March Madness, Sweet Sixteen, Day 2 Open Thread

The investments today:

Michigan +2 over Kansas, Michigan State +2 over Duke, Louisville -10 over Oregon, and Koch Bros U, aka FGCU +13 over Florida.

Yesterday 4-0 ATS, + 8 units (29-21 ATS, +23 units for MM.)

Go Gators!

Open Thread.

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    A little Good Friday tune from Monty Python (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by caseyOR on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:10:45 PM EST
    For your listening pleasure, from Life of Brian, one of my go to tunes when things look glum.

    Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

    And so very appropriate (none / 0) (#7)
    by Zorba on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:30:44 PM EST
    to the Easter season!   ;-)

    It can't happen here. (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by lentinel on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 12:40:06 AM EST
    LONDON -- Big-ticket savers at the Bank of Cyprus may be forced to accept losses on their deposits that exceed 60 percent in order to keep the stricken bank afloat, bankers briefed on the negotiations said on Friday.

    The NYTimes refers to this state of affairs as, "a sizable haircut".

    Yes. A haircut.

    That's up there with George C. Scott as General Ripper in Dr. Strangelove referring to 10 to 20 million killed in a nuclear war as, "getting our hair mussed".

    The American people have become conditioned to accept "too big to fail" with respect to banks.

    Will our shaky banks become tonsorial parlors?

    How much "Skin in the Game" (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by MO Blue on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 05:37:41 AM EST
    might be required for those on Medicare?

    It's complicated, but the takeaway is that it is expensive. A senior would be faced with paying the first $550 of their medical expenses, $2,250 of their coinsurance, plus the premium for their Medigap policy. A couple without a Medigap policy would pay all of those out of pocket costs --$15,000. That could be quite tough for many seniors, especially those whose only income is from Social Security.

    Consider: since half of all Medicare beneficiaries have incomes of $24,000 or less, those with even moderate medical expenses might have to tap assets to cover the higher costs, apply for Medicaid, or choose another option for getting Medicare benefits.

    Basically, if this is part of some big budget deal (Grand Bargain) it means they're making Medicare recipients pay down the deficit. They don't anticipate any blowback from the Democrats since it's a Democratic president who's proposing it and they figure that since it will go into affect in 2016, after the president is out of office, the dumbshits who enter Medicare after that won't know the difference and he won't get blamed. It's all good. link

    Dear God, why? Why, when (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Anne on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:02:08 AM EST
    corporate profits are at an all-time high and not being put back into creating jobs, or raising salaries or improving benefits, does anyone think looking to make life more difficult for people who have worked all their lives - who may have to keep working to supplement the Social Security and Medicare they thought would allow them to get off the work treadmill and have more time to enjoy their later years - makes any sense AT ALL.

    This is just so much bullsh!t I can't stand it; it makes me so angry I could spit.


    The year before I went on Medicare, (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by MO Blue on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:27:50 AM EST
    after being forced into early retirement I was diagnosed with a aggressive form of breast cancer. My retirement health insurance was with a company that (1) self insured and (2) capped their contribution to the premium to a fixed dollar amount rather than to a percentage of the premium and they canceled my insurance plan midway between selection dates and forced me into a PPO with a deductible that had to be met prior to the insurance kicking in. Because of the timing, I had two meet the deductible amount twice in less than a year. To make a long story short, I had more money going out each month during that period than was coming in from my fixed income and needless to say there was no way I could get a job to subsidize my income. Savings can disappear very quickly under these circumstances.

    Basically what these changes will do is penalize sick, elderly or disabled people and force more of them into poverty. A large majority of them will have to choose between necessary medical care or having their already limited income reduced by thousands of dollars per year.

    The powers that be have decided that this is necessary so that we can move more money into the hands of the corporations and the obscenely wealthy.  Bottom line - We have legalized corruption and we now have the best government that money can buy. We have a government by the corporations and for the corporations. There is no such thing as too much pain to inflict on ordinary citizens if the government can please their true constituents such as the CEOs of "Fix the Debt."



