Funniest Thing I've Read in Weeks and more…

This has to be the funniest thing I’ve read in months:

The Democratic National Committee criticized [Arizona Senator John “Maverick”] McCain on Monday for siding with President Bush in the contentious port matter saying the Arizona Republican is serving as a rubber stamp for the White House on the issue.

(McCain criticized for backing Bush on ports – 2006-02-27)

That anyone could think John McCain is a rubber stamp for the Bush White House on any issue is absurd. It also displays more of the unsound thinking (or, to be more precise, lack of thought) that has characterized the whole issue of the purchase of terminal operations at six US ports by Dubai Ports World. It’s too bad for McCain though; now the Democrats know that he’s actually a Republican. And he now agrees with the President almost as often as Joe Lieberman.

So, in the credit where it’s due department – I find myself agreeing with John McCain and Michael Moore, who is apparently a VP at DP World. Maybe it’s a different Michael Moore, but it’s still a bit disconcerting.

It is nice to be agreeing with McCain for a change because when he gets on a roll he can hurl the zingers with the best of them:

The Arizona Republican criticized [Senator Hillary] Clinton for urging that all foreign operation of U.S. ports be banned, warning that if she gets her way, “We’ve got a lot of disinvestment to do.”

“Does that mean the British are not allowed?” McCain posited, before reminding that convicted al Qaeda shoe bomber Richard Reid “was British, as you know.”

(NewsMax)

Here’s an interesting tidbit. Why were all these opportunists not concerned in December 2004 when Dubai Ports World “bought the port operations of Jacksonville (Fla.)-based CSX Corp. for $1.15 billion, thus securing facilities in Germany, Hong Kong, and South Korea.”? (The Real Shipping News: Business Week) Apparently it’s a perfectly acceptable security situation for Arabs to buy an American company that runs ports in allied countries where U.S. Navy ships dock and American sailors go on shore leave, but it’s not acceptable for them to buy a company in an allied country to run ports here? Seems an odd double standard.

Mostly what I’ve heard so far comes down to “we’re outsourcing” when in fact it’s the polar opposite of outsourcing and “you can’t trust them” without really saying exactly why trust is even at issue for running cranes, hoists and warehouses. Finally today I heard a bit of reason and something concrete from the other side of the issue. Senator Lindsey Graham was on Sean Hannity’s radio show this afternoon with the first reasoned statement I’ve heard from any politician as to why there is actually cause for concern. The one concrete concern he raised is that the company will have access to Homeland Security documents assessing threats to the ports in question. Bad actors in the company might use those for nefarious purposes, presumably to avoid having to find the security faults themselves. That’s pretty thin stuff. Graham said he was keeping an open mind and might approve of the deal eventually, but wanted to see the 45 day investigation.

It’s actually Graham’s concern with having a thorough investigation that points to the only real issue here. Certainly there is something amiss when a deal that has the potential for security implications receives nothing more than a secretive and cursory review, but that’s not so much a problem with this transaction as with a system that needs to be updated. Maybe Congressional leaders should consider their own advice to the President on the issue of sidestepping the FISA court – if they don’t like the law on security review of foreign investment, they should change it. What they should not do is pass a bill of attainder against this one company.

Keeping Score: As of last week the public supporters of this deal could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, George Bush, Treasury Secretary John Snow and Stephen Moore. Two hands if you counted The Emirates Economist and myself. Sure, we don’t have any influence, but when there are only seven people in the free world brave enough to oppose the mob, you need all the help you can get. The momentum is on our side though, we picked up Bill Frist (maybe) and John McCain over the weekend and don’t appear to have lost any. That’s a better than 20% increase in our numbers. At that rate, everyone in America except Hillary Clinton and Michael Savage will support this deal by the end of May.

Dubai,ports,McCain,Clinton

Not a dime's worth of difference

There’s not a dime’s worth of difference anymore between two American political parties. No, not the Democrats and the Republicans – the Democrats and the Libertarians. There was a time when being a Libertarian (with the big L) meant you scored somewhere in the libertarian (with a small l) corner of a thing called the Nolan quiz. For those not familiar with it, the quiz charts your political view on two axes of freedom – Economic Issues and Personal Issues. Libertarians are people who fundamentally favor freedom over government interference in both areas.

