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      Profits on Medicare Advantage plans are at least double what insurers earn from other kinds of policies. Gee, I wonder why? There is tons of evidence that insurers in the program have been manipulating a program that pays them extra fees for enrolling customers with more illnesses. The change took away payments for some of … Continue reading Cheaters
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Sunday: Solstice is coming!

Update: Atrios seems to be depressed and cynical about our politico-financial class and what it is carelessly doing with other people’s money. I’m sure that this whole screwed up system struck him as brutally unfair before but now that it seems like all we have left is 401Ks and IRAs that rely on the good faith of people like Jon Corzine, it seems even more unfair, doesn’t it?

And *I’m* the one who was called one of a shrieking band of paranoid holdouts, crazy, racist, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum.  Let’s recall that it was Jon Corzine who rejected Hillary, dumped her actually, and went with Barack Obama.  There had to be a reason.

I guess I wasn’t the crazy one after all.  Just remember that when the day comes that the middle class turns on their 401Ks, I was there first.


My resident atheist informs me that my Christmas celebrations violate her first amendment rights or something {{rolling eyes, where *does* she get that??}}.   I’m oppressing her and discriminating against her right to be non-religious.   So, this year, we’re celebrating Solstice.  We’re having a Raclette party followed by sleepover for those who want to stay.  When it gets dark, and we’re sure the neighbors aren’t watching, we’re going to light skylanterns.  The kid wants to build a nest for the Solstice Weasel, her own invention, in the living room.  But I told her that she’d have to take the damn nest downstairs into the basement.

Bringing in the Yule Log

I won’t have any more bits and pieces of construction paper and string in the living room. We’re having a tree, dammit.  Besides, the Christmas tree was originally a Yule tradition and Yule is the English name for the 12 day pagan Solstice celebration.  It gives me great delight to launch another salvo in the war on Christmas by erecting a Yule tree in my living room.  Take that, Bill O’Reilly! Bwahahahahahahaaaaaahhhh!


In other news:

Hillary Clinton launched a new initiative to promote women in public service called The Women in Public Service Project.  The State Department will be pairing up with 5 women’s colleges to conduct research and to educate for the purpose of increasing the number of women in government and the private sector.

By the way, Obama guys, if you think that women of Hillary’s stature have gotten over what happened in 2008, you are very much mistaken.  Even Christine Le Garde, head of the IMF, made mention of it.  When watching the video below, you’d have to be tone deaf to not hear the undertones of anger and steely resolve.  Women who came of age in the feminist revolution are not at all content to gain this level of education and experience to be told that we’re not to be taken seriously.  No, not at all.  In fact, the macho assholes who brought us the 2008 election season have pissed off just about everyone they need for a replay in 2012: unions, working people, families and, most egregiously, women.  If you think we’re going to roll over a second time, you are very much mistaken.

In any case, they’re not getting mad, they’re getting even.  Part of the goal of this new initiative is to bring 40 female leaders from all around the world to a summer institute at one of the colleges in the coalition to train them in the art of politics.  Hillary explains why it is so important to train women to embrace politics.  Pay attention at minute marker 41:00.  Superficially, she’s referring to women in Arab Spring countries.  On a deeper level, I hear quite a different criticism.  Tell me what you think.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Who’s sorry now?

This project is greatly needed and long overdue.  But it’s not just other countries that need to train women in politics and public service.  Our own country’s legislative body has a pathetic 17% representation by women.  We should be training our own.  Let’s hope that doing just that is part of this project.  And wouldn’t it be sweet if it turned out that it was Hillary that helped get us to that magic 30% representation that would usher in a change in policy in government?  Success is the best revenge.


The Layaway Project.  I saw this article a couple of days ago but was really delighted to see Lambert at Correntewire pick up on it.  It turns out that anonymous donors have been going to stores like Kmart and Walmart and paying off layaway accounts for people who are in danger of being delinquent.  Yup, they just go into the store, pay off someone’s account and leave.  Sort of like the Lone Solstice Weasel.  Or Santa, if you’re into imaginary beings:

The young father stood in line at the Kmart layaway counter, wearing dirty clothes and worn-out boots. With him were three small children.

He asked to pay something on his bill because he knew he wouldn’t be able to afford it all before Christmas. Then a mysterious woman stepped up to the counter.

“She told him, ‘No, I’m paying for it,'” recalled Edna Deppe, assistant manager at the store in Indianapolis. “He just stood there and looked at her and then looked at me and asked if it was a joke. I told him it wasn’t, and that she was going to pay for him. And he just busted out in tears.”

At Kmart stores across the country, Santa seems to be getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers’ layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn’t afford, especially toys and children’s clothes set aside by impoverished parents.

Hey, we can all do this, even those of us on unemployment can dig a little bit into the savings and help pay off a layaway.  Can I get an “Hell Yeah!”?  I stood in line in the grocery store yesterday behind a woman who was paying with food stamps.  In my suburb, where the median salary is $106,000/year, there are people who are on food stamps.  And she didn’t look poor or dirty or lazy.  She just looked like a suburbanite who’s suffering at the hands of stupid political and economic policy.  As a kid whose parents didn’t believe in Christmas presents, I know how hard it is on a kid to go back to school in January and feel isolated from the rest of the crowd because they have no presents to talk about.  It’s just devastating on a social level.

In years when I was employed, I would pluck a wish list off the Salvation Army Christmas tree in the cafeteria and then make that kid’s wish come true.  I’m not working but if there is an account at Kmart that needs a little extra and I can help get presents to those kids, why not?  We can’t let Lambert’s blog get ahead of us here.  We need some healthy competition.  Game on!


Finally, macaroons.  Swoon.  I love them and appreciate their decadence.  Turns out that good lovers know it too:

“Your slacker boyfriend gives you a cupcake; your lover gives you macarons.” Thus quoth the New York Times last week in an article about the sexy qualities of macarons, the airy pastry that’s been taking New York by storm for the past year or so. We love the idea of gifts from a lover. A boyfriend or girlfriend might give you a first-edition copy of a meaningful book, a framed picture of your first date, a video game you’ll both play for hours, a nice dinner for two. A lover’s gifts will all be of a sexier ilk..


1. Macarons
Macarons are airy, almond cookies with a creamy filling — and they are sexy. In the words of the New York Times, “A macaron teases. Dainty, nearly weightless, it leaves you hungrier than you were before. It is but a prelude to other pleasures.” What’s more, they usually come in a sexy box tied with a ribbon — whomever you send these to will feel quite woo’d.

They used to make these at my local Wegmans and called them Nicolettes.  (Hmmm, was that the name of the rose in Romance of the Rose or some other piece of medieval literature?  And didn’t her bud get plucked at the end?)  Anyway, macaroons are divine.  They’re full of luscious flavor and a melt in your mouth texture.  Alas, their freshness is as ephemeral as a love affair.  You need to eat them quickly.  By the next day, they’re already stale.  But, oh, for those brief hours, orgasmic.  Keep the ribbon.