Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hail to the Chief

Bush's national poll numbers are bad enough for him, but if you want to get a sense of just how bad he's doing these days, check out Survey USA's state-by-state breakdown of the president's approval ratings.

Right now, there are only six states where the president's approval rating is above 50%. (And it'll come as no surprise to hear that these six states are the awesome, incredibly progressive states of Utah, Idaho, Alabama, Wyoming, Nebraska and Oklahoma.)

What's really stunning is how low Bush's popularity has sunk in some of the states he won in the last election. He's already below the 40% approval mark in Colorado, Missouri, and Iowa. In the ├╝ber-battleground state of Ohio, where the national GOP's problems are being reinforced by a state-level meltdown, he's down to a pathetic 37%. Ouch.

Notably, all of these polls were done February 10-12, before Dick Cheney shot a 78-year-old man in the face and, most importantly, before the president announced we'd be turning over port security to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates. If the administration keeps up this pace, the president's approval ratings could soon be down there with pedophiles and telemarketers in every single state of the Union.

Maybe he will unite the nation, after all.


Onanite said...

Bush is done ... lame duck, and he is pulling the part down with him. YEAH! Time for a change, get some people in office with an IQ above 95!


Otto Man said...

Remember what Jesus said, Onanite -- let he with a free hand cast the first stone.

On a serious note, it is interesting watching the entire party break with Bush over the port security thing. If you thought conservatives were freaking out over border security with Mexico, this is going to cause seizures.

Pass the popcorn.

Mr Furious said...


Tokyo Joe said...

I'm not really keen on polls like this because I don't think they did a thorough enough job. If you check out the specs, you cansee they only polled 600 people in each state. Now I know all about representative statistics, but I'm not going to buy into this too much until I see a littl larger sample (especially one that says Texas is only 49%).

However, this port thing is very interesting. While I admit that the idea of contracting it out to a country based in the middle east upsets me, I have to ask mysef and everyone else, why. Isn't it a racist statement to say that everyone from the middle east can't be trusted? Would this be better if the company was based in other country? England? Germany? China? While I don't think this is knee jerk political party reaction (I actually have a lot of concerns myself), but I do have to wonder what motivates me and others on this. is fear enough of a reason to be racist on this issue?

Otto Man said...

I won't get into the polling details, but Survey USA has an excellent track record, and I'm inclined to believe they still know what they're doing here.

My opposition to the UAE handling of our port security has nothing to do with race. My opposition is based on the fact that this is a company that's owned by a foreign government, which raises all kinds of national security problems. More important, this is a foreign government with a troubling history of supporting terrorist states like the Taliban in Afghanistan, facilitating al-Qaeda's funding, and overseeing the transfer of nuclear components to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

I don't care what color the people of such a country are, but I don't want them in charge of the security at the ports here around NYC and I don't want them overseeing 40% of our military shipments, which come out of Philly.

And this isn't a knee-jerk partisan reaction, Joe. There's been an across-the-board condemnation of this from all corners. Even congressional Republicans have been vocal in condemning this, all the way up to longtime Bush loyalists like Hastert and Frist.

Otto Man said...

Lou Dobbs is about to have kittens over this, by the way.

Tokyo Joe said...

okay, here's where I admit my ignorance on this, but is this company based in UAE or owned by them? I've checked out their website and I couldn't find any ties to the govt on it. If it is a govt company, then I agree whole heartedly with you guys, but if it is a private one, can we still say the same thing?

thanks for the info OM on UAE. I didn't know they were so bad. of course it raises the question of why we deal with them in the first place, but then i think the answer of oil is obvious.

Otto Man said...

From all I've read, it's owned (perhaps just partially) by the UAE government itself. That's a big difference from the privately-owned UK-based company that used to do it.

But personally, I don't think we should be letting any foreign company -- private or government-owned -- control our port security or border security. I don't care how "good" an ally they are -- England, Canada, Japan, Israel, whoever -- there are some things we should do ourselves.

