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Bush's approval rating is still down:


Poll: Bush's Job Approval Remains Low By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer

40 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - President Bush's job approval is mired at the lowest level of his presidency, and public feelings about the nation's direction have sunk to new depths in an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.


People are anxious about Iraq, the economy, gas prices and the management of billions of dollars being spent for recovery from the nation's worst natural disaster.

"There is a growing, deep-seated discontentment and pessimism about the direction of the country," said Republican strategist Tony Fabrizio, who believes that pessimism is not always aimed at the president and his policies.

Only 28 percent say the country is headed in the right direction and two-thirds, 66 percent, say the country is on the wrong track, the AP-Ipsos poll found.

Those most likely to have lost optimism on that score include several groups that supported Bush in his re-election: white evangelicals, down 30 percentage points; Republican women, down 28 points; Southerners, down 26 points, and suburban men, down 20.

Americans' confidence in the nation's direction has been shaken on several fronts.

Consumer confidence is near the lowest level in two years. Most people are unhappy with the president's handling of the economy, gas prices and hurricane recovery. Just over a third approve of his handling of Iraq. Six in 10 are unsure whether billions of dollars for hurricane relief will be spent wisely.

Bush's job approval was 39 percent in the poll, about where he's been for the three months.

"We've lost focus on where we're supposed to be going and not able to respond to the crises that affect the people of this country," said David Ernest, a Republican from San Ramon, Calif., who is angry about the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. "We're mired in a Middle Eastern adventure and we've taken the focus off of our own country."

Four of five Republicans say they approve of Bush's job performance, close to the level of support he's had from his base for months. But the enthusiasm of that support has dipped over the last year.

Almost two-thirds of Republicans strongly approved of the job done by Bush in December 2004, soon after his re-election. The AP-Ipsos survey found that just half in his own party feel that way now.

"It's very difficult for him because he is trying to get more support generally from the American public by seeming more moderate and showing he's a strong leader at the same time he has a rebellion within his own party," said James Thurber, a political scientist at American University. "The far right is starting to be very open about their claim that he's not a real conservative."

Fiscal conservatives are complaining about huge budget deficits and plans to spend billions on hurricane recovery. Social conservatives are alarmed about his choice of a relatively unknown lawyer, Harriet Miers, as a nominee for the Supreme Court. Miers, Bush's longtime personal attorney, has most recently served as White House counsel.

Bush's has tried to reassure conservatives about Miers. He's also trying to counter critics of the war by tying U.S. efforts in Iraq to the larger war against terrorism. And he's made frequent trips to the areas devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita to offset criticism of the government's initial response to Katrina.

Even those efforts get viewed with suspicion by some.

"I just think the president is doing things for political reasons, not what's right for the people," said Traci Wallace, a Democrat from Tallahassee, Fla. "Every time he makes a trip to the hurricane zone, he's blowing a million dollars."

Of all the problems facing the country, the continuing war in Iraq is the one that troubles some Bush supporters the most.

"I approve of what the president is doing, but it's a mixed decision," said Richard Saulinski, a Republican from Orland Park, Ill. "We should get out of Iraq. It seems like there's no light at the end of the tunnel. I just think we're dealing with a culture we don't really understand."

The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted by Ipsos, an international polling company, from Monday to Wednesday and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.


AP manager of news surveys Trevor Tompson contributed to this story.

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We will indeed see what took place, whether crime was sparse and mild or whether it serious enough for the national guard to be sent in with shoot to kill orders. I'll be here.

:hmm: [crickets]

Still waiting for Compass, Nagin, or Blanco to say that troops weren't needed. Still waiting for someone to prove that troops were sent with the express purpose of shooting black people indiscriminately...

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We will indeed see what took place, whether crime was sparse and mild or whether it serious enough for the national guard to be sent in with shoot to kill orders. I'll be here.

:hmm: [crickets]

Still waiting for Compass, Nagin, or Blanco to say that troops weren't needed. Still waiting for someone to prove that troops were sent with the express purpose of shooting black people indiscriminately...

Kanye West never said that "troops were sent with the express purpose of shooting black people indiscriminately" and you know it. That is just your grossly skewed and exaggerated interpretation of what he said. The question never was whether troops were needed, and you know that too. Almost every natural disaster of even a fraction of the scale of Katrina is answered with the National Guard. Everybody wanted the National Guard in there. In fact, the chief complaint was that they were NOT sent in. The question was the "shoot to kill" orders, as you yourself said in your final word that I quoted above.

