Monday, May 01, 2006

 

Feliz Primero de Mayo

It appears that everything went very well today, with marches across the country:

THOUSANDS TURN OUT FOR LIVELY IMMIGRATION MARCH IN SF

PEACEFUL IMMIGRATION MARCH IN SANTA ROSA

Immigration March In Sioux Falls

The best part about these marches is that they were PEACEFUL and RESPECTFUL. I was downtown Chicago today checking out the march and was very impressed with how simple and powerful the rally was. The best indication that I can find that all of the marches went off very well is that none of the anti-immigration blogger community have been able to post much in the way of "incendiary" activity, such as flag burning or other forms of American flag desicration. In fact, all Michelle Malkin could come up with is some idiots at Harvard protesting like morons. Like that's a fair assessment.

People genuinely want to live here for the opportunity to grow. They want a piece of our freedom and dream. How can anyone fault them for that? The issue here is that the US does not have a system to allow people to become documented in a fair, equitable, and consistent manner. Instead, it the system is vague, complex, and very subjective, oftentimes depending on the mood of whomever you are meeting to get a visa. And there have been plenty of examples of prominent scientists and musicians who are not allowed into the country because they are "suspected terrorists" or just because the system doesn't have any common sense built into it.

What are some of the issues that need to be dealt with in concert with this?
- Stricter measures to make sure that immigrants are not just coming here to go on Medicare or welfare. Unfortunately, there are a number of immigrants who come here to do just that.
- Consistent punishment and deportation of those individuals who commit crimes (i.e. felonies or worse)

Whether the Right likes it or not, America is a melting pot of different races and cultures. There simply is no strict definition of what it means to be American. That is what makes America so unique. It is not our race, religion or language that makes us American, it is our ideals of freedom and individual liberty. That is why we're strong. That is why we grow, and that is why we are the lone superpower on Earth. None of it has been by accident, and none of it could have been done without a healthy dose of immigration throughout our history.

Prost!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

 

Will Malkin show this side of the Immigration Story?

One of the ironies I've noticed from many in the blogger community, especially Michelle Malkin, is how they continually bash mainstream media for being biased against the Right and unfaithful to their journalistic duties, yet these same bloggers do just that same thing.

I saw this on Drudge today and wondered aloud as to whether or not there would be a chance that Malkin and other anti-immigration bloggers would tell THIS side of the story. It is what I think is the "real" story behind the story, in that the Buchanan Right continually uses National Security Scare Tactics in support of their anti-immigration stance. This is the story of bigotry against the Latino community. It is the untold story that I firmly believe is what lies behind the Right's efforts to tighten the borders. Now I'm not paintbrushing the right as bigots, but when you see quotes like this from the Chicago Tribune on 4/26, it makes you wonder what the real issue is:

"It's one thing to wave a Mexican flag at a restaurant or at your house. It's another thing when you bring it into the public discourse," said Joseph Turner, executive director of Save Our State, a California nonprofit group that opposes illegal immigration. "When you come to our country, you'd better adopt our values, our culture, our customs and our language. Period."

Sadly, we are not likely to see bloggers such as Malkin address this issue. But I will, for sure.

My question, which I will address more in upcoming posts is this: exactly what are the American "values, culture, and customs" that should be adopted? Those of whites in the Northeast? Blacks in the Midwest? Whites in the South? The point is, our cultures, values and customs vary depending on where you are. And what makes America great is that we all live in the same country and stand united as one. So what does it matter if immigrants come here and maintain their own values, cultures, and customs? Isn't that what our Forefathers did?

Hmmm.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

 

Michelle Malkin - Another "foreigner-fearing" Politician

I'm from a small town in Wisconsin and would not expect this kind of closed-minded post to be uncommon in that area (no jab at my hometown.) But seriously, when you read this latest post by Michelle Malkin you just have to wonder what is going through her mind. The "fear" of the "foreigners" is something out of a bad Cold War movie.


The Star-Spangled Banner meets reconquista...and has been renamed "Nuestro Himno" (via AP):

Mexican pop diva Gloria Trevi, Puerto Rican reggaeton star Don Omar and other Latino artists have recorded a bilingual version of the U.S. national anthem in a show of support for migrants in the United States.

The Latino-oriented record label Urban Box Office (UBO) said Friday it would put the new Spanish-English version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" on the market Monday to coincide with the U.S. Senate's debate on immigration legislation.

Congressional debate over immigration bills proposing everything from toughened border security to the legalization of undocumented migrants in America have triggered huge demonstrations across the United States in recent weeks.

"We decided to re-record 'The Star-Spangled Banner' to show our solidarity with the undocumented migrants," said UBO President Adam Kidron. "Today we are Americans and 'The-Star Spangled Banner' represents everything to us."

The recording, dubbed "Nuestro Himno" or "Our Anthem," is set to "urban Latino rhythms" but respects the song's traditional structure, UBO said in a news release. Each artist decided whether to sing in Spanish or English.

