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Tilting at Windmills

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February 23, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE REAL PROBLEM....The real problem with our ports has very little to do with who runs the stevedoring operations. Instead, it's this:

The administration's core problem at the ports, most experts agree, is how long it has taken for the federal government to set and enforce new security standards and to provide the technology to look inside millions of containers that flow through them.

Only 4 percent or 5 percent of those containers are inspected. There is virtually no standard for how containers are sealed, or for certifying the identities of thousands of drivers who enter and leave the ports to pick them up. If a nuclear weapon is put inside a container the real fear here "it will probably happen when some truck driver is paid off to take a long lunch, before he even gets near a terminal," said [Stephen Flynn, a retired Coast Guard commander who is an expert on port security at the Council on Foreign Relations].

...."I'm not worried about who is running the New York port," a senior inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency said, insisting he could not be named because the agency's work is considered confidential. "I'm worried about what arrives at the New York port."

If the Dubai issue prompts Congress and the president and the public to start taking port security seriously, at least some good will have come out of this whole mess.

Also worth reading is this Washington Post story about the larger issue of foreign investment in the U.S. The basic problem is that because we've been running trade deficits for so long, countries in Asia and the Middle East have hundreds of billions of dollars that are currently parked primarily in financial instruments. At some point, they're going to want to spend that money, and that means buying hard assets in the United States. We've been buying their oil and their electronic doodads on credit for a long time, and at some point that bill is going to come due. Port operations are just the tip of the iceberg.

Kevin Drum 1:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (128)

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At some point, they're going to want to spend that money,

They can give me a few billion for my house. I'll spend it wisely.

Posted by: craigie on February 23, 2006 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

If the Dubai issue prompts Congress and the president and the public to start taking port security seriously, at least some good will have come out of this whole mess.

No matter how you slice it, what you're asking for is competent governance. And that's just not the core, er, competency of this group of criminals.

We have to wait for another administration. Or a very large explosion. Probably both.

Posted by: craigie on February 23, 2006 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK
The real problem with our ports has very little to do with who runs the stevedoring operations.

In false-dichotomy-land, where any area of concern may only have one "real" problem, this may be true.

In the real world, many areas of concern have more than one real problem.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 23, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

Cmdicely: I didn't really mean to say that there was only one problem with our ports. All I meant is that ownership of the stevedoring operations is pretty far down the list.

However, I do think that basic port security is the biggest of the problems our ports face.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on February 23, 2006 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

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You should see a doctor if you experience shortness of breath, pain in the chest, or pain or swelling in the abdomen. If there are Prostate Cancer symptoms, your doctor may order an x-ray of the chest or abdomen.

Posted by: ss on February 23, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

Port security, in terms of inspection, is probably the most immediate problem. The long-term trend in increasing dependency on state industries of nondemocratic regimes to run port operations is a less immediate, but in the long run potentially very severe strategic threat, and one where an ounce of prevention can probably save a pound of cure. We desperately need to develop and maintain the capacity to effectively run our own ports, relying on our own public and private resources, or, at least, those of nations whose long-term strategic and ideological interests seem to be aligned with ours.

We need to fix security now because the potential harm from the problem is great and immediate. We need to deal with port operations now, or at least soon, because the cost of correcting it gets greater the more the problem progresses. Different kinds of urgency, and certainly the former has greater immediacy. But they are both, IMO, important problems that need addressed.

The thing is, used right, the present row over port operations -- centering on, irrational though they may be, immediate security concerns -- could be a great pivot to bring a real plan to deal with both the operations and the security issues to the fore. I wish some of our Democratic Congresscritters would do that.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 23, 2006 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

Like I said in a previous post. The President continues to do end runs around Congress in defiance of the laws.

What will they come up with this time? Did the War Powers Act cover his ass on this scandal too?

Totally secret all the time. Don't ask, just trust. Look at Iraq. See the freedom they enjoy? Look at New Orleans.. heckuva job huh? How about that budget... man the funds put into renewable energy is simply staggering ain't it?

There are so many things wrong on so many levels I guess it's Kevin's nature to find one glimmer of proof that... well maybe we might be too hard on Bush. We'll give him a pass on the Dubai deal.

I don't think so Kevin. I think he deserves to be held responsible for all of it. Even if it's unfair that this port deal is possibly on the level. I don't care. I want his Presidency to go down in history as the most incompetent ever.

Additionally, this whole deal once again smells like the rich getting richer off our national assets. That's a trick he learned in Arlington, Texas years ago.

I sincerely hope we see him leave office in a disgraceful resignation. The GOP can kiss my Democratic Liberal ass today and from now on. I will not apologize for my belief in the Common Good.

Today in Washington we see the President could not care less about America or it's people.

Posted by: Poncho & Lefty on February 23, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

The other side of the coin is that if hard working, smart, saving-oriented Asians think US companies are worth buying they expect some kinda growth out of your coffee drinking, credit-card fueled, deficit running, neo-con led economy...

Posted by: McA on February 23, 2006 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

"We've been buying their oil and their electronic doodads on credit for a long time, and at some point that bill is going to come due. Port operations are just the tip of the iceberg."

Are you saying that Americans are greedy morons who would willing sell their sovereignty for flat-screen TV and a full tank of gas in the SUV?

No? Well, I am.

Posted by: Tom DC/VA on February 23, 2006 at 2:03 AM | PERMALINK
Are you saying that Americans are greedy morons who would willing sell their sovereignty for flat-screen TV and a full tank of gas in the SUV?

Perhaps, but mostly, its not about willingly selling it. Its more about not even bothering to consider consequences.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 23, 2006 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

KD: If the Dubai issue prompts Congress and the president and the public to start taking port security seriously, at least some good will have come out of this whole mess.

To paraphrase Congresswoman Sue Myrick's (R-NC) opposition to the Dubai deal: Not just, yes, but hell yes! Dems have repeatedly raised the port security issue again and again. A few cites are here and here and here and here and here .

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

Good point, cmdicely.

Posted by: Tom DC/VA on February 23, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

We could get a lot more containers inspected, had we the manpower available Bush has tied up in Excellent Mesopotamian Adventure.

Posted by: john manyjars on February 23, 2006 at 2:40 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

To say that it's "jingoism" to want the nation's ports to be run domestically is just madness. Think about the result of privatizing airport security, and multiply the threat posed by container shipping accordingly. This is hysterical scaremongering? How can you be so completely wrong? These ports should be federally run, and thus fully answerable to the government, for the same reasons that private prisons should be anathema.

Furthermore, it's madness to suggest that specific concerns about the UAE are "jingoism." The involvement of the UAE in 9/11 and with bin Laden should be enough, prima facie, to raise a red flag on security. It's not personal, it's not hysterical, it's just sober common sense. This is based on behavior, not race or nationalism.

As many commenters have pointed out, it's madness to suggest that cutting a deal with one of these authoritarian state governments constitutes "engagement" with the Arab world. That engagement is an extremely difficult problem (witness the hatred of America on the streets of Cairo despite billions of dollars in aid to Egypt.) To suggest that specifically keeping our port management open to foreign ownership is a crucial area in which to pursue this difficult problem of engagement is, well, it's just nutty.

The concern about the issue in general is based on, like, uh, not being insanely irresponsible. A standard which this administration and its party chronically fail to meet (from Saudi ties to Iraq war non-preparation to wanton environmental destruction to SUV subsidies and down the line.)

Posted by: q on February 23, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum >...At some point, they're going to want to spend that money, and that means buying hard assets in the United States..."