    These ideas, it seem to me, (none / 0) (#20)
    by KeysDan on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 11:56:23 AM EST
    are more ideological than economic.  Ordinary, older Americans are given too high a level of health care, they are living too long, and costing too much.   As with the Dartmouth Atlas study that was popularized by Peter Orszag, Director of OMB during the development of ACA, the science behind the folding together of Medicare parts A and B deductibles, is questionable in fact and doubtful in economies.

    Medigap insurance is secondary and pays only after Medicare has determined that the services are needed and has paid benefits.  The combining of parts A and B deductibles  does, I suppose,  have the advantage of reducing deductible costs for  the emergency room visits and hospitalizations that will surely result from avoidance of,  or delayed physician visits.  But, overall, hardly a programmatic cost savings.

    The Dartmouth Atlas played a miscast role in ACA, and its shadow, once again,  is hovering over Medicare.  Foundational to the Atlas, is that slashing Medicare and reducing the availability of more expensive tests, drugs and procedures will improve the quality of health care and reduce costs.  Clearly, the problem of costs is on the beneficiaries who relish lots of tests and surgeries as well as doctors and hospitals that order "excessive" tests and procedures--- not on for-profit hospital chains, drug  or insurance companies.

    Of course, the "proof" offered was that in the Dartmouth studies all patients died no matter the treatments.  No difference in outcomes, all  hospitals that spent more money just wasted money.  Supply-sensitive care brings no difference in quality of care, no matter how much is spent.  

    The Dartmouth Atlas has the major flaw that no attempt was made at survival rates--no scientific analysis that the use of more resources brings lower mortality rates.   And, factors such as poverty were ignored.  But, then, higher deductibles and co-pays for a large portion of Medicare beneficiaries are the makings of a bargain except for those interested in providing and receiving good health care--and for them, its not so grand.  


    Seems that the ideology behind these (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by MO Blue on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 12:14:30 PM EST
    changes to Social Security and Medicare is to reduce the value of these popular programs to the point that they can eventually be eliminated.

    IMO it is part and parcel of Gingrich's withering on the vine plan to incrementally chop away at these programs until they have no real financial benefits and people voluntarily leave them.


    Agreed. (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by KeysDan on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 06:17:37 PM EST
    Death by a thousand cuts.   With mean-spirited "means testing" of premiums, reduced benefits,  greater co-pays, and higher deductibles, we are on the way.  The poorer beneficiaries of Medicare will gripe and pay.  The richer beneficiaries will gripe and want out.  

    Interesting question posed in (5.00 / 2) (#24)
    by MO Blue on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 07:23:55 AM EST
    article over at FDL:

    During the debate on the Affordable Care Act, the Democratic apologists took great pleasure in reminding us that we must not let "the perfect be the enemy of the good."  What we once thought of as the deeply held core principle of single payer Medicare for all was not even the starting position of negotiation, abandoned before the negotiation even began.  When the Heritage Foundation plan finally passed, we were told it was just a start and we should learn to love it.  Progressives hoped that it would be a step on the road to true universal health care but ask yourself which is more likely as things stand now:  ACA morphing into Medicare for all or Medicare morphing into an expansion of the ACA subsidized voucher plan.  In thirty years will ACA be seen as a victory for the left or the right? link

    Unfortunately, it appears that we are morphing into privatizing Medicaid and with the continued Democratic effort to devalue Medicare it won't IMO be long until younger seniors using Obamacare as the justification are moved from Medicare into the open market and vouchers for everyone else.


    The redeeming feature, (none / 0) (#25)
    by KeysDan on Mon Apr 01, 2013 at 11:22:46 AM EST
    of an otherwise flawed ACA, for some,  was the value of expanding Medicaid.   And, while then, as now, a fair point, it remains arguable.   My worry has long been that expansion of Medicaid would become, in the eyes of hostile conservatives, just an expansion of welfare--with not only the attendant political vulnerabilities, but also, with risks that poorer people would end up with fewer benefits and higher-cost sharing on the exchanges.  Privatizing Medicaid may bring sudden and suspicious acceptance by the intransigents despite the likely increased costs  and decreased capabilities.

    Result of merging Part A & Part B (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by MO Blue on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 12:35:15 PM EST
    Despite the bipartisan interest, the politics of merging Part A and Part B are complicated.

