems to be a huge transfer of economic power, and I am curious when exactly that happened.
As for Dubai, isn't it a progressive outpost? Syriana, you might recall, was filmed in Dubai. I think a bunch of otherwise British companies are based there for tax reasons.

Posted by: lisainVan on February 22, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

So, if I'm opposed to Israeli policies vis a vis the Palestinians, taking land that belongs to others in wars of conquest, etc, that must make me anti-Semitic. Right?

I oppose the UAE sweetheart deal because of cronyism (Snow and Sanborn and who else? Hmmm?), the butthole buddy ties between the royals and OBL, their willingness to patch up OBL in their hospitals, and the apparent intent by BushCo to use the UAE as a jump point for an ill-advised (and insane) attack on Iran...that makes me a racist.

Is there any way to oppose ANYTHING that happens to involve Jews, brown people, black people, red people, yellow people, and NOT be accused of racism? Do such deals ALWAYS get the green light because, you know, to oppose them is to be racist?

Bite me.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on February 22, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Although the culture of a port operator would affect efficiency, it would still be very difficult for the company to have a serious effect on national security."

As I've said before: intelligence. Shipping patterns, cargo manifests, security procedures. This deal includes handling of military cargo, as well. The only reason that a lot of this logistics information isn't classified is that the whole system would come to a screeching halt if it were.

Posted by: ericblair on February 22, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

British companies are based there for tax reasons.

Ah, ANOTHER reason for the GOP to love UAE...a tax-dodgers paradise. Just another place to off-shore your corporate offices so you can suck off the taxpayer without having to cough up anything. Leeches.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on February 22, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Part of why dems look weak on defense is that they after stupid stuff like this. It's counterproductive.

Posted by: aaron on February 22, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

I couldn't make it through all the comments, so forgive me if this is redundant: One of the problems with the deal has to do with the fact that two key people in the administration have ties to both CSX and DP World. Before he became Treasury Secretary, John Snow was Chairman and CEO of CSX, and he chaired the commission that OK'd this deal. The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and was chosen by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration. Add in the fact that no one in the administration (Rumsfeld, Bush) seems to have been briefed on the deal, and the fact that the Times reported today that the administration failed to adhere to yet another law -- it neglected to carry out a "mandatory" 45-day investigation that is required when "the acquiring company is controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government" -- and you get . . . what? Another thoroughly vetted decision by BushCo?

Posted by: Mary on February 22, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

CMDicely nailed the issue here:

The issue is "how should Democrats respond now?". "There are several possibilities:
(1) Agree with the xenophobes;
(2) defend Bush from the xenophobes;
(3) ignore the issue; and
(4) pivot to issues other than those raised by the xenophobes that this action raises.

I'd argue that (4) is what we'd ought to be doing; Kevin seems to favor (2)."

He's right, the Democrats should use this debate to highlight a few issues:
1) How just opening up vital infrastructure to unfettered (free) trade can be a security problem, this is an excellent way to illustrate how there's really nothing like just "free trade" there are trade agreements filled with complicated rules and trade offs. and
2) Should the US nurture and strengthen certain industries and build certain infrastructures. We sure as heck did from Alexander Hamilton to Henry Clay to Abraham Lincoln. Should we still?

3) Rule of Law. If the law says do something - no-one should just be able to arbitrarily decide not to - and certainly not with just the explanation just trust me, or your a traitor!

etc.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 22, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Idea for a Jeopardy show...

Contestants:

A pussy cat blogger
A rich kid who dodged his Guard service
A Jewish right-wing democratic senator

Question:

Kevin Drum, George Bush, and Joey Lieberman.

Answer:

Who are three people who favor the port deal for three totally different wrong reasons.

Posted by: Wicked left hand on February 22, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK
UPDATE 2: I just want to make something super clear here. If jumping on the Dubai hysteria bandwagon merely hurt George Bush politically and prompted some additional interest in port security, I'd be all for it.

The fundamental problem of this analysis is that it constructs a false binary choice "jump on the bandwagon" vs. "don't jump on the bandwagon", which hardly exhausts the set of responses. I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it, there aren't two options, there are four -- join the hysteria, defend the administration, ignore the issue, or pivot the debate to what should be the central issue.

You present a dichotomy between the first (join the hysteria) and what you present as if it were the third (leave the issue alone) though your action is more consistent with the second (defend the Administration), and you totally ignore the last, which is what Democrats ought to be doing.

What do I care if the DPW/P&O deal goes through?

Clearly you don't, though maybe you should care about that, and more about the other problems it highlights.


But the whole thing feeds on a mindless anti-Arab jingoism that's genuinely dangerous,

You need to learn how to criticize the way something comes into the public eye without throwing away the opportunity to make progress on the important issue that the fact of controversy presents an opportunity to discuss.


and that's why I'm not joining the fun unless I hear some really good reasons for doing so.

Well, yeah, see, that's the problem. You see partisan politics as a game, and beating the other side as "fun"; of course, from that perspective, it makes sense to stay away from an issue that arises this way -- the kind of analysis and effort it takes to both denounce the way it comes up and pivot to important issues just isn't warranted by an interest in "fun".

As liberals, we're either serious about engaging with the Muslim world in a sensible, non-hysterical way or we're not. Which is it?

Oh, bull. Leave the strained false dichotomies to the Right Wingnuts, they're much better at it, anyway. There is nothing hysterical, and nothing that has anything to do with the "Muslim world" more than tangentially, about wanting key strategic capacities of the United States not to rely on foreign, particularly nondemocratic, regimes, or about wanting the Executive Branch to obey the law.

There are real issues here. The reaction of the wingnuts can be denounced vociferously without abandoning the opportunity that attention focussed on this issue provides to deal with the real issues.

There are many cases where circumstances that have nothing to do with whether things should be considered important make it impractical, or at least more difficult than it should be, to raise important issues effectively. This is one time where the circumstances work the other way. If we walk away, not because we would be endorsing jingoism, but because we'd be participating in a discussion which was started by jingoistic xenophobes, well, then we might as well just walk away from politics altogether.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

This is not about UAE, or the company that is going to run our ports. This is simply about Bush and the continued incompetence associated with all things this guy touches.

If Bush knew anything beyond the fact that "friends" of BushCo are involved, it doesn't seem apparent now.

This is an opportunity to bash Bush on the one subject he's been fairly immune until now: security.

So let's not blather on about principles and such nonsense, when we know the other side doesn't play by any of those delicate rules.

Posted by: meade on February 22, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

This deal will die. It is politically untenable, and the Bush Administration will find a way out.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on February 22, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

As liberals, we're either serious about engaging with the Muslim world in a sensible, non-hysterical way or we're not. Which is it?

Both!

One is a long-term goal, and the other is a short-term expedient to getting there.

Haven't you ever slept with someone you didn't like, just to get Dodger tickets? Oh, whoops, I've probably said too much...

Posted by: craigie on February 22, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

This deal will die. It is politically untenable, and the Bush Administration will find a way out.

Uh-huh. And then some time in 2007, someone will notice that their paychecks are stamped "UAE" or something. These guys don't back down, they just find a better way to lie.

Posted by: craigie on February 22, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

KD: I'm just not willing to join in the xenophopic hysteria unless someone gives me a really good reason to.

How about winning elections so we can get our country back on track?!!

How about representing we, the people, who are overwhelmingly opposed to this UAE deal?

How about the fact that a mandated 45-day investigation was never done before the deal was approved?

How about the news that our incurious Idiot King didn't even know about the Dubai ports deal until after it was approved?

Jeso Pete! Your political animal stinks like flattened day-old roadkill and you don't even fucking know it.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 22, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK
The great thing about ports is that they're static assets. Were the Dubai govt to be overthrown by a group of truly noxious Islamofascists, the US can simply force the ports to be divested.

If, as the article Kevin quotes says, the US is already critically lacking the ability to operate ports efficiently which leaves us reliant and state-owned arms of the UAE, China, etc., the natural conclusion is that the longer we allow ourself to be reliant on them, the farther behind we'll be in that domestic capacity for efficient operation.

So, the question is, do we want to get further and further behind in our ability to carry out operations that are essential for national survival and security (and being able to operate ports, particularly if we continue to attempt to maintain a global military presence, is certainly one of those kinds of operations), and increasingly reliant on the exact kind of regimes we oppose -- nondemocratic autocracies -- to provide us with that essential capacity?

Or is this something the US needs to spend the effort and resources now to reverse?

Its not a matter of "is the UAE particularly bad", especially compared to, say, China -- its a question of "does this reveal a critical, systemic problem with the US system of ports that needs a policy solution for the long-term security of the nation?"

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Meade, can you tell us again what this is aboot? [snicker, snicker]

Posted by: aaron on February 22, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Haven't you ever slept with someone you didn't like, just to get Dodger tickets? Oh, whoops, I've probably said too much...

For God's sakes, craigie, if you're going to whore yourself out at least whore for something more than Dodgers' tickets. Where's your self-respect, man? Now me, I'd do a lot [of people--Ed.] for a good Yankees-Red Sox matchup....

Posted by: Stefan on February 22, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Too add to CmDicely's roll.

Whatever started the discussion doesn't automatically mean that it has to finish that way. Just because there was some jingoism and racism involved in people's initial reactions doesn't mean we should just drop the subject.

This issue is a great example of how the administration just hasn't acted on the huge list of direct things we, as a country, needed to do to make our borders more secure. Like secure our ports.

Democrats should hammer on that.

And you just have to be suspicious about how this huge deal was handed out. Don't we have enough examples of that already?

Does Kevin really want to bet that there isn't anything there? Really, would Kevin Drum put money on that?

Posted by: Samuel Knight on February 22, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

But the whole thing feeds on a mindless anti-Arab jingoism that's genuinely dangerous, and that's why I'm not joining the fun unless I hear some really good reasons for doing so. As liberals, we're either serious about engaging with the Muslim world in a sensible, non-hysterical way or we're not. Which is it?

Well, you sound pretty fucking hysterical to me, Kevin.

