The idea that the Democrats have any meaningful interest in America’s national security is a joke, so I’m perfectly willing to believe there’s more to this port story.

But Bush is going to need a better justification for turning over management of our ports to an Arab country than he’s come up with so far — especially now that Jimmy Carter has said it’s a good idea. Judging from his life’s work to date, Carter’s definition of a good idea is “an idea likely to hurt America and/or help its enemies.”

Bush’s defense of the port deal is to say that “those who are questioning it” need to “step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company.”

First of all, it’s not “all of a sudden.” The phrase you’re searching for, Mr. President, is “ever since the murderous attacks of Sept. 11.” The Bush administration’s obstinate refusal to profile Middle Easterners has been the one gaping hole in national security since the 9/11 attacks — attacks that received indirect support from the United Arab Emirates.

There are at least 3,000 reasons why a company controlled by a Middle Eastern Muslim emirate should be held to a different standard than a British company. Many of these reasons are now buried under a gaping hole that isn’t metaphorical in lower Manhattan.

Even four years after 9/11, I note that we don’t hear Tony Blair condemning cartoons of Muhammed in a Danish newspaper as “cultural extremism,” or saying their publication represents a “dreadful clash of civilizations.”

That was the comment of U.A.E. Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Mohammed Al Dhaheri on the great Danish cartoon caper.

So maybe Bush could defend his port deal without insulting our intelligence by asking why anyone might imagine there’s any conceivable difference between a British company and a United Arab Emirates company.

President Bush has painted himself into a corner on this issue, and he needs a face-saving compromise to get out of it. Here’s my proposal: Let Harriet Miers run the ports.

Isn’t it enough that we’re already patronizing the savages over the Muhammed cartoons? Do we have to let them operate our ports, too?

The Bush administration defended Muslims rioting over cartoons, saying, “We certainly understand why Muslims would find these images offensive.” Hey, while he’s at it, why doesn’t Bush invite some Muslim leaders with well-known ties to terrorism over to a White House reception? Oh wait, I forgot … He did that right after 9/11. Yes, now I see why we must turn over our ports to the United Arab Emirates.

The University of Illinois has suspended editors of the student newspaper, The Daily Illini, for republishing the cartoons — even though the kiss-ass editors ran a column accompanying the cartoons denouncing them as “bigoted and insensitive.”

That was still not enough for Richard Herman, the chancellor of the university, who wrote a letter to the editor saying that he was “saddened” by the publication of the cartoons. You want sad? The University of Illinois’ sports teams are known as the “Fighting Illini.” Now they’re going to have to change their name to the “Surrendering Illini.”

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly refuses to show the cartoons on “The O’Reilly Factor,” saying he doesn’t want to offend anyone’s religion. Someone should tell him those endless interviews with prostitutes from the Bunny Ranch aren’t high on Christians’ list of enjoyable viewing either. (How about adding Prophet Muhammad cartoon T-shirts and fleece tops to his vast collection of “Factor gear”? Isn’t Father’s Day right around the corner? I’d buy those.)

Needless to say, the New York Times won’t show the cartoons that have incited mass rioting around the globe. At least the Treason Times has a good excuse: It’s too busy printing national security secrets. With its pages already brimming with classified information about our techniques for spying on terrorists, there’s no room for newsworthy cartoons! The Pentagon Papers and top-secret surveillance programs are one thing; cartoons that irritate Muslims are quite another.

Two days after the Times editorial page justified its decision not to reprint the cartoons as “a reasonable choice for news organizations that usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols, especially since the cartoons are so easy to describe in words,” the Times ran a photo of the Virgin Mary covered in cutouts from pornographic magazines and cow dung — which I seem to have just described using a handful of common words! Gee, that was easy.

Taking to heart the lesson that violence works, I hereby announce to the world: I am offended by hotel windows that don’t open, pilots chattering when passengers are trying to sleep, and Garfield cartoons. Next time my sleep is disturbed by a pilot gibbering about our altitude, the National Pilots embassy is going down. And mark my words: One minute after “Garfield II” goes into pre-production, heads are gonna roll. I’ll take the San Diego port, please.



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