Tuesday, February 28

GETTYSBURG CASINO AND LOUNGE

... we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. (President Abraham Lincoln)

But ... we can damn sure turn it into a casino-lounge venue.


H/T: Free Republic

WOW -- DO NOT PASS GO !

The Anchoress steers her readers in the direction of this important read: a trenchant, sobering piece by David Warren, published at RealClearPolitics.

An excerpt:

And from a mixture of fear of, and sympathy for, large, recent, Muslim immigrant communities in the West, we confuse domestic and foreign issues. I do not doubt the great majority of Muslims, in Canada and around the world, are decent, “moderate” people, who want no part in a “clash of civilizations”. But it has become obvious they can do nothing to stop the triumph of “Islamism” internationally, or oppose the fanatics proselytizing in their own communities.

Stop now and take the time to read it.

THE PRESIDENT'S POPULARITY WANES -- IS INSULARITY A CULPRIT?

Frank Laughter of Common Sense Junction has his finger on the pulse in terms of the president's waning popularity and suggests between the lines that George W. Bush's penchant for insularity and habitual stubborness has caught up with him, both within the GOP's ranks and across the American heartland.

The president won re-election in 2004 largely on the basis of his leadership in the global war on terror (GWOT), which was cast in stark contrast during the campaign to the ever-vascillating, bumptiously "reporting for duty," John Kerry. But, George Bush cannot have it both ways. You cannot heighten Americans' concern about another "9/11"-type strike at our homeland, while at the same time allowing our nation's borders to remain scandously porous. And I'm not referring here just to our contiguous borders with Canada and Mexico. Our borders also include our east and west coasts, which are made particularly vulnerable by the off-loading at our ports of millions of domestic and foreign shipping containers that are only negligibly inspected (i.e., in the range of just 3% to 5%).

To borrow from the name of Frank Laughter's blog, it's all about common sense and Americans possess that in bushel baskets. But an insular president seems to have lost sight of that. He didn't just threaten the Congress the other day with a veto. In his characteristic swagger, the president threatened to veto Americans' common sense.

In offending an incredulous base (e.g., Harriet Miers' nomination to the SCOTUS) and disbelieving Americans at large (e.g., Portgate), the president has become in 2006 a tin ear caricature of his splendid first-term persona. And it's a shame. His political capital has been near exhausted and his second term is taking on every appearance of that of an inept lame duck.

James Joyner points to a dismal report card and draws from it the following conclusion: "The bottom line is that, even if the CBS poll is junk, it draws attention to something that is undisputed: President Bush has lost the confidence of a substantial portion of the general public."

And, to be sure, when a two-term, conservative Republican president, who has predicated the efficacy of his presidency on the war in Iraq, loses the imprimatur of the leader of the American Conservative Movement, that president can ill afford the impolitic decision (rather than the purely business decision) of installing a UAE-owned company into the day-to-day operations of 22 of America's ports in wartime.

It's just plain bad "strategery," Mr. President.


FOLLOW-UP: Frank Laughter amplifies his current view of the Bush administration in this post. An excerpt follows:

Whatever Bush’s motive for going into Iraq, the war has diverted public attention from such vulnerabilities as our borders, seaports, nuclear power plants, airlines, railways, trains, waterways, food supplies, cities, bridges, tunnels and other infra-structures. That’s the perception, whether accurate or not, and Bush has shown no interest in correcting it. In fact, his public conduct has been just the opposite. As it goes now, he’s on course to become the worst president since Jimmy Carter and if he surrenders sovereignty over our seaports to ANY foreign power, he’ll trump Jimmy’s surrender of the Panama Canal.


With many of his voters' perceptions of his presidency beginning to sour, President Bush had better get out of denial.

CONGRATULATIONS TO BOB OWENS; SYMPATHIES TO DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

Two well-regarded, conservative bloggers have received distinctly different forms of flattery for their writing skills.

The Anchoress reports that Bob Owens of Confederate Yankee has been given a guest blogger stint at The Washington Post. That and more: WaPo published an interview of Mr. Owens, as well. Congratulations, Bob!

Meanwhile, Debbie Schlussel expresses outrage in this post over what she contends is an egregious example of plagiarism by Swift Boat author, Jerome Corsi. Sympathies to Debbie!

Monday, February 27

PORTS DEAL: STRATEGIC SECURITY INTERESTS TRUMPED BY ECONOMIC GLOBALIZATION

The furor over the UAE-owned Dubai Ports World deal seems to have been defused over the weekend by the Bush administration and its stalwart backers. Or, at the very least, the imbroglio has been placed in cold storage, pending a 45-day investigation of "potential security risks" (see: AP story, published in today's Houston Chronicle) that repeats a process (albeit broader the second time around) already completed and blessed by the rubber-stamp Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which consists of twelve (12) federal departments and agencies.

CFIUS blessed the deal on January 17th. I should add that the following happenstance (purely coincidental, I'm sure) occurred in parallel: "... that same day, the White House appointed a Dubai Ports World executive, David C. Sanborn, to be administrator for the Maritime Administration of the Department of Transportation." (see: UPI story by UPI Pentagon Corrspondent, Pamela Hess, published 02/24/06).

Interestingly, Dubai Ports World is winning kudos from the mainstream media (and the White House) for volunteering to this second due dilligence even though the law governing this Department of the Treasury body required a 45-day investigation in the first place, since DPW is a state-owned company (see: Forbes article by Jessica Holzer, published on 02/23/06). More telling is the fact that a swift, 30-day government approval was finalized first time around without the President of the United States, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, or the United States Congress, for that matter, being in the loop. Stunningly, in this age of much ballyhooed economic globalization, assistant secretaries, sitting on obscure, secretive committees, are quietly making decisions involving America's post-"9/11" strategic security interests.

And, even more telling, is the fact that the lone, overridden dissent on the CFIUS to the Dubai Ports World deal came from the Department of Homeland Security's representative, Stewart Baker. But President Bush's boondoggle, the DHS, apparently has no more impact on the CFIUS than it does on our borders.

Astonishingly, fact is "the highest ranking official to know about the deal before the furor began to erupt was Clay Lowery, the recently appointed assistant secretary for international affairs, a former career staffer at the Treasury and at the National Security Council." (see: Washington Post story by Jim Vandehei and Paul Blustein of 02/26/08). Wasn't one of the chief, more disturbing findings of the 9/11 Commission that our nation's intelligence agencies didn't talk to one another? Seems self-serving, national security-compromising firewalls continue to exist elsewhere in our federal government 53+ months after a horrific, Islamo-terrorist attack on America.

Which brings me to the essential question that seems to have been lost in the woof and warp of name-calling (example: the NYT's David Brooks describes negative reactions to the deal as a "xenophobic tsunami -- a nativist, isolationist, mass hysteria") from the president's minions in the government, the press, the GOP, and the center-right blogosphere against those of us having genuine concerns about placing a United Arab Emirates-owned company in charge of managing 22 of America's ports: do multi-national business interests under the aegis of economic globalization trump strategic national security concerns?

When the outcry over "the deal" first broke, the best a blindsided president could do was to make this lame claim,

If there was any chance that this transaction would jeopardize the security of the United States, it would not go forward.

and followed by this disingenuous demand of those of us who questioned the DPW deal,

... step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great Britain company.

But, of course, the president has essentially embraced this same rationale in purposefully failing to deal with our country's porous borders during his two-term presidency. Mexico is a "friend" and "NAFTA partner," just as the UAE is "an ally in the war against terrorism," so questioning the motivations of either government is an invidious exercise and, on its face, unseemly. Accordingly, and by the president's logic, 12 - 20 million undocumented, illegal aliens should pose no more a national security threat than a foreign-owned, Middle East-based company operating nearly two dozen American ports in wartime.

But some of us think otherwise. David J. Johnson, in a compelling piece, published in the Canada Free Press on February 25th, writes:

The goal of Islamists, following in the footsteps of Muhammad is to create the Islamic kingdom of God on earth. The strategy to obtain this goal in our lifetime includes the control of the world’s energy infrastructure, the transportation systems, currency, media, elections, immigration and education. The control of the port facilities is hence a critical element. Foreign ownership, in and of itself, although important, is not as significant as the strategy and goals of the owner.