I mean, listen to yourself. Liberals are hypocrites for criticizing Bush with respect to the sale of U.S. port operations to an Arab country?

Take a deep breath, Kevin, and back up.

Now, recall all the anti-Arab hype that Bush has ridden on and all the "terrorist connections" that didn't exist that Bush pretended did exist.

Now ask yourself: who are the hypocrites when it comes to analyzing this port deal? Is the claim that the United Arab Emirates and fundamentalist Islam are wholly unrelated? That there are no terrorist cells in the UAE? That the UAE does the best job of any Arab country of stamping out fundamentalist garbage? Are women in the UAE "free"? Is the UAE a beacon of democracy for the Middle East?

Use your fucking brain Kevin instead of wringing your hands like a terrified and/or senile Oklahoma nursing home resident.

Posted by: Gladys Nightspurt on February 22, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
I've scrolled down as far as your 2:49 post, which confirms what I suspected, which is that you think security and operations can be separated. I mean, really, Kevin.. how naive can you be? The Bush administration already lets many companies handle their own port security on an outsourcing basis. Regardless of that fact, of course the company will become aware of security procedures... for example, methods of detecting radioactive matieral.. which Al Qaeda could learn about through contacts in Dubai.
If you made your argument on the basis of thinking that port security and operations are walled off, somehow, then you are totally off base.

Posted by: Marky on February 22, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

"Kevin, you have poor political instincts-- I don't mean that in the sense that you don't know when there's blood in the water (though you don't). I mean it in the sense that you don't realize how politically tone-deaf you come across when you can't see why people are so agitated with the fact that port security is being handled by a company owned by the UAE government. Port security is probably our #1 most important issue facing us when it comes to dealing with terrorism, and you have no idea why peopleare agitated about this blindly ignorant move on the part of the administration."

Bullshit. Port security will remain in the hands of the coast guard and us customs.

Posted by: peanut on February 22, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Lieberman. Says it all.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on February 22, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

peanut brains, read Marky above. On the long run, the two have to be harmonized with respect to certain things for the ports to be efficient.

Posted by: GOD on February 22, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Great post, Kevin!

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to bash Bush - this isn't one of them. Why do libs jump onto these sinking ships so quickly without looking into the details?

Bush can make a very simple argument to the American people: "If a British company can operate our ports then why can't an Arab company? To say they can't, for no good reason, is quite simply stereotyping all Arab countries as supporters of terrorism."

Spare me the details, please - this is politics. Bush can state his argument in one sentence and it is powerful. What's the lib alternative?

Libs and dems are playing into Bush's hands - he's already set the 2006 campaign stage with his state of the union - painting Dems and libs as isolationists. A short while after his speech, the dems answer his prayers.

And who cares if repubs are against the deal, too? - they are just playing to their base. Everybody already calls them racists anyway. But the dems are supposed to be the progressive party. Do the dems energize their base by bashing the UAE? Do they gain by appealing to xenophobes? Is that what you want for your party?

Americans are going to begin labeling liberals, just as Kevin has here, as reactionary xenophobes. Many posters here are claiming that Kevin doesn't understand politics - that it makes sense to bash Bush whenever you can, even when on shaky ground. These posters have it exactly wrong - Kevin does understand the politics here. Bash someone enough, for no good reason, and eventually it backfires. You've heard of the boy who cried wolf? In November 2006, voters are going to realize that one particular party and its spokespersons have been repeatedly crying wolf, and they are going to stop listening.

How can it be that libs have taken a traditional Repub weakness - they're xenophobes - and allowed Bush to turn the tables? He can now argue that opposing this deal is racist. Take Kevin's advice and jump off this bandwagon quickly. And forget about this feeble retreat to a 45 day review argument, that dog won't hunt. You see, when you yell loudly that we shouldn't give over port control to this company because it's run by Arabs who support terrorism, that's all anyone will remember. They won't remember about a 45 day review period because it is a state owned company blah blah blah. Keep it simple, stupid. That's politics. Kevin gets it.

Posted by: sunbeltjerry on February 22, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK


how scared is the bush white house?


hannity says he's got an interview with karl rove after 5pm eastern time...


lol

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on February 22, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Wow 152 comments go by and the most substantive charge I can think of (besides the potential conflicts of interest involving Secretary Snow as well as the end-run around the mandatory 45-day investigation period) is not brought up.

It is well known that the Dubai ports were used in A.Q. Khan's nuclear proliferation scheme. Doesn't it worry anyone that the same authorities in charge of Dubai port operations, whose failure resulted in a major breach of international security, are now going to be owners of major American port operations? While it is true that in the short term the dock workers will continue to be US union workers, are there guarantees that this status quo will continue? What guarantees do we have that similar breaches of security won't be perpetrated in our homeland ports?

This is the question that sets apart this deal from those in the Port of Los Angeles involving China - the Dubai ports have a history of important lapses in security against arguably the most dangerous threat in the world.

Posted by: reader on February 22, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

sunbeltjerry, I get it, I even know people who get it. You and Kevin don't get it. Bush has not turned any tables! His supposedly strongest political weapon is security not racism or xenophobia. He can't make aruments against the dem on this issue.

You should see that he has more to lose here than the dems and if you don't think so, why do you think the've started backpedalling already. They are now claiming he was not aware of the deal before it was made....LOL

Posted by: GOD on February 22, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Just to be "super clear" here, Kevin, this has nothing to do with hysteria, anti-Arab or otherwise. How you could even entertain that conclusion is beyond me.

The real question at hand here is why ANY foreign owned firm has an opportunity to bid on operating ports in the United States.

There's no economic, social, or political justification for it.

This has nothing to do with xenophobia -- and that's not what's driving the hubbub, bub.

It's about common sense, plain and simple. That and oh, yeah -- national security.

We've got Bush torturing innocents, illegally wiretapping American citizens, and presuming erroneously that he may suspend civil liberties -- but secure a port facility against potential infiltration? Naahhh.

What you forget is that the terrorists are not wild-eyed freaks in turbans -- but instead, most are highly educated professionals from upper-middle class families.

All they'd have to do is get a job w/DPO, and wait. There's no way to detect politically-minded infiltration.

Hello? Your thinking is so pre-9/11.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 22, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

"As liberals, we're either serious about engaging with the Muslim world in a sensible, non-hysterical way or we're not. Which is it?"


I absolutely agree with this, but we can't do it with Republicans hopping up and down in front of us. Let them hop up and down on each other for awhile and hope they do as much damage as they can.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

So, cozying up to a true ally which would be instrumental in operations, peaceful or forceful, in dealling with Iran is somehow against national security.

Posted by: aaron on February 22, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still stuck on this one:

"The US container port industry would be unworkable without companies controlled by foreign governments," says a British analyst.

What? WTF does this mean?

How exactly can US container ports be unable to operate without control of foreign governments?

Posted by: CFShep on February 22, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, this is business. Business is business. Somebody has got a chance to make some big bucks so fuck everything else. 9/11 was a godsend for business. How many billions have been stolen as a result of that? This is just a mundane example of business as usual for the folks who run the fucking world.

Posted by: angryspittle on February 22, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

When we play the way Karl Rove plays, we become Karl Rove. Brave blog, Kevin. Do right and it doesn't matter what anyone else says.

Posted by: Wiseman on February 22, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

The real question here is:

What costs more?

6 major American ports?

Or a ballistic missile program whose product is capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to the US through any possible missile-defense system?

And which is easier to execute under a Republican regime?

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on February 22, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

But there are limits, and encouraging the xenophobic jingoism that's driving this controversy is a little too much for me.

Kevin, bin Laden is a long-time friend of the tyrannical UAE royal family. They are not a democracy, and we should not encourage non-democratic, state-owned firms to be involved with our critical infrastructure, unless there are no other options (in which case we should ramp up incentives for other options to emerge).

But the whole thing feeds on a mindless anti-Arab jingoism that's genuinely dangerous, and that's why I'm not joining the fun unless I hear some really good reasons for doing so. As liberals, we're either serious about engaging with the Muslim world in a sensible, non-hysterical way or we're not. Which is it?

I admit some concern about this "feeding" myself, but the ultimately we cannot just ignore issues because of this fear either. As a progressive, I'm very serious about engaging the Muslim world, but at the same time that doesn't mean I'm going to just kiss butt. The Muslim people aren't really represented by the plutocratic UAE royal family anyway. They'd be dead in short order if we didn't prop them up.

In any case, I understand not piling on Kevin, but why this empassioned public defense? That's what seems odd. You had no problem ignoring the Franklin/AIPAC case, since you didn't want to "pile on" with that one due to press freedom concerns, but here you seem to literally be taking this on as an advocate.

Already you've devoted more space to this issue than Franklin/AIPAC, which you've devoted probably less than 100 words.

Posted by: Jimm on February 22, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

I challenge anyone here to provide me with one cite to Exon-Florio (including the Byrd Amendment) requiring a "45-day investigation period".

Put-up or shut the fuck up.

(hint: the statute requires that the investigation (which is only mandatory under certain circumstances -- and it is the CFI which determines whether a given transaction meets those circumstances) be completed no later than 45 days after commencement of the investigation....)

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Opponensts are indulging in "mindless anti-Arab jingoism...."? How interesting. Over at Firedoglake, there is carrying on about supporters of the deal being anti-Semitic.

Posted by: Doran Williams on February 22, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Why not just ignore this UAE port security issue, rather than two empassioned defenses in two days that provide cover for an issue that again is splitting the GOP base?

Posted by: Jimm on February 22, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Are there any American companies besides Halliburton with the expertise to manage these ports? If P&O is kicked out because of its Arab ownership, does that mean Halliburton gets the contract by default? Is that what everyone here wants?

Posted by: DBL on February 22, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin. Your post is a prime reason why dems dont win. If you want to be an intellectual, join academia or a think tank. Bush is selling our ports to terrorists. Period. Let the republicans, for once, defend themselves and get the proper facts out. You are in a pre-Bush mindset, where bipartisanship, and reasoned arguments actually meant something. I ont remember any republican during the Clinton era saying, that they should not be Clinton bashing. Kevin, stop bringing knives to gunfights. The rules have changed. You are supposed to be partisan, not providing cover for the president. That is Fox's and Joementum's job.

