Iowa, Democrats, and Elite Incompetence

The Democrats have lurched from their self-inflicted wound of the botched impeachment effort to the self-inflicted wound of the embarrassing fail of Iowa caucus result-tallying, thanks not just to the use of a newly-created app that failed in prime time, but also the lack of any sort of fallbacks. The spectacle of a district chief taking an interview on CNN while on hold with the state honchos and getting a hang up on air is a new low:

And another unseemly example, both the use of Twitter and the obvious disconnect between votes and the delegate split:

On one level, this is an illustration of America’s descent into banana republic status. Pundits and the media keep reinforcing American exceptionalist fantasies, our brand fumes of vaunted democracy, yet we can’t even run elections competently. Is is just the grifting, that introducing more tech creates more opportunities for vendor enrichment? Or is it yet more proof that a lot of people in charge really hate democracy and are at best indifferent to doing things right?

It’s not hard to see the Iowa fiasco as an illustration of an even more deeply-seated pathology: elite incompetence. Too many people with the right resumes get to fail upwards or at worst sideways. And remember, unlike our older WASP-y leaders who were a combination of people from the right clubs and self-made men, our current crop of people in charge pride themselves on being the end products of a meritocratic system, as in their claim to legitimacy stems from the claim that they are more talented (gah) than mere mortals and therefore obviously should be in the top slots because they’ll do oh so much better than everyone else.

And it’s the Democratic party, as the representative of the 10% professional managerial classes, that really owns this disease. Recall in Thomas Frank’s Listen Liberal how he set forth, without irony, a conference that was treacly with the self-regard, with the way every participant was lavished with embarrassing exaggerations of their accomplishments. No one had the slightest sense of how narcissistic and pampered they seemed. And it wasn’t hard to imagine they’d all collapse in a heap if presented with a real challenge, like suddenly becoming destitute or being dumped in a remote area with neither a water bottle nor GPS.

And we keep seeing this leadership class succeed in rent extraction and not much else. Go down the list: The post-crisis failure to reform the banks or even go through the motions by incarcerating a few execs and turfing out some board members. Our grossly over-priced, underperforming health care system. Our student-impoverishing higher education system. The F-35. The botched Obamacare rollout. Our Middle-East nation-breaking, which has scored geopolitical own goals like destabilizing Europe, facilitating Russia asserting itself a geopolitical power despite having an economy the size of South Korea and in the face of our economic sanctions, and making us deservedly disliked around the world. Hillary Clinton losing to of all people Donald Trump despite spending twice as much as his campaign spend because her team was enamored of Robby Mook’s models and somehow forgot about the Electoral College.

And if you believe, as Team Dem does, that every problem can be solved with better PR, the corollary is you never admit to failure, you never do post mortems, and you keep incompetents around who you allow to fail and fail again.

There’s plenty of acid commentary on Twitter, as well as not-pretty facts:

This gives an idea how much integrity the app has:

Plus of chicanery apart from the app:

And one of the real stories of the evening, the Biden Iowa wipeout, has been obscured by the voting mess, and Biden wants to keep it that way:

It still looks like Sanders won, and with the caucuses being so transparent, there’s limited room for votes being disappeared. But if that’s the case, it certainly would seem to take the air out of his victory.

The Sanders team needs to find a way, as with the Warren debate smear, to turn what out to have been a hit into a win. The best revenge is more donations, particularly from new donors. It will be a test to see how Sanders Twitter army and his fundraisers contend with this train wreck.

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  1. sd

    This is embarrassing. The head of the national Democratic Party should resign immediately. Nothing less is a joke.

    1. Louis Fyne

      Well conveniently, DNC’s Perez allegedly just received a golden parachute.

      Go search “perez golden parachute”. Don’t know full veracity of this story, so I’m counting it as very plausible rumor

    2. jrs

      And people give CA a hard time for taking time counting many millions more votes than are involved there .. bwhaha … (yea I know it’s a caucus, still).

      Politico had a hit piece on Sanders yesterday saying some are afraid he would “cheat” by calling the vote count before the votes were counted not that AP didn’t do that in CA in 2016. Well at this point everyone almost has done that in Iowa, including mayor Pete, since those votes are like going to be counted when Godot shows up. So some hit piece on Sanders that turned out to be. Afraid of cheating? Learn how to run an election.

    3. Synoia

      It’s hard to tell the difference between incompetence and malice, and as the locals in the South say “There aint no fixin stupid.”

      I read the Iowa D vote counting system was not tested. I presume because like all software systems it was delivered late.

      1. Kent

        Occam’s razor. Assume incompetence until proven otherwise. Of course if the app was designed to maliciously throw the vote to Biden or Mayor Pete, and it failed, you could actually have a whole bunch of both.

  2. CBBB

    I don’t like how Buttigieg did so well -and possibly did win. Seems like there is a solid base for this kind of candidate in the party – as you state it is the PMC party and Buttigieg is the penultimate PMC candidate. Bloomberg is the ultimate PMC candidate, and while Buttigieg probably won’t be able to ride Iowa far, it doesn’t look so great for Sanders because expectations were high, and it has me worried Bloomberg may end up being a much larger factor than I had originally thought. A Bloomberg candidacy would relegate the Democratic Party to a rump like the Whigs – which would be a good thing in the long-run. But a Bloomberg presidency would be worse than Trump.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        I wasn’t impressed that the Sanders campaign only had internal data ready for 40% of precincts. They need to have their own shadow tallying, and it needs to be 100% of precincts for every primary. Otherwise shenanigans will inevitably be deployed.

    1. jrs

      When we keep using terms like PMC don’t be surprised if there is a big base of people that relate to them. It may as well be a slightly better “deplorables”.

      The manager of a fast food place is after all an M, the manager of a chain restaurant branch, or a unit of a construction company, a Walmart branch. They don’t get their with Ivy degrees. And every white collar worker since a few decades ago have been trained to call themselves a *P*rofessional, including those at this point working contracts without health insurance or paid time off. Slightly better off “deplorables”.

      But beyond that, yes there is a base for mayor Pete’s, only echo chambers deny it, but enough of one to really win the country? I don’t know about that and he will face prejudice too and it will be a real factor. Iowa is not representative.

      And no a Bloomberg presidency would not be worse than Trump, not by a mile. I am not a Bloomberg supporter, but please. A roll of toilet paper being President would not be worse.

      1. Monty

        Pete’s base is people who want to lose for selfish financial reasons, but don’t have the stomach to personally vote for Trump.

        I expect Trump to win well over 40 states if Pete is the candidate.

        1. Ron

          That’s what the DNC hopes. They would prefer Trump over Sanders. I am beginning to think Sanders prefers Trump over Sanders, as Sanders told reporters that “it was ‘not fair’ to suggest that the procedure followed by the state party might be suspect.”

      2. JTMcPhee

        Maybe a better term for the Clintonistas and PMCs is “despicables,” to kind of balance against their condescending pejorative “deplorables.” Here’s hoping the Bernie team goes for the jugular, and has forensic people of their own to prove what actually happened.

        Will here be an Ed Snowden from inside the DNC apparatus who will (belatedly, to limited effect as the news cycle grinds) lay out the real story?

      3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        A mile? The man who gave the keynote at the 2004 *Republican* convention? Who for 12 years was the *Republican* mayor of New York? Where he infamously ran a *stop and frisk brown people* policy? The man who got so fabulously wealthy serving the needs of *hedge funds and PE firms* he would never need to pursue the objectives *of any constituency* whatsoever? Who has simply *purchased* 100% of the “support” he has? Whose most admired politician is hedge fund darling and water carrier Emmanuel Macron? *This* is the man you would prefer as president?

        I wouldn’t call that “a mile” from the current Oval Office occupant. I’d call that “functionally equivalent”.

        Nah, let’s give it instead to the CIA and hedge fund backed failed mayor of a two-bit Indiana town, who battled to win that post by getting fully *8,000* more people to vote for him.

        Buttgig’s “victory” speech last night was the tell. The fix is in, courtesy of hedge funder Seth Klarman and the cute little app, that had to do almost nothing from a software POV, that conveniently “failed”. So Buttgig did his Guiado Venezuela victory lap. Shades of Al Haig: “I’m in charge here!”.

        And it’s a test run for a failed election the the fall, if the billionaire oligarch candidate does not win the nomination the FBI will simply step in and say “Russian hackers!”. Rachel and Ellen and Oprah will sooth everyone’s nerves and tell us we live in the best of all possible worlds and those nice men at the Supreme Court will select the correct leader of our country. Again.

        1. lordkoos

          This thing with the app effectively calls into serious question both the integrity of Buttegieg’s campaign as well as the use of said app. Nevada and Texas have both apparently bought into using it. Seems like it should be banned.

      4. Prairie Bear

        In the late 70s, I got a second, part-time job at Target as a cashier. It was before barcodes had completely caught on and the price ticket on each item had a six-digit number that had to be keyed in on a 10-key pad. After a certain training period, cashiers could take a test and if attaining a certain speed and accuracy, could earn the designation “Touch-Key Professional.” That was 40 years ago, and the cheapening of meaning of the word “professional” has only gotten worse.

      5. Matt

        I still like the term “yuppies” – young urban professionals. I think that better describes Pete’s following. PMC is split between Warren and Amy (cant spell her last name-Klobuchar? – no shadow commentary, just my bad spelling). Pete benefitted from Biden’s collapse and old voters going for what they see as a young Biden.

        The Billionaire will catch more PMC, but is unlikely to inspire the yuppies. The liberals are finally divided.

      6. KiWeTO

        A roll of toilet paper will sit there, be very important when needed, and not wag the dog or seek media attention.
        That is most definitely an improvement over the incumbent.

    2. Harold

      I too am troubled by Pete’s numbers. Potential cheating is more effective when there is a near tie.

    3. christofay

      I trust Sanders’ numbers. He’s the only honest man in Washington. Buttigieg is a failed mayor of the 3rd largest city in a small state.

    4. lordkoos

      I’m having a hard time believing Mayor Pete’s numbers. Wasn’t he behind Biden just last week? Quite a surge, and then him claiming victory so quickly.

      1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

        The Independent in the UK is running an article saying that “some of the poll workers may not have familiarity using apps”. Jesus….forgive me for being from California…but how is it possible for anyone in the Democratic Party is unfamiliar with using a phone app? We are the party of tech…that’s our identity. That’s terrible for our identity.

        1. False Solace

          I remember when the Democrats were proud to be the party of labor. How far they’ve fallen if “tech” is all they have now. Don’t seem all that competent at it, either.

