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Jim Lane

Profile Information

Name: Jim Lane
Gender: Male
Hometown: Jersey City
Member since: Fri Nov 12, 2004, 11:22 AM
Number of posts: 8,267

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

David Brooks discovers that columnists live in a bubble.

OK, to most of us this is not exactly a startling revelation, but it's always easier to see other people's biases. I give Brooks some credit for coming to a bit of self-awareness.

The context, in his April 29 column titled "If Not Trump, What?", is that Brooks is bemoaning the looming nomination of Trump. He rejects the course of going along with Trump. (He doesn't come right out and say he wouldn't vote for Trump, but he implies it.) He continues:

The better course for all of us ó Republican, Democrat and independent ó is to step back and take the long view, and to begin building for that. This election ó not only the Trump phenomenon but the rise of Bernie Sanders, also ó has reminded us how much pain there is in this country. According to a Pew Research poll, 75 percent of Trump voters say that life has gotten worse for people like them over the last half century.

{snip some other statistics about the increasing suicide rate, people believing the American dream is out of reach, and low levels of social trust among millennials}

Trumpís success grew out of that pain, but he is not the right response to it. The job for the rest of us is to figure out the right response.

That means first itís necessary to go out into the pain. I was surprised by Trumpís success because Iíve slipped into a bad pattern, spending large chunks of my life in the bourgeois strata ó in professional circles with people with similar status and demographics to my own. It takes an act of will to rip yourself out of that and go where you feel least comfortable. But this column is going to try to do that over the next months and years. We all have some responsibility to do one activity that leaps across the chasms of segmentation that afflict this country. {emphasis added}

It's easy to make fun of Brooks, but perhaps he actually has learned something and will take it to heart in his future writing. We'll see how often he goes where he's uncomfortable.

Knitters, can you advise me about caring for an item?

Years ago my mother was an avid knitter. In cleaning out the house after her death, I found a large afghan that she had made. Unfortunately, she didn't append a little tag with the care instructions that I always look for on clothes I buy.

Based on some quick online research, it appears that proper care depends in part on exactly what the material is. I think of it as "yarn" and my knowledge ends there.

It seems that I couldn't go wrong with washing it by hand in the bathtub with cold water. "Lay flat to dry" seems to be a common instruction but that's a lot easier to do with a sweater than with something this size. Can this safely be put in a drier? My laundromat's drying options are Delicate, Permanent Press, and High. If I can use a drier at all, I'd like to use the highest setting that won't damage the afghan.

Thanks for any help you can give!

Sanders is the underdog, but here's Nate Silver's site on small chance versus no chance

In an NCAA basketball tournament game on Sunday night, Texas A&M was trailing Northern Iowa by 12 points with only 35 seconds left to play, and came back to win it. Silver got his start analyzing sports rather than politics. On his site, Neil Paine, who's a senior sportswriter for FiveThirtyEight, wrote:

In cases like this, itís difficult to estimate the exact probability of a comeback, just because the model is verging on the realm of hypothetical possibilities instead of observed realities. (It also canít account for specific, meaningful factors such as the Panthersí top inbounder, Matt Bohannon, leaving the game with an injury right before his teamís meltdown began.) But based on all of the things our model does take into account, we assigned Texas A&M a 1-in-3,333 chance of winning when its deficit was 12 with 35 seconds left.

(from "Texas A&M Pulled Off A 1-in-3,000 Comeback")

He also mentions some similarly unlikely sports comebacks (or collapses) that have occurred.

It's a good thing those Texas A&M players were too busy with the tournament to be reading Clinton supporters' posts on DU, or they would have just gone to the locker room instead of finishing the game.

How Clinton supporters can help elect Bernie

I begin with a couple of safe predictions:
* Clinton will do well on Super Tuesday, winning most of the states and a big majority of the pledged delegates that are at stake.
* Clinton supporters on DU will post numerous threads celebrating the victory, many of which will also opine that the race is now over (or maybe even DONE).