Posted by: LFoD on February 22, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

In Kevin's rather bizarre posting here, he is ignoring issues of corruption, contempt for the law, and incompetence. Heck of job, Kevvie.

Posted by: Marc on February 22, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, So I thank you Kevin for shedding more light into this program. However, I think the Democrats need to take a page out of the Republicans book. Who cares if its right or wrong. It looks bad so bring the spin machine out and work it.

Posted by: marcus on February 22, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Hey GOD (is that really you?)

You seem to misunderstand. I never stated that racism and xenophobia were Bush's strengths, I argued that they are his weaknesses. That's my entire point - you are taking a Bush weakness and by overplaying your hand you are allowing him to paint his opponents with that same weakness.

"He can't make aruments against the dem on this issue."

But he just did, GOD - yesterday! And here I thought you were omnipotent.

"You should see that he has more to lose here than the dems ..."

Bush doesn't have a thing to lose, GOD - he's already won two presidential elections and I'm pretty sure that he can't run again. If the dems were more skillful they could have made this a winner, by pointing out legitimate concerns and raising the issue of competency. Instead, they quickly and loudly yelled that WE CAN'T GIVE OUR PORTS TO ARABS! THEY'RE ALL TERRORISTS. The playing field has been set and it cannot be changed now.

"and if you don't think so, why do you think the've started backpedalling already."

To admit that he was not aware of the deal is not a backpedal but it does help to cover his ass amongst some, - his base. You see, GOD, he is at once appeasing his base, while at the same time trying to paint his opponents as racist isolationists.

Posted by: sunbeltjerry on February 22, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote:
"As liberals, we're either serious about engaging with the Muslim world in a sensible, non-hysterical way or we're not. Which is it?"

So go ahead and engage! There's nothing to stop you, me, and every other liberal from doing that.

But don't label liberals xenophobes when the basis for our objection is substantively separate and distinct from that.

Liberals can be pro-security, too, or did you forget that?!? Defense and security is not the sole province of Repubs, and Dems believe those are worthy values with equal ferver and and would work to those ends with superior skill.

Why is that beyond the bounds of thinkable thought?

The objections don't even resemble xenophobia.

The objections stem soley from the absurd notion that you can improve or maintain ANY semblance of national security while ANY foreign corporation is indulged with the privilege of operating American ports.

Instead, engage the Muslim world WHILE letting American firms operate US ports. Where's the confusion?

This is like saying engaging the neighbors on the block -- just because you like "neighborliness" -- requires you to let the guy from the UAE sleep with your wife seven nights a week. And that you can't object, because after all, the British guy's been sleeping with her the past two years.

It's possible to be fair in the market, while retaining national functions under national control, and retaining the economic benefit of national assets and infrastructure. NOT to do so is lunacy, economically, nationally, and in terms of security and sovereignty.

As Josh Marshall says:
"Isn't offshoring port management and security sort of like offshoring the shore?"

They're our ports. It's nonsensical to claim there's no issue here. At minimum, American firms should be reaping the benefit.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 22, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

If the camel jockies want to run a port, I guess a company from Dubai would work.

Posted by: Matt on February 22, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

The UAE, proud supporter of the Taliban and Osama, embarcation point for 9/11 hijackers, haven for radical extremists of the Wahabbist sort, and a repressive oligarchy, is given control over U.S. port access, the most glaringly weak point in dmostic defense against terrorism.

Your response: liberals need to decide where they stand on xenophobia.

Well guess what. It's OK to hate the emirates who cling to power with religious extremism, then hide behind oil sales when dealing with the U.S. They created Osama bin Laden, very intentionally.

But in no way does this remotely correspond with advocating the end of habeas corpus, or shoving glowsticks up the ass of Iraqi cab drivers.

In fact, you know who does that kind of thing even more often than the Bush administration? Wahabbist oligarchies in the persian gulf.

Posted by: HeavyJ on February 22, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

One thing I'm not going to do is publically defend some ruling royal family propped up by oppression and foreign arms, and I'm not going to defend their right to run state-owned businesses in our neighborhood either.

If we need them, so be it, and we should do something about that in the interim. I just don't understand why we would need oppressive state-owned companies from halfway around the world to run our own ports.

Posted by: Jimm on February 22, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

From The Gadflyer blog:

What Didn't Bush Know and When Didn't He Know It? (Act 374)

Thomas F. Schaller (4:35PM) link

So now we learn that Bush, as a matter of reflex, is willing to defend decisions that happen without his knowledge. Do we really need any further proof that this man simply has no idea what's going on in his own Administration, and is little more than a puppet, the strings of which are alternatively manipulated by Rove and Cheney?

It's not as if this is the first time this has happened. Bush, you may recall, was giving thundering speeches about Iraq's WMD threats before he read the distilled National Intelligence Estimate. He is not making decisions. He is making speeches about decisions that are made for him in his oblivious, let's-work-on-new-nicknames-today, timeout-for-a-bike-ride presidency. To say he's asleep at the switch would imply he's even at the switch in the first place.

Posted by: arkie on February 22, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

One more time: "The US container port industry would be unworkable without companies controlled by foreign governments," says a British analyst.

WTF?

Posted by: CFShep on February 22, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Nathan,

You're right that people are mistating the timing requirements under Exon-Florio. The statute calls for a mandatory investigation to begin with 30 days of notification and that investigation cannot take more than 45 days.

However, there's also this provision:

"The President shall immediately transmit to the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives a written report of the Presidents determination of whether or not to take action under subsection (d), including a detailed explanation of the findings made under subsection (e) and the factors considered under subsection (f). Such report shall be consistent with the requirements of subsection (c) of this Act."

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode50a/usc_sec_50a_00002170----000-.html

Did that happen?

Oh, and why the hell are you so defensive about this?

Posted by: Sean on February 22, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

I re-iterate my earlier point about the salience of this issue.

By my count, we've had a couple of postings from proto-fascist, Freedom Fighter, and from Bush-sycophants Yancey Ward and Nathan. Otherwise, nothing. There haven't even been parody posts.

Simply put, folks, this is another Katrina. They will dig in, say everything is fine, and retreat by the end of the week.

Posted by: SavageView on February 22, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who thinks the Dubai deal is hysteria is living in lala land. I live in north Jersey, I know families who lost lost love ones in 9/11 and I don't want any Arab country connected to the 9-11 terrorists having anything connection with my state's ports. This is a national security and state security issue. Kudos to Corizine for fighting this in courts.

Now Bush is saying he didn't know about the deal until a few days ago - nonsense! He's a liar. This administration has repeatedly demonstrated its dishonesty and incompetence. Here's what I think - let Bush veto any legislation which protects our national security - I hope he does it before the the 2006 elections. BTW - follow the money - who gets rich rich on this sellout of security?

Posted by: jersey-missouri on February 22, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK
What? WTF does this mean?

What it means is that the US has lost the specialized skills to manage and operate container ports, and the only people with those skills are foreign government-run operations.

Of course, the orthodox arch-capitalist "private industry is always more efficient" types heads should be exploding around this point, along with the xenophobes, as it is apparent that foreign government operations have retained the ability to do something efficiently that US private industry as well as US government agencies have lost the ability to do efficiently.

But those of us who are sane, whose heads remain intact, might want to consider the strategic implications of relying on nondemocratic regimes like the UAE and China to operate our ports, and consider if maybe it isn't time to try to figure out what we could do to correct that deficiency before it becomes a strategic crisis.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Sexpot xenophobes.

Posted by: on February 22, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK
A website www.mafiwasta.com is campaigning to pressure the government of the UAE into signing up to International Labour Organisation core conventions on freedom of association. Strikes and unions are currently banned in the UAE and many labourers are virtual prisoners, having paid huge agents' fees in order to obtain jobs and visas.
Posted by: wiki on February 22, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

The port deal is not about Arabs or muslims--it's about money, corporations , globalism. This is what should be ATTACKED.

Bushco is selling to the highest bidder and he doesn't care about you or your safety!

Posted by: Rootless Cosmopolitan on February 22, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

What's really galling here is that Kevin's willing to hold liberals to a double standard here.

Even WERE he right about hysteria, and he's not -- the sheer cowardice with which Kevin confronts liberals, but does not require accountability of conservatives, is striking.

William Burroughs had it right: faced with the brawn/recalcitrance of the biggest baboon in the troop/Bush (this is Burrough's metaphor), the second biggest baboon turns tail ... and kicks the ass of the weakest baboon he can find.

That's what's happening here. Kevin's unable to get a scintilla of responsiveness, integrity, accountability, or acknowledgment from Bush/conservatives, so he smites the liberals on erroneous grounds.

It's called policing your own. Your own discipline, your own party, your own allies, your own think-group. Same as when "centrist" Dems have the temerity to tell the base that they should be strong on defense -- when it's the DLC-ers who've been weak, milquetoast, and who've failed to stand up for American principles and strong defense for years. So they police the boundaries of their own party -- rather than go after the big dog. Poltroons.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 22, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

The conservatives tell us not to worry about this because unionized Americans work on those docks. Well, the unions that represent those employees are raising some concerns.

Longshoremen:
http://www.ilaunion.org/home.asp?h=1

Government Employees:
http://www.afge.org/Index.cfm?Page=PressReleases&PressReleaseID=578

Posted by: b on February 22, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Sean:

"Did that happen?"

I don't know. But no one has claimed that it didn't (yet).

"Oh, and why the hell are you so defensive about this?"

I'm not. I got annoyed because I've posted this point several times above...complete with links and people blithely continue with the same misstatements (perpetuated by dailykos and a poorly-worded NY Times story). I called cmdicely out on it and he's simply refused to comment (probably cause he knows I caught him not bothering to look it up before posting...usually he's somewhat thorough even if I disagree with his statutory readings). So, yeah, I got annoyed at the continued ignorance.

