Besides either pointing and laughing or cringing and looking at our fellow countrymen with abject fear and uncertainty, what is on the agenda today


Sunday Evening Open Thread: NFL Protests & Other Stuff

General notification: I normally use a FireFox analog, Pale Moon, as my browser. As many of you already know, Balloon Juice is currently blocked for FF users, so I’ve had to resort to IE, which sucks seventeen ways, none of them enjoyable. There will be crankiness.

Latest upgrade I can find on HRClinton’s incident this morning, from the NYTimes:

Mrs. Clinton was taken from the morning event at ground zero to the Manhattan apartment of her daughter, Chelsea. About 90 minutes after arriving there, Mrs. Clinton emerged from the apartment in New York’s Flatiron district and waved to onlookers, posing for pictures with a little girl on the sidewalk.
“I’m feeling great,” Mrs. Clinton said. “It’s a beautiful day in New York.”

Mrs. Clinton left in her motorcade without the group of reporters that is designated to travel with her in public. A campaign spokesman, Nick Merrill, indicated that she returned to her Chappaqua, N.Y., residence after 1 p.m., but did not give an exact time.

Mr. Merrill described the Democratic presidential nominee only as feeling “overheated” during the commemoration ceremony that morning…

[Rep. Peter T.] King said it was hot enough that officials working at the event offered the dignitaries bottles of water as they stood. But he noted that he did not see anybody accept a bottle.

The congressman, who served alongside Mrs. Clinton when she was in the Senate, said he could not recall Mrs. Clinton suffering any medical episodes at any of the public events he had attended with her…


In other news, I had intended to post this before today’s game:

According to the Palm Beach Post [warning: autoplay], the Seahawks players modified their protest with a plan for all players to stand with their arms interlinked during the anthem. Some of the players on the opposing teams, the Dolphins, chose to protest themselves by kneeling. The usual suspects are taking this very, very seriously.

What else is on the agenda for the evening?

Risk Adjustment:Vox::Narrow Networks:538

There are two recent health policy articles by interested lay expertise sites that have me scratching my head. In Vox’s case, I am seeing a conclusion without context. For 538, I can not figure out the model that leads to a core assumption. These sites’ jobs are to inform the public and in these cases I think they can do a better job of their job.

Let’s start with Vox as Sarah Kliff looks at a Society of Actuaries analysis of risk scores on the individual market. She draws a very strong conclusion.

Between 2014 and 2015, SOA finds that Obamacare’s average risk scores went up by 5 percent. This means that the overall pool of people on the marketplace were sicker in 2015 than 2014. You can see the data here, in a table from the report.

The Society of Actuaries draws a much weaker conclusion

Risk measures published in the CCIIO release show that the average measure of risk increased from 2014 to 2015. Increased risk scores may be a combination of identification through better coding as well as a measure of the actual population health….

The program is still too immature to draw conclusive inferences about the future of the pool or marketplaces.

Vox saw a number that went up (bad) and wrote a story with no context.
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I’m not outraged about Colin Kaepernik

I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff on Twitter and Facebook about how Colin Kaepernik insulted Veterans with his refusal to stand for the National Anthem.

I personally am not offended by Kaepernik’s actions. I wish he’d chosen a different method, but only because the substance of his protest, the glaring racial iniquities of policing and the legal system, have been ignored while the outrage machine over his refusal to stand for the anthem has burned up all the oxygen. I honestly had no idea who the guy was before this week. Those glaring racial iniquities of policing and the legal system? That’s the real outrage here, or it should be if you buy into the idea that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Speaking for myself, I for one am real Goddamned tired of people appointing themselves to be outraged on my my behalf.

I joined the army for a lot of reasons, patriotism being one of them, but patriotism had little if anything to do with my decisions to re-enlist over and over again. Every place I ever fought, I fought FOR my brothers, the guys to my left and right. If politics entered into it at all, it was because we fought against people who would string up the Colin Kaeperniks of the world for being a racial minority, or for not toeing some religious or political line. So there was always some knowledge and understanding that on some level there was a difference between us, or what we still aspire to but haven’t yet become, and them.

But mostly it was for my brothers. And a paycheck.

Zika and abortions

Scientific America has some bad news about Zika in Puerto Rico:

“Based on the limited available information on the risk of microcephaly, we estimate between 100 to 270 cases of microcephaly might occur” between mid-2016 and mid-2017, said Dr. Margaret Honein, chief of the birth defects branch at the CDC, who was one of several authors of the study published August 19 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Politico’s Jennifer Haberkorn looks at how Zika could change the discssion on abortion:

Pregnant women with the Zika virus are at risk of giving birth to babies with devastating brain damage, which can be detected only around 18 to 20 weeks — and often much later than that. …

An Aug. 5 Harvard University-STAT poll found only 23 percent of American adults believe a woman should have access to abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy. But that opposition softened notably when the question was framed in terms of Zika.

“Maybe the Zika epidemic and its implications for pregnant women will help us shine a light on the exactly tragic situation in which you have these abortions,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), co-chairman of the House Pro-Choice Caucus.