I know of a coupla "ranches" down thar Texas way that might be available; lotsa brush been cleared on one of them

$pend Away !

"Terrorists do not need pretexts for their barbarism." - Judge Alvin Hellerstein

Posted by: daCascadian on February 23, 2006 at 3:14 AM | PERMALINK

I think there are some federal lands coming up for sale. Not to mention international paper, pacific lumber, weyerhauser, etc.

In the interest of free trade we could also look into opening up Fannie Mae, the federal reserve bank, and the USPS.

Posted by: toast on February 23, 2006 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

But Bush thinks about how to Defend America (R) every day!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on February 23, 2006 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

Sell 'em some beachfront property. Heh. A novel idea would be to pay down the debt.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 3:31 AM | PERMALINK

Americablog posts another problem.

Not for the eyes of "useful liberals."

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on February 23, 2006 at 3:33 AM | PERMALINK

More importantly, is the speech of foreign governments unfairly restrained by our campaign finance laws? Sure they can hire ex-politicians as lobbyists and bring them on as board members for their corporations, but why can't they give direct contributions or start up 527's.

Posted by: toast on February 23, 2006 at 3:44 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I like this post better, for a number of reasons, but you are really coming across as obsessed with this issue, which doesn't make sense.

If anything, keep up the port security angle, as in this post, but mix some other posts in there so it seems as if other events are happening in the world, and please don't post any more stuff giving the president cover on this issue. Save it for later.

Just the fact Bush is claiming to be unaware of the whole thing, as Rumsfeld is claiming (even though Rums approved the deal), is priceless political theater. Desperate times require desperate measures, and Bush/Rove is desperate right now to put out this fire. I'm not going to bother putting it out, and I'm not going to make a point to fuel it either, except to bring it back to port security.

If the UAE ends up an unfortunate victim, so be it. I don't have any sympathy for them anyway. Or Singapore.

Posted by: Jimm on February 23, 2006 at 4:03 AM | PERMALINK

The more I read on this subject the more I think it is our opportunity to push for better port security. Don't let the specifics of this deal over shadow the bigger issue. Four and 1/2 years after 9/11 why are only 5% of incoming containers inspected? What else can be done to improve port security?


I bet most Americans would be willing to foot the bill to pay for real port security. Don't you? How far would the money for the Alaska bridges to nowhere take us? How about doing without "earmarks" for a year? Wouldn't that be a better use of our money than watching Baltimore go up in smoke? What about abandoning one of the permanent bases is Iraq? That country has gone to total shit and things are getting worse every day. Why throw good money after bad?

The winning Democratic angle in this mess is to push for real improvement of port security. It is an angle that will give Democrats a chance to polish their national and homeland security credentials, and will put distance between themselves and the Republicans appalled at the Bush administration's tone deaf decision.

Ok, Democrats this is a chance to do something right for the country while looking good doing it. Don't blow it.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 23, 2006 at 4:51 AM | PERMALINK

From Kevin's WaPo link:

"The implication of failing to approve this would be to tell the world that investments in the United States from certain parts of the world aren't welcome," Treasury Secretary John W. Snow told reporters yesterday.

Snow is the former CEO of CSX, which sold its port operations to Dubai Port World in 2004. And last year, Dubai International Capital invested $8 billion in a fund from Poppy Bush's Carlyle Group. You think that these are the type of investments that Snow means? LOL!

Also, today is the last day of SuperReturn 2006, the pinnacle of international private equity events held in Germany this year, where global private equity firms like the Carlyle Group are in attendance. The only ME representative "in a powerful speaker line-up of eminent private equity experts" is Faisal Belhoul from Ithmar Capital of Dubai.

Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall there?

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 5:24 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.townhall.com/blogs/soapbox/drewthornley/story/2006/02/14/186384.html

Hey, if the Saud's are so bad, how come its OK for Gore to accept their speaker money to go over there and blast the US?

Posted by: McA on February 23, 2006 at 6:08 AM | PERMALINK

"THE REAL PROBLEM....The real problem with our ports has very little to do with who runs the stevedoring operations. Instead, it's this: The administration's core problem at the ports, most experts agree, is how long it has taken for the federal government to set and enforce new security standards..."

Kevin Drum

Congratulations, with the help of the New York Times, you've stopped digging, you're just about out of the hole. Now put the second sentence above in front of the first sentence and ask yourself if the first sentence still makes policy sense. And you'll be where most of us, whom you called racists for opposing this deal, started.

Let me do it for you: "The administration's core problem at the ports, most experts agree, is how long it has taken for the federal government to set and enforce new security standards..." Now, do you still believe that there's no problem with who runs the stevedoring operations?

Good show. You've chased and caught your wonky tail. Better late than never.

Worst. Poicy. And. Political. Instincts. EVER.

Posted by: Econo Buzz on February 23, 2006 at 6:12 AM | PERMALINK

Also, one would have thought it was bloody obvious, but the fact that our military have a presence in Dubai is utterly irrelevant to whether we should feel safe having them run our domestic ports. Just because at one time or another the military can/must operate out of, say, Uzbekistan, does not mean we want them managing our ports, now, does it?

Posted by: q on February 23, 2006 at 6:19 AM | PERMALINK

No matter how you slice it, what you're asking for is competent governance. And that's just not the core, er, competency of this group of criminals.

Craigie, I'm just glad I was in between sips of coffee when I read that. Otherwise, no telling what shape my laptop screen and keyboard would be in now.

Posted by: RT on February 23, 2006 at 6:33 AM | PERMALINK

"Hey, if the Saud's are so bad, how come its OK for Gore to accept their speaker money to go over there and blast the US?"

Uh, because Gore is a private citizen? Unlike Rummy was when he was shaking Saddam's hand.

What on earth does Gore have to do with American policy towards Saudi Arabia? Moron.

Posted by: Joel on February 23, 2006 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

According to a Bloomberg story in The Standard, Nov. 18, 2005, Dubai International Capital "plans to have two-thirds of its portfolio invested in North America and Europe and a third invested in Asia and the Middle East over the next five years." And they "may invest as much as US$5 billion a year during the next five years." They got a lot of cha-ching from record oil prices it seems. What are they looking for? Companies currently owned by private equity firms. A Dow Jones Newswire says Dubai profits from selling land and real estate. Now what does the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, own? Lots of things in North America and Europe.

Keep your eyes peeled. Kerry has sent a letter to Snow asking for full disclosure to Congress of "the relationship between CFIUS members and DP, and whether Administration officials could have unduly influenced CFIUSs approval process." And he's asked for "all documentation and information relating to contacts between Administration officials, CFIUS members and staff, and DP, including any lobbyists or registered foreign agents working on behalf of DP."

Sic 'em, John. Kerry uncovered Iran-Contra, FYI.

Now will the SCLM investigate potential conflicts of interest in the Dubai-Dubya deal as well if the Repubs thwart a complete review?

I smell a rat and we need some terriers to sniff it out.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 7:08 AM | PERMALINK

On a related comment, cmdicely posted: "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 agree, and that is precisely the rational behind the unitary executive - since the President has the responsibility for whatever the executive branch does, all the officers and employees of the executive branch must follow his directions - there's no room for freelancing, for independent policy pursuits by individual employees no matter how wrong-headed they might think the President to be. That's true for individuals in the State Department, NASA, DHS, EPA, whatever and wherever.