I'm annoyed in general with the ranting from positions of ignorance here. The CFI was established by Congress and its ground rules were set by Congress. The ground rules essentially are weighted in favor of foreign investment and the burden of proof is on the government to prove that the transaction shouldn't go through. If you don't like this system..have Congress change it...but these have been the rules for awhile.

People are also misunderstanding the nature of this acquisition. The UAE corporation is a holding company which is purchasing a British company that actually runs shipping terminals. That British company has terminals around the world...many of which are lucrative. Its U.S. terminals are not lucrative and are hardly what the UAE corporation wants...wouldn't be surprised to see them spinning the U.S. terminals off.

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Commies and Arabs running our ports!

Freedom is on the march!

Posted by: t-t-t-trolls r us on February 22, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

"What it means is that the US has lost the specialized skills to manage and operate container ports, and the only people with those skills are foreign government-run operations."

actually most port-management companies are not state-owned. in the instant transaction, the port-management company is not being replaced, rather it is being purchased by a state-owned holding company.

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

No self-respecting union with integrity would support this deal...the UAE bans all unions and strikes in its home territory.

Posted by: Jimm on February 22, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK
I called cmdicely out on it and he's simply refused to comment

Er, no, I pointed out how your link failed to make your case, and was perfectly consistent with the characterization of the facts as presented constituting a violation of the act.

Your response that the CFI makes the determination misses the point; the facts as made public do not provide any reasonable basis for not making the determination that makes an investigation mandatory. It is not a matter of plenary discretion, so, absent facts supporting the contrary finding, CFI not determining that the investigation is necessary is a clear breach of the duty imposed by the law.

Now either go get some facts to support your case or go away.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

I've just read Kevin's link to the counsel on foreign relations excerpt, which I'm pretty sure is five more minutes of research than Bush did on this issue.

There's a technical aspect to this. As far as I can see on this thread, only one person claimed to know anything about how the ports actually work.

According to the link, ports are similar to airports, in which private airlines lease terminals from the government that owns the entire airport. Since most of us have flown, you see how this works. United employees man the United terminal, Southwest man the Southwest terminal, etc. MOre importanty, Emirates employees man the Emirates terminal, at say, JFK in New York.

In the area of ports, I would speculate that although there are, in general, U.S. shipping companies, many, many companies that own the actual ships are foreign owned.

Moreover, although there is probably some U.S. to U.S. shipping via sea, most shipping coming into these ports is from other countries.

Given all of that, the technical question is (i) how does the INS conduct immmigration inspections at airports, and (ii) do ports differ from airports in a significant enough way that the leasing of port facilities should be different from the leasing of airport terminals?

The funny thing is that there is probably no statistical difference in the risk of an employee of Emirates Airlines planting a bomb in a plane vs. the risk of a DPW employee shepherding some cargo through a port terminal.

Of course, we're so friggen busy invading countries for no reason that actual security is pretty much ignored.

Posted by: hank on February 22, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK
actually most port-management companies are not state-owned.

I'm quite aware of that. The statement for which an interpretation was asked, however, does indeed suggest that foreign state-owned companies (whether or not they are the majority of port-management companies being irrelevant) are essential, in the present environment, for the efficient operation of US ports.

in in the instant transaction, the port-management company is not being replaced, rather it is being purchased by a state-owned holding company.

Yes, reducing the options available to US ports and increasing the reliance on arms of foreign, nondemocratic regimes to a central and strategically vital function.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

And, U.A.E. might have nuanced insight into Miccle East machinations that would especially help DPW keep port activities safe.

Posted by: ferd on February 22, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm annoyed in general with the ranting from positions of ignorance here.

..of which, you are the chief ranter.

The only thing more ignorant than Nathan standing on top of a pile of crap to assert that he, as a fantastically successful Manhattan lawyer, has won a false argument no one cares about, is the notion that there's anything ignorant about criticizing a deal that will place operational control of six US ports in the hands of a company based in the United Arab Emirates.

I'll ask the question again:

If it is okay for a foreign company to control operations at six US ports, why not allow a similar company to control operations at six US airports?

I mean, let's be clear about one salient point--operational control involves security, whether anyone admits it or not. Regardless of whether the Coast Guard can inspect ships or containers, we already know that they're not doing enough right now. It's plainly ignorant to think that 'operations' doesn't include some aspect of 'security.' And that can include, and not be limited to, which ships are loaded or loaded on which day by a particular group of workers. Operation control means you can give preference to certain container ships operating under various flags. Would a UAE based company realistically give a Dutch-flagged ship preference over a UAE-flagged ship? And what would security really have to say about it--because the port security officer damned sure isn't telling the operational officer what to do and when to do it without experiencing some serious pushback.

Spare me the meme that there is no 'security' involved in 'operations.' There most certainly is and anyone shilling for that point of view misses the point of the whole argument--which, again, ain't about brown people or race cards.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

"CFI not determining that the investigation is necessary is a clear breach of the duty imposed by the law."

If, in fact, this occurred...it is Congress' responsibility to overrule or replace the members of the CFI. However, I've seen nothing to indicate that the CFI did not conduct an investigation. Specifically, there are press reports indicating that the CFI conducted additional inquiries beyond the base review. That would appear to satisfy the Byrd amendment requirement.

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

ferd: U.A.E. might have nuanced insight into Miccle East machinations that would especially help DPW keep port activities safe.

Excellent point - much like putting Dick Cheney in charge of energy policy (or firearms safety).

Posted by: alex on February 22, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Why are Kevin and the Democrats like him so afraid of being accused of being opportunistic or unprincipled?

The critics have already called you worse, as in traitor and unpatriotic, so why lean over backwards to not appease the xenophobes if that's in your interest?

Posted by: lib on February 22, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hank-

Exactly. Most of the ships are not US owned, or are indirectly US owned with foreign flags because the cost of flying a US flag and following US regulations is much higher than that of flying a flag of convenience (Norway, Bahamas, Libya).

My understanding is that being an employee would not make a difference in ability or inability to sneak something in. The person or company who orinally shipped the product to the US would be far more likely to be the culprit than the guy operating the crane or the bookkeeper, because of access.

In terms of ability to disrupt ports, truck drivers and the companies that supply fuel and electricity are the most dangerous.

Posted by: Hillary on February 22, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Washington Monthly,

Would you please hire cmdicely and fire Kevin Drum?

Posted by: on February 22, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Congratulations, Kev. This is quite possibly the most inane blog posting I've ever read.

And that's sayin' something, my friend.

At least the right-wing blogs are internally consistent.

Posted by: Jim J on February 22, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider:

er, "false argument that no one cares about"...so you concede that the 10+ posters above who referred to the "mandatory 45-day investigation requirement" were wrong and I was right?

um, this UAE company is a holding company, not a port management company. do you understand what this means?

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

I see that actually terry made similar complaints as I did (about Dubai's recent history in security lapses). That charge, as far as I can tell, still stands and is absolutely germane to any discussion about whether the deal should go forward or not.

Posted by: reader on February 22, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

There is no need to fire Kevin Drum...overall he does a great job. Some healthy disagreement once in awhile makes for more fun and interesting blog threads. I've always backed up Kevin, and will continue doing so until he starts showing some consistent illogic or BS. That has not been even close to the case to date.

Posted by: Jimm on February 22, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider: let's be clear about one salient point--operational control involves security

Nonsense. On paper it says that it doesn't, therefore it doesn't. It's obvious that you lack a degree in law, economics or an MBA. Sheesh, an unindoctrinated mind.

Posted by: alex on February 22, 2006 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

this UAE company is a holding company, not a port management company.

Yeah--wouldn't they be the ones hiring people and calling the shots? Or do Manhattan lawyers have some special insight into the corporate world that poor fools like myself cannot grasp?

Nobody cares about you or your arguments, Nathan--you're a half-wit shill and you have exposed yourself time and again to what end up being insanely funny refutations of everything you say.

But hey--holding company. port management company. Who cares? You live in Manhattan--hopefully nothing 'bad' comes through the ports in the Northeast and gets you while you're riding up and down those fancy elevators in your slick suit and tie.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 22, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Why are Kevin and the Democrats like him so afraid of being accused of being opportunistic or unprincipled?

The funniest thing about this is that the Democrats and even Kevin at times are so transparently opportunistic. I have never been pilloried more than when defending Green voters against Democrats on liberal blogs. "Principled" is a bad word to Democrats in such discussions.

It's a joke to consider either major party "principled" before "opportunity", and most of the major bloggers too.

Posted by: Jimm on February 22, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Tim B. @ 2:50 nails it:
"The real question is why Americans aren't owning and operating our own ports. Maybe we should let Mexico bid on Border Patrol contracts? What right does America have to keep Angola from bidding on the Secret Service contract? Isn't that the logical conclusion of liassez-faire trade?

This idea that all contracts are fungible and should be open to any bidder is dangerous. The question for Kevin, and other free traders, is what US contracts should be closed to foreign companies. None?"

Same principle for the Constitutional provision that the President must be an American-born citizen. W/Schwarzenegger's rise, some (orrin hatch) have foolishly pretended that condition is obsolete or old-fashioned. Quite the contrary. It applies as well as it ever has.

It's either our country or it's not. There's no reason we have any obligation to squander the national assets for six magic beans and the too-easy belief that money in British L, French f, or any other currency is good enough to sell out your country.

Ain't hysteria. It's fact.

A novice's enthusiasm for America cannot approximate the fully-formed bodily knowledge/nuanced love of country held by the native-born, nor be subsituted for it. Kissinger is the perfect case in point. Did he serve us well? Maybe -- not hardly. But that doesn't mean you give him the keys to the kingdom. The enthusiasm -- for $$, for glory, is that of the idealogue, the intellectual, the lover, and is not tempered by a willingness to honor the rule of law, and to obey it in practice.

As Kissinger proved, that fervor will allow the fanatic to kill that which it pretends to serve or defend.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 22, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, the political issue is even more intersting. Kevin may well be fundamentaly correct. Cmdicely's original post, concerning how Dem's should use this issue to pivot to a good, productive national security position, well, true, but not as appealing as my proposal.

