Elephant Ears

This blog is dedicated to the political happenings in the Valley and Southwest Virginia. As the the name implies, this blog will have posts based on what is heard by this elephant's (GOPer's) ears. It is also a great treat to get while at the county fair or a carnival.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

American Ports Should Be American

The battle over ports is getting more and more attention as every day goes by. For those of you who don't know, the British Company that runs 6 of our major ports (Miami, Baltimore, New York, New Orleans,Philadelphia, and New Jersey) is being bought by a company based in the United Arab Emirates. The article says Sen. Clinton and Sen. Menedez of New Jersey are going to propose a bill that bans the sale of ports to foreign countries. Rep. Tom Davis is even quoted in the article as saying we are in a global economy and this situation is a tough call.

Having the British run our ports was bad enough. I am opposed to any country running our ports, not just Arab nations. Don't we have people here that can do it? Also, how many other ports in the US are run by foreign companies?
For once in my life I agree with Hilary Clinton on this one.

UPDATE: Bill Frist has joined the chorus against this port transfer. Well done Senator. He joins Gov. Ehrlich of Maryland and Gov. Pataki of NY as seriously opposing this. Also, Jimmy Carter has come out in support of turning the ports over. That is reason enough to oppose it right there.

UPDATE2: President Bush issued a stern statement today on the port deal. Drudge is reporting that the President has threatened to veto any bill stopping this from happening. He also asks why everyone is making a big deal now that an Arab company wants to buy it when no one cared when a British firm owned them.
If I knew any foreign company owned our ports, I would have raised hell. As I said before, does anyone know of other ports owned or operated by foreign companies?

UPDATE3: Chuck Schumer says he would rather have Halliburton run the ports than the UAE. Sounds like a good plan to me. We even have the democratic backing to give them a contract this time.


  • At 2/21/2006 1:54 PM, Blogger Politicl.Animal said…

    Well, I'm even agreeing with Elephant Ears on this one.

    Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Go build some houses, man, don't put your foot in your mouth.

  • At 2/21/2006 3:02 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Glad to see we have both ends on the spectrim in agreement on this idiotic idea.

  • At 2/21/2006 6:17 PM, Anonymous Libertas said…

    Gotta say I am in agreement with you on this. I don't understand this any more than I understand the term "undocumented worker."

  • At 2/21/2006 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    but you have to understand that the company from UAE are big Bush donors, therefore the administrations hands are tied. Why are you contributing to making things difficult for the President? Afterall, money (i.e. poltical contributions) are too important.

    Be a good Bush republican and stop talking about this, what about BIG DONORS do you not understand?

  • At 2/21/2006 9:56 PM, Blogger Addison said…

    Here are a few things to keep in mind:

    1) BAE, one of the largest US defense contractors, is a foreign company. Other defense contractors, both prime and sub, are foreign owned

    3) The committe that reviews mergers, CFIUS, was the subject of extensive Congressional review and oversight last fall. In the end, Congress didn't alter the review process.

    4) What's the point of having a process if everyone is going to get all hot and lathered up when they don't like the results?

  • At 2/21/2006 10:17 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Addison, I think having foreign companies build our military equipment is stupid as well. I was vehemently opposed to letting whatever foreign company it was build the new Marine 1.
    I believe Khrushev said something about burying us without firing a shot.
    That can easily be done when you outsource strategic assets.

  • At 2/22/2006 7:18 AM, Anonymous NOVA Scout said…

    Time for folks to study up and get a grip. The United States has long had as a central element of its foreign and economic policy the facilitation of international capital movements. After you take your first international economics course, you'll see with almost Saul-on-the-Road-to-Damascus clarity why this makes sense. Another key part of U.S. foreign policy is to convince troublesome regions and countries that there is more to be gained in participating in the world economy than in withdrawing from it. This is the "carrot" that accompanies the "stick" we are using in the Middle East. The theory is that once everyone is prospering by trading with one antoher, there is virtually no rational incentive to throw it all over by acts of war and violence. In general, this is a strong theory (although even I would have to concede there are some irrational actors with a lot of power, at least regionally - think North Korea). Aside from the foreign and economic policy issues, international "liberalism" and faith in free trade is a core conservative value, political conservatism being properly understood (which it largely isn't in Virginia GOP circles).

    Against this background, the international maritime business is just that - intensely international. There already is a lot of foreign ownership in U.S. terminals and somewhere in the neighborhood of 90% of our commerce is carried on foreign ships. It is suxtomary for shipowners to own or manage their own terminals. This is how foreign ownership of marine terminals got started in this country and elsewhere. In recent years, particularly in the container trades, the shipowners have contracted this out to specialists in terminal operations. Some of these companies are large foreign concerns who operate around the world. Dubai Ports World is one of these companies.

    The President's stand is correct both in terms of the economic and foreign policy interests of the United States and in terms of conservative economic principles. I admit that it's a hard stand to take politically. Not only have the demagogues glommed on to this, but also a number of people in the GOP who are understandably put off by the optics and the furor (gleefully stoked by media demagogues like Lou Dobbs and Bill O'Reilly).

    When these foreign companies run one of these terminals, the workers remain American longshoremen, and many of the executives are American. The Coast Guard and Customs continue to be the key security agencies. Since 9/11, we have been obtaining privileges at foreign ports to have our security people work overseas in those ports to guard the entire cargo chain. this isn't our right - we get that privilege because we deal fairly with foreign governments and industry personnel. Like it or not, this is a very interlinked world, and I have yet to hear the defining principle that does not do harm to our overall interests and positions that would forbid a company based in the UAE (as these things go, a fairly strong ally in the Middle East), but would permit China, Singapore, or other centralized economies to operate terminals here).

  • At 2/22/2006 8:33 AM, Anonymous NoVA Scout said…

    BTW, over at TC, Charles has put up an in-depth informational comment on the industry, for those who are interested.

  • At 2/22/2006 1:26 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Thanks for the insight Scout. I agree with most of what you say, and apparently we already have outsourced our ports anyway. I still think policy is a bad one, but its not going to change anytime soon.

  • At 2/22/2006 3:59 PM, Anonymous NOVA Scout said…

    GOP: Maybe the problem is that the degree of foreign presence in the ports was not a conscious policy choice, it was just an evolutionary development that tracked the dominance of foreign shipping companies. If you're a big multi-national shipping company and bring a lot of containers and vessels into the US, you're going to want to have a lot of control over the terminals and gear at pierside. I don't think anyone ever made a conscious policy judgment that this work should be "outsourced," it just developed along with the big container fleets from Denmark, Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore.

  • At 2/23/2006 2:01 PM, Anonymous NOVA Scout said…

    I take back yesterday's allusion to O'Reilly. I watched him last night and found him taking a very mature stance on this. I should have stuck with Dobbs. My mistake.

    To the extent people become better informed on this I think the issue will start becoming more balanced and the real outcry will move more into the Clinton/Schumer spectrum. There still is a lot of ignorant nativism and general lack of knowledge about the industry that may drive the debate, but I am hopeful that the President can find 34 Senators to stand firm for US interests, despite the pornographic allure of election year politics.

  • At 2/23/2006 5:00 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Well I still think outsourcing strategic assets is a bad idea, but we are doing it everywhere.
    Might as well do it with our ports too.

  • At 2/24/2006 7:32 AM, Anonymous NOVA Scout said…

    I think the point I'm trying to get across is that there is no element of "out-sourcing" in this particular deal. No one made a decision that "Gee, we could save some bucks if we moved this function to an offshore location."


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