Posted by: DBL on February 23, 2006 at 7:31 AM | PERMALINK

This whole democratic republic thing has people confused. I really don't think a business deal that will not change the %age of US port terminal operations in foreign hands and which will also not change at all the process,efficacy or outcome of the container inspection process requires the collective imprimatur of blogodom.
But I do love to read all the comments and several have said,I think correctly, that if the publicity of this deal engenders more funding for port security,that it will have been beneficial.
The only downside will be the equivalent ire expressed when the funding for such increased container security. (I say let's look at every one!!there could be a nuke in there!! or there could be shoes)will be taken from Medicaid,school lunches or Pell grants.

Posted by: TJM on February 23, 2006 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
Does this mean that proceeds from treasury bonds won't be bailing out our long term debts incurred by Medicare, Social Security, and the eternal war on terror? That we had better be putting our retirement money in private accounts invested in foreign firms? How do you call the US a third world, bankrupt nation in any kinder terms? Sovereignity just does not mean what it used to mean. We might as well be flying the flag of some banana republic on this ship of state.

Posted by: lou on February 23, 2006 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin or Anybody: Would you be comfortable outsourcing airport security to the UAE?

Garrett

Posted by: g on February 23, 2006 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

All your infrastructure are belong to us!

Posted by: CATS on February 23, 2006 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin or Anybody: Would you be comfortable outsourcing airport security to the UAE?

Garrett

Posted by: g on February 23, 2006 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

No. But Air Emirates already flies to New York.
How much worse can it get?

You outsource political advice to Mr. Zogby, no?

Posted by: McA on February 23, 2006 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

g have you not learned anything from the articles,post,comment et al. in the last few days? The UAE is NOT taking over any port security. That is not what this debate is or should be about although I can well understand your confusion.

Posted by: TJM on February 23, 2006 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think it profoundly weird that you would have us play down the legitimate bad points about having ports managed by foreign governments, just because other people are playing up the illegitimate bad points.

Don't be stupid. This should be win/win for Democrats. Play up the importance of strong U.S. governmental control (remember, we're the party that says Big Government isn't always the problem?) over vital U.S. interests like ports, and completely ignore the more jingoistic angle that the right will pursue while shattering its base.

This is like Harriet Miers: the fact that she was objectionable to the Right didn't mean she was competent. And the fact that jingoists don't want brown people running their ports doesn't mean that all arguments against this deal are jingoist arguments.

Get a brain, dude. Your Centrist Chip has taken over.

Posted by: dj moonbat on February 23, 2006 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, imho you should really think about the strategical impact your recent columns have. What do you want for 2009, a repub or a Dem presidency? Cause it's only those two choices, you now. What positive aspect is there in helping a GOP prez making his point? You are exactly following the arguments of the Bush administration on this issue, do you really think that they acted responsibly and reasonably? Will this help the voters in the upcoming elections to get the difference between Dems and GOP? I don't think so.

Posted by: Gray on February 23, 2006 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

"The UAE is NOT taking over any port security."

No. But this issue has some security aspects. I don't buy the argument that one company is as secure as the other, without looking at the specifics. If it wouldn't matter at all who is responsible for port operations, well, so it sure wouldn't make a difference if Iran got into this business. Does anybody really think so?

Posted by: Gray on February 23, 2006 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

have you not learned anything from the articles,post,comment et al. in the last few days? The UAE is NOT taking over any port security. That is not what this debate is or should be about although I can well understand your confusion.

Another false and misleading theme that runs through this debate is the idea that the company which owns the company which MANAGES the port would have nothing to do with security.

Security would be affected in this way--the management company would be staffed and organized in a way dictated by the holding company, in this case, the company based in Dubai. They are, ultimately, the company that will sign the checks. They're going to have a very keen interest in who they hire and why they hire them, in only because management will have to deal with various Unions and sets of employees. There are myriad positions in port management, including their own security people who perform background checks on prospective employees.

I think people would feel a whole lot better if the background checks of prospective employees of the port management company were handled by an independent, outside agency, but I doubt that's the case. What company is going to tolerate being told who they can or cannot hire?

So if the people calling the shots take the logical step of putting their own people in place, who are those people going to be loyal to?

Port management would also decide various issues, such as, which ships load or unload at which particular times. They would also decide which stevedores would do the work.

This company would also be in a position to closely monitor and observe the security inspections conducted by the Coast Guard or the Department of Homeland Security (and/or Customs)

Who are the major players and why did this company insist that it be allowed to operate without any oversight? Why was a 'secret deal' cut between the company and the Administration?

Operations and security go hand in hand, whether anyone cares to really think about the issue or not.

And this race card...are we still trying to play the race card? It doesn't exist. It's being played by people who don't have a leg to stand on.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK


"The UAE is NOT taking over any port security. That is not what this debate is or should be about"

TJM:

Well, I suppose you have a point, but why is DPW pledging to take security precautions per the quote below?

http://tinyurl.com/rsryd

"Ted Bilkey, the company's chief operating officer, said Dubai Ports World 'will fully cooperate in putting into place whatever is necessary to protect the terminals.'"

And this from the same article:

"A senior administration official confirmed that security was a key issue in the DP World deal."

Garrett

Posted by: g on February 23, 2006 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, if the Saud's are so bad, how come its OK for Gore to accept their speaker money to go over there and blast the US?

Given the warm reception Ann Coulter raghead jokes get at Republican meetings, it would be criminal in Vienna to pretend that Republicans aren't in tune with the whole "only good Muslim" thing. The president's remarks, well, a nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat. The prez stays above the fray while the rest of you preach Democrat sell-out and leftist anti-Semitism. Crap. Worse than crap.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 23, 2006 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

There have been lots of explanations in the media of how security works at ports and the port management company does play an extremely important "1st line of defense" role. The coast guard and customs officials rely on port management to do a stand-up job in winnnowing out stuff. Were customs officials, as currently staffed, to inspect all containers the economy would collapse as goods sat dockside for months. So, it's nonsense to say that the management company doesn't play a security role.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on February 23, 2006 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

This just in from the AP:

Under a secretive agreement with the Bush administration, a company in the United Arab Emirates promised to cooperate with U.S. investigations as a condition of its takeover of operations at six major American ports, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The U.S. government chose not to impose other, routine restrictions.

In approving the $6.8 billion purchase, the administration chose not to require state-owned Dubai Ports World to keep copies of its business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to orders by American courts. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate requests by the government.

Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by: shortstop on February 23, 2006 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

I think you are confusing apples and oranges by mixing investiment opportunities with national security. Of course the government should encourage trade and foreign investment in the United States. It just doesn't have to be in our port system. We keep hearing 911 changed everything....well shouldn't everything include an exhaustive review of our pourous borders and taking this threat seriously. The US is the largest market in the world. You think if the US put restrictions on the US port system the rest of the world is going to say I don't want to sell to you anymore? The question here isn't should a Dubai based company be running a port terminal. The question is after 911 should any foreign government owned business be running a US port terminal?

Posted by: aline on February 23, 2006 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

And to add to shortstop's great info:

Bob Dole consults for Dubai company
Deal concerns Sen. Elizabeth Dole

Barbara Barrett, Washington Correspondent
North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole's husband, former Sen. Bob Dole, has been hired by Dubai Ports World to help shepherd the company through a $6.8 billion deal to control terminals at six U.S. ports. Despite her husband's work for Dubai, Elizabeth Dole wrote in a letter Wednesday that she is concerned about turning port operations over to a Middle Eastern company.