My proposal? There's no f-ing way joe sixpack will ever bother to research how ports are actually managed. Nor does joe s-pack know the difference between a holding company and an operating company. Nor does joe know the difference between the coast guard's security and actual operations.

Its beautiful, finally, finally, finally, finally, an issue where general ignorance can work in favor of the Democratic party. Its all the more satisfying because it may be unfair! That's the best! I've had to sit through six years (or more) of being accused of more half-assed strawman based arguments than I can count, and now its time for the shoe to be on the other foot, in this case the foot belonging to our man George, and, of course, the entire rest of his party.

What's that you say? The Republicans in congress are against it? Sorry, couldn't quite hear you.

Republicans, the party willing to sell homeland security to the A-rabs. Every Democrat ought to campaign with this as their only issue.

Posted by: hank on February 22, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

"um, this UAE company is a holding company, not a port management company. do you understand what this means?"

Nathan, if you foud this in one of my posts, you got it wrong. DP World is a port operating co. It's owned by PCFC Group, this is the holding. Whoever controls PCFC controls DP World...

Posted by: Gray on February 22, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK
If, in fact, this occurred...it is Congress' responsibility to overrule or replace the members of the CFI.

Yeah, and who gets Congress to do their job? US citizens, paying attention, and raising a fuss when things aren't done right.

The fundamental concept of democracy isn't for the populace to the ignore the government and trust that everything is being done right. That's the fundamental concept of divinely ordained monarchy.

However, I've seen nothing to indicate that the CFI did not conduct an investigation.

Since it has been reported that both the buyer and the seller made that agreement of the US government not to conduct an "investigation" instead of a "review" a precondition of the deal, and since published reports refer to a CFI member stating that an investigation was not necessary, I find this characterization very odd.

Where is there any indication that an "investigation" under Exon-Florio took place?

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

The direct reference on the notification law, from Atrios, is

http://www.treasury.gov/offices/international-affairs/exon-florio/

It certainly reads as if an investigation is required; however, different web resources have different information on whether there are two distinct processes or one involved. It'd be helpful if someone without an axe to grind, and with actual information on this, were to post here. The reaction of the Bush admin officials in the NY Times article does suggest that proper procedures were not followed; the fact that the governors of NY and NJ were not contacted indicates that whatever studies were done must have been pretty minimal...

Posted by: marc on February 22, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

There's a Gnathan buzzing around here again. We keep brushing him away--it's just a minor annoyance, nothing meaningful--but he continues to hum enragedly. Where's the swatter?

Posted by: shortstop on February 22, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Yeah--wouldn't they be the ones hiring people and calling the shots?"

er, no. I'd suggest that you look up what "holding company" means.

btw, how's that Plame thing going?

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Hank, good point.

Joe Sixpack will never hear Kevin or cmdicely's position either, since it's too complicated for the mass media to communicate. Imagine all those people conditioned on soundbites and jingoism listening to their favorite pundits trying to explain this away through complicated arguments impossible to make in 30 or 60 or 180 seconds.

And, from the looks of it, these pundits already have figured this out, and aren't bothering to defend it, or really are against the deal, and fearless leader-in-chief be damned.

Posted by: Jimm on February 22, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's point about port ownership and port ownership is a false distinction.

If you want to do any infiltrating or the like, it's precisely the port operations you want control of. It's the lifeblood, the accounting, the shipping and receiving. There's really nothing you can't do if you run or control this.

Port ownership is meaningless. It's absentee as long as you don't run things, first off. So that watchdog's asleep.

And port security is likewise a red herring, Kevin. Without control of port operations it's just a bunch of fat rent-a-cops standing around while any quietly corrupt accountants, shippers etc., that MIGHT be there, go on about their business unopposed.

Because right now there IS no port security. And if there were -- control of operations IS PRECISELY THE METHOD YOU'D USE TO CIRCUMVENT THAT. Sheesh.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 22, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

A company like DPW is not insignificant. It's really huge and involves a lot of interesting elements. It's the kind of company James Bond would have a few pals in. There is just no way the Emir is not going to have people inside this company that he can rely on to get things done if he needs it, no questions asked, and that goes for perhaps others, as well.

To say that the US inspects only a fraction of containers entering the port is beside the point. The point is to make absolutely certain the few containers you need to get through don't get inspected. And then there's the stuff they might want to be getting out of the country.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Heh. Michael Chertoff, Director of Homeland Security, says: "We have to balance the paramount urgency of security against the fact that we still want to have a robust global trading system."

Interesting. Under the Bush Administration, when you balance the "paramount urgency of security" against:

1) Civil liberties, then civil liberties lose -- detention without process, etc.
2) Money -- then the "paramount urgency of security" isn't all that "paramount".

Yeah, but there is nothing for liberals to criticize here, in Kevin's view.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the security risk, we should be aware that only 5% of containers are actually checked. We know that since Kerry's campaign and the numbers haven't changed. And we know that at least one UAE kingdom owned BCCI bank in the past that had to be closed because of drug smuggling and illegal arms trade. Now if those owners didn't do anything against their company violating foreign laws and border security before, I can't understand how they can be trusted in responsibly handling a port operating business. Really, that's the same as hiring Ken Lay as CEO of an auditing company.

Posted by: Gray on February 22, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Very clear-headed and intelligent perspective, Kevin. I guess the only thing that gets my dander up about this is Bush's brazen hypocrisy. What about all his speeches about nations that harbor, assist, know, dine with, have citizens that once knew someone who once lived in a country within 5000 miles of a country that harbored terrorists, etc. (forgive the hyperbole)? Here's a man willing to spy on us in the name of "national security" who doesn't even know what companies our ports are being leased to. And who all of a sudden wants to sing Kumbaya (sp.?) about international cooperation. I suspect once someone "follows the money," this will all become clearer. Anyway, I agree that falling into the jingoism trap is an unhealthy and unproductive approach, and thanks for putting that out there. At the same time, I think it's time that we take a page from the Karl Rove playbook and go after Bush on his so-called "strong point" of national security (except we wouldn't be Swiftboating anyone based on ungrounded premises -- we'd be uncovering a huge misrepresentation and thereby doing the nation a favor). I think Bush's hypocrisy around this issue can contribute to that mission.

Posted by: Yurple on February 22, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Bottom line is these guys are experts at fixing the books. Money laundering, smuggling, port operations. These guys are THE GUYS who are expert at hiding something that needs to be hidden in plain view.

This summary dates back to December 2005, but it clearly demonstrates just how ill-informed Kevin is in scoffing at the BCCI connection. 'It's just money laundering...' Yeah, right. And there's no connection, either.

Plain as day.


An Unlikely Criminal Crossroads

12/5/05

Related Links
Paying for terror
A godfather's lethal mix of business and politics
From Egypt to Afghanistan, when terrorists and gangsters need a place to meet, to relax, maybe to invest, they head to Dubai, a bustling city-state on the Persian Gulf. The Middle East's unquestioned financial capital, Dubai is the showcase of the United Arab Emirates, an oil-rich federation of sheikdoms. Forty years ago, Dubai was a backwater; today, it hosts dozens of banks and one of the world's busiest ports; its free-trade zones are crammed with thousands of companies. Construction is everywhere--skyscrapers, malls, hotels, and, soon, the world's tallest building.

But Dubai also serves as the region's criminal crossroads, a hub for smuggling, money laundering, and underground banking. There are Russian and Indian mobsters, Iranian arms traffickers, and Arab jihadists. Funds for the 9/11 hijackers and African embassy bombers were transferred through the city. It was the heart of Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan's black market in nuclear technology and other proliferation cases. Half of all applications to buy U.S. military equipment from Dubai are from bogus front companies, officials say. "Iran," adds one U.S. official, "is building a bomb through Dubai." Last year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents thwarted the shipment of 3,000 U.S. military night-vision goggles by an Iranian pair based in Dubai. Moving goods undetected is not hard. Dhows--rickety wooden boats that have plowed the Arabian Sea for centuries--move along the city center, uninspected, down the aptly named Smuggler's Creek.

U.A.E. rulers have taken terrorism seriously since 9/11, but Washington has a half-dozen extradition requests that they refuse to honor. The list includes people accused of rape, murder, and arms trafficking, and the last fugitive of the BCCI banking scandal. The country has put money laundering controls on the books but has made few cases. Interior Minister Sheik Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan told U.S. News the U.A.E. has made great strides in cracking down, but he insists that the real problems lie elsewhere. "We are a neutral country, like Switzerland," he says. "Give us the evidence, and we will do something about it. Don't blame others." Not everyone agrees. "All roads lead to Dubai," says former treasury agent John Cassara, author of Hide and Seek, a forthcoming book on terrorism finance. Cassara tried explaining U.S. concerns about Dubai to a local businessman but got only a puzzled look: "Mr. John, money laundering? But that's what we do. " -David E. Kaplan

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 22, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Ultimately, this will boil down to port security, and Bush's lack of action in its regard. If a nuke ever gets smuggled into the US, it will likely be by ship container, and not carried or flown over the border. Bush has twiddled his thumbs and blown a half trillion bucks in Iraq chasing phantom fears when the really dangerous phantom fears have gone unaddressed, and we learn that we can't even run our own ports without relying on corrupt, oppressive, plutocratic, hereditary non-democratic authoritarian state-owned companies.

Great.

I wonder how far just $100 billion spent on port security and market incentives would have brought us since 2002?

Posted by: Jimm on February 22, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK
Joe Sixpack will never hear Kevin or cmdicely's position either, since it's too complicated for the mass media to communicate.

The "pivoting" position I've been articulating is a meta-level position on how Democrats with access in the media ought to use this to present simple ideas. I agree, its not a position that, itself, is for popular consumption. (Though some of the positions I've suggested pivoting too are, but you'd need to focus on a couple headline bits of them to get some attention, first, and then go to the details -- since I'm not doing a mass media presentation, I'm not trying to actually make the popular appeal, but only the somewhat wonkish argument about how the popular appeal ought to be carried out.)