President Bush tells us he awakes every morning to the conscious threat of international, Islamofascist terrorism and asks himself if he is doing all he can do to protect Americans, yet he dismisses out of hand any national security threat posed by an Arab country running day-to-day operations of 22 American ports. That strikes this writer as disingenuous or absurdly naive. Nationally-syndicated conservative columnist Cal Thomas picks up this theme:

On Sunday, the Australian government issued the following alert to its citizens: "We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the United Arab Emirates because of the high threat of terrorist attack. We continue to receive reports that terrorists are planning attacks against Western interests in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Commercial and public areas frequented by foreigners are possible terrorist targets."

The United States has approved a business deal that would turn over the operation of six major American ports to a company that is owned by the UAE, the very country Australians are to be wary of visiting. The obvious question is: If it is dangerous for an Australian to travel to the UAE because of terrorism, isn't it even more dangerous for a company owned by UAE to own the rights to American ports where terror might be directly, or indirectly, imported?


So what it all boils down to is this: money decisions oftentimes get in the way of national security risks and assessments. Or, as a former president, himself an open borders' apologist and, unlike the current Oval Office occupant, profoundly oblivious to the threat of international terrorism, put it: "It's the economy, Stupid!"

After all, doesn't it follow that if, in the aftermath of 9/11, the nation's borders (north and south) continue to be porous and unsecured and Arab-owned companies run many of our ports, including two in Texas that supply 40% of the U.S. Army's cargo deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom , that this nation's government has yet to do a full-fledged risk assessment in the context of America's national security interests? Goodness, at present we still only inspect 3% - 5% of the millions of domestic and foreign containers that arrive at our ports! That's the so-called security provided by DHS and the U.S. Coast Guard that the president reassures us will not be compromised by the DPW deal. Security? What security?

Removing shoes from elderly air travelers and wanding pregnant women seem to be the staples of what we have; a DHS' color-coded, security advisory system, ignored by most Americans, we have; a costly, national debt-accelerating War in Iraq we have; a new, tax-consuming, federal government boondoggle, we have. And on and on it goes.

But what we don't have is a strategic assessment of those industries vital to America's security and the necessary laws governing their ownership to protect us and minimize the risk of terrorist attack. Seems economic globalization trumps strategic security interests. Money talks. Have enough of it and you can do most anything you want to do (or receive most anything you want to receive) in or from the United States of America.

President Bush has long schooled Americans on why this country gorges on cheap labor: it's because illegal aliens ("immigrants," he calls them) are willing to do the jobs that Americans are unwilling to do. To that canard, he must now add another to his repertoire to explain why the business of America is being recast: it's because Arab-owned and Communist China-owned companies are willing to do the work that American-owned businesses are unwilling to do.

Americans must ask themselves if that dog hunts any better than the first one does.


FOLLOW-UP: Good example here (in the very first paragraph) of the spin being used by the Bush administration, regardless that the law demanded a 45-day due diligence by CFIUS. (H/T: Hugh Hewitt)

FOLLOW-UP II: How apropos! Michelle Malkin cites comments by David Limbaugh on the ports deal vis-a-vis Bush's "inscrutable immigration policy."

FOLLOW-UP III: (Breaking News) The United States Coast Guard has expressed security concerns about the Dubai Ports World takeover of U.S. ports' operations from Bristish-owned P&O, according to AP news accounts here and here. CNN is breaking the story at the top of its 5:00pm EST news hour. Makes one wonder if the Coast Guard will now be branded as a xenophobic, Arab-hating branch of the DOD.

FOLLOW-UP IV: A tangled web of intrigue is the Dubai Ports World deal -- if you question that statement, kindly read this important piece written by Judy McLeod, published by CFP. (H/T: Free Republic)

FOLLOW-UP V: Read the last sentence in my "FOLLOW-UP III" and then read this post of Michelle Malkin's. It'll be interesting to see how the Coast Guard's concerns will be discredited given the fact that President Bush told us the Dubai Ports World deal would not compromise DHS and Coast Guard security measures. Kind of a paradox!

FOLLOW-UP VI (02/28/06): Well now, what have we here? The Jerusalem Post reports today that "The parent company of a Dubai-based firm at the center of a political storm in the US over the purchase of American ports participates in the Arab boycott against Israel ..." Let's see now, UAE is a much-needed ally in the GWOT and disturbing the Dubai Ports World deal, according to the president, could lead to a setback in Iraq; but, isn't Israel our most vital, long-standing ally in that part of the world and are not Jewish votes important in the political realm here in America? I wonder how the optics will play on this revelation? (H/T: Free Republic)

FOLLOW-UP VII (02/28/06): Further to the story cited above in The Jerusalem Post, Michelle Malkin points to a WorldNetDaily piece by Les Kinsolving, in which he poses a relevant question: "Why should any control of our ports be given to a company owned by such a dictatorship that refuses to recognize Israel?"

FOLLOW-UP VIII (03/02/06): The Houston Chronicle runs an Associated Press piece today that a second Dubai-owned company is being vetted -- this one buying a British precision-engineering company that manufactures "precision parts used in engines for military aircraft and tanks." Might such domestic, defense industry-related manufacturing be deemed of strategic importance in wartime? Maybe back in the World War II era, but apparently not today when we don't even get the U.S. Congress to formerly declare war! The beat goes on ...

Friday, February 24

ARLEN SPECTER'S IN LEAGUE WITH PRESIDENT BUSH ON GUEST WORKERS

Do recall that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) owes his re-election in large part to President Bush, who backed Specter over conservative Republican challenger Pat Toomey.

Some think Senator Specter has shown his appreciation in ably steering the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for the two Bush nominees to the SCOTUS, John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

I think the payback has come in spades with Specter's introduction of legislation that , were it to pass, would give the Bush administration (and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) its much-desired Guest Workers Program on a silver platter and, in the process, debunk what Bush has maintained of late is a GWP sans amnesty for illegals already in this country.

Be vigilant and keep an eye on Specter! And read this!


FOLLOW-UP (02/25/06): From today's edition of the New York Times (registration required for online edition), Rachel L. Swarns writes (excerpts follow):

The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee unveiled draft legislation on Friday that would create a temporary guest worker program that could allow hundreds of thousands of foreigners to fill vacant jobs in the United States for periods of up to six years.

The draft circulated by the lawmaker, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, would also authorize millions of illegal immigrants who arrived in this country before Jan. 4, 2004 to remain here indefinitely, along with their spouses and children, as long as they registered with the Department of Homeland Security, paid back taxes and remained law-abiding and employed, among other conditions.

But the proposal touched off a furor among politicians, advocates for immigrants and union leaders across the political spectrum.

Conservatives condemned it as an amnesty for lawbreakers.

"By legalizing the millions upon millions of illegal aliens in the U.S., Specter makes a mockery of our laws and crushes our already strained legal immigration system," said Representative Tom Tancredo, Republican of Colorado, who pushed for the border security bill in the House.

Count me among those conservatives!

FOLLOW-UP II (02/25/06): More on Specter's slight of hand from The Lonewacko Blog.

FOLLOW-UP III (02/25/06): Here's a well-done analysis of Arlen Specter's proposed Guest Worker/Amnesty legislation from NumbersUSA.

FOLLOW-UP IV (02/25/06): Don't be misled by the "tempoary worker" propaganda of the Guest Worker Program apologists. Here's a good example from The Dan Stein Report of why, once they're here, even on "tempoary" visas, the politicians in Washington keep them here, as they bow to the pressure groups and ignore American citizens.

FOLLOW-UP V (02/27/05): There's a must read post up at NumbersUSA on Specter's bill. (H/T: Free Republic)

PORTS' DEAL: THE PLOT THICKENS !!!

Question becomes: are the President of the United States and the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, who were oblivious to the UAE-owned Dubai Ports World deal at the outset, now giving us a portion of the real story or are they still being misled by their staffers?

