Thursday, March 02, 2006

My Final Opinion on Portgate

"The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved." ~ Confucius

There has been so much written in the past two weeks about Portgate, that I have chosen not to address it. Go to any political blog and you will find opinions on the subject, and there is almost as many differing opinions about it as there are blogs talking about it.

One blogger, in particular, has just completed an 8 part series that explains, in great detail, what exactly this whole brouhaha is about. My good friend, Poison Pero, has explained things clearly and thoroughly, complete with links to all pertaining facts. I couldn't do a better job. I can't even comment as there is nothing left to add.

In addition, he has offered his opinion on whether he sees Portgate as a problem or not. Fortunately, he has presented both sides of the issue with clarity so we all can make up our own minds.

I strongly suggest, that if you want to be well informed on this issue, go read what he has posted.

While I won't go so far as to say I disagree with him on this issue, I will state my personal opinion that we may be blowing this thing way out of proportion. I don't believe there is much chance of this becoming a national security issue.

Not that the UAE couldn't use their management of these terminals to aid our enemies, because they certainly could. But if I was a terrorist organization I would infiltrate the U.S. the easy way. Why risk possible detection by bringing in weapons and supplies and man power through sea ports that are now being diligently watched as a result of all the attention that's been brought to bear on them?

Especially when you consider that they can simply stroll across both our northern and southern borders with hardly a glance from the National Immigration Service. If we want to prevent terrorists from mounting devastating attacks on our country, there are two very important things we can do:

1. Close the borders.

2. Allow the NSA to do their job the way they need to, without tieing their hands.

So the Congress will have their hearings and the matter will be thoroughly looked at and examined under a microscope to determine if having Arabs with a history of supporting terrorist organizations and failing to recognize the state of Israel will constitute enough of a security risk to disallow them from owning any terminals within American ports. Let them do what they will, and in the end, the transaction will likely be approved. Then, if there is any danger to America resulting from this sale, it will be discovered, hopefully before the attack happens.

After all is said and done, I believe this is simply a sale of property between two companies, and will have no ill effects on America or our people. Is there cause for concern? Yes, certainly. During this current time, anything that may even remotely effect our national security is cause for concern.

But I am confident that nothing of that sort will happen. At least I pray it won't.

That said, I also have to say that I believe the President has made a grave mistake. Because this is such a volatile issue, his singularly defiant stand concerning the sale when, by his own staff's admission that he was unaware of the transaction until it was all but finalized, was a politically dangerous act. He is on his final term, so politically it won't necessarily hurt him specifically, but it may end up hurting the Republican party. Already we are seeing a divide widening between Republican members of Congress, as a result of his announcement that he will veto legislation that seeks to nullify the transaction.

With the congressional elections coming up this year, this defiance may cost the Republicans some seats in the House and the Senate.

And since I believe that should the Democrats win a majority, they may implement their "cut and run" strategy on the war, and increase taxes and dependency on an ever increasing big government.

I don't believe we can risk that.


Poison Pero said...

Thanx for the kind words, Mark. I put a lot of time and energy into those posts.

I hope you are right in your assessment.....I'm just worried the port problem is a drop in the bucket in the overall problem we have in our border security (including Mexico, Canada, both seacoasts, and incoming flights.)

All I know is if I were an Islamist I'd do anything I could to get a blast off here in the U.S........Any size blast would cause absolute chaos.

Again, here's hoping you are right.

Mark said...

Thanks Pero, I hope you're wrong. Doesn't it make more sense to just walk across the border with a suitcase bomb then to spend 7 billion dollars for the possiblilty that they can sneak a nuke into the country that is using at least a decorative security force?

Sheila said...

I'll have to take a look at your writing Pero. I've been searching for as much info as I can.

I don't like to make a loud objection until I'm sure. SO.....

Here's the moderates fears.

That ANY foriegn "Government" own port operations "Post 9/11".That to me is as crazy as not having control of the north and south borders.

DPW (Formerly API)was port authority at Port Aiden when the USS Cole was hit. They haven't been looked over thuroughly for terrorist ties yet and WE are supposed to be in Post 9/11 mentality...

How can we hand "6 major ports" and "13 minor ports" which includes Corpus Christi Texas where my son is stationed. That's not the point. The point is giving a foriegn agent shipping authority of our military's equipment going to the war??????.......

Have a great day everyone.

Dan Trabue said...

If I may make a slighly off-topic comment on your ending thoughts. You said:

The dems "may implement their "cut and run" strategy on the war, and increase taxes and dependency on an ever increasing big government."