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Since it has been reported that both the buyer and the seller made that agreement of the US government not to conduct an "investigation" instead of a "review" a precondition of the deal,"

what's your source for this? btw, you can't have an investigation instead of a review. Exon-Florio requires a review first. If the CFI determines (whether pursuant to the Byrd Amendment or for other reasons) in the course of its review that an investigation is required...then it conducts one...subject to certain time limitations.

"and since published reports refer to a CFI member stating that an investigation was not necessary, I find this characterization very odd."

if you're speaking of the NY Times article...it managed to misstate another critical fact so I wouldn't rely on it yet.

"Where is there any indication that an "investigation" under Exon-Florio took place?"

here:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11494815/

this article mentions several steps that are beyond an ordinary CFI review.

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Washington Monthly,

cmdicely is a great guy, but he doesn't have a cat.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

hank at 5:51 PM
"My proposal? There's no f-ing way joe sixpack will ever bother to research how ports are actually managed. Nor does joe s-pack know the difference between a holding company and an operating company. Nor does joe know the difference between the coast guard's security and actual operations."

Think again. Joe sixpack was interviewed at Newark port last night. They were all over the whole issue. Every longshoreman and forklift jockey there a) knew the diff between operations and ownership; and b) pointed out how utterly moronic it was to outsource the operations. Used the word UnAmerican, too.

Republicans, the party willing to sell homeland security to the A-rabs. Every Democrat ought to campaign with this as their only issue.
Agreed. Like it. Love it. Repeat it endlessly through 2024.

Posted by: | PERMALINK

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 22, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

The "pivoting" position I've been articulating is a meta-level position on how Democrats with access in the media ought to use this to present simple ideas. I agree, its not a position that, itself, is for popular consumption. (Though some of the positions I've suggested pivoting too are, but you'd need to focus on a couple headline bits of them to get some attention, first, and then go to the details -- since I'm not doing a mass media presentation, I'm not trying to actually make the popular appeal, but only the somewhat wonkish argument about how the popular appeal ought to be carried out.)

I'm with ya cmdicely, just musing on Hank's homily about Joe Sixpack, and about how this is just not going to play well in our current media and cultural environment, no matter how brilliantly one would want to spin it otherwise. I was referring more to Kevin than you, since I haven't read up the thread or even know what your argument was.

Posted by: Jimm on February 22, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Check out the latest Political Comics from H.L.

Bush Ports Deal Pt. 2.
See it at.
The Hollywood Liberal

Posted by: Jack on February 22, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK
btw, how's that Plame thing going?

Well enough that your guy Libby needs a legal defense fund.

Posted by: SavageView on February 22, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I'm glad the port owners aren't worried that there'll be any negative security implications about this.

Of course, the airport owners and FAA never worried that it was legal to take box cutters onto commercial airliners, either....

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on February 22, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

If CFI did investigate, then they would have to report the findings to Bush and Bush would have to file a report with both houses of Congress.

If any of that happened, wouldn't we be hearing about it now? And if any of that happened, Bush would not be able to say he hadn't heard about the transaction until a few days ago.

Nope. Someone in the administration determined that the conditions for a mandatory investigation under Exon-Florio were not satisfied here...

Posted by: Sean on February 22, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Joe sixpack was interviewed at Newark port last night.

Well, of course Joe Sixpack with knowledge of ports knows that, but ultimately it's irrelevant to the larger criticism that will dominate Joe's imagination throughout the country, which has little to do with distinctions about holding companies and what not, and instead the foreign control issue.

It's Bush, after all, who has been massively promoting to Joe Sixpack the notion we should not be "held hostage" by foreign regimes, in regards to oil production (whether he really means it or not), because that's how Joe Sixpack actually feels (and focus groups have picked this up), and here we have Bush feigning ignorance about a deal that represents a similar situation with our port operations and security.

Posted by: Jimm on February 22, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Kevin Drum" is to "liberal" as the "full body cast" is to "ballet."

Posted by: aginghippie on February 22, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

All kidding aside. This is about risk. Risk assessment, risk aversion, risk acceptance.

Though most Americans either can't or won't accept the fact, Uncle Sam cannot protect us from another terror attack. Not perfectly. Not even very well. If the U.S. got an "A" and stopped 95 out of 100 terrorists a year, there would still be an awful lot of risk out there.

And at the ports, Uncle Sam is not getting an "A" -- he is getting a "D" (by his own admission). So if the risk is high now, how much more risk are we willing to accept? Think of the conniptions people went through when TSA decided nail clippers weren't really a threat to Boeing aircraft.

There's no need to assume anti-Arab jingoism, which is a straw man anyway. That's the Noise Machine's Talking Point -- there go those Liberal Racists Again! This morning, O'Reilly claimed that refusing this deal would cause us to lose the war on terror. A direct and linear relationship.

Yeah, sure -- the Muslim world is going to be upset that we didn't let some wealthy emirs that the Arab Street already despises run our ports. They've hadly paid any attention to that whole invading Iraq/torturing innocent men thing.

Homneland Security is about risk management. You don't do things that increase risk, all else being equal, unless you absolutely have to.

I don't think our ports will close if the Emir of Dubai doesn't get an office in Baltimore.

Posted by: Hemlock for Gadflies on February 22, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Dear,

Would you just go read Atrios and Kos instead of trying to turn WashingtonMonthly into them?

Posted by: aaron on February 22, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Its not a matter of "is the UAE particularly bad", especially compared to, say, China -- its a question of "does this reveal a critical, systemic problem with the US system of ports that needs a policy solution for the long-term security of the nation?" Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 4:31 PM

Exactly, this controversy raises very important issues that cannot be ignored and have nothing to do with xenophobia.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on February 22, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Why are Kevin and the Democrats like him so afraid of being accused of being opportunistic or unprincipled?

I wonder too, especially considering how genuinely curious he was about the frickin' Bush Bulge.

Posted by: Irony Man on February 22, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

How's this for spin?

Posted by: aaron on February 22, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you might want to have a gander at this post by Michael Tomasky over at the American Prospect:

ASK JERRY. Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York is one of the smartest people Ive ever met in politics. He can speak knowledgeably on a terrifying range of subjects. One of which is ports -- Ive spent hours talking about ports with Jerry, a longtime proponent of building a cross-harbor freight tunnel in New York, a subject Ive written on extensively. But Jerry is the real deal; he even reads the Journal of Commerce, which is the real-life Shipping News.

So, to try and help settle this Kevin Drum business, I point us in the direction of a real, legitimate authority. Nadler has this statement up on his congressional Web site. Its critical, but not demagogic, suggesting that there are legitimate concerns here, and that he thinks the deal should be stopped until Congress can review it thoroughly; but its not full of demagoguery. Just worth pointing out.

--Michael Tomasky

Here's the link: http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2006/02/index.html#009238
And here's the link to Jerry Nadler's statement:
http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/ny08_nadler/UAEPortSale022106.html

I'm with Jerry and Mike on this one...

Posted by: FuzzFinger on February 22, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Check out the latest Political Comics from H.L.

Bush Ports Deal Pt. 2.
See it at.
The Hollywood Liberal

Posted by: Jack on February 22, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

This is nothing but cronyism, pure and simple. It is all the Bush Crime Family knows. I have a novel idea, lets have Americans run ALL port operations. Or is that too logical.

Posted by: Pechorin on February 22, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK
this article mentions several steps that are beyond an ordinary CFI review.

So?

Lets review the law.

An investigation is mandatory under 50 USC App. 2170(b) if "in any instance in which an entity controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government seeks to engage in any merger, acquisition, or takeover which could result in control of a person engaged in interstate commerce in the United States that could affect the national security of the United States".

Under 50 USC App. 2170(g), while the investigation itself may be conducted by the President or his designee, when such an investigation has been undertaken, "The President shall immediately transmit to the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives a written report of the President's determination of whether or not to take action [...] including a detailed explanation of the findings made [...] and the factors considered [...]."

Now, either Bush is lying in saying he only found out about it after it bubbled up through channels after it was approved, or no investigation conforming to the requirements of the 50 USC App. 2170 took place.

There may have been steps beyond what is usually done as part of the "review" before it was decided not to conduct an "investigation" as detailed in 50 USC App. 2170. But, even if there were additional extra steps beyond the usual process, there is no evidence that an "investigation" was conducted as required there, but only, even if with extra steps, a "review".

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK
Dear Washington Monthly,

cmdicely is a great guy, but he doesn't have a cat.

I actually have two (Pinky and Brain). Or five if you count the three that our kittens seem to have adopted from the neighborhood. Or six if you also count the neigbors chicken which comes over with the cats, eats the cat food, drinks the cat's water, etc.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

of course, what's most likely is that the CFI determined that the Byrd amendment conditions didn't apply.

I'll also note that the CFR Q&A implies that a finding was given to Congress...

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

"cmdicely is a great guy, but he doesn't have a cat."

"I actually have two (Pinky and Brain)."

OK, I think we should correct the statement regarding this surprising new information'

cmdicely has two cats, but he isn't a great guy.
:P

Posted by: Gray on February 22, 2006 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

I guess what disturbs me about Drum's post is the fact that he so blatantly says "Sure, attack Bush for wahtever reason." He may not care who gets the deal, as he says at the end, but does that make it unimportant? Yes, I appreciate the factual information he provides, and I realize he's not jumping on the anti-Bush bandwagon this time. I just find it disconcerting to see such a blatant willingness to admit that hurting Bush is generally of paramount importance to folks like Drum. Everything else be damned.

Posted by: Mike on February 22, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely (re: cats): I actually have two (Pinky and Brain).

Truly ironic names for cats.

Posted by: alex on February 22, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Just heard on CNN: The UAE invested $8 billion in the Poppy Bush's Carlyle Group last year.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 22, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK
of course, what's most likely is that the CFI determined that the Byrd amendment conditions didn't apply.

That's not "most likely", its true by definition as they clearly decided (and have stated) than an investigation was not necessary.

Of course, all the available information makes it pretty apparent that that determination is unsupportable and a clear dereliction of duty.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13: The UAE invested $8 billion in the Poppy Bush's Carlyle Group last year.