"I am deeply concerned that the proposed transfer of seaport operations to a company controlled by the United Arab Emirates government might compromise our ability to effectively control our ports and harbors," Dole wrote in a letter to Sen. John Warner of Virginia, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which she is a member.

The committee is planning to receive a briefing today in Washington on the controversial ports deal, but Dole, a Salisbury, N.C., Republican, will miss it because of a previous engagement in Kannapolis.

Poor Bob Dole. Serve America all your life and when someone waves a dollar under your nose, sell out your country and screw up your wife's ability to raise money for candidates no one's going to vote for...

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

I agree, and that is precisely the rational behind the unitary executive - since the President has the responsibility for whatever the executive branch does, all the officers and employees of the executive branch must follow his directions - there's no room for freelancing, for independent policy pursuits by individual employees no matter how wrong-headed they might think the President to be. That's true for individuals in the State Department, NASA, DHS, EPA, whatever and wherever.
Posted by: DBL


Uh...okay. And skeaking of...freelancing and independent policy pursuits, check out this:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/blumenthal/2006/02/23/cheney_power/
Cheney's coup

A 3-year-old executive order that vastly expanded his powers illuminates how the vice president and his minions led us into war.

By Sidney Blumenthal

On March 25, 2003, President Bush signed Executive Order 13292, a hitherto little known document that grants the greatest expansion of the power of the vice president in American history. The order gives the vice president the same ability to classify intelligence as the president. By controlling classification, the vice president can in effect control intelligence and, through that, foreign policy.

Bush operates on the radical notion of the "unitary executive," that the president has inherent and limitless powers in his role as commander in chief, above the system of checks and balances. By his extraordinary order, he elevated Cheney to his level, an acknowledgment that the vice president was already the de facto executive in national security. Never before has any president diminished and divided his power in this manner. Now the unitary executive inherently includes the unitary vice president.

Posted by: CFShep on February 23, 2006 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

I think this NYT editorial makes some very good points about this issue:

Strangers at the Door

Clark Kent Ervin, the inspector general of the Homeland Security Department from 2003 to 2004

Probably few Americans knew until this week that major ports were operated by a foreign company. Now several members of Congress are introducing bills that would prohibit such ownership. While President Bush has threatened a veto, certainly it is reasonable to reconsider whether such strategic assets should be controlled by any foreign entity.

The debate over the sale should also shed light on the mysterious workings of the Committee on Foreign Investment, an interagency body led by the secretary of the Treasury. Under current rules, the committee can approve deals in which foreign companies take over American properties with national security importance after just a 30-day review, and without the approval of the president.

If the committee does not approve a sale within this period it can or if the acquirer is a foreign government it must take an additional 45 days to conduct an "investigation," after which it has to make a recommendation to the president, who then has 15 days to approve or reject the deal. While the president must inform Congress of his decision, it has no review power. In this instance, even though the acquirer was a foreign government, no investigation was conducted and the president was not informed.

Obviously, the committee has a worrisome amount of power and the process is too rapid. At a minimum, the law should be changed to take away its power to decide matters with such a major bearing on national security on its own. And where a foreign power would be in control, the committee should thoroughly investigate and make a recommendation to the White House. Then, if the president approves the deal, Congress should have the ability to review and reverse it.

If our nation's treaties and trade agreements are important enough to require Congressional approval, then surely ceding control of our most important strategic assets to a foreign power should as well especially in the new age of terrorism.

Posted by: CFShep on February 23, 2006 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Pale rider, good points. I just want to adjust one misleading statement: "the management company would be staffed and organized in a way dictated by the holding company, in this case, the company based in Dubai."

Just to make the facts crystal clear: There are two companies, DP World and PCFC group. DP World is the already existing port operation company, they run the Dubai port sonce decades and it is one of the largest and most activer in the world. They are no newscomers, know their business, and their management will be able to run the aquired P&O business as well, I guess. PCFC is the holding company that's actually behind the merger. They will become the third largest Arab stock corporation through this deal, we are talking about billions here. One information that I couldn't find in the press until now is who's really owning PCFC now. Is it really the "state" UAE, or is it in reality the royal families of the Emirates? OK, for the UAE people that may be more or less the same, but I think it's an very important information that is missing. Think for yourself: Who would you prefer to deal with, Jack Abramoff or Ned Lamont?

Posted by: Gray on February 23, 2006 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

All the revelations that have been pooring in after this post was written make it very clear that the Kevin's judgment on this is not quite correct.

There may be other larger 'real' problems, but the Dubai deal is not as harmless as Kevin suggests. Look at any news on the subject.

Posted by: lib on February 23, 2006 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

AS to this: "The basic problem is that because we've been running trade deficits for so long, countries in Asia and the Middle East have hundreds of billions of dollars that are currently parked primarily in financial instruments."

As Andrew Leonard points out:

"But Americans are already more in debt than ever before, as measured by virtually every indicator. There is no margin for error. And on that slim thread, the weight of the global economy hangs. Which is why central bankers and economists all over the world are watching every monthly release of U.S. housing market data like hawks. The indefatigable American consumer has long been willing to go that extra mile of debt to just keep on buying. But some day the music is going to stop.

There is one silver lining: Should the bubble pop, you won't hear much complaining about the trade deficit anymore. Because all of a sudden, it won't be there for anybody to kick around. "

http://www.salon.com/tech/htww/

Posted by: CFShep on February 23, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

1. Their desire to buy does not obligate us to sell.

2. The 4 % to 5% inspection rate is precisely why it is not only unwise but reckless to turn over operations to any foreign government, least of all the UAE-owned DPW.

Opportunity combined with lax security equals open invitation to terrorists.

3. And Kevin, the relationship between UAE and DPW is closer than you state. At minimum, you have no way to assert knowledge on that.

4. Kevin, you said UAE/Dubai is just a banking center like the Swiss -- and claimed that it's no indictment. To the contrary: The Swiss were guilty of denying Jews who were fleeing the Nazis entry into Switzerland, accepting blood money/gold from the Nazis, and were complicit operationally in several ways. (I'm not equating the crime, but rather the role.)

You need to re-think whether the role of the Swiss, the Caymans, Bermuda, etc., are legitimate at all. And re-think the practice of incorporating US companies in Bermuda & elsewhere. It's illegal at best, treasonous at worst -- no matter what erroneous lawyerly rhetoric you swallow in accepting the practice.

5. Would you have allowed Bulgaria to control 'mere' operations as a nuclear weapons plant, or any other military facility, in say 1954, during the Cold War? After all, they're not Russian --wouldn't want to display prejudice!After all, we're liberal, and need to engage!

So this is neither nativism nor hysteria you see.

6. Control of operations is even more important than than security. Control of operations is precisely where receiving procedures, inventories, and audits occur. It's where the manager, accountant, foreman notices something amiss that security will never otherwise catch.

7. "Port operations are just the tip of the iceberg." Then it's the best place to start. You can't be a superpower when other countries run the ciruclatory system that is your lifeblood as a nation. It's already over. Attempting to maintain a status that's already history will be a losing and extremely costly battle.

8. Read Josh Marshall. Bush has put DPW above the law.

Under the deal, the government asked Dubai Ports to operate American seaports with existing U.S. managers "to the extent possible." It promised to take "all reasonable steps" to assist the Homeland Security Department, and it pledged to continue participating in security programs to stop smuggling and detect illegal shipments of nuclear materials.

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.

