Saturday, March 06, 2021

Congress Passes COVID Relief Bill Without Any GOP Support

We should be clear -- this was a bipartisan bill, in the sense that Americans of both parties backed its content. It passed on a party line vote because the GOP is relentlessly partisan and will never back any significant Democratic Party initiative no matter how it is framed or how much effort is put into negotiation. Yes, that includes Moderate Republican (tm) Susan Collins. And it's a very, very good thing that Democrats learned this lesson from the Obama years, and didn't waste time in a futile effort to gain meaningless Republican support. If Republicans had actual good ideas for the relief bill (as opposed to the "idea" of giving less help to fewer people), they were welcome to say so. In the meantime, Democrats should own all the tremendously popular provisions of this law straight through the midterms.

The other thing I want to say is that while yes, the random bites Joe Manchin decided to take out of the final bill were frustrating, stupid, and gratuitous, they also don't change the fact that the final bill is one of the most strikingly progressive pieces of stimulus legislation ever to pass through Congress. That's testament to a serious shift in the Democratic Party coalition which is worth celebrating, and it's also a good illustration that at the end of the day, the difference between Biden vs. Harris vs. Warren vs. Sanders as President pales in comparison to the difference between Ossoff and Warnock vs. Perdue and Loeffler as Georgia's Senators.

Monday, March 01, 2021

Haley's "Courageous" Break With Trump Ends After Less Than One Month

When it came out that Nikki Haley was "breaking" with Trump, publicly saying "we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again," I observed that this seeming profile in courage was anything but for a host of reasons. Chief among them: Haley could and would always come groveling back to Trump if it seemed like he was holding onto his position as a GOP power broker. 

Still, even I thought she'd take more than a month to complete the journey:
Former United States Ambassador the the United Nations Nikki Haley on Monday praised former President Trump over his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) the day before, after sharply criticizing him last month for his rhetoric and actions ahead of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

“Strong speech by President Trump about the winning policies of his administration and what the party needs to unite behind moving forward. The liberal media wants a GOP civil war. Not gonna happen,” Haley wrote on Twitter.

What an utter sleazeball. 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Ring Announcer's Dilemma

The below feels like one of those math puzzles, though I don't actually know enough about math puzzles to know if it really is one. It is something I've genuinely noticed and wondered about when watching boxing.

In boxing, there are functionally six types of decisions: A unanimous decision, a split decision, a majority decision, as well as a unanimous draw, a split draw, and a majority draw.

  • In a unanimous decision, all three judges agree in scoring the bout in favor of one fighter.
  • In a split decision, two judges score the bout in favor of one fighter, while the third scores it favor of the other.
  • In a majority decision, two judges score the bout in favor of one fighter, while the third scores it draw.
  • In a unanimous draw, all three judges score the bout a draw.
  • In a split draw, one judge votes for fighter A, one for fighter B, and the third scores it a draw.
  • In a majority draw, one judge votes for one fighter, but the other two judges score it a draw.

When a ring announcer gets set to tell the audience the judges' decision, there are several pieces of information he needs to communicate. By the end of his announcement, the audience should know how each judge scored the fight, and for whom, and of course they need to know the actual result of the fight (who won, or that it was a draw). In general, however, he can announce the three judges' decision in any order he likes. Being a good performer, the announcer would like there to be as much suspense as possible. In practice that means he wants to the last piece of information he reveals to be the result.

The dilemma is as follows: how, if it all, can an announcer accomplish that goal in the case of a majority draw?

Start with a unanimous decision. A bad announcer might deliver the decision this way:

"Judge A had the bout 77-75 for Doe, Judge B had the bout 78-75 for Doe, and Judge C had the bout 78-74 for the winner, John Doe!"

Notice how once the crowd knows both A and B voted for Doe, they know the result even before it is announced. John Doe has at least a majority of the judges, so he won. In order to achieve the result of not tipping off the audience until the very end, a better announcement might go as follows:

"Judge A had the bout 77-75, Judge B had the bout 78-75, and Judge C had the bout 78-74, all for the winner, by unanimous decision, John Doe!"

Notice how by the end everyone knows how each judge voted, and for whom, but the last piece of information they got was the result. Until "John Doe" was said, the crowd didn't know the result of the match.

One can do this for most types of decision. A split decision can be announced like this:

Judge A had the bout 77-75 for Doe. Judge B had the bout 77-75 for Smith. And Judge C had the fight 77-75 for the winner, by split decision, John Doe!"

This works so long as the announcer is permitted to choose what order he delivers the judges' verdicts (i.e., he can make sure the one card for Smith is announced either first or second).

Here's a split draw:

Judge A had the bout 77-75 for Doe. Judge B had the bout 77-75 for Smith. And Judge C had the fight 76-76 -- this fight is a draw!

Here's a unanimous draw: 

All three judges scored the fight the same, 76-76 -- this bout is a draw!

And here's a majority decision:

Judge A scored the bout 76-76. Overruled by Judge B, who scored the bout 77-75, and Judge C, who scored the bout 78-74, for the winner, by majority decision, John Doe!

The majority decision is the toughest one so far -- the alert listener knows once the announcer says the word "overruled" that a majority decision is coming*, but still doesn't know who won.

But what of a majority draw? Consider the following:

Judge A scores the fight 77-75 for Doe. Overruled by judges B and C, who each score the bout even -- this fight is a majority draw!

Here one knows the result of the fight -- that it's a majority draw -- the moment the announcer says "overruled". Why? Well, there are only two ways that A's score for Doe could be overruled -- either B and C voted for Doe's opponent, or they voted for a draw. If it was the former, though, this would be a terrible way to announce it, as the audience would know who won as soon as just one of Judge B or C's card was announced for the other fighter. There'd be no suspense. Given that, we all know that the card was overruled by two judges voting for a draw even before we actually hear it.

What happens if you announce the cards in a different order?

Judge B and C score the fight 76-76, a draw, overruling Judge A, who scored the fight 77-75 Doe.

Nope -- that gives away the result before we ever hear Judge A's card. Similar problems emerge if you try to do something like going B (draw), A (Doe), C (draw) -- once you've revealed that B voted draw and A voted for Doe, then you know that if anyone won it has to be Doe (by majority decision), which means that if Doe did win you'd know as soon as the announcer gave a non-draw score even before they told you who the judge voted for -- and knowing that the announcer wouldn't do that, you know that C's score is going to be a draw and that the fight will be a majority draw. 

*Deep breath*

So ... is there a resolution to this? Is there a way for a ring announcer to announce a majority draw without sapping it of all the drama? I don't know. And I don't know if this "dilemma" reveals anything interesting. But I have noticed it, and haven't been able to solve it (if it can be solved).

* How does he know? Because Judge A's decision to score the fight a draw could only be "overruled" if the two other judges did not have it a draw and did vote for the same person to win. If one or both scored it a draw, then the fight would be either a majority or unanimous draw. And if they didn't score the fight even but voted for different fighters to win, then the result would be a split draw.