Archive for August 3rd, 2008

By- Suzie-Q @ 8:45 PM MST

Topless Women, Kid Rock, Bikers, And John McCain

Huffington Post- Sam Stein

August 3, 2008 04:40 PM

The town of Sturgis, South Dakota will witness, on Monday, the rare fusion of drunken debauchery, public stripteasing, motorcycle rallying, a live performance by Kid Rock, and – last but not least – a veterans-themed speech by presidential candidate John McCain. Seriously.

On Sunday, the McCain campaign announced that the Senator will participate in the Sturgis Rally 2008 at Buffalo Chip in South Dakota, an annual tribute to American veterans. The event is up the Arizona Republican’s wheelhouse, attracting thousands of active duty and former servicemen, many who have a natural affinity towards the Senator.

But it is hard not to notice the evocative, non-political sideshows that will literally surround McCain’s speech. As the presumptive nominee takes the stage, the “Ringin’ Wet & Wild” women’s wrestling event will be taking place on the main amphitheater. Two hours before then, the “Miss Buffalo Chip Beauty Pageant – Bikinis on the Beach” will be staged at a different venue. That affair is described by ESPN’s Jim Caple as “essentially a topless beauty pageant. And occasionally bottomless, too.”

“During a drenching rain Wednesday night, the contest broke up into smaller groups and one woman wound up dancing naked on a bar top. Her boyfriend/husband saw her and angrily dragged her away as she struggled to put her pants back on and muttered something about how, “It’s only this one week a year.””

How sweet. Sadly, the pageant also sees its share of domestic abuse, which even the event’s organizers admit to Caple is a major problem.

Following McCain’s speech, country stars Kellie Pickler and Kid Rock will be taking the very same stage for their own live performances. Then at 12:30 a.m., there will be the semi-finals of the “Miss Buffalo Chip Beauty Pageant,” this time featuring Hawaiian Tropic Models.

The cultural crossroads that is the Sturgis Rally could actually be fertile political ground for the Republican presidential nominee. Hosted in a town of 5,500, the event sees upward of half a million bikers over the course of a week. Many of them, the founder of the campground is quoted as saying, have expressed interest in seeing the Senator, whose POW background makes him a fan favorite. How the religious right will react is a whole other bag.

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Tire Gauges And Skin Cancer… When Is It Over?

By- Suzie-Q @ 5:00 PM MST

Republicans really seem to like that ‘tire gauge’ thing

The other day, Barack Obama mentioned to voters in Missouri that there are things individuals can do to help conserve energy, including bringing their cars in for regular tune ups, and keeping their tires properly inflated. It seemed like a rather unremarkable thing to say.

But at this point, Republicans can’t seem to stop commenting on just how remarkable they think this is.

McCain criticized the tire-gauge recommendation on Friday, and Newt Gingrich described Obama’s remarks as “loony toons” during a Fox News interview. This morning on ABC, McCain said, “It seems to me the only thing [Obama] wants us to do is inflate tires” to improve gas mileage.

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, still auditioning for the role of VP, has taken to using a tire gauge as a prop in his speeches.

Pawlenty a few minutes later pulled a prop out of his pocket.

“Barack Obama stood up at a speech recently and said that one of the things that is really important from energy policy from his standpoint is to check the pressure in our tires, so here’s a tire gauge and you can go out in the parking lot here and check your tires. Now, that’s an interesting thing — we want you to have good pressure in your tires, you know, it will very mildly add to your fuel efficiency — but checking the air pressure in your tires is not an energy policy for the United States of America,” Pawlenty said.

Even by Republican standards, this really is odd.

Now, someone sent me a transcript yesterday of Obama’s specific remarks in Missouri, and he apparently said the amount of energy to be saved by routine auto maintenance is comparable to the savings we’d get from the GOP’s coastal drilling policy. I have no idea if that’s true — it may very well not be — and I’ll be happy to let energy policy experts weigh in on whether Obama exaggerated the significance of scheduled car care. If he did, Obama should obviously drop this line from his speeches.

But oddly enough, that’s not what McCain and his surrogates are complaining about. They’re insisting, over and over again, that tire pressure is the entire Obama energy policy. Who, exactly, is supposed to believe such transparent nonsense? What kind of lunatic would someone have to be to think, “The entirety of Obama’s position is making sure our tires are inflated”?

Obama, unlike McCain, has unveiled a very detailed energy policy. It’s actually one of the best parts of Obama’s entire agenda. It’s online, and while McCain’s aides may struggle with some of the big words, it’s actually not that hard for grown-ups to understand.

And yet, the right wants a tire gauge to be the enduring symbol of the campaign? Seriously?

Consider an counter-example. McCain was talking about skin cancer the other day.

McCain emphasized that skin cancer is preventable, and implored Americans to wear sunscreen, especially over the summer. What’s wrong with this advice? Not a thing. It’s a smart, sensible thing to say.

But imagine if Obama and his surrogates said the entirety of McCain’s healthcare policy is sunscreen application. McCain doesn’t really care about cancer, they could argue, he just wants everyone to run out at get some SPF 30. Those vying to be Obama’s running mate started holding up bottles of Coppertone during their speeches, saying things like, “We want you to wear sunscreen, you know, it will very mildly improve your chances of not getting sick. But wearing sunscreen is not a healthcare policy for the United States of America.”

This, of course, would be insane. And yet, that’s pretty much what’s become of Republican campaign rhetoric of late.

Only 93 days to go until Election Day.

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Evening Jukebox… Dream Lover

By- Suzie-Q @ 4:55 PM MST

Mariah Carey – Dream Lover

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By- Suzie-Q @ 4:00 PM MST

Graham: McCain would consider a tax increase on Social Security as ‘part of a comprehensive approach.’

