I long since abandoned any desire to make this a primarily political weblog, but I can't resist the opportunity to use that title.
Concerning the transfer of some port operations from the British-owned P&O to state-owned Dubai Ports World: while the transaction obviously deserves scrutiny -- and while it should have been obvious to someone in the Administration that a lot of prominent persons were going to object to the appearance of the thing if they were not clued in to the decision before it was announced -- one has to wonder how serious the security risks are when even N[o particular friend to the]P[resident]R[adio] can broadcast this actively reassuring report from the Port of Newark.
And if I'm going to comment on one current event, I might as well comment on two: let us now speak of the dreaded Danish cartoons.
As I have indicated elsewhere recently, I am inclined to be an absolutist when it comes to matters of free speech and free expression, let it gore whose ox it may. On that score, I quote approvingly this weekend commentary from Colby Cosh:
What I want to know is, how come our other constitutional freedoms are never hogtied and thrown onto the psychoanalyst's couch like this? No one ever seems to ask what ugly or antisocial purposes might sometimes be promoted by the exercise of our voting rights, our mobility rights, our equality rights, or our rights to due process of the law. When it comes to some individual rights -- for instance, the right of a witness not to self-incriminate at a criminal trial -- it is practically only bad people and instances of evil conduct that are ostensibly protected. But these rights have, for the most part, well-understood purposes; we know that to preserve liberal democracy, there are good reasons for these rules to be upheld absolutely and universally.
But let anyone exercise freedom of the press, or freedom of speech, and suddenly his motives are interrogated -- suddenly the 'right' is only available to the well-meaning, which is to be defined none too broadly.
Those who have made what little effort it takes to track down and actually view the offending drawings will perhaps have observed that a reader stumbling upon them in their original context most likely wouldn't even have known that the sketches were supposed to be depictions of the Prophet if the editors of Jyllands-Posten hadn't said that that is what they were. Absent a more specific description, the pictures would likely have been taken for nothing more than generic caricatures of run-of-the-mill radical clerics of the Ayatollah Khomeini school. The most infamous of the cartoons -- the humorless, bearded fellow with the Boris Badenov-style bomb in his turban -- could just as easily have been drawn wearing spectacles and labeled "Zawahiri," and no one would have been the wiser. You see what you want to see.
Flemming Rose, the Danish editor who made the decision to run the cartoons in the first place, offered his own more than somewhat persuasive apologia for the cartoons in Sunday's Washington Post.
There, that's done. Apolitical musings will resume in short order.