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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: 5,675

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

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
http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1014&pid=813436

REASON FOR ALERT

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

ALERTER'S COMMENTS

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.

Glenn Beck: ‘I Will Stand with GLAAD’ Against Russia’s ‘Hetero-Fascism’

I'm not enough of a Beck scholar to know if this is completely consistent with his prior statements (despite his overall right-wing orientation), or if he's open to the charge of embracing LGBT rights only because he sees an opening for bashing Putin. (As the old saying has it, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.) Either way, it's interesting to hear this from a prominent right-winger. Here's a Mediaite piece about one portion of an hour-long Beck appearance on CNN:

Beck told Cupp that he finds it ridiculous that Americans were debating Santa Claus’ race and a comment made by a Duck Dynasty star while, over in Mother Russia, laws have criminalized public homosexuality and a well-known TV celebrity actually called for the burning alive of gay people.

“Hetero-fascism,” Beck called it. And he said he’d gladly stand with GLAAD in taking a stand against Russia’s anti-gay legislation.

. . . .

So I’d consider this an even greater step forward. With this one soundbite, Beck has done more to speak out against Russia’s war on homosexuality than any of his conservative radio colleagues, thereby showing a willingness to admit that while his religious views may say one thing about homosexuality, he does not believe any government has any place legislating such morality. Not only that, but he mentioned fighting arm-in-arm with GLAAD, one of the right’s biggest bogeymen.


At the link -- "Glenn Beck: 'I Will Stand with GLAAD' Against Russia's 'Hetero-Fascism'" -- there's a clip of 93 seconds from the hour, and even that short clip is mostly about whether Santa Claus is white. As Mediaite says, the "hetero-fascism" part is really just a soundbite. If I'd been the interviewer (S.E. Cupp), I would've followed up to get a better idea of his overall view on LGBT issues, but she apparently wasn't interested.

ACORN's latest insidious plot revealed by an intrepid FReeper!

Over at the FReakshow, they're in the middle of yet another of their interminable FReepathon fundraising drives. In raising the needed money, though, they face a wily bunch of adversaries, as FReeper 2ndDivisionVet has discovered. In a thread titled "FOLKS: Let's put this FReepathon to bed. We have more pressing problems to work on", he or she writes:

Everyone please send whatever you are able to, whether it is $10, $100 or $1,000+. The ACORNs, ANSWER commies, Code Pink, Union thugs, DUmmies, OFA's, HuffandBlows, Morons, Kos Kiddies and that crew are laughing up their sleeves.


So, even though ACORN faces the obstacle that the Republican-led (led? c'mon, don't quibble with me) House of Representatives has repeatedly defunded the organization, and even though it faces the possibly more serious obstacle that it entirely ceased to exist a few years ago, ACORN is still able to join with the DUmmies (that's us) and all those other evildoers in somehow frustrating the FReepathon.

Mr. or Ms. Vet sees dire consequences ahead: "Jim may have to make this site members only or allow ads or some other radical thing." Uh, excuse me, "radical"? It sounds like "Jim may have to compete in the free market if he doesn't get enough handouts." What would Ayn Rand say?

An overlooked A-bomb issue: the wait-a-couple-weeks argument

Most of the defenders of the bombings assume that the bombings shortened the war and that nothing else would have done so. This is the implicit assumption behind all the posts about thousands of American deaths in an invasion of Japan.

But is that assumption accurate?

In early August 1945, the Japanese had drawn some encouragement from the Soviet Union’s failure to act against them, even after the end of the war in Europe. They thought that there might be some kind of “Asian solidarity” against the Western allies, so that the Soviet Union might remain neutral and help to broker a peace agreement. The Japanese government had begun communications with Moscow to explore that possibility.

What the Japanese didn’t know, but Truman did, was that a secret provision of the Yalta agreement called for the Soviet Union to declare war on Japan 90 days after V-E Day. Germany surrendered in early May. Right on schedule, three months later, after shifting troops thousands of miles, the USSR declared war. The largest army in the world (the Red Army) invaded Manchuria, where Japan held important conquests that the United States had not attacked. Japan surrendered a few days later. See the detail provided by former9thwar in this post in another thread.

