Friday, November 5, 2010

George W. Bush Matt Lauer VIDEO: Kanye West & More

The George W. Bush Matt Lauer video for the ‘Decision Points’ interview has been a big search this week. Parts of their talk have already aired, but the largest segment won’t be broadcast until Monday Novemeber 8th. Find out what you can expect here, and see video below.
HOUSTON - OCTOBER 25:  Former US Presidents George W. Bush walks the sidelines before the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on October 25, 2009 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Sept. 10, 2010 - New York, New York, U.S. - I14941KBA.SUGARLAND PERFORMING ON NBC'S ''TODAY'' SHOW TOYOTA CONCERT SERIES AT ROCKEFELLER PLAZA IN NEW YORK New York ON 09-10-2010. MATT LAUER. © Red Carpet Pictures

Not surprisingly, the most lampooned president in recent history is spending a great deal of time defending the decisions he made while in office. Now the man who dubbed himself ‘The Decider,’ in a now infamous speech, has even written a memoir called ‘Decision Points.’ Is the title choice yet another gaffe?

The easy (and rather cliché) way to handle this story is to continue to bash ‘dubya.’ As much fun as that sounds, I’d rather focus on what was discussed in the interview.

Perhaps the most publicized portion of the George W. Bush Matt Lauer video is the former president’s thoughts on his handling of Katrina, and especially the vociferous Kanye West. I’ll never forget the clip of Kanye standing next to Mike Myers in the wake of Katrina proclaiming ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people.’
Rather than write off Kanye as an attention seeker, Bush actually addresses the comment head on in the interview, saying:
“He called me a racist…And I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now.”
Bringing up that moment could actually prove to be a rather clever way to sell copies of his memoir. The release date is smartly sandwiched (like a piece of bologna) between the Lauer interview and a Today Show appearance on the 10th.
Other controversial issues to be discussed are his inner power struggles with Dick Cheney, and of course, the decision to invade Iraq.
Check out clips from the George W. Bush Matt Lauer video below. Don’t forget to check back next week for more.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush (R) and former Texas Rangers pitching great Nolan Ryan look at the field before Game 1 of the Rangers against the New York Yankees in their Major League Baseball ALCS playoff series in Arlington, Texas, October 15, 2010. Bush used to be a part owner of the Rangers and Ryan is a current co-owner of the team. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL POLITICS) Aug. 13, 2010 - New York, New York, U.S. - MATT LAUER on NBC's TODAY Show Toyota Concert Series at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City on 08-13-2010.  2010..K66120HMc. © Red Carpet Pictures

Citing Obamacare, AARP Raises Health Insurance Rates It Charges Employees

WASHINGTON (AP) – AARP’s endorsement helped secure passage of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Now the seniors’ lobby is telling its employees their insurance costs will rise partly as a result of the law.

In an e-mail to employees, AARP says health care premiums will increase by 8 percent to 13 percent next year because of rapidly rising medical costs.

And AARP adds that it’s changing copayments and deductibles to avoid a 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans that takes effect in 2018 under the law. Aerospace giant Boeing also has cited the tax in asking its workers to pay more. Shifting costs to employees lowers the value of a health care plan and acts like an escape hatch from the tax.

“Most plan co-pays and deductibles have been modified,” Jennifer Hodges, AARP’s director of compensation and benefits, wrote employees in an Oct. 25 e-mail. “Plan value changes were necessary not only from a cost management standpoint but also to ensure that AARP’s plans fall below the threshold for high-cost group plans under health care reform.”

AARP officials said medical inflation is the main reason employee costs will be going up. The health care law is “a small part,” said David Certner, legislative affairs director.

Although the tax on so-called “Cadillac” health care plans doesn’t take effect for years, employers are already beginning to assess their potential exposure because it is hefty: at 40 percent of the value above $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for a family plan. The tax is intended as a savings measure, to prod employers and workers into more cost-efficient plans.