I didn't realize how bad the UAE had been either, Joe. I mean, one of just three countries in the world who recognized the Taliban? WTF?

Mr Furious said...

I'm with Otto Man on the illogic of foreign security for U.S. ports no matter who the country is. And I'll take it one step further...why is it privatized at all? (Humor me). Seriously, how exactly does introducing a profit motive possibly enhance security? Especially with the penchant for strict regulation and oversight of private industry these motherfuckers in power have.

How long til the CEO of a private company in charge of our security is doing a perp walk Ken Lay-style? Or overcharging ala Halliburton?

What's next rent-a-cops at border crossings? Blackwater SOFs instead of Capitol Police?

This story is an outrage from front to back, and the news that it was handled by a British company wasn't exaclty a highlight for me.

Otto Man said...

Good point, Furious.

The TSA employees that screen people at the airports are paid minimum wage. Basically, it's staffed with people whose only other option was working at McDonald's.

I sleep the sleep of angels knowing that....

alex supertramp said...

well - except for the fact that gov't oversight/administration would all but guarantee that the policies and duties would be bogged down by red tape and donut eating bullshit - I do agree, however, that allowing a foreign entity handle security is asinine, save for Israel, who have proven themselves to be right honorable bastards who get off of making life miserable for everyone and demanding each person traversing customs/border security undergo an anal cavity search -- so I say, award the contract to the Israelis and let the fun begin!

Pooh said...

Seriously, how exactly does introducing a profit motive possibly enhance security?

What he said. Seriously, I struggle to think of a better real-world example of a "public good" which is, wait for it, best provided by the public, i.e. the Government.

Mr Furious said...

As far as TSA goes, a couple years ago, at the nadir of a job search, I took the tests to become a screener. It was actually fairly rigorous. Personality tests, IQ tests, security screen, and a fairly challenging simulation of x-rayed baggage. And that was just the initial testing. Luckily another option besides McDonald's came through for me, and I never finished the process.

Oddly enough the pay was not that much worse than my current job (also public sector), I believe it was going to be around $17/hr.

I would have been a 36 year old college-graduate TSA agent, and I like to think Iw ould have done a good job as long as I was there. My aunt was a flight attendant for thirty years and got laid off a few years ago, she is a TSA agent in Syracuse, and I'm sure she knows her way around the airport/airline business...

I guess what I'm saying is that you never know who is going to be staffing these positions based solely on anecdotal evidence. I'm sure there are plenty of degenerates staring blankly at screens around the country, but having a private company handle the same task does nothing to improve the process or quality.

S.W. Anderson said...

I'm with those who say operation of ports shouldn't be in the hands of any foreign company, period. I refuse to believe no U.S. company is capable of doing this and find it impossible to believe no U.S. company wants the contract.

As for what some are referring to as racism, I'm not bashful about saying I have a problem with those from Muslim countries, especially Mideastern ones, doing anything in the U.S. without careful scrutiny beforehand and then ongoing monitoring.

I understand they may find this insulting. I think they need to understand 9-11 wasn't a prank carried out by redheaded Irishmen who'd had a bit too much stout. If they can't or won't understand about that, then it would be best for all concerned if they were to return to their homelands for the duration.

I know very well not all Muslims and not all Arabs are terrorists. My concern is that we don't know who's who and we're not that good at sorting out the bad guys.

You may have noticed that ungoverned and ungovernable areas are a regular feature of Mideast countries. So, as in Saudi Arabia, the regime may be more or less friendly or allied with us, but that doesn't affect tribes and organizations within the country from conducting their own foreign and military policies. And those may start with death to the infidels and go downhill from there.

There's no hatred behind these statements, just realistic caution.

S.W. Anderson said...

For the record, the administration and the UAE company's CEO stress that the contract calls for port operation, not security. The U.S. Coast Guard would be in charge of security, they say.

For reasons Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., mentioned, I don't think that's good enough.

The company is owned by the UAE government, which is another questionable angle, IMO.

S.W. Anderson said...