    Glenn M. Hackbarth, chairman of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, a group of nonpartisan experts that advises Congress, said a combined deductible could increase costs for those who use only doctor and outpatient services -- a majority of beneficiaries in any year. It could reduce costs, he said, for the roughly 20 percent who require hospitalization.

    So it's basically going to result in 80% of Medicare recipients paying more than they currently do. Got it.

    Meanwhile, my taxes will continue to provide great health care and retirement benefits for life for all the people in government who want to force me and others like me into substandard health care and poverty level benefits.

    Heck I even help pay for our Senators' hair care to the tune of $300,000 a year.


    Despite 'Enormous Risk' (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by MO Blue on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 07:11:33 AM EST
    White House Reaffirms Commitment to Arctic Drilling

    A White House official reaffirmed Wednesday the Obama administration's commitment to the Arctic offshore drilling program despite the "dangerous risk" of catastrophic consequences for the pristine marine ecosystem.

    Speaking via video conference before a Alaskan Senate hearing in Anchorage regarding the recent grounding of Shell's Kulluk drilling rig, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Tommy Beaudreau said, "The administration is committed to supporting safe and responsible exploration of potential energy resources in frontier areas such as the Arctic."

    Dear coral gables, (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 02:36:25 PM EST
    Please explain the U of M/KU bet. I am gambling challenged. Thank you.

    Your loyal reader,

    BTD starts the game (none / 0) (#2)
    by CoralGables on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 02:45:24 PM EST
    with Michigan holding a 2-0 lead.

    If Michigan wins the game by any margin, or loses by no more than 1 point, BTD is a winner. A Michigan loss by 2 points is a push (gets his money back). A Michigan loss by more than 2 points and BTD takes a hit to the wallet.

    brought to you by:
    TL Gambling in Plain English


    Hmmmm. All of that from "+2." (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 02:59:24 PM EST
    And he doesn't bet U of M will win. Just not lose by more than 2 points.

    Thank you. I assume KU is favored to win.


    Your assumption is correct (none / 0) (#4)
    by CoralGables on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 03:32:04 PM EST
    or....Kansas -2 (Kansas is favored by 2 points)

    I'm in the ABD Club -- (none / 0) (#8)
    by brodie on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:49:11 PM EST
    whoever wins is fine with me so long as it's not Duke.  Mostly on accounta their insufferably self-righteous Coack Kay.

    As for Florida, do I have to?  An SEC team and all that.  Plus they're up against a Cinderella team whose coach is married to a kind of Cinderella (minus the big $ from her modeling career).  That's double points in my book, nearly enough to neutralize the Koch Bros.

    I haven't decided yet.


    Agreed. ABD. (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 06:37:12 PM EST
    Duke University lost my respect back in 2006, when its administration and faculty prematurely jumped to the wrong conclusions during the phony men's lacrosse scandal, ousted the coach and suspended the team, dismissed players from school, and thus helped to upend any number of people's lives and sully their reputations.

    RIP Richard Griffiths (none / 0) (#6)
    by Dadler on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:01:18 PM EST
    I didn't see a replay (none / 0) (#10)
    by CoralGables on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:10:17 PM EST
    but did the Kansas player just pass up a layup for a tie with 3 seconds left in OT?

    Magical powers by BTD? (none / 0) (#11)
    by womanwarrior on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:20:02 PM EST
    That was surprising, CG.

    Not a clean layup, but he should (none / 0) (#12)
    by brodie on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:35:18 PM EST
    have quickly gone to the basket, as he had a step on the larger and slower defender and probably could have had a high percentage close-in shot.  But maybe he got panicky about the clock, whatever.  Not a clutch play.

    Glad Michigan won.  Great comeback.


    Yep. And now, 3 of the 4 top seeds ... (none / 0) (#13)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 09:38:56 PM EST
    ... have been eliminated before the quarterfinals. This has proved to be one of the more competitive tournaments in recent years, and really enjoyable to watch. And we could have two upstart mid-majors in the Elite Eight, if FGCU can knock off BTD's Florida to join Wichita State on Sunday.

    That's going to be a tall order, though. If the Gators win tonight, I'm liking their chances against Michigan. The elephant in the room, though, has got to be Louisville. The Cardinals are looking scary good right now.


    Fun video (none / 0) (#17)
    by MO Blue on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:02:04 AM EST