Certner said AARP’s plans are currently under the threshold for the tax. “We intend to stay below those thresholds,” he said. “It’s not in anybody’s interest to move above those thresholds, not the employees’ nor the employer’s.”

AARP officials say the organization’s public policy recommendations are made independently of other considerations, including its range of business ventures, from travel, to insurance, to publishing.
The 40 million-strong AARP represents people 50 and older, including retirees on Medicare and Social Security. Its endorsement of health care overhaul came at a critical time last year, days before a close vote on the House floor.

“The impact on AARP employees is not a factor at all in our policy making, which is directed at the impact on our membership and on all older Americans,” said Certner.

About 4,500 people are covered by AARP’s plans, including employees, dependents and retirees.
“We supported the (health care) package because it contained incredibly important protections for our younger members, who often have problems getting access to care,” said spokesman Jim Dau. “And because it helps our older members in Medicare with important new benefits.”

Starting in 2014, the overhaul law prohibits insurance companies from turning down people with medical problems, and limits what they can charge older customers. It gradually closes the coverage gap in the Medicare prescription benefit, and improves coverage for preventive care.

The Obama administration says changes required by the law so far have only had a minimal, single-digit impact on premiums. Many benefits experts agree with that assessment but point out that the increases come on top of untamed health care inflation.

AARP warned its employees that more cost-shifting could be in store. “AARP intends to make similar changes, as necessary, in the future to avoid the (health plan) tax,” said Hodges’ e-mail.

Current forecasts are that the overhaul will only have a small impact on job-based coverage, slightly reducing the number of people who would otherwise be covered by employer plans. Those workers would have access to taxpayer-subsidized coverage through new insurance markets.

Posted By Pat Dollard.

WASHINGTON: Dem Patty Murray Declared Senate Winner Over GOP's Dino Rossi

Last last night Sen. Patty Murray was declared the winner against GOP challenger Dino Rossi. All the ballots still aren't counted yet, but Murray's 46,000 vote lead was judged to be insurmountable. Murray has a near 100% record on LGBT rights, but supports civil unions over full marriage equality. Rossi had been endorsed by the Tea Party, but steered clear of overtly supporting their agenda. That might have made the difference.

posted by Joe

Keith Olbermann Violates NBC's Ethics By Contributing To Political Campaigns

No wonder MSNBC's Keith Olbermann was so wacked out when Repub Tea Party Senate candidate Rand Paul beat Dem Jack Conway.  The liberal talking head served up a puzzling metaphor that even confounded his bemused MSNBC election team colleagues, suggesting the Tea Party was analogous to "universal solvent" that eats through everything, including the container,

Olbermann forked over the max ($2,400) to Conway's campaign in violation of NBC's ethics rules.  What's more, Olbermann ponied up cash for two Arizona Dem congressional candidates, and gave them face time on his nightly "Countdown" show. Politico

Somebody's out to get Olbermann with a Cecil B. DeMille cast of thousands of detractors.  Maybe it's an inside job . . .  MSNBC suits aren't commenting.

NY mag:  Coming from someone who chastised Fox News's parent company, News Corp., for donating $1.25 million to the Republican Governor's Association and $1 to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Olbermann can expect to face accusations of hypocrisy. And since his donations violated NBC company policy if he didn't get prior approval for them, he could face disciplinary action — or at least a stern talking-to — as well.