          1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

            That’s a sentimental view, but today’s parties are driven by where the corporate sponsorship lies, not what the voters want. What interest is it in corporate donors to have a strong labor movement? And if you don’t have corporate sponsorships, where does your party’s operational funding come from?

          2. Anonymous

            Prescient. It selects for inexperience and nepotism. Party workers are by a vast majority volunteers. Some of them are hotshot political beasts on the rise. Most are not. With the econimic pressures of austerity and precarity, it tends to favour the idle, rich, or otherwise unproductive: green liberal arts kids, bored homemakers, retirees.

            1. anonymous

              The parties welcome any help and, yes, there are many retirees. I personally am not seeing a lot of liberal arts kids or bored homemakers. We had two school teachers, one young and one middle-aged, as caucus chair and secretary at our caucus Monday, and our last precinct used to use a pair of attorneys, still working age, to run the caucus. Do you mean at the upper levels of the state party?

        2. turtle

          You may not have watched the live coverage of the caucus. It appeared that many of the precincts were being run by people in their 70s and above. Don’t expect smartphone app fluency from them.

      2. polecat

        Ahem !

        ‘failure’ in this case, the Crapified ACA … has, so far, been a rousing success !

        …… for the ‘folks’ who rolled it out of the dark, dank, dungeon of deceit.

        But yes, reminiscent in the extreme !

  3. jackiebass

    Looks like the DNC doesn’t like the results because their man, Biden, had a poor showing. The DNC will do anything to prevent Bernie or Warren from being nominated.

    1. Potted Frog

      The Establishment would be fine with Warren. She will managed as she has already been managed, e.g., morphing M4A to M4A-someday-maybe-but-no.

    2. JCC

      I heard today, on the Thom Hartmann radio show that here in California the Primary is set up with multiple pages to scroll through in the voting booth, four candidates per page. Of the eight Candidates listed for President, Warren is the only leading Candidate on Page One. Sanders is at the bottom of Page Two.

      So it looks to me like Warren is the pick of the DNC, in California anyway.

      1. turtle

        I remember reading something in the last couple of days debunking this. Apparently the order of candidate listing is randomized per district, if I recall correctly. Still doesn’t absolve them from using the digital ballot marking devices though.

      2. Lil’D

        Depends on precinct
        Names are distributed up and down evenly across the state
        Each voter in a given precinct has the same ballot
        But different precincts have different ordering
        My ballot has Bernie first, e.g.

    3. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

      “The DNC will do anything to prevent Bernie or Warren from being nominated.” A second Trump term is exactly what the Democratic Party deserves.

      1. JTMcPhee

        By the cui bono test, another Trump term is a GOOD THING for the 10% folks that rule the private club labeled “Democrats.”

        I think George Carlin used the wrong adjective to describe the oligarchy and its acolytes: It is a SMALL club, and us mopes ain’t in it.

    4. flora

      That’s my thought. They’ll do anything to keep Bernie from winning. And create enough chaos that the outcome remains in doubt, or delayed long enough to stop the normal winners media bump coming out of Iowa before New Hampshire.

      Could be incompetence, or, after Iowa running caucuses and the DRM running accurate polling for almost 40 years and suddenly failing there, too, could be coincidence, or…
      what was it Oscar Wilde wrote?…
      To lose one parent may be regarded as misfortune; to lose a second parent begins to look like carelessness.

      Pretty sure the DNC got exactly the results it wanted.

      1. Eclair

        I agree, flora. If you know you can’t win, then create chaos and uncertainty. By the time the ‘results’ are tabulated from the paper trail, no one will be paying attention. Before shouting, ‘but it’s my ball and I’m taking it home!’, kick sand in everyone’s eyes. Brilliant!

    5. WheresOurTeddy

      Warren would at worst be an incompetent Jimmy Carter type to the Oligarchy and at best be a woke female Obama who changes nothing while re-setting populist anger for an election cycle because “they let us have a woman”

      She is part of the problem and would change nothing.

      1. pretzelattack

        she isn’t jimmy carter, she would have us in foreign wars. she also wouldn’t be undermined as much by the party heirarchy as carter was, which means she would be an effective lapdog.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Interesting fact: the number of times a member of the American armed forces discharged his weapon in anger during the entire Carter presidency, anywhere in the world? Zero. Number of bombs dropped? Zero.

          1. lordkoos

            And I recall at the time that the corporate media seemed to detest Carter, correct me if I’m wrong. There were many negative pieces after his inauguration.

          2. sierra7

            Careful there!
            You forget Central America.
            Our own Ambassador White resigned because of Carter’s policies in that area.
            The murderous shots may have not been by uniformed US forces but by our surrogates.

    6. Aumua

      It sure does look bad, and the net effect is that this will completely steal Bernie’s thunder and completely gloss over Biden’s non showing. What’s really frustrating about it is that it’s kind of the perfect crime, in that it can never be proven. There are all these pieces… that will never be put together to form an actual case against the bad actors. There is also the possibility that all or part of this can truly be explained by incompetence instead of malice. I don’t think we’ll ever know, but regardless, this will be the gift that keeps on giving to those who hate Sanders.

      1. JBird4049

        The case may never be proven, but like with Jeffrey the child pimp, there is too much evidence in the open to dispute the charge of deliberate incompetence that hides corruption. All this is something nobody in the 90% likes regardless of their personal world view.

        The incompetence has become insanity. The polity now called the United States has successfully run elections since Jamestown, which is over four centuries, but Iowa has this clown show live? Going further, about our military? The airplane was invented here in 1903 and there had been a successful aviation industry since then; today we have the Boeing 737 Max (and the 777’s bad quality control) as well as the F-35 Edsel. Then we have my electric company PG&E. Google it please. If I go into the details, I will go into an insane screed.

        It feels more like collective suicide so great is the growing incompetence.

    1. flora

      The Iowa caucus is a major boost to the Iowa economy every four years. This chaos could mean its end. RIP Iowa caucus. Not something to be glib about.

      1. Tim

        Such a small (population) state shouldn’t wield such influence in the election process. I’m not shedding any tears.

        Wouldn’t it be great if California, the most populous state, was the first vote of the primaries? Why not start out with a bang? As California goes, so goes the nation. Why not apply it to the primaries? And California just moved their primary up to Super Tuesday so it isn’t out of the question for them to move it up another month.

        1. redleg

          A small state is useful as a test run for the campaign. Figure out what works and what doesn’t, make changes (or blame Russia), then scale it for bigger contests.

          I have a bigger issue with awarding large numbers of delegates in a Dem primary for a state that’s never going to vote blue in the general.

          1. Altandmain

            Iowa has historically been a swing state. In fact it was selected in part because it is a “bellweather” (or is considered to be one) for the nation.

            Whether that is still the case is open to debate.

        2. JBird4049

          California has forty million people and is being run by a corrupt, single party oligarchy morphing into a kakistocracy. I do not think having California as the first state primary would be a good thing and the same goes for states like Texas, Florida, or New York. Having a small population state is probably.

          1. flora

            But, but, Bloomberg could come in and carpetbomb the state with MSM ads and never have to meet and convince the little people in person. What’s not to like? /s

      2. Titus

        “Not something to be glib about.”, not something to mourn either. Iowa is a Republican state, doesn’t represent much in the way of democratic demographics, has what 1% of the total delegate count. Iowa is a myth that serves no purpose. Wrong state to start things out on.

        1. Harold

          Iowa is the home state of Henry A. Wallace and he is still revered there, I understand. Wallace was a republican, BTW, or started out as one.

          1. Watt4Bob

            You understand wrong;

            In fact Wallace voted for Robert LaFollette in 1924, and Al Smith in 1928.

            In December, 1947, Wallace launched a third party campaign, (which party eventually became the 1948 Progressive Party) and was supported by Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger and George McGovern among others.

            He even accepted the endorsement of the American Communist Party.

            So no, he wasn’t a Republican

            1. hoki haya

              Iowa can hardly be dismissed as a ‘Republican state’. There’s a strong Democratic tradition there, tho I’m taken aback by the current lock Republicans have on state government.

            2. Harold

              Wallace was a Republican until 1924. As I recall, from reading the bio., American Dreamer, Wallace was considered a Republican by Democrats when he joined Roosevelt’s administration and he himself liked to bring up his Republican background.

              The Wallaces were independent-minded Republicans, assiduously courted by national Party leaders. In 1921, President Warren G. Harding picked Wallace [Sr.] to be Secretary of Agriculture, and he remained in that post until his death in 1924. While the rest of the economy boomed, farmers were enduring a prolonged crisis, with surpluses accumulating and prices plunging. The elder Wallace pleaded, in vain, for government intervention, and grew disillusioned with his party’s handling of farm issues. … … After the death of his father, Wallace became a national farm authority by default. Herbert Hoover had long been a family enemy, and when F.D.R. challenged Hoover, in 1932, he turned to Wallace for guidance. The next year, Roosevelt was in the White House, and Wallace took his father’s old job at Agriculture. —Alex Ross, The New Yorker ( October 14, 2013).
              As a political candidate he was refreshingly unconventional …. And to the discomfort of traditional Democrats, he steadfastly eschewed conventional partisanship, reminding audiences of his Republican heritage and of his father’s service in the Harding and Coolidge cabinets.

              He refused to attack the Republican vice presidential candidate, McNary, beyond arguing that the McNary-Haugen approach to farm aid was a thing of the past.–Culver & Hyde, American Dreamer, pp. 239-40.

              1. Michael Fiorillo

                Well, they were the US surrogates – though emerging from the Left wing of the Socialist Party here at home – of the Soviet Union, our ally that with some material help from us defeated the Nazis.

          2. Randy G

            Wallace was also the 33rd vice President of the United States under FDR. He was removed by powerful Democratic Party insiders at the last FDR presidential convention — replaced by Truman — as Wallace was considered too dangerously ‘progressive’ and peace loving to be allowed on the ticket again.

            Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick render a fascinating ‘what if’ discussion of Wallace in their ‘Untold History of the United States’ (both a 12-hour documentary and a book).

      3. turtle

        Yes, the anchors and commentators on the live news coverage last night were already saying that this likely means the end of the Iowa caucus. I hope they switch to ranked-choice voting instead.

      4. Prairie Bear

        Iowa born and bred and still live here, and I’m not supposed to feel this way, but I agree, good riddance. There was a time when I felt I could make some good arguments for the pro side of having them, even if there were always some cons. No more. Whether this was incompetence, deliberate rat-[family blog]ery, or both, it’s an embarrassment and inexcusable. Having Steve King was bad enough, even if I could truthfully say, “I can’t help it; I don’t live in his district.” But this …

    1. voteforno6

      Weirder things can happen…like Donald Trump being elected President in the first place.

