Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Any Port in a Storm, from Reason Express

Executive summary: there's nothing a Port Operator can do in the way of mischief which the other parties using that port (shippers, ship operators, Longshoremen...) can't also do. T'ain't that there's not a problem in the ports, it's that requiring port operators to be U.S. companies won't fix that.

So it takes a lot to stoop to the level of stupidity shown by the politicos and shysters killing themselves -- not that there's anything wrong with that! -- to get in front of cameras to denounce the port operation deal.

News flash: Chuck Schumer -- who's a politico and a shyster -- isn't even entitled to have an opinion on this issue.

Economic phrasing: what, in the way of terrorism or mischief, can a port operator do which a shipper or operator can't do? Hint, the answer is: nothing.

The point, friends, isn't that our ports aren't security problems it's that you haven't solved any security problems by blocking this deal and you may very well have created some. For example: the U.S. is the country who abandoned the Shi'a and Kurds the the murderousness of Saddam Hussein after the 1991 Gulf War. The people of the gulf are entitled to think of us, U.S., as untrusworthy.

And now, demonstrating the tone-deafness for which this branch of the Republican party is so justly famous, the White House is announcin that the Prez didn't know until it was a 'done deal.' See:

Herewith some wisdom from emphasis added:

This just in, foreign ships dock in American ports! On one level, the Bush administration is the victim of straight-up hysteria over the sale of some U.S. port functions to a state-run United Arab Emirates company. But it is also political tone-deafness of the first order not to anticipate that hysteria would bubble up given the current seal-the-borders climate.

On the issue of port security, yes there are legitimate anti-terrorism concerns. But port ownership (sic. The issue is port operations, not ownership. The ownership won't change) does not guarantee good or bad security. In fact, the assumption that international airline traffic was somehow more dangerous than domestic flights was a big hole in pre-9/11 airline security. Not even national directives in Washington can guarantee good security procedures at the local level, at each individual port or airport.

Finally, there is the question of money. If the UAE relationship can provide the kind of deep pockets needed to finance security upgrades, then overall port security might be better off. Until that can be demonstrated, however, the howling will continue, particularly from a Congress in full mid-term election mode.

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