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Sanders, Clinton, and loss aversion

[ 174 ] February 8, 2016 |

loss aversion

Consider the following categories of Bernie Sanders’ supporters:

A: People who support Sanders without regard to what effect a Sanders candidacy would have on the chances of the GOP candidate winning the general.

B: People who support Sanders at least in part because they believe Sanders would have a better chance of winning the general than HRC.

C: People who support Sanders and who are at least at this point essentially agnostic on the question of whether he would have a better chance of winning the general than HRC.

D: People who support Sanders, but who believe that HRC would have a better chance of winning the general. People in this group have a preference for Sanders over HRC that is strong enough to cancel out the cost incurred by HRC’s better chance of winning the general.

E: People who support Sanders only in the sense that they are supporting him in order to help push HRC left, but who don’t actually want him to win the nomination, largely if not wholly because their risk tolerance for a GOP candidate winning the general if Sanders is nominated isn’t great enough to take the risk involved in nominating Sanders.

I suspect that a large portion of Sanders’ support comes from people in the last two categories. What will the effect be on people in these latter groups on the growing realization that Sanders could actually defeat HRC? In other words, how much increased risk of a GOP victory are Sanders supporters who believe, reasonably enough, that HRC would have a better chance in the general willing to run?

This is the kind of question that can only be answered, individually and collectively, when it starts to get real, as opposed to remaining an abstraction, which it seemed to be when Sanders’ candidacy appeared to be an extreme long shot.

A key factor here is loss aversion: most people hate losing about twice as much as they like winning. This is something that one would expect will begin to hurt Sanders’ support among people in groups D and E, as his chances of winning the nomination start to become real as opposed to merely hypothetical.


A Point Conceded

[ 147 ] February 7, 2016 |

Denver Broncos training camp at Dove Valley

In the NFL preview thread, Denverite said the following in response to Paul saying that the Denver defense looked very good but that Manning looked about done:

I’m like 100% not surprised. Denver’s defense is really good. Historically so. Their offense is iffy.

He may or may not have taken some  good-natured ribbing for this assertion subsequent threads for aggressively defending this proposition throughout the year. Rumors have been spread that I argued that Buffalo had a comparable defense, although these are obviously lies being spread by the Cruz campaign. At any rate, given that Denver just won a Super Bowl with QB play that would have been improved by signing Brandon Weeden, I think we can consider the argument closed.

Yes, Carolina played far from its best game, and whoever pointed out that Carolina’s lousy special teams could be a factor was also prescient. Yes, Rivera was awful from soup to nuts (I’m hoping Barnwell revives Thank You For Not Coaching in fact if not in form tomorrow.) Yes, the officiating was horrendous and favored Denver on balance (although there were plenty of bad calls to go around.) But Denver was flat-out the better team. It needed the defense to be great, and it was. What happened today, for reasons I laid out earlier in the week, is unprecedented. Seattle rode a dominant defense two years ago, but they had a very good QB who has become elite (I wouldn’t have traded him for Cam Newton even before tonight’s game.) Trent Dilfer was more mediocre than terrible. The Broncos defense had almost no margin for error, they played a Hall of Fame QB in the divisional round, the best QB in the league in the conference championship game and a very good one in the Super Bowl, and won all three. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment.

One final point: tonight’s game is an excellent illustration of how dumb the “how many RINGS did he win” theory of player evaluation is. In terms of how he should be evaluated by history, today’s championship should mean absolutely nothing for Manning– at least 30 QBs could have won a Super Bowl with this defense. And had he never won a Super Bowl, he’d still be an inner-circle Hall of Famer. He doesn’t become a greater player because John Elway and Wade Phillips put together a historically good defense.

Congrats to the Broncos and their fans. I’m guessing that the 17-1 bet Denverite refused to hedge will heal the pain of tomorrow’s hangover nicely.