And they may well do so. However, I just always feel compelled to point out that the Dems AND the Republicans are driving costs up and IF progressive types were in power, we'd reduce our massive military budget which - at half a trillion dollars - is a much larger part of the budget (and therefore contributing to BIG gov't) than the tens of billions that progressives would spend in ways with which you disagree.

In other words, progressives/liberals are NOT the biggest spenders in the real world.

Mark said...

Military spending is the most justifiable spending there is currently, while we are at war. While no one agrees with President Bush's out of control spending, the military budget is NOT the budget that should be cut. I suggest cutting the welfare budget. That is and has been the biggest waste of Government money.

Dan Trabue said...

Says you.

I says that if you want to start talking about who is advocating doing the most spending, then you need to look at who is doing the most spending.

I and my ilk say that our military policy and spending is making our world less stable and secure, not more. And further, that those who advocate such a ridiculously large budget have to own that they're the biggest spenders because, in fact, they are.

Myself, I'm okay with a republic making decisions on how to tax and spend money for commonly agreed upon notions - even though I disagree with the end policy, I'm okay with that notion.

What I am not okay with is being accused constantly by the Right as being the big spenders and big gov't type when the total opposite is the case.

Let's call things what they are.

ELAshley said...

I think your pessimism concerning the upcoming midterm elections is unwarranted. Sure, Bush's poll numbers are down, but Congress' numbers are even lower. And there's indications that the Left is tired of their elected leaders continual efforts to squash everything "Republican".

Keep yer chin up. All is not lost... not even close.

ELAshley said...

Why is it the Left had nothing to say when Clinton allowed China to "buy into" an American port out in California? Why didn't anyone raise a ruckus when China "took over operations" at the Panama Canal? I agree, this is all much ado about nothing. The biggest problem we face is at our borders, especially since there are those who say Islamic Nut-cases already have nukes in six U.S. cities for what's being dubbed the American Hiroshima.

To laugh that off as preposterous would be foolish, especially in light of the amount of OTM's* that make it across our border each year.

*Other Than Mexican

Erudite Redneck said...

(applauding dan)

tugboatcapn said...

Okay while we are calling things like they are, chew on this for a moment.

Since LBJ (a Democrat...) declared War on Poverty, the U.S Government has spent over 6 Trillion Dollars fighting Poverty, and Poverty still has not been eliminated.

The total national debt is $7.8 trillion.
The national debt can be divided into $4.6 trillion of publicly held debt, and $3.2 trillion of debt held by government accounts (trust funds), the largest of which is Social Security.
Because trust fund debt is a matter of internal governmental bookkeeping, economists focus on the publicly held debt. It is this number that reflects the impact of federal borrowing on the economy and the budget.

So without the Democrat Notion of Transfering Wealth from the Rich to the Poor through the Filter of Government, the National Debt would be 1.8 Trillion Dollars.

Without Social Security, it would be a 1.4 Trillion dollar Surplus.

Thanks to the Bush Tax Cuts, (which Democrats still insist are disasterous) Revenue is increasing to the Public Treasury, and jobs are being created all over the Country. (Creating even MORE Taxpayers, and decreasing the number of people who require Government Assistance.)

Democrats will summarily dismiss these facts, (the ones at the National level, anyway,) because they are mmore interested in hurting the Rich than they are in helping the Poor.

But John F. Kennedy knew that cutting Taxes increased revenues, and it has worked every time it has ever been tried.

I will admit that Government Spending has increased more than I like since President Bush took office, but he has only signed into law what the Elected Representatives sent to him, so all of the blame does not rest on his shoulders alone.

I shutter to think what would have happened to Government Spending, had Democrats been in power for the last 5 years, with the Idea that they had a huge, non-existant Surplus of money to get rid of.

And while we are calling things like they are, the Constitution empowers the Government to fund a National Military, in plain English.

It takes a warped Liberal interpretation of the Constitution to believe that Government has a responsibility to help the Poor, or that it is even empowered to redistribute Wealth in any way.

Since we are calling things like they are...

tugboatcapn said...

If I were President Bush, I would propose a plan to cut taxes enough to eliminate the National Debt, push it through, and take that issue away from you guys forever...

And it COULD be done...

Goat said...

As one that was very against, at first, having read Pero's sources and my own I am now less scepitical. I think the deal should go through, under the keep your enemies close rule of combat, know what they are thinking. We can watch them like an eagle on salmon.
Personally ,I don't like it.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Doesn't it make more sense to just walk across the border with a suitcase bomb then to spend 7 billion dollars for the possiblilty that they can sneak a nuke into the country that is using at least a decorative security force?