The 2010 Elections and Democratic-Republican Bipolar Disorder

The 112th Congress will begin with a Democratic majority in the Senate and a Republican majority in the House.  This will be the second time the corporate parties have exchanged majority control of the House in the last five years.  While many Democrats were naive enough to believe, or cynical enough to pretend, that their victories in 2006 and 2008 were the result of something other than a simple rejection of undivided Republican Party government, this year the GOP is all-too-aware that their victory was ensured by voters’ rejection of undivided Democratic Party government.  The Hill quoted John McCain admitting as much earlier this week:
The 2010 election results should not be interpreted as an “affirmation” of Republicans, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday. . . . “The moral of this story is that this election is a repudiation of Obama and the Democrats,” McCain said on Fox News. “It is not an affirmation of Republicans. So Republicans have got to come through and satisfy this outcry — this anger and frustration — that’s been expressed.”
Republican-friendly pollster Scott Rasmussen made much the same point in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal on Monday, in which he argues that these quickly shifting majorities express a fundamental rejection of both ruling parties:
tomorrow Republicans will send more Republicans to Congress than at any time in the past 80 years . . . This isn’t a wave, it’s a tidal shift—and we’ve seen it coming for a long time. . . . But none of this means that Republicans are winning. The reality is that voters in 2010 are doing the same thing they did in 2006 and 2008: They are voting against the party in power. . . . This reflects a fundamental rejection of both political parties.
A new poll from Rasmussen indicates that the American public does not expect to be adequately represented by the new governing majority:
Most voters expected Republicans to win control of the House of Representatives on Election Day, but nearly as many expect to be disappointed with how they perform by the time the 2012 elections roll around.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds, in fact, that 59% of Likely U.S. Voters think it is at least somewhat likely that most voters will be disappointed with Republicans in Congress before the next national elections. That includes 38% who say it is Very Likely.
These quickly shifting majorities indicate the fundamental inability of the Democratic and Republican parties to adequately represent the interests of the people of the United States.  Trapped by the bipolar logic of the two-party state, the only way for voters to express their discontent with the current Democratic majority was to cast their ballots for a party they favor even less.  As CNN reported yesterday:
Democrats have a 10-point favorability gap: 43 percent of voters have a positive opinion of the party, while 53 percent aren’t thrilled. The Republican Party also gets a thumbs-down from 53 percent of the nation’s voters, with just 41 percent saying they’re happy with the party.
Compare that with 1994 and 2006, when voters had a net positive view of the incoming party. The numbers suggest Tuesday night may signal a rejection of the Democratic Party — but something less than an embrace of the GOP.
The American electorate clearly suffers from a form of political bipolar disorder, in which incidents of manic political enthusiasm alternate with lengthy depressive episodes.  The seriousness of the illness is all-too-clear from the fact that we have entered a lengthy stage of so-called rapid cycling, in which manic periods alternate ever more quickly with depressive episodes.  Following this week’s elections, Democrats are likely to enter a depressive state:
Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder include persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, isolation, or hopelessness; disturbances in sleep and appetite; fatigue and loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities; problems concentrating; loneliness, self-loathing, apathy or indifference; depersonalization; loss of interest in sexual activity; shyness or social anxiety; irritability, chronic pain (with or without a known cause); lack of motivation; and morbid suicidal ideation.
Republicans, on the other hand, will likely be found exhibiting signs and symptoms of mania:
Mania is generally characterized by a distinct period of an elevated, expansive, or irritable mood state. People commonly experience an increase in energy and a decreased need for sleep. A person’s speech may be pressured, with thoughts experienced as racing. Attention span is low, and a person in a manic state may be easily distracted. Judgment may become impaired, and sufferers may go on spending sprees or engage in behavior that is quite abnormal for them. They may indulge in substance abuse, particularly alcohol or other depressants, cocaine or other stimulants, or sleeping pills. Their behavior may become aggressive, intolerant, or intrusive. People may feel out of control or unstoppable. People may feel they have been “chosen” and are “on a special mission” or have other grandiose or delusional ideas. Sexual drive may increase.
If you are someone you know exhibits any of the above symptoms, contact a political professional immediately for appropriate doses of partisan spin and propaganda.  Of course, this does nothing but mask the symptoms of the illness.  Political independence may be the only viable, long-term treatment for Democrat-Republican bipolar disorder.

by d.eris.

+++Breaking News Woolas election declared void - new election in Oldham East and Saddleworth

The mere mention of the name Phil Woolas is enough to make virtually any self respecting liberal cringe.

