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Jim Lane

Profile Information

Name: Jim Lane
Gender: Male
Hometown: Jersey City
Member since: Fri Nov 12, 2004, 10:22 AM
Number of posts: 11,175

About Me

I spend most of my online time on Wikipedia, where we desperately need more people to help counter right-wing bias. Please PM me whenever you want help with a Wikipedia-related issue. (Remember that Wikipedia material must be neutral, but we can and should include facts that conservatives would prefer to suppress.)

Journal Archives

Electoral-vote.com is back

In recent cycles, one of my favorite sites has been http://www.electoral-vote.com. It's notable in the run-up to presidential elections for doing state-by-state poll aggregation, updated for each new poll that comes out. It also provides polling data on downticket races. It goes beyond poll numbers with commentary and links to interesting MSM stories.

After the December 7, 2014 final recap of the midterms, the site stopped updating. Its proprietor said its future was "up in the air." I've been checking in occasionally to see if he resumed.

This month, he did. Those of you who, like me, have missed the site, will find it available again. (I just finished binge-reading all his August updates.) I thought about posting this news in General Discussion: Primaries but there's quite a bit of material about the Republican primaries so I thought it fit here better.

Skepticism about divestment and McKibben

A veteran environmentalist sent me a link to this article: McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street.

The article is long, with detailed denunciation of the idea of a carbon "budget" that would allow some safe burning of fossil fuels. The author's view of divestment is that it is essentially a distraction, functioning to shield from scrutiny the actions of the people who are really the problem -- the global rich (including many of us!) who are generating most of the current emissions.

An excerpt from her summary:

• {The global Divestment campaign} provides a moral alibi and evokes illusions of white saviour/moral superiority of those that divest/divest-invest while the very people divesting are those that comprise the 1% creating 50% of all global GHG emissions (anyone who can afford to board an airplane). Shuffling their investments does not change this fact or alleviate/absolve one’s role in accelerating climate change and ecological destruction.
• Protesting fossil fuels cannot and will not have any effect on fossil fuel consumption, production or destruction without legitimately and radically addressing Annex I consumption, economic growth under the capitalist system, human population (specifically in Annex I nations), the military industrial complex and industrial factory farming.
• The chosen campaign of divestment rather than the boycott of fossil fuels in combination with proposed sanctions on fossil fuel corporations demonstrates the insincerity of the campaign and its true intentions as sought (and developed) by its funders.

(Incidentally, the "Annex I nations" -- listed here -- are essentially the industrialized countries.)

For my part, I've been skeptical of the common analogy to the anti-apartheid campaign to divest from South Africa. A big multinational corporation might have been getting only a tiny fraction of its profits from its South African operations. If the price of that small profit was constant hassle and boycotting and bad publicity in the United States and other major markets, then it was plausible to hope that the company would decide to get out of South Africa, just on the basis of costs and benefits (i.e., morality aside). By contrast, it is not plausible to hope that BP or its ilk will get out of the fossil fuel business.

I credit the divestment proponents with good intentions, but I fail to see how the movement would have any effect on fossil fuel consumption, other than as an indirect vehicle for publicizing the problem, and in that respect it seems very inefficient.

Question re hearing aid/smartphone/audiobook combo

I'm doing a complete tech overhaul. Right now I have no hearing aid; my cell phone is a $20 flip phone; and, because I have to spend a lot of time on buses and can't read on the bus, I listen to recorded books on CD's on a personal CD player, often unable to hear them well enough because of background noise.

I'm resigned to getting a hearing aid. Despite the hideous expense, I really need it. What I want to do is have a complete package: a hearing aid that communicates directly with a new phone (my understanding is that there are compatible pairings with wireless communication), and also be able to download and listen to recorded books. I don't want to discover that one component doesn't work with another.

Does anyone have experience with this kind of interaction, and can you recommend (or disrecommend) any particular hardware options, for HA or phone? Thanks!

Which Republican would be the toughest opponent in 2016?

This is putting aside the question of who has the best chance to win the nomination, and certainly putting aside any question of who might govern the country slightly less badly than the others. I ask only about his chances in the general election, assuming he gets the nomination.

The DU software can't accommodate the full range of the Republican clown car. I winnowed by using
Chris Cilizza's list in the Washington Post of the ten candidates with the best chance of being the Republican candidate in 2016, except that I had to drop his #10 (Mike Pence) to make room for the "someone else" option.

As a side note, not even making Cilizza's top ten are the retread candidacies of Rick Perry and Rick Santorum, the novelty candidacy of Ben Carson, or the "I hear a call that no one else knows is there" candidacies of Carly Fiorina, Lindsay Graham, and Peter King.

Cilizza put the candidates in order of likelihood of being the nominee but I've alphabetized them.

So, who's their best shot at getting to 270?