Super Bowl thoughts

[ 47 ] February 7, 2016 |

(1) I’m really happy for Manning, who was a great QB for Denver for 2.5 seasons and a frankly terrible one for the last 1.5. I’ll be curious to see how the media evaluate his performance tonight: I’d give it an A for effort and a D- for actual performance — indeed overall that has got to be the worst postseason performance ever by the quarterback of the winning Super Bowl team. Off the top of my head I believe Denver had a grand total of two TD drives of more than 15 yards in the entire postseason. But he did just enough not to lose, and that’s all that people will remember in the long run.

(2) I doubt it’s a coincidence that the only downfield passes Manning completed in the game were on the first drives of each half. His arm must give out after a few throws.

(3) Von Miller has always been a massive talent but in the postseason he put on one of the greatest single performances by any defensive player ever.

(4) What a bizarre decision by Rivera to punt the ball with two minutes to go down 14. At least take a safety and try an onside kick if you’re not going to go for it.

(5) Very shaky officiating and it definitely helped Denver overall, although probably not enough to make any real difference.

Halftime Observations

[ 256 ] February 7, 2016 |
  • This is certainly following the script of the Denver wins involving “Peyton Manning” (and, for that matter, Tim Tebow, who I think is probably the better player as of now.)
  • Denverite will be happy that nobody can mock his “historic defense” prediction ever again.
  • The officiating has been abysmally bad. The Panthers have the most to complain about — the bizarre refusal to overrule on the clear catch by Cotchery not only led to a Denver TD but cost them a crucial challenge — but there have been bad calls both ways. Still, officials don’t decide games. Carolina didn’t have to respond to that call with a turnover. And Denver responded to a terrible taunting call on Talib with a stop.  (Granted, that call seems like preemptive karma given the effectively unpenalized Talib facemask.)
  • Riverboat Ron seems to be reverting to merely Ron. I understand him being upset about another obviously blown call, and it’s insane that you lose a successful challenge, but you can’t blow your last challenge to gain 7 yards there.  And his clock management at the end of the half was straight from the School of Andy Reid.
  • I assume Kubiak won’t do it as long as he’s ahead, but rationally it’s insane to keep “Peyton Manning” in the game. Even on the first drive he had absolutely nothing on his throws. It does, however, underscore how crucial that Miller strip-sack was — as long as Kubiak is determined to play “Manning,” Denver really cannot play from behind.

A great coach would bring in Osweiler for the second half

[ 25 ] February 7, 2016 |

That is all.

Super Bowl Open Thread

[ 222 ] February 7, 2016 |

Does anybody remember what happened the last time Denver was in the Super Bowl? Back in the ancient mists of history, when Peyton Manning could throw the ball more than 20 yards without winding up like Juan Marichal? It’s slowly coming back to me…

All kidding aside, I don’t have a lot to add to my initial analysis. Carolina is clearly the better team, they match up better against Denver than New England did, but the Broncos have a great defense and it’s certainly possible that they can grind out another close one even if Manning keeps playing at replacement level.

This Barnwell piece about the Panthers is also really good. What Gettleman and Rivera have been able to accomplish given the cap hell Hurney left them with is pretty remarkable. (And as I said a couple weeks ago, unlike Andy Reid Rivera has been able to fix things he did badly so they stopped undermining what he does well.) I should also mention that while I’m generally very skeptical about having former stars serving as executives, Elway has been an exception to the rule.

Have fun even if we have to listen to Nantz and Simms, the Coldplay of NFL football broadcasters.

SuperbowL Eats

[ 55 ] February 7, 2016 |

Don’t let their sacrifice go to waste!

I was not able to fulfill a request for cheesecake, and the counter-offer of wings was turned down. So the only game-y food we’ll have will be from the chips, veggies and dips families. Feel free to boast about or repent your Superbowl L menu choices.

Or discuss what you’ll be doing instead of watching the game. Me = bike ride.

Your Daily Reminder of America’s Real Terrorist Threat

[ 28 ] February 7, 2016 |


Surprise! It’s crazy right-wing white people!

