01-01-11 Ugh…

Hello everyone, glad to see that we are another year closer to the end of days…You know, 2012? My father seems to have taken advantage of this Mayan Doomsday prophecy. His excuse for pretty much anything these days is, “Why bother, the world is going to end in 2012 anyways…” I don’t have a problem with his pessimistic attitude. Hell, when you are Sicilian it is a required trait. I just don’t like that my kids are now developing the same opinion of 2012. The narrative is something like this:

Me: “Jake, do your homework.” Son’s response: “Why should I, it will all be over in 2012? Who cares if I pass 7th grade or not?”

Me: “BeBe, shut the light off when you leave your bedroom. The electric bill is enormous.” Daughter’s response: ” Hey, What for? The world will be over in 2012, so what does it matter if we have money for bills or not.” (Actually, she does not say that, it is more of a disgusted groan and flicking off the light switch, but you get the picture.)

Well, since it is the new year, the news should have a fresh ring to it…right? Well, like my father’s worn out excuse of the end of the world, why bother…the news today is just the same tired reporting that it was yesterday.

Anyway, let see what we can find in the headlines today:

New health-care rules to take effect:

The new rules are designed to help those caught in Medicare’s “doughnut hole,” offer seniors more preventative care, and limit how much of their customers’ money health-insurance companies can keep for overhead and profit.

They all go into effect on Saturday.

[...]

The new rules include:

*A provision that limits what health insurers can do with the money their customers send in as premiums.

The rule requires that insurers spend at least 80 percent of this money on the customers themselves. The companies must either spend this money to pay insurance claims or use it for activities that improve customers’ health.

For policies that are sold to large groups instead of small companies and individuals, the number is even higher: 85 percent. The remaining 15 or 20 percent of the money can be used for a company’s salaries, marketing and overhead – or kept as profit.

Previously, there was no federal restrictions on insurance companies’ spending. The federal government says some insurers kept 30 or even 50 percent.

Insurance companies say this could cause them to cut back on the services they offer, or even pull out of states where administrative costs are higher.

State officials also worry that the companies might cut the fees they pay to insurance brokers. That, they fear, would eliminate key middlemen who help individuals navigate a complicated insurance system.

*A provision that provides prescription-drug discounts for seniors in Medicare’s “doughnut hole.”

The doughnut hole is a controversial gap in the Medicare prescription-drug benefit passed in 2006. In 2010, for instance, Medicare paid for part of the cost of drugs – until the total cost of the drugs hit $2,830.

[...]

*A rule giving seniors free screenings for cancer and other diseases.

Nearly all Medicare beneficiaries will be able to receive for free all “preventive services” screenings given an A or B rating by the U.S.

[...]

*The creation of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

This new agency is aimed at slowing down the rapid rise of health-care costs. It is supposed to foster innovation in both caring for patients and processing their payments and claims.

Well, I am sure that this will just add to the gibber jabber about those Baby Boomers and the drain they will be putting on the budget.

Baby Boomers Expected to Drain Medicare The Biggest Generational Wave in History Could Leave Medicare System Broken (See what I mean…)

The first baby boomers will turn 65 Jan. 1, beginning a flood of applications for Medicare benefits that experts fear could drain the economy and hold political repercussions for President Obama.

[...]

But this post-World War II generation’s overwhelming demand on the Medicare system could possibly leave future generations with a bigger bill.

See, same tired stuff…

What else can we find? From the White House, the Presidents Weekly Address: Democrats and Republicans Have Shared Responsibility to Move America Forward

In his weekly address, President Obama resolved to do everything he can to make sure the economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening the middle class in the new year.  With each party controlling one house of the Congress, Democrats and Republicans will share the responsibility to move the country forward, and the President reiterated his commitment to work with anyone who has a good idea in either party.

Yes, the same ole’ stuff from last year. Damn, I better lighten up. It is to depressing to start a new year like this.

Well, there are a bunch of “Bowl Games” going on this weekend. I remember when there was just those few coveted Bowls that had names like Rose, Orange, Cotton, Sugar…Now can you believe the list of Bowl games this weekend? Check it out. My alma mater, University of South Florida played in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Geez, I wouldn’t be surprised if next year, they play in the “Charmin Toilet Paper, Wipe Your A$$ Bowl.”  I can picture the logo and mascot…a big toilet dancing about. It sure would be an improvement from those Bears with the Dingle Berry problem that Charmin has as its recent ad campaign.

