Saturday, February 25, 2006

The heart of Murderers' Row weighs in, with me (Friedman) and against me (sorta; Krugman).

And incidentally, Thomas Friedman pretty effectively sums up my position. If you want to know how I'd have structured my argument were I a better writer with more time and deeper knowledge, read the Friedman column. (He even quotes that same bit of the Sanger piece that I quoted yesterday, which means that I'm as smart as he is.)

Update: Kristof's with me, too.

Another update: I still don't think the reflexive anti-UAE reaction was justified, but the fact that the Coast Guard apparently had concerns about the deal does make me glad that the 45-day review is going to go through after all.

Friday, February 24, 2006

After the Philadelphia City Council votes unanimously to condemn the port deal, an Inquirer reporter decides to make me laugh:

Only one of 15 Council members - Jim Kenney - was able to find the UAE on an unmarked map of the Middle East presented to them by an Inquirer reporter.
'Who cares where it is exactly? If it's in the Middle East, terrorists come from it.'

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Despite the best efforts of a former DHS inspector general ("While the United Arab Emirates is deemed by the Bush administration to be an ally in the war on terrorism, we should all have deep concerns about its links to terrorists."), I remain unconvinced. To quote David Sanger:

But the security of the ports is still the responsibility of Coast Guard and Customs officials. Foreign management of American ports is nothing new, as the role already played by companies from China, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and trading partners in Europe attests.

While critics of the deal have raised the specter that it might open the way to the "infiltration" of American ports by terrorists from the Middle East, the Dubai company would in most cases inherit a work force that is mainly American, with hiring subject to the same regulations as under the current British management.

Among the many problems at American ports, said Stephen E. Flynn, a retired Coast Guard commander who is an expert on port security at the Council on Foreign Relations, "who owns the management contract ranks near the very bottom."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The uproar over this port security thing is catching me a little off-guard. I'd expect this kind of reaction from the isolationist right, but not from Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, and the DNC. I could understand an insistance on close scrutiny - any deal of this magnitude should be vetted pretty carefully, reagardless of the buyer's nationality - but a lot of the outcry on both sides of the aisle is coming from people who consider a deal like this unacceptable regardless of the circumstances.

The DNC's blog, lambasting Bush for allowing the port deal to go through, quotes an article referring to "Dubai Ports World's agreed acquisition of US port operations from P&O, the British port operator," and then posts, perhaps fifty words later,

"This isn't about holding a Middle Eastern company to a different standard, this is about turning over control of six of our nation's major entrances to ANY foreign country."
I guess I must be missing something, because on its face that's just unfathomably silly. Great Britain is still technically a foreign country, isn’t it?

And then one of that blog's commenters expressed himself thusly:
"Repubs calling it racial profiling are insane. You are either with us or against apprently doesn't apply if the language you speak is green. I don't want Arabs managing our ports that transport military supplies. Period."
Granted, syntax suggests pretty strongly that this guy is no leading thinker, but hell, he's enough on the left that he's willing to read and post favorably on the party's official blog, and has just essentially said, 'This has nothing to do with racism. I just don’t trust Arabs.'

I've got an open mind about this one, and if someone can convince me that the anti-UAE stance is appropriate, then so be it. But until they do, I just don't see the problem. Review it thoroughly, and get over it.

But he didn't inhale.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Story of my life.

One student skipped class and then sent the professor an e-mail message asking for copies of her teaching notes. Another did not like her grade, and wrote a petulant message to the professor. Another explained that she was late for a Monday class because she was recovering from drinking too much at a wild weekend party.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Funny headline on "Gretzky unhappy with Canadian men's passion."