They and untold thousands like them are the extremists who hide among us, the right-wing militants who, since 2002, have killed more people in the United States than jihadis have. In that time, according to New America, a Washington think tank, Islamists launched nine attacks that murdered 45, while the right-wing extremists struck 18 times, leaving 48 dead. These Americans thrive on hate and conspiracy theories, many fed to them by politicians and commentators who blithely blather about government concentration camps and impending martial law and plans to seize guns and other dystopian gibberish, apparently unaware there are people listening who don’t know it’s all lies. These extremists turn to violence—against minorities, non-Christians, abortion providers, government officials—in what they believe is a fight to save America. And that potential for violence is escalating every day.

“Law enforcement agencies in the United States consider anti-government violent extremists, not radicalized Muslims, to be the most severe threat of political violence that they face,” the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security reported this past June, based on surveys of 382 law enforcement groups.

The problem is getting worse, although few outside of law enforcement know it. Multiple confidential sources notified the FBI last year that militia members have been conducting surveillance on Muslim schools, community centers and mosques in nine states for what one informant described as “operational purposes.” Informants also notified federal law enforcement that Mississippi militia extremists discussed kidnapping and beheading a Muslim, then posting a video of the decapitation on the Internet. The FBI also learned that right-wing extremists have created bogus law enforcement and diplomatic identifications, not because these radicals want to pretend to be police and ambassadors, but because they believe they hold those positions in a government they have created within the United States.

This has received more attention in the last year because of Dylann Roof and because of the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Internal terrorism is by far the top security threat of Americans, outside of their own guns of course. But we do nothing serious about it because the Republican Party has room for these people and their ideas and thus protects them. I mean, when you have hatemongers like Alex Jones saying the government is going to invade Texas and the governor of that state acts on this “threat” for political gain, that says way too much about how much Republicans coddle these people and their dangerous actions.

Statistics show that the violence of right-wing extremists goes up when Republicans control at least one house of Congress. The reason, according to an analytical report conducted for West Point, might be “relative deprivation, which occurs when the high expectations of far-right activists during a conservative Legislature are not fulfilled.” In other words, these radicals expect to be ignored when Democrats are in charge, but when Republicans in power fail to champion the extremist cause, attacking the government strikes them as the only remaining option.

If true, the deprivation must be monstrous now. Think back: How many times have Republican politicians told their followers Obama could be impeached? How many times did they suggest he was a Muslim or wasn’t born in this country? How many times did they say he lied to cover something up in Benghazi? How many times did they say his health care policy included death panels? How many times did they say he was committing crimes or shoving through policies that would kill people?

Then, in 2009, the Republicans directly—and almost certainly inadvertently—identified themselves as aligned with the dangerous radicals. The Department of Homeland Security produced an analysis saying that violent right-wing extremists posed the greatest terrorist threat to the country—a report since proved true. But Republicans used this to feed into another conspiracy theory, proclaiming that the Obama administration had just deemed conservatives as a terrorist threat. To those unaware of what the report actually said, it was more evidence of a coming ideological war. To those radicals who knew, it meant establishment Republicans agreed that conservatives and violent right-wing extremists meant the same thing. Congressional hearings ensued, and terrified bureaucrats shut down the Homeland Security division that conducted the analysis of right-wing extremism, just when their knowledge was most needed.

Republicans continued their drumbeat of conspiracy theories to bring out the base, capturing the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2012. And imagine what these right-wing extremists thought. Where were the impeachment proceedings? Why wasn’t Obama under arrest? The man was a murderer, a tyrant spitting on the Constitution, a fraud holding the presidency unlawfully. There were only two possible answers for the extremists: accepting that the Republicans had been lying to them, or deciding that these politicians had sold out the minute they won control.

Who knows what the future holds here? Probably a lot of dead Americans.

You’re Not Helping

[ 223 ] February 7, 2016 |


There has been a lot of talk about BernieBros (which, as Amanda Hess concludes, are a real but somewhat overblown thing.) But Hillary Clinton has, in both 2008 and 2016, been poorly served by some of her supporters as well. (Remember Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild?) And, worse, people making dumb pro-Clinton arguments are high-profile enough that they should know better. I bring you Gloria Steinem:

“Women are more for [Hillary Clinton] than men are…First of all, women get more radical as we get older, because we experience…Not to over-generalize, but…Men tend to get more conservative because they gain power as they age, women get more radical because they lose power as they age.