So DPW is above the law. It is not bound by US law. And Bush took pledges and promises in place of actual binding legal obligations that would hold DPW accountable to the US or before the law. EVEN when it comes to cooperating with security measures or stopping illegal nuclear materials.

Bush sold the family milk cow for a handful of promises. And we didn't even get the six magic beans -- the Brits got the sale price.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 23, 2006 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

"Of course the government should encourage trade and foreign investment in the United States. It just doesn't have to be in our port system."

And there are lots of other strategically important industries. And there are some people we wouldn't trsut to responsibly lead them. For instance, I'm one of those nutcases who think that Hugo Chavez is actually doing a reasonably good job in Venezuela, but I wouldn't like at all to see him at the helm of Exxon or Chevron.

Posted by: Gray on February 23, 2006 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

"The only downside will be the equivalent ire expressed when the funding for such increased container security. (I say let's look at every one!!there could be a nuke in there!! or there could be shoes)will be taken from Medicaid,school lunches or Pell grants."

Why? Why not a progressive "security tax?" The greatest generation made sacrifices during wartime. Why are cuts for the needy always the only recourse for wingnuts?

Posted by: Joel on February 23, 2006 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Econo Buzz: Key point.

Operations will have MORE control over port security -- as long as there is little or no security measures in place.

Nice handle, btw.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 23, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

"I didn't really mean to say that there was only one problem with our ports. All I meant is that ownership of the stevedoring operations is pretty far down the list."

Hmm, ok, I have to admit that this post is better than the others before, Kevin. But I still don't like your statement about ownership a little bit. It makes a HUGE difference if your making business with Ross Perot, Warren Buffet, or the Mafia, the Medellin Cartell or Jack Abramoff. I really can't understand why this should be so difficult to get. The glossy investor flysheets for Santa Cruz Co. may look even better than those of Berkshire Hathaway, but still both enterprises are lightyears apart in reliability.

So to make a reasonable assessment of the trustworthiness of DP World and its mother company PCFC, we have to know who owns it. OK, check for yourself, google "PCFC Group". 47 hits. 47 hits for a multi-billion dollar enterprise??? And not a single one gives information about the major shareholders? What do you think of it? Well, imho this is suspicious. This simply doesn't look like the company is owned by the usual group of international investors who just believe in the future of international banking center Dubai. It doesn't look like shares are traded publicly at all.

Kevin, I guess you have much better connections to pundits on that slippery field of international investment than we have. Why don't you add some valuable information to the discussion in providing the info who really owns that danf company?

Posted by: Gray on February 23, 2006 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Hard to keep track of your actual position on this, Kevin...but perhaps you can enlighten us all on this: If, in fact, Rumsfield did actually say that he didn't know about this "deal" until it all came out on the news...and if, in fact, he is a member of the committee that had to OKAY the deal...then I'm guessing we can't assume it was a "unanimously approved" deal, correct? And, if it was NOT my understanding is that it gets bumped up to a 45 day examination for further scrutiny...again, a story in which the actual facts are muddied by the MSM and the talking heads putting their biases onto the information rather than trying to genuinely INFORM THE PUBLIC...big surprise!

Posted by: Dancer on February 23, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

From CNN:

> NEWS ALERT Referring to debate over foreign operations of U.S. ports, President Bush says "people don't need to worry about security."

I guess that war on terra is now over.

Hooray!

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Well now, what can all the fuss be about? Why my home mortgage has been bought up by the communist chinese, and my Daughter's new college loan just got snapped up by them, too, and I don't have a problem.

Sure, the companies have nice American names but a little checking shows who really owns my house and Daughter's education.

So what if IBM sold their PC business to communists and they are pushing jobs there as fast as they can?

Why, you don't build a nice big country like the US up with sacrifice and hard work and then not get to cash out - that's unAmerican!

So cash out, baby, and spend your windfall like you just won the powerball lottery!

There will always be offers to refi your home. Hell, I get at least one a day right now!

And you can always declare bankruptcy. Well, or you can always default on your loans. Your kids can always, well, something.

Posted by: Tripp on February 23, 2006 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

Cheney,

Nah, the whole debate just ended.

Bush says we don't need to worry about security anymore.

When will we get to see the 'peace dividend' now that the war on terra is over and now that they have decided they no longer have to protect our ports?

I guess we know why they're not bothering to watch the southern border with Mexico now: we don't need to worry about security.

Write it down--this is now the biggest and most embarrassing gaffe of Bush's presidency:

"people don't need to worry about security."

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Good one, Cheney...but I'm sure they have to be filling up HIS head before he can do any "spoon-feeding"...it's not easy to memorize all those ever changing talking points! Poor guy! I read and listen to lots of things but, amazingly, still HAVE A LIFE away from blogs/news! So hard to keep up!

Posted by: Dancer on February 23, 2006 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

UPDATE...apparently Atrios has my issue covered...just catching up...thought I'd heard the Rumsfield situation correctly...course I can't remember him EVER knowing about anything that's going on for the past five years...I'd be a rich woman if I had a nickel for every time he's said something like, "I hadn't read that", or "I hadn't heard that"...what does this guy DO!!???

Posted by: Dancer on February 23, 2006 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

"You are really behind the curve - the government of Dubai "owns" DWP"
Dick, pls open your eyes, we're not on a hunting trip here!
This statement has to be inacurrate. DP World says on its website that it is owned by PCFC Group. OK, so maybe PCFC Group is owned by the Dubai royal family (what you would prefer to call government. He!). No other shareholders, really? Pls provide the link!

Posted by: Gray on February 23, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

I'd sure like to know why Bush feels he has to have the ability to conduct warrantless wiretaps of US persons when...

"people don't need to worry about security."

Does it seem like the curtain has been pulled back to reveal what all of this is about?

There is no war on terror. It's all just a marketing ploy to make money and ruin the country. Thanks, Republicans--thanks for leading the country to disaster. History will record that the dollar bill is more important than the Bill of Rights, courtesy of Bu$h Incorporated.

Thanks for nothing.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Well, it's right to care about the other aspects of port security. But get off that one-track fallacy, because the other issues (like who runs them) matter too.

Posted by: Neil' on February 23, 2006 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

"people don't need to worry about security."
Looks like Bush doesn't worry about anything anymore - Iraq, OBL, security, polls, me, worry? And you see no difference in the performance of his administration, even though the prez has retreated into his cozy bubble. It's as lousy as it has always been. Must be nice to be prez - no worries, not even the most common one for people like him: Where do I get my next bottle of booze?

Btw, is there an emoticon for puking? Any idea?

Posted by: Gray on February 23, 2006 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Now what would the guy who controls the purse strings for the Department of Homeland Security have to say about this deal?

I mean, if serial thread spammer Cheney wants to start a roll call of who's on which side of this issue, let's start with this guy:

I will fight harder than ever for this legislation [to stop the port deal]," promised Rep. Pete King,[R] chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, "and if it is vetoed I will fight as hard as I can to override it."

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

While ambivalent on this subject, it has been clearly stated that the security of the port will remain unchanged from the previous owners of P&O, the Brtitish. The security also will continue to be over seen by the Port Authority and the Coast Guard. On one hand you have to think "what the hell are we doing letting an Arab country run our ports" on the other hand one could argue "that it could have positive ramifications by demonstrating to the Arab world that we are fully prepared to cooperate with peaceful Arab nations".

Posted by: Jay on February 23, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

So many wars.

War on terra
War on flora
War on fauna
War on terror
War on drugs
War on the middle class

And now back to more misinformation from the Dubai Media Center which is stocked and brimming with PR firms from around the world.
While more Russian mobsters buy up leases in Dubai.