The latest going on over in Africa, and the Ivory Coast: Ivory Coast Gbagbo’s last chance to avoid force: rival

ABIDJAN — Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo has only days in which to leave power peacefully with immunity, the prime minister of Ivory Coast’s presidential rival Alassane Ouattara said on Saturday.

Three presidents from West African regional bloc ECOWAS are planning a second round of talks on Jan. 3 with Gbagbo in an effort to convince him to cede power to Ouattara or face force after last month’s disputed election.

“The message seems clear. This is the last chance for Mr. Gbagbo to get a peaceful departure from power and a guarantee of immunity,” Ouattara’s Prime Minister Guillaume Soro told reporters at the Golf Hotel, his rival governments’ headquarters protected by some 600 U.N. peacekeeping troops.

The article goes on to say that more than 170 people have been killed in the stand-off. This situation seems to be getting more media coverage. I hope a resolution will come shortly, but I fear that it may only get more violent. Yet another area of unrest in the world. There are so many of them. Whether it is violent government take-overs, the protest of raising tuition in Britain, massive protest in Greece, crazed dictators in North Korea…not to mention the Iran problem….it surely seems like that whole idea of the end of days is a plausible outcome.

Well, what are you reading this morning? I would have listed more news links and interesting tidbits of the day…but the world will be over in 2012, so why bother writing about it…;) [Wink and a nod...Happy New Year!]

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47 Comments on “01-01-11 Ugh…”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    Oh…and I thought I would post this link: National Weather Forecast – weather.com

    We are getting lots of rain here in banjo land, how about you?

    • Delphyne says:

      We’re at a balmy 47 in NJ, partly cloudy – the sun was out for most of the morning. But there is still lots of snow all around! Happy New Year!

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Still have snow, wow…

        • Branjor says:

          It’ll take more like 1-2 weeks of consistently above freezing temperatures for the snow to go away.

      • dakinikat says:

        I had to turn on the A/C last night. Weird weather.

        • Minkoff Minx says:

          Well you know…the world is coming to an end, watch out for John Cusack and low flying planes when your driving off the interstate in California, as it falls into the Pacific Ocean. We got my dad that movie 2012 for Christmas. I still have not seen it. I think that these big disaster movies are our form of “movie” escape…you know like the Glitzy Hollywood movies during the Depression. Nothing like seeing Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers swirling in a sea of opulence when you are hungry and out of work. But for our current viewers, Hollywood has gone the opposite direction. When the world has a huge asteroid hurtling right at it, or a massive volcano is erupting in LA, or the coming of a new ice age…it all just means one thing. This movie has way more destruction and misery going on in 2 hours, than you do in your own life. Yes, to overcome the problems that these disaster movies depict is way easier then getting out of our current economic crises, helplessness abounds!

          • dakinikat says:

            Having lived in Post-Katrina New Orleans, my tolerance for disaster movies has gone WAY down. Some how, the president always sends help immediately in movie disasters and the current speaker of the house doesn’t suggest your city should just be left in its current state because it’s not a worthwhile place to rebuild.

          • Minkoff Minx says:

            Yeah, you all are still living through some sort of disaster film nightmare…

          • dakinikat says:

            x2 … don’t forget the BP gulf oil gusher. For some reason, I’ve moved to the place where disaster films come true at the moment.

          • Laurie says:

            We had floods here in 1992-3. They were small and limited in size, though mudslides further up the hills, and swollen streams cutting into banks and into road foundations (one person died in a stream you could usually hop over) made things difficult for all. Cars were, for example, swept away in front of the Pirelli factory.

            What it meant was that maybe less than 10% of the population was affected. Of course where I live the water was up to my shoulders, and since I was getting my child back from school-they’d phoned to tell us to collect them at about 11am, I couldn’t get back home but had to stay with friends.

            However what amazed me was the sleight of hand the mayor and the local council pulled. The first thing they did was whip out posters which they stuck on every available wall (about a hundred of them). These asked local citizens to fill up forms, freely available at the town hall, listing their losses and requesting financial compensation.

            To this day there are still persons in this small town (10,000 inhabitants) who are convinced that those who were flooded got a good deal out of it.
            Needless to say I got nothing, and only a very few of the very worse hit got anything at all, and that two years later.