Super Bowl betting

During this past week, I read the prediction that, if the two favorites (Seattle and New England) won their conference championships, then the line on the Super Bowl would be Seattle by 2 or 3.

On Sunday, the line did indeed open at Seattle -2.5, but heavy action on the Patriots pushed it to pick 'em. Obviously, bettors were impressed with the way the Patriots demolished the Colts:

“From the beginning of time, people bet what they see last,” said veteran bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich, the William Hill US Director of Trading. “Tonight, that was New England looking really good, and Seattle the luckiest team in the world to be there.”

(from "Early money favors New England over Seattle; line quickly adjusted to pick ’em for Super Bowl 49" in the Las Vegas Sun)

What really surprises me is that the over/under is 48.5. I admit I don't know much about totals betting. Still, the Patriots almost covered that number all by themselves, and the Seahawks demonstrated incredible offensive power in mounting their historic comeback. I thought the over/under would be in the low 50's.

Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State, Citing Health Risks

This was posted in LBN. I'm cross-posting here to alert members of the group who might otherwise have missed it.

Do jurors enforce topic restrictions?

I was just called for jury duty. The alerted post wasn't a personal attack or anything of the sort, so I voted to leave it.

The alerter didn't raise the point, but I thought there was a good argument that the post was improper for where it was posted. My view, however, was that it was up to hosts to police topic restrictions, by locking off-topic threads, and that as a juror I shouldn't try to take that factor into account. (Presumably the hosts are much better acquainted with the nuances of what's proper in each group or forum.)

Should I broaden my view of jury duty and consider SOP's and the like (especially if the alerter DOES raise the point)?

2016 Democratic nomination: the age factor

In the discussion about 2016 (a discussion some people consider premature but which is inevitable and besides we can have those conversations without thereby ignoring 2014), one factor that’s been mentioned is the ages of some of the prospective Democratic candidates. Just to get a reality-based handle on the subject, I compiled some specifics.

The first chart includes a bunch of Democrats whom I’ve heard mentioned, listed alphabetically by surname, plus the birth date for each. The second chart is the same group, listed by age, plus the age at last birthday as of January 20, 2017. (If anyone wants another name included, let me know and I’ll edit, to have all the information in one place.)

To give some context, the third chart includes the six most recent Presidents, plus a few others, listed chronologically, with age at last birthday as of inauguration. The final chart is our 2008 field, listed by age, plus the age at last birthday as of January 20, 2009.

My comments on the subject follow the last chart.

Chart 1: Possible Democratic nominees, with birth dates
Joe Biden: November 20, 1942
Jerry Brown: April 7, 1938
Sherrod Brown: November 9, 1952
Hillary Clinton: October 26, 1947
Andrew Cuomo: December 6, 1957
Howard Dean: November 17, 1948
John Kerry: December 11, 1943
Martin O’Malley: January 18, 1963
Bernie Sanders: September 8, 1941
Brian Schweitzer: September 4, 1955
Elizabeth Warren: June 22, 1949
Sheldon Whitehouse: October 20, 1955

Chart 2: Possible Democratic nominees, with ages as of January 20, 2017
Jerry Brown, 78 years old
Bernie Sanders, 75 years old
Joe Biden, 74 years old
John Kerry, 73 years old
Hillary Clinton, 69 years old
Howard Dean, 68 years old
Elizabeth Warren, 67 years old
Sherrod Brown, 64 years old
Brian Schweitzer, 61 years old
Sheldon Whitehouse, 61 years old
Andrew Cuomo, 59 years old
Martin O’Malley, 54 years old

Chart 3: Some past Presidents’ ages at inauguration
William Henry Harrison, 68 years old (oldest before Reagan)
Theodore Roosevelt, 42 years old (youngest ever inaugurated)
John F. Kennedy, 43 years old (youngest ever elected)
Jimmy Carter, 52 years old
Ronald Reagan, 69 years old (oldest ever)
George H. W. Bush, 65 years old
Bill Clinton, 46 years old
George W. Bush, 54 years old
Barack Obama, 47 years old

Chart 4: Democratic field from 2008, with ages as of January 20, 2009
Mike Gravel, 78 years old
Joe Biden, 66 years old
Chris Dodd, 64 years old
Dennis Kucinich, 62 years old
Hillary Clinton, 61 years old
Bill Richardson, 61 years old
John Edwards, 55 years old
Barack Obama, 47 years old

As an additional bit of context here, John McCain would have been 72 at inauguration. Other recent unsuccessful candidates: Al Gore would have been 52, John Kerry would have been 61, and Mitt Romney would have been 65 at inauguration.

Overall, the ages of the 2016 Democratic field, particularly those of the candidates at the top in the nebulous “most mentioned” category, are notable. Our candidate pool definitely skews older than it did in 2008.

Clinton, at inauguration, would be several months younger than Reagan was, but older than Harrison was, and would thus be the second-oldest ever. Biden would be the oldest ever, even older than McCain would have been.