Posted by: stupid git on February 23, 2006 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

The UAE is also getting access to two US Army ports in TX, Beaumont and ? Corpus Christi, that handly heavy equipment for our military - not just commercial stuff! This has not gotten around enough. I'll try to have some links bye and bye.

Posted by: Neil' on February 23, 2006 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Cut 'N Run Jay says:

The security also will continue to be over seen by the Port Authority and the Coast Guard.

Which only looks at 5% of the containers.

But keep trying to support your masters.

And Jay is now known as Cut 'N Run Jay because he is the first Washington Monthly wingnut troll to advocate pulling out of Iraq now that they are starting to blow up mosques.

I guess once they start blowing up ports, Cut 'N Run Jay will advocate that the US abandon its ports and concentrate itself in Kansas.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

A speed boat works as well for shipping nukes around.

Posted by: Matt on February 23, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Corpus Christi - Hmmmm?

Do they get the Armstrong Ranch as well?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 23, 2006 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Still love "free trade" deals? Some of us were warning you that this sort of thing would happen years ago when all those love-ins with free trade theory were being posted here. Feel silly yet?

Posted by: la on February 23, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I remember a quiet afternoon in Metairie when the peace was suddenly pierced by an incredible cacaphony of sirens. Sounded like hundreds of them

My first thought was: "Oh, shit! The fucking port!"

Turned out to be law enforcement from three different jurisdictions, hoping, no doubt, to get on 'Cops' or sumthin, chasing this one disoriented driver from New Orleans.

But I feel my first response was entirely justified. Wanted to just duck 'n' cover.

Posted by: CFShep on February 23, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

OK once again Pale, remember our policy of "standing down when the Iraqi's stand up"? remember? I know if goes back a couple of years and you may have forgotten, most with people with ADD do. But, IMHO the Iraqi's have stood up with an elected government, a growing security and military force and Saddam on trial. I was for this war from the beginning and am proud of those military accomplishments, which would have never happened with someone like you at the helm. Now it's time to let the Iraqi's take care of Iraq. Do you want me to go over that again?

Posted by: Jay on February 23, 2006 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

8. Read Josh Marshall. Bush has put DPW above the law.

Under the deal, the government asked Dubai Ports to operate American seaports with existing U.S. managers "to the extent possible." It promised to take "all reasonable steps" to assist the Homeland Security Department, and it pledged to continue participating in security programs to stop smuggling and detect illegal shipments of nuclear materials.

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.

So DPW is above the law. It is not bound by US law. And Bush took pledges and promises in place of actual binding legal obligations that would hold DPW accountable to the US or before the law. EVEN when it comes to cooperating with security measures or stopping illegal nuclear materials.

Bush sold the family milk cow for a handful of promises. And we didn't even get the six magic beans -- the Brits got the sale price.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on February 23, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Cut 'N Run Jay says:

Do you want me to go over that again?

Yeah--explain how we have to stay the course.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK
The UAE is also getting access to two US Army ports in TX, Beaumont and ? Corpus Christi, that handly heavy equipment for our military - not just commercial stuff! This has not gotten around enough. I'll try to have some links bye and bye.

Huh? Source? Because, if these are defense contracts, and if they require even occasional access to even the most remotely sensitive information (as, I'd imagine, operating a military port would) the question expands to whether the rather more stringent provisions of 50 USC 2170a were violated, as that contains an outright prohibition, not merely a requirement for investigation.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 23, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Wow! Jay is a hoot. Decided to take John Murtha's advice, eh? Watch out! Jean Schmidt will brand you a cut and run coward.

Wingers are so entertaining. Flippity-floppity, doh-dee-doh-doh-doh. LOL!

Gosh, I love the Canadian sense of humor. Toronto Star headline: Bush learned of port sale from papers

ROTF!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13,

Silly fool! Bush can't read the papers and Jay was FOR cutting and running before he was AGAINST cutting and running!

See, it's all consistent if you don't pay attention.

Dur-hey!

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

I want to come back to topic and remind Kevin that even though he is inclined to support the DP World deal, there are some questions beyond the security issues that should be lloked at. For instance the suspiciously streamlined process of approving it. Via atrios, we learn that Gloria Borger from CBS summarized one possible explanation:

"The president and his senior staff couldn't brief Congress because they didn't know. That's because the panel that makes these calls, the Committee on Foreign Investments, is not run by the high-level Cabinet members listed on its Web site. Those guys usually rubber-stamp decisions made by staffers."

Richard Pearle answered:
"I think it's a bit of a joke if we were serious about scrutinizing foreign ownership and foreign control, particularly since 9/11."

Is it really a joke, isn't this administration concerned about the general issue, or is this misleading and,quite to the cotrary, the DP World deal is treated differently than other cases? Read this WaPO headline from january 2005 and make up your mind:
"U.S. May Scrutinize IBM's China Deal
Some See Risk of Industrial Espionage"
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A33869-2005Jan24.html

Posted by: Gray on February 23, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

"Bush learns of port sale in papers"

Yeah, he was reading the liquor ads. Portugal is one of our staunchest allies.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 23, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

PttO,

[hic!]

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Bush can't read the papers...

Exactly, Pale. Why those wascally canucks have a wicked sense of humor!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

"Bush learns of port sale in papers"

Yeah, he was reading the liquor ads.

Ha! He's had similar hilarious escapades involving Shiraz. No one can have a serious conversation with him about Iran without him interrupting, "Wait a minnit. Woont some red wahn taste great right now? Hol' on, lemme call White House room service. These guys are the greatest."

Posted by: shortstop on February 23, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Silly fool! Bush can't read the papers and Jay was FOR cutting and running before he was AGAINST cutting and running!
See, it's all consistent if you don't pay attention."

LOL Pale rider!

Posted by: Gray on February 23, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: ... the larger issue of foreign investment in the U.S. The basic problem is that because we've been running trade deficits for so long, countries in Asia and the Middle East have hundreds of billions of dollars ...

OMG! Kevin has heard about the trade deficit! Yes, Virginia, there really is an elephant in the living room.

In other news: Cold War ends, America wins!

Posted by: alex on February 23, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Here's another little problem. THERE ARE NO AMERICAN PORT OPERATORS. Investors looking for a quick buck in the 1970s gave up the whole notion of running ports in the U.S. and so all the operations are in foreign hands. (Except for a few small private companies that are meaningless.) So, countries like Dubai and Singapore saw an opening and moved in. That's international capitalism for you. And Dubai ports is run by an American with an Australian second in command. I guess if you want to be in port operations you've got to move to another country. How long before this is true with engineering?

Posted by: DC1974 on February 23, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

sombrero, you might want to coalesce with thirdpaul on your accusation. You stated Bush put DPW, above the law yet thirdpaul insists he read about in the paper after the fact. Those statements are diametrically opposed. I do find it interesting though that after years of stating that there is no threat, the left has finally found one in the form of the UAE, one of our most trusted Arab allies. In fact in 1998, the administration trusted the UAE so much we sold them our most sophisticated war plane, the F-16. That administration was Democratic, and considering the left's concern of this issue, what would have prevented the UAE from using our planes against us in ME. Also, the UAE has ships docking at our ports everyday and since the there is no port security currently, according to the left, why haven't the UAE siezed that opportunity?

Posted by: Jay on February 23, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, the COO of P&O is an American.