          • dakinikat says:

            You know we did get some tax help and some cash payments from the Federal government as well as emergency food stamps. None of that will ever compensate me for the absolute trauma and hassle of dealing with it all. They kept me from my house for like 5-6 weeks. You had to sneak into the city. I had friends here who were actively being chased around the neighborhood by black berets so they could be put on buses and shipped to some other place in the country. I spent two years with Humvees patrolling my neighborhood. At least 2 weeks of that were with up-armored Humvees and soldiers carrying huge friggin rifles. I couldn’t find gas, groceries, doctors, cable/electricity, internet, etc for about 6 months. It’s still not over in many ways. I had good insurance and it still didn’t cover a lot of stuff. And, I my house had minimal damage and never flooded. You never make money or get a deal out of devastation. That’s naive and stupid talk!

          • Laurie says:

            5-6 weeks away from your house is very bad-there’s so much cleaning of mud to do.

    • Laurie says:

      heavy fog and occasional rays of sunshine here.

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    Mediaite Presents 2011 New Year's Resolutions | Mediaite

    This is the last one! Sort of funny stuff…I like this one:

    “David Shuster: Bring back obscure Goldmember tagline “Let the Shusting begin!”

    or this one:

    “Hillary Clinton: Save it for 2012, Hill, save it for 2012!”

  3. Boo Radly says:

    Well Minx, good to see you’re in ‘fine fiddle’ today. I’d say Happy New Year, but, why bother…….snark.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Hey Boo, “fine fiddle?” I guess so, but still sound like a woman who has smoked a carton of Pall Malls a day for most of her life. Cough….Cough…

  4. Teresa says:

    Insurance companies say this could cause them to cut back on the services they offer, or even pull out of states where administrative costs are higher.

    This goes along with what I have been saying all along, which is…if you don’t give insurance companies what they want, they pull out of your state. This actually happened in Washington state….what was the solution? give them back everything they want. Cost control via regulation doesn’t work, when the enforcement is up to the states. The only thing that works is cost control via competition (e.g. a Public Option) or federal-level enforcement.

    The other aspect of this method of cost containment is how do you still make ridiculous profits under this model? By selling more! Raise cost of care, raise premium, then the 20% is 20% of a greater dollar figure. The idiots who thought this was a mode of cost containment are stupider than they look.

    • cwaltz says:

      Well it was initially a GOP plan! ;)

      Everyone can look forward to having a cadillac plan in no time. Not because they have low co pays- but because the health insurance companies need more. I agree the system needs to be federalized-that way they can either a) provide coverage everywhere or b)close up shop everywhere. They shouldn’t get to hold states hostage.

      • Teresa says:

        People on the individual market can’t afford “cadillac care”. Besides, they don’t have to offer it, they just have to increase payouts to say, hospitals, and make sure you get some paid directorships for your trouble. Then raise premiums because the “cost of care” is going up.

        • cwaltz says:

          If the hospitals are in collusion with the insurance companies then I’m not even sure a federal market option could save the system we have.

  5. Minkoff Minx says:

    And since I live in Georgia, I just want to post this from Black Agenda Report: Brutal Reprisals Against Peaceful GA Inmate Strikers Confirmed, Was One Victim Hidden For Weeks By Prison Authorities? | Black Agenda Report

    Black, brown and white inmates in 6 Georgia prisons nonviolently locked themselves in their cells for several days beginning December 9, demanding wages for work, educational opportunities, adequate food and medical care, just parole decisions and access to their families. The peaceful inmate strikers, as we reported the following day, were already victims of brutal retaliation on the part of correctional officials, ranging from cutoffs of heat and hot water to unprovoked assaults by correctional employees upon prisoners.
    It now appears that at least one inmate, Terrance Dean of Bibb County GA was brutally assaulted by staff at Macon State Prison on or about December 16 was so severely injured prison officials secretly evacuated him to a hospital in Atlanta without bothering to inform his family.

    • dakinikat says:

      I think some people are beginning to realize that’s its not always a race, sex, etc. thing. It’s a in power/ out power thing. And at the risk of being a throwback ala Zaladonis, I’ve dug up my old Marx stuff that I read in comparative poly sci and econ classes. I’m seeing a developing class struggle that sounds reminiscent of what some people thought would happen in the 1960s when we were really too fat and happy for it to possibly happen. Also, there were good blue collar and union jobs. Marx believed that it would take the middle class losing ground to bring about his idea of revolution, so he’s seems oddly more relevant now than then. I’ve quoted from Lenin’s banking and corporate empirical analysis in the last several years too. I guess everything old is new again. Although, this is not as old as the Mayan calendar!