Why I ask this? Because WorldNewsDaily is now reporting a significant broadening of the scope of the deal that has a foreign government-owned entity assuming operations' management responsibilities for a number of American ports.

Indeed, Jerome R. Corsi reports the following:

Dubai Ports World is scheduled to take over operations at 22 U.S. ports, not six as previously reported by most major media.

According to the website of P&O Ports, the port-operations subsidiary of the London-based Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. (P&O), DPW will pick up stevedore services at 12 East Coast ports including Portland, Maine; Boston; Davisville, R.I.; New York; Newark; Philadelphia; Camden, N.J.; Wilmington, Del.; Baltimore, Md.; and Virginia locations at Newport News, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.

Corsi continues:

Additionally, DPW will take over P&O stevedoring operations at nine ports along the Gulf of Mexico including the Texas ports of Lake Charles, Beaumont, Port Arthur, Galveston, Houston, Freeport, and Corpus Christi, plus the Louisana ports of Lake Charles and New Orleans.

This, of course, squares with information I cited in my earlier post of today. If we keep pulling on this thread, the president's suit pants may drop to the floor!

Maybe the center-right polibloggers who initially questioned this deal and then came around quickly to the legitimacy of the president's defense of UAE ought to get off the ice for awhile and take a breather. All of those triple sow cows, triple lutzes, and double toe loops to the music of the White House must be exhausting.

Meanwhile, the plot thickens, as does the political stew of mendacity.

A TSA ANALOGY VIZ-A-VIZ THE PORTS' DEAL

In a recent post, I tried this historical analogy to make the case that simply because the United Arab Emirates is a trusted ally of the Bush administration in the GWOT they shouldn't necessarily get a pass in taking over port management operations for six of America's major ports.

Russia was a critical ally of the United States in World War II and integral to the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Would that fact have made Americans comfortable were FDR to have staunchly defended (and with the threat of a presidential veto, no less) a deal "vetted" by his administration (and without his prior knowledge) for a Russian-owned company to take over the management of six critical American ports and during wartime?

Humor me. Let me try another.

What if "the deal" was that a UAE-owned company was about to assume management of the flight training of commercial airline pilots in the United States and the president and federal government high-ups were reassuring Americans that the TSA would continue performing airport security regardless -- i.e., that it, not a Dubai-owned company, would continue removing the shoes of elderly women sporting canes and posing serious security risks to the nation?

Just something to think about as center-right polibloggers continue their Olympic-class pirouette's, turning their "True North" compass bearings in the direction of President Bush's myopic justification of the Ports' Deal.


FOLLOW-UP: Kudos to Michelle Malkin for comprehensively covering the Ports' Deal imbroglio and sticking to her guns even in the wake of her blog being hacked and her receipt of a customary plethora of hate mail. And a tip of the hat as well to Frank Laughter of Common Sense Junction for putting 2 + 2 together and knowing that, even in this age of spin and glib ratiocination, it still equals 4.

FOLLOW-UP II: Conservative columnist and pundit Ann Coulter makes the following observation:

There are at least 3,000 reasons why a company controlled by a Middle Eastern Muslim emirate should be held to a different standard than a British company. Many of these reasons are now buried under a gaping hole that isn't metaphorical in lower Manhattan.

So maybe Bush could defend his port deal without insulting our intelligence by asking why anyone might imagine there's any conceivable difference between a British company and a United Arab Emirates company.

President Bush has painted himself into a corner on this issue, and he needs a face-saving compromise to get out of it. Here's my proposal: Let Harriet Miers run the ports.

WHAT ABOUT HOUSTON, MR. PRESIDENT (WHERE YOUR PARENTS RESIDE)?

From World Trade Magazine, I quote an excerpt from this article by Jeremy N. Smith (published March 1, 2005):

Today, Houston takes the vanguard of a thorny new category of American port management: anti-terrorist protection. "Along the fifty-mile Houston Ship Channel, there are more explosive materials, toxic gases, and deadly petrochemicals than anywhere else in the country," observes the November 2004 Texas Monthly. "Most security experts agree that it's one of America's top targets." Chairman Edmonds concurs, estimating that about half of the nation's daily gasoline and petrochemical supply derives directly from private industry sited on the ship channel. Last March, the FBI announced a high terrorist alert specifically for the area.

All of which leads me to ask: if the President of the United States and Michael Chertoff are okay with Dubai Ports World, an United Arab Emirates-owned company, taking over the management of operations at six major U.S. ports, would they similarly be unconcerned if the deal further embraced an operations' management role in the Houston Ship Channel -- just a matter of miles from the downtown of America's 4th largest city and on a waterway where more explosive materials, toxic gases, and deadly petrochemicals exist than "anywhere else in the country?"

Little known to most Americans and all but ignored in the woof and warp of the Dubai ports' deal controversy is the following (H/T: blogHouston.net):

The company, Dubai Ports World, would also control the movement of military equipment on behalf of the U.S. Army through two other ports. From today’s edition of the British paper Lloyd’s List:

"[P&O] has just renewed a contract with the United States Surface Deployment and Distribution Command to provide stevedoring [loading and unloading] of military equipment at the Texan ports of Beaumont and Corpus Christi through 2010."

According to the journal Army Logistician “Almost 40 percent of the Army cargo deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom flows through these two ports.”

Thus, the sale would give a country that has been “a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Lybia” direct control over substantial quantities U.S. military equipment.

Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle reports in today's edition that Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) is concerned:

U.S. Rep. Gene Green, the Houston Democrat whose district covers the Ship Channel, joined other lawmakers Thursday who signed a letter asking Bush to revoke the deal.

"Unlike the private sector British company that previously operated the terminals at the six ports — New York, Miami, New Orleans, Baltimore, New Jersey, and Philadelphia — Dubai Ports World is owned entirely by the United Arab Emirates, a foreign government ruled by a monarchy," he said.

Green said in a phone interview that he sees a difference between such a company running the port and performing limited shipping services.

"It is the managing of the port that concerns me. If a company comes in and does business and leases facilities, that is one thing, but managing a port is something else," he said.

The Chronicle also reports:

When it comes to United Arab Emirates companies operating at the Port of Houston, "we're already there," to paraphrase one firm's motto.

Besides the Middle Eastern nation's company whose U.S. port business is causing political headaches for the Bush administration, other companies associated with the Muslim country have been at work in Houston for a while, without any known misgivings about port security or terrorism.

There was little to no public attention paid in January when UAE investment company Istithmar bought Inchcape Shipping Services, the world's largest private shipping manager, which has a longtime presence in Houston.

Well, the fact that public attention is coming to the fore belatedly does not diminish the legitimacy of the concern. And the fact that federal government officials have had no "known misgivings about port security or terrorism" here in Houston is hardly the point either. The Houston Chronicle knows full well there's cause for concern. And so should all of us who live in the Houston-Galveston area!


FOLLOW-UP: The Anchoress and I agree to disagree (respectfully) on this subject -- a rare instance of us not being pretty much in lockstep on political issues of the day.

WHO IS IN CHARGE THESE DAYS AT DHS?

The president didn't know about it; nor, as it turns out, did DHS' secretary Michael Chertoff. Who, exactly, is minding the store? Well, if 12 - 20 million illegal aliens in this country (and more border-jumpers on the way daily) are any guide, you have your answer on the state of post-"9/11" national security. And to think that the president and the DHS chief are the two who have been reassuring us that security in place to protect our ports will be unchanged by the UAE-owned Dubai Ports World deal. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

Then there's this snippet from a retired U.S. Navy officer and reader of Hugh Hewitt's blog who sent Hugh an e-mail, a portion of which is very telling:

From time to time I go down to the port in LA and Long Beach. When I get to the gate, yes, there is a guard there. I tell him where I'm going, and he signs me in and waves me through. (There doesn't seem to be a system in place to validate that I am authorized on that given day to be in that particular place.) Our system isn't exactly air-tight today.