Posted by: Jay on February 23, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

DC1974: I guess if you want to be in port operations you've got to move to another country. How long before this is true with engineering?

Not long. But don't worry, there's always Dark Matter and the Tooth Fairy (the latter actually having credibility until you loose all your baby teeth).

Posted by: alex on February 23, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

So DC and alex, are you both advocating isolationism in place of building allies? I mean the ally building policy has been the left's position for years and in fact Bush was derided for his cavalier attitude toward that policy, yet now when the opportunity arises to bring in an Arab partner, the left is all up in arms. Is it that the peaceful nation of the UAE poses a threat and the completely unstable and violent nation of Iraq didn't? Just trying to keep the cards on the table straight.

Posted by: Jay on February 23, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Wonder what will happen when they buy the Washington Post and New York Times, ABC, NBC, CNN and Fox???
The stink over the ports will be very small beans at that point. Talk about a risk to national security!! Damm! Camel racing instead of NASCAR racing.

Posted by: dilbert dogbert on February 23, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

"camel racing instead of NASCAR"

Considering that they own some of the biggest thorougbred stables in England, France and the U.S. and are conducting the richest race in the world at Dubai on March 25, including the $6,000,000 feature, I would say that they would be racing a whole lot of thoros rather than camels.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 23, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Jay wrote:
"In fact in 1998, the administration trusted the UAE so much we sold them our most sophisticated war plane, the F-16."

As a retired flyboy, ROTFLMAO!

Jay, wanna get in on a good deal on some DC-3's? Trust memthey are almost the latest in airliner technology.

Posted by: Paul E. Tickle on February 23, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Just heard on C-SPAN...

Q: How many times did CFIUS meet?
A: One official meeting according to Clay Lowery, Asst. Treasury Secretary for International Affairs.

Q: Was Chertoff at the meeting?
A: No.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Cut 'N Run Jay:

"In fact in 1998, the administration trusted the UAE so much we sold them our most sophisticated war plane, the F-16."

I thought that was the P-51 Mustang.

Hopefully, we can hand over a few hundred of them there planes to the Iraqis as we cut and run and leave them to sectarian violence and bloodshed.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Paul, the F-16 still remains one of the most important weapons in the AirForce arsenal despite your ridicule. I do respect your service but are you now mocking the engineering feats of JPL?

Posted by: Jay on February 23, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Paul, the F-16 still remains one of the most important weapons in the AirForce arsenal despite your ridicule. I do respect your service but are you now mocking the engineering feats of JPL?

You better respect his service--he'll probably kick your fat ass up and down the block if you speak rudely to him.

After all, Jay--you're barely brave enough to take on Cindy Sheehan. Try to work up a little more courage before you actually, you know, try to take on a man.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

I defer to you pale. I am sure you know quite a bit about "taking on" men.

Posted by: Jay on February 23, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

I defer to you pale. I am sure you know quite a bit about "taking on" men.

Well, it hasn't been much of a problem kicking your ass today, has it?

You're the one with scabby knees and mouth sores from blowing your Republican Party friends...

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Cut 'N Run Jay: I was for this war from the beginning

Just not so much that he actually volunteered to go fight in it....

and am proud of those military accomplishments,

none of which he contributed to....

Posted by: Stefan on February 23, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

I am 58 years old and if the military would like me to get involved, I am all theirs. Afterall, my son, brother-in-law and uncle all are serving and haved served.
Secondly, three successful elections, an elected representational government, a burgeoning security and military force, and Saddam on trial by his peers are the contributions to Iraq from our military that I am proud of. That is far more constructive contribution to Iraq than any other country, including the entire Arab world, has ever done for them. It's a shame that the minority violent faction of that country continues to try and knock those people back to the stone age.

Posted by: Jay on February 23, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Now our autocrat is pals with their autocrats and the rest of us are just there to be "told" how things are done, after the fact. Since when did being president mean being part of a club of other leaders who self deal at the expense of the citizens of this country. This is no way to run a republic or a democracy, but it textbook autocracy.

Moreover, because it's incompetence on top of it, it's a trainwreck we don't seem to be able to stop.

Posted by: MaryAnne on February 23, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

I am 58 years old and if the military would like me to get involved, I am all theirs. Afterall, my son, brother-in-law and uncle all are serving and haved served.

This is the seed of Jay's desperation--life has passed him by, he's got nothing but a limp dick to hold on to, and better men than he have done something with their lives.

Hence, the pathos displayed on a daily basis right here for the world to see.

I think that about covers it.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Man, oh, man! You should hear the outrage from every C-SPAN call-in who listened to the Senate hearing on the Dubai deal. People are mad as hell. Even the Repub call-ins were pissed off and against the deal.

Port security is a huge issue and forget about the Dubai port deal. Americans don't like it at all.

Jotted down snipped verbatims from call-ins:
Iowa caller cited the story that Bush found out about the deal in papers. This is a Bush disconnect. "Impeach Bush immediately and start fresh. ...We need a fresh start."
"I'm terrified" of the deal. We cannot allow for outside govts. to control or own our ports.
"Bush is kicking the American people in the teeth" with this deal.
San Diego Repub, a retired customs inspector, said , "I am appalled. ...I am ready to change back to the Democrats. This is ridiculous."
Pennsylvania caller -- "We must end this foolishness. ...This is about greed. How dare they think this does not affect national security. And England should not have control." No one but the U.S. should control our ports.
Independent caller -- "Why is it the U.S. cannot have an American company operate our ports?" Where are the American companies? "Are we going to outsource everything?"
Repub caller: Where are the competitive bids? We've got fine companies right here in America. Bechtel, Halliburton. [Named a few more.] "Why didn't they bid?"
Dem caller: "I am appalled by this president. ...Bush is out of control. ...Repubs are about money. Dems need to take charge."
Repub caller -- "While I can appreciate the outreach to Arab countries," no way we can let a foreign government in charge of our ports. "Maybe someone should look into kickbacks to Bush family" due to its ties to Arab nations.
Houston caller -- "I am very opposed" to foreigners running our ports.

The hearing will probably rerun on C-SPAN later tonight and post on c-span.org. Check it out. This is a watershed moment, folks.


Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13,

Thanks for that. Good info. As you can see, while you were out doing something useful, it got a tad bit ugly around here and you provided a welcome change to the scenery.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

My pleasure, Pale. Yeah, it gets ugly sometimes. No worries. Diversions are needed these days. So yuck it up when you can. I mean, it's not like we're lying our asses off, neoconning people, and looting the treasury. : )

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Jay: So DC and alex, are you both advocating isolationism in place of building allies? I mean the ally building policy has been the left's position for years and in fact Bush was derided for his cavalier attitude toward that policy, yet now when the opportunity arises to bring in an Arab partner, the left is all up in arms. Is it that the peaceful nation of the UAE poses a threat and the completely unstable and violent nation of Iraq didn't? Just trying to keep the cards on the table straight.

Liars like you can never keep their cards straight on the table.

It's also nice to know that you think a nation involved in 9/11 is a "peaceful" nation.

Jsut another example of your slimy dishonesty.

BTW, if the UAE is supposed to be treated just the same as everybody else and, as Rice put it, we have to let everybody in the world participate in such things, why not let a Syrian company run the ports, eh?

And if the UAE is supposed to be treated the same, then why did they get a more lax set of contract requirements, in secret no less, from the Bush administration?

And if security is not an issue with such contracts, then why do the contracts of other port managers contain not only port security requirements, but port security requirements that are far more stringent than those being imposed on the UAE?

