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John Panzer
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I don't know Donald Trump, but I've dealt with his specific cluster of personality traits before. I have some rules for dealing with them. You may find them useful the next few years.

1. If possible, do not engage

This may seem like useless advice, given Trump will be President in three weeks But keep it in mind. The best possible strategy for dealing with someone like Trump is: Don't. Go no contact, do not engage with him. Do something else more productive.

2. If you have to engage, be BIFF

If you are forced to engage with him, keep it Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm (BIFF). Don't get into Twitter wars. Don't antagonize him or try to set him off (he'll go off on his own anyway). Be impersonal but friendly.

Pick your battles carefully. But once you do pick a position and draw a line, do not waver from it no matter what Trump and his allies throw at you.

3. Believe actions, not words

Trump's words are meaningless -- or, worse, a distraction or smokescreen that obscures what's really going on. Don't pay a lot of attention to them; prioritize attention to actions. Don't over-analyze his words.

Never ever trade something in exchange for a promise from Trump. Demand payment up front if you must violate rule #1.

When Trump does one thing and says another, believe what he does and ignore the words.

4. Do not give the benefit of the doubt

We reflexively give the benefit of the doubt, especially to the President. Our political institutions codify this. The strong temptation is to give Trump chance after chance.

That makes no sense at this point. He had his chance after winning the election to turn over a new leaf and to demonstrate what kind of President he plans to be.

This means that him saying something has zero effect, for or against, on whether or not you should believe it.

5. Use positive reinforcement

You get what you reward. Sometimes Trump will say or do things that actually make sense. Positively reinforce when he does, while keeping in mind rules 2-4. Give praise for this, even if his other actions are terrible.

But don't reward him for words.

6. Don't normalize the abnormal

It's a slippery slope. A situation may not be changeable today, but that does not mean it cannot be changed. Simultaneously be realistic, while working towards a better tomorrow.

7. Be patient and proactive

"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."
-- Mark Twain

"Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority."
-- Francis Bacon

Trump and his allies have enormous power right now. But it's fragile, based on reality distortion. In the long run, if we keep the record clear, this can be apparent.

Trump will do everything possible to muddy the record. Defend the record, make sure that the ground truth is available for those who want it.

8. Keep Reading and Learning

Keep informing yourself. Start with these excellent articles from the Atlantic and Teen Vogue if you haven't read them already:

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A Trump supporter touted H.J. Res.83 as an Trump "accomplishment". (, which rolled back the OSHA "clarification" rolled out in 2016 (

It's not the example I would have picked, if I were a Trump supporter.

The rationale for this being an accomplishment is that it reduces regulation and reduces burden on entrepreneurs. Does it? Let's take a look...

This is purely about penalties, to start with. It doesn't change the required paperwork or record keeping requirements at all -- unless you're saying that the rollback does, as a practical matter, remove most of the enforcement power OSHA has, so lawbreakers can ignore the law.

So basically, this rollback doesn't affect ethical businesses who are following the law. It helps people who are breaking the law. That's... not a good start.

Why are these records needed? Maybe it's a good thing to just nullify the law by pulling enforcement teeth? I don't think so, based on this:

So, basically, the rollback makes it easier for lawbreakers to ignore the law; it hurts employees, by removing incentives to document workplace injuries, leaving workplaces less safe; and it hurts ethical employers.

Why is this an accomplishment, again?

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Key: Even if the GOP weren't complicit before, by doing nothing about Russian attacks on our democracy, they sure as hell are NOW.
I know bunches of sincere, thoughtful conservatives who are THAT close to defecting. They admit their party has gone insane, but cannot bring themselves yet to use the "T-Word." They keep being distracted by squirrels. Like "There's been no proof yet of actual collusion." Or "Russian meddling didn't clearly affect the election outcome."

1. Irrespective of GOP-Russia collusion, the fact is that Putin’s FSB etc wanted the GOP to win, not just the presidency, but across the board. That outcome is what they blatantly sought. And that is a fact of profound political redolence. It should deeply bother all patriotic Americans. While that motive and goal is not a court-of-law conviction, it is consistent with mountains of evidence that the Republican Party is not healthy for the U.S.

2. All right then, but did the GOP collude with Moscow, toward that goal? We are not (yet) in a court of law, so demanding court-of-law proof of GOP-Russia collusion is just plain wrong. The pile of circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. It's a mountain!

Manafort, Flynn, Pence, the ENTIRE circle of people surrounding Jared Kushner, secret meetings and channels! Scads of business connections and sweetheart deals with Russian-mafiosi oligarchs. Exxon, for H sake! “Emoluments” amounting to billions! You know I could go on and on.

Dig it. We do not need to be hamstrung or stymied by court-of-law standards when deciding that something stinks to high heaven and the security of the American state is at stake. Those who demand court-of-law standards are Fox shills. They scream "witch hunt!" while the townsfolk close in on a coven of pointy-hatted, Satan-chanting crones who have children suspended over a cauldron. These may not quite be witches -- (heck, not one of them is female) -- but we are perfectly right to demand answers to our questions.

3. Court-of-law hairsplitting over definitions of “obstruction” are necessary when deciding on criminal prosecutions and whether to deprive the perpetrator of either life or freedom with prison. But it is an absurd standard politically. These are traitors, pure and simple. That is “traitors” with a small-t… for now… until it’s proved in court. But the shoe fits.

4. The same term applies to those who drag their feet over reforming the weaknesses that the Putin-cabal tried to exploit. The issue is not whether the FSB etc were THE tipping factor in 2016. The issue is the fact that Congress is holding ZERO hearings about how to strengthen US electoral processes, investigating corruptible voting machines. The horrific influence of partisan secretaries of state. Gerrymandering. Weaponized narrative. They would leave all of that in place, for future elections. If you don't call that implicitly complicit, then you have your head in the sand.

They are complicit. As the old saying goes: "We've settled what you are. Now we're just trying to determine the price you sold us out for."

It is the "T-Word." We're only arguing over whether it is "t" or "T."

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This appears to be a very easy and effective attack on election systems that does not even involve trying to flip votes.

"The center also distributes the voter registration list to counties for use on their ExpressPoll pollbooks; if attackers were to delete voter names from the database stored on the center’s server or alter the precinct where voters are assigned, they could create chaos on Election Day and possibly prevent voters from casting ballots. This is not an idle concern: During the presidential election last year, some voters in Georgia’s Fulton County complained that they arrived to polls and were told they were at the wrong precinct. When they went to the precinct where they were redirected, they were told to return to the original precinct. The problem was apparently a glitch in the ExpressPoll software."


In other words, the very system that had major security problems and a lack of due diligence in fixing them, maintains the "source of truth" for the per-precinct registration lists. Merely deleting voters from lists in precincts which are known to lean towards one party or the other would probably be enough to tip an election (even if they are allowed to vote provisionally, that doesn't always go smoothly, and it always slows things down and creates confusion; if you can get them shuttling between precincts through manipulating the files, even better.)

This is an attractive attack vector because it's easy, it doesn't require attacking voting machines at all, could be done by attacking a "low security" system, and could be blamed on "glitches" quite plausibly. And we already know from the leaked report last week that state-level actors were attempting to modify voter roll information in other systems.

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This kind of reaction from a Secretary of State in charge of elections is absolutely incorrect, wrong, and deeply disturbing:

'Democrats are launching a manufactured crisis,” Kemp spokeswoman Candice Broce said. “They would love nothing more than for us to flout Georgia law and use paper ballots so they can challenge the results when they lose, but we will not cater to such childish antics.”'


Voter verifiable paper audit trails ("paper ballots") are the consensus recommendation of ALL security experts who have looked at this issue, for the past decade or more:

This is NOT a partisan issue. Kemp can legitimately push back on technical critiques of his state's systems, but to pretend that paper ballots are less secure than the systems Georgia is using (based on obsolete software on top of obsolete Windows operating systems, using registration data apparently vulnerable at least to retrieval and possibly to modification) is frankly laughable.

To then try to turn this into a partisan issue and accuse Democrats of being "childish" for demanding accurate and verifiable voting systems is the height of hubris. And, I'm sorry Mr. Kemp, it's deeply suspicious too.

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Huh. The Intercept is really, really terrible at protecting their sources. Maybe don't send them any original documents & if you're going to leak stuff, use your own operational security because they sure won't.

Alternative paranoid conspiracy theory: Intercept actually trying to discourage leakers, while trying to appear to encourage them?

On a technical level, stripping all possible metadata that could be hidden within such a document is kind of hard. I might think about doing these kinds of things:

1. Scan the original document in pure black and white (no color or gray), ideally at 300dpi if still legible.
2. Return original to secure area, assuming returning doesn't increase risk.
3. Worry about sneaky ways to encode identifying information in the words or any annotations/diagrams. Ideally, redact those before sharing.
4. Don't ever share anything with Intercept.

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I don't have anything clever or insightful to say about this.

The people making these threats are monsters. They are, clearly, supporting Trump. I assume the White House will make a statement denouncing them, identifying death threats as a crime, and ensuring resources will be devoted towards prosecution of the perpetrators.

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