Interestingly, when the TSA was hiring screeners and managers in my area about four years ago, they required applicants to complete a pre-screening questionnaire online.

That was set up to eliminate anyone without a background in military security or police work, or similar civilian training and work experience.

Otto Man said...

Furious, that's unfair. My weak third-hand anecdotes are no match for your actual experience with the TSA.

Thanks for setting me straight. Flying out of Newark all the time must've given me a skewed slant on this.

Yossarian said...

How about this article that explains how Rumsfield was on the board that okayed the deal, but was unaware that it was going down. Something is rotten in Denmark and it ain't the inflammatory religious illustrations.


Mr Furious said...

What I really don't understand is why it is so fashionable to bash a federalized or state-run port security system. Obviously the Republicans would privatize everything if they could, and perhaps the Dems would want to over-Unionize everything on the other side. But to me, having the DHS run ports makes complete sense.

I've seen accounts that claim this contract is operational aspects of port operation only and the USCG runs the actual security. Coast Guard guys tooling around in the harbor is not security, and I hope that's not what they mean. The threat isn't al queda frogmen attaching bombs to the hulls of ships, its smuggling stuff into the country in containers. A Coast Guard cutter does jack shit about that. This isn't boarding a yacht and searching for drugs, these are huge ships that are essentally miles-long trains at sea.

The security issue here, to me, is inspections first and foremost. We need to inspect more than 5% of the containers. And it makes no sense to have a firm that could potentially be inspecting (or controlling) a container at both ends of its journey running our security.

Face facts. The worst case scenario is a nuclear device entering NY/NJ harbor on a boat. It will likely come from the Middle East. If a Dubai-based company is in charge of the ports at both ends, the potential for corruption and resultant disaster is overwhelming. I cannot accept anything as assurance on this. It's got nothing to do with racism, it's purely based on logic.

And the Bush decision, and defense thereof, seems clearly based on everything but.

Jeff Calvert said...

A person born in Oklahoma,after living in Texas and them moving to Alabama I'm not sure your gonna appreciate my comment, but oh well...First off, NO. I'm not in favor of a Arab company that is owned by its govt. to run 6 of our vital ports. Second, I'm a republican(bet you did'nt know that)..and third, what makes you think that Ok. Tx. and Ala. aren't progressing? I live in between a nuclear reactor and a arsenal..we have both kinds of music, country and western....I miss football season..

Otto Man said...

Welcome aboard, Jeff. For what it's worth, all the bloggers here at LLatPoN are Southerners ourselves, either by the grace of God or the circumstances of current residence, so please take our snark in stride. (As you graciously seem to have done.)

The geographic spread of Bush's lingering support is telling, though. It's coming from the people who have the least likelihood of paying the price for his bungling in national security. The nuke that slips in through our pathetic port security is going to hit NYC or L.A., and not Boaz, Alabama, or Enid, Oklahoma.

Thrillhous said...

Man am I clueless about how port security works! I definitely don't like allowing another country's government to be involved in our port security, though. However, I wouldn't necessarily trust an American company to be any better than a foreign one; for instance, the UK co. that had been doing security for us is way preferrable to, say, Halliburton or Bechtel.

I think having a private company do it would be okay, as long as they were regulated up the anchor hole by our gov't. No bull-plop sweetheart backroom deals worked out by the Abramoffs of the world.

S.W. Anderson said...

A big port security worry is that in a few months or a year, the Dubai Ports Co. operations in one or more of those ports will be infiltrated, if not by actual terrorists, by persons gullible or sympathetic to al Qaeda. Awhile after that, maybe actual terrorists get in.

And then, one fine day, a ship containiing a nuclear weapon or maybe just filled with oil and fertilizer is allowed into the port. You can guess the rest.

Just ask yourself which is more likely to be infiltrated by radical Muslim terrorists, a U.S. company with American managers and workers, or a Mideast company with a bunch of Arab workers and managers?

This is not rocket science. As I mentioned at Oh!pinion, it wouldn't have made much sense for Britain to contract air traffic control work out to a German company in 1938, either.