Life and decision making gets a lot simpler when we assume that women are capable moral agents making their own decisions about their own health and autonomy.  But our political process does not allow for that.  The Politico article brings up the rubella epidemic that led to abortion being discussed in public as “respectable” discussion as it was seen as a health procedure instead of an non-punishment for the sluts (you know those girls) for having sex.

Dr. Jen Grunter writes about how she came to perform abortions during later stages of pregnancies.  Her patients needed help and she helped them.

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Because We are a Nation of Sociopaths Is Why

We’re really a disgraceful group of people:

Ramen noodles are overtaking tobacco as the most popular currency in US prisons, according a new study released on Monday.

A new report by Michael Gibson-Light, a doctoral candidate in the University of Arizona’s school of sociology, found the decline in quality and quantity of food available in prisons due to cost-cutting has made ramen noodles

“[Ramen] is easy to get and it’s high in calories,” Gibson-Light said. “A lot of them, they spend their days working and exercising and they don’t have enough energy to do these things. From there it became more a story, why ramen in particular.”

Gibson-Light interviewed close to 60 inmates over the course of a year at one state prison as part of a wider study on prison labor. He did not identify the prison to protect the confidentiality of the inmates.

He found that the instant soup has surpassed tobacco as the most prized currency at the prison. He also analyzed other nationwide investigations that he says found a trend towards using ramen noodles in exchanges.

“One way or another, everything in prison is about money,” one soft-spoken prisoner named Rogers said in the report. “Soup is money in here. It’s sad but true.”

Ramen noodles have long been known to be a popular dish in prisons. Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez, who spent more than a decade incarcerated on a weapons charge, wrote a book on its popularity, Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories From Behind Bars.

He was inspired to write the book after a race riot in 2009 led to a standoff between a group of Hispanic and African American inmates. An older inmate quelled the dispute and the two groups resolved the tensions by cooking a feast together, largely with ramen noodles.

The book, released last year, includes several recipes such as Ramen Tamale, using Doritos, canned pork and beans, and ramen. It recommends mixing strawberry jelly with soy sauce to make teriyaki, to go with Cheesy Meat Tacos. The book also includes the favorite ramen recipes of celebrities such as Shia LeBeouf and Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash.

The study paints a bleak picture of the state of food available at the prison. Gibson-Light found that black-market food became more valuable after control over food preparation switched from one private firm to another in the early 2000s.

“That change was part of a cost-cutting measure,” Gibson-Light said. “With that change that resulted in a reduction in the quantity of the food the inmates were receiving.”

Inmates at the prison Gibson-Light studied went from receiving three hot meals a day to two hot meals and one cold lunch during the week, and only two meals for the whole day on the weekend.

The phenomenon is described by Gibson-Light as “punitive frugality”. Spending on corrections has not kept pace with the number of inmates in prisons since 1982, the report found.

The reasons for this are twofold:

1.) Instead of creating good jobs in cafeterias in prison for both civilians and give the prisoners an opportunity to learn a skill, we’re happier to heap profits on the investor class who have found prisons can be a gold mine with little oversight.

2.) Because most people, when told this, will shrug and basically say “fuck them, they’re prisoners.” These same people will then bitch about repeat offenders who, after being treated like an animal for ten years are released and commit another crime, because we didn’t spend any time or money educating them, dealing with their mental illnesses, teach them a trade, and generally just shit on them for a decade. So now they are worse than what they were when they went in.

I actually talked about this several years ago with someone, and they straight up said “Hell, they eat better than my kids do at school,” and all I could think was “Wow, if you’re ok with that you’re a pretty shitty parent.” That person is no longer in my life.

But that’s who we are as a country. Greatest country in the world, amirite?

Because Some Asshattery Needs Its Own Snark

Like several valued commenters, I can’t help but love this story:

The [North Carolina] state GOP sent out a tweet Wednesday night saying it was “shameful” for Kaine to wear the flag of Honduras during his speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Kaine was, of course, wearing a Blue Star Service pin, which people wear to signal they’ve a family member on active duty during a war or a conflict.

Here’s a typical version:


To the wingnut mind, which is to say the Twitter account of the North Caroline GOP, this subtle and simple acknowledgement of pride and moment in a son’s service was the Honduran flag, and Kaine’s brazen display of that unAmerican allegiance was, and I quote, “shameful.”

To which I reply: Morans!

One additional note:  the Military Times article linked above contains an error.  It states that “North Carolina Republicans have apologized to Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine…”

Maybe so, but the only acknowledgement of their feckless, incompetent asshattery I’ve been able to find is a thank you to the person who pointed out what Kaine was actually wearing.  No contrition aimed at the nominee, his son, or the Democratic Party.

Which is to say that the NC GOP is not merely incompetent, feckless and having trouble peering through its own colon; they’re a bunch of ill-mannered boors whose parents should have (and maybe tried to) raise them better.

ETA:  as pointed out by valued commenters Hoodie, Omnes Omnibus, and in a prior thread Raven, the executive director of the state GOP did issue a clear apology to Tim Kaine and his family this afternoon.  So my dudgeon was accurate at the time I first read this story, and was superceded by the time I wrote my snark.  I regret that error — and exactly none of my disdain for the impulse that produced the initial last-refuge-of-scoundrelism.

TL:DR?  “Bless their hearts.”

Image:  from this catalogue.