Benjamin Rosenbaum

Comments on "Ports"

It is political gamesmenship. The lack of ideas is why Bush, with his ideas, is successful at all. He has them; knee jerk reaction is not an idea. Hating Bush is not an idea.

Oddly, I haven't seen much mention of the fact that one of the leading container operators in America is NSCSA...owned by the Saudis. Who, if not the contanier operator, is going to know how security works? They have to follow it.

If the idea is that xenophopic reaction to Arabs running our ports because of WMD protects our safety then why aren't the various shrill voices including _all_ of the Arabs that operate out of our ports in their rants? Because it isn't about ideas, or leadership or civic duty but rather to gain power.

In the country of the blind the guy with the coke bottle eyeglasses rules.

Posted by quilly mammoth at March 2, 2006 09:44 PM

I wouldn't feel much safer if, say, Halliburton were in charge of the ports. Of course, one of the issues is not so much the foreign-ness of the company, but that they were given a bunch of breaks outside normal processes, which, again, would have been given (or taken) by almost any American company I can imagine being given the contracts anyway.

That doesn't mean I side with Our Only President, though. As a policy matter he may be right, or at least not entirely wrong, but as a procedural matter he is showing (a) his contempt for out ordinary processes, and (2) his contempt for the legislature and legislation. In both of those, he is wrong. Not as wrong as in cases where he expresses both of those and comes to a bad policy, but still wrong.

All of that said, what do you want Democrats to do? Broker a deal between Republicans and Republicans? Or attempt to explain to their constituents that, really, terrorism was never that much of a threat to our ports, and we have been over-reacting all this time, and they will be all writing books in their rapidly upcoming retirement years about it all?


Posted by Vardibidian at March 4, 2006 09:19 AM

Some Democrats seem to be handling it better than others. Dean seemed almost to be frothing about foreigners in general. Pelosi, in contrast, seemed mainly focussed on the broader issues of port security, in particular that we should raise our standards of scanning shipping containers to those of Hong Kong.

What I'd like them to do is to say "Dubai, whatever; let's talk about how foreign adventurism is not an adequate substitute for inspections and police work."

Posted by Benjamin Rosenbaum at March 4, 2006 05:07 PM

Fair enough. That would be nice. And, I should say, some Democrats have been handling it worse than others. It sounded to me like people were confusing the political principle of staying out of the way while the other party makes itself look bad with the political principle of kicking a fellah while he's down. And, I suppose, it's legitimate (more or less) to argue that this foreign government has a particularly bad record of etcetera etcetera whilst maintaining a straight face for the duration of Our Only President's trip to Pakistan.

May I also point out (in your blog, which I know is rude of me, but there it is) that what is supposed to help presidents like Our Only President who seem to have no idea that their actions could possibly be both wrong and harmful is an established civil service with an established set of procedures. If the proper procedures are followed, nothing truly visionary gets done, which is how we get a hundred and fifty years or so of stability. Comparative stability. We ain't in it with Rome, but our civil service is young, yet.

Er, Imperial Rome. Not post-WWII Rome. In case you were laughing.

Now, this administration (working on twenty years or more of anti-government rhetoric) took the opportunity to throw the civil service and proper procedure overboard, and since then has been going by guess and by Gd. This whole political business about the ports is something that should never have got anywhere near this far, and wouldn't have, if these guys knew or cared anything about the proper procedures. Either they would have cleared it with their party and it would have quietly passed, or their party would have killed it before it became an issue, or they even could have (procedurally) made it happen without bringing it to the legislature at all. But because they don't know what they are doing but are damned sure they don't need to read the manual, they set themselves up for this, em, is debacle the right word? I don't know. I don't think it even rises to the level of debacle.

Thanks for your patience, but somehow I just wanted to gripe,

Posted by Vardibidian at March 5, 2006 10:19 PM

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