FOLLOW-UP: Further to the observations of the retired U.S. Navy officer who sent an e-mail to Hugh Hewitt, here's an article in today's Houston Chronicle (republished from the Baltimore Sun) that quotes longshoremen in Baltimore who are none too impressed with current port security -- you know, the "security" that President Bush and DHS' Michael Chertoff reassure us will not be taken over by DuBai Ports World:

There certainly are issues on the waterfront, longshoremen say: security issues from holes in the system set up after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Sometimes guards don't always take a good look at ID cards at the gate, or foreign crews are allowed unchecked off the ships or even out of the port, some said. Or U.S. Customs and Coast Guard officials tasked with flagging suspicious cargo go home before the ship is unloaded, some said.


Maybe we need to eliminate the Bush boondoggle -- the Department of Homeland Security -- and outsource our national security to a foreign firm that can get the job done a whole lot better. Funny how the federal government defends these sorts of actions, but never wants to outsource its own jobs and responsibilities to other governments or third parties. Chew on that one for awhile!

Thursday, February 23

THE "THEY'RE AN ALLY" DOG DON'T HUNT

Russia was a critical ally of the United States in World War II and integral to the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Would that fact have made Americans comfortable were FDR to have staunchly defended (and with the threat of a presidential veto, no less) a deal "vetted" by his administration (and without his prior knowledge) for a Russian-owned company to take over the management of six critical American ports and during wartime?

If the answer is a resounding "NO!," then someone kindly tell me what the difference is today vis-a-vis United Arab Emirates-owned Dubai Ports World.


FOLLOW-UP: Much is being made of the critical importance of preserving the UAE as a critical ally in the global war on terror by not offending them in rescinding the Dubai Ports World deal. The arugument is that Dubai is of strategic geographical significance in America's GWOT. Well, to continue the analogy I made in this post, do ACSOL readers understand that Russia's warm water port of Murmansk was critical to the Allies' merchant shipping route that armed Russia to defeat the German second front? Read up on the Murmansk Run.

Wednesday, February 22

SO MUCH FOR PRESIDENT'S DAILY SECURITY BRIEFING

And here I had always heard that the President of the United States receives a highly-sensitive, daily, security briefing from the intelligence community.

Appears not.

That or the same intelligence agencies that had set up firewalls that prevented them from sharing intelligence with one another pre-"9/11," haven't learned a damn thing post-"9/11" and have now set up a firewall among themselves and the Oval Office.

Are we to assume that the intelligence agencies that "vetted" the UAE-owned Dubai Ports World deal decided that there was no inherent security risk in having an Arab company manage six of this country's key ports and that, accordingly, this little item didn't even become a bullet item on the daily security briefing?

That should give Americans a real sense of comfort. We're in so much better shape now then pre-"9/11" with our INTELL.

The president threatened his first veto ever yesterday in staunchly defending a deal that he knew nothing about until after his administration finalized the deal and word of it got out on the street and a firestorm ensued. Kind of like Middle Easterners receiving flying lessons -- no harm, no foul, no nothing until commercial jets are flown into skyscrapers!

This crap is getting old.


FOLLOW-UP: Your government at work.

FOLLOW-UP II: Wonder if this kind of information ever made it into the president's daily security briefing? DO READ IT, FOLKS. (H/T: Free Republic)

WHERE'S THE MOB WHEN WE NEED IT?

If there's anything Elia Kazan, Mario Puzo, and David Chase taught me, it's that America's ports are made-to-order venues for mob infiltration and control. And there was a comfort in that, as amazing as that admission might sound. After all, as longshoreman Terry Malloy said to mob-controlled union boss Johnny Friendly:

You take them heaters away from you and you're nothing, you know that? You'll talk yourself in the river!

You take the good goods away and the kickbacks...and shakedown cabbage and the pistoleros and you're nothing! Your guts is all in your wallet and your trigger finger!

You gave it to Joey, you gave it to Dugan... and you gave it to Charley who was one of your own. You think you're God Almighty, but you know what you are? You're a cheap ... lousy, dirty, stinking mug ... and I'm glad what I done to you! You hear that? I'm glad what I done! And I'm going to keep on doing it ...

Life was so much simpler then. Get a cheese-eater -- you know, a canary -- to sing to the Crime Commission and law and order was restored to the docks.

But now, if George W. Bush and his accomplice, Jimmy Carter, have their way, the mob will be supplanted in short order by United Arab Emirates-owned Dubai Ports World and suddenly management of six major American ports, including the hiring and firing of dock workers, will become the province of Arabs!

The Johnny Friendlys are about to get a rude awakening, I'm afraid, from guys with names like Mohammed Zake Ammawi and Merwon Othaman El-Handi. And these guys are in to goat meat and suitcase bombs, not Veal Marsala and heaters. Worse, it doesn't take much to get their blood up. Michael Corleone may have always said, "It's business, it's not personal ...," but these new guys kill over cartoons and damn near everything under the sun is perceived by them as a slight to be avenged.

I guess the question for Americans is: do we want freight or an intifada to arrive at Hoboken's docks?

MORE ON THE PORTS' ROAR (OF WHICH I'M A PART)

Here's a must-read column by Michelle Malkin on the Dubia Ports World deal and I found it linked in a well done post by Betsy Newmark on the same subject. I'm on the same page with Betsy and Michelle.

Captain Ed continues to stay on top of this boiling issue and adamantly opposes the deal.

Kevin Alyward of Wizbang! appropriately calls the president "politically tone deaf." Shades of the president's initial reluctance to pull his curious nomination of Harriet Miers.

Laura Ingraham is doing a splendid job on the subject on her morning radio talk show. I tune in on News Talk KRLA. And her Web site carries germane links. She's a gemstone of the Conservative Movement.

And Nick Anderson's political cartoon in today's Houston Chronicle makes the point well, I think (although perhaps I out did him this time around!). And, to be sure, kudos to the Chronicle's editorial writer.

President Bush has said that if there was any chance at all that the ports deal would jeopardize America's national security, then the deal wouldn't go through. This is the same president, of course, who has been a long-standing open borders' apologist and has done precious little to secure America's borders during his two-term tenure in the White House. I'd say a legitimate credibility gap exists, don't you think?

Hey, maybe in his phone call to Mexico's Vicente Fox on Monday, the two compadres kicked around the possibility of a Mexico-owned security firm taking over border patrol and customs' management at U.S. Ports of Entry. I'm sure the Wall Street Journal would endorse that transaction in a heartbeat and reassure Americans that the deal was "sufficiently vetted for the task at hand." Libertarian bloggers would, in turn, painstakingly instruct those of us deemed too dumb to get it that Mexico wouldn't own the border, but merely would be managing it and in that nuanced distinction all concerns about our country's national security should be allayed.

The inimitable James Lileks hones in on the likely outcome of this ports' imbroglio:

But if I had to make a prediction, I’d say this: the Dubai-ports fracas will become a flap, quickly swell into a firestorm, then become a debacle before settling into the history books as a “historic miscalculation” – providing the Republicans only lose the Congress. If they lose a city, it will be a “critical turning point.”

Tuesday, February 21

DUBYA DEBUTS AS MOVIE MOGUL


"ON THE WATERFRONT"
(2006 REDUX)











Produced by: United Arab Emirates

Directed by: George W. Bush

Filmed on location: Hoboken's waterfront

Starring: Osama Bin Laden

Screenplay by: Michael Chertoff

Script Consultants: Department of Homeland Security

Production Costs: $6.8 billion

Distribution Rights: al-Qaeda

BUSH THREATENS FIRST-EVER VETO IF UAE PORTS DEAL DISTURBED

Now, then, doesn't this beat all. President Bush, who has allowed a huge increase in the size and scope and cost of government during his two-term tenure without ever once exercising his constitutional veto power, says he will exercise it for the first time if Congress attempts by legislative fiat to undo the UAE-owned Dubai Ports World takeover of the management of six major American ports!

My, my, my -- seems the president's back is up over this deal to insinuate Arab management into America'a ports. Harvard Business School must have blessed its economics.

I suppose if tough border-security legislation sans amnesty and convoluted Guest Worker Programs ever passes Congress and reaches the president's desk he'll veto that too.

Well, this for me is the straw that broke the camel's back.