So Iím going to survey DU and contribute to Bernie on this schedule:
1) For every OP impugning Sandersís character for not withdrawing (Heís not a real Democrat, heís out to hurt the party, heís on an ego trip, whatever), or attacking Sanders supporters on DU in light of Super Tuesday: $10
2) For every OP that doesnít go quite that far but states or implies that Bernie should drop out: $5.
3) For every OP along the lines of ďItís OVER itís DONEĒ but doesnít get strident about it: zero (I personally think Clintonís chance of winning the nomination is greater than 50% but still less than 100%, so I disagree with the posts that have proclaimed or will proclaim that sheís inevitable, but just disagreeing with my prognostication isnít being obnoxious, and this plan is to emphasize ďrewardingĒ the obnoxious).
4) Non-OPs: zero (I donít want to have to wade through all those threads and besides my means are limited).

If my algorithm yields a contribution of less than $27, I'll round up to $27, so as not to lower Bernie's famous average -- but I strongly suspect that that won't be an issue.

Iíll probably do my census on Thursday, to give all the venom time to come out. Iíll check the Hillary Clinton Group and GD-P, but if anyone spots a qualifying OP elsewhere, please let me know.

So whoís in with me?

WaPo: "Itís time to start speculating about Donald Trumpís vice presidential pick"

In this column, Chris Cillizza offers his thoughts about whom Trump might select as a running mate. Trump doesn't have the nomination locked up yet, but he's clearly the front-runner, so it's a question worth asking.

At one point, I thought a Trump/Cruz ticket was a good chance. Cillizza rules it out on the basis of the strong enmity that's developed between the two. It would certainly be a "team" with some teamwork problems, but picking a rival isn't unheard of. Reagan picked George H.W. Bush after the latter had (correctly) derided his "voodoo economics" proposals. Still, Trump/Cruz is looking unlikely.

The prospects Cillizza mentions ("in no particular order") are: Nikki Haley, Rick Scott, Sarah Palin, Carly Fiorina, and a businessman to be named later (someone like Carl Icahn or Jack Welch). On that last point, Cillizza comments:

Picking someone who has never been involved in politics before would bolster Trump's basic message that politicians don't know what the hell they are doing. It also might be slightly risky since, well, someone who has never run for or been in office before wouldn't have much of a clue about how the whole system works in the event Trump actually got elected president.

From a conventional point of view, either Kasich or Rubio would address that experience issue, by bringing on board someone who'd served in elective office, and either would also help in a key swing state. Of course, to pick anyone who'd served in elective office might undercut Trump's outsider appeal. One of the commenters suggests that Trump pick a general; that might be a way of adding experience without resorting to a politician. Too bad for Petraeus he couldn't keep his pants zipped.

Another commenter suggests Susana Martinez. IMO that idea makes more sense than Haley -- if you're going to pick a youngish female governor, might as well try to appeal to Latinos rather than Indian-Americans, and might as well go for a swing state.

Here are a couple other ideas, trying to walk the line between adding experience and not looking like a conventional politician:
* Joe Scarborough -- practiced law, then served in Congress but that was a while back, has made a successful third career in media, good name recognition, accustomed to being on camera, Floridian, nobody but a few diehard leftists would worry about the "dead intern" story.
* Gary Johnson -- successful businessman, then won two terms as Governor of New Mexico to give him the experience to complement Trump, but not a conventional Republican politician because he ran as the Libertarian candidate in 2012 and got more than a million votes.

OK, I know no one wants to contemplate the prospect of President Trump, but he could well be the nominee and he'll have to pick someone to run with him. Go ahead and speculate.

How many Jury Blacklist slots for Star members?

The instructions say 15. Someone said it was 20 so I tried adding a couple (I was already at 15) and the software accepted the new additions. So which is true:

A. The limit was increased from 15 to 20 but the instructions weren't updated.
B. The limit is still 15 but the software lets you list as many names as you want but only the first 15 will be given effect.

