Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bush and Bode: American idiots

I have wanted to chime in on this sale of London-based P&O to Dubai Ports World, based in and operated by the United Arab Emirates. However, my main problem is why are we so outraged over this now? Yes, I realize we would be giving control of many key U.S. ports to a country with alleged ties to terrorism. That could be a disaster.

However, I am curious to find out why we weren't up in arms that a foreign company was responsible for securing our ports in the first place. Let me repeat...P&O, the company being bought by DP World, is based in London...England...in the United Kingdom! To me, it is insane that we have a foreign country looking over U.S. ports. Shouldn't this fact have been a bigger issue BEFORE DP World even got involved?

Forgive me if I missed it, but I think there should have been a mainstream media story years ago about what would happen if the ports operated by a company based in a nation that is an ally were to be sold to a nation that quite possibly funded the 9/11 hijackers?

Anyway, that's not the point of this post. My point is a slip of the tongue by Pres. George W. Bush. In this AP story, Bush says this about the ports being sold to DP World:
"The more people learn about the transaction that has been scrutinized and approved by MY government," Bush said, "the more they'll be comforted that our ports will be secure."

My government? The last time I checked, the United States of America is still supposed to be a democracy. In a democracy, it is supposed to be "our government."

Obviously, Bush meant to say "my administration." But what came out was what Bush really feels. He thinks he is beyond reproach...that because he is president, he can't be questioned or challenged. This is HIS government. It's not ours anymore.

I don't know...maybe I'm being too cynical, but between the Bush administration and some of these U.S. "Olympians" who think the point of the Games is to do a whole bunch of commercials before they start instead of actually representing--proudly and wholeheartedly--their country during them (yeah, I'm looking at you, Bode "Can Barely Finish a Race But Have a Ton of Cash from Nike" Miller), I'm just down on this country right now.

I mean, I'm not looking for everybody on Team USA to win a medal, but don't sound stupid and don't act like you don't care when you are wearing the uniform with those three letters on it. Just do your best.

But instead we get a skater (Johnny Weir) who failed because he felt "black inside," a snowboarder (Lindsey Jacobellis) who is sent to the Olympics to represent the United States but thinks she is there to have fun (and do a "showboat" move that costs Team USA a gold medal), and the infamous Mr. Miller, a fraud on skis I have started to call the James Frey of his sport.

Yeah...can you tell I have wanted to write somthing on my displeasure with the attitudes of many of the athletes on Team USA, too. Hadn't gotten around to it until now, though.

But Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski, a very good writer I have just recently discovered who is covering the Torino Winter Games, had this take on Mr. Miller:
“I was super aggressive,” he said. Bode really likes using that word “super” as an adjective, doesn’t he? You know, I’m going to say that if he really had been SUPER aggressive, he might have, you know, inspected the course beforehand like other skiers did. Bode did not. He rarely does. Instead, Bode tumbled out of his trailer with barely an hour to go before the race, like some college kid rushing to his 8 a.m. class.

If that’s super aggressive, I can only imagine what plain old normal aggressive might have been. Sleeping through the first half of his race?

I encourage you to read Poz's work on the KC Star site, especially the recent Olympic columns. Good stuff.

OK...let's see. Criticized the sale of the U.S. ports. Check. Mocked Bush. Check. Called out the overhyped U.S. Olympians. Check. Plugged my new favorite sports columnist, Joe Posnanski. Check.

My work is done for today.

4 Comments:

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Christian said...

Wow, lots of info in that post! I think the reason for the criticism for the Dubai port takeover is that the company is owned and regulated by the UAE. It is not a private company as was the London based P&O. So essentially you have an actual country (which is not a democracy mind you) in charge of one of the largest ports in the US.

 
At 9:52 AM, Blogger BK said...

Exactly. But I would like to know why we ever thought it was a good idea to have our ports run by a company that--despite whatever regulations the U.S. government imposes on it to do the job--really doesn't have to answer to the U.S. government.

I mean, it's one thing to have foreign-based entities owning large chunks of real estate in New York or Los Angeles. But to have a foreign-based company controlling something as vital to U.S. security as many of the nation's largest ports seems absurd.

And my argument has nothing to do with prejudice regarding the UAE. When this matter starting coming to the surface a few weeks ago, I was more shocked at the fact that, in essence, our ports were in foreign hands to begin with.

My other problem with the situtation--and I see New Jersey, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Baltimore and Philadelphia are taking action on it--is I don't understand why the cities or states where these ports are located don't have a say in this matter.

How is the Bush administration allowed to just approve a sale of major U.S. ports to a nation known to have deep ties to terrorism without first running it by the local or state governments of the cities impacted by the transaction?

