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

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