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The past few weeks have amply demonstrated why the Democratic Party is headed for history’s scrap heap.
At a time when the vast majority of Americans have concluded that the president is a lying incompetent and, most likely, something of a nutcase and a Johnny One-Note, and that his vice president is a secrecy-obsessed booze-swiller lacking in basic decency and human feelings (and a bad shot into the bargain), at a time when most Americans think that the administration’s single enduring legacy–a three year war in Iraq–was a stupid idea, at a time when the White House has been caught violating the law and spying massively on ordinary Americans, at a time when virtually every major domestic policy initiative of this administration, from education to homeland security to Medicare, has proven to be an unmitigated disaster, the nation’s leading Democrats have been galvanized around … the sale of port operations on the East Coast to a firm based in Dubai.
Of all the venal, stupid and evil things this administration has done over the past five years, this is probably the least significant you could come up with.
The port of Long Beach, California was long ago turned over to a state company owned by the Communist government of China–a country it might be recalled, whose military leaders not long ago threatened to attack the U.S. with nuclear weapons if America were to interfere with China’s efforts to capture the island nation of Taiwan. Nobody’s fussing about that.
The truth is that with the long-standing mob involvement in East Coast longshoring, not to mention the general stench of corruption that has been attached to the whole cargo transhipment industry since the days of "On the Waterfront," anyone who wanted to slip some horrible weapon into a container could do it for a lot less money that it takes to buy up a global port operations firm.
Heck, a suitcase nuke could as easily be brought into the city and checked with the concierge at a midtown New York hotel…and most of the hotel industry is also in the hands of foreigners. Where’s the outrage?
If Democrats are so concerned about foreign companies buying up critical U.S. industries, they should take a look at the international trade agreements they’ve been foisting on the country, from NAFTA and CAFTA to the WTO, and to budget-busting tax cut policies that have been turning the U.S. dollar into a joke currency–and all American assets into firesale items.
The country is being hollowed out not by Bush and the Republicans, but by the two parties, working hand-in-hand to serve the interests of the global corporations that are ready to shift capital in a flash to wherever it can generate the best return. And guess what? The best return is not earned here.
Forget port operations.
My prediction is that it won’t be long before foreign companies will start buying up the U.S. technology, aerospace, energy and telecommunications sectors.
So what should Democrats be getting wound up about? How about a society in which one in ten families has to seek food assistance every year? How about a society where the average worker is seeing her income decline every year (down 2.6% between 2001 and 2004), and where real unemployment is rising towards 10 percent? How about a society in which schools have become factory assembly lines producing future burger flippers, endless numbers of sales clerks, and, of course, lots of unemployed and unemployable young people who end up serving as cannon fodder for the U.S. military?
How about a country that is spending more on the military than the rest of the entire world combined so that crazed militarists in the White House and Pentagon can operate over 400 military bases around the globe, meddle in the business of most of the rest of the nations of the world, and engage in major wars that are sucking up hundreds of billions of dollars a year?
If all that the Democratic leadership, and Democratic presidential hopefuls can get worked up about is something like the sale of port operations to an Arab-based company (or in the pathetic Sen. Hillary Clinton’s case, the threat of someone burning an American flag!), the Democratic Party is properly going the way of the Whigs.
And none too fast.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org