Bingo! Part of the proud Bush family tradition. Prescott would be proud.

Posted by: alex on February 22, 2006 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Some Republican just said on CNN,

"Our mistake here was explaining this process and having this process understood by our critics."

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK
Some Republican just said on CNN,

"Our mistake here was explaining this process and having this process understood by our critics."

An honest Republican!

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Washington Monthly,

I withdraw my objection.

Posted by: cld on February 22, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

It's one thing to have a front-page blog that provokes controversy. It's quite another for a liberal magazine to host a blogger who admits to being just as politically "tone deaf" as President Bush -- who (in effect) ridicules other liberals for seizing on the one opportunity they have had in years to drive a wedge issue into the wingnut base.

It's time to fire Kevin Drum.

Posted by: Libby Sosume on February 22, 2006 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

As much as it pains me to do so, I have to side with Bush on this one. It is a tempest in a teapot. I see little risk of this being a springboard to terroristic activity.

That said, it is emblematic of a bigger issue - foreign control of American natural resources. An undesirable situation.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on February 22, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

No "logical" argument supporting the Dubai deal will work. This is a gut-emotional issue on security and safety. Pure and simple.

If Bush doesn't back off, he and the Republicans will lose the natioanal security high ground this fall. He's a spineless, pompous tyrannt who will back off the Dubia contract as the polls go down. If he doesn't, it will split the Repuublican party.

The only unknown is who Bush will scapegoat and the phony reason to back-off the contract. "The sleep of reason produces monsters". Hence, monster George.

Posted by: jersey-missouri on February 22, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

The port issue by itself won't get the Democrats into the White House, but if they decided to whip up anti-Arab hysteria, in particular anti-Saudi hysteria, I bet they could take that all the way to the White House. The soft underbelly of the Bush national security policy is his refusal to paint all Arabs and all Moslems as enemies and his continued attempts to maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Egypt. If the Democrats outflank him on this, they'll be unstoppable.

Posted by: DBL on February 22, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think the question of whether this is a tempest in a teapot or not misses the point entirely. With any other preseident or party in power, that argument might hold true. But with a president and party that thinks invading and decimating Iraq was necessary for safeguarding our security, that unauthorized wiretaps were necessary to safeguard our security, that torture is necessary to safeguard our security -- this president doesn't get to argue that the port issue is no big deal. And Kevin is smoking some strong stuff if he doesn't think this is a big issue for THIS president. Context is everything.

Posted by: Chris on February 22, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Of course, all the available information makes it pretty apparent that that determination is unsupportable and a clear dereliction of duty."

if you believe this to be so...then lobby Congress to exercise its oversight of the CFI aggressively.

but I don't see how this translates into a substantive attack on the "Bush administration"

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove:

Republicans have a post-9/11 view of the world and Democrats have a pre-9/11 view of the world.

ROTFLMAO! Just because Bush's Brain says it is so doesn't mean it is so. What a funny joke!

Bushies ignore the fact that Dems have been arguing for stronger U.S. port security for years and years and years and years and years. The recent Dubai-Dubya decision just accentuates the issue with exclamation points again.

But let's check Democrats on outsourcing the operational handling of U.S. seaports to foreign entities:

Ms. Boxer said she would support legislation to bar foreign companies from managing American ports. "We have to have American companies running our own ports," she told CBS News. "Our ports are soft targets."
"I don't think we're being overly paranoid," she said.
[...]
Representative Jane Harman of California, ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said of the [UAE] transaction, "I think it's stunning and I'm very disturbed about it."
Ms. Harman, whose district encompasses the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, told CNN, "I would not like Dubai or some other foreign government running those ports."[NYTimes]
[...]
Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Hillary Clinton of New York, both Democrats, said they would offer legislation to ban companies owned or controlled by foreign governments from acquiring U.S. port operations, targeting the $6.8 billion purchase of P&O by Dubai Ports World.
"We wouldn't turn the border patrol or the customs service over to a foreign government, and we can't afford to turn our ports over to one either," Menendez said in a statement. The Senate Banking Committee also plans to hold a hearing on the issue later this month. [Yahoo! News]

I can't wait to see the polling on American opinion on this issue. Want to bet the Democratic position resonates with Americans more than the free market wingnuts of the GOP?

Saying that Repubs are better at national security than Dems is humbuggery.

Now let's go kick some Repub butt and get out and stay out in front of this issue before Repubs take it away from Dems. Now!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 22, 2006 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

When Drum referenced comments from the actual ports, why exactly did he not include NY?

The mayor et. al. are against the move. Is this relevant to him?

Posted by: Joe on February 22, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

Muslim-owned companies are fine, dictator-owned companies are not.

UAE has no elections, no political parties, practices torture, and its monarch-appointed-parliament has only advisory power.

Posted by: Owen on February 22, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK
If you believe this to be so...then lobby Congress to exercise its oversight of the CFI aggressively.

Yeah, well I'd like to convince some other members of the public, too. As one guy lobbying Congress without Abrahamoff-like money to toss around doesn't amount to much.


but I don't see how this translates into a substantive attack on the "Bush administration"

Open your eyes, then. The only sense to lobbying Congress to hold the CFI's feet to the fire is if the CFI -- part of the administration -- is falling down on the job.

I know its hard for you to understand this, but when the President delegates some part of the duty assigned to him in law to subordinates in his administration, he (and, a fortiori, his administration viewed institutional) remains responsible for the manner in which that duty is performed.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 22, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: when the President delegates some part of the duty assigned to him in law to subordinates in his administration, he (and, a fortiori, his administration viewed institutional) remains responsible for the manner in which that duty is performed

I think Harry Truman said it better: The Buck Stops Here.

Harry, Democrat, no sense of personal responsibility, oh right, never mind.

Posted by: alex on February 22, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

"I think the question of whether this is a tempest in a teapot or not misses the point entirely. With any other preseident or party in power, that argument might hold true. But with a president and party that thinks invading and decimating Iraq was necessary for safeguarding our security, that unauthorized wiretaps were necessary to safeguard our security, that torture is necessary to safeguard our security -- this president doesn't get to argue that the port issue is no big deal. And Kevin is smoking some strong stuff if he doesn't think this is a big issue for THIS president. Context is everything."

Posted by: Chris on February 22, 2006 at 8:00 PM

This is the core of why this is such an explosive issue for Bush right now, and why it could have such devastating effects for him despite the great GOP/Bush spin machine. Americans have been asked to accept many sacrifices of their rights, their reputation, and their image as a nation that does not arbitrarily invade countries nor tortures those in its custody. For all of this the reasoning was national security must be preeminent and the deciding consideration before all else. Suddenly for administering major ports, including NYC of all places, a country which has among its recent history the BCCI links, AQ Khan links, and two citizens in the 19 that attacked on 9/11/01 is an acceptable security risk?

No wonder this is resonating so strongly throughout America. The context this is taking place in and considering the source in this as well is what makes this so powerfully devastating. If Bush had not put himself on record as using a veto against legislation to stop this deal he might have been able to spin this away enough to minimize any damage. I do not think that is possible once he took that step though, and it would be most appropriate if his talk without thinking/learning first tendency was what burns him in the end. How this cannot be understood to be his potential Waterloo, especially if the Dems work it properly, is something I find incomprehensible from someone that is supposed to be a "political animal".

I find Drum's dismissal of the security threat potential this represents in both near and long term American security bad enough, but to claim this is basically being fed by xenophobia is a bit more than I can grasp. I live in a port city and the implications of what operating authority means is not lost on me. Too many people are thinking in terms of whether bombs could be smuggled onto containers and that. Stop and think though about the kind of targeting information the underlying required information to administer/operate a port can provide someone, and that does not have to be shared outside of Dubai, well outside of American control. Then there is the increased understanding of maritime shipping flows, where security operations are stronger or weaker, working out who might be the most approachable etc that could be derived from such information, all without leaving Dubai.

Not to mention the reality that if America cannot administer her own ports then that puts the power to really damage American shipping in foreign hands, and if they ever chose to do so it would place America in significant vulnerability, so why take the risk? For that matter, if America can spend so many hundreds of billions "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here", why is the idea of investing government funds in making America once again capable of administering her own ports in the name of internal security not one being pursued instead of this? That is also something "Joe Sixpack" can work out on his own as well.

Politically it is devastating for Bushco because it counters their underlying rationale for all their most controversial acts. If suddenly that argument is not enough in something like this, then Americans are going to be wondering whether it really covers all the other things they are being told to trust Bushco on. As for the optics, this is what frankly amazes me. How could ANYONE working in this politics only driven Administration not have recognized the inherent clash with the primary basis Bushco has operated under since 9/11/01? In some ways I find that the most disturbing, because it speaks to a degree of "well we won reelection, no need to pay attention to things anymore" attitude beyond which I had already believed to be present. This was clearly going to be controversial once the public heard about it, a junior high school student would have seen that. So why didn't ANYONE in the Bush Administration? Even if only to prepare the proper spin to counter any arguments as they have done with so many other issues before this one.

This is not about xenophobia, it is about basic securing of American borders and ports against risk of terrorist attacks. How Kevin could miss that is worrisome, but unfortunately not that surprising. The xenophobia charge is what those defending this deal are claiming motivates those questioning it, so like so many others here I have to wonder why KD is falling victim so soon to GOP spin instead of thinking for himself about it. I do not deny that some of the outrage in America generally has these overtones, but it hasn't been from the left side of the spectrum so much as the right, so it seems very odd to paint the left with the attitude of the right, especially on an issue that can destroy the last remaining leadership value Bush has, terrorism/security.

Incidentally, someone asked what Bushco has to lose now that they were reelected. What they have to lose is having their last two years having to answer to a Dem controlled House and/or Senate instead of the GOP rubber stamp they have had for almost their entire time in office. Given the investigative power of oversight these institutions have when they are being employed and the pulpit to be heard from when they are blocked in their efforts, how could Bush not have a lot to lose if this were to happen? This is why this is such stupid politics for him, if this was after his second midterm that would be one thing, but nine months before it? A degree of stupidity amazing even by the previous standards set by Bushco.