And, when you’re young, you’re thinking, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie…”

Leaving aside the idea about women’s radicalism increasing with age almost certainly being wrong, the “young women support Bernie because they wants to get laid” punchline is insulting nonsense. When Bill Maher can instantly tell how sexist the argument is, I assume this is obvious. Just as you can support Sanders without making dumb arguments about Hillary Clinton being a Republican, you can support Clinton while understanding the real basis for Sanders’s support and the contempt ordinary voters have for America’s underachieving elites. As Paul and Erik have said recently, Clinton and some of her elite fans are still well behind the curve on this.

Classic Krusty In Real Life

[ 10 ] February 7, 2016 |


You’ve seen Classic Krusty interview George Meany. But have you seen the real thing? You have now. From September 1952.

Once Again, Thank You Eliot Cutler

[ 29 ] February 7, 2016 |


The sociopath in the Maine governor’s chair continues his war on the poor:

Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage, an outspoken opponent of public assistance, managed to remove thousands of residents from the state’s food stamp rolls over the past 15 months by way of his new work requirements.

The number of healthy, childless adults receiving food stamps fell from 13,589 to 1,206 between November 2014 and November 2015 due to LePage’s new policies.

The scenario in Maine could be mirrored nationally, as more than one million residents in 21 states will face losing food stamps if they don’t meet federal work requirements that began this month.

“Food has implications in every area. It affects your ability to work, it affects your ability to stay housed, it affects your ability to keep your children in school,” Christine Hastedt, public policy director for Maine Equal Justice Partners, told the Associated Press. “This took us in the other direction.”

Though many advocates for the poor believe these requirements have had a disastrous result on Maine’s low-income and food-insecure population, the governor’s office points to the state’s declining unemployment rate as a sign that LePage’s program is working.

“Requiring able-bodied people to work to receive their benefits just makes common sense and sends the message to Maine’s hard-working taxpayers that their money is truly being use as a hand up, not a hand out,” Peter Steele, a spokesman for the governor, told the Associated Press.

LePage has claimed that 47 percent “of able-bodied people in the state of Maine don’t work.” The state’s labor force participation rate stood at 64.1 percent in 2014, higher than the national average of 62.8 percent.

Lying about the poor is of course a core LePage tactic. As is humiliating and belitting them:

Increased work requirements aren’t the only obstacle LePage has put in place for those receiving public assistance. Roadblocks from his administration include mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients with felony convictions and ineligibility to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for childless households with assets worth more than $5,000.

Late last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sent a letter to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that said the state was breaking the law because its application response times for SNAP benefits were too low and its data were insufficient.

Maine ranks last in response time out of 53 SNAP programs in the nation. In 2014, it ranked 36th, marking a drastic drop in efficiency for a state with one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the nation.

At least LePage has a good plan to get those slacking leeches in 7th grade to become productive members of society.

LePage has also pushed to roll back child labor laws that have been in place since the mid-1800s, as first reported by the Bangor Daily News. The Republican governor has long backed a proposal that would lower the legal working age to 12. Those children would work for $5.25 an hour under LePage’s 2013 proposal.

Why is LePage letting 4th graders off the hook? Surely we can find jobs for them working underneath buzzing sawblades in Maine timber mills? Think of all the places they can crawl that big people can’t. So many opportunities here for employers.

HGH Parm, You Taste So Good

[ 87 ] February 7, 2016 |


I really don’t care whether Peyton Manning is shooting himself up with HGH or not. Hiring goons to intimidate the family members of the person making the accusations is however very not OK. And hiring Ari Fleischer to be your public relations guy, well, I think that means we have assume mendacity with every action. I love that Fleischer is described as a “crisis management consultant.” I guess he does have some experience in selling a war that destroyed Iraq and has spun off to destroy Syria to the American public. Nice that he’s able to take some time away from defending the name of what I now call the Washington Genocides to support poor old Peyton Manning.

Between this and Cam Newton making racists’ heads explode, I think you can guess who I am rooting for this evening. May the game be like the Super Bowl two years ago, my favorite sporting moment of all time.

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