Wed Feb 22nd, 2006 at 08:56:15 AM EST
As has been reported in both the American and European press, Bush has proposed that the operation several East Coast shipping ports should be allowed to be controlled by a company that is based in the United Arab Emirates. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4737940.stm
This has set off a political firestorm--but the players are all confused about which side of the argument they should be on.
Bush says that it's ok for the ports to be controlled by an Arabian country, because the port security (such as it is--only about a tenth of incoming containers are inspected anyway) would still be under American supervision. And the port workers would be unionized Americans. And the UAE is a strong American partner in the Middle East--where such partners are not that easy to come by.
Some Democrats, notably Hillary Clinton, who is trying to position herself as a moderate by taking not-very-liberal positions on a number of issues, have come out against the deal because it would reduce the Security of the U.S.A. Another argument is that the ports should be run by the U.S. government, which sounds suitably socialist--but has not been proposed previously and would be a considerable disruption to the shipping industry as it now stands.
Other Democrats, notably the usually-sensible Jimmy Carter, support the deal because they see opposition to it as racist xenophobia. Since practically all American ports are managed by overseas-based companies anyway, selecting out this particular company because it's based in Arabia seems pretty wierd.
The Republican leadership opposes the move, because they don't want the A-rabs to run stuff. This is understandable. Perhaps also they see an opportunity for a big American contractor (hint: names starts with "H") to come in a run the ports.
Prominent blogger Markos Zuniga at DailyKos has come out against the proposal, standing alongside the other xenophobes. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/2/21/155744/260
This is not particularly shocking given his previous history, but it does open the question of whether the left really has a coherent position on this issue. Aren't leftists supposed to be the ones who FIGHT racism? It's confusing...
As a comparison point, who runs the ports in Europe?