The "Nuestro Himno" record will be sold for $10, with a portion going to Washington-based National Capital Immigration Coalition, UBO said.

Who's assimilating whom?

(Hat tip: Jake)

Here's the UBO website.


***

Here's the White House website in Spanish.

And a flashback...Que pasa, Senor Bush?


Oh No!!! The White House translates their site in Spanish!! America is being taken over by Mexico!!!

Looks like they have a website for kids too!! Better shut this baby down before these "youngsters" start to think they know something!!

Michelle Malkin is a closed-minded bigot using national security fear tactics for advancing policies that would do nothing more than make American into what Europe is today: slow growing, fearful of change, fearful of immigrants, and hence doomed to dioe a slow death.

Thanks, Michelle.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

 

Climate Change: Bush's Unconscionable Policy (or lack thereof)

Two pieces over the last two weeks confirm what the entire planet - save the President and his staff - know about human-induced global warming: it's happening, and getting worse. Yet Bush adopted a policy from Day 1 in the office to brush aside all talk of global warming as being speculative at best. The last straw is the Administration's efforts to muzzel the science community, particularly James Hansen of NASA, the leading climatological expert in the world. The 60 minutes piece the other night was eye-opening:

"In my more than three decades in the government I've never witnessed such restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public," says Hansen.

Restrictions like this e-mail Hansen's institute received from NASA in 2004. "… there is a new review process … ," the e-mail read. "The White House (is) now reviewing all climate related press releases," it continued.

Worse yet is the guy in charge of "reviewing" all climate-related data:

Piltz says: "It comes back with a large number of edits, handwritten on the hard copy by the chief-of-staff of the Council on Environmental Quality."

Asked who the chief of staff is, Piltz says, "Phil Cooney."

Piltz says Cooney is not a scientist. "He's a lawyer. He was a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, before going into the White House," he says.

.....Phil Cooney, the editor at the Council on Environmental Quality didn’t return 60 Minutes' calls. In June, he left the White House and went to work for Exxon Mobil.


Next time I hear any Republican bitch and moan about how the left tries to portray Bush as being part of "Big Oil" I'll be sure to scare up this as a shing example of the fact he is.

Another news story came out today...more anecdotal evidence that the world is warming fast and we must do somthing.

Argentina's Floating Icebergs Worry Farmers Who Fear Flooding

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- The Argentina coast guard was astonished to find icebergs floating along the Atlantic coast.

``It's the first time icebergs of such size reached Buenos Aires,'' Miguel Angel Reyes, 44, chief of maritime traffic at the coast guard, said in an interview. ``The police escorted the icebergs until they were out of the danger zone.''

For scientists, the icebergs' migration underscored how global warming is disrupting weather patterns and threatening agriculture. The coast guard rerouted ships after the pair of icebergs measuring 250 meters (820 feet) long and 30 meters high broke off from the melting Antarctic ice cap in early January and drifted 4,400 kilometers (2,700 miles) north. A month later, two more icebergs headed up the coast.

``The higher temperatures are causing this,'' said Juan Carlos Leiva, 56, a geophysicist at the Argentine Institute of Snow and Glaciers in Mendoza, in the foothills of the Andes. ``The situation has gotten worse.''

The implications are worrisome for farming-dependent countries such as Argentina, the world's third-largest exporter of beef, corn and soybeans. Rising temperatures prompt flooding in some areas and dry up rivers in others, said Vicente Barros, a climatology professor at the University of Buenos Aires.

Warmer weather is evaporating water from rivers in northern Argentina at a faster pace than in previous years, curbing hydroelectric power and cutting the water supply to crops, Barros said. It also is bringing more rain to the central provinces of Cordoba, Santa Fe and Buenos Aires, flooding fields of soybeans, wheat and corn, he said.

Flooded Highways

Wire fences jut out of some lakes in the area, showing that the land had been arable before it was engulfed in recent years. Flooding has left some of Argentina's main roadways under water, including Route 7, a 1,000-kilometer highway that runs from the country's western border with Chile to the Atlantic Ocean in the east.

``The flooding has forced us to redesign routes,'' said Carlos Avellaneda, 49, a manager in Empresa de Transporte Don Pedro SRL in Buenos Aires, which has more than 500 cargo trucks. ``We thought it would be for a short period of time, but it has been almost six years.''

Global warming is a phenomenon some scientists say is caused by human-generated emission of greenhouse gases that gather in the atmosphere and prevent heat from escaping.

Rising Temperatures

Sea- and land-surface temperatures from January to November last year averaged 0.48 degree Celsius (0.9 degree Fahrenheit) more than the global mean temperature in the three decades from 1961 to 1990, according to the Exeter, England-based Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research.

The Geneva-based Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts that global temperatures will rise as much as 5.8 degrees Celsius by 2100.

Antonio Pirillo, a 68-year-old dairy farmer, said stretches of Route 7 are under about 2 ½ feet of water near his farm in Villa Saboya, a town on the pampas of central Argentina, after heavy rains caused nearby Lake La Picasa to overflow years ago, flooding 40,000 hectares of land.