      People are acting like he’s some sort of colossus. He is, after all, the guy who still finished several million votes behind an extremely inept and disliked candidate. If this was truly a democracy, he wouldn’t have won.

      There’s a long way to go to November. It doesn’t look like this app is going to be used anywhere else, except perhaps Nevada (hopefully they’re rethinking that decision). Of course, we don’t know what other surprises may be lurking. My hope is that election officials in other states are having a good look at their processes, and will try to avoid some of the chaos from last night.

      1. tegnost

        It’s a democratic republic and that worked pretty well once in a while. Don’t forget that “the chaos last night” was designed and run by the purportedly competent people who were supposedly cheated out of winning in 2016. It’s an indictment of the elite dems. All of them.
        This won’t end well, especially if the dem establishment gets their cipher through. We don’t need two right wing parties who maintain power through control fraud.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Seems to me pretty clear that the people who run the Democratic Party have been very competent and cutting the legs out from under anyone who seeks to provide concrete material benefits of general applicability to the people who make the real wealth that undergirds the “full faith and credit” of this oligarchy.

          There is no way to maintain that the US is a “democratic republic.” It’s been an oligarchy since pretty much the beginning. As in Electoral College, and check out the language of Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 of Article II of the Rich White Guys’ Constitution.

        1. jrs

          had the Fed pump money into the stock market, eventually pump and dump but the rubes don’t know it yea, not that most of them own stocks, but they think it means something that “the stock market is doing well”.

      2. John Wright

        Re: “He is, after all, the guy who still finished several million votes behind an extremely inept and disliked candidate. If this was truly a democracy, he wouldn’t have won.”

        If one takes away the vote totals from California, Trump won the cumulative popular vote totals in the other 49 states.


        “If you take California out of the popular vote equation, then Trump wins the rest of the country by 1.4 million votes”

        HRC and the DNC knew that the Electoral College counts were the determining factor,(certainly from Bush Jr’s 2000 election), so running up the popular vote count in CA would not help in the Electoral College.

        HRC and DNC complaints about the 2016 results, should cause one to question their fundamental understanding of US political processes.

    2. Michael Fiorillo

      Yes, it is, but the #McResistance TM is fine with that, just as long as a Sanders is kept from the nomination.

  4. kimyo

    california is less than a month away. if bernie is serious, he should alert his supporters that they need to check their voter registration status. if he fails to do this (again!) he cannot possibly be serious about contesting this race.

    the registration deadline is 2/18.

    Stealing California from Bernie — again?
    Palast with KPFA’s Sabrina Jacobs

    Well, you know what? I’ll bet you that your name is not going to be there because there’s a 45% chance in California when you sign up to register to vote on a piece of paper, your name is never entered on the voter rolls.

    If you want to vote in the Democratic primary, go online to the Secretary of State’s office. Make sure you’re registered — and make sure you are registered as a Democrat. I’m not saying you should be a Democrat. I’m just saying if you want to vote in the Democratic primary, forget the urban myth that you can vote in the Democratic primary if you’re not registered as a Democrat.

    1. JBird4049

      I just checked and somehow I am not registered at the state level, but I am at the county level, which is interesting. The county just installed a new voting system. Joy.

      1. Carey

        My mail-in ballot arrived today (CA), but my name is not as it was on my
        re-registration form that I previously sent in.


        1. JBird4049

          Is “Shadow” also doing “some coding mistakes” as well?


          More seriously, I did a screenshot of my county’s registration of me. I don’t know if it will do any good, but if the nice people at the polls can’t find me again I can show them the shot and raise hell at the registrar. I am not going to have my registration missing again.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Seriously, if this happened in Venezuela… or Greece… or Indonesia…. or Iran…. there would be worldwide mockery along with ‘well what do you expect?’ comments.

    This goes beyond satire. The only question is whether it is staggering incompetence, or if this was deliberately orchestrated to take the wind out of Sanders sails. I hope his campaign is completely on message to use this to their advantage.

    1. voteforno6

      I go with the first choice. The people running the Democratic Party are too inept to do something like this on purpose. This certainly does provide Sanders with even more ammunition, regardless. All he has to do is point at Iowa and say something like, “The grifters who caused this mess are the ones that are fighting my campaign.” And so on…

      1. 1 Kings

        Hey Rip Van, where have you been.the last 30 years. It’s the second choice, obviously. Incompetence is carefully orchestrated by the DNC. Bernie goes against everything they have been fighting for.(cash grabs).Hence, they will do any, every possible trick to stop him.

        1. Dirk77

          Having seen incompetence in DC firsthand – and in software too – I wouldn’t be too sure. All authority and no accountability must lead to a fiasco like this eventually. Imagine if the coronavirus had broken out in the USA. That said, I’ve heard about horrible Obamacare software from red states. So you could conclude that was sabotage. Yet, I tried out the Obamacare software in California – definitely blue – in 2013 and found it worthless too.

          1. campbeln

            CoveredCA is trash put together by Accenture for $500 Billion plus another $500 Billion for support. I was on a system in Australia that built a similar system for their FAA (CASA). Ours worked and cost just over $5 million dollarydoos. Pathetic.

    2. Woodchuck

      I still believe in don’t attribute to evil what can be easily explained by incompetence.

      It’s so easy to see this as being just big incompetence from party elite and their contacts trying to profit from the election and not really knowing what they’re doing.

      But it certainly looks aweful.

      1. rd

        Successful conspiracies require smart people who can organize and function effectively in secret.

        This is actually quite difficult to do and those people are in relatively short supply.

        Incompetence and inattention are much more prevalent and are usually the Occam’s Razor answer.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I would suggest that, far from requiring “smart people organizing and functioning in secret, who are in short supply”, this required a very small number of very average people doing something very simple, with very little attention to secrecy required.

          1 week before, Des Moines Register poll showing the incorrect choice leading. Simple: cancel the poll.

          The night of, results come in with incorrect choice leading. Simple: break the app. Buttgig gives his victory speech, Bernie misses giving his, Biden lives to “fight” another day, and billionaire-in-waiting Bloomberg gets to point to a party emergency requiring short Jewish Republican software oligarch to step in.

      2. False Solace

        Why not both? as Lambert would say. I think the evidence shows they’re both malicious and incompetent.

      3. Aumua

        As I said above we will unfortunately never know how much was incompetence and how much was malice, and that is what’s so maddeningly frustrating.

      4. Turing Test

        Because evil would never masquerade as mere incompetance?

        For my part I suspect that many of those who are dismissive of covert agendas do so because they find the potential implications too disturbing to contemplate.

    3. Skip Intro

      But it just worked in Bolivia, and it worked in Florida in 2000.

      But this is the DNC stepping on a rake. Tom Perez and Robby Mook must be the poster children for this failure, and Tio Tom must be forced out. That will be the win here.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I hope that’s a premonition. Littlefinger did get caught out and wound up dead as a result, but it took a while.

      Politically dead in this case would more than suffice.

  6. New Wafer Army

    Normally I would err on the side of caution (i.e. never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.) However, the coincidental links between Sneaky Pete, the app maker and Pete’s actions are just too strong. Declaring victory in the midst of a classical FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) situation is such an intel agency move. Sometimes a weasely-looking creature is a weasel.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      More like the kind of thing that happens in the midst of an old fashioned coup d’etat, for which spookdom has how-to manuals (Edward Luttwak wrote one). Coinkeedink?

      That’s why the radio broadcasting studio and the telephone exchange are usually the loci of fierce fighting. Whomever can repeat their particular Big Lies most loudly to the most fence-sitters wins….

        1. John Wright

          I remember a letter to the editor in the LA Times after Bush Jr. was first elected, so this was from early 2000.

          Per my recollection, the writer wrote of President Bush Jr:

          “On the teleprompter, he stops at the end of the line, not the period”

          “Is he in over his head? Yes”

          Truly an early warning of future problems with Bush Jr.’s leadership.

          Apparently Bush eventually improved at teleprompter usage.

  7. The Rev Kev

    I literally have no idea what people are talking about here. The Iowa caucus was a tremendous success – for the DNC that is. Let’s go down the checklist-

    Did all the contractors, consultants and party hacks all get their pay? Check!

    Will anybody be fired or sanctioned over the DNC’s performance here? C’mon man.

    Was Bernie denied a boost in the polls with an outright win in Iowa and a prime time speech? Check!

    Was Biden saved from going down in flames due to a poor showing? Check!

    See? it does not matter if America was humiliated in front of the world over this. The right people still got paid and will keep their jobs. And if the right people are still making the big money, can you call it incompetence? It’s all about spreading FUD – Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt – and it has done that in spades.

      1. Which is worse - bankers or terrorists

        Tell me why the Democratic Party shouldn’t split this election like the Republicans did in 1860. The GOP won when they did it.

    1. jhallc

      If Bernie had given a speech last night the networks would have just showed an empty podium, waiting for Mayor Pete to show up.

      1. chuckster

        Bernie did give a speech last night. It was kinda dull and uninspiring. Bernie’s people need to give him some down time before he shows up on national TV.

        1. aletheia33

          not my experience watching it.
          he is always very down to earth.
          many do not understand how powerfully reassuring and encouraging that can be, especially maybe to a smallish group of exhausted organizers.
          the work they do may count for more in this election than any soaring rhetoric on national tv.
          and i wish everyone here could see the two small smiles he permitted himself, right before the end.

    2. Dwight

      I think you’re right. The destruction of the Middle East and creation of chaos is similarly a great success for some.

  8. Howard

    Sen. Sanders should use this opportunity to change the debate by announcing legislation called the Reclaim Democracy Act. The legislation will mandate paper ballots counted in public. All voting in states will take place during the weekend and Monday shall be a holiday to count votes. The bill will be cosponsored by AOC, etc…

    Please add and revise NC commentariat.

    Go Bernie

    1. Robert Gray

      > All voting in states will take place during the weekend…

      Never happen. Whether you tried it on Saturday or Sunday, there would be too many influential people / groups for whom an election would be considered profaning the sabbath (the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment notwithstanding).

      1. turtle

        I like the full weekend idea and hadn’t thought of it before as a solution to the problem you outlined. I don’t think any religion claims both Saturday AND Sunday as a “reserve” day? If there is, perhaps all workers who currently only get one day off should join it.

    2. Olivier

      Capital idea! But can Congress really mandate that? Isn’t organizing elections in the US a state prerogative?

      1. turtle

        Yes, but the federal government has many ways to twist states’ arms. See the drinking age, highway speed limits, Real ID, etc.

