Monday, October 2, 2023

Compass Points 3.8.2006

By Al Campbell

COMPASS 3.8.06 al
This is a test Headline
In all the reports I read about the current flap over Dubai Ports World taking over supervision of several U.S. ports, including Philadelphia, not once has the question been raised: If it was so important to national security, to have an American at the helm, why didn’t an American outfit place a bid?
Not one reporter has asked the question.
Our legislators are bellying up to microphones, waving the flag and beating their chests about national security, yet where were the Americans who wanted in on this lucrative contract?
Such things aren’t for us to know.
The entire concept of ports and who controls them is almost as well kept a secret as the formula for Coca Cola.
Pilots, for instance, are a mandate to enter ports, like Philadelphia. Captains can’t just take their vessels up the river. That’s the job, and a very lucrative one, of river pilots.
I’ve known several, all great guys who made fabulous paychecks, and who earned every penny of them.
Yet, it’s one of those topics that doesn’t really surface very often, if ever, in ordinary conversation.
Who was it, long ago, who declared certain ports required pilots to enter them?
How does anyone who wants to become a pilot get the “in” to do the apprenticeship or take the necessary tests to become a pilot? See what I mean? It’s a relatively guarded position, out of the limelight, so most people never even get to dream of becoming a river pilot.
All the concern over port security has made me wonder, too, just how much safer we are now than before Sept. 11, 2001.
Knowing how our illustrious government works (at 45 percent capacity on a good day, then with lots of temporary help) it’s only by divine grace we haven’t fallen prey to another attack.
But then, why should any terrorist go to all the trouble? They have us exactly where they want us right now.
Many people would willingly turn over their Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms to the government in return for “security” which only means less freedom.
Who’s to say, regardless of the promises made, that certain groups couldn’t be targeted for some innocuous reason as a “national threat?”
We’re scared of each other like rabbits from hounds, and that’s exactly what terrorists wanted to do, plant fear in our hearts to erode our sense of security and well being. They’ve succeeded.
By and large, the nation’s moral fiber, that thing that kept us strong and determined in earlier conflicts, is largely missing. Gone are the absolutes when black was black and white was white. Now, everything’s gray, politically correct, nobody wants to offend the next guy for fear of retribution.
Look at a television during “family time” and you’ll be pelted with an assortment of filth and nasty innuendoes that, in former days, would have fallen on the cutting room floor.
You’ll see more violence in a half hour of prime time television than a day in Baghdad, yet we watch pitiful news clips of mothers and fathers weeping over children gunned down on their way to school, and they wonder why.
Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham made a plea for money to protect witnesses in murder cases because so many there have been targeted by killers.
That’s the city of my birth, which used to be a terrific place to live. What’s happened? Drugs, lack of self respect, the family unit has been denigrated, there is no absolute for many youngsters to achieve.
What we need is a river pilot who knows how to steer us back on course, who can restore our feeling of dignity and self worth, and show us, by example, what true moral character can be.
We would not be fearful, but assured. Each of us would be secure, and like bricks in a foundation, when we feel secure, no intruder can shake our solitude.
Only then will we be a truly secure nation, fearing nothing, having no cause to be frightened if someone says “Boo” in the night.

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