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January 30, 2006

Now, rethink what they mean when they say “special interests”
Posted by Patrick at 07:04 PM * 51 comments

Digby quotes from an interesting-sounding book, Politicians Don’t Pander; Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness, by Lawrence R. Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro:

Why has the derogatory term “pander” been pinned on politicians who respond to public opinion? The answer is revealing: the term is deliberately deployed by politicians, pundits, and other elites to belittle government responsiveness to public opinion and reflects a long-standing fear, uneasiness, and hostility among elites toward popular consent and influence over the affairs of government.

Click.

Read Digby’s whole post, particularly if you’re down over Alito. (If you haven’t noticed that, in the past year, the blogger called “Digby”—about whom exactly nothing is known, not even gender—has become the best political writer on the internet, it’s time to find out.) Me, I’m thinking that observation by Jacobs and Shapiro explains, in 58 words, nearly everything that’s gone septic in our media and political elites in the last twenty years.

Comments on Now, rethink what they mean when they say "special interests":
#1 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 12:51 AM:

Seriously: you will feel better after you read it. Not that it's about making you feel better. If anything, it's about how appallingly much more there is to be done. But at least more people seem to realize that there's an appalling amount of work to be done. Which, somehow, makes you feel better. Burdens shared just that much more.

#2 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 01:05 AM:

As I recall, it was Paul Tsongas (a man I admired) who used the word pejoratively to describe Bill Clinton.

When you think about it, if we'd somehow succeeded in our longshot attempt to sustain a filibuster against Alito, all the folks we called/faxed/e-mailed could be accused of pandering to us.

#3 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 01:14 AM:

Yeah, I knew there was a reason I never quite liked Paul Tsongas. The message was always that we were supposed to admire him for the nuances of the contempt in which he he held us.

Kip: Chop wood. Carry water. Right.

#4 ::: FMguru ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 01:35 AM:

Tsongas carried around a little black-and-white teddy bear that he called "Pander Bear" and would liken it to Gov. Clinton. Because Clinton would tell Democratic interest groups (women, unions, minorities, enviros) that he agreed with their concerns - quelle horreur!

Tsongas was the sort of fellow that gave rise to the term "pain caucus". Oh, no, a Democratic candidate for President is telling union workers things they want to hear - better put a stop to that!

#5 ::: Phil ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 06:47 AM:

Digby's secret identity reminds me of the kids in Ender's Game. Cool!

#6 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 07:14 AM:

Quelle horreur, indeed, FMguru...

Meanwhile I found that my Senator wasn't willing to pander to me over the Alito matter. He didn't mean any of these sweet little nothings. Yeah, basically, not only did New Mexico's Jeff Bingaman not listen to me and officially support a filibuster, but he is one of those Democrats who voted yes for cloture. Even Dianne Feinstein had said she'd vote against cloture. I am disgusted.

And I wonder why they use the French word for fence to describe the termination of that process.

#7 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 07:16 AM:

Actually, if you read Digby very closely, you can find steganographic messages from our new Spider overlords lurkning behind the moon. All hail!

No wonder he's so damn good.

#8 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 07:32 AM:

Our Overlords are spiders, Kevin? That explains the tarentula that goes around my backyard come summer.

#9 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 08:05 AM:

>That's the DLC model. When you have a free
>vote always use it to show that you aren't
>liberal. That's why she was against it
>originally --- a reflexive nod to
>being "reasonable."

Strategic voting by my representatives
makes me depressed.

On a side note, what does "DLC" stand for?

#10 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 08:08 AM:

While the term "pandering" is grossly misused, there is an important sense in which "responsiveness," taken too far, can become a Bad Thing. For example, cutting taxes in response to the concerns of one set of constituents, while simultaneously dealing out large grants and subsidies to a different set of constituents.

The knock on Clinton wasn't just that he professed agreement with the concerns of various Democratic constituencies, it was that he professed agreement with different concerns of different constituencies at different times, depending on who he was talking to. And some of those concerns at least appeared to contradict one another.

I don't think he was actually guilty of any real sins in that area-- lots of nuance is lost between a policy proposal and a ten-second sound bite, after all-- but if he had been making contradictory promises, that would've been a problem. And pointing it out would be fair game. Tsongas may have gone overboard (I don't recall the details, as I was in college at the time, and didn't follow the primaries closely), but that's hardly a beyond-the-pale tactic like the Swift Boat nonsense of the last election.

(I probably shouldn't post this, as I don't have the time to follow Making Light comment threads on a good day, which this is not. I'll throw it out there all the same, and just note that you shouldn't expect a rapid response.)

#11 ::: Dave MB ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 08:48 AM:

On a side note, what does "DLC" stand for?

Google is your friend -- it's the Democratic Leadership Council, an organization of centrist Democrats. They are particularly reviled by what Gov. Dean and Sen. Wellstone called "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party". In my opinion, they range from complete tools like Al From, their leader, to quite reasonable people like Ed Kilgore.

On Alito, the official DLC position was a no vote on confirmation but no filibuster. Kilgore supported the filibuster.

#12 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 08:50 AM:

Greg London asked: On a side note, what does "DLC" stand for?

The DLC stands for the Democratic Leadership Council, an organization founded by 45 prominent conservative and moderate Democrats. More information on the DLC can be found in their Wikipedia entry. The DLC was at the peak of its influence when President Bill Clinton was the DLC chair, the significance of the DLC has since waned somewhat.

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 09:06 AM:

I'm sure we can come up with very creative explanations of what "DLC" really means. I haven't had my first cup of coffee of the day so nothing comes to my mind just yet.

#14 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 10:11 AM:

Politicians all too frequently pay lip service to democracy, but they certainly don't like it.

#15 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 10:28 AM:

After reading all of the comments on Digby's site (and really, I should be painting or coding this morning) I have but one question -

Why, in heaven's name, does everyone assume that any potential hacker of a Diebold voting machine will favor Republicans?

I understand the theory - the guy who owns Diebold is promising to deliver states for the Republicans and some people are a little curious about just how he plans to deliver on that promise.

However, it's pretty much a truism that a machine that can be hacked will be hacked, but I don't know of any matching truism that says all computer people are neo-cons. I know a fair number of competent to good computer people and there is no correlation to neo-con leanings. In fact, in my experience (which may not be yours) there's rather the opposite.

Hmm. Maybe I ought to shut up about this...

#16 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 10:46 AM:

"...In a happy harmonic convergence, Groundhog Day falls only two days after the State of the Union Address this year..."

- Molly Ivins's intro to today's column

#17 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 11:24 AM:

They are particularly reviled by what Gov. Dean and Sen. Wellstone called "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party".

Ironically, when Dean was governor of Vermont, the DLC pointed to him as a model of Their Kind Of Democrat--a moderate guy who kept the state budget in balance.

#18 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 11:32 AM:

Yeah, Digby is wonderful. Though if we are ranking political writers, I would put Jane at Firedoglake right up there. They keep me going on bad days, which this is one of, since the NYT just flashed me an e-mail that yes, Alito has been confirmed, permitting GWB to do some happy gloating tonight. No, I am not going to watch.

KQED is assuring me that they will carry the hearings on warrantless wiretapping live next week. Good. Now if the folks on the Judiciary Committee will actually do one of the jobs they were elected to do -- oversight, I think it's called -- some of my gloom will lift. Maybe. If.

#19 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 11:38 AM:

Jane Hamsher is very good. Quite a few people are often good. Has anyone noticed my list of 25 political bloggers I particularly recommend, down below the main blogroll? (I admit, I'm behind on reading the Open Threads.)

Of course I agree with Chad that "there is an important sense in which 'responsiveness,' taken too far, can become a Bad Thing." However, I tend to think that more of our current problems are the result of too little responsiveness by our elites, rather than too much.

#20 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 11:39 AM:

Margaret Organ-Kean: Why, in heaven's name, does everyone assume that any potential hacker of a Diebold voting machine will favor Republicans?

I don't think the people using "hacker" are using it the way many on this site would use it. When you read that "hacker," substitute "programmer working with Diebold seeking a predetermined result."

I understand the theory - the guy who owns Diebold is promising to deliver states for the Republicans and some people are a little curious about just how he plans to deliver on that promise.

He's already done this. He promised to deliver Ohio in the last election, and Ohio had a remarkable amount of voting irregularity involving the machines.

#21 ::: Jaquandor ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 06:09 PM:

Digby is great. I also have come to rely extensively on Lance Mannion and Glenn Greenwald, who really does some heavy lifting.

#22 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 07:59 PM:

"...centrist Democrats..."

No. Right-wing Democrats.

To me pandering implies corruption; taking advantage of a person or groups desires to commit abuses, as the Bush administration has taken advantage of 9/11. It's a corruption of the term to apply it to honestly representing constitutents.

Digby is right. But regardless, an authoritarian majority on the Court is going to wreak harm and it saddens me. And--"this is not my party". My party does not exist and probably will not, not in my lifetime.

#23 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 09:39 PM:
"It's a corruption of the term to apply it to honestly representing constitutents."
Yes, but that's the point; these days, the term is frequently and casually used to slime and belittle liberal politicians, not for actual hypocrisy or inconstancy, but for simply taking their constituents' side against the elite.

As for:

"'this is not my party.' My party does not exist and probably will not, not in my lifetime."
--I'd just like to say this. It's one thing to remember that the good fight is very long. It's quite another to preen ourselves on how ever-so-much-more-enlightened we are than the common run of slobs. Nothing makes me more want to identify as a plain old Democrat than this particular flavor of self-congratulating holier-than-thou.

#24 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2006, 10:16 PM:

Some here are probably too young to recall the modern origins of the term "special interests": Reagan used the term to describe who it was that the Democrats were in thrall to. And he would proceed to describe these nefarious "special interests": women, minorities, teachers, unionized workers, (heck, working people in general!), poor people, environmentalists. . . before he was done, Reagan had dismissed out-of-hand roughly ninety percent of the American population. (Everyone except the GOP's natural electorate.)

Heaven forbid that an elected representative should "pander" to these "special interests".

#25 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2006, 01:07 AM:

Aconite

"I don't think the people using "hacker" are using it the way many on this site would use it. When you read that "hacker," substitute "programmer working with Diebold seeking a predetermined result." "

I just poked around and it seems that the machines (not necessarily Diebold's, but someone's - I was just scan reading) have been hacked successfully. Within five minute I was reading a fairly detailed methodology for doing it. And I was just poking around - not seriously researching the subject.

This hacking job, incidentally was done by an outsider, not by the machine's builders.

When you get right done to it though, the question is not so much can they be hacked, but can they be hacked without leaving evidence?

For me, some of these theories bring Jurassic Park to mind - mostly because the only way that movie 'worked' was if you assumed that the people running the computer center were morons. It's been a while, so I really only recall two things I noticed: that whoever ran that center let programmers on the production machines (very bad management) and that they had no backup power in a known storm zone (purely idiotic).

This relates to the election machines in that at that point I realized how little most people understood about how large scale computing is done.

The president/owner of Diebold cant' just go to some programmer and say, here, write code that insures Republicans have an edge - it wouldn't work.

Programming in a large company is usually accomplished by a team. When they're done, the code is usually read and vetted by other programmers, and tested by testers. You'd have to suborn a lot of people. And as everyone knows, the odds of keeping a secret decrease geometrically every time you add another person who knows about it.

So right there, you have the problem you have with most conspiracies - sooner or later someone talks.

Incidentally, look at www.blackboxvoting.com if you interested in learning more.


"He's already done this. He promised to deliver Ohio in the last election, and Ohio had a remarkable amount of voting irregularity involving the machines."

I do remember the voting irregularity - but for some reason I connected it more with more mundane means. Not enough polling places in certain areas, and the ones they had opening late.

Hmm. He may have delivered Ohio last time, but if people noticed, he didn't do it very successfully - at least in a long range sense. Arousing suspicion in an endeavor of this sort is a bad thing.

#26 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2006, 07:25 AM:

Margaret Organ-Kean: If it was noticed, but nothing came of that--no widespread public outcry, no serious investigation, no widespread calls for verification of votes, no negative consequences--why should they care? It worked, and they'll get to use it again and again. They don't care if people know they're cheating as long as they get what they want out of it.

Yes, I'm cynical and depressed this morning.

#27 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2006, 07:38 AM:

Actually, Margaret, it's not difficult for a programmer to put some funny-business stuff in, not when programmers are overworked, or when the actual programming is done one continent away by contractors even more overworked than the ones here.

As for Jurassic Park, don't get me started on that one. Of course, its plot assumes that people are morons. What else do you expect from something based on Michael Chrichton? This man has no shame when it comes to using the idiot plot. Let's see. We'll spend gazillions of dollars building walking mountains of meat, but that's OK because we'll save money by having one single programmer running the whole show. Right.

#28 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2006, 08:00 AM:

It may sound a bit bizarre, but consider having the gambling commission certify voting machines. This may sound a bit contradictory but it's not. (It also sounds hilariously funny in light of vote irregularities in Ohio and other places.)

For a while, my husband worked for a company that wrote software for some of the gambling machines, doing language modifications (replacing english with another). There were so many things he could not do because of the severe restrictions and oversight of gambling machines. For instance, Jim could replace text with text exactly the same size (which was a riot when dealing with the slavic overabundance of consonants) and a word that was agreed upon ahead of time to mean the same thing. Any other change required the software to run thru a verification process with the gambling commission. Tweaking graphics, changing colors, moving things around, not to mention any internal mods, all had to go thru the reverification process. It's a really tedious process, but it assures the betting public an honest game (as honest as anything skewed in favor of the house).

If we had the gambling commission certify voting machines with the same rigor they do gambling machines, locking down the software against "after-market" modifications, I would feel a lot better about the safety of my vote. Or a new commission with the same rules and verification processes.

And I sit here and wince at the thought of what the Republicans would do with that whole idea.

#29 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2006, 08:03 AM:

I just sent thank you email to both my Senators, both of whom voted against cloture. Again, letting them know I'm paying attention.

And Digby just got added to my list of blogs-I-don't-have-time-to-read. Great writer.

#30 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2006, 07:25 PM:

I started reading Digby after he was often linked from Atrios, my usual first read of the day. Now he's first and Atrios second, for the simple reason that what he writes is - almost without exception - in-depth, thoughtful, and thought-provoking.

Atrios is still second, as one of the best link-aggregators and for the bits of commentary. (I wish there was more commentary. Also, I want a pony.)

A lot of the time there seems to be this assumption that the left blog world is "more" left than the population is, for example on the filibuster issue. I don't buy it at all. If so, where are the widely-read center-left blogs urging "yes on cloture"? They aren't there. The readership is all at Kos, Atrios, and so on.

In my opinion what you find tends to be polarized at "lunatic wingnuts" and "everyone else". And it turns out, from blog readership numbers, that the "lunatic wingnuts" are not nearly as numerous as the progressives.

Being informed and part of "everyone else" these days means being against almost everything the Republicans & GWB do, because almost any moderate position requires opposing them. So "everyone else" contains moderates, centrists, far-leftists, real-life conservatives, libertarians, and the great mass of people with ordinary, vague social-democratic/capitalist mixed-economy sort of feelings.

But yeah, it was nice to see even 25 senators make that sort of a stand. I wrote to all of them in email to thank them for it.

Hopefully the Democrats can re-learn the value of a base and the way to build one. I was talking about this the other day and about my view of how the electorate break down into categories:

A) the party faithful
B) ordinary party members
C) independent voters

Group A donate money and time, go door to door, talk up progressive politics, defend them in arguments, and always, always vote Democrat. You can't have a party without them. Their views are pretty uniform, easy to discern, and they have an annoying tendency to be right even when the Democratic leadership is not (see: Iraq).

The Democratic party strategy since at least 2000 and maybe earlier seems to have been trying to attract more from category C come election day, without doing much to move people from C to B, let alone from B to A. "Pandering" is one way to describe it. The other is "A party that actually stands for something". Maybe the Alito votes are the first signs of a stirring of understanding.

#31 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2006, 07:45 PM:

I'm actually pretty horrified to learn that while one of my Senators (Patty Murray) voted against cloture and against Alito, the other (the execerable Maria Cantwell) voted Yes on cloture, although she did vote No on the nomination.

Oh, how I'm wishing for a primary. I feel as if I'm held hostage by a carnival of fools.

I do still love my Representative, though.

#32 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2006, 09:07 PM:

"Nothing makes me more want to identify as a plain old Democrat than this particular flavor of self-congratulating holier-than-thou."

Patrick, I'm a registered Democrat, but I cannot support the Democrats with a whole heart. My state has one Democratic Senator, who voted to allow extraordinary rendition; he did, at least, vote against cloture. It's not my party because nearly half its senators voted for cloture, because my Democratic senator voted to allow extraordinary rendition, because it has yet to fight for accurate counting of votes, let alone registering most citizens, because, in the final reading, major US parties don't have political positions; they have geographic bases.

I don't feel superior; I feel disenfranchised and marginalized and I don't expect this to change in my lifetime.

#33 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2006, 01:51 AM:

Regarding hacking, or other frauds on voting machines.

Here, there are no machines. Ballot papers are marked by the elector with a pencil. The ballot papers are tallied by hand on the night, by public servants hired for that job, and each and every one is subjected to scrutiny by candidates' nominees (scrutineers) who cannot touch the papers. They watch over the shoulder of the tallying clerk, and object to any decision they consider dubious. The Presiding Officer (me) then checks every dubious paper and decides, with the scrutineers watching. Any one of them can object to any decision, and the objection must be logged and the paper tagged for later decision.

Provisional tallies are then advised to a Returns Officer by phone, and the sorted papers sent in under seal. In any close call, they would be subject to a second scrutiny, and ultimately to a Court of Disputed Returns, before a judge; but in nearly all cases, the result is known by the morning after the election. (This doesn't apply to the Australian Senate, which can take weeks, because each Senator is elected at large on a statewide basis, and there are many more splinter and joke parties contesting Senate elections, and preferential voting, such as we have here, is more cumbersome under those conditions.)

You could bribe an official, or infiltrate the process with corrupt officials. Any process can be corrupted. But this would take a vastly larger effort, involving many more people, than rigging a machine, or a network of machines. I think this is a strength.

#34 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2006, 04:14 AM:

"The president/owner of Diebold cant' just go to some programmer and say, here, write code that insures Republicans have an edge - it wouldn't work.

Programming in a large company is usually accomplished by a team. When they're done, the code is usually read and vetted by other programmers, and tested by testers. You'd have to suborn a lot of people. And as everyone knows, the odds of keeping a secret decrease geometrically every time you add another person who knows about it.

So right there, you have the problem you have with most conspiracies - sooner or later someone talks."

Is data in a large company's product usually stored in an access database?

You have a lot of "usually" in there, without any evidence that the usually in this case relates to Diebold's practices in this case.

Most of the discussion that I've ever seen of the diebold security holes were that they put these security holes in that they knew about so that they could do the attack remotely, not that they put actual code in saying something silly like if(vote=="Kerry"){vote="Bush"}

Finally the point that somebody always talks about a conspiracy often seems to be trotted out to prove that

1. Conspiracies don't work therefore nobody will conspire

2.Nobody has ever conspired about X, because if they had we would have a lot of evidence indicating that somebody had conspired about X.

3. So stop talking about all the evidence that somebody conspired about X, if they had there would be absolute proof they'd done it and we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

4. Hence, only a fool would want to investigate the matter of the X conspiracy.

#35 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2006, 07:29 AM:

I pointed earlier how easy it is to put some naughty stuff in a computer program, but that assumes that its users aren't related to the gambling industry. I have this image of an overworked programmer whose latest is giving him trouble and he gets paid a visit by big guys in dark suits.

"Ma Tester is very unhappy. She wants us to take you for a ride."

But I digress.

When I became a citizen of the USA, I thought it was so neat to vote with those electronic machines. So quick. So convenient. Then 2000 happened and I realized how easy it would be to cheat with those machines, especially without any paper trail.

#36 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2006, 07:28 PM:

Serge, many years ago when I was working on a Defense project, one of the programmers put in a ghost program that randomly popped up pornographic Helen Keller jokes. This is not the thing you want to have happen when a sailor is using the system to defend the US. He got fired and we ended up going back several versions and recompling everything but his work and then someone else had to redo his regular work and we recompiled.

#37 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2006, 11:39 PM:

Marilee, I heard about a ghost graphics program that, at random intervals, had a duck walk across the screen. The person describing it said that no one who could fix it could get clearance to get inside, no one who could get clearance could fix it, and that somewhere there was a programmer who cackled at random intervals ...

#38 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2006, 12:56 AM:

So, bryan, is that from -personal- experience working in software development, or are you blowing smoke? Have you ever met Richard M. Stallman and watch him write code, and/or hack into other people's computers? (not that Stallman would ever code trapdoors for Diebold, but I cite him as an example of what -I- have seen happen to computer systems...) Have you ever been inside Cheyenne Mountain seeing program names pop up on the display such as "Bust," "PIMP," "[w]HORES," "Pieces," and gotten chewed out for objecting to what Systems Development Corporation's [unprofessionally-behaving] programmers had written into the code, until another female officer who complained to her boss who was a general with two stars got her boss to -order- a rewrite changing the program names?!

Yeah, SURE "Big companies don't do those things." Ha, ha, ha, ha.... I worked for a large defense contractor once upon a time and SAW how code got written... hint, there are all sorts of ways for things to get in if management wants them there, or if ONE programmer who's competent (or incompetent...) is determined to put them in...

#39 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2006, 03:59 AM:

Paula,

As (over the past decade) a developer, tester, project manager and test manager in the technology section of a large bank, I can say that there are places where Margaret's (not bryan's - he was quoting) described methodology applies. You certainly can't get a line of code into our production environmnent, much less a whole application, without an enormous amount of review and testing (too much, these days, at my place). You have to be careful - this is people's money at risk.

Diebold writes ATM software, which is tested to the point of insanity. They know how to write testable code, because their customers (the same cautious banks I work for) won't buy code they can't trust, and even when they do buy code they then acceptance test it all over again onsite. See previous comment about money.

This is not to say that I think Diebold's voting software is straight. I just think that the lack of precision is deliberate, either with the goal of making the software weak, or due to bad management priority (malice or incompetence, the usual suspects). But why bother to take care? It's only people's votes.

I do like the idea of getting the gambling commission to certify the machines, but pretty much anyone could do it if they were independent and empowered to say no. (That's where most testing regimes fall down - the testers are there to certify that things are OK, not find out whether they have problems.)

My personal hero in testing is whoever down-checked the London Millenium Wheel on 31 December 1999. It was scheduled to have its first passengers then, but that wasn't permitted because it failed safety checks. Somewhere in that story is someone who said no and made it stick. If I ever find out who it was, and I ever meet him/her, the drinks are on me.

(gets off hobby horse now)

#40 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2006, 10:57 PM:

I'm glad I'm not the only one who's noticed that the Gops define women, workers, and the not-rich as "pressure groups" or "special interests," but bending the rules for specific companies and industries is nothing more than serving the American People.

#41 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2006, 03:13 AM:

"So, bryan, is that from -personal- experience working in software development...."(big rant about what an idiot I am represented by dots)

I tend to represent a quotation by making double quotation marks around the quoted text. It is my experience that many people are able to understand when I am quoting something that someone else said when I use this method. Abi noticed it at any rate.

#42 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2006, 05:28 PM:

Yes, bryan, but I'm a tester and therefore a professional picker of nits. Paula, I judge, is a developer, focused on getting things done - making firm statements and powerful arguments.

If you're looking for why testers and developers don't get along, I think this exchange is a good example of the dynamic.