In an age of global, Islamofascist terrorism and at a time when America's fighting men and women are battling overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, I don't want to be told that the Dubai Ports World scheme has been vetted at the highest levels of a government that didn't anticipate and thwart the "9/11" attack and has let our nation's borders go unsecured for decades. I'm hardly reassured!

I salute the president for the people he has placed on the SCOTUS and elsewhere in the federal judiciary. Neither the other party nor its presidential candidates were viable options and that political party continues its blind course of neither marshalling domestic and international solutions nor protecting unborn life.

But, that said, the president has, with his strong, vehement support today for the UAE deal (coupled with his persistent failure during his presidency to secure our borders) lost his GWOT credibility with me. I'm fed up.

Indeed, I freely admit to feeling how The Anchoress does:

President Bush seems to be going out of his way to confound even his most staunch supporters. One looks at this and thinks - he’s bending over and giving the Democrats the belt with which to beat him. Thank you, sir, may I have another?

I don’t pretend to understand it, but I’m frankly growing weary of it, and Bush should pay attention to my weariness, because if even “I” am getting tired of having to defend some of the stuff coming out of his White House, then that may indicate that his base is utterly weary of it, too. If you really want to lose in ‘08, make sure you’ve got everyone completely exhausted from your presidency and “ready for a change - any change” and make way too sharp a left turn.

And I'm with you, Frank Laughter: I smell a rat!


PLEASE NOTE: The "I Still Support President Bush" banner has been removed from this blog's right sidebar.

NEW ORLEANS NEEDS FEMA, NOT DUBAI PORTS WORLD

Imagine this: you're a Katrina-displaced New Orleanian, you've just recently been forced out of your government-defrayed accomodations at a tired-looking motel, your FEMA-funded mobile home has proven anything but mobile and still sits in a cow pasture in Hope, Arkansas, your own flood-ravaged home in the Crescent City's Lower Ninth Ward has been condemned by government authorities and will be bulldozed, any opportunity to feed yourself and your family has been upended by hordes of illegal aliens landing the construction jobs for the federally-funded rebuilding of your city, and now you open up a newspaper and read that the Bush administration has blessed a business deal that would permit United Arab Emirates-owned Dubai Ports World to take over management of six major U.S. ports, including the Port of New Orleans.

Now is that what President Bush promised last September when he spoke to the nation from New Orleans' Jackson Square -- namely, that an Arab company would be esconced in the Port of New Orleans long before New Orleans' evacuees were able to return to their city and begin their lives anew?

Amazing how swiftly the government can move on behalf of foreign business interests and foreign governments, and how appallingly slow it responds when hapless American citizens need help.

And how preposterous is it that Department of Homeland Security's Michael Chertoff, of all people, is spending his time these days making the Bush administration's case for the Dubai Ports' deal, assuring Americans that the matter has been thoroughly vetted, safeguards are in place, and the arrangement poses no security problem to the nation, when he should be directing, among other things, the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast and the securing of our nation's porous borders?

Monday, February 20

ARABS' MANAGEMENT OF AMERICAN PORTS : GOVERNMENT AS PROTECTOR AN ILLUSION

Millions and millions of illegal aliens are trampling our borders and insinuating themselves into every nook and cranny of American life, and the best an American president can say is that "they're here to do the jobs that Americans refuse to do" and pitch a Guest Worker Program geared to American business interests. Right, Mr. President!

Millions and millions of domestic and foreign shipping containers come inbound to our nation's ports each year and, at best, the suspect Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is inspecting only 3% to 5% of them, leaving what Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) calls "a gaping hole in America's security." Meanwhile, DHS Chief Michael Chertoff and Secretary of State Condi Rice pitch Arab management of six major U.S. ports and reassure Americans that all is well! Right, Bush Administration!

Does this most recent bit of insanity juxtaposed with 12 - 20 million illegal aliens afoot in our land cause you to think that government as protector of the people is an illusion and that our nation's security is being forsaken by big money interests? If so, you're thinking as I am.

The whole sorry situation brings to mind that scene in the 1976 movie "Network," in which business tycoon Arthur Jensen (played by Ned Beatty) proselytizes demented news anchor Howard Beal (played by Peter Finch) on what really makes the world go round -- not nations, governments, and peoples, but the "multi-national dominion of dollars."

Just substitute President Bush for Arthur Jensen and imagine him haranguing those of us (you know, the erstwhile Howard Beals being characterized as "xenophobic" and "racist") wanting the deal killed that would permit the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) company, Dubai Ports World, to take over the management of six major American ports:

You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it!! Is that clear?! You think you've merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case. The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance!

You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, Reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels.

It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU WILL ATONE!

Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale?

You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state -- Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do.

We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality -- one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.

The fictional Howard Beale got "mad as hell." What about everyday Americans whose fighting spirits are being enervated by the soporific of political spin -- will they get "mad as hell" and see that their duly elected representatives in Washington kill this latest insanity?

Sunday, February 19

GUEST WORKER PROGRAMS MAY MAKE FOR UNINVITED GUESTS (JUST ASK THE COAL MINERS)

Even as recently as this past week, President Bush was out on the political stump making the case for a Guest Worker Program in order that there be sufficient workers available to do the jobs that, according to him, Americans refuse to do. That's been his careworn refrain throughout his porous-borders' presidency and that's the hand-picked canard he's sticking with no matter how disingenuous.

Do take the time here (PLEASE) to read all of the president's words on immigration and border security and Guest Workers to get the flavor of the man who bends to the will of Mexico's Vicente Fox:

Let me answer immigration first, and then talk about the unfunded liabilities inherent in Medicare and Social Security as a result of baby boomers like me and you retiring with not enough people to pay it, to pay the bill.

First, immigration. There are a lot of people working here in America doing jobs Americans will not do. And that is a fact. And it's a -- as I told you, we deal with the way the world -- the way it is, not the way we hope that it is, and therefore, how to deal with that issue, what do you do? You got people working here, doing jobs Americans won't do.

My attitude is, you recognize it for what it is, and you say, you can do this on a temporary basis. You say, if there's a willing employer and a willing worker on a job an American won't do, then it's okay to fill that job, so long as you're not here permanently, so long as this is not -- (applause.) And so I believe there ought to be a temporary worker program. We've tried this in America before -- pretty successful, at least in my own home state of Texas. You got people -- Red Putnam over there, he's got people -- probably have been bringing people in to pick oranges, I don't know. Agriculture relies upon a lot of people willing to do the work that others won't do. And it seems like to me that there ought to be a legal way to make this happen without creating a sense of amnesty or permanency.

And so, one, I have to deal with immigration rationally. Now, we've got an obligation to enforce our borders and our coastlines, and we're spending a lot of money to do so. The Texas border is long and it's hard to enforce. I mean, it's a lot of miles, a lot of empty country. And so we're using new technologies -- drones, infrared, some mounds, some fencing in cities, to try to make it harder for people to cross. But the truth of the matter is, a lot of our Border Patrol agents are chasing people who are coming here to work, see. And it seems like to me that if we could have a rational system that would enable people to do this on a temporary basis, it would take the pressures off the borders. People would be able to come in here in a rational, legal way.

Now, as I told you, I'm not for amnesty. You got about 8 million-plus people here illegally. My worry is if the -- all of a sudden legal citizens, then another 8 million comes. And I don't think that makes any sense. So in terms of immigration, I'm for border enforcement, and strong border enforcement, with a rational guest worker program that's temporary in nature, where it's understood that you're working here for a period of time, then you're going back on home.

Now, I want to talk to you about what's happened as a result of the current program. When you make something illegal, and there's a -- you know, people coming here to work, people figure out ways around it. I'm not old enough to remember the old whisky days of Prohibition, but I remember reading about it -- people still made whisky, because people wanted to drink it.

And so guess what's happening today. We've got people getting stuffed in the back of 18-wheelers, driving across hot desert to find jobs that most often or not Americans won't do. There's a whole smuggling industry as a result of making temporary work -- not making it legal. A whole smuggling industry -- coyotes they're called -- and it's inhumane, it just is, any way you look at it.