This is, after all, the man who refused the Gurkhas the right to live in the UK and who was responsible for the Immigration system which attracted numerous court judgements castigating them for failing to consider the welfare of children it deported. This is the same guy Ed Miliband felt it was appropriate to appoint to his front bench Home Office team just a few weeks ago, after the Court case. That surely has to raise questions about the judgment of the new (generation) Labour leader. It certainly highlights the arrogance of Woolas, for thinking it appropriate to stand for the Shadow Cabinet despite the court case against him.

Well, his career has been ended today as judges declare the May election void and order a re-run after they found him guilty of breaching the Representation of the People Act by printing untrue statements about his Liberal Democrat opponent on an election leaflet. Woolas won the election by a mere 103 votes, so it's possible that that leaflet with the lies on it, changed the result.

I can understand why people on Twitter are whooping with delight at the demise of such a thoroughly illiberal and deeply unpleasant character, and at the fact that justice has been done. It's horrible to think, though, that an election was stolen by someone disseminating untruths about their opponent. It's deeply disturbing to think that a member of the Labour Party, who are so fundamentally opposed to everything the BNP stands for, stirred up racist tensions in order to try to clinch victory. I think that's why I'm more sad than jubilant at the moment.

I have to say a huge thank you to the Saddleworth News for setting up a Cover it Live site so that we could get the news as it happened. I know the BBC's out on strike, but the mainstream media has been very dilatory in reporting this story.

Fellow blogger Nick Thornsby was there to hear the judgment and recently tweeted:

Phil Woolas is sitting in Court with his head down
I'm looking forward to reading his full report of today's proceedings. He covered the original hearings in September extremely well so make sure you keep checking his site for his views over the next few days.

Just as an aside, I have very many happy memories of that 1995 by-election, when our Chris Davies beat Phil Woolas. Maybe I'll get the chance to visit Delph and Diggle and Uppermill again for this new election. It is a gorgeous part of the country so I'd recommend it.

Michael Jackson's New Album To Be Released Next Month Read More: Michael Jackson's New Album To Be Released Next Month


Prepare yourselves, MJ fans, to be overloaded with the magic of the King of Pop.
It was just announced that the highly-anticipated new album of completed recordings by Michael Jackson will be released by Epic Records. The album, entitled Michael, will drop on December 14th, but you'll be able to get a taste of what is to come TOMORROW

On Michael's official website, you'll be able to see an exclusive teaser for the project. Then, next Monday (Nov 8th), the world premiere of Breaking News, a full track from the album, will stream on the site. The song has never been heard or released before and is said to be one of the last tracks Michael work on at a friend's house in New Jersey.

“Baseball has lost a dear friend”

Sparky Anderson Hospice Baseball
Sparky Anderson, one of the great managers of his generation, died today at his home in California. He was 76, and had been suffering through complications caused by dementia. He was, by most accounts, one of the genuinely good men in baseball. According to the obituary in the Detroit Free Press:

On trips to New York, he didn’t eat breakfast at the Tigers’ fancy hotel. He’d go across the street to Howard Johnson, where he would address his waiter by name as a friend. In countless such gestures, he succeeded in a mission he once imparted to his Hall of Fame catcher in Cincinnati, Johnny Bench: “As long as you remember where you are from, you will always know where you are going.”

Commissioner Bud Selig released this statement.

“I am truly saddened by the loss of Sparky Anderson. I have lost and all of Baseball has lost a dear friend. Sparky was a gentleman, a great baseball man and a superb ambassador for the game. Sparky won three World Series Championships with the Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers, leading several of the best teams of the last 40 years and holding the most wins as manager for both tradition-rich franchises.

“I recall with great fondness the many hours we would spend together when his Tigers came to Milwaukee. Sparky was a loyal friend, and whenever I would be dealing with difficult situations as Commissioner, he would lift my spirits, telling me to keep my head up and that I was doing the right thing.

“On behalf of our game, I send my deepest condolences to Sparky’s wife, Carol, his three children, his nine grandchildren, and to all of his fans in Cincinnati, Detroit and throughout Baseball who were touched by this great man.”
Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings