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March 29, 2019


While I was in the military 1969-73, the branch of service I was in was making a slow transition from Assembler to COBOL for accounting software. A bit sad if you're fifty years behind a part of the federal government.

EF Goldman, who for a time a number of years ago was an able commenter here, passed away a couple of weeks ago. Interesting life.


As to the subject at hand, it would be refreshing for a gubanatorial candidate in any old state of any old ideology to run on a platform of upgrading and modernizing DMVs, since they are the one point of sale of government nearly all citizens "interface" with.

I don't get it. Why does the Governor not visit the DMV and the budget committee tasked with funding the place in person, stand on someone's desk and mandate at least the upgrading of the IT infrastructure.

Or are Americans just generally incompetent in the field of self-governance?

California wouldn't have to start from scratch revitalizing its DMV. There's a number of companies that provide systems for DMV and related services. Also, it could contract a portion of the workload to private DMV service providers.

"With Californians reportedly waiting up to six or even eight hours at the Department of Motor Vehicles, taxpayers’ growing frustration is justifiable. “A marathon or two could be run while you wait in line at the DMV,” the Orange County Register recently noted.
But California’s problems have far surpassed the typical “going to the DMV is miserable” stereotypes. While the state has attempted to improve DMV performance by providing numerous funding increases, including an additional $47 million for 550 new jobs just last year and $16 million in emergency funding more recently, the wait times and hassles are still ridiculous."

California’s DMV Problems Require Change, Major Overhaul, not More Money: The DMV is a long-running punchline. It's time to change.

But "Assembler" isn't a programming language. It's a class of programming languages. And one any real programmer should feel at home in.

Of course it's possible that my great-grandfather the carriage builder said vaguely analogous things about carmakers.

IBM had Assembler languages for computers that didn't exist but were emulated on ones that did.

I heard that CDC assembler was particularly difficult. And that's not even programming the peripheral processing units in their own 18-bit assembler.

Assembler, the primary programming language used in DMV field office computer applications, was created around the 1950s and is less commonly used today.

"Less commonly used" is one way to put it. ;-)

And what Pro Bono said.

I've spent the past eight years involved (in a variety of roles) in a project unaffectionately referred to in my company as "getting out of DOS." Our core programs were written 30+ years ago in Quicksilver/dBXL. We turned the last one off a few months ago.

The powers that be might never have been convinced to dedicate the resources required to get us here without the pressure of clients (we are small, some of them are very very large) insisting on modern security features that could not be provided on machines that were still running DOS. (At least that's my broad brush understanding. I am not a security person. I am, as my father would say if he were alive and understood all this, a Jack of all some trades and a master of none. Technically speaking.)

It's a daunting problem: what does the DMV replace the current system with, even assuming they could get the $ and personnel resources? There's probably almost nothing documented, and half the people who carried the institutional knowledge in their heads, never mind Assembler skills, have probably retired or will do so soon. Creating a modern system would be job security for a lot of people, if only there were money to pay them with.

I'm retiring from full-time work sometime this summer, but I hope to keep a little money coming in by churning out SQL stored procedures for my company. I am institutional memory (and database familiarity) personified. ;-)

Assembly language is not going away. Assembly language is what your compilers produce from your so-called higher-level languages. It is, in turn, run through a program, usually called an assembler, to produce an "object file" that contains machine language and data characterizations. All that stuff might get "linked" together to form a runnable program.

People who implement the later stages of a compiled language are assembly language programmers. Good ones are extremely concerned with efficient execution. Other programming areas where performance matters a lot, like device drivers and embedded systems are often implemented in assembly language.

I've done quite a lot of this sort of work. For embedded stuff, like network equipment, the reason there isn't a higher-level language isn't always the desire for very efficient instruction selection. Sometimes you're not going to need enough code to justify the cost of writing a compiler. Implementing an assembler is easy, but a compiler is a proverbial "land war in Asia".

This doesn't excuse the CA DMV. they've had decades of trouble with their computer procurements. It's likely that they haven't engaged with competent technical people. You don't get what you don't pay for.

it would be refreshing for a gubanatorial candidate in any old state of any old ideology to run on a platform of upgrading and modernizing DMVs, since they are the one point of sale of government nearly all citizens "interface" with.

I don't get it. Why does the Governor not visit the DMV and the budget committee tasked with funding the place in person, stand on someone's desk and mandate at least the upgrading of the IT infrastructure.

Consider how routinely politicians "balance" budgets by deferring maintenance on, for example, roads. Which even the non-driving portion of the population interfaces with. When I think about how bad some of them have gotten, I shudder to think how horrible they must have been for a Michigan gubernatorial candidate to run (and win!) on a slogan of "Fix the damn roads!" And roads, as infrastructure, are a lot easier for the average voter to understand than computers.

Oops! And now I come across this: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/04/08/the-day-the-dinosaurs-died

Actual fossils from the day, probably the very hour, that the asteroid hit and wiped out the dinosaurs. Wow. Just wow. "Smoking gun" was rarely so accurate.

I had to go to the CA DMV in December to do my latest renewal and to get my Real ID for travel. The DMV sent my notice on a Wednesday four months ahead of when my license expired. On Thursday I went to the DMV website to set up an appointment so that I could skip the epic line. There were no appointments available before my license expired at the firs two closest DMV offices. At the third closest I managed to get an appointment for the day before it expired.

In between times I moved and had to change my address with the DMV. Despite having done this, they did not update my Real ID application at the same time, so when I got to my window for the appointment, I had to go back to the computer room to fill out my application a second time before I could submit my documentation to the clerk.

I was still in and out in less than two hours, so it was relatively painless as far as CA DMV experiences go. And the DMV clerk warmed fairly quickly after I did not throw any shade or attitude her way.

But updating the system would obviously be a Democrat(ic) power grab since the one and only purpose would be to ease undesirable people getting ID suitable for voting. ;-)

Nobody knows what it does, but at least it's fast!

Nobody knows what it does, but at least it's fast!

It still goes "zip" when it moves
And "bop" when it stops...

Thank you, John Thullen for the info about efgoldman. He seemed to migrate over to Cole's site a while back but he will be missed by the old timer's here as well.

Rest in peace, Mr Ross (AKA efgoldman)

ok, wasn't supposed to be an apostrophe in oldtimers, but whatever...

So happy to see another (albeit a laidback) member of the punctuation and grammar police! Also, just spent a few days with an old friend who knows somebody who taught the orange peril at Wharton. No wonder his lawyers threaten anybody who might release his grades: apparently he was a lazy and lousy student who often almost flunked (my friend can't remember all the gory details). Hardly a surprise to hear, but still satisfying in a weird (how is it possible this man is really president) way....

we'd know for sure how he did at Wharton, if Trump would release his grades.

we'd know for sure how good of a businessman he is, if Trump would release his taxes.

and we'd know for sure how much of a patriot he is, if Trump would release the entire Mueller report.

MAGA, flush this turd.

MAGA, flush this turd.

Is flushing really the best way to dispose of toxic waste?

I'm thinking landfill myself. Preferably one with serious controls to keep toxins from escaping.

When I was on my state's legislative staff, one of my ongoing assignments was explaining software to the members of the General Assembly. It was a painful job.

At the time, I asserted that if you turned me lose in any of the 50 state governments, no matter how small, and gave me three weeks, I could find at least $100M worth of software work that needed doing. Billions in a big state.

One of my mantras at work is, "Work takes time." The people who have big ideas and set big goals (including profit projections) don't seem to grasp that.

One of my side gigs used to be editing. The higher-ups in my company wanted to start publishing a series of guides related to our business. A few of them sat in a room one day and decided that our goal should be to have 100 of these brochures (4-5 pages each) available for purchase online -- in six weeks. The drafts would be written by some of our newest, youngest employees and edited by me before they went to the marking department to be made pretty.

No one asked me (or marketing, I dare say) for any input into this decision. What's more, we didn't have any mechanism in place for selling stuff online, but no one bothered to ask IT either.

Our writers were good at their designated jobs, but they weren't writers. It took me about three hours to whip one of these pieces into shape, so 100 of them would have taken 300 hours. I was expected to be doing programming-like tasks for 90+% of my time, so we were talking . . . somewhere between a year and two years for the editing, depending on what they told me my other priorities were.

I finally convinced them to hire an outside editor; I did the vetting. I told the one boss I was extra good friends with that this episode had been like someone with a pile of old car parts out in the back forty deciding to put a sign out front saying "Car repair." No mechanics, no tools, no lifts........

In relation to software projects, the higher-ups were (are) always frustrated with how long things take. I used to wish I could figure out a good metaphor to explain why the things they wanted couldn't be done quickly. As in: suppose you have a nice little house, two stories, 6 or 8 rooms. Suppose you decide you want all the rooms to be one foot bigger in each dimension.

Sounds simple, surely!!!!! I can say what I want in twenty-five words or less!!!

Sounds simple, surely!!!!! I can say what I want in twenty-five words or less!!!

Of course, he'd say it in management-speak, so nobody would be able to understand it....

JanieM: I heard stuff like this explained as "Cheops Law: it always takes longer and costs more"


You folks already know the old joke whose punchline is "Paint my house", right?


I can say what I want in twenty-five words or less!!!

The most dreaded phrase in state government software RFPs is "Must be compliant with all relevant federal regulations." For some of the larger systems, it is a sure bet that there isn't a single individual in the state government who can give you a complete list of those requirements. There may not be a group of people who can do it.

There are perhaps a half-dozen companies who have invested the enormous effort into tracking down those regulations and figuring out how to build compliant systems (the biggest ones are EDS and IBM). Those companies win almost all of the contracts because (a) they do know (at least most of) the requirements and (b) they're big enough to absorb the penalties if they miss some. IIRC, some years back Deloitte decided it would be a lucrative new line of business and spent $100M of their own money on putting together a complete list and the basic infrastructure software to comply with the list before giving it up as a bad idea.


You gotta admit, it's a brilliant plan: Make things worse in Central America. Thereby guaranteeing steady (maybe even increasing!) flows of migrants to our southern border. Which, in turn, keeps his supporters worked up.


Of course, like his tariffs, it makes the situation he is supposedly addressing worse. But that's the Trump Way.

I've written diagnostic boot code in assembler for MIPS, x86, PowerPC, and various chunks of assembler for PDP/11, IBM/370, Motorola 68xxx, and the Rockwell 6502, the Z80, and perhaps two other architectures.

It's like building a full-size house out of Legos : the building blocks are very small compared to the size of the design object. Discipline and methodical decomposition are required, or the program quickly becomes impossible to really understand, and too brittle to modify successfully.

CA DMV still suffers from having had Republicans holding the state government purse strings for 20 years. An agency cannot rework their computer systems on determination alone: it takes time and money, and the Republicans were determined not to provide money to any part of the government except prisons, law enforcement, and some road construction.

You gotta admit, it's a brilliant plan: Make things worse in Central America.

Yeah, but those are Mexican countries. It says so, right in the chyron.

When you see a fire, pour gasoline on it. It's the Trump way. Fox brings the gasoline.

The fun thing here is that if the DMV is working efficiently, you don't need to interact with it. In Finland, cars are registered when they are bought (new or used) at the dealership. You register the car personally only if you by it from a private person, and in that case, you use the DMV web site. If you take the car out of traffic, you'll do that via your insurance company which informs the national traffic safety administration.

The driver's license and the regular vehicle inspection are the times when you visit something in person but those are handled actually by private contractors. The driver's license is common throughout EU, so you don't need to renew it when moving. Similarly, when you move, you car registration is updated automatically after you inform the national population database (which is a legal obligation).

So, in fact, the "DMV" function carried out by the public administration in Finland is the maintenance of some extremely efficient, interlocked databases that allow them to outsource the public interaction to private entities.

Yes, a lot of registration is handled by private contractors in Pennsylvania. The result is the worst system I have ever experienced.

I had to get my car inspected before I could get it registered. But I had to get it registered before I could get it inspected. Catch 22.

Heard, years ago, that in IN that license offices are filled by political patronage from the Gov. office, and automatically kicks back a percentage of (some? all?) license fees to the state Party.

For that special mix of "corruption" and "incompetence", y'know.

At one time Indiana removed the clocks from its BMV branches so that people wouldn't be as conscious of how long they were having to wait. But Mitch Daniels fixed the BMV. :)

"Daniels revolutionized the state’s approach to its BMV, and just a few years later, an agency that had been almost universally despised enjoyed a customer satisfaction rating of 95.9 percent. Three times during the Daniels era, the BMV won the International Customer Service Award from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA). What had once been among the worst motor vehicle bureaus in the nation was in a few short years consistently considered the best."
Case Study in Culture Change: How Reforming the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Can Change a State

The fun thing here is that if the DMV is working efficiently, you don't need to interact with it.

And that just may be the secret of preventing people from feeling like government is "intruding on their lives".

Cradle to grave nanny state would probably be perfectly fine to most Americans, if they never had to stand in a line.

The UK DVLA, though I don’t know a huge amount about it, seems to work OK (I recall a time a while back when it was a byword for inefficiency).

Browsing the recent annual report, it seems they stopped contacting out systems development, and took it back in house in 2015:

I renewed my driving license online, fairly recently, painlessly.

I’m unconvinced by AOC’s economic prescriptions, but I admire her greatly. She is smart and principled:

From CharlesWT's link:

There is a view among elected officials that government bureaucracies are too big and rigid, and therefore impossible to change at the level of culture. The BMV experience in Indiana shows just how misguided this view is. But it’s not just a matter of introducing new technologies and innovative processes. It also requires political leadership that consistently prioritizes the public good over the politically expedient.
You'd think "political leadership that consistently prioritizes the public good" would find doing so "politically expedient" in a democracy, wouldn't you? So why is "fixing the DMV" considered a brave thing to do?

Is it because there's political risk in trying to change the "culture" in "the bureaucracy"? The tale of the Indiana DMV makes me think that notion is sometimes bullshit. I haven't been to Indiana in 30 years, but the way I remember it Hoosiers are practically Canadians in their politeness, compassion, and general humanity. And I bet most Indiana DMV employees are, in fact, Hoosiers. So I doubt it was against their "culture" to treat their fellow Hoosiers as valued customers before heroic Mitch Daniels came along. I think it more likely that their who-cares-about-the-customer "culture" came from the top -- from venal or stupid political overseers appointed by venal or stupid politicians. It certainly seems the Indiana DMV "bureaucrats" needed little prodding to "change their culture".

Now, how about "teachers" and "cops"? The Republican (and, to be fair, the conventional punditocracy) view is that "teachers' unions" are unconcerned about serving the "public good" by actually educating kids, and that "cops" as a whole are only concerned with serving "the public good" when backing Republicans. I cannot help but wonder "the public good" is by definition what Republicans tell the pundits it is.


Indiana is a funny place. Northern stronghold of the Klan, and also gave us Birch Bayh. And, Mike Pence. And, Pete Butigieg.

Hard to pin down exactly what the culture of IN is.

Most places are like that.

How to turn Texas, not to mention Arizona, blue:

Riiight, close the border completely. Trash the economies of the state's along the border (with the possible exception of California, which is big enough, with a sufficiently diversified economy, to merely be pained). That's a solid vote winner....

A very good article on the perversity of SC Justices:

Nigel, I think the critical line there is:

Just as gerrymanderers use computers and extensive collections of voter data to draw tens of thousands of maps to find the one that suits their party best, mathematicians can draw tens of thousands of maps without thumbing the scale to see what neutrally drawn district maps . . . tend to look like.
The unfortunate reality is that the justices are, thanks to age and education, ignorant of math (or statistics) and of computers. They don't care that gerrymandering is being done using those tools. They want something simple, preferably not using anything beyond grade school arithmetic, for a solution. The world, in this area, has past them by. But they seem determined to act like it's still 1950.

But they seem determined to act like it's still 1950.

I guess they would be at a complete loss if someone presented them with the fractal dimensions of various congressional districts.

I'm sceptical that any of the Justices are too ignorant to follow the argument. Rather, highly partisan Republican Justices choose not to pursue any argument which might hamper Republican Party subversion of democracy.

In this 21st century world (in spite of all attempts to push it back a few centuries), I strongly suggest that USSC confirmation require passing a math test.

Something like 650+ on the math SAT would be okay, also, too.

But for a gerrymandering case the standard should be higher, and they should be recused if they didn't pass a class on Calculus of Variations.

Math skills, huh? What about suggesting that shutting down the border between the US and Mexico will reap huge "profits" because we import more from Mexico than we export to Mexico. The level of ignorance is painful.

If you don't import workers, you export jobs.

It appears that, in addition to famously reading the election returns, the Supreme Court also pays attention to opinion columns.
Then again, maybe some of them are just more sympathetic to Buddhists than to Muslims.

Well, at least they got it right this time.

I'm sceptical that any of the Justices are too ignorant to follow the argument.

I also suspect that the Justices can follow the argument. Where things fall apart is that they want certainty in the guidance they issue to the lower courts -- the oft-mentioned bright red line. It won't be enough to say "Here's a mathematical test that can be applied to a district map and correctly identifies partisan gerrymandering 95% of the time."

A case I follow because I'm peculiar is the Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado water case currently before the Court. Texas has asked the Court to rule that pumping water from an aquifer that is hydrologically linked to a surface river count as a diversion from the river. The engineers' answer to the simple question is "Of course it's a diversion." The hard part is answering how big a diversion it is. I doubt that the Court is going to rule that way. If they do, though, it's going to upset 150 years worth of Western water law.

"A case I follow because I'm peculiar is the Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado water case currently before the Court. ... it's going to upset 150 years worth of Western water law."

Yeah, but that's SPANISH based water law, and some people get their knickers in a twist from giving any validity to them-thar furrin lawrs.

some people get their knickers in a twist from giving any validity to them-thar furrin lawrs.

Of course, they also get their knickers in a twist when they hear furrin (e.g. Spanish) words spoken. Which means they best not travel much in the Southwest. For example, an entirely unexceptional bit of driving directions in my local area: "From Palo Alto, take El Camino to San Mateo." 9 words . . . 2/3 of the Spanish.

The thing is, between the names of cities and towns, the name geographic features (rivers and mountains) and the names of streets, you just about cannot escape Spanish if you live here. No matter how xenophobic you prefer to be. C'est la vie.

A beloved (and although you will find it hard to believe) highly educated old friend (admittedly an R, and pretty suspect on race matters too), was once complaining to me about the increasing prominence of Spanish and Latinos in California and specifically LA, where she was born and raised. You could see her double-take and the couple of seconds it took her to understand me when I said "Ah well, it's getting back to its historic and eponymous roots then!" It had obviously never occurred to her...

You could see her double-take...

Perhaps it was at the word, "eponymous." :)

Actually, I realise it's not the exactly correct word, but it seemed to do the job!

No fair using Esperanto, GFNC.

GftNC: Actually, I realise it's not the exactly correct word ...

The "correct word" often matters a lot. If the ACA were to be renamed "Trumpcare", Dear Leader would be championing it so vociferously that even Marty would be all for it. Mitch ("Yertl the turtle") McConnell would still be agin it, of course, but he'd bow down and do his master's bidding like always.

Republicans long ago mastered the use of the "correct word" in the politics of a nation composed in large part of gullible people. Frank Luntz taught them to say "death tax" instead of "estate tax", "moms and dads" instead of "parents", "employers" instead of "corporations", and of course "babies" instead of "fetuses". And he taught the Broderist media to clutch its pearls any time a Democrat uses words like "disgusting" or "dirty" or "treasonous" to describe the kind of people (OK, Republicans) who use those words to describe Democrats.

There exist allegedly-serious people in America who believe (or at least, assert) that He, Trump profited from a surfeit of "political correctness" on The Left. Those people are fools: "political correctness" of the Luntzian sort has been The Right's main weapon for over a quarter century. "Words", not policies, are what gets the rubes to the ballot box, and it's The Right's mastery of "the correct word" that has given us two Republican "commanders in chief" this millennium.


What Tony said. All of it.

Perhaps, both of these catastrophes could be engineered to happen at the same time:



Throw in Brexit mayhem, and we could have a worldwide cleansing of conservative malignity in one fell violent swoop.

Frank Luntz taught them to say "death tax" instead of "estate tax"

This, from the same people that say "if you wan t less of something, TAX it!".

Which is why I think we should have a negative tax, aka a 'bounty', on dead billionaires.

Throw in Brexit mayhem, and we could have a worldwide cleansing of conservative malignity in one fell violent swoop.

Brexit isn't so much cleansing the Conservative party, as reforming it in a Trumpite mould.
And given our fractured politics on both right and left, they are just as likely to win the next election as to lose it.

Now Trump declares that his super-duper healthcare plan will be unveiled the day after the election. As brilliant as Tricky Dick's secret plan to end the war in Vitenam, I presume.

Frank Luntz taught them to say "death tax" instead of "estate tax", "moms and dads" instead of "parents", "employers" instead of "corporations", and of course "babies" instead of "fetuses".

I was surprised to read that Luntz suggested renaming "global warming" to be "climate change." I seem to recall conservatives here suggesting that it was weasel-wording on the part of climate scientists and their liberal supporters that led to this rewording. And I believed them! - though I didn't think it was as big a deal as they did. (I just figured it was a matter of some particular places getting colder, even if the planet was getting warmer as a whole.)

I was surprised to read that Luntz suggested renaming "global warming" to be "climate change."

He missed out on that one. Shoulda gone with "balmy beach weather".

Placing Medicare fraudster Rick Scott in charge of getting rid of niggercare is so perfectly pigfucker American:


I was going to write an edgy comment about Canadian tomatoes. So much for that.

I wonder when puberty will lower Boy Tucker's voice into the manly man registers, not to mention letting his testicles descend?


What is it that conservatives like Pol Pot and Tucker Carlson have against the bespectacled?

And women? Other than the former's insufficient intelligence in comparison to women.

I believe as bad as global warming might become, mankind will survive, but
I, a machete, and a claw hammer will assure that Carlson does not come along for the ride.

I've said for months that I expect the EU27 and the UK to blunder their way into a no-deal exit. Lots of rumors on the EU side this morning that make that seem more likely.

Macron is rumored to be furious over being "summoned" to Brussels to deal with the Brits again.

The EU's chief negotiator said that the political declaration in the withdrawal agreement is consistent with either a permanent customs union or the Norway model, but that those are things that can't legally be negotiated until the UK is out of the EU.

Rumors that an increasing number of EU members simply don't want British MEPs in the next session.

Those minority voters aren't going to fuck themselves:


Brought to you by The Committee To Steal Another Election For Trump

Well, CEOs sitting on each others boards, and giving each other raises is usual in the corporate world. Why shouldn't Abbott run the state government like a business?

Only Trump can keep us safe:

Does this guy do anything that isn't counterproductive -- as judged by his stated aims(which, admittedly, may not be his real ones)?

But rest assured, federal employee Gaetz with the socialist health insurance and access to Capitol Hill pages on the elevators will, despite the wonders of medical science, always remain a dick:


Cold-blooded murder:


This ruling will come in handy when Real Americans start roughing up murderous republicans on their way to the firing squad:


Trump is opposed to terrorism and other crimes committed by people who don't support Trump.

He's equally opposed to any part of the federal government which seeks to restrain terrorism and other crimes committed by Trump supporters.

There's no contradiction.

Whatever happened to empathy?

It has been eaten alive by fear

"Whatever happened to empathy?"

It was stabbed thru the heart by Jesus.



I'd bet the answer is Yes.

Climate change may come to be embraced by the far right. Some empathy, that:


I have so many problems with that NY Mag article, bobbyp. I mean, I agree with the premise that the collective response to climate change may well be an embrace of authoritarian models -- I've heard that from my students from China for over a decade now as they boggle at the dysfunction of the US discussion -- but I think that the framing of the bigger problem here as a sort of either/or really flattens out the complexity of the situation in ways that are unhelpful.

This is the most coherent set of interview answers from a political candidate that I've read in a long while.

Does Buttigieg actually have a chance of winning ?

Does Buttigieg actually have a chance of winning ?

at this point, nobody knows. it's 10 months until the first primary vote is cast.

I was wondering about people’s opinions, not actual odds...

(For example, Tulsi Gabbard has no chance at all; Saunders a reasonable one.)

Here's a bit more cynical view of Buttgieg.


A friend who posted it on fb quoted this part
'Before I dive into Shortest Way Home’s account of the life and career of Peter Buttigieg, let me be up front about my bias. I don’t trust former McKinsey consultants. I don’t trust military intelligence officers. And I don’t trust the type of people likely to appear on “40 under 40” lists, the valedictorian-to-Harvard-to-Rhodes-Scholarship types who populate the American elite. I don’t trust people who get flattering reams of newspaper profiles and are pitched as the Next Big Thing That You Must Pay Attention To, and I don’t trust wunderkinds who become successful too early. Why? Because I am somewhat cynical about the United States meritocracy. Few people amass these kind of résumés if they are the type to openly challenge authority. Noam Chomsky says that the factors predicting success in our “meritocracy” are a “combination of greed, cynicism, obsequiousness and subordination, lack of curiosity and independence of mind, [and] self-serving disregard for others.” So when journalists see “Harvard” and think “impressive,” I see it and think “uh-oh.”'

While I don't like to wallow in cynicism, I'm finding it hard to find issue with that paragraph...

Thanks, lj.
That was a very interesting alternate view.

He’s certainly polished his technique since the book that is cited at length in your linked article (note his response to the question about reparations).

I think that it will be hard for anyone to beat Harris. The left of the party wont accept a white male. She is competent enough for the party leaders and has California from a primary perspective.

In a field this big everyone will have bad days but she is pretty close to who they would create as an ideal candidate if they got to make one.

nobody without exactly the right pedigree, career path and history of correct public statements will be accepted by [FACTION_OF_YOUR_CHOICE].

10 months out, zero debates held, many possible candidates still on the fence. it's impossible to say who has any shot and who doesn't just ask Presidents Clinton, Giulliani, Christie and Trump about predictions.

The author of the Current Affairs article (who is, in effect, Current Affairs) is a huge Bernie Sanders supproter. He wrote as recently as February that Sanders is the only way to get rid of Trump. He has written hit pieces on other Democratic candidates besides Buttigieg, and if you look at just the titles of his pieces you can see that his whole schtick is to be a smarter-than-everyone-else rabble-rouser.

The punch line of the piece on Buttigieg is Pete Buttigieg is all about Pete Buttigieg. This comes after a long string of bombs lobbed at Ivy-Leaguers and Rhodes scholars, each one about how Nathan Robinson doesn't "trust" people with each of a list of Buttigieg's attributes and achievements.