    3. Olivier

      “The legislation will mandate paper ballots counted in public.” Capital idea. But can Congress really mandate that: isn’t organizing elections a state prerogative?

      1. LarryB

        Yes, they can:

        1: The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

    4. HotFlash

      Why not just declare voting day a holiday? Or half-holiday? Could do it state-by-state to allow for differing dates and multiple elections (primaries, generals, by-elections). Here in Canada, employers are *required* to give employees 4 hours off to vote (not paid, but not penalized either). What a concept! We still manage to elect malignant idiots, but at least we don’t have to try and vote after work, and we have good healthcare.

      1. jrs

        I think employers are required to give 2 hours off, of course that could just be California for all I know. The problem with paid holidays and many other benefits though is it excludes vast parts of the workforce that aren’t full time employees (like contract workers), that’s how it is with paid holidays in the U.S. in general, why would anyone believe it would be any different for voting?

  9. ptb

    This is just mindnumbingly dysfunctional.

    Ok so they botched the app. Whatev. It’s a single page printed form for each precinct, public info at that. Take a pic and email it in.

    Enter into spreadsheet, exactly as in previous years and decades. How could they not have they not figured this out in the first hour?

    1500 rows of data, it should be child’s play.

    1. Clive

      A lesson, from a lifetime observing bureaucracies at close range both personally and professionally, is that when complexity is introduced apparently without any particular reason for it being there, the purpose is all-too-often to discourage people from trying to get outcomes they legitimately expect to receive by, to use a technical term, gumming up the works.

      As you say, 1500 counts. That would require, say, a team of 50 DNC staff to make 30 phone calls to the nominated points of contact (precinct secretaries or deputies) over a maybe two to three hour period. Or, in reverse, if the precinct secretaries are told to call in, rather than the DNC doing outbound calling, the same sized team would need to achieve an average call handling time (“AHT” as it’s referred to in the trade) of about 5 minutes to keep the call queue reasonable (assuming a fairly constant calling pattern, you might have to wait 2 -3 minutes). The theory and practice on this stuff goes back literally a hundred years. It is incredibly well understood.

      And yet, suddenly, apparently we need an app for that? Created from scratch? Because the DNC can’t afford to get 50 temps in for a few days to field the calls?


      1. Dirk77

        That seems reasonable. Yet, I went to a Nats game in DC last year. I came from work so brought my backpack. But the Nats changed the policy to not allow backpacks bc terrorism. They had a special tent where you could store your gear. It was a half mile walk. I get there and see the lockers. Ok. But you need a web app on your phone to operate the lockers. WTF? On my iPhone I needed my apple password to download the app. Which I had at home bc I’m not a hipster. Etc etc. The solution was to talk with the attendant and have her open my locker when I left the game early so she’d not be busy.

    2. Montanamaven

      I was a precinct rep for Edwards in Iowa in 2004 and 2008. First time was in a farmhouse in Western Iowa. About 25 people. Only Kerry and Edwards were viable. Kucinich people went with Edwards. Their captain called in the delegate count. I think it was 2. I jumped in the car to get back to Des Moines to the party. It was about an hour drive. By the time I got there all the votes had been tabulated and announced. I missed Edwards as he and his peeps were on their way to New Hampshire. There weren’t many snacks left. In 2008 I was at a Des Moines Caucus. Many more people. Probably 200. They caucused. After the first round, only Obama, Edwards and Clinton were viable. The nonviable delegates split and went to the separate rooms. Reported the numbers. By the time I got back to the hotel; again, the party was almost over and I grabbed a a piece of pizza. Drank, Commiserated and went upstairs to pack. All done by 9 to 10PM.

      1. montanamaven

        Having said all this, I did hear a lot of grumblings about the Iowa Democratic Party. And having been a County Chair in Montana, there are a lot of shenanigans in state parties. Most are perfectly legal but pretty conniving, shaming, or outright intimidating.
        Then there is always the inherent problems in people coming to a caucus. Introverts have a tendency to stay away. Those that do, experience a lot of badgering. It’s not always the cookies and hot cider parties that people are told about. (There are cookies, but it can get unneighborly).
        It will be interesting to hear Laura Belin (’s take on this once we find out the results. They tried to correct some of the shenanigans, but, hey, this is politics and these are politicians. It would be wise to remember this.

        1. Mark Gisleson

          I like her reporting even though she’s somewhat limited in her views. I suspect she’s going to have to say some critical things at some point soon.

    3. rd

      Listening to some interviews this morning, it sounds like the app was actually working fine for people who had actually downloaded the app ahead of time, done the training, and practiced.

      The problems seemed to be the people who did not download the app ahead of time and practice with it.

      The big failure appears to be the assumption of the Iowa Democrats that the app would resolve everything and they provided inadequate phone lines and staffing of the phone lines to receive phone in results. Apparently, they did not look at their demographic studies indicating that many of the the caucus chairs tended to be baby boomers that weren’t necessarily interested in being particularly tech savvy…..

      1. ptb

        The boomers can usually manage to take a pic of the grandkids just fine, which is literally the only technological act needed to make this work.

        Blaming the users is no excuse. No existing problem was being solved, the previous transmission system worked. (and reporting multiple sets of numbers has nothing to do with it either). The purpose of the “tech” upgrade job was just a way to kick back money to state/national party cronies.

      2. flora

        Not exactly what’s reported, from The Hill:

        ““As part of our investigation, we determined with certainty that the underlying data collected via the app was sound,” he continued. “While the app was recording data accurately, it was reporting out only partial data. We have determined that this was due to a coding issue in the reporting system.”

        (my emphasis)

    4. Oregoncharles

      Does anybody think this is really incompetence? Have they reported numbers yet, aside from Bernie’s own campaign, and only 60% of precincts?

      This is what happens when they’re changing the outcome. With those paper cards, it’s going to be really hard to fake it convincing. I’d be watching for paper fires.

      Personally, and a bit ruthlessly, I think it’s hilarious.

  10. Pavel

    In the UK one can watch election board workers hand count paper ballots and have them checked, and announce the results in hours. This is done across the entirety of Great Britain with tens of millions of voters.

    In Iowa, self-proclaimed beacon of the democratic process, they can’t manage to count 250,000 or so votes in a few hours? Granted, the caucus process is more complex than a simple paper ballot, but not that much more so.

    As an Aussie friend used to say, “they couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery”.

    And needless to say, this business with the “Shadow” company will add flames to all the conspiracy theories… with good reason.

    Christ what a fustercluck. As noted above, at least Sanders will get a donation bounce albeit without the media bounce he deserved.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Re: ” at least Sanders will get a donation bounce”

      I went to sleep in the wee hours a bit less angry having made a contribution at the page.

      Am still angry, and now it’s on to the AOC leadership PAC.

      Perhaps the Partygarchy will learn to be afraid of riling progressives.

    2. montanamaven

      Montana uses paper ballots. At least my county still does. Works fine. Church and ranch ladies do the counting. No cheatin’.

  11. Lina

    They want Biden to win. He didn’t. Bernie probably won which pissed everyone in dem party off. Ergo, no results.

    This country and this process makes me sick.

  12. anonymous

    I know I’m in the minority here, but I don’t think that the Iowa Democratic Party was trying to bury a Sanders win. I doubt that the phone backup was understaffed deliberately. The caucus process requires a lot of labor, and the party depends on volunteers. For Iowa to lose its first-in-the-nation status would be a loss for the Iowa Democratic Party; the local elected officials and party insiders make connections and get a lot of press as the candidates come to woo them for endorsements. It would be against their own interests to make the caucuses a fiasco and be forced to give that up. I’m willing to entertain that the app was poorly designed deliberately by those with ties to the national party, but I would need more information before making accusations.

    This is probably going to be the first time that the results are accurate, even if they are delayed. Doing an accurate head count on crowds is almost impossible. People are told to stay put, but they shift around to talk, sit down, or get something, and then the count gets confused and starts over, repeat until the crowd is too restless to get it any better. We now have paper presidential preference cards! With so many candidates and more than 1700 individual precincts and satellites, there are just a lot of individual counts and a lot of math that needs to be checked, plus all the paper needs to be delivered to the party. Because of the paper cards, the inconsistencies can be corrected. As for the unfairness in how the delegates can break, that has long been built into the system, and some candidates, such as Obama in 2008, know how to use it to advantage.

    I am no fan of the DNC, DSCC, or DCCC, and I have never worked for the democratic party itself; I have only been a volunteer for particular candidates. Defending the IDP is a strange position for me.

    1. Carey

      Just checking, and without snark- but are you the same ‘anonymous’ who said it was all
      going to go just fine in the Iowa Caucuses, the other day, after this ‘app’ was revealed?

      Pretty sure my response ATT was something like: “We’ll see”, and now we have.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Anonymous has had many excellent comments about this. The bottom line on the app going into last night was:

        If they use it to cheat, it will blow up in their faces.

        They appeared to have done just that, and it blew up in their faces.

        Bernie didn’t just win the Caucuses last night, he won the nomination. He forced them to pull out all the stops in the first contest, then caught them red-handed.

        The news cycle will never catch up to Bernie because he’s already moved on to NH.

        They got caught and now everyone will be watching them, and the lying liars in the lying media who spent last night lying about everything that was happening while focusing on Potemkin Caucuses that were out of step with the rest of the state. (Even in DM there were sites saying that only two candidates got delegates last night, the usual result as opposed to the crazy splits the media highlighted)

        1. Elizabeth

          I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the DM Register poll was squelched (first time in 75 years!) and now the caucus results are delayed because of an app. I caucused for Bernie last night and he had the most supporters of any other group – in fact a few Warren, Yang and Klobuchar supporters came over to align with Bernie. It’s just one precinct, but why in the hell does the party need an “app” in the first place? I think it’s just to give cover to rigging an election. It’s just all so blatantly obvious what’s going on.

      2. anonymous

        Yes. I should pick a real name. We will get solid results because of the paper trail. The phones didn’t work as they should have, but there is still a backup with the preference cards and paper forms. I am sorry for the candidates who didn’t get the publicity they expected last night, but I think the results will be more accurate than they have been in the past, and the greater transparency will allow everyone to have confidence in the outcome. I don’t believe I ever said that the app would work, just that it wouldn’t be a problem. I don’t view this delay as such a big deal.

          1. Late Introvert

            At my caucus in Iowa City it was very well run, they did a great job of counting everyone, AND we all signed paper ballots. The state party probably didn’t like how bad Biden was doing and wanted to stiff Bernie or Warren’s victory speech, that’s my theory. Or Pete’s app was a hack, maybe both things are true.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Everybody else thinks they’re busy rigging the results, and using the delay as a cover – because that’s the pattern, even internationally.

          In a way, I think you’re right: they aren’t incompetent.

        2. Carey

          >I don’t view this delay as such a big deal.

          Interesting POV, one with which I firmly disagree. Cui bono?

            1. bob

              FWIW- local advance media newspaper homepage has NOTHING on the Iowa Primary last night.


              All the cool kids agree- nothing to see here

            2. anonymous

              I am surprised that we still don’t have the full results, but I’ve had CNN on a lot of the day, and as soon as some numbers became available, there has been continous reporting on Biden’s poor performance, Sanders’s leading the raw vote counts, and Buttigieg’s narrowly leading the delegate count. The only interruption in the caucus coverage was for the SOTU. I think there is still enough media coverage to affect the narrative going forward, and you disagree, but I truly am not a troll or affiliated with the Democratic party. I have been to caucuses at which I had no confidence in the accuracy of the head count and much prefer the paper cards and the release of more data, even if that means there will be a reporting delay. I did not anticipate that the phone system would be ovewhelmed if the app failed.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                This is again disingenuous and in no way disproves what Nate Silver said.

                I have been getting news alerts via e-mail from The Hill, the Wall Street Journal, and other sources. All day, the headlines have been “Buttigieg and Sanders lead in Iowa” with Buttigieg listed first in all, sending the message that he is #1. Only now, after midnight, does the WSJ have as its lead story for tomorrow, “Sanders and Buttigieg Take Lead in Iowa Caucuses” now that the count is up to 75%.

                1. vlade

                  Even Guardian in the UK reports “Pete Buttigieg holds early lead in Iowa caucuses after chaos over results”

                  which tells you that “man on the street” message is “Buttigieg wins Iowa”. I’m sure that if you ask someone in a week who won Iowa, it will be Mayor Pete, even if Sanders wins in the end (unless he wins by a massive margin, which looks unlikely now).

                  Still, warms my cockles for the anglosaxon democracy, that the good old voting system of “it’s not who gets the most votes, it’s how we count them” wins.

                  1. bob

                    It’s rattery.

                    When Bernie is finally announced as a winner. the majority of people not paying attention will freely associate “it was rigged” to “Bernie won”

                    Bernie is now in the position where he has to defend the results of an election that he knows was rigged.

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      I agree with what you’re saying, but I’m not ruling anything out. Here’s where I think the tell will be:
      “For Iowa to lose its first-in-the-nation status would be a loss for the Iowa Democratic Party; the local elected officials and party insiders make connections and get a lot of press as the candidates come to woo them for endorsements. It would be against their own interests to make the caucuses a fiasco and be forced to give that up.”
      If nothing changes and Iowa stays first, believe that this was all part of the game, or at the very least, a happy accident. There’s no way they’d risk that as it’s all they have.

    3. chuck roast

      You may call yourself anonymous my friend, but the incomparable Italians know who you really are…sguardo innocente.

  13. Wyoming

    The material we provide that is going to waste: Shakespeare was born before his time.

    And think what gnashing of teeth and rending of hair is going to be happening come the morning of Nov 4th.

    This is just the first Act and I am pretty sure we have seen almost nothing yet….

  14. urblintz

    I’m sure everyone knows the following quote but it seems appropriate to post it again:

    “The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”
    ― Frank Zappa

      1. Dan

        And just for good measure:

        “Government is the entertainment division of the military industrial complex.”

    1. lyman alpha blob

      He also said ‘the meek shall inherit nothing’ so somebody in the Sanders campaign needs to raise some hell about this, and very publicly.

  15. Ook

    The guy who got hung up on, I’m not surprised. You can clearly hear when the line is picked up, and the idiot ignores this and keeps talking to CNN for about 13 seconds. Of course they hang up.

    1. Woodchuck

      I have to say, after watching the clip, I can understand why this happened. It might look bad, but knowing they had full lines with everyone trying to call in, what was the person on the phone supposed to do when she asked 3-4 times hello? and nobody answered? Least he could have done was say “one second I’m on air” and they wouldn’t have hung up on him…

    2. JTee

      Agreed. He ignored the callee picking up the line. It was more important to keep chatting with CNN. I would have hung up on him too.

      1. Greg

        For bonus points, it’s the same dipsh*t who posted his results on twitter, after paying more attention to CNN than to doing his job. I call attention seeking behaviour.

    3. Basil Pesto

      yeah this was my reaction when I saw the clip. As soon as the phone answered and he didn’t acknowledge I was like “dude, talk to her not CNN” and he just… didn’t.

    4. teacup

      Yeah, I happened to see that live and I couldn’t believe it – my instincts screaming it was a part of the script. What a shit-show. Creative sabotage masquerading as incompetence.

  16. Lunker Walleye

    I caucused last night. Although our Bernie group was not viable, everything ran smoothly. I left after the second round when we found out we did not have enough people for Bernie. Our precinct never promotes a left candidate. Amy, Warren and Pete were all viable on the first round. Yang was not viable when I left and Biden barely was viable on the second round. The problem is not with the people.

    1. Woodchuck

      I honestly don’t think ANYBODY thinks the problem is with the people.

      It clearly lies with the dem party elites who, willingly or through sheer incompetence, managed to butcher a process that was done for generations and was fully functional, and EVEN if the app bugged out, it should have been a matter of a few hours at worse to get the results in through phone/photo/email/whatever.

      The fact that this couldn’t be done really makes it hard to stay away from the willingness of it, but I’m still on the side of incompetence unless further incriminating details come in.

    2. Big River Bandido

      The DNC rules mandated that the process that “has been done for generations and was fully functional” be changed. Iowa Democrats went from having to report only the delegate counts now had to report three counts. Of course there are going to be bottlenecks…

      1. anonymous

        Was it fully functional? Do we feel secure that Bernie really lost 2016 by .2%, or could that difference have been within the margin of error expected in trying to count crowds, with no paper trail for a recount?

        1. JBird4049

          Personally, I believe Bernie Sanders won California, which means that he probably would be president right now. We’ll see what happens with Iowa the next series of primaries. Anymore “coding errors” or supposed mistakes and I will be looking for the nearest demonstration and looking for the Democratic Party to become the Whigs. Canvas, vote, donate, write. Whatever it takes.

  17. KLG

    Iowa is an insult to banana republics everywhere. And such nice people, too.

    I knew going to bed last night without looking was the right choice.

  18. human

    What all is not being voiced here is that this is not anything like a regulated, overseen, public election (which, in the US, remains controversial), but, the process of a private corporate board to extend its’ influence. The boards’ decision is final.

  19. DJG

    Elite incompetence: Iowa as symptom. Let’s take this to a big cultural level and think about how diminished our expectations as U.S. citizens have become:

    One of the most important efforts of the elites has been to buffer themselves from accountability. This traditionally was done in the U S of A by offering jobs only to the right kind of people, like Aldritch Ames. We still see this kind of “right person” hiring / promoting in the case of Big Jim Comey, protector of democracy and earnest bloviator. There are more limited liablity companies than ever, many parked in the off-shore tax haven called Delaware.

    Software and platforms are now used in the U S of A, in particular, as ways of avoiding accountability and engagement. We collectively see this all the time, and we are now habituated to it. Notice Lambert Strether’s mention of the ObamaCare roll-out–it was all going to be as easy as Etsy, except that Etsy is more accountable than the Health Care Insurance Automatic Marketplace (five words of fantasy) has been. Try finding the physical address of a company by using its web site: Location is now information well hidden.

    Companies like Uber, Airbnb, WeWork, and such aren’t just platforms: They are also in the business of being scofflaws, tax evaders, abusers of workers, and eliminators of safety regulations. Yet they are also set up so that everyone involved in a transaction is hard to trace and hard to hold accountable. Convenience is everything (although Yves Smith’s posting this morning about the control of the coronavirus points out how filthy touch-screens are: Convenience may be deadly.)

    I am seeing a certain erosion at the level of individuals. At my day job, I have been complaining about Google Docs, which are collectively edited. My colleagues have a tendency to dump documents into Google Docs and abandon them there. No accountability. No tracking. No version control.

    So now you have the Iowa caucuses as one big Google Docs mess. No accountability. No tracking. No version control. No paper ballots. Convenience is deadly. But brunch will be served!

    1. Ted

      If by elites we mean the entire managerial and professional classes and the institutions that employ them, then I agree with you. I work for a small liberal arts college in Southern California and for two decades the institution has rewarded its senior administrators and faculty with lavish pay raises, new fancier sounding corporate job titles (like Senior VP of HR and Risk Management … what is that?), and in return we have had nothing but one cockup after another. Most recently they hired an “idea man” as a new dean who the set about making a mess of just about everything that wasn’t already a mess before. Meanwhile the much lower paid staff try and keep things from completely collapsing, but the Idea Man’s resume building (deans all want to be presidents some day after all) is taxing their abilities to keep up. Given Yves’ list of other colossal business and government failures, I think we are in the late stages of institutional collapse that is society wide in the US, and possibly a feature of at least much of the Anglo-American world. These highly visible events are just symptoms of vast institutional wreckage that is scattered about everywhere where bureaucratic systems have lost all connection to disciplining forces beyond the institution itself.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        There have been signposts along the way for me:

        1) The Challenger explosion that touched on many if not all the aspects of corruption and manipulation of the public that has drug us down to this point; and

        2) The blackout at the 49-ers/Ravens Super Bowl a few years back. When your bread and circuses don’t even work anymore…

        Now every day that passes to the next without an accidental nuclear war, a chemical spill that forces me to evacuate or an admission that some WarBug has escaped to create an apocalyptic pandemic is a good day and a bit of a surprise.

    2. Late Introvert

      “No paper ballots.”

      We all had paper ballots with our name, address, signature and preferred candidate. The ballots were numbered and tracked. The ballots were collected. Get your facts straight.

  20. Michael C.

    Tell me what democracy looks like!

    This is what…errrr…I’ll get back to you. Seems we have a glitch.

  21. Winston Smith

    Hmmm….and this is the party concerned with election interference by foreign actors? Rick Wilson wasn’t kidding when he declared Dems inept at politics

  22. mrsyk

    It occurs to me that the idea behind a deliberately flawed tabulation app would be to sabotage the caucus as a process. The idea here being if you’re stuck with Iowa as “First in the Nation”, and the process of caucuses are a bit to transparent to rig, then let’s embarrass Iowa nationally with a big fail. I await the punditry choir calling for abandoning caucuses in favor of a traditional vote.

    1. cuibono

      This. And lots of paid hacks jumped on that IMMEDIATELY as the SOLUTION on twitter last night. Almost as if they were prepared to do so

    2. flora

      +1. adding: if a big state becomes first in the nation to vote (if they can get rid of Iowa, they’ll get rid of N.H. next) it’s easier for a rich candidate, say a billionaire mayor from some large city, to come in and carpetbomb the big state with MSM advertising and ignore the meet-the-little-people part of campaigning. Or outright buy his way onto the debate stage. imo.

  23. Jason Boxman

    It’s truly amazing that, however bleak the future may seem, the elites running the Democrat Party find a way to expand upon that bleakness. And today is only Tuesday.

  24. Olivier

    Maybe stupid question from a non.american: could Bernie cut the ties with the democratic party and go it alone? His funding efforts are going well, I believe, and surely that’s not thanks to the DNC. What does he gain from sticking with this bunch of malicious incompetents?

    1. Pelham

      As an American, I think you raise a valid point. The knock on Sanders from many of his supporters is that he’s not being tough enough resisting the now all-too-obvious and widespread hatred spouted and practiced by the Democrats and mainstream media.

      But to get tough, I submit, he would need go the third-party route, which I’m probably alone in maintaining would be worth it even if it ends up with the re-election of Trump. For one thing, none of the other candidates are really serious about either of our two pressing problems — climate change and medical care. So short of electing Bernie, which the Dems will not let happen within the party, we’re screwed.

      The best possible outcome would be a highly improbable Sanders win on a third-party ticket in November. And, given the lousy alternatives the Dems prefer, the second-best outcome would be the re-election of Trump, a result that would really, REALLY upset the political apple cart and possibly clear the way for a more enlightened political realignment.

      1. steve

        But think of the prize if Sanders does win, the Democratic Party. You slay an enemy and gain an army.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Bernie would gain nominal control of an organization entirely designed, built, funded and maintained by people who oppose his entire political program.

          It’s an army all right, an army arrayed against everything he’s fighting for.

          1. Joe Well

            There are thousands of local party organizations that are far removed from the DNC, and are not particularly ideological.

            If Bernie can decapitate the DNC, and Perez is so incompetent it probably won’t be hard to do so, those local parties will fall into line, while on the other hand, recreating all those thousands of local parties would be hard.

            You need people who are serious about doing the drudge work of politics consistently for years and unfortunately I don’t think that describes most Berners.

            The bigger challenge would be the state parties, which can be fabulously cronyistic and sometimes maybe even legally corrupt.

    2. Big River Bandido

      Ballot placement is awarded at the state and not federal level. In all the state legislatures the Republicans and Democrats collude to write laws making independent challengers a near-impossibility. A truly “independent” candidate has no shot at election.

      1. flora

        +1. Ralph Nader has some good utube videos about how both parties colluded to keep a strong looking Green Party off state ballots when he was running.

      2. Oregoncharles

        This is an important problem, but only partly true. The big hurdle is ballot access. In 2016, Jill Stein gained ballot access in all but a few states; enough that she could have won enough EC votes. Most states make it difficult but not impossible. A few are all but impossible, basically because they require so many signatures in a prohibitively short time frame. In Georgia, the Greens went to court and got a judgement that that law was unconstitutional. With enough money, the same could be done in the other states.

        But to the point of Bernie’s campaign: He had more than enough people organized to gain ballot access, even in the most difficult states. And to run aggressive campaigns. And a 3-way race lowers the bar quite a lot, as Clinton exemplified.

        I’ve been fighting this battle for a long time now, and I’m convinced that the most important barrier is not legal, but psychological, perfectly exemplified by Bandido. It’s a classic self-fulfilling prophecy: new parties “can’t win” because so many people are convinced they can’t win and therefore won’t vote or work for them. Don’t know about you, but I was indoctrinated in school about how wonderful the “2 party system” was, somehow the key to US “democracy.” In reality, it’s a trap, but that’s a hard climb to get to.

        Unless we can overcome that psychology, we’re basically waiting for the 2-Party to collapse, leaving room for new approaches. Many components of that collapse are already in place; today’s hilarious (sorry; I just don’t have much sympathy) failure in Iowa is just one example. The collapse in affiliation #’s is a bigger factor. But we have no clue when it might happen. It seems to be one of those slow, long-drawn out disasters. And no telling who will benefit.

    3. dcblogger

      this is not an option. it is a question of ballot access and lack of party infrastructure. Bernie could have run as an independent in 2016, he decided to run as a Democrat because you have to to be viable.

      1. George Phillies

        In 2016, Bernie had but to ask for the Green nomination to receive it, in most though not all states.

        1. Dan

          I imagine Bernie’s campaign went through all the possible scenarios going forward if they decided to go Green (or some other third party). And I imagine they came to realize that if they truly want to build a movement that will sustain itself going forward, it has to be done through the Democratic Party, at least initially.

          In other words, I don’t think we’d be seeing nearly the level of turnout and excitement surrounding this campaign if Bernie had gone Green in 2016. Also, it would be much easier for the media to ignore him if he were a Green or independent candidate. By staying in the two-party fold, he’s forcing the system to show the world how corrupt it is. That may well be by design of the campaign as well.

          I think there will come a time for a different party. Hell, it’s hard to see the Democrats being at all viable going forward. But I don’t think 2016 was a good time to change.

    4. rd

      Trump basically ran against both the Democratic and Republican Party in 2016 and won. Since then, Trump has effectively consumed the Republican Party and made it his own because he owns his base which is a significant percentage of the Republican base.

      Will the same happen with Sanders and the Democrats? If Sanders is leading in the delegates, would the Democrats look to torpedo him if he has a chance to beat Trump? Everybody burbles about socialists but Sanders is hitting on fundamental issue that are impacting the lives of many, many Americans in the same way Trump talked about issues that impacted lower middle class white Americans in the last election.

      The electorate is generally ticked with politics as usual and mavericks shredding the system have a decent chance.

    5. aj

      Ballot access is accomplished at the state level and each state has different hurdles that must be met to get on the ballot. The R’s and D’s are grandfathered in. A third party candidate has to actively jump through the hoops of each of the 50 states. A while back there was a website group that attempted to start a 3rd party and gain 50-state ballot access. It was a huge process requiring 100’s or 1,000’s of volunteers and after all that it went belly up. Here is a link to a wikipedia article that explains in more detail.

    6. False Solace

      1) Many states have “sour grapes” laws that prevent candidates who lose a primary from appearing on the ballot in the general

      2) The US is one of the least democratic countries in terms of ballot access, requiring tens of thousands of signatures that immediately get challenged in court by the establishment parties, leading to very expensive court fights

      Basically, you’d have to spend half a billion dollars or so just to get started, and you’d need to start at least a year in advance. There’s no way you could do it if you started in say June before the election.

    7. ptb

      The ballot access isn’t the worst part, Greens can get it done in all states. But for presidential elections,
      there is a deadly special rule in the constitution, when the electoral college does not produce a 50%+1 majority. This could happen any time a third party won entire states. In that case, members of the House form 50 groups, 1 per state, and each state-group gets one vote. Whichever party controls the low-population states, i.e. Republicans, will win that every time.

      So both a left-leaning third party or a right-leaning third party will result in a center-right victory. Unless they can take over the House seats of most of the small states first. Republicans are well aware of this and have total control of about 30 of these states.

      (note, last time all this was a serious possibility was ’92, Perot got 20% popular vote by campaigning against NAFTA, but no impact on the electoral college. If he had, Bush I would have won with a minority. Instead Clinton did.)

      It all goes back to our woeful lack of proportional representation (a separate issue from the bonus given to small states in the constitution, which can be kept). The states each have the power to divide their electoral college votes proportionally but 48 of them choose not to.

    8. John Anthony La Pietra

      Well, there is another party which already has ballot access in 21 states (counting DC) and is working on the other 30 — though it will need something above 800,000 signatures for that. Sounds to me like a decent opportunity for people around the country to help if they want.

      This party is holding its national convention at Wayne State University in Detroit July 9~12.

      I hope many people will come join in building this alternative.

  25. Bill Carson

    Four minute video by economist Michael Hudson on Bernie’s chances in Iowa and the lengths the establishment and the powers-that-be will go to stop him.
    Michael Hudson

  26. Eduardo

    A tech company affiliated with, and funded by, ACRONYM, …, was responsible for building the Iowa caucus app that contributed to delays in reporting Monday night’s results in the first vote in the party’s presidential race. …

    State campaign finance records indicate the Iowa Democratic Party paid Shadow, a tech company that joined with ACRONYM last year, more than $60,000 for “website development” over two installments in November and December of last year. A Democratic source with knowledge of the process said those payments were for the app that caucus site leaders were supposed to use to upload the results at their locales.

    Gerard Niemira, a veteran of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, is the head of Shadow. He previously served as chief technology officer and chief operating officer of ACRONYM, according to his LinkedIn page. In 2019, David Plouffe, one of the chief architects of President Barack Obama’s wins, joined the board of advisers for ACRONYM.

    This Is The Buzzy Democratic Firm That Botched The Iowa Caucuses

  27. David Carl Grimes

    Are they going to use the app for the next caucus? Maybe they’ll claim that the app has now been battle tested. Bernie does well in caucuses. And the DNC found a way to destroy his momentum.

    1. MichaelSF

      It appears that the NDP is now saying they won’t be using the app. I guess someone could see the possible poor PR outcomes.

  28. Debra R

    I am an Iowa resident and caucused for Bernie last night. I also caucused for Bernie for the 2016 election. The voting, re-aligning, and counting process went very smoothly in my precinct–more so than in 2016. The precinct chair was professional, knowledgable, and strictly adhered to the rules. I have no idea what difficulties he faced submitting his results. In my precinct in West Des Moines, Cindy Axne’s precinct, 336 voters were present. Of those voters, Bernie received only 25 votes on the first vote. 51 votes were required for viability. Therefore, I and the other Bernie caucusers had a choice to re-align with another candidate or leave. The final vote count put the candidates in the following order in my precinct: 1) Buttigieg 2) Biden 3) Warren 4) Klobuchar. I am embarrassed to death how the reporting process failed, and I’m sorry you all now have to listen to Trump gloat.

    1. anonymous

      Agreed. We had 1) Buttigieg 2) Klobuchar 3) Biden with one delgate each in our 3-delegate precinct that I would describe as conservative, but no supporters of losing candidates felt that the process was unfair. Two teachers were our caucus chair and secretary, and they did a great job running the room and explaining the process. The caucuses have never looked worse, but my husband and I have never been in a precinct caucus run so well, and with a paper trail.

      1. Debra R

        I am glad to hear that your experience was similar to mine. My precinct is conservative also, so although I was extremely disappointed that Bernie wasn’t viable, I should have known that’s how it would be. I have decided, however, that we need to go to a Primary system and relinquish our first-in-the-country status. The candidates and their supporters spent millions of dollars and countless hours campaigning here, with a show that couldn’t be any worse.

        1. anonymous

          I think that most Iowans, except for those active in party politics and those with businesses that benefit from the traffic and attention (such as hotels, favored coffee shops, and local newspapers) would prefer a primary, even if we don’t go first.

        2. Joe Well

          I hope you’re right about Iowans willing to adopt a primary and give up going first (I also hope they’re willing to give up ethanol subsidies but I won’t be greedy).

          I am volunteering in New Hampshire and they will absolutely die on that hill rather than go second to an Iowa primary. It would take a national tsunami of opposition to overcome that.

          1. Debra R

            I would be fine with New Hampshire, or any other state for that matter, going first. If we can’t do it right, then we shouldn’t be doing it. And too much money and work is spent in a state that isn’t representative of the country as a whole. Yes, I’m also fine with giving up subsidies for farmers. The rural communities in Iowa elected Trump, Joni Ernst, and Chuck Grassley, and nine times re-elected Steve “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King. Bad decisions, especially repeating the same bad decision nine times, should result in tough consequences.

      1. anonymous

        No kidding. You should see the lock the Republicans have on the state government in IA and what they are doing with that majority.

      2. Mark Gisleson

        No, he’s surrounded by PMCs who work in the insurance industry.

        Des Moines was always the scariest turf for Bernie. Most Americans don’t realize Des Moines is our third largest insurance city (by actual job count, not percentage of population) and for some reason they mostly live on the west side of the metro area.

        But the isolated results I’m seeing on Twitter show that in parts of blue collar Des Moines, only two candidates got delegates at most caucuses (much more typical than the five-way splits engineered in the media show caucuses).

  29. Carolinian

    Thanks for this. Perhaps the real reason our elites hate Putin so much is that he is so obviously good at his job and they are such raging mediocrities. Indeed this was Ken Silverstein’s argument in his epic takedown of Hillary some years back–that the key to understanding Hillary simply was that she wasn’t that smart or talented. This has always been the drawback of credentialism. It prioritizes people who are good at academic achievement over proven real world competence. Plus the considerable nepotism in elite academia means that many who rise aren’t even very good at schooling. Trump and Dubya would be examples.

    Dukakis got it right. The fish rots from the head. That was over thirty years ago.

  30. Michael Fiorillo

    I was the union rep at a Queens, NY public high school when Bloomberg was mayor and trying to destroy the public schools. My rhetorical question to my colleagues and fellow union members when he and his DOE toadies would push something that was simultaneously stupid and vicious: where does the incompetence end, and the malice begin?

    We should be asking that now.

  31. CoryP

    Could easily be both incompetence and malice.

    “Whoa these results aren’t looking so good for Biden!”

    “Hey, well some of these counts look a bit off. Why don’t we suspend the count so we can go through everything and “fix” the errors?”

    “Good idea. Oops I tripped over the power cord!”

      1. CoryP

        That’s true. But I was trying to find a slightly more benign alternative to “Pete is CIA and this was all planned from the start”. I’m sure there are other middle grounds. Your point is well taken, though.

  32. Trick Shroadé

    Since Shadow botched the app maybe the DNC should see if Lev Parnas’ company Fraud Guarantee can create the next app.

  33. chuck roast

    I don’t do twit/face, so I am typically not subject to crapification from this most-modern quarter. Yesterday, on Water Cooler there was a Twitter link to: Sanders Donor Base Has Multiplied Over Time

    this is … wow

    Clicking on the link led to a line graph showing an exponential increase in Sanders individual donors. There was no Source: associated with the graph, but another link on the Twitter led to something called STONK. I have no idea what STONK is, and I have every reason to be skeptical of STONK. Call me a parochial knucklehead if you wish (you won’t be the first), but I believe this to be an indication of crapification on our beloved blog.

    1. ForFawkesSakes

      That donor chart was originally posted by The New York Times and can easily be found.

      STONK is a meme, several years old, positing an abrupt rise in stock prices. Since Sander’s fundraising has become a meme unto itself in the last month, the two memes have merged.

  34. allan


    Neera Tanden @neeratanden
    As we wake up and still have no results from the caucus debacle, it’s a good time to remember the the committee to set the Dem primary calendar was the Unity and Reform Committee. There were defenders of caucuses on the committee.Folks like me argued caucuses were anti-democratic
    7:33 AM · Feb 4, 2020·Twitter for iPhone


    Jennifer Rubin @JRubinBlogger
    Replying to @neeratanden and @jentaub

    She is to polite to say it but I am not: Bernie’s fault
    9:39 AM · Feb 4, 2020·Twitter Web App

    1. Mark Gisleson

      The counter-information is that the reporting app was developed by an all DNC/PMC committee w/no Bernie folks on it and approved/employed without consulting the DNC as a whole. In other words, a Nixonian end-around on the gatekeepers.

  35. lemon

    Well….whatever narrative you choose…incompetence,massive face-plant (DNC,et al) or massive monkey wrench applied by………..? “The First In The Nation” could achieve some resonance…..the “State Of The Union” anybody……?

  36. Peter VE

    Right on schedule, a properly credentialed Professional POC DNC’er comes on NPR’s On Point to denigrate Iowa as not representative of America.
    In reply, another properly credentialed bloviator decries elections as a way to respond to the needs of the people, and calls for more centralized control by the Party.
    They both want me to give more money to the DNC. Fat Chance.

    1. inode_buddha

      I think what they really mean is, Iowa is not representative of the DNC’s desired constituency.

      Unfortunately for the DNC, just regular deplorables far, far outnumber their desired base among the giga-wealthy.

  37. NotTimothyGeithner

    Not to compare Sanders to Santorum, but the GOP in 2012 delayed the final results of the Iowa caucus (did they switch to a primary?) giving the candidate of the establishment the appearance of a win over the actual winner.

  38. George Phillies

    Readers who think this is slow should wait for a close Maine election…STV second round needs to be counted in a central place. The California ‘vote anywhere, sort of’ rule meant that some Congressional races were not fully counted and settled until well after the election, because ballots must be translocated to the correct precinct to be counted. Computerizing for the sake of computerizing is a disease, not a cure.

    I am waiting for a discussion of how this app was supposed to work if the person in charge used a real telephone, not one of these radio things.

  39. flora

    It still looks like Sanders won, and with the caucuses being so transparent, there’s limited room for votes being disappeared. – Yves

    Yes, caucuses are more transparent than primaries. Bernie won a lot of them in 2016. One reason, imo, the DNC pushed a lot of states that had caucuses in 2016 to go to primaries in 2020, including my state. The DNC couldn’t make Iowa give up it’s first in the nation caucus position this year, but they might have wrecked it enough to end the Iowa caucus going forward. That will be a hit to the Iowa economy.

  40. TonyinSoCAL

    Paper works. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Not everything has to be, or should be, done on an app.

    The DNC is a hallowed out bone, as is the rest of the Democrat leadership.

    Bernie or bust.

    P.S. Pete Juan Guaidó Buttigieg

  41. Clive

    Just watching Sky here in the UK (Comcast’s easternmost outpost) and I was I could share it with y’all because it really belongs on the UK Comedy Gold channel instead.

    Self-styled “Domocratic Strategist” Simon Rosenberg (who I think was in HRC’s campaign team) is blaming Russia, Trump for Russia and “problems in 2016” for why Clinton lost! Oh, and because Trump didn’t act on these “external threats” that’s why the caucus is a laugh-a-minute. I am not making this up.

    Scottie Nell Huges is opposite (“US Commentator” – ha! Pot Stirrer in Chief more like) is laying it on with a trowel saying oh, isn’t it terrible, the Democrats are hiding a good candidate (Saunders) in the shitstorm and agitating for Bloomberg as the now “clean” candidate, “immune” from the mess-up by not being part of it.

    I’d call it bizarre, but that’s an understatement which really doesn’t do justice to this all.

    1. skippy

      I find it very similar to your countryman’s experience of late e.g. so much private sector involvement.

      Its just so late stage “Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering”.

      “Mrs. Thatcher’s vision was of a society in which the wants and desires of millions of individuals would be satisfied through the free market. This, she believed, would be the engine to regenerate Britain. And with her ascent to power the advertising and marketing industries flourished. Their task was to find out what the British people really wanted and then sell it to them. In this new climate, the focus group flourished, and those who ran them borrowed from the techniques of psychotherapy to delve ever deeper into people’s feelings about products.

      Out of this research the marketeers began to detect a new individualism. In particular among those who had voted conservative for the first time in 1979. They no longer wanted to be seen as part of social classes but to express themselves. And crucial to this were the products they chose to buy.

      Stephen Wells – Co-founder, Consumer Connection – We found that there was this trend towards what we called individualism where people still wanted to be part of a crowd but to express themselves as individuals within it. To have their own personalities, to be, I suppose, their own man.

      Business responded eagerly to this new individualism and it soon became one of the main forces driving the consumer boom growing in Britain. Using the data from the focus groups, manufacturers created new ranges of products that allow people to express their individuality. Business also recategorized people. They were no longer divided by social class but by their inner psychological needs.”

      Just imagine decades of self reinforcing loops driven by market numerology and what pops out the end of it all. Best bit of all is how the defective individuals are left to their own devices [pay for their sins] and the show rolls on to its glorious future – regardless of say environmental frictions building.

      One could say all this digital market driven voting system tech is a fine example of the above e.g. atomistic individualism one step away from a chip in your head and called freedom. Just the conditioning in the code of smartphones is a sigh whipping past as we all hurtle down the tracks.

      Good day and luck to you sir …

  42. DHG

    The democrats did not botch their impeachment, had they not done it they would be out on their keister in Nov. Having done it they will retain the House and quite likely take the Senate and the WH. The republicans are worse at doing things incompetently.

  43. Amateur Socialist

    I have to hand it to the DNC – if last night’s debacle has shifted the conversation from policy towards justice they have ceded territory that the Sanders campaign should be able to exploit very effectively going forward.

    Well played Tom Perez. Well played.

  44. Amateur Socialist

    The reporting on Shadow/PACRONYM seems so eerily reminiscent of the debacle in 2012 with the Romney campaign’s investment in a group of well connected insiders for their “killer app” that would out organize Obama nationwide and guarantee victory. The post mortems revealed that it was overpriced crap that didn’t work at all. Voila.

    1. David Carl Grimes

      Romney was declared the winner but the real winner was Santorum. Santorum lost momentum

  45. Oregoncharles

    ” Is is just the grifting, that introducing more tech creates more opportunities for vendor enrichment? Or is it yet more proof that a lot of people in charge really hate democracy and are at best indifferent to doing things right?”

    False alternative; both, of course.

    But pure decay and senescence might be the biggest factor.

  46. David in Santa Cruz

    Excellent commentary by Yves. I especially appreciate the curated Twitter postings, as I personally can’t stand the platform.

    Tiny, conservative Iowa is irrelevant to the 2020 Democrat strategy — Trump won the state in 2016 51%-42%. The emerging Biden collapse will simply propel the un-tested Bloomberg into the arms of the DNC.

    This debacle proves nothing other than the craven incompetence of self-anointed elites everywhere — as did the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

    1. none

      Faux News said highest turnout since 2008. I also saw something saying the DNC app had undercounted votes by quite a bit.

    2. CBBB

      If true this is very bad for Sanders. His gambit was to turn out new voters but at least in Iowa that seemed to fail. Maybe non-voters are just forever unreachable.
      If he can’t turn out lots of new voters he loses. Biden’s voters won’t go to him when he drops out, neither will Klobachar’s and even many of Warren’s won’t either.
      I feel like he’s running out of steam.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The reports on Twitter was that turnout was high in districts with a lot of people of color and Muslims… which Iowa is seriously underendowed. There were also reports of last minute changes to caucus locations, an old trick to suppress turnout.

        The 2008 Iowa caucus was also on January 3, a Thursday. A Thursday is a WAY WAY better day of the week for working people to give up than a Monday; Monday is the very worst possible choice. And right after New Year is a slack time, again making it way easier for more people to participate.

        Shorter: the dates are so different that simple comparisons miss a lot.

        1. anonymous

          With the Jan 3 date, the Obama campaign was able to get college students to caucus in their home districts, where their votes would have more impact on the delegate count. That was official campaign strategy (I was a volunteer), not my supposition.

  47. none

    People keep saying google sheets. I gave some thought to this and decided that using an app instead of a web service makes some sense in principle, since you don’t want to rely on having the internet available nonstop in all the locations. But the app should have been developed out in the open and seriously tested before deployment. It should also have been quite simple to develop, enough that it’s hard to explain this as mere incompetence.

  48. TheHoarseWhisperer

    from new york times:

    “As part of our investigation, we determined with certainty that the underlying data collected via the app was sound,” Mr. Price said.


    1. CoryP

      Hey if you’re the real HoarseWisperer, they raised at least $50k in your name for Sanders the other day.

  49. turtle

    Meanwhile, #MayorCheat is trending on twitter, in combination with #BernieWon. Screenshots of reported tweets from the owner of Acronym(?) seeming very excited when Buttigieg announced his run for president.

    Oh, and predictably the reaction to those hashtags from some quarters is that the people using them are Russian Bots.

    1. Roy G

      Had to fire up Twitter just for that. The Russian Bot! people were definitely a small minority and looked tragically out of touch, kinda like the Japanese soldiers holed up on remote atolls who didn’t realize Japan had lost the war years ago.

      Looking at other tweets, the most shocking is this one, where a Buttigieg supporter flips the coin in a totally non-standard way and entirely shady way. Incompetence or malice are indistinguishable.

      Yves and everybody, I am not familiar with caucusing, but could you take a look and say if this is normal SOP?

      1. turtle

        I had just seen that on water cooler too. Is that the ol’ CIA/NSA/McKinsey coin toss that they taught that kid?

    2. David in Santa Cruz

      Hundreds of comments here, but no one has uttered the word “rigged” — which our Masters are using to ferret-out “Russian bots” and other commie interference with their merit-based sinecures.

      There, fixed it for ‘ya!

    3. skippy

      Bit reminiscent of Rove on the eve of Bush jr last election … eh …

      In other news I don’t see anyone noticing the privatization of the electoral process. I mean we went from DiBold to Apps due to SmartPhone*[tm] market penetration and seems like a nice little dark ally where some could advance Direct Democracy in a market place of public choice theory or at least that would be the cool – aid PR marketing to ***sell*** it.

  50. Edward

    The DNC is now going to use a polling method based on coin flips.

    In a way we have lucked out; if Shadow had not been so inept we might not have learned about the problems with the polling. Now the press has to report about Shadow and the Clinton/Buttigieg cronies who were involved with tabulating votes and everyone can make a fuss about the polling.

    1. jrs

      Who knows what darkness lurks in the hearts of men? Who knows who really won Iowa?

      The Shadow(tm) knows.

      1. Edward

        Seriously, Shadow needs to come up with a more innocent-sounding name like “Vote-Safe Inc”. More incompetence?

          1. Edward

            My comment was a bit confusing; I was trying to be snarky, as in: “If Shadow plans to tamper with the vote they should disguise what they are doing with a more benign name.”

          2. CoryP

            I really appreciate your comments. You represent the more pessimistic devil-on-my-shoulder voice in my head. Thanks for making me feel not crazy, or at least not uniquely crazy.

            Shit like this sometimes makes me wonder how much of a conspiracist I am, and how well my logic modules are functioning.

            (apologies if I’ve expressed this before in a similar burst of enthusiasm)

            1. Edward

              Thank you. My basic feeling is that Washington has a criminal culture. The United States used to be more of a nation of laws but that is not part of the culture any more. Even the constitution is trashed and it hardly gets discussed. The big irony with the impeachment is that there are crimes and foreign influence everywhere in Washington, including the Hunter Biden nepotism, and they are acting like Trump is the only person doing anything wrong. Moreover, Russiagate is phony.

              In any case, whether we are paranoid are not, it is outrageous we are not using paper ballots. There should be no possibility for cheating in the voting. How many more voting systems are we going to go through before we have paper ballots?

  51. Wisdom Seeker

    What is most concerning to me as an independent is that No One in the D party seems to have questioned the blatant conflict of interest involved in the vote-tally software arrangements. Voting and debating are the public faces of the party as a whole, not a specific campaign. For the party to have any credibility, the debates and the votes – all the party-wide public-interface activities – have to run on rails with no possible hint of bias. The Iowa fiasco is a stain upon the nation on far too many levels.

  52. Oregoncharles

    Lead article on GNews (which I’ve been checking to see if Iowa has announced yet): “Nevada Democratic Party abandons problematic app used in Iowa caucuses
    Anchor Muted Background
    Donie O'Sullivan

    By Brian Fung and Donie O’Sullivan, CNN”

    Still hilarious. Maybe the vaunted Two-Party System is in full collapse mode – a guy can hope.

  53. Harry Cording

    Question: What to do about a Sanders lead going into Iowa?
    Answer: Naomi Klein Shock Doctrine event.

    Software goes into ABB, “Anybody But Bernie” mode on Caucus day.
    Chaos ensues,
    24 hours of MSM mis direction ‘splaining ensues.
    By the time this gets sorted Sanders momentum has evaporated

    Mission Accomplished.

    1. Harry Cording

      About that 60% counted,,,,

      Using Sanders ACCURATE polling data, polling which he released, all that remained was to work the math and find a count combination where their Mayor Pete comes out ahead,
      Stop the count there and release the news.
      We may not see a further update for awhile.
      Again: Mission ABB Accomplished.

  54. hoki haya

    Seems like a technological end-run around democracy; I don’t buy it. Rural Iowans related more to Buttigieg than Bernie? I was born in the state, and tho I haven’t been there for some time, it’s hard to imagine rural Iowans succumbing to being misled.

    Something shady is afoot. Buttigieg paid Shadow, Inc (nice, that – who needs subtlety when truth is darker than fiction?) 40K for ‘software services’? And the CEO is a Buttigieg donor?

    I think the state of the internal war inside the party is that much of the old guard prefers Biden, tho having now to admit his candidacy is in jeapordy. The deep state handlers obviously prefer Buttigieg.

    The app recorded data correctly, but reported said data ‘partially’? the fix is in.

    the unbelievable hubris of claiming victory, saying nearly literally, ‘i know the results aren’t in yet, but math, results, voting, eh…my app says I won! I’m ready for my coronation, process be damned.’

    1. skippy

      Same here, family roots in IA going way way back in and around Wapello. Its a bit incredulous to think Buttigieg going to any town like this and getting anywhere save presenting a clean cut collage boy done good look, doing a butter bar follow me up the hill ploy.

      Contra whatever could be cooked up by his rumor control apparatus out in the field against Sanders, there are some hot buttons available.

      I mean how would he go at say an old threshers convention or strawberry festive mixing up with the crowd.

  55. JBird4049

    The biggest takeaway is that confidence in the political system, any system, is what keeps it going and in power. Yes, there has always some political corruption in the United States. But it was limited to individual cities, counties, and states and the corrupt regime was often better than the honest politicians in delivering needed services. Tammany Hall for example.

    Today, the corruption is in both parties and I think most of the American population lives in a state, county, or city that is corrupt. Perhaps at all three levels. I should say four for the national level. Most of the Southern states plus New York and California for example are corrupt. Worse, unlike Tammany Hall, they are increasingly unable or uncaring enough to deliver vital services.

    The Trump Administration just released the remaining 15 billion dollars for Puerto Rico’s disaster aid. California’s state government cannot get PG&E to do its jobs without burning half the state down. And I will probably get another increase to help them pay for their bonuses and dividends. San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Santa Rosa, and San Jose all just cannot somehow deal with homelessness or the costs of housing. They have the power of eminent domain, taxation, bonds, and the law to fix it but nope. How about NYC subway system?

    It just goes on and on, the momentum keeping the nomenklatura, including the political leadership, in power with the aid of the intelligentsia (the New York Times, Hollywood and most of the Christian Evangelical leadership for example.) We have just seen the Democratic apparatchiks frakk up the Iowa state caucus. What’s next?

    I started this screed as just a short comment about how necessary a society’s confidence in its institutions for those institutions to stay in power, never mind existing. When it ends it can get seriously ugly. I think that confidence and that momentum is fading away. Just what happens? Who knows?

  56. Edward

    On this issue of the infamous coin flips, an alternative procedure could be to just split the vote; each candidate gets .5 of a vote. This would be fairer and avoid cheating.

  57. Erick Williams

    If you haven’t visited the Federal Election Commission web page recently —- the agency tasked to “protect the integrity of the campaign finance process” — check out the great photo before they take it down. One picture is worth a thousand words —

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