If anything gets through, because of the changeover in management to DPW, it won't be because of a concerted effort from the Emirates as a whole, consciously seeking to hurt the U.S. It will be because they would have suffered the same security lapses that you can find in any company. It will come from individuals, not the UAE itself.

From everything that I've read and from my perspective, I think in relation to how porous we are everywhere else, the ports scare is just hysteria mixed in with some xenophobia. We need our allies in the Middle East; and to renege on this deal will only alienate Muslims who should be on our side against radical Islam.

I've heard the opinions of many who serve in the military and have worked closely with the UAE, and those who are in positions to understand port management and port authority, express bafflement over all this hoopla. The UAE (and yes, I know the arguments about their votes in the UN, anti-Semitism, etc), especially since 9/11, have been an invaluable ally in the GWOT. This is nothing more than an investment deal. And if we start here, then, yes, like Sheila expressed, we might as well start cutting ties to a lot of foreign investments and ownership of American interests. That's, frankly, insane.

I'm not a port expert; but what about all the foreign ports where containers are loaded, before they ever even reach American shores? If we are porous, it isn't just here, at American ports, whose security is still controlled by our Coast Guard and federal agencies.

A little tidbit: The UAE contributed 100 million to Hurricane Katrina. That's almost 4 times more than all the other countries contributed combined. The UAE is not our enemy, just because we have a phobia of Muslim extremists.


We spend ONLY about 4.5% of our budget on national defense. What am I missing here? I believe with every fiber of my being in a strong military, which has given us everything we enjoy today, and which keeps us safe. Without the best military in the world, you can kiss this nation goodbye.

Why is it the Left had nothing to say when Clinton allowed China to "buy into" an American port out in California? Why didn't anyone raise a ruckus when China "took over operations" at the Panama Canal?

Because we lived in a pre-9/11 world. To add, we have UAE fighter pilots trained, I believe in Texas; and that's a deal signed by Clinton. I see nothing wrong with it, btw, anymore than I see a problem with a change in management of those ports.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

We spend ONLY about 4.5% of our budget on national defense.


Dan Trabue said...

This is off-topic, so I'll make it brief as possible.

The defense budget is HALF of DISCRETIONARY spending. It is about 17% when factoring in all spending (including money such as Social Security, which ought not be considered part of the budget: It's money from us to be returned to us).

From the White House's Office of Management and Budget:

2005 (as projected in 2004)
Defense: 410
Non-Defense: 440

Subtotal: 850

Social Security: 512
Medicare: 272
Medicaid/schip: 199
Other 307

Subtotal: 1289

Interest: 204

TOTAL: $2,343

Defense = 17% of total spending (discretionary and mandatory)
Defense = 48% of discretionary spending

Dan Trabue said...

Also, Tugboat said:
Since the 60s, "the U.S Government has spent over 6 Trillion Dollars fighting Poverty, and Poverty still has not been eliminated."

How about this:

"Then Brookings in 1995 calculated that since the end of the Second World War in 1995 dollar terms the United States had spent $21 trillion on its military..." (not taking in to account the about 3-6 trillion spent since 1995).

All that spent and yet war hasn't been eliminated. I'll agree to reconsider how we're fighting poverty if you'll agree to reconsider how we're fighting war.

Mike's America said...

Soo.... further proof that if Democrats succesfully play the ports issue to retake congress, they will not only wave the white flag faster than you can say "Patriot Act" but they will also slash the military budget, which is the only agency standing between us and the terrorists (Homeland Security Dept? Don't make me laugh).

Thanks for clearing that up socialist/progressives.

Dan Trabue said...

So, what Mike is doing here is a little strawman fallacy and misconstruing of words.

The point made was that liberals are not the tax and spenders that they've been made out to be, at least in comparison to the conservatives (noting that we have few actual liberals in Congress). I had pointed out what a huge amount of money we spend on our military (half a trillion/year - more than the next ~25 nations combined).

This was met by someone stating that we only spend 4% of our budget on defense. I responded by pointing out that, according to the white house, we spend 48% of our discretionary budget on defense and 19% of our whole budget on defense.

This was offered as proof that the majority of our spending is done by the more conservative side of Congress (with Dem support, of course, but then, as I pointed out, we have few actual liberals in office).

This was met by silence except for Brother Mike who is attempting to change the subject, casting silly aspersions on liberals as white flag wavers, offering no evidence (slashing the defense budget does not equal inviting terrorism).

If you want to discuss the budget, fine. Just don't confuse the matter and suggest that liberals are doing the most wanton spending.

Thank you.