One of the questions on the economic axis is “End government barriers to international free trade – Agree, Disagree or Maybe.” For those Limbaugh listeners in Rio Linda, the libertarian answer is “Agree”, the Republican answer is also “Agree”, the Democratic answer is “Maybe” and the new Libertarian Party answer also seems to be “Maybe”.

Now the question of government barriers to international free trade ought to be even less of a no-brainer for libertarians when the trade involved is the purchase of one foreign company by another foreign company. The idea that the United States government should have any role whatsoever ought to be beyond question in honest Libertarian discourse. But a recent review of the “Libertarian” section of the blogosphere seems to favor the United States Government taking on the role of Economic Policeman not just at home but also as – you got it – Economic Policeman of the World.

Checking in with the national Libertarian Party, “The Party of Principle,” at their homepage, I find a poll that shows 56% voting “No” on the question “Should the federal government allow an Arab company to control the seaports in six American cities?”. (Understandably this poorly worded question could be construed as meaning that 56% of Libertarians don’t think ANYBODY ought to “control” the ports let alone an Arab company, but Libertarians are smarter than that. What’s actually been proposed is not turning over “control” in the sense of governance, but allowing an Arab company to take over a British company’s lease of a large number of berths at the six ports.) It’s an open poll, but the politically slanted question was the closest thing to an official Libertarian Party comment on the issue that I could find.

Earlier I noted that the Democrats’ real motive in the question of allowing Dubai Ports World to purchase operational control of a portion of the terminals at 6 additional US ports was to politically damage the Bush administration. Well, at least some very vocal Libertarians, so pure of heart and motive that they often can’t even bring themselves to vote for the “lesser of two evils”, are now engaging in the same base political gamesmanship in spite of the President doing what their principles call for.

Libertarians,libertarians,liberty,capitalism,free trade

Mohammed T-shirts

Get your Mohammed T-shirts today. The best thing to wear while eating a Danish.

Although hardly news, the Muslims are rioting again. This time, it was after a Danish newspaper published a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad with a bomb shaped turban on his head. Leading Muslims reacted in horror over what they felt was the blasphemous depiction of one of Islam’s most sacred symbols. The Danish newspaper has issued a formal apology, and promised to run no more cartoons depicting bombs…
Anyway, there is not a fine line between freedom of speech and offensive material. The reason freedom of speech exists is because whether or not something is offensive is subjective…
‘Offensive’ changes from person to person, so freedom of speech defends my right to say something that might upset you, my delicate little flower. And burning metaphorical bridges kind of pales next to burning real embassies, you know what I mean?

from the latest newsletter of TShirthell.com – Where all the bad T-shirts go.

MUHAMMAD PLAYING FOOTBALL
Good grief! Would the Prophet Muhammad really fall for the old, “pull the football away” trick?

BOMB TURBAN
He floated like a butterfly and he stung like a bee. But he’s a pretty shaky guy to be wearing a hat made out of high explosives.


PLEASE DON’T KILL ME

(Front) THERE’S A PICTURE OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD ON THE BACK OF MY SHIRT…
(Back) JUST KIDDING, PRAISE ALLAH! (PLEASE DON’T KILL ME)

Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" in Five Minutes and more…

In the 1940s, Look Magazine made a comic strip of Hayek’s classic book ‘The Road to Serfdom’. Hayek went on to win the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974. Some enterprising soul took the comic strip, set it to appropriate music and made a video, which is the inaugural post of my new combination vlog, photoblog and (possibly future) podcast site.

The other video I have up at the moment is “Fight Clubbing”, a cartoon music video parody of the movie Fight Club.

The videos I’m using at the moment are from a videohosting site called Revver. There’s an ad at the end of each one and your click will throw a few cents to me and about twice as much to the producers of the videos. Enjoy these two and I’ll have more up shortly. (There’s a full range of subscription options, including My Yahoo and Google Reader, to let you know when the site is updated.)