Open Thread: Now Playing, Deflater-maus

America thinks the New England Patriots are naughty.

Americans think the Patriots cheated in the AFC Championship game- and they’re rooting for the Seahawks on Sunday- but in some ways their poll numbers haven’t fallen that far because the Patriots weren’t all that popular to begin with.

Overall 41% of voters think the Patriots cheated last week to only 27% who think they didn’t, and among self described NFL fans- still 64% of voters even after this tumultuous season- it’s a 50/28 spread that think the Pats cheated. Democrats (46/23) overwhelmingly think New England cheated while Republicans (36/33) are much more divided on the matter. Bill Belichick has a 28/41 favorability rating among NFL fans, compared to 37/16 for Pete Carroll. And the Patriots as a team overall have a 36/43 favorability rating with fans, making them one of only two teams we tested (the Cowboys at 40/42 being the other) with a net negative rating.

And no, that partisan split doesn’t surprise me in the least.

Open thread.








Happily Wrong

I’m happy that I’m probably going to be wrong about what I’ve written about Arkansas’ private option plan.  I thought there would be a good chance that the private option and thus Medicaid expansion would be nixed in Arkansas because it has a strong majority coalition but an extremely fragile super-majority coalition in 2013 and 2014.  The November elections tossed out a few marginal supporters and replaced them with Teabaggers who out-teabag Lipton, and the outgoing governor who championed the private option with an incoming governor who was non-committal about the entire thing.

I thought that meant the end of the private option after this year.  I was wrong as the Arkansas Times explains that I was wrong in both the essence, and a critical detail as it looks like the Arkansas private option will get slightly less punitive and slightly better for people making under 100% of the federal poverty line.

He (the governor) is asking the legislature to fund the private option for two more years, and he’s asking for a legislative task force that would lead the way on an overhaul of the state’s health care system in 2017.

But there was also little piece of policy news buried in the bill filed yesterday by Hutchinson’s nephew (and previously outspoken opponent of the private option) Sen. Jim Hendren. If passed, Hendren’s bill would make a couple of tweaks to the existing private option. It would halt co-pays and the Health Independence Account program on private option beneficiaries below the poverty line, and it would nix future transitions of certain populations now on traditional Medicaid over to the private option.

Medicaid co-pays for people making under 100% of the federal poverty line tend to be nominal.  Usually it will be $2 or $3 for office visits and prescriptions and up to $8 for emergency room visits that don’t result in admissions.  Most states don’t enforce the co-pays and will reimburse providers for co-pays that weren’t paid.  It is a massive administrative burden for little gain in either reduced costs per service or utilization reduction.   Arkansas has tight eligibility requirements for Legacy Medicaid, so that population is probably sicker and more expensive than the current private option population.  Keeping current Medicaid beneficiaries on Medicaid is an interesting choice as Arkansas pays a significant percentage of their care, while the Feds pick up the entire cost of care for current private options members, and will pay a higher percentage in the future.  However, it also lowers the overall medical expense of the entire Exchange risk pool in the state, so it could lower net premiums.

Overall, I was wrong, and I am very glad to be wrong about Arkansas this week.








Deflating the ball

Full disclosure, I am a Patriots fan.

This ain’t looking good. 11 of 12 balls supplied by the Patriots were significantly underinflated when the NFL examined the balls.

Citing sources, Mortensen reports that of the 12 footballs weighed by officials before Sunday’s AFC Championship game, 11 of them came in under-inflated by two pounds of air (PSI) when weighed either after or during the Patriots’ 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

In soccer, balls are supposed to be inflated to between 8.5 PSI to 14 PSI. Typically, the higher the level of play, the harder the ball. One of the little tricks referees use to control games between teams that don’t like each other is to pump the balls to be rock solid. The objective in that case is to make the ball move more as a heavily inflated ball requires far more skill to properly control on the first touch. Tough control on the first touch means the ball is moving into space more often, the ball moving into space more often means players are less likely to be at each others’ feet, and players less likely to be at each others’ feet means fewer chances for fouls and escalation.

During a course of a soccer game, a well made ball that is fresh out of the box will lose some weight. At high level competition, the home team will supply between five and seven balls that the referees inspected and approved. Each ball will be kicked at least one hundred times during the course of play including a couple of rockets and a few punts. A good ball in good conditions between two teams that are playing hard will often drop a pound of PSI after ninety minutes of play.

