February 24, 2006


Port security frenzy: Real concern or real grandstanding? (Stuart Rothenberg, 2/23/06, Townhall.com)

While Democrats and Republicans vent their anger over the Bush Administration’s decision to allow a United Arab Emirates-based company from taking “control” of America’s east coast ports (from a British company), I have a question: Exactly what responsibility and authority does this UAE company have? Specifically, how is U.S. security weakened?

I don’t know, and I bet 99.5% of the people discussing the “threat” don’t know. As a matter of fact, I’ll bet most of us have no idea what managing a port entails.

Since when is total ignorance of a subject any obstacle to expressing an opinion about it?

Posted by Matt Murphy at February 24, 2006 3:36 PM

A comparative newcomer to port management, the more I learn about it, the more I think that this is no big deal. If it were, the Feds would have barred CSX from its deals a year or so with Dubai, never have allowed Hutchison Whampoa to have a presence on the West Coast, prevented the transfer of authority at the Panama Canal to non-U.S. entities, etc.

In this case it is a two-edged sword. Either all Islam, for which Dubai has become a microcosm, is to be feared and shunned, or only Islamic political forces. As for the possible involvement of the two, we must remain vigilant, as we have thus far.

During the Great War, anti-German sentiment was sufficiently frightful that it prompted my immigrant forebears to Anglicize their name (or so the legend says). Shouldn't we allow newcomers in commerce, unless they have shown their unsuitability, to be here in their own names?

Whether Christian or Muslim, some are good, some bad. And in our minds and heart BroJudd readers should know how to divine that.

All best,

Edward Bos (now Bush)

P.S. Pure Red state kids might have a harder time getting with this program, what with no blue water nearby and stuff.

Posted by: Ed Bush at February 24, 2006 4:41 PM

Since when is total ignorance of a subject any obstacle to expressing an opinion about it?

I think you've found the motto for just about every political weblog out there. (Including the ones put out by the pros like National Review.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at February 24, 2006 4:51 PM

In the working class area of Queens, New York where I grew up, the German immigrants were treated badly enough during the war that my friend's mother rarely left the house. Oddly enough, her Italian immigrant neighbor was left alone and often helped her by shopping and dealing with merchants for her.

Posted by: erp at February 24, 2006 5:08 PM


One doesn't want to sound uncaring, but sometimes when I hear stories like that I can't believe that all we did with the Japanese was intern them.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 24, 2006 5:24 PM

And that only on the West Coast.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 24, 2006 5:25 PM

Matt, I didn't mean she was physically assaulted. The neighborhood brats threw stuff at the house and when she went outside, there was shouting and cursing. She was very frightened, and it was especially galling because she left Germany because she was frightened of the Nazis.

In those days, I don't think violence against a woman would have been tolerated even if she had a heavy German accent.

Posted by: erp at February 24, 2006 6:37 PM

Dear erp,

I did not know you were originally a Brooklynite. Cool.

Anyway, I was referring to WWI. During WWII some neighbors in my and later my Dad's neighborhood in northern N.J. were way into the German-American Bund. Neither I nor he minded that the F.B.I. was keeping an eye on them. Other German Americans -- Eisenhower comes to mind -- acquitted themselves quite well.

Which takes me back to my original point.

All best,


Posted by: Ed Bush at February 24, 2006 7:43 PM

Sorry. I meant "earlier my Dad's neighborhood." Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

Posted by: Ed Bush at February 24, 2006 8:15 PM

Ed Bush and erp:

This is hardly relevant to our discussion, but have either of you ever read the novel Last Days of Summer? In that book, a imaginative Brooklyn Jewish kid keeps telling people that an elderly, peg-legged German lady is really a Nazi spy, and everybody laughs at him until the police show up and haul her away on treason charges.

It's a great novel -- very funny and creative.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 24, 2006 8:42 PM

Also a great book if you're a baseball fan (just in case OJ is reading this).

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 24, 2006 8:43 PM

I wouldn't necessarily say that total ignorance is a prerequisite for holding a firm opinion, but it certainly helps.

Posted by: David Cohen at February 24, 2006 9:23 PM

David Cohen:

It's always wise to wait a few days before pontificating. In this case, I felt vaguely uneasy about the ports story, but figured I'd wait to see what security experts had to say about it before expressing an opinion. Everything I've learned since then has been very reassuring. In fact, I don't think the opponents of the move have made a single coherent criticism.

The problem with professional pundits -- like Michelle Malkin, who blasted Bush for this decision -- is that they're expected to have an immediate opinion on everything, and when you're dealing with a subject like port security that most people know nothing about, it usually takes at least a few days for the whole story to filter out. Of course, once you figure out that your initial assessment was wildly overblown, you have to keep playing the part.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 24, 2006 11:57 PM

Matt, my husband is the Brooklynite (Williamsburg). I grew up near Juniper Valley Park in Queens. The area has been called variously, Elmhurst, Rego Park and Middle Village. It's a bit of a high point, so there's a wonderful view to the east of the Manhattan skyline only about seven miles away.

Posted by: erp at February 25, 2006 10:50 AM

Ed, There are only purple states, blue urban centers and red or blue counties, to generalize.

Matt, that was a great observation regarding managing pontification. Much of the published negative conservative pontification IMHO has been to mollify those mouthing off from the glands rather than the brain and largely for political reasons in both instances.

This will end eventually as another Rove moment, whether the actually the case or not.

Posted by: Genecis at February 25, 2006 12:14 PM


Interesting. Do you still live in NYC?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 25, 2006 1:52 PM


Agreed, Rove can as usual twist this to his advantage -- he always sets Bush up for this kind of hysterical overreaction and then does his magic.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 25, 2006 1:57 PM

No. We're retired in Florida now, via sojourns in Connecticut and Vermont.

Posted by: erp at February 25, 2006 2:43 PM