You also said that my opinion, based on the FACT that there was a dire lack of corroborating evidence to most of the rampaging violence, rape and murder, was "decidedly one sided on the matter". Well, perhaps you have now learned the valuable lesson that if evidence exists on only one side of a discussion then indeed the truth is usually very much "one sided".

So now, that brings us to YOU my young friend. You have taught me much in this discussion, mainly a lesson in futility. Let's see if YOU have learned anything. There are quite a few things that I have in mind, but humility stands in the forefront. Now mind you, you are here amongst YOUR peers. I doubt there are any here who question your intelligence, but I'm sure right about now most are watching to see if you can admit when you are wrong. And that is a very important issue, because the intelligent person who cannot admit a mistake will find their intelligence neither respected or trusted by others. Face it, it was observed by all that, yes, you were very good at seizing on mistakes in my grammar or overzealousness in my statements, but when it came to attacking my logic those techniques were woefully inadequate. All of your twisting of my words and meanings, and even your threats fell far short of that goal. In fact, the only thing more inadequate was your completely illogical position, built solely on rumors that directly contradicted all available facts.

So, what shall it be? Are you a man yet? Or are you still the smart aleck boy genius who's so sure he's got life all figured out, that he would try to scientifically explain the yellow rain to those of us who know piss when they see it.

By the by, one more thing in closing. That one rape victim that you found, Charmaine Neville. Did you investigate her ENTIRE statement, or were you just happy to find somebody who actually claimed that they had been raped? Let's examine it, shall we? After all, maybe I'm wrong and you're not obstinate...just gullible.

Charmaine: I was in my house when everything first started. I was in my house. Yes, I live in the [unintelligible]area at the Ninth Ward in New Orleans. When, when, when, when the hurricane came, it blew over the left side of my house from the north side of [unintelligible], and I -- the water was coming in the house in torrents. I had my neighbor, an elderly man who's my neighbor and myself in the house, and with our dogs and cats, and we were trying to stay out of the water but the water was coming in too fast, so we ended up having to leave the house.

We left the house and we went up on the roof of a school. I took a crowbar and I burst the door open on the roof of the school to help people to get them up onto the roof of the school. Later on we found a flat boat and we went around in the neighborhood in the flat boat getting people out of their houses and bringing them to the school. We found all the food that we could and we cooked and we fed people. But then, things started getting really bad. By the second day, the people that were there that we were feeding and everything, we had no more food, no water. We had nothing, and other people were coming into our neighborhood. We were watching the helicopters go across the bridge and airlift other people out, but they would hover over us and tell us, "Hi," and that would be all. They wouldn't drop us any food, any water, nothing.

Alligators were eating people. They had all kind of stuff in the water. They had babies floating in the water. We had to walk over hundreds of bodies of dead people, people that we tried to save from the hospices, from the hospitals and from the old folks' homes. I tried to get the police to help us but I realized we rescued a lot of police officers in the flat boat from the district police station. The boat, the guy who was driving the boat, he rescued a lot of them and brought them to get to places where they could be saved. We understood that the police couldn't help us, but we couldn't understand why the National Guard and them couldn't help us, because we kept seeing them, but they never would stop and help us.

Finally, it got to be too much. I just took all of the people that I could. I had two old women in wheelchairs with no legs that I rolled them from down there at Ninth Ward to the French Quarters, and I went back and I got more people. There were groups of us, you know, there was about 24 of us, and we kept going back and forth and rescuing whoever we could get and bringing them to the French Quarters since we heard that there was phones in the French Quarters and that there wasn't any water. And they were right. There was phones but we couldn't get through. I found some police officers. I told them that a lot of us women had been raped down there by guys who had come [inaudible] the neighborhood where we were that were helping us to save people, but other men, and they came and they started raping women and [inaudible], and they started killing them. And I don't know who these people were. I'm not going to tell you I know who they were because I don't, but what I want people to understand is that if we had not been left down there like the animals that they were treating us like, all of those things wouldn't have happened.

People are trying to say that we stayed in the city because we wanted to be rioting and we wanted to do this. We didn't have resources to get out. We had NO WAY TO LEAVE. When they gave the evacuation order, if we could have left, we would have left. There are still thousands and thousands of people trapped in the homes down in the down, in the downtown area. When we finally did get to --

Priest: Downtown or the Ninth Ward?