Age plays into the race in two ways. The first is whether that person will choose to run. Both Clinton and Biden, the two leaders in polls of Democrats that I’ve seen, will be old by historical standards. Both have also experienced the rigors of a Presidential campaign and have seen at close hand the rigors of serving. Add four years or eight years for age at conclusion of administration. Either or both of them might well think, “I would have been a great nominee and a great President last time around, but at this point, who needs that hassle.”

The second factor is electability. In 2008, although some people thought Obama too young and inexperienced, there were others who thought McCain too old. In 2016, we can expect some partisan hypocrisy on this score. Republicans who supported McCain will argue that Clinton is too old if she’s the nominee, and Democrats who denounced McCain as too old will happily support Biden if he’s the nominee. Leaving aside such partisanship, I expect that many swing voters would have at least some misgivings about an older candidate.

Cutting against both these factors is that age isn’t what it used to be. People live longer and maintain their faculties longer. Those swing voters are likely to be personally acquainted with people in their sixties or seventies who are still quite lively.

Nevertheless, I note that even the youngest prospective candidate on my list (O’Malley, 54 years old on Inauguration Day) would be older than all three of the most recent Democratic Presidents. Even Lyndon B. Johnson, whom I had thought of as older before I did this research, was only 56 when inaugurated in 1965 for his full term. Not since Harry S. Truman (64 when inaugurated in 1949 for his full term) have the Democrats won the election with a candidate who had turned 60.

One possible scenario (among many) is that the leading candidates are Clinton and O’Malley, with O’Malley running to Clinton’s left. O’Malley’s principal appeal would be to Democrats who consider Clinton too corporatist and/or too hawkish. In addition, though, I think he would get some benefit from the age factor. I would still consider Clinton the favorite, but we could expect age to play a role. Age will also be an obstacle for Sanders if he mounts a campaign.

On edit: Added Schweitzer and Dean to the lists.

Do jurors still get reports?

I served on a jury for this post: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1014813409#post7

I voted to leave it alone, and it's still up so I assume that was the majority view. What confused me was that, several hours later, my DU Mail still doesn't have the "AUTOMATED MESSAGE: Results of your Jury Service" that I was expecting.

Is this a bug? Has the system been changed so that jurors no longer receive a full report of the results? If it's the latter, I think it's a change for the worse. I've found it very interesting and instructive to read the comments of the other jurors.

ETA: I finally received the report, about 12 hours after the alert!

On Wed May 28, 2014, 10:21 AM an alert was sent on the following post:

Wow, I did not know that fox commentators posted on DU


This post is disruptive, hurtful, rude, insensitive, over-the-top, or otherwise inappropriate.


way over the top and this seems like flame bait too

You served on a randomly-selected Jury of DU members which reviewed this post. The review was completed at Wed May 28, 2014, 10:02 PM, and the Jury voted 1-6 to LEAVE IT.

OK, so jurors do still get reports -- that's good to know. Unless an admin responds, I'll just assume there was some unexplained hiccup in the system. I find it hard to believe that the software needed all that time to find 7 willing jurors.

Right-wing economist admits error! (This blizzard must have caused Hell to freeze over.)

In 2009, famed supply-sider and Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer wrote a Wall Street Journal piece that was typical deficit hysteria: "Get Ready for Inflation and Higher Interest Rates". Pointing to the deficit and, even more, to the Fed's expansion of the money supply, he gave his confident prediction:

(S)uch a debt all but guarantees higher interest rates, massive tax increases, and partial default on government promises.

But as bad as the fiscal picture is, panic-driven monetary policies portend to have even more dire consequences. We can expect rapidly rising prices and much, much higher interest rates over the next four or five years, and a concomitant deleterious impact on output and employment not unlike the late 1970s.

So far, so normal. We've been hearing stuff like this from the right wing for years. It's not limited to Republicans -- I'm looking at you, Erskine Bowles. (See "Bowles, Simpson: Fiscal Crisis Could Come Within 2 Years" from March of 2011.)

What's different about this story is that, unlike most of his comrades in arms, Laffer has looked at some actual facts and revisited his prior prediction in light of real-world data:

Obviously, nothing like that happened.

In an interview with Business Insider from his office in Tennessee, Laffer admitted that he was wrong. The old maxim that dictates increasing the availability of cash through lower interest rates will lead to higher prices, he said, may need to be reexamined.

"Usually when you find the model this far off, you've probably got something wrong with the model, not that the world has changed," he said. "Inflation does not appear to be monetary base driven," he said.

(from "ART LAFFER: I Was Wrong About Inflation And The Fed", emphasis in original)

Now Paul Krugman will have to admit that he was wrong. He's written that these bad ideas are like cockroaches, that can't be eradicated, and like zombies, that continue to shamble about long after they've been killed. Perhaps he'll take heart that his sad observation, while mostly true, isn't completely true.
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