Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dubai Ports World Deal

We discussed this story in my national security class this week. At the time I sat silently in class because I was unsure how to react. There are two questions that I have regarding a United Arab Emirates-owned firm owning the port operating rights in several US coastal cities.

First, who will be making decisions on the ground? It is silly to assume that a whole bunch of UAE citizens will be getting shipped over to control the docks in these cities. It will likely be many of the same employees, US citizens, staffing these jobs. As with anything else, the owners will be making the decisions. The UAE higher-ups have alot of economic interest on the line, and no known ties to terrorism.

Second is the foreign investment issue. Alexander Hamilton, as our nation's first Treasury Secretary, posited that investment in a government is likely to keep loyalty intact. He believed that the economic stakeholders in a nation are unlikely to wage a war against the same because they've already put their assets into the success of that nation (of course this transaction is a private one, but is still analogous).

The indelible conclusion that I must reach is that whether a British outfit, a UAE outfit, or an American outfit runs these ports, the government oversight/inspections/rule-making should be firmly in place. I don't believe Congress should attempt to keep a foreign company (from any nation not openly and officially hostile toward the U.S.) out of industry. I will stop short of stating unqualifiedly that the UAE is our friend forever. Yet I think there are better, more effective controls to be levied against whichever company takes control. Despite what the conspiracists may say, the premise--that any Middle East-owned company is likely to blast America through ports that it owns and operates--is without support.

In the wake of the failed CNOOC-Chevron deal last year, foreign investors will at some point rebuff large-scale US investment. This is an unacceptable result in the present climate, where such investment has been an integral part of our recovery over the last 18 months.

Update: The DPA has suggested forming an American Corporation in order to structure the deal.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Does it make you uncomfortable?

That the first $500,000 in donations and state funding pay the CEO of Minnesota Public Radio? A story in the Star Trib yesterday revealed that the radio not for profit organization had yet to file for $190,000 in available state benefits, contingent upon revealing the number of employees that are highly compensated ($100k or more in annual compensation). The state legislature last year passed a bill so requiring reporting that was fairly narrow in directing its effect upon MPR.

MPR counters that it has been singled out by the state and is considering not filing for the benefits on principle. What principle? These are not my principles.

I have no guilt over "using their services." Perhaps the spirit of service that MPR asks of its contributors should carry over to those who make more money than I will for many years out of law school. Perhaps MPR should become MPR, Inc., and then your people could make lotsa money . . . and I wouldn't have to put up with this in order to get my Morning Edition.

ABA Midyear Delegates Meeting

No doubt the most significant recommendation to be voted on was the Slavery Commission, which:

"urges Congress to create and appropriate funds for a Commission to study and make findings relating to the present day social, political, and economic consequences of both slavery and the denial thereafter of equal justice under law for persons of African descent living in the United States and authorizes the Commission to propose public policies or governmental actions, if any, that may be appropriate to address such consequences.” According to the report, “this resolution would encourage the Congress to formally and comprehensively study this country’s ‘legacy of inequity’ and propose and policies or governmental actions that may be appropriate.”

Monday, February 13, 2006

Understatement of the baseball offseason

It involves Sammy Sosa, who hit .221 with 14 home runs and 45 RBI in 102 games last year for the O's. Sosa, who has only received a single one-year, $500K offer from the Nationals for next year, is now considering retirement. The goliath under-statement is:

Baltimore declined a $18 million option for Sosa in 2006.

[For a frame of reference, Albert Pujols made $11 million in 2005.]

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I Have Returned...

...to predict and suggest that either Katharine McPhee or Paris Bennet should win this year's iteration of American Idol. Both are head and shoulders above the rest of the contestants.

EDIT: I must also add that the rendition of "Man in the Mirror" done by John Williams - his "remixed" version - was the most entertaining audition I've ever seen.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

You know you are nervous when . . .

Justice Ginsburg visited UCLA School of Law earlier this year, where she provided the following anecdote about how she expects the Court to change:

In the twelve-and-a-half years we served together, court watchers have seen that women speak in different voices and hold different views, just as men do. Even so, some advocates each term revealed that they had not fully adjusted to the presence of two women on the high Court bench. During oral argument distinguished counsel, including a Harvard Law Professor and more than one Solicitor General, began his response to my question, 'Well, Justice O'Connor. . .' Sometimes when that happened Sandra would smile and crisply remind counsel that 'she's Justice Ginsburg; I'm Justice O'Connor. Anticipating just such confusion my first term as a member of the Court, the National Association of Women Judges had T-shirts made for us. Justice O'Connor's reads: 'I'm Sandra, not Ruth.' Mine: 'I'm Ruth, not Sandra." With Alito's appointment to the Court, at least we don't have to worry about this gender confusion.

[I think there is a pretty distinct difference between these two foxy ladies. But apparently some SCOTUS practitioners had some trouble.]