That just doesn't make any sense to me.

This goes back to Bush's whole "I'm President and I can do whatever I want" mentality.

If this sale goes through, I would like to see something happen that would totally embarrass Pres. Bush...like maybe a photo surfacing of Osama bin Laden and his UAE buddies on the deck of a ship docked at Port Newark, waving to the camera with the New York City skyline in the background...maybe holding a sign reading: "Hey, Dubya...I'm right here. Ha-ha!"

 
At 6:33 PM, Blogger mightymerk said...

BK,

Come on man you are a reporter. I know that this is more of a rant than a front page editorial, but still.

#1 The "security" of the ports is not being sold.

#2 There are ports all over this Country that are foreign owned, including owned by Government owned corporations. This is nothing new.

My only concern would be if the appropriate background and security checks were not done.

This has nothing to do with Bush's supposed philosophy "I'm the President and I can do whatever I want" even if you think that is really his mentality. As we learn he did not even know about the deal, nor does he or any president know of each and every transaction.

What are all of those good things we learn from progressives? Profiling is bad, right? Or is turnabout once again fair in progressive circles?

Its Politics as usual with regards to this issue though. Congressional elections are coming and nobody can 'appear' weak no national security.

BTW, part of the Politics as Usual camp, also include those like Bush that talk big on national security, but yet continue to do absolutely nothing about our wide open borders. But as far as this issue goes I can't see fault in this, unless we are talking about totally changing our domestic/foreign policy with regards to foreign countries, including those that are government owned, managing our ports.

 
At 7:43 PM, Blogger BK said...

Merk,

The problem I am having with this is that I am hearing and reading conflicting reports about what the port operators are responsible for.

Some sources say port operators are not responsible for securing the ports. However, I have seen other reports that say once cargo is on the dock at the ports, the security for those shipments is the responsibility of the port operators. Sure, Customs and the Coast Guard can inspect any suspicious container on the docks, but the security for the overall facility is maintained by the operator.

While that may not seem all that dangerous, I am more disturbed by what the port operators are privy to. The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 "requires vessels and port facilities to conduct vulnerability assessments and develop security plans including passenger, vehicle and baggage screening procedures; security patrols; establishing restricted areas; personnel identification procedures; access control measures; and/or installation of surveillance equipment (Source: UPI)."

However, that same act allows port operators to have access to the Coast Guard's plans for dealing with a terrorist incident...and that's what concerns me the most.

Just today, it became known that the Coast Guard had concerns about security issues regarding the sale of the ports to DP World. Supposedly, those issues were addressed by the Bush administration to the point the Coast Guard was satisfied. But the fact the Coast Guard had those concerns when it is responsible for securing the ports is somewhat troubling.

I know the UAE has been a U.S. ally in the war on terror, but there is widely reported evidence the UAE has had relatively strong ties with terrorists in the past. I am just not comfortable with part of our defense against terrorism being compromised in that way.

Of course, as I type that, I realize the United States used to be friendly with Osama bin Laden so it might be hypocritical to say a country can't change its tune. However, in a post-9/11 world, putting a country like the UAE in charge of major U.S. ports seems to make little sense when you consider that country's past ties to terrorism.

Again, though, I think it is wrong in these times to have the ports operated by any foreign entity. It just seems kind of perplexing to have all these U.S.-sanctioned entities (i.e., Coast Guard, Customs, etc.) oversee the security of incoming shipments...just so they can be unloaded onto what is essentially foreign-owned property before being distributed within the United States. In my mind, it just seems like an odd workflow.

I mean, it's like the Coast Guard checking out a ship and then telling it to go to Canada or Mexico...and then trucking the shipments into the United
States from there.

OK...I am kidding about that. I'm just using exaggeration to kind of explain my point of view on that part of the issue.

I'm all for free enterprise, but I just wonder if this isn't a time for the United States to take another look at its policy regarding port ownership.

An even though Bush supposedly didn't know major U.S. ports were being sold to a UAE-run company, his reaction, to me, still smacked of the "I'll do whatever I want" attitude, which kind of reminds me of Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Hence, I will from this point on refer to Bush as President Shake.

A U.S. president is supposed to listen to the people. And whether or not it is justified, a lot of his constituents do not seem to agree this ports deal with DP World should go through...or at least many want to know their concerns have been addressed.

Knowing there is a firestorm brewing on this subject, though, Bush/Pres. Shake comes out and just says that the sale will go through no matter what because his administration approved it...instead of "sitting down" with the American people through a televised town hall or press conference to thoroughly explain everything.

Is that too much to ask?

 

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