If the answer is B then I suggest that an attempt to add a 16th name should generate an error message rather than an apparent success. It's a trap for the unwary. I wouldn't call this a high priority, though, because it says right there that you can have only 15.

ETA: After I posted this another question arose. Someone said, "I think that people you've blocked cannot vote on your posts, either." That makes no sense to me -- because use of the Ignore function is, IIRC, unlimited, there would effectively be no limit on the jury blacklist. So I add another "which is true" pair:

C. People you've blocked cannot vote on your posts, either, so they're effectively on your jury blacklist.
D. People you've blocked CAN vote on your posts.

Thanks for clearing up these two points.

5 Reasons Democrats Should Be Proud Of This Presidential Primary

This article from The National Memo notes the rancor between some supporters of Clinton and Sanders, ascribing it to a minority of "fanatics" on each side. Overall, though, it praises the entire conduct of the contest to date between the two leaders (alas, ignoring O'Malley).

The five reasons, each elaborated on in the article: "Sanders is speaking to the great crises of our time {income inequality}." "Clinton is speaking to the most immediate disasters we face {reproductive rights, health care}." "Both candidates rise when challenged to present fresh policy ideas." "Both candidates have avoided the personal mudslinging endemic to tight races (so far)." "The Democratic candidates arenít damaging their party the way Republicans are."

What sources do Sanders supporters use?

A post in the Hillary Clinton Group asserted that posts about Sanders "all come from Vermont Newspapers and quite liberal ones" whereas posts about Clinton were to right-wing sources. I hadn't noticed any such thing, and I thought that the writer's opinion reflected confirmation bias, as did the agreement it received in that group.

Lacking the time or energy to do a comprehensive analysis, I went to the Bernie Sanders Group homepage and checked out the first 20 listed posts that had a source. With multiple sources, I used the first, except that I'd never heard of macombpolitics.com and didn't bother to investigate it, so I used the second source from that post.

My breakdown:
* Sanders-ish sources, 5 (pro-Sanders Facebook page, berniepost.com, email from Sanders, pro-Sanders video, Sanders subreddit)
* Other left-wing/progressive, 6 (KPFA {Pacifica radio station}, ActBlue, Young Democrats of Puerto Rico, Rolling Stone, nationofchange.org, The Ed Show)
* MSM/neutral, 8 (San Francisco Chronicle {tweet from reporter}, ontheissues.org, salon.com, New York Times, uspresidentialelectionnews.com, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, MSNBC {Morning Joe}) (MSNBC leans more left than right but Morning Joe is their leading right-wing show so I average it out to neutral for this interview with Sanders conducted by Joe and Mika together)
* Right-wing, 1 (Politico, an article critical of Sanders that was posted for discussion)

In this limited sample, there are no Vermont newspapers. There isn't a blizzard of Clinton attacks from right-wing sources. My own opinion is that such sources shouldn't get either blanket acceptance or blanket dismissal. If an article in the Wall Street Journal presents an analysis of FEC contribution data, it's probably accurate as far as it goes; people on DU are smart enough to note that there may be selection bias in what information was presented. The Wall Street Journal is a far cry from World Net Daily, an outpost of the truly lunatic right.

More generally, it's legitimate for DUers to consider each candidate's general-election prospects. When Clinton supporters bring up "socialism" (as they so often do), I don't think they're red-baiting. Their point is that, if Sanders is the nominee, this will be used to bash him, whether or not we think the attack has merit. Well, what's sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose. People who oppose Clinton can reasonably report on right-wing attacks that may resonate in November.

Clinton supporters, you're the minority here, so you'll be exposed to more negative stuff than will Sanders supporters. Deal with it. Console yourselves with the thought that Chafee, O'Malley, and Webb would love to be getting as much attention, even negative attention, as Clinton is, on DU and nationwide.

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: McKibbenís Divestment Tour Ė 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:

ē {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 oneís role in accelerating climate change and ecological destruction.
ē 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.
ē 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.
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