You know, family values don't stop at the Rio Grande River. If you've got starving children and there's a job over here in America that pays you more than it does in Mexico that an American won't do, you come and do that job and get that money back to your family.

Secondly, one way to make immigration policy work is you've got to enforce the law. And so you've got to go to employers. I'm not going to come to your home building site -- but anyway. (Laughter.) You come to enforce the law, right? And so you're a home builder out here in the Tampa area; a bunch of people show up, roofers show up, and say, you know, we're legal, here's my card. You're not in the business of telling me whether or not that's a forged document, or not. You don't know. It looks real. And that's all you're expected -- but I'm telling you, they're forging these documents. There's a whole underground industry. They're smuggling people and they're forging documents. And our borders are being over -- it makes it much harder to enforce. And so I think by having a rational plan, temporary worker, no amnesty, will expose these people runners and drug -- document forgers for what they are. So that's my answer on immigration.

So the President of the United States wants us to recognize the situation for what it is -- namely, that Americans' patent refusal to do certain types of work that Mexicans are more than willing to perform is the bona fide engine of illegal immigration, not American industry's desire for cheap, taxpayer-subsidized, slave labor, or the federal government's manifest failure to secure our borders and enforce current immigration laws.

How convenient. And that's it in a nutshell. George W. Bush has decreed that the laziness of American workers is the genesis of 11 - 20 million illegal aliens being in this country. And in rationalizing his failure he insists only belatedly on a "rational, legal way" for foreigners to emigrate here on a "tempoary basis" to do the work that would otherwise not get done if left exclusively to American citizens to do.

I've written about this canard before -- this propaganda that fruits and vegetables must be harvested, as if cut-rate paying jobs in farm fields and orchards are the only jobs that illegals ever end up doing in this country. No matter that illegal aliens have turned up working in power plants, petrochemical plants and refineries, military bases, airports and nuclear facilities, and even a chemical and biological weapons testing center for the Department of Defense! No, this sort of information isn't well-known and well-circulated.

But isn't it interesting that in the same space of days that the president is out on the hustings promoting his Guest Worker Program, the Houston Chronicle is running the following story of how, in the wake of the coal mining disasters that have gripped Appalachia, the president of Sidney Coal Company, Charlie Bearse, is decrying the falling productivity of American coal miners and looking to replace them with Mexicans.

U.S. companies are constantly complaining they need migrant workers to do the low-paying, menial tasks Americans just won't do. But at $18 an hour and up, plus benefits, these are some of Appalachia's best jobs.

Here in Hatfield-McCoy country — where Hispanics make up less than 1 percent of most counties' populations — Bearse's comments were fighting words.

"They bring Mexicans in here, they'll get 'em killed," disabled miner Homer Black said over the rumble at the company's coal preparation plant. Added 23-year-old Shannon Gibson, who recently took the state test for the green card that would allow him to work underground: "They're just looking for more workers who'll work cheaper and work longer."


And, as the story continues, there's the ruse that not only are Americans unproductive, but there are insufficient numbers of them to get the coal mined:

Miller, one of the mining board's seven members, said 1,400 laid-off union miners in western Kentucky alone could go to work today. He echoed the sentiments of many who believe the industry is simply hoping to exploit Hispanics and drive down wages.

"They want people who don't have the ability to protect themselves," Miller said.

"If they can flood the market with Hispanic workers, if they can get away with paying a guy $8 and hour, the next guy will be willing to work for $7."


Remember this, folks: the same president who committed to rebuilding the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast is steadfastly assuring through his administration's purposeful neglect in enforcing immigration law and in securing our borders that most of those taxpayer-funded federal dollars will go into the pockets of illegal immigrants and eventually be routed back to Mexico in the form of untaxed remittances! Their discretionary income is indeed the money you dole out to Washington each year in personal income taxes.

So don't abide this notion that illegal immigration is about filling jobs Americans refuse to do. Americans are losing good paying jobs to undocumented Mexican immigrants and that's the plain and simple truth of it despite what you hear out of Washington and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Just ask the coal miners in Kentucky and West Virginia about it in a few years' time.


FOLLOW-UP (02/20/06): John Hawkins of Right Wing News enumerates the issues involving a Guest Worker Program and in the context of this development in the coal mining industry in Appalachia; and, Brenda Walker at the VDARE.blog speaks to the "exploitation strategy," as I did. I can tell you this, as I've done business in that part of the country: Kentucky and West Virginia coal miners are not going to roll over and play dead if the mining companies choose to exploit illegal aliens, as other industries have. There are places in Appalachia where sheriffs are reluctant to serve warrants.

GET OVER IT!

At 12:10pm CST I ventured into the family room and turned on the television, checking CNN first, followed by Fox News. CNN was airing a panel discussion, entitled at the base of the screen: "Cheney Misfire." That's right, they're still beating the Vice President's hunting accident to death, even after Dick Cheney gave a belated interview to Fox's Brit Hume, even after a formal accident investigation by the Texas' Parks and Wildlife Department exonerated the vice president of being intoxicated while hunting, and even after the man shot, Harry Whittington, was released from the hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. Same ol', same ol'.


Meanwhile, Fox News was running a story examining the possibilities of an "Iran Nuke Showdown."


Now you tell me which cable news channel is "fair and balanced," and (to my way of thinking) more "on point?"

SHANI DAVIS WINS THE GOLD IN 1,000-METER SPEEDSKATING

There's a poignant, sharp-edged scene that I recall to this day (and I would ask you to recall) in the 1967 screen drama, "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" -- an Oscar award-winning film about the conundrum presented by a black, on-the-rise-towards-prominence physician, played by Sidney Poitier, in seeking his fiancee's well-heeled, quintessentially-liberal parents' approval (the parents played wonderfully by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn) to marry their daughter and thus enter into an inter-racial marriage, which by law in many states at the time of the film's debut was still verboten.

The scene I'm calling to mind is when Sidney Poitier and his character's father, a retired postman, meet privately in Spencer Tracy's study to air their differences about the impending marriage of a black man and a white woman, which has left both sets of parents dumbfounded and, initially anyways, in a most uncomfortable dilemma. In that scene, Poitier's character says to his intractable, set-in-his-ways' father, at the height of the emotions flying back and forth between the two:

I'm your son. I love you. I always have and I always will. But you think of yourself as a colored man. I think of myself ... as a man.

That exchange came to mind during the strained interview of Shani Davis, a 23-year-old black athlete from the South Side of Chicago, on last night's Winter Olympics' broadcast by NBC Sports. Davis had just won the gold medal in the men's 1,000-meter speedskating event and was coming across as a near reticent, subject-predicate-only responder to the questions being put to him by the NBC interviewer. She went so far as to ask him if he was "angry" about something given his grim expression before the cameras and his taciturn disposition.

Today's Houston Chronicle's front page, below-the-fold story by Dale Robertson ("Davis' gold makes history for black Olympians" link) goes to great lengths to depict Davis' post-triumph behavior as the result of an internecine, U.S. Olympics' team feud between him and fellow speedskater-teammate Chad Hedrick, who hails from the Houston area; but I'm not so sure. Could it simply be that Shani Davis has the mindset of Sidney Poitier's character and he doesn't want to be hailed as the "first black (man) to win an individual gold in the Winter Olympics," but rather to be regarded rightly as an athlete who overcame the obstacles thrown at him by a hardscrabble life?

After all, Shani Davis isn't the Jackie Robinson of Olympic speedskating. Pigmentation doesn't keep you off the ice, even on Chicago's South Side. His gold-medal victory shouldn't be cast in racial terms, but rather in pure athletic achievement. Maybe that's what rankled Davis -- that an NBC Sports' interviewer couldn't wait to ask him about his blackness in the context of his Olympic triumph.

You see, you think of yourself as a white interviewer questioning a black athlete. I just think of myself as a man and an athlete.

Congratulations, Mr. Davis, for winning a gold medal in speedskating as a member of the U.S. Olympic team. And have no fear: NBC Sports' Melissa Stark will not be coming to dinner.

A PRE-ELDERLY, WET LEAF BOOMER?