Pirillo said his land was ruined even though town officials pumped off the water, because the salt left behind burned the grass's roots so it wouldn't grow. He said he had to rent other pasture to graze his 120 cows for three years until he restored enough grass on his land to feed them.

`Wasted Land'

``Land underwater is wasted land and that's very sad,'' Pirillo said. ``Farming is the engine that drives the economy in this country, but farmland is not taken care of and protected.''

Agriculture generates 12 percent of Argentina's $152 billion gross domestic product. In the U.S., agriculture makes up just 1.2 percent of GDP.

``Increased rains, stronger storms and higher levels of rivers and seas are affecting the soil and the harvests that these commodity-export economies are based on,'' said Juan Carlos Villalonga, 45, director in Argentina of the ecological group Greenpeace.

U.S. President George W. Bush's administration is among governments that question how much humans are contributing to global warming. Argentine President Nestor Kirchner's government, in a Health Ministry statement Feb. 14, said human- generated emission of greenhouse gases is leading to global warming. He urged companies to use cleaner fuels.

Rising temperatures are melting glaciers in the south of Argentina, one of the country's biggest tourist attractions. Forty-eight of the 50 glaciers in Patagonia are receding, said Barros, the climatology professor.

Fishing Boom

Warmer weather also caused a surge in thunderstorms and downpours in Argentina. In the 20-year period from 1980 to 2000, ``heavy rains'' increased sevenfold from the period of 1950 to 1970, Barros said.

When those rains caused Lake La Picasa to overflow in 1999, Carlos Bertolino's soybean fields were ruined, costing him about $150,000. About 130 hectares of his 220-hectare land was covered with water. People came to fish where he used to harvest soy crops.

While the water receded, salt ruined the soil, as it did to Pirillo's land, prompting Bertolino to give up farming for cattle-breeding. He sells the animals while they're still calves because his grass isn't good enough to fatten them up.

Barros said that Argentine lakes such as La Picasa will flood again as temperatures keep rising. Bertolino said that risk has wiped out the value of land that once sold for $6,000 a hectare.

``Who would be interested in buying land that may be flooded again?'' he asked.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

 

Democrat's Race to the Bottom Platform

News starting to emerge about what the Democrat's 2006 election platform will look like, and as expected, it's an adoption of no-growth, protectionist measures that have led to stagnant growth in Old Europe. Pretty amazing stuff when you consider how weak Republicans are right now, but it's clear that both sides of the aisle are employing fear tactics. Fear is the strongest motivator for humans, and history is littered with "leaders" who somehow came to power on the back of instilling fear in their countrymen.

I found this nugget particularly interesting:
In a speech to the Communications Workers of America on Tuesday, Pelosi mentioned Democrats' opposition to outsourcing. She said Democrats will end tax subsidies for companies that send jobs overseas.

She also said Democrats support the "right of all Americans to organize," a sentiment that goes over well with labor unions such as the CWA.

To protect workers who want to join unions, Pelosi said Democrats are "fighting" to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, sponsored by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) in the House and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) in the Senate. "The bill will guarantee that when a majority of workers in a company want a union, they will get a union," Pelosi said.

Democrats also support an increase in the minimum wage. Pelosi, describing the income of corporate American CEOs as "immoral," used Wal-Mart to make her point:

"I was told that an entry level person at Wal-Mart, who works his or her entire career at Wal-Mart, would make as much as the CEO makes in two weeks. A lifetime of work versus two weeks in the executive suite -- this is not America, this is not fairness, this is not the basis of a strong middle class that is essential for our democracy. We must change that in our country," she said.


So let's examine this agenda. What are the industries in the United States most plagued by declining growth, rising unemployment, downward pressure on wages, and cuts in benefits? Well, airlines for one...domestic automakers for another. How about regional bells or even California grocery stores? Can anyone argue that these industries are shining examples of what we want to become in America? No. What do they all have in common? You guessed it - organized labor. So playing off of Americans' fear of losing their job despite unemployment rates under 5%, the Democrats are saying that the way for Americans to win is to create artificially rigid, high labor costs for the companies that are out there creating jobs. I don't know, but this doesn't sound like an inspiring platform for promoting American ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit.

Unfortunately, we have the Republicans on the other side of the aisle that are employing their own scare tactics - this time national security - to shut the United States off from the world and thwart our country's drivers of growth, namely immigration. You want to know why Europe and Japan are in such bad shape? Look at their stagnant/declining population trends. Neither one welcomes immigrants with open arms, while the United States remains vibrant and growing because of the influx of immigrants who are inspired to live the American Dream. But the Republicans - playing off some American's fear of the unknown (i.e. not understanding "those foreigners") - have launched their own protectionist campaign to seal off our borders to immigration and investment, all in the name of national security.

Democrats or Republicans? Right or left? Neither side is at all appealing, is it?

