The latest opposition research meme to come out of the GOP swamp concerns the Dubai Ports World deal. When someone (someone like Lou Dobbs, for example, or someone unlike John Edwards) comes out and asks, well, how come we can't just have American companies run American ports?, the answer is a variation on this: no American company is interested in doing so, because of the outrageously high union salaries they'd have to pay. And besides, as Linda Chavez writes in a recent column, aren't these unions -- who are, after all, in the hip pocket of Mafia gangsters -- John Fund even called them "the real-world On the Waterfront", a comment at which Lou Dobbs had the good sense to sneer derisively) -- just as big a threat as al-Q'aeda?
Well...where to begin?
First, do American companies get a special exemption from doing what is necessary to protect the country that allows them to exist? Since when does "Eh, I'd like to help American security, but it would be too expensive" get you off the hook? Is this the "sacrifice" Bush keeps talking about? Apparently so, since he wants to fight the whole war on the cheap; why should American companies have to pay when the American government and the American upper class don't have to either? And, frankly, this isn't 1954, when On the Waterfront was made. Even then, the idea that fifty cents of every dockfront dollar ended up in the pocket of a Sicilian was overstanded, but since then, the Mafia is a shell of its former self, and unions have been devastated by 25+ years of Reaganomics. The people making the most money off corruption in the shipping industry are the big corporations who run the shipping industry, and no one's suggesting an investigation of them. And even if you bought for a second this whole fantasy notion that the ports are under the thumb of Mafiosi and union gangsters, of course they're not as big a threat as al-Q'aeda! Mobsters tend to be conservative, capitalist, and even a bit absurdly patriotic. They're not the ones who would let through uranium-smuggling Islamofascists; that would be the underpaid, unconcerned non-union employees with nothing to lose who work for giant, faceless conglomerates with the solitary goal of cutting corners to shore up the bottom line.