Now, would Japan have surrendered without the atomic bombings? We can’t know for sure. What we do know for sure is that Truman’s decision made it impossible to find out. He had an easy and obvious alternative – to hold off on the bombing for a few weeks and wait to see what effect the Russian attack would have. He could have continued preparations for any invasion, which even if it proved necessary would not have occurred until November 1 at the earliest. A short delay would not have imperiled any American lives.

In fact, one reading of the situation is that a major purpose of the bombing was that American planners wanted the power of the weapon to be graphically demonstrated – not to a prostrate Japan, but to the Soviet Union. They were looking ahead to a postwar world in which the United States and the Soviet Union would be the two superpowers vying for influence. They thought that the atom bomb would give the United States an advantage in that struggle. They wanted to intimidate Moscow. That goal would not be achieved if the Soviet attack caused Japan to surrender with no need for (excuse for) the dropping of the bomb.

A cynical interpretation, therefore, rejects the contention that the bombing was prompted by a fear that, otherwise, many American lives would be lost because Japan would not surrender. The real motivation was a fear that Japan WOULD surrender. Planners in Washington didn’t wait a few weeks because they wanted to get the bombing done while they still had the chance to kill scores of thousands of people, instead of just dropping it on some uninhabited island.

If, by late August, Japan had refused to surrender despite the Soviet Union’s involvement, then consideration could be given to dropping the bomb. The arguments so common in the other threads – we murdered civilians, Japan started the war and committed atrocities, etc. – could be weighed then. People who support the bombings may argue about Nanjing all they like, if the context is A-bomb versus amphibious invasion, but I don’t see the relevance of any of that to the alternative of a short delay.

Anyone who wants to defend the bombings must explain not only why killing all those people was preferable to not using the bomb at all, but also why dropping the bombs in early August was preferable to dropping them a little later if there was still no surrender.

A Pop Quiz About Federal Spending That May Surprise You

http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2013/03/05/a_pop_quiz_about_federal_spending_that_may_surprise_you_100179.html

The quiz consists of four true-false questions:

Question 1: The federal government is spending a larger share of national income than at any time since World War II - true or false?

Question 2: The federal government is collecting a larger share of national income in taxes than at any time since World War II - true or false?

Question 3: Social Security is currently running a deficit - true or false?

Question 4: Health care spending is outpacing the growth of income - true or false?


The author speculates that most Americans would get at least one question wrong, and would perhaps blow all four. He provides the correct answers, with supporting data, but I've reached my four-paragraph limit and I wouldn't want to include a spoiler anyway.

This piece is hosted on Real Clear Markets, which is affiliated with Real Clear Politics, which is a right-wing site -- so I'm a little surprised to find an article by a Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. The comments, reflecting the site's normal orientation, are largely right-wing demands for lower taxes and attacks on government spending.

Right-winger suggests that Obama CAUSED Hurricane Sandy for political ends.

There's an interesting thread at redstate.com about the fiasco of Project ORCA (the Romney campaign's GOTV operation). In the lead piece and the comments, some folks who seem knowledgeable about computer issues describe the multiple failings of the campaign's honchos and hired consultants.

In among the comments is a real gem from wbb1950. He (I'm guessing "he") begins by disdaining any "conspiracy theory" to explain the election results. He nevertheless sets the groundwork for such a theory, by asking how else one could explain a victory by a president with "a track record of failure in foreign and domestic affairs" against such a credible challenger, and one whom the "credible pollsters" showed to be winning.

We then get 15 numbered paragraphs inviting us to connect the dots. We begin with 2008: McCain was leading in the polls, the financial crash caused him to lose, human beings can cause markets to crash, and Soros did so in Britain in 1992.

Then comes the parallel to 2012:

4. In 2012, Mitt Romney was surging in the polls a week before the
election. Then came the hurricane Sandy. Thereafter he lost the election.

5. No prior hurricane has devastated all major battleground states to this
degree. ... Was this the long awaited October surprise?

6. Human beings have the ability to manipulate weather patterns. Bush 43
set up project HAARP to generate sand storms in Iraq. Obama has expanded
it.

....

15 Would a mind capable of dropping bombs on a civilian population have
moral compunctions against crashing markets and creating storms to secure
political power?


To their credit, even some of the redstaters mock this notion.

I won't worry about this unless it seems that wbb1950 has gotten wind of our plan for the October 2016 earthquake.
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