Mardi Gras Lives On!

This one is worth another look.

Should a state-owned Arab company have a stake in running six of our nation's busiest ports? These ports are in New York, New Jersey, Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

A British terror analyst we had on today bristled at the question. Dubai Ports International — a state-owned company that does business all over the world, is widely respected. They are, as is their country in his opinion, as committed as the U.K. and the U.S. to fighting the War on Terror. I was interested in his response.

The British are much more comfortable with the UAE than most Americans. For one thing, it is a popular vacation spot — complete with beautiful beaches, shopping and amusement parks. It is in many ways like a trip to Florida or the Caribbean for Americans. The UAE has been one of our strongest allies in cracking down on terrorists who wish to harm our country.

As for government oversight of the deal that involves the sale of a British company to Dubai Ports, the deal underwent a "rigorous review" by a U.S. committee that assesses security threats when foreign companies seek to buy or invest in American industry according to the NSC. In fact, the committee's 12 members agreed unanimously that the sale did not present any problems.

A number of prominent Democrats have voiced concern about this deal. They include Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton. New York Republican Peter King and Connecticut Republican Chris Shays also want another look at this deal. There is concern that at least one of the 9/11 hijackers received financial and operational support from sponsors in the UAE. You can bet you will hear about this one during campaign season. Because opening our borders to wise business dealings with international partners may help strengthen those bonds, it's one that requires truly fair and balanced consideration. I'll be watching this one play out.

Peggy Noonan speculated this week that inside the White House the folks who think about these things may be thinking about a change in the second in command. That having someone who could dig in his heels enough to be a likely successor to the president might not be such a bad idea. She said the VP had become a "hate magnet" for the president and that while his advisers might not say it out loud — she wouldn't be surprised if they were thinking it. Although some might "think" it — it seems highly unlikely to this reporter. My bet is that Dick Cheney will serve out his term and the president will stand by him. Although some say Cheney is too independent and wields too much power, he has never posed a threat to the President by having his own political future supercede his desire to serve. The president by all accounts depends on his counsel.

Throw me something, Mister. That's what kids say to the people on the floats in the parades at Mardi Gras. They will mean it in a whole new way this year.

It will be anything but a "Fat Tuesday" in New Orleans the week after next. Hard times continue there and all along the Katrina-hit Gulf Coast. There will be fewer floats and fewer people and lots of grumbling over whether it makes sense to spend any money celebrating at all when so many don't have homes. (Even though so many mobile homes can't seem to get to the people who need them.)

I think its a good idea to push forward with the celebration. I just do. People need to see the things happening the way they used to there — even if it's on a bit smaller scale. This Lent many will choose to give something up. The people hit by Katrina have already given up so much. So I hope it's as "Fat" a "Tuesday" as they can muster. God bless them.

Next week I'll be on vacation — kids on their winter break. Have a great President's Week. See you on the 27th.


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