Which brings me to President Bush. Despite his awful poll numbers right now, is there anyone else in Washington who is doing a better job of trying to point the country in the right direction? Put aside the whole Iraq war thing. He promotes ownership - ownership of homes, of pensions, of healthcare - not government bureaucracy. In addition, he realizes what makes our country work so well - free markets and free flow of humans and investment capital. This is what makes America work, and he's the only guy in Washington promoting these ideals. Yes, we can argue till we're blue in the face about his foreign policy and its impact on the domestic side, but he is the only one in Washington talking a sensible, winning game right now, and I think it would be a mistake to dismiss him.

It's amazing that America is at this point given the 25 year economic run we've had. Everyone is wealthy by any standard, and while free markets have their own issues regarding inequality, alternative solutions simply lead to a smaller pie for all. Let's see that we get through this election cycle without any additional damage to our county after this latest port fiasco.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

 

Ports will be LESS secure without Dubai - Wall Street Journal

I asked before and I'll ask again: why haven't the anti-port blogging community stepped up and claim 'victory' for being an instrumental part of Dubai backing down from taking over six US ports? Where are Michelle Malkin and David Limbaugh? I've asked them these questions but have not received any response. My guess is that once they 'won,' they paused for a moment and realized the longer-term damage to the US this failed deal will lead to outweighs any real concerns about 'national security' as they so loudly stated.

Anyway, here is a good piece from the Wall Street Journal (3/14/06) describing the extraordirnary offer Dubai made to the US Congress to sooth concerns about port security. It is amazing the an offer like this was rejected, which cements in my mind that opposition to the deal was for the sole purpose of political opportunism rather than real concerns for our nations security. Thank you, Buchanan Right.

DP World Tried to Soothe U.S. Waters

An Extraordinary Package
Of Port Security Measures
Failed to Keep Deal Intact
By NEIL KING JR.
March 14, 2006; Page A4

WASHINGTON -- Two days before the Bush administration asked Dubai Ports World to sever its U.S. operations, the company gave three Republican senators an extraordinary package of proposed security measures meant to seal off management of its U.S. subsidiary and to pay for screening devices at all 51 ports it operates around the world.

[Bill Frist]

The four-page offer, titled "Proposed Solution to the DP World Issue," promised to give the Department of Homeland Security nearly complete say over the company's U.S. corporate affairs and to install "state-of-the-art radiation-detection and gamma-ray inspection devices" at company expense at all current and future DP World-managed ports overseas. Experts estimate that step alone could have cost DP World as much as $100 million, though some ports where DP World operates already have some radiation-detection devices.

But the March 7 offer, which went to Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, Armed Services Chairman John Warner of Virginia, and Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, was largely dismissed as a good effort that came too late. On Thursday, Republican congressional leaders told President Bush the deal faced inevitable collapse in Congress. Mr. Bush then sent word to Dubai requesting that DP World shed the U.S. assets it had acquired. The government-owned company agreed, and announced within hours that it intended to sell its concessions and various assets at five U.S. ports, though details on how or when that will happen remain sparse. The company had planned a news conference that afternoon to announce its package of security offers.

The company declined to comment on the offer, as did the White House. It isn't clear whether Mr. Bush was aware of the proposal. A copy of the offer was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

"The offer that they made was extraordinary, and probably unprecedented," said Steve Bell, chief of staff for Sen. Domenici, who supported the deal from the outset. Mr. Bell said the offer was the result of discussions between Sen. Domenici's office and Edward Bilkey, DP World's chief operating officer, with input from Sen. Frist's office.

Eric Ueland, Sen. Frist's chief of staff, said the majority leader's office "was looking over it very closely and attempting to understand the ins and outs of it. But the challenge was that these ideas, which would have yielded more security than a traditional commercial transaction, just came too late."

[John Warner]

Supporters of the DP World deal said the fact that the last-minute offer went nowhere shows how the cards were stacked against DP World, no matter what assurances the company put forward. Security experts say the March 7 offer, which hasn't previously been made public, far exceeds anything that other U.S. port operators have agreed to, including ones operated by other foreign government-owned companies. Some Republican Senate staffers now believe that if DP World advanced these proposals earlier, the deal may have held.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said yesterday that he was unaware of the offer but wasn't surprised it fell on deaf ears. "The problem is that positions got so hard, no one wanted to listen anymore," he said.

DP World sealed its $6.8 billion purchase of the British-based Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. last week in London in the middle of the Washington uproar. While the five U.S. port operations were just a small slice of the overall package, the company wanted a foothold here as a destination for its much larger holdings in Asia, and planned to further expand its U.S. terminals.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said last week that having DP World run operations in New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami and New Orleans would have enhanced U.S. security by giving U.S. law enforcement a better handle on security at U.S. terminals. Yet those assertions were based on a package of commitments, hailed within the government as unprecedented, that the company put forward in January as part of an interagency security review.