Football’s offensive game balls are not subject to kicking (the K-balls are seperate) and there are only on average 120 to 140 non special teams plays per game. Each ball is only getting used for ten to fifteen plays. There are three sets of forces that could put pressure on the ball. The first is gripping and squeezing force from the running back and ball carrier. The next is snatching force by the receiver in the act of the catch, and the final is drop to the ground force on an incompletion. The first two sets of forces on the ball are fairly violent but not extreme. Ten to fifteen incidences of these forces should not deflate most balls that are used in a professional or college game.

No way in hell did eleven of twelve balls all naturally deflate during the course of play. I could see one or two losing a pound or two of pressure, and then another couple balls getting a few ounces light, and most of the balls hanging out at the bottom end of permissible if this was a random event, but not eleven out of twelve balls consistently being underweight.

Did it decide the course of a 45-7 game? Hell no, but it was a small tilting of the odds in favor the Patriots where it might have mattered in a 13-7 game.








State of the Union Open Thread

Official White House.gov link here.

Guardian stream & liveblogging here.
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From the Guardian: Obama breaks from the script after a litany of cheerful economic statistics to remark, “this is good news, people.” The crowd laughs.
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The President: “We need affordable, high-quality child care more than ever.”

Forget the chamber — I think we could all here the applause from people’s living rooms.
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Wild applause & loud cheers for raising the minimum wage… and especially for making Congresscritters who refuse to vote for raising the minimum wage try to live on “less than $15,000 a year”.


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“Give me a free hand to negotiate trade deals” not getting nearly as much applause as earlier proposals. Sunshine’s a great disinfectant, President Obama! — the only ones in favor of fast-track secret deals are corporations and their enablers.
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Bipartisan applause for “reserving the right” to “take out terrorists without reserve.” So there’s that, at least.
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Commentor CCKids points out, per TPM, tonight’s “Designated Survivor” is Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx:

Because I just find it funny, just in case there’s some Tom Clancy “catastrophic event” tonight, our new President will be . . . another black guy!! Too perfect. You can just see the wingnuts cheering, then looking up to see: Anthony Foxx. “Dammit!!”

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At least the front couple rows of Repubs stood up to applaud for “It’s time to close Gitmo.” Good news!
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“I have no more campaigns to run… “ Mild applause… “I know it, because I won both of ’em.” Audience: OOOOOOOOO!!!

Even his fiercest critic would agree that the President deserved that one zinger.








Long Read: “Ralph Steadman on Charlie Hebdo, the Right to Offend and Changing the World”

The older I get, the more I think we need a word for the opposite of nostalgia — a word to express the dark humor-slash-remorse one feels upon remembering that the terrible things one dreaded in the past have come true, usually in forms even worse than we imagined. Robert Chalmers, in Newsweek, interviews the 78-year-old visual satirist probably best known in America for his collaborations with Hunter S. Thompson:

We were sitting in a bar in Aspen, Colorado, almost 20 years ago, I remind Ralph Steadman, when he first told me that he’d become a cartoonist because he wanted to change the world. It wasn’t the first time he’d made this declaration and it wouldn’t be the last. But it’s a mission statement that seems horribly apposite this afternoon, as we sit in the living room of his house near Maidstone, Kent, watching live news coverage from the print warehouse where Said and Cherif Kouachi, the killers of the Charlie Hebdo artists, are making their last stand.

“It is interesting that you should mention that remark today,” says Steadman, “because, looking at what has been happening in Paris, I now feel that I have succeeded. I did manage to change the world, and it is a worse place than it was when I started. Far worse – an achievement I had always assumed would be impossible.”…

Some years ago, when we were travelling in Utah, Steadman told me that he feels interviews sometimes risk sounding like posthumous tributes. What adjectives, I asked him, would he like to see in his own obituary?

“Distasteful,” he said. “Unhygienic. Truculent. Moody. Provocative towards bastards.”

“How about long-lived?”

“Oh, yes. I’d like my obituary to say: ‘He was very long-lived. Endlessly. We thought he’d never go away’. A pause. “And we were right: he didn’t.”…

“I think – I know – that satire does frighten fascists. Fascists don’t like satire. They don’t like it at all. And they especially don’t enjoy visual satire. Because of its unique power to communicate. As Wittgenstein [Ludwig] asserted, the only thing of value is the thing you cannot say. Sometimes you can’t communicate the idea or the emotion, but a drawing can. You draw something, and people say: ‘Oh, I see what you’re getting at now’.” And that thought, Steadman says, “brings us back to what happened in that room at Charlie Hebdo. Some things,” he adds, “there are no words for”.

Steadman’s graphic response to the Charlie Hebdo murders — as well as some of his other works — are at the link. Well worth clicking over to see!