Charmaine: The Ninth Ward. In the Ninth Ward, and not just in my neighborhood but in other neighborhoods in the Ninth Ward, there are a lot of people who are still trapped down there. Old people, young people, babies, pregnant women, I mean, nobody's helping them. And I want people to realize that we did not stay in the city so that we could steal and loot and, and commit crimes. A lot of those young men lost their minds because the helicopters would fly over us and they wouldn't stop. We'd do SOS on the flashlights. We took everything. And it came to a point, it really did come to a point where these young men were so frustrated that they did start shooting. They weren't trying to hit the helicopters. They figured maybe they weren't seeing. Maybe if they hear this gunfire, they would stop then, but that didn't help us. Nothing like that helped us.

Finally I got to Canal Street with all of my people that I had saved from back there. There was a whole group of us. I -- I don't want them arresting nobody else -- I broke the window in an RTA bus. I've never learned how to drive a bus in my life. I got in that bus. I loaded all of those people in wheelchairs and then everything else into that bus [rising hysteria, sobs] and we drove and we drove and we drove. And millions of people was trying to get me to help them to get on the bus with them.

Priest: [inaudible].

Charmaine: All I did was what He gave me about the willpower to do.


Now mind you, she has since admitted that she didn't drive the bus, but was on it. We now know that the hundreds of bodies that she had to walk over and the babies floating in the water and the alligators eating people wasn't true. We now know all of the homicidal raping of women didn't happen. So, how much of her story should we believe? Maybe she did take that crowbar and burst open that door. Maybe she did rescue all of those policemen. Maybe she did roll those 2 legless women into the French Quarter. Maybe she did rescue all of those people. Maybe she did load all of those people in wheelchairs and then everything else onto that bus. Maybe she did get raped. Maybe she did...and maybe she didn't.

I'd sure hate to see you or anyone else convicted of rape on that kind of testimony.

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Media needs to separate fact & fiction

Thanks to a long report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, we now know that most of the incredible tales of savagery in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina were simply made up by panicky residents and passed along by the media.

On Sept. 2, a CNN report cited an unidentified police officer who said he saw bodies riddled with bullet holes and one man with the top of his head completely shot off. Another unnamed officer, a sergeant, said he had to pass by the bodies of other police officers who had drowned doing their job. So far as we know, none of this was true.

One of two Times-Picayune staffers who wrote the article was guilty of some dubious reporting himself. His Sept. 5 article began, "Arkansas National Guardsman Mikel Brooks stepped through the food service entrance of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on Monday, flipped on the light at the end of his machine gun and started pointing out bodies." Unlike the CNN report, this piece named an actual person as the source, but it was written as if the reporter were authenticating all that Brooks claimed. Brooks says, "Don't step in that blood - it's contaminated." Pointing out bodies, Brooks says, "That's a kid. There's another one in the freezer, a 7-year-old with her throat cut." Under great pressure, reporters sometimes forget to ask pertinent questions, such as how did Brooks know the blood was contaminated, or that the dead girl - one of the most-mentioned phantom figures in all the Katrina reporting - was exactly 7 years old? In fact, the reporter saw four bodies, not the 30 to 40 that were reported, and no dead girl.

The New York Times reported: "Like passengers on a doomed ship, they [superdome evacuees] were desperate to get out of the noxious, violence-ridden stadium." Noxious it was, but the "violence-ridden" condition is harder to pin down. The Superdome "just morphed into this mythical place where the most unthinkable deeds were being done," Maj. Ed Bush of the Louisiana National Guard told the Los Angeles Times. "What I saw in the Superdome was just tremendous amounts of people helping people." Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré told the Washington Post that reporters got bogged down trying to tell people how bad things were rather than "gathering facts and corroborating that information."

So why was so much of the reporting so wrong? Obviously, reporters were working under terrible conditions, with telephones out and much of the city under water. New Orleans' only important reachable authorities, Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Superintendent Eddie Compass, issued hysterical statements that reinforced some of the worst rumors. Nagin decried "animalistic" behavior with "drug-starving crazy people ... degraded into these devils." Compass went on "Oprah," saying, "Little babies [are] getting raped."

Another factor is the debate within the news media about whether reporters should stick to dry facts or report with heart and emotion. New Orleans was a grand opportunity for emotional reporting.

The New York Times did at least two pieces praising emotionalism. One hailed CNN's Anderson Cooper under the headline "An Anchor Who Reports Disaster News With a Heart on His Sleeve." Another praised the crisis reportage for being "buoyed by a rare sense of righteous indignation by a news media that is usually on the defensive." Personally, I don't need reporters to supply righteous indignation. I can handle that on my own. What I need is reporters who separate rumor from fact and just tell me what they know for sure actually happened.


Edited by Cozmo D
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