The March 7 offer, on the other hand, went beyond what was put forward in January. "DP World undertakes to perform extraordinary structural and corporate governance measures to ensure that the security and financial concerns of Congress and the American people are met," the document said, adding that "no other port operator in the United States or indeed the world" has agreed to similar steps. Among the highlights, DP World said that its U.S. subsidiary -- now managed by a British citizen -- would in the future be directed only by an American or British citizen. It offered to give the Department of Homeland Security the right to disapprove its choice of chief executive, board members, security officials and "all senior officers," and promised that a "supermajority" of its board of directors would be U.S. citizens. The company promised to maintain all records relating to its security operations on U.S. soil, and turn over such records as requested to the U.S. government.

The company also proposed establishing a "Sarbanes-Oxley-type" Security and Financial Oversight Board with a chairman of "one or two nationally prominent Americans" that would report annually to DHS. The offer to install radiation-detection devices in all DPW ports, the document said, would "permit U.S. Customs to enhance the screening process before containers are loaded onto vessels."

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency operates 190 radiation monitors at U.S. seaports and requires that ports overseas that want to qualify for the U.S. Container Security Initiative have access to some form of radiation-detection system.

The political firestorm the purchase caused in the U.S. persists. House Republicans said yesterday that they still planned to vote on an amendment as early as this week to officially kill the deal, despite the company's promise last week to shed its U.S. assets.

Write to Neil King Jr. at neil.king@wsj.com1


Friday, March 10, 2006

 

Breaking news: Chicago Latinos standing up for their rights

Nice to see Chicago-area Latinos coming out to a rally today in downtown Chicago protesting the latest Immigration Bill moving through the House of Representatives. In the name of "national security" the bill's Buchanan Right Republican sponsors blatantly target Latinos for increased border security, bending to their constituent's supposed wishes to crack down on Latinos.

Are there issues with illegals from south of the border? Yes. But this bill does nothing to solve the underlying problem with the visa process that compels people to come here illegally in the first place.

 

Where are the anti-port bloggers now?

It's fascinating that several of the Buchanan Right anti-port bloggers have little to say about yesterday's decision by UAE to back down from purchasing a group of US ports. Commentators David Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin are particularly silent following this major "national security victory," which is a bit odd given how loudly they had screamed about the deal since it became a hot topic. Congress has been conveniently silent on this major "win" as well.

So is this how it is? Pull out the national security scare card when it's convenient to do so but back away when you've achieved "victory" at the cost of America's leadership standing? I wonder if the Buchanan Right anti-port crowd and their cohort in Congress realize that these protectionist impulses do much long-term damage to our country's future and their subsequent silence speaks as much.

Chalk up another one:
I have no love for the Left, but I'm thinking that the country would be 100x better off if the Democrats took control of one branch of government - maybe the House this fall. Government failed with the Democrats held the presidency and Congress, and it is failing now with the Republicans in control.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

 

Buchanan Right "wins" in Thwarting Port Deal

Call this a big victory for what I call the "Buchanan Right." On the back of national security scare tactics and some deft political maneuvering, Republicans in Congress effectively told UAE to go away. What a shame. What was originally described as frustration towards the Administration for not involving Congress in this deal quickly evolved into a protectionist move under the guise of national security. Even worse is how Congress (Republicans and Democrats) "used" this opportunity to show they were "strong" on national security. Please. This is the same group that held up the Patriot Act for how many weeks?

We in the middle must take a stand against these fringe elements of our society that seem to have gained credibility given their ability to scream the loudest. Bloggers like Michelle Malkin continually bash the Howard Dean left but are really no better, staking out their own "out of touch" base in the Buchanan Right.

This is a sad day for America. While we plead with the Middle East to embrace our democratic principles, we turn our back on them when they try to invest in our nation. While we plead with China and Brazil to open up their markets to American goods, we are unwilling to do the same, particularly in farm subsidies. Is it any wonder why America's leadership on the world stage has diminished, or why countries like Venezuela, Iran and North Korea feel they have a freer hand to pursue dangerous ideology?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

 

A History Lesson Regarding Foreign Ownership of Ports

This is a nice article from Bloomberg News going over the histroy of foreign ownership of ports. When you really take a step back and realize that what politicos in Washington are getting so worked up about and how the industry is already in foreign hands, it just makes these guys look like fools.

By Matthew Leising and Ripley Watson
Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The backlash in Washington over a
Dubai company's plans to run cargo terminals at six U.S. ports
isn't resonating much on the waterfront. Overseas-based companies
operate as many as 80 percent of American terminals, a shift that
began when Jimmy Carter was in the White House.
The clamor over DP World's acquisition of London-based
Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. has been driven by
politics, because companies such as Singapore's Neptune Orient
Lines Ltd. and Denmark's A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S already dominate
U.S. container terminals, said Don Frost, a private shipping
consultant who has worked in the industry for 45 years.
``It's been going on for 25 years'' or more, said Frost, who
is based in Stamford, Connecticut.
The acquisition ignited a firestorm in the U.S. shortly
after P&O shareholders approved the $6.8 billion deal on Feb. 14.
Lawmakers including Democratic Senators Charles Schumer and
Hillary Clinton of New York and Susan Collins, a Maine
Republican, urged hearings and pledged to introduce legislation
to ensure a thorough review because of security concerns.
President George W. Bush initially said no additional study
was necessary, fueling the opposition. On Feb. 26, DP World bowed
to pressure and said it would submit to a new, 45-day U.S.
government review of its acquisition of P&O. The United Arab
Emirates company wants to assume the leases on container-ship
terminals in the ports of New York, Newark, New Orleans,
Baltimore, Miami and Philadelphia.