      • cwaltz says:

        Maybe that’ll be the good thing to come out of this. People may finally understand that they’re being played against each other via prejudices and wise up.

  6. Woman Voter says:

    Well another year is here and NO I don’t think the world will end. The only video on 2012 that I have seen that I find interesting (for the MUSIC) is this one. As of yet, I still can’t find the song, nor the author to get it on iTunes. If anyone knows it do tell, do tell…

    Enjoy…off to Zumba class

    • dakinikat says:

      Probably explains this breaking news!! (snark font on)

      Breaking News
      @BreakingNews Breaking News
      US Capitol, nearby buildings evacuated after unauthorized aircraft entered airspace – US Capitol Police

      • dakinikat says:

        oh, well, yet another scientific explanation !! Who’d have thunk it? (snark font on still)

        BreakingNews Breaking News
        Capitol update: All clear; plane was commercial flight that briefly lost radio contact, FAA source says – NBC

  7. dakinikat says:

    This is a fun read.

    ‘A big f—— deal’ and more: The top 10 political quotes of 2010

    Vice President Joe Biden’s use of profanity, a New York congressman’s admission of groping and a denial of witchcraft were among the top 10 political quotes of 2010.

    The healthcare reform debate is featured in several others, ranging from a Texas lawmaker’s outburst of “baby killer” to President Obama’s admission that he and his party took a “shellacking” in the midterm elections.

  8. Laurie says:

    OMG I forgot about 2012-can only hope to keep on forgetting about it until 2013….

  9. fiscalliberal says:

    Has there been any scuttle butt regarding the focus of the Democrats in the Senate. BB heard that Obama will concentrate on the Deficit commission in the SOU. I wonder if the FCIC report is going to get any congressional focus or main stream media. I would expect the Tea Party will be exploiting the debt limit debate. I guess the good news is we will see what the Tea Party is made of. If they stand and fight it might be a good show.

    It is sad when one’s expectations are so low

    • RalphB says:

      I hear the Senate Dems will be working with McConnell to reform the rules of the chamber. So, just when one of a few decent human beings might have filibustered the Catfood Commission, the filibuster won’t be available in the same way so we’re screwed.

      I believe the Dems owners, as opposed to their voters, want social security reformed to put the money into Wall St hands.

      • cwaltz says:

        Now now Ralph don’t be such a pessimist. They’re going to use these “new rules” for good and we’re all gonna get ponies. So sayeth many of the progressives anyway.

        For the record, I’m with you. They’re gonna use this to decimate Social Security.

      • dakinikat says:

        I don’t even know why they keep the name Democratic Party any more. They sell out on every historical accomplishment they’ve ever achieved these days at the drop of a hat. The Republican Party= The John Birch Society and The Democratic Party= The New Republican Party.

  10. fiscalliberal says:

    I expect the Republicans will take the fight directly to Obama and side step the Democrats in the House and Senate. In a way that might be a good thing. We shall see how good he is in a real street fight.

    Up to now Harry and Nancey have been carrying his water and getting shot for it

  11. dakinikat says:

    From a tweet from Harry Shearer: Will ironic effect of casting Bradley Manning into 8 mos solitary (http://huff.to/fyzdYN) be: it will be harder for US to extradite JA?

  12. Laurie says:

    Big news in Europe today is that Estonia has finally joined the Euro-which means that many people in Helsinki will stop taking the ferry over the Baltic to do their cheap weekend shopping….

    One famous episode last year had Finnish local transit workers going on strike for a day, and half of them were found on the ferry to Tallinn …..

  13. Boo Radly says:

    Krugman on the long road ahead.

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/01/the-long-road-ahead/

    From the link:
    So, suppose that US growth is accelerating. Even so, it will take years of high growth to get us back to anything resembling full employment. Put it this way: suppose that from here on out we average 4.5 percent growth, which is way above any forecast I’ve seen. Even at that rate, unemployment would be close to 8 percent at the end of 2012, and wouldn’t get below 6 percent until midway through Sarah Palin’s first term.

    ****************************************************************************
    He uses a graph illustrating Okun’s Law -— the relationship between growth and unemployment. What is uppermost in my mind is the figure he is using for unemployment rate now.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’ve written about this before. I frankly that Okun’s Law has broken down this time out because of the ability to export stimulus and jobs.