#43 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2006, 05:26 AM:

Well, as it happens I'm a developer as well. Although for the last couple years I've basically been working on data standardization issues for the Danish Government. So I suppose this makes me both a maker of powerful arguments and a picker of nits. Personally I don't think you can make powerful arguments without picking nits because otherwise how will you be able to defend your arguments when others try to counter them. That is the nit-picking season....


When it's nit-picking time in Denmark
Fight-picking time on MakingLight
Yes, when it's nit-picking time in Denmark
then it's nose-picking time on Wuthering Heights
vowel-dropping time on a wingnut
just don't pick on this poor old Wight.

And when it's malaprop picking time in the White House
vodka picking time for Bush and Dick
then down here in this comment
I'm sure to be picking a nit.

And when its roundup-time on Brokeback Mountain
Horowitz has a snit
but if someone misnotices a comment
Then in Denmark we pick a nit.

There are Dinosaurs in sodom
Mary Sue is the queen of the Dance
Selling Tommy Guns to the X-Men
I've picked out my ugly pants.


Oh there are some who claim they're pedantick
and some will argue the grammatick
but in the comment box from Denmark
I'm ready now to pick a nit.


#44 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2006, 10:49 AM:

Bryan: I'd worry, if I were in Denmark, that nit-picking might shortly be the only employment available to me. I'm saying that on the basis of the boycotts of Danish products in the Muslim world.

#45 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2006, 10:54 AM:

I do not consider that to be much of a basis for worry.

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2006, 01:19 PM:

Bryan: Fair enough. I shall be looking for tins of Danish biscuits to buy.

#47 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2006, 09:44 PM:

No, seriously. I suppose it's not on-topic, but all the same, I'm going out right now and buying a Danish product of some sort. Ham, maybe. Butter biscuits. I don't know. Whatever.

And there's the Vatican, telling us that freedom of speech does not include the freedom to offend religious fanatics. It bloody does so include it.

#48 ::: Mina W ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2006, 10:28 PM:

I think we (in the US) all need to take steps to be part of the process on election day. All of us for whom that is possible. In the old days (my Mom's experience), it was all partisan, vote-counters and observers alike, so it may have to be through the Democrats, or a 3rd party which will be on the ballot. This is a very red county in its powerful types, so I have some doubt about the access which a democrat can get. Anybody with recent experience on how to do this?

#49 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2006, 10:57 PM:

One thing frequently in short supply on election day is polling places - they use about any place suitable (my grandmother's garage got used more than once).

#50 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2006, 11:17 PM:

Mina W; Anybody with recent experience on how to do this?

Find your county party officials. You should have a neighborhood precinct captain/committeeman (aka 'ward heeler'), who likely as not, will be surprised to see a volunteer, and may be disconcerted enough to give you a brushoff. (From their perspective, you might mean more work for them, or you may not be serious; so don't be surprised if they're a bit wary at first.)

Or, your local party may be thin enough on the ground that you don't have a local ward heeler. In which case, the county officials should be delighted to hear from you.

Once they realize you're serious, they'll find some way for you to help. Walking a local candidate around to meet you neighbors, walking petititons around, distributing literature - there's all sorts of tedious stuff to do. Heck, if you're serious, they may run you for office. (Most of local politics is showing up.) At the very least, later (if not sooner), this may turn into a paid gig at the polls. It can even be a lot of fun.

Good luck, and on to victory in '06. Let us know how you make out.


#51 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2006, 09:08 AM:

"No, seriously. I suppose it's not on-topic, but all the same, I'm going out right now and buying a Danish product of some sort. Ham, maybe. Butter biscuits. I don't know. Whatever"

Generally when MakingLight threads get this long I don't think it matters what the original subject was anymore. I was under the impression that the only company that might be hurting from this currently is Arla
http://www.arlafoods.com/APPL/HJ/HJ202COM/HJ202D01.NSF?Open

in the news on their site http://www.arlafoods.com/APPL/HJ/HJ202COM/HJ202D01.NSF/O/0780173D7668B29BC125710A0056B1E6
they say that Arla was not mentioned in the latest condemnations so maybe that's okay.

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