U.S. Owned

The ports remain squarely in U.S. hands, as does
responsibility for security. Cities such as Long Beach,
California, and Los Angeles, the busiest U.S. container port, own
their ports, as do agencies including the Port Authority of New
York and New Jersey. They lease dock space to cargo-terminal
operators, which load and unload ships from around the world.
Yet companies based in Asia, the Middle East and Europe are
carrying more cargo and operating more terminals, in part,
because they have lower wage costs. They are able to use crews
from other, poorer countries to run their ships, while carriers
based in the U.S. were required by federal law to staff their
ships with American crews. Today, all international waterborne
cargo is shipped by non-U.S. companies.

`There's Money There'

The ports began leasing terminals to foreign companies,
including from Japan, in the 1970s, a process that accelerated
later as U.S. carriers such as United States Lines went bankrupt
or were acquired. Ports also sought to lock in foreign vessels
unloading at their facilities by offering leases, according to
Frost, who said 80 percent of U.S. terminals are now operated by
overseas-based companies.
``It was the ports that took the initiative,'' he said.
``They saw the potential and they wanted the traffic because
there's money there.''
About 90 percent of U.S. goods by value, or about $1
trillion a year, arrive at more than 100 ports along the Pacific,
Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, according to the World Shipping
Council, a Washington-based trade group.
While DP World would handle some containers at only a
handful of those ports, Democrats and Republicans opposing the
sale of P&O cite concerns such as reports that two of the Sept.
11 hijackers came from the United Arab Emirates. DP World is
controlled by the emirate of Dubai, which is part of the U.A.E.

State Ownership Key

Some opponents of the DP World deal say that government
ownership of the company is the main issue. Yet three companies
that already lease U.S. port terminal space are owned by foreign
governments, according to a list compiled by the U.S. Department
of Transportation.
Singapore's government owns Neptune Orient Lines, with
terminal leases in Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle; Taiwan's
government owns Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp., with leases in
Los Angeles and Tacoma, Washington; and China's government owns
China Shipping Container Lines Co., with a lease in Los Angeles.
Lawmakers said they want to change the process by which such
acquisitions are scrutinized and ensure the review's findings are
made public.
DP World's agreement to undergo another review averted, for
now, a showdown between Congress and Bush. The president
previously said he would veto any congressional attempt to
prevent the Arab company from taking over the leases.

False Report

``What surprised most of us in the maritime transportation
industry was how controversial this story became in such a short
time,'' said Dennis Rochford, president of the Maritime Exchange
for the Delaware River and Bay, a trade association with links to
the Port of Philadelphia.
``The overwhelming portion of the business is foreign
owned,'' he said, making calls for U.S. companies to control the
terminal leases impractical. The reality of ocean-borne shipping
is that it's a global industry with very little American
participation, he said.
Of the 2,700 ships that call on ports along the Delaware
River in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware each year, 2,500
are foreign, Rochford said.
Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. is the world's
biggest cargo terminal operator, according to a list compiled by
London-based Drewry Shipping Consultants. There are 24 U.S.-owned
port terminal operators, according to the Department of
Transportation, which didn't rank which company was largest.
U.S. operators include closely held Maher Terminals of
Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, and SSA Marine of Seattle.

Sea-Land the Last

The last U.S.-owned international cargo shipping line was
Sea-Land Service, which was sold in 1999 by CSX Corp., the third-
biggest U.S. railroad. Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX bought the
shipping line in 1986 as part of a diversification effort, which
gradually was undone. The rail operator last year sold nine
overseas cargo terminals to DP World for more than $1 billion,
completing the divestiture of its maritime interests.
Two years before the Sea-Land sale, Singapore's Neptune
Orient bought APL Ltd., which owned American President Lines
Inc., an Oakland, California-based cargo shipping company.
Both Maersk and Neptune Orient also operate cargo terminals,
including dock operations in cities such as Los Angeles and New
York/New Jersey.

Evergreen Marine

Two Taiwan-based companies, Evergreen Marine Corp. and Yang
Ming Marine Transport also operate West Coast facilities, as do
two Japanese shipping lines and one South Korean operator,
according to the Transportation Department. Nippon Yusen Kaisha,
or NYK Line, Japan's biggest shipping line and Mitsui O.S.K.
Lines, as well as Korea's Hanjin Shipping Co. also lease U.S.
terminals.
``Foreign investment in U.S. ports is not a new
development,'' said Christopher Koch, president of the World
Shipping Council, a Washington-based trade group whose members
include Maersk. ``I am aware of no fact that would support that
there is a security threat in this ownership.''

--With reporting by Jeff Bliss in Washington. Editor: McQuillan
(cus/slw).

Story illustration: for more information on DP World, see
http://www.dpiterminals.com/dpworld_main.asp. See
{TNI PORTS US } for more news on U.S. ports.

Monday, February 27, 2006

 

National Security Scare Tactics Part 3

Michelle Malkin is making much of a post by David Limbaugh talking about Bush's credibility "gap" between his approval of the ports sale and open immigration policy and his national security credentials. What the hard right fails to recognize - again - is that national security does not mean closing off our borders to immigration and the flow of capital. The same day that the conservative press is howling about France's proposed merger of Gaz de France and Suez, creating a "national champion" to thwart a potential deal from an Italian company, we see Republicans forcing their own president into a corner to get a delay (or ultimate rejection) of the sale of ports to an Arab concern. This smacks of irony.

I believe we are increasingly faced with a Republican party that is beholden to what I would call the Pat Buchanan Right. Long dismissed within the party as being too far right to consider credible, we now see his protectionist policies being advanced at a rapid pace in the name of "national security." To me, this is a disturbing development and it begs the question, "When does it stop?" America simply cannot put a No Thank You sign on her door and expect to prosper as we have since our country was born. By stalling the movement of immigrants and the free flow of global capital, we risk becoming what Europe is today: An aged, slow-growing economic bloc beholden by labor unions and bad trade policies.

Furthermore, I think these protectionist impulses by the Republicans call into question their entire national security strategy. Whereas the wiretapping fiasco seemed to be more of a political opportunity for the Democrats to accuse the majority of breaking the law, how can we be so sure given that the party is so willing to put its weight behind bad policies (immigration, port sales) that seem more about being Anti-Latino and Anti-Arab than about protecting our national security. President Bush has it right, realizing that while we must be tough on terrorists, we cannot shut our borders to the outside world. Globalization is expanding, and with it, economic opportunity for all that are open to it. Bush correctly recognizes this, and as such, does not fall into the trap that Republican Congressional leadership has.

Don't let the right scare us into the fetal position. Commentators such as Michelle Malkin are the drum-beaters of these bad policies, and it's up to moderate bloggers to stand firm and call these policies for what they are: racist. If the issue really is national security, then let's hear more about how we can tighten our borders but loosen up the process with which a foreigner can come to or invest in the United States.

The sad part of this story is that with Republican leadership running into the Buchanan Right, what are we left with? Democrats, whose anti-free trade policies and close ties to labor unions all but guarantee policies that take the US down to Europe's level? Please. Republican Congressional leadership members must wake up and realize that no one amongst their ranks has a chance at the Presidency, and steering our country into the ditch so that they can "carve out an issue" does no good for anybody. Bill Frist as president? No way.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

 

Port security - A good read

Nice post by Rover at blog Sea2Sea. With enough calm voices, reason can be heard.

 

Fear Factor & National Security

Just over the last year, we have seen three clear instances where Washington politicos take a defensive stance regarding international issues to play to certain factions of each party.
  1. US Congress' threat to block China National Offshore Oil (CNOOC) from buying California-based Unocal.
  2. Republican efforts to tighten "security" at our border by proposing a wall between the US and Mexico and to toughen up an immigration bill.
  3. Congressional efforts to thwart the sale of six ports to a company controlled by United Arab Emirates.
In each of these cases, politicos played on American's fears regarding foreigners. I would speculate that in each instance, the real reasons why politicians took these aggressive stances were:
  1. CNOOC - Score points with those concerned about the rise of China and the issue of "outsourcing."
  2. Immigration - Play to voters consternation about the rising power of Latinos in the United States. (If this really is a nat'l security issue, why not put a wall up by Canada?)
  3. Ports - a) Democrats score points by finally having an issue where they can claim they are "tougher" on national security than the Bush administration; b) Republicans score points by once again playing the national security fear card.
What is really happening in each of these cases is that the US is telling the world that our doors are closed for business. That in the name of national security, we will not allow any foreign presence to meddle with our affairs. Americans rightly criticize France for blocking the acquisitions of its "National Champions" and for suppressing Muslim discontent within her borders, yet this is exactly what Washington is doing right now. Shutting our borders, blocking deals, and targeting specific ethnic groups (Arabs & Latinos) as being a "threat" to our security.

When does this stop? What ethnic group is next?

I commend President Bush for taking a leadership on these positions and not succumbing to political BS. He has stood firm that no immigration policy is complete dealing with the visa process and illegals already in the country. Additionally, he rightly states that we cannot block the sale of these ports to UAE just because they are Arab. If the security issues related to this deal have been cleared, what real purpose is there to block the deal other than to feed anti-Arab sentiment?

These issues are of deep concern and I look forward to others in Washington and amongst the American citizenry to take a stand against these anti-American actions. This country was built on open borders. If we close them, we end up just like Europe.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

 

Thank you, Mr. President

From Drudge. Nice to see Bush not fall for the anti-Arab rhetoric spewed by so-called "hard-liners" and Democrats alike. If there is any clear indication that this furor is dubious in its intent, it is the fact that Democrats AND Republicans are making waves on this. Democrats accusing Bush of being weak on national security?
Bush called reports at about 2.30 aboard Air Force One to issue a very strong defense of port deal... MORE... He said he would veto any legislation to hold up deal and warned the United States was sending 'mixed signals' by going after a company from the Middle East when nothing was said when a British company was in charge... Lawmakers, he said, must 'step up and explain why a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard.' Bush was very forceful when he delivered the statement... 'I don't view it as a political fight,' Bush said.... MORE... MORE...



 

National Security Scare Tactics Part 2

See these comments that were posted on Michelle Malkin's board yesterday. The purse sense of hysteria over this port deal just goes to show how strongly these national security fears play to the public. I was hoping for a more thorough analysis of why this was a bad deal other than to say that the people buying the ports were "Arab." What kind of country do we live in where we so blatantly discriminate like this?

We want countries like China and Japan to open their markets to US companies, yet we shut foreign companies out.

We want developing countries like Brazil and those in Africa to open up their trade to us yet we slap farm tariffs on US-produced goods.

You cannot have it both ways.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

 

National security scare tactics

The Pat Buchanan wing of the Republican party is more and more making protectionist & isolationist noise through immigration reform and now the sale of ports to United Arab Emirates. The isolationist bent of the Republican party has been around for decades, dating all the way back to the Truman Administration. Not much unlike how Democrats are beholden to mediocrity through their alliance with labor unions, Republican have been advancing their isolationist agenda through the cover of "national security." Who can argue against protecting Americans? Certainly, no one can, which gives these "national security" proposals so much momentum. However, we Americans should not be fooled by what is really going on here.

For instance, the idea that we need to build a wall between Mexico and the United States servers no one's purpose other than those who hold a grudge against the Latino community. Led by Rep. Tom Tancredo, the issue of immigration reform has been gaining steam, all in the name of national security. Yet no one has asked this simple question: "If the issue is national security, why are we not talking about building a wall between the Canada and the US as well?" The answer is simple - the issue is not so much national security as it is a bias against Latinos. This is not to say we do not have a border problem. We do. Yet anyone who has tried to get a visa for a friend can readily attest that the system is convoluted and ripe for abuse. Immigration reform, if that is what is really wanted, needs to include a more intelligent visa process as well as increased border security.

More recently, the right is making waves about how the sale of six ports to the United Arab Emirates is licensing our national security away. Republican bloggers like Michelle Malkin have fanned the flames of "national security" in deriding the White Houses's decision not to stand in the way of the deal. Yet are these not the same individuals that deride Europe (namely France) for protecting their national interests by blocking deals that involve taking over French companies? There is a double-standard here, and once again, the right is abusing the issue of national security to advance their isolationist agenda.

We must not close our borders. The free flow of people and capital is the lifeblood of the United States. While Europe and Japan deal with declining, aging populations, the United States continues to grow and innovate. This is no accident, and our vibrant economy is directly attributed to the basic human desire to life the best life that he can, no matter what his race. Americans do not have a monopoly on desire. What we do have is the political system that allows us to harness our creative energies. Shutting our borders and preventing the free flow of capital are the first steps towards the European model: slow growth, and political paralysis as we try to "save what we have."

Just remember the mid-1980's and the hoopla about Japan taking over the US. Their auto makers were kicking our butts and the Japanese were buying our national treasures, such as the Rockefeller Center. Panic was in the streets that we were selling our national sovereignty. Yet 20 years later, it's quite clear that was a lot of hype about nothing. So is the issue of Mexican immigration and port sales.

 

Term limits - A concept whose time has come

Remember the Contract With America? Republicans swept into the majority in the House in 1994 after proposing a number of initiatives to "shake up the system" in Washington.

One of the key proposals of the Contract was Congressional term limits. Representatives could only serve for six two-year terms, while Senators could only serve for two six-year terms. Unfortunately, this effort failed shortly after the Republicans took the House, winning only a simple majority instead of the 2/3 needed to pass a Constitutional amendment.

I believe the current system encourages the worst kind of behavior and government waste. As Congressmen gain prominence and stature on Capitol Hill, this invariably leads to an abuse of power. We see this today:
What would I propose?
This is a realistic proposal, from the standpoint that it affirms what was originally proposed by the Contract With America and takes into account the reality that few Congressmen would be willing to essentially vote themselves out of office. The turnover of Congress would take time, but this issue is so important that I believe we need to make every effort to see that Congress moves in this direction.

Congress is out of control. With abuses everywhere in the system, there is simply no way to legislate these problems away. What we need is a change in culture in Washington. A culture of accountability and ability. It is time we revive the idea of Congressional term limits and clean up Washington now.

 

Welcome to the other 90%

Inspired by the division of American politics between the ultra-conservative and ultra-liberal, this blog is dedicated to us lonely souls in the middle - what I like to call The Other 90%.

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