August 1st, 2004

fashionable

Reasons for guarded optimism.

A post-convention Newsweek poll puts Kerry at 49%, Bush at 42%, and Nader at 3%. Not bad for a very polarized race.

**Update!: Turns out that Newsweek screwed up their post-convention poll's methodology by starting it before Kerry gave his speech. Prior to his speech, the poll was running 47-44% in favor of Kerry... after the speech, polls were running 50%-40%! ***

Bush's popularity is still dropping, and for the first time, not only does Kerry have an edge in the polls, but a slim majority of Americans believe he will win the next election.

Can Kerry win? Of course he can. But for people to actually believe that he can makes a real difference in the race. Looks like it's time for Democrats to believe again...

Meanwhile, Fahrenheit 9/11 has reached about $108 million at the box office domestically, and should wind up somewhere around $130 million by the time it goes to DVD. This will mean that approximately 25 million Americans will have seen the movie prior to the election. Possibly more. The GOP are concerned that this will translate into several million votes for Kerry on Election Day. They should be, too.

Oh, and it looks like it's not just Ron Reagan, Jr. who isn't supporting Bush in this election. It's Nancy Reagan, too. She has refused to attend the Republican convention, with her spokesman saying that she doesn't support President Bush's reelection. In fact, she's trying to force the Republicans to not so much as mention Reagan during the convention or in their advertisments. Ouch.
fashionable

Why does Ralph Nader hate homeless people?!

Ralph Nader's campaign abruptly shut down their Philadelphia campaign office, after several homeless people hired by the Nader campaign to circulate petitions went to the office, demanding the money they were owed.

By day's end, many left without being paid. Those who returned the next day found the office empty.

The 2-week-old effort to collect signatures using hired petition circulators faced scrutiny last week after reporters witnessed several circulators repeatedly signing each other's forms and telling signers that they could use whatever name they wanted.

I thought it was ugly enough when Nader started taking all sorts of big Republican campaign contributions, but this is just plain disgusting and crass.
fashionable

Bad medicine.

Things are *STILL* not significantly improved for wounded veterans returning home from Iraq.

- Fewer than one in 10 veterans applying for long-term disability is getting it.

- Nearly a third of National Guard and Reserve veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghan wars are being forced to wait more than four months before they even know whether they will be compensated, much less get a disability payment.

- Most soldiers applying for disability pay - 56 percent in the Army's case - are leaving the military with a one-time, lump sum payment that is inadequate for their long-term care and expenses.

- The Veterans Administration is averaging 171 days to make initial disability decisions.

- Thirty-two percent of activated Guard and Reserve members were in medical holdover status more than 120 days.

Where's the President on these issues? Is he on vacation, or is he fundraising?!
fashionable

Syria's border -- a red herring.

I read a post from one soldier who was livid and ready for yet another war after listening to some nutty neocon talking head. The soldier got it into his head that a Syrian politician told us "If the US lifts the economic sanctions on our country, we will pull our terrorists out of Iraq."

Truth is, there is no recent statement in the world's press that is anything like this, as far as I can tell.

I have read Syrian statements saying that they are unable to police the entire 360 mile border with Iraq. Frankly, I believe them. Not only are they bass-ackward and technologically ill-suited to secure their border, but they're not a wealthy country, and they're under the guns of U.S. sanctions.

Nor, for that matter, should the Syrians have to police 360 miles of f*cking desert. Major roads, sure... but tell me, are the Saudis -- who, unlike Syria, are stinking rich -- policing their 475-mile long border with Iraq to the point that you can't cross it? No. Why? Because it's a fucking desert, that's why. Hell, their culture allows the Bedouin to cross wherever and whenever they want to, because, well, that's what the Bedouin do. Got camel, will travel.

So, just how porous and unguarded are the borders in Iraq? Well, remember when Saddam snuck across the border in Gulf War I and attacked a small outpost town in Saudi Arabia? The U.S. military, in command of 275,000 troops on the Iraqi border, had some rangers in that town who were surprised and temporarily cut off by the attack. 275,000 troops and the Iraqis just rolled in... that's one porous border. And did the Iraqis do any better seeing that big-ass flanking manouver coming at them through the desert? No they didn't. We were halfway to Baghdad and cutting off their armies before they got a clue.

How can we expect the Syrians to be capable of policing their border, when we spend $9 Billion a year on patroling the Mexican border, and Mexicans *STILL* walk across the border just miles from San Diego? The 360-mile border that Syria has with Iraq is nearly twice the distance of the California border with Mexico, and we spend about $2 Billion a year ineffectively guarding that section of our border.

Do we expect Syria, which is a poor country, to police that much territory with no financial assistance and *STILL* be economically boycotted? Their entire government only brings in $4 billion a year in taxes, and we want them to spend a huge chunk of it on guarding sand... and *STILL* be boycotted? It's ludicrous. It's insane. It's unrealistic.

"Syria, we want you to stop donating to any Arab institutions that somehow, directly or indirectly, support terrorism... and we want you to hire a bunch of secret police to spy on and arrest your own people so they don't support terrorism... and we want you to spend more than you do on your schools and your old people's health in order to watch a patch of desert in 140 degree temperatures... oh, and we'll still boycott you and threaten you and blame you when terrorists inevitably slip across the border anyway, and we won't be there for you when your people rise up and start trying to kill you."

What would be the logical, non-political reply to that question?

"Fuck you, Bush. You have the billions of dollars, the high-tech search helicopters, the motion detectors, and the millions of unemployed Iraqis. Do it yourf*ckingself. We'll put guards on the major roads, but after that, you're on your own."

Sure, the Syrian government isn't the nicest or the freest by any stretch of the imagination. They support Hezbollah, for instance, supporting Arabs in their effort to kill Israelis. We, on the other hand, support the Israelis in their effort to ethnically cleanse / kill the Arabs... U.N. resolutions and international law be damned. Our way or the highway.

But why should Syria listen when our government asks for stupid things -- like trying (and failing) to guard the whole Iraqi border for them, free of charge. Syria *SHOULD* call the Bush administration on this issue, frankly, because the Bush administration is being completely loony. They know they are, however, so it's alright. It's merely a political ploy designed to make Americans dislike the Syrians because the Syrians can't do an impossible task...

(Sorta like asking a country to get rid of WMDs that they don't have, for instance.)

After all, you're supposed to hate the Syrians, right?!