Posted by: Scotian on February 22, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

"This is a'boot diplomacy. This is a'boot freedom of speach. This is a'boot..."

Posted by: aaron on February 22, 2006 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one finding delightful irony in the fact that some critics of this deal are trying to link Dubai and Al-Qaeda in simiilar and disingenous ways that Bush tried to link them to Iraq?

Posted by: Jeff on February 22, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff --

Yes.

Posted by: Jim J on February 22, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff: Am I the only one finding delightful irony in the fact that some critics of this deal are trying to link Dubai and Al-Qaeda in simiilar and disingenous ways that Bush tried to link them to Iraq?

Yes. Aside from the fact that the UAE/terrorism links are better documented (see, for example, the 9/11 commission report), I'll note two points:

1. No one suggested that we let an Iraqi company handle US port operations.

2. No one is suggesting that we invade the UAE.

Next strawman.

Posted by: alex on February 22, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

last time I checked...Congress delegated authority over foreign investment to the FCI; not the executive branch.

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

"A degree of stupidity amazing even by the previous standards set by Bushco."

hmm...I guess stupidity is why they keep getting winning elections.

Seriously, attack Republicans on substantive policy grounds, attack them for cynically using national security to win elections, attack them for Abramoff. But every time I read someone attacking Bush, Rove and co. for political stupidity...I only have to laugh...there must be a special saint protecting fools, drunkards and Bush then...
or, maybe, they just understand politics a hell of a lot better than you...and if you want to keep "misunderestimating" Bush...there go the midterms. gosh, it's got to be so infuriating...to know you're so much smarter, wiser and politically astute...only to get your ass handed to you. grow up, leave the echo chamber and you might actually start winning some elections...goodness knows, I actuall would prefer not to see one party control the presidency and both branches of congress (I'm absolutely sincere in this)...I don't think it's good for the country.

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

One of the things that pisses me off about this deal is that this Republican government keeps telling us that government can't run anything (and then they go and prove only that they can't run anything right.) And they say the way to right this is to privatize everything. Hell, they've got legislation ready to privatize our national forests and our national parks.

But the government of the UAE thinks running our ports can make them a nice profit? Well, then damn, man, why don't we run our own ports and keep those dollars here. Lord knows we need the money.

If it's good enough for a foreign government to make money off of our ports and our shipping and our country why isn't it good enough for us to do it?

Posted by: kidkostar on February 22, 2006 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

"But the government of the UAE thinks running our ports can make them a nice profit? Well, then damn, man, why don't we run our own ports and keep those dollars here. Lord knows we need the money."

kidkostar...scroll up a bit. they don't expect to make money off our ports. the British company they're purchasing manages ports around the world, including some very lucrative ones. the ones in the U.S. are losers and not what they're after.

Posted by: Nathan on February 22, 2006 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Why would Bush threaten a Veto over the UAE ports deal?

Money, of course! Or

This is a smoke screen.

Like any good magician, there is something huge over the horizon and Bush wants to distract your attention.

He may find that the rabbit has left a big turd in his hat.

On with the show.

Posted by: Sideline on February 22, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

"As liberals, we're either serious about engaging with the Muslim world in a sensible, non-hysterical way or we're not. Which is it?"

Supporting a western-style company that happens to be from an Arab country - just part of the holdings of the royal family is hardly engaging the Muslim World...more egocentric western arrogance eh Kevin...once aqain wide of the mark with pointless navel gazing.

If you want to engage a culture, try engaging them on their cultural terms, not yours.

Posted by: pluege on February 22, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

hmm...I guess stupidity is why they keep getting winning elections.

Because bungling stuff like 9/11, Iraq, and Katrina doesn't matter, as long as the Administration wins elections they must be geniuses.

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on February 22, 2006 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan,

You're pretty far out on a limb when you imply that there's a meaningful difference between CFI and the executive.

Here are the people on the Committee:

"CFIUS membership was expanded by Executive Order 12860 to include the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. In February 2003, the Department of Homeland Security was added to CFIUS. This brought the membership of CFIUS to twelve under the chairmanship of the Secretary of Treasury. The other members are the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Commerce, the Attorney General, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Trade Representative, and the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers"

http://www.treasury.gov/offices/international-affairs/exon-florio/

What, does Abu Gonzalez et al suddenly become independent of Bush at CFI meetings?

Posted by: Sean on February 22, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Karl says he set a huge trap for the liberals on this one.

Much like Custer thought he set a huge trap for the Sioux at Little Bighorn...

Posted by: Dustbin Of History on February 22, 2006 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Bush has been waving the Arab boogie man at Americans since
9/12, the Republicans won in 2002 and 2004 doing it and Karl Rove promised to do it again this year.

If there is anti-Arab jingoism going on here, you should point to Bush for starting it instead of joining him in blaming the very Americans he himself inflamed.

Posted by: OtterBill on February 22, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin

First, take back the House and gain some seats in the Senate then maybe talk logically about this.

Posted by: ding7777 on February 22, 2006 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Republicans--selling out America's security." Add the background provided by that excellent post by the usually clueless DSCC and it's a clear winner. Leave Arabs out, leave nuance out. And thank you, Karl, for devoting so much of your staff's time to laying groundwork for the mid-year campaign that you forgot all about reality. Again. Can a War President go below 35% approval? I think America's about to learn!

Posted by: W Action on February 22, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's worst posts ever today. Very Liebermanlike.
Trusting the administration is pretty insane six years in, isn't it? This is no different.

From the AP story in the secret aspecs of the agreement:
"The administration did not require Dubai Ports to keep copies of business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to court orders. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate U.S. government requests. Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries."

And much more they have not revealed. The basic question is that we must take back and nationalize our transportation infrastructure everywhere--including from Singapore, England and China, and ravenous multi-national corporations. Period.

Posted by: Sparko on February 23, 2006 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK
last time I checked...Congress delegated authority over foreign investment to the FCI; not the executive branch.

Then you haven't ever checked, since the provision at issue -- 50 USC App. 2170 -- only refers to the President (or in some places "the President's designee"); the CFIUS was created by the President via executive order prior to the existence of the provision, and made the President's designee for purposes of the provision of law at issue by E.O. 12661 in 1988. And, of course, is part of the Executive Branch, so even if CFIUS had been named the responsible agency in the law -- which it at no point was -- it would still be within the responsibility of the Executive Branch.

Much of that information (particularly about the formation of and delegation of authority to CFIUS) is laid out in the very link from the Treasury that you posted earlier, which suggests that you should read what you link, and actually have checked something at some point in history before claiming that what you made up out of whole cloth was true the last time you checked.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 23, 2006 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin is completely right. The idea that an Arab terrorist who is against his own government is going to join his government in order to attack us seems far-fetched. And even if that is the case, an Arab-American terrorist cell can just as easily penetrate an American-run port company. I've seen how our airline screening works - a authoritarian regime is probably gonna do a better job of screening than us. Bush has screwed up a lot of things.. this is not a battle we need to fight.


Posted by: Andy on February 23, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin is completely right on the merits of the case as is Bush, but it is major political blunder and I am enjoying the uproar amongst the jingo Republican right and don't have much objection to Chuck and co throwing gas on the fire. The right wing reaction seems to be a symptom of a wider rejection of the whole Bush mantra, see the Fukuyama mea culpa in the NYT, and to the extent that this latest controversy du jour, last weeks was the Cheney nonsense, undermines public trust in the Republicans in general and the Bush administration in particular it is good news.

Posted by: John on February 23, 2006 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

As liberals, we're either serious about engaging with the Muslim world in a sensible, non-hysterical way or we're not.

As liberals we have absolutely no engagement with the Muslim world, sensible or otherwise. We are out of power Kevin.

Posted by: x on February 23, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Don't forget that the UAE is also getting access to two US Army ports in TX.

Posted by: Neil' on February 23, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Cheney,

Every time Bush repeats his 'War on Terror' mantra he is waving the Arab boogie man at America.

The 'War on Terror' are his 'Abbra Caddabra' for keeping himself in office. Anti-Arab bigotry is in fact the foundation of his presidency, without it he wouldn't be in power. He is a world class hypocrite.

Isn't it interesting that in the wake of the bombing of the Golden Mosque he is deploring violent reaction and urging bringing the guilty to justice through the use of police? Remember his administration mocking those who would use the police to go after the 9-11 attackers? Contradictory policy? No...hypocricy and dishonesty.

Posted by: OtterBill on February 23, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Cheney,

All you've done is prove what we already know about Bush: he talks out of both sides of his mouth - he talks with a forked-tongue - he wants Americans to hate Araba without having to answer for preaching that hatred.

If you want a good example of Bush's bigotry towards Arabs and Muslims, just consider Guantanamo where hundreds of Arabs and Muslims are incarcerated for one reason and one reason only: they are Arab or Muslim.

Now, that's bigotry.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 23, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Comments here are at 299. I will now crank it over the top.

That is all.

Posted by: cld on February 23, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

A great man once said, "The terrorists only have to be right once, we have to be right 100 percent of the time". I voted for that man because the alternative was so distasteful and potentially harmful to the troops. That said...

Bush doesn't give a rats-ass about border security. Borders, patriotism, and the concept of the "nation-state" are all backwards beliefs to elitists (this knows no party).

I don't give a rats-ass if you call me a xenophobe, an Islamophobe, or a racist. It'll take a very long period of stability and sanity in the Middle East before...what am I saying? I doubt that I'll ever trust any nation which has a Muslim majority again.

A Royal family met with OBL at a terrorist training camp. DUUUH!

Sure, exposing Leftist hypocricy is funny, but it ain't the big story. Bush handed them an issue on a silver platter. I hope he gets skewered.

This led to his latest, and most infamous quote, "We're at war?"

Posted by: The Plumber on February 23, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

How easy it is to sway Open Borders Globalists. Just cry xenophobe and they fold instantly. A truly bipartisan phenomenon.


Posted by: mik on February 23, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

We left justify our ideals to the death. Oh, and right.

Posted by: Col North on February 24, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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