So, you and Bush say security is not implicated, but the contracts say security is implicated.

And you and Bush say that the UAE shouldn't be held to different standards, but then you approve of Bush and his secret deal that lets the UAE off with lower standards than everybody else.

I say that makes you and Bush liars.

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 23, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

We hear our Commander in Chief say "don't worry about security."

The same one who was at the helm on that fateful day in September, 2001.

The same one who now thinks alternative energy is the coolest thing going (where has he been these past 36 years?...1st Earth Day 1970!).

The same one who thinks privatizing SS is the best thing for us all.

The same one who believes spending 2 trillion dollars (no, you repugnacans, I am not pulling a number out of my hat, the figure is based on VA benefits etc that were/will be incurred by this debacle that opened Pandora's Box) in Iraq is good for us all.

The same one who tells us NCLB is a godsend but forgets to tell us that text book folks make out like bandits (go to construction.com and see if you get my dismay).

The same one who thinks listening into my parents' phone conversations will help us fight the war on terror; they're Quakers who happen to make and receive international phone calls and have been cited for their lifelong commitment to p.e.a.c.e. (which is more than the absence of war).

The same one who has let the most powerful vice-president loose on the world; one who can't even aim strait after one beer!

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 23, 2006 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Jay's hero on national security:

"People don't need to worry about security."

Now we see why Bush's foreign and national security policies have been so f*cked up.

They just aren't anything to worry about!

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 23, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

"He [Bush] does not dwell on the newspaper, but he reads the sports page every day," Mr. Card said with a chuckle.

Posted by: CFShep on February 23, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13,

He's late to the party today--and don't think I didn't notice--but Advocate for God is the best troll smasher out there.

Advocate, I punched you in on time but you need to avoid the boss because he was looking for you. I think he's mad that you weren't here to take issue with this Jay character a little earlier.

No worries, though. Good to see you kicking ass.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 23, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Pale: but Advocate for God is the best troll smasher out there.

I'll drink to that! Here's to you, AFG.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Two hijackers werent put on watch lists before arriving in the United States.

(could these be the two from Dubai?)

http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/07/22/911.report/index.html


Yeah, don't worry about security folks. Let's just trust our president on the Dubais port thing.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 23, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

The C-SPAN video is now online for the curious. Being an open briefing, the press was present and asked questions before C-SPAN opened the phone lines to call-ins. Unfortunately, the vid clip cuts off the best call-ins at the very end.

Dems scored national security points very well.

Senate Armed Services Cmte. Briefing on Dubai Ports World
The Senate Armed Services Cmte. conducts an open briefing into the management of six American ports by Dubai Ports World. Sen. John Warner (R-VA) called the briefing to review national security issues raised by the deal, which transfers control from a British firm to one owned by the United Arab Emirates.
2/23/2006: WASHINGTON, DC: 2 hr. 45 min.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, don't worry about security folks. Let's just trust our president on the Dubais port thing.

The chickens have come home to roost for Chicken George. It's ironic that Bush spent the past five years scaring people to death by saying "trust me: be very afraid" and is now flip-flopping by saying "trust me: there's no need to be afraid."

Bush forgot, however, that fear is a far more powerful emotion than almost any other, and that it crowds out every other instinct, including trust. Instead of conditioning America to trust him he's only conditioned it to be afraid. So now, when he asks for trust, we have none to give.

Posted by: Stefan on February 23, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Pale: Good to see you kicking ass.

Apollo 13: I'll drink to that! Here's to you, AFG.

You give yourselves too little credit.

I'm just more cantankerous.

If you see my boss, tell him I'm on my break.

Thanks!

Posted by: Advocate for God on February 23, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Just in: Bush might accept a delay on the Dubai port deal.

We've seen this move before. No 9/11 Commission and then... No way Condi will testify and then...

Turn out the lights....the party's over.

BTW, that doesn't stop fighting, sports fans. Mid-terms are a-coming.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

...mean stop fighting...

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

The UAE, our proud partner in the war on terror...

...In July 2001, just weeks prior to 911, the French media reported that Osama Bin Laden was in hospital at the American Hospital in Dubai, where he was receiving kidney treatment.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/RIC111B.html

Fast forward to 2/06

... "What's wrong with a Mid-East company running our ports." (GWB)

The real problem is that the Bush Family is tight with Mid-East oil interests. Carlye Group.

The real problem is that the Iraq war is a cash cow for corporate buddies of Bush/Cheney.

Why so secret George? Do you really expect me to believe that you had NO IDEA that Dubais was slated to score a ~$7 billion port deal?

Tell me again why the Bin Ladens were flown out of the US after 9-11 when NO ONE else received such treatment?

Tell me again why FEMA was shoved into the DHS, rendering it useless in the face of Katrina?

Yup, don't worry about security folks.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 23, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

The F-16 is has some very good capabilities in certain roles, but even in 1998 it was by no means our "most sophisticated warplane."

In performance and capability, F-16 is most similar to the Navy F-18. In direct comparisons of various areas of flight performance, weapons capabilities, etc, the F-16 wins some, the F-18 wins others. Against similar production run F-15s and F-14s, the F-14s are generally regarded as the better plane.

Of course, the USAF should be the final arbitrator regarding what plane is their "most sophisticated fighter." In that case, in April of 1997 the Air Force stated that the F-22 was their "most sophisticated fighter." Hard to believe that by 2005 the F-16 would overtake the F-22.

Posted by: Paul E. Tickle on February 23, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK
Tell me again why FEMA was shoved into the DHS, rendering it useless in the face of Katrina?

That's not fair. The entire Bush executive branch is useless in the face of real crisis. FEMA would have been useless in this administration no matter what other executive organization it was or was not made part of.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 23, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

OT: What's up with CNN? They were headlining what Allawi describes as a stage II civil war as Bush's Iraq Crisis.

Repubs are so dang good at national insecurity. Someone needs to apologize to Murtha. His redeployment plan makes good sense right about now. Gen. William E. Odom, too. We are so dang lucky that AQ hasn't hit us hard at home again with the insane clown posse performing their high-wire act in the WH. If the Dubai port deal goes through, God help us.


cmdicely,
Read on a thread I hadn't caught up on that the U.S. army ports are in Texas, FYI.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on February 23, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Well, here are the links I promised about the Dubai outfit getting control over some US *military* port operations.
One link from a "liberal" outfit that's opposed, another link from a
"conservative" writer who's opposed:

http://thinkprogress.org/2006/02/20/uae-military-equipment/
http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/gaffney/060220

Posted by: Neil' on February 23, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Humbug! Tilting at windmills is what all this worry about port security is. Who invented this doofus idea that everyone has glommed onto, that Osama is about to secretly ship a nuke into one of our ports? The Russkis could have done that back in the cold war days but no one ever hatched that fantasy so we didnt worry about it. I wouldnt be surprised if the idea started with a rejected movie script and go out of hand.

Look, if Iran, with its trained scientists, its connections in the worldwide black weapons markets and its money cant build a bomb, how could a ragtag crew of desert brigands? Iran needs 5000 centrifuges to enrich uranium to get the quantity needed for one bomb. Where is Osama going to get 5000 centrifuges?

I loved that Live Science chart you put us on, Kevin. Chances are 1 in 7 of dying of cancer, 1 in 100 of dying in a car crash, 1 in 245 of dying from a fall and 1 in 88,000 of dying in a terrorist attack. So which one obsesses us? Go figure.

Posted by: James of DC on February 23, 2006 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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