I'm just a skosh in age from the leading edge of the Boomer Generation and there's a touch of gray around my temples to prove it. So I'm unequivocally part of a demographic sea change about to be loosed on American society, and I feel as if I'm caught in a raging river current in which even the strongest of swimmers can neither return to shore, nor avoid the looming precipice and headfirst plunge ahead.

The inevitability of it all was reinforced recently with the advent of my kid brother's 50th birthday. I think I was more mortified by it than he, as enough years separate us owing to my parents' languorous baby-making that until now I regarded my brother as our family's own version of Peter Pan -- the youngest of four, well-spread-out siblings, who to the others seemed to be cast as forever young.

But then I read recently a column in which those of us in our 50s are now deemed "pre-elderly" by U.S. government statisticians and so a blue funk soon befell me and I grimly informed my brother and sisters that we were now irrevocably nearer the end than the beginning and caught in the dreaded vice grip of insurance actuaries.

"Pre-elderly." Ugh! Why it seems like only yesterday that friends were signing my high school yearbook and writing well-penned expressions of hopefulness, such as "Have a bitchin' summer!" and "Don't work too hard!"

But if the cold splash of water of being "pre-elderly" were not enough, now along comes a chilling piece in today's Houston Chronicle, written by Jeffrey Leving and Glenn Sacks, that the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) recently completed a study that divorce among "older couples" is on the rise and that more and more women are dumping their husbands, instead of the other way around, which is the common perception; and, furthermore, that this phenomenon is most pronounced in Japanese society where long-working husbands who never had the time to develop outside hobbies and interests (as well as deep-seated friendships) are now, in their early retirement years, seen as "wet leaves" by their spouses -- i.e., male mates with a characteristic tendency "to cling to their wives" and spend most of their time "at home."

One Japanese newspaper says "some Japanese women see their husbands as an obstacle to enjoying their sunset years. With few hobbies or friends to turn to, many Japanese retirees, often nicknamed 'wet leaves' for their tendency to cling to their wives, spend their time at home." These "wet leaves" are increasingly being swept aside by their newly independent wives.

In both countries this "Pin the Blame on the Husband" is unfair. For one, the stereotype of the husband trading in his wife for a younger model is by and large a myth. The women in the AARP study were 60 percent more likely to claim that they ended their marriages than the men were, and men were almost twice as likely as women to say that they never saw their divorces coming. In contrast to the Porsche and trophy wife stereotype, the AARP study found that these divorced men had many serious concerns, high among them their fear of losing touch with their children after a divorce.

My God. This is the official "Welcome Mat" awaiting Boomers: to be chronicled as pre-elderly, soon-to-be-divorced, wet leaves? Isn't it enough that swollen prostates and dribbling urine streams await us -- we who drive Buicks, married our high school sweethearts, and have kid brothers nearly nine years our junior?

BONE UP ON BLOGOSPHERE LINGO

William Safire provides a Blogger's Lexicon in this fun column, re-published in the Houston Chronicle's" Sunday, online edition.

Not sure, however, that I like being referred to as a "wingnut" and a "link slut."

Saturday, February 18

POROUS BORDERS; FOREIGN-OWNED PORTS

The global war on terror (GWOT) is fast becoming a shell game of the Bush administration: now you see it; now you don't. LOGIC, that is. And Americans are being duped by the sleight of hand, drawn to the carnival stall by the consumate carnival barker, George W. Bush.

Bad enough that we've been told over and over again since "9/11" that we must fight Islamofascist-sponsored terrorism overseas so we won't have to fight it here in our homeland, when the Bush administration has purposefully maintained a porous borders' policy, willing to allow a veritable human invasion of illegal aliens from Mexico until it can get its amnesty-in-disguise Guest Worker Program launched.

But now there's something so fundamentally outrageous afoot that any semblance of logic behind the GWOT dissolves and leaves Americans aghast at the utter stupidity (and disingenuousness) of the federal government -- a government that can't (and won't) secure our borders, deal effectively with the devastating aftermath of Katrina and Rita, or implement a strategic energy initiative that reduces our country's dependence on foreign oil.

The outrage? At a time when the Department of Homeland Security -- George Bush's boondoggle of last resort -- continues to soak taxpayers without protecting them, the Bush administration is about to permit ownership of major American ports by Dubai Ports World, a United Arab Emirates' government-owned firm.

Arabs can own our ports and enter our country without proper documentation from Mexico (and even develop nuclear weapons), but American men and women in uniform must be maimed and killed in Iraq and Afghanistan so that we don't have to fight terrorists here in America? Come on! Where's the outrage? Who's kidding whom? Where's the logic in that?

My friend Frank Laughter has said it best.


FOLLOW-UP: More on this from Michelle Malkin.

FOLLOW-UP II: Here's a pertinent Newsday.com piece (H/T: The Anchoress)

FOLLOW-UP III: Here's more from Frank Laughter. And, I must say, I'm close to pulling that "I Still Support the President" banner from my site's right sidebar. Seems the president's kowtowing to business interests -- domestic and international -- is making a mockery of the DHS' obligations (and our country's chief law enforcement officer's) to secure our borders and our ports, and protect us from terrorist threats.

FOLLOW-UP IV: READ THIS and tell me if you're now mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?!

FOLLOW-UP V (02/19/06): Many Americans are unconvinced, as are many Congressmen; the fact that DHS' Chief Michael Chertoff is trying to reassure us that Arab ownership of American ports does not pose a national security risk ought to have ALL AMERICANS nervous as hell and demanding a full inquiry!

FOLLOW-UP VI (02/20/06): Frank Laughter is covering this issue like a glove. Now he raps Condi Rice on the knuckles for carrying the water for the Bush administration in support of Arab-owned American ports.

MEDIA TARNISHES JACOBELLIS' SILVER

If, as I did, you found it utterly distasteful the lengths to which the mainstream media went in lampooning and, in some quarters, villifying Vice President Dick Cheney over the past week for accidentally shooting his hunting partner a week ago today during a quail hunt in south Texas, then you must share with me the revulsion in seeing what the MSM (led by NBC Sports) is doing to 20-year-old Lindsey Jacobellis for failing to win the gold medal for the U.S. in the inaugural women's snowboardcross race in the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

Apparently the media looks askance at silver and bronze medals when the gold is so clearly in sight, as it was for Jacobellis until she fell after the penultimate jump owing to what many in the media are terming a "botched stunt" -- i.e., a little showboating before the cameras.

NBC Sports, in its coverage of the race, couldn't resist comparing Lindsey Jacobellis to the Dallas Cowboys' Leon Lett (for celebrating too soon) and even had a video vignette of one of PGA golfer Gregg Norman's famous meltdowns during The Masters at Augusta (to emphasize how Lindsey had choked in the face of sure victory). NBC was ruthlessly mean-spirited and showed no compunction in turning her winning of the silver medal for her country into something akin to a funeral wake. Bob Costas' interview of Jacobellis was particularly distasteful, as a barely audible "Congratulations" followed only after a lengthy probing of why the young woman blew the race. I guess it is lost on NBC that it is blowing the Olympics' coverage and doesn't hold a candle to ABC's long, award-winning tenure.

To be sure, I would liked to have seen Lindsey win the gold, just as I would loved to have seen Apolo Anton Ohno advance to the finals of the 1500 Short Track Speed Skating. But anything can happen in athletic competition and such vagaries lend drama to the sport and add an air of uncertainty to the chill air of the Winter Olympics' venue. Nothing is so certain as uncertainty in life.

But Jacobellis won a silver medal in her event and that should not be lost on Americans. And to my way of thinking she won a gold medal as well for her honesty and poise under fire from NBC Sports and much of the MSM, which thinks nothing of dismembering a 20-year-old woman and burying her in the snow of northen Italy.

Congratulations, Lindsey! I mean that from the heart.


FOLLOW-UP: Speaking of NBC Sports' hom-hum coverage of the Winter Olympics, do read this post by The Anchoress.

FOLLOW-UP II: Here's another example of the tar and feathering of a 20-year-old in her first Olympics by the MSM; and another; and another.

Thursday, February 16

BUSH DUMP CHENEY? RIDICULOUS, PEGGY!