Since Robinson is is currently studying for a PhD in sociology at Harvard, as dessert after getting his JD at Yale, perhaps it would be worth speculating as to whether Nathan Robinson is all about Nathan Robinson, and no more trustworthy than he suggests Buttigieg is. (I am reminded of what Sam Gamgee said at the Prancing Pony when Aragorn asked to accompany the hobbits. Yes, let's not trust strangers, "and let's begin with him." ;-)

Robinson wants Sanders. As if Sanders cares about anyone else but Bernie Sanders, the guy who won't even join the party under whose banner he's running, and who IIRC is already registered as a Senate candidate for next time as an independent.

Put one minute of Clickbait talking incoherent baby talk next to a minute of Mayor Pete, and weep. It would be hard to name a single quality that they have in common.

And don't trust anyone who's writing vicious takedowns about any of them at this point. As cleek said, we're almost a year away from the first primary; WTFF.

Thanks Janie, a useful corrective. I've gotten out of the habit of double checking what folks have previously written, but, sadly, I'm probably going to have to start doing it again.

The left of the party won't accept a white male.

Now that is horsefeathers. All the polling I've seen suggests that the vast majority of likely Democratic voters would support the candidate they think has the best chance of beating Trump, irrespective of age, sex or ethnic background.
And indeed ideology.

But only four months away from the first debate.

Which suggests that Democrats should resist the temptation to knock too many lumps out of each other.

I can't bear to look at a 30-odd person firing squad for the next 20 months unless p and the Republican Party are smack dab in the middle as the only targets.

The left of the party won't accept a white male.

If you had said "straight white male", you might have had a stronger case. (Of course, that wouldn't exclude Buttigieg, would it?) And I'm not really convinced that the left of the Democratic Party has control. Influence, sure. But not control -- so being who they want is only helpful.

The left of the party wont accept a white male.

And the (R)'s won't accept anything but.

Gotta say, however, if we are going to have our noses rubbed in a Democratic Party circular firing squad, I'll need to see Sanders' tax returns.

Maybe he invested in some of p's rum deals.

Like Napolean, this malign excuse for a tumor should be exiled to St. Helena, with the additional feature of a nuclear air strike once he is there:


Haven't been able to comment up til now (had an eye operation yesterday - vitrectomy and ERM peel under local anaesthetic for those interested in such arcana - and trying side effects today), but have been keeping up with comments.

1. I found Nigel's New Yorker piece on Buttigieg interesting and hopeful (not for the first time about PG).

2. I found lj's addendum depressing, and although I thought the piece quoted was wrongheaded in various ways it still got to me.

3. I found Janie's response heartening and encouraging (excellent background, context and argument - depression averted).

4. I agree about the firing squad. And although I know her age is/maybe should be a problem, I am rather keen on Warren, mainly for the reasons hilzoy often gives about her proven competence understanding issues and getting good stuff actually done (until it gets undone by bad actors).

Clearly, I am but a straw in the wind. But given our Brexit madness, can you really blame me? This is not an invitation to talk about Brexit - I know nobody who has any clue about what is actually going to happen, including seasoned political observers on left and right.

Sanders and Biden are too old to do the job.

Pro Bono: Presumably you think the same about Warren?

I know nobody who has any clue about what is actually going to happen...

Probably since no such person exists.

Though we might find out soon enough.

I wish you a speedy recovery, GFTNC.

Thanks Nigel!

But only four months away from the first debate.

This is true, although depressing as hell. We are never not in a presidential campaign at this point, and that can go on the list with a lot of other things as being a symptom of our illness.

Sanders and Biden are too old to do the job.

I agree.

Pro Bono: Presumably you think the same about Warren?

Obviously I can't answer for Pro Bono, but like GftNC, I like Warren. For that matter, I would vote for any D against any R, and will certainly do so for the rest of my life, although FSM forbid it would be Gabbard, and I hope it's not Biden or Bernie.

Anyhow, Warren is seven years younger than Biden and eight years younger than Bernie. As one of my younger generation pals keeps saying, Biden was born during the Battle of Stalingrad and Bernie was born before Pearl Harbor.

I want someone younger.

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