Think Progress- By Matt at 11:00 am

On Fox News Sunday today, host Chris Wallace asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a top McCain surrogate, about Sen. John McCain’s “doozy” of a flip-flop this past week on whether he would consider raising taxes as part of a Social Security fix. Despite the McCain campaign’s backtracking assertion this week that raising taxes is “absolutely out of the question,” Graham said McCain could support it “if it’s part of a comprehensive approach.” Watch it:

Following Graham’s comments, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle remarked that, “we don’t know what we’re going to get with John McCain. The more he talks, the less certain we are about any of the positions he’s taken.”

Update– Huffington Post’s Sam Stein points out that despite Graham’s claim today that raising taxes to save Social Security is “a dumb idea,” he advocated a tax increase as a solution in 2005.

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Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Is Dead at 89

anthony @ 23:36 BST

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, center, shaking hands with Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s former president, in 2007.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, center, shaking hands with Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s former president, in 2007.

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | August 3, 2008 | Filed at 6:05 p.m. ET

MOSCOW (AP) — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning author whose books chronicled the horrors of the Soviet gulag system, has died of heart failure, his son said Monday. He was 89.

Stepan Solzhenitsyn told The Associated Press his father died late Sunday, but declined further comment.

Solzhenitsyn’s unflinching accounts of torment and survival in the Soviet Union’s slave labor camps riveted his countrymen, whose secret history he exposed. They earned him 20 years of bitter exile, but international renown.

And they inspired millions, perhaps, with the knowledge that one person’s courage and integrity could, in the end, defeat the totalitarian machinery of an empire.

Beginning with the 1962 short novel “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” Solzhenitsyn devoted himself to describing what he called the human “meat grinder” that had caught him along with millions of other Soviet citizens: capricious arrests, often for trifling and seemingly absurd reasons, followed by sentences to slave labor camps where cold, starvation and punishing work crushed inmates physically and spiritually.

His “Gulag Archipelago” trilogy of the 1970s shocked readers by describing the savagery of the Soviet state under the dictator Josef Stalin. It helped erase lingering sympathy for the Soviet Union among many leftist intellectuals, especially in Europe.

But his account of that secret system of prison camps was also inspiring in its description of how one person — Solzhenitsyn himself — survived, physically and spiritually, in a penal system of soul-crushing hardship and injustice.

The West offered him shelter and accolades. But Solzhenitsyn’s refusal to bend despite enormous pressure, perhaps, also gave him the courage to criticize Western culture for what he considered its weakness and decadence.

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Bu$hco, Biejing, Berlin & The Olympic Torch

by Geezer Power…1:51 pm

Bush sees sports, but politics abound at Olympics

By BEN FELLER – 1 day ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush is so emphatic about going to the Olympics in China that one might think flying halfway around the globe to attend the games is what presidents do.

never before has an American leader shown up at an Olympics on foreign soil And Bush is doing more than just dropping by. He is planning to soak in as much as he can, with large blocs on his Beijing schedule devoted to watching athletes compete.

For this president, perhaps the most avid in a long line of White House sports buffs, it is an event that begins and ends with sports.

Yet politics have intruded in Olympics past, from Cold War boycotts to terrorism, and host China is right at the intersection of debates over human rights, security and trade. Even the Olympic torch relay fell victim to protests in Europe and the U.S.

Bush, who sets out Monday on a weeklong Asia trip, touches down first in South Korea, where trade, North Korea’s nuclear program and the issue of U.S. beef imports will top the agenda. Then in Thailand, Bush will draw attention to the repressed citizens in neighboring Myanmar, also called Burma, and reflect on the future of U.S. policy in the Far East.

The heart of the trip is in Beijing, where Bush is to spend four nights and days.

His challenge, like the way he describes the U.S.-China relationship, is complex.


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Olbermann Countdown: Anthrax Attacks Inside Job?

anthony @ 16:24 BST

Scientists Question FBI Probe On Anthrax: Ivins Could Not Have Been Attacker, Some Say

Joby Warrick, Marilyn W. Thompson and Aaron C. Davis | Washington Post | Sunday, Aug 3, 2008

For nearly seven years, scientist Bruce E. Ivins and a small circle of fellow anthrax specialists at Fort Detrick’s Army medical lab lived in a curious limbo: They served as occasional consultants for the FBI in the investigation of the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks, yet they were all potential suspects.

Over lunch in the bacteriology division, nervous scientists would share stories about their latest unpleasant encounters with the FBI and ponder whether they should hire criminal defense lawyers, according to one of Ivins’s former supervisors. In tactics that the researchers considered heavy-handed and often threatening, they were interviewed and polygraphed as early as 2002, and reinterviewed numerous times. Their labs were searched, and their computers and equipment carted away.

The FBI eventually focused on Ivins, whom federal prosecutors were planning to indict when he committed suicide last week. In interviews yesterday, knowledgeable officials asserted that Ivins had the skills and access to equipment needed to turn anthrax bacteria into an ultra-fine powder that could be used as a lethal weapon. Court documents and tapes also reveal a therapist’s deep concern that Ivins, 62, was homicidal and obsessed with the notion of revenge.

Yet, colleagues and friends of the vaccine specialist remained convinced that Ivins was innocent: They contended that he had neither the motive nor the means to create the fine, lethal powder that was sent by mail to news outlets and congressional offices in the late summer and fall of 2001. Mindful of previous FBI mistakes in fingering others in the case, many are deeply skeptical that the bureau has gotten it right this time.

“I really don’t think he’s the guy. I say to the FBI, ‘Show me your evidence,’ ” said Jeffrey J. Adamovicz, former director of the bacteriology division at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID, on the grounds of the sprawling Army fort in Frederick. “A lot of the tactics they used were designed to isolate him from his support. The FBI just continued to push his buttons.” (more…)

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