So now even the more eminently level-headed among MSM columnists are coming up with half-baked theories of palace intrigues over Vice President Cheney having taken dead aim at a thrushing bird last Saturday afternoon and hitting instead a hapless hunting companion. Peggy Noonan, for one, paints a scenario in her WSJ OpinionJournal column (out today) in which President Bush may seek to turn the Cheney/Wittington misfortune into a changing of the guard in order to launch a GOP presidential contender for 2008 who would sustain the GWOT, particularly in Iraq, and support "the Bush Doctrine."

Writes Ms. Noonan:

Why would they be thinking about this? It's not the shooting incident itself, it's that Dick Cheney has been the administration's hate magnet for five years now. Halliburton, energy meetings, Libby, Plamegate. This was not all bad for the White House: Mr. Cheney took the heat that would otherwise have been turned solely on George Bush. So he had utility, and he's experienced and talented and organized, and Mr. Bush admires and respects him. But, at a certain point a hate magnet can draw so much hate you don't want to hold it in your hand anymore, you want to drop it, and pick up something else. Is this fair? Nah. But fair has nothing to do with it.

This is a White House that likes to hit refresh when the screen freezes. Right now the screen is stuck, with poll numbers in the low 40s, or high 30s. The key thing is Iraq. George Bush cares deeply about Iraq and knows his legacy will be decided there. It has surely dawned on the White House that "Iraq" will not be "over" in the next two years. Iraq is a long story. What Dick Armitage or Colin Powell said about the Pottery Barn rule was true: If you break it, you own it, at the very least for the next few years.

George Bush, and so the men and women around him, will want the next Republican presidential nominee to continue the U.S. effort in, and commitment to, Iraq. To be a candidate who will continue his policy, and not pull the plug, and burrow through.

This person will not be Dick Cheney, who has already said he doesn't plan to run. So Mr. Bush may feel in time that he has reason to want to put in a new vice president in order to pick a successor who'll presumably have an edge in the primaries--he's the sitting vice president, and Republicans still respect primogeniture. They will tend to make the common-sense assumption that a guy who's been vice president for, say, a year and a half, is a guy who already knows the top job.

Well, I don't buy it. Bush puts a lot of stock in personal loyalty. Just look how he's stuck by Donald Rumsfeld. And at a time when many conservatives in the Republican Party are growing weary of the exponential growth in government and government spending under George W. Bush and of the president's stubborn persistence in failing to address the illegal alien/porous borders problem, it is Dick Cheney, not the president himself, who gives the Bush Administration the imprimatur of conservatism. Indeed, the "Dump Cheney" movement in 2003 never gained traction for that very reason and supporters knew then that Cheney would not be a presidential contender in the future.

Noonan's premise is full of birdshot.

Wednesday, February 15

CHENEY'S DOG DON'T HUNT

Members of the overwrought Washington press corps and talking-head, cable-TV pontificators have, in many instances, made egregious asses out of themselves in covering the Dick Cheney hunting accident that occurred this past Saturday in southern Texas. Tonight on Bill O'Reilly's "The Factor," Geraldo Rivera weighed in, saying the failure of the Vice President to report that same day the accidental shooting of a hunting companion rose to the level of Ted Kennedy's similar failure in the Chappiquiddick accident that involved the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. O'Reilly was incredulous. But then Giraldo went off half-cocked during the Katrina disaster in New Orleans and took hyperbole (and misinformation) to new heights, as is his propensity.

But, and regardless that I am a conservative Republican and one who twice voted for the Bush- Cheney ticket, I don't buy Mr. Cheney's explanation -- nor the wisdom in what he did -- to Fox News' anchor Brit Hume this afternoon that the 18-hour delay in initially reporting the shooting to the press was purposeful on his part because early news reports, in his experience, are oftentimes inaccurate and that he thought it best that an eye witness to the shooting (Katharine Armstrong) initiate contact with the press once the medical condition of Harry Whittington was better known.

That dog don't hunt, with all due respect, Mr. Vice President.

A hunting accident that shouldn't have been blown out of all proportion has, in part, because of the vice president's error in judgement in not going through normal channels and making as much information known to the press Saturday evening. It's bad enough that he shot Mr. Whittington; worse, Dick Cheney shot himself in the foot.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GRIPS HOUSTON

So a professional soccer team dares not call itself the "Houston 1836" in honor of the city's founding lest it risks offending the Hispanic community, because the date of the Bayou City's founding might just promote divisiveness among Houstonians. How could that possibly be, you ask, in a city that handily-willingly accomodates 350,000 - 400,000 illegal aliens and, as a Sanctuary City, goes to great lengths not to offend even those here illegally and without proper documentation?

Because, you see, in 1836 Texas won its independence from Mexico, and although the Battle of the Alamo was fought and lost by out-numbered Texans to overwhelming Mexican forces led by Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana, the Battle of San Jacinto was waged, too, that same year and won by out-numbered Texans over overwhelming Mexican troops, again led by the redoubtable Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana. The first bit of history was okay, I suppose, unless of course your family tree includes the likes of Davy Crockett or Jim Bowie or William Travis; the latter, however, remains anathema to those in Houston of Mexican descent who still feel primary allegiance to Mexico. It follows, then, does it not, that a team called the "Sam Houstons" would have similarly been a slight to many in the Latino community?

So what gives with the hypersensitivity and nonsensical political correctness that apparently abound in America's 4th largest city? Report's the Houston Chronicle:

Many Hispanics have voiced their dislike for the controversial name, claiming it carries an anti-Mexican sentiment and lends itself to be a divisive tool among Houstonians.

Although 1836 was meant to symbolize the year Houston was founded, it also has links to other significant events some Mexican-Americans might find offensive. Those include Texas' independence from Mexico, the Battle of the Alamo and the defeat of Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna's Mexican army at the hands of Gen. Sam Houston in the Battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution.

The logo, a star with "Houston 1836" emblazoned on it, depicts a silhouette of Houston riding a horse.


I guess that means that Americans dare not ever allow a professional sports team to be named "1776" for fear of offending those of British ancestry (or "1945" for fear of antagonizing those of German, Italian, or Japanese descent).

In an age of Cartoon Wars, anything and everything can offend and one must walk on eggshells. Maybe the best choice would have been the "Houston No-Names."

Tuesday, February 14

THE SHOT HEARD 'ROUND THE WORLD -- A DAY LATER

I'm in agreement with a Houston Chronicle editorial published today that appropriately chides the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney for their failure to notify the news media in a timely manner on the shooting accident involving the vice president (the shooter) and a member of his hunting party, Harry Whittington, who was accidentally shot. The 18-hour gap between the inadvertent shooting and the subsequent acknowledgement of the accident is newsworthy.

The administration's failure to alert news media to a weekend shooting accident in which Vice President Dick Cheney pulled the trigger has magnified a minor incident into something far more substantial: a symbol of the disdain shown by the nation's top leaders for timely and truthful public disclosure.

Having said that, I also think the White House press corps was over-the-top in many of its questions -- a good number rhetorical -- to White House spokesman Scott McClellan in what became a contentious, over-heated exchange yesterday. You'd think the Vice President had given a speech in the Middle East to a group of Saudis charging that the U.S. government had committed "terrible abuses" against Arabs on the heels of the "9/11" attack on American soil.

But, folks, that wasn't Dick Cheney. No, that was Al Gore, and neither he nor his office has provided any substantive evidence of his preposterous charges. And yet the national press is giving the former vice president a pass, while forging full steam ahead into whether or not the current Republican veep was properly licensed, incontrovertibly sober, and wearing the obligatory orange vest. Captain Ed provides a good example of just how unprofessional and trigger-happy some in the press have behaved in the wake of the hunting incident. Aren't journalists supposed to be distinguishable from late night comics?

At least it can be said fairly of the injuries to Harry Whittington that they were the result of an accidental shooting. Certain of the Washington press corps are now seen taking dead aim at Dick Cheney and the Bush administration with malice aforethought. Trigger-happy journalists gunning for Cheney may, in short order, become more the story than the failure of the White House to provide a timely press release.