Undermining Democracy

Last Thursday, Rudy Giuliani, a Trump campaign lawyer, alleged a widespread voting conspiracy involving Venezuela, Cuba, and China. Another lawyer, Sidney Powell, argued that Mr. Trump won in a landslide, the entire election in swing states should be overturned and the legislatures should make sure that the electors are selected for the president.

The Republican National Committee swung in to support her false claim that Mr. Trump won in a landslide, while Michigan election officials have tried to stop the certification of the vote.

It is wildly unlikely that their efforts can block Joe Biden from becoming president. But they may still do lasting damage to American democracy for a shocking reason: the moves have come from trusted insiders.

American democracy’s vulnerability to disinformation has been very much in the news since the Russian disinformation campaign in 2016. The fear is that outsiders, whether they be foreign or domestic actors, will undermine our system by swaying popular opinion and election results.

This is half right. American democracy is an information system, in which the information isn’t bits and bytes but citizens’ beliefs. When peoples’ faith in the democratic system is undermined, democracy stops working. But as information security specialists know, outsider attacks are hard. Russian trolls, who don’t really understand how American politics works, have actually had a difficult time subverting it.

When you really need to worry is when insiders go bad. And that is precisely what is happening in the wake of the 2020 presidential election. In traditional information systems, the insiders are the people who have both detailed knowledge and high level access, allowing them to bypass security measures and more effectively subvert systems. In democracy, the insiders aren’t just the officials who manage voting but also the politicians who shape what people believe about politics. For four years, Donald Trump has been trying to dismantle our shared beliefs about democracy. And now, his fellow Republicans are helping him.

Democracy works when we all expect that votes will be fairly counted, and defeated candidates leave office. As the democratic theorist Adam Przeworski puts it, democracy is “a system in which parties lose elections.” These beliefs can break down when political insiders make bogus claims about general fraud, trying to cling to power when the election has gone against them.

It’s obvious how these kinds of claims damage Republican voters’ commitment to democracy. They will think that elections are rigged by the other side and will not accept the judgment of voters when it goes against their preferred candidate. Their belief that the Biden administration is illegitimate will justify all sorts of measures to prevent it from functioning.

It’s less obvious that these strategies affect Democratic voters’ faith in democracy, too. Democrats are paying attention to Republicans’ efforts to stop the votes of Democratic voters ­- and especially Black Democratic voters -­ from being counted. They, too, are likely to have less trust in elections going forward, and with good reason. They will expect that Republicans will try to rig the system against them. Mr. Trump is having a hard time winning unfairly, because he has lost in several states. But what if Mr. Biden’s margin of victory depended only on one state? What if something like that happens in the next election?

The real fear is that this will lead to a spiral of distrust and destruction. Republicans ­ who are increasingly committed to the notion that the Democrats are committing pervasive fraud -­ will do everything that they can to win power and to cling to power when they can get it. Democrats ­- seeing what Republicans are doing ­ will try to entrench themselves in turn. They suspect that if the Republicans really win power, they will not ever give it back. The claims of Republicans like Senator Mike Lee of Utah that America is not really a democracy might become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

More likely, this spiral will not directly lead to the death of American democracy. The U.S. federal system of government is complex and hard for any one actor or coalition to dominate completely. But it may turn American democracy into an unworkable confrontation between two hostile camps, each unwilling to make any concession to its adversary.

We know how to make voting itself more open and more secure; the literature is filled with vital and important suggestions. The more difficult problem is this. How do you shift the collective belief among Republicans that elections are rigged?

Political science suggests that partisans are more likely to be persuaded by fellow partisans, like Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state in Georgia, who said that election fraud wasn’t a big problem. But this would only be effective if other well-known Republicans supported him.

Public outrage, alternatively, can sometimes force officials to back down, as when people crowded in to denounce the Michigan Republican election officials who were trying to deny certification of their votes.

The fundamental problem, however, is Republican insiders who have convinced themselves that to keep and hold power, they need to trash the shared beliefs that hold American democracy together.

They may have long-term worries about the consequences, but they’re unlikely to do anything about those worries in the near-term unless voters, wealthy donors or others whom they depend on make them pay short-term costs.

This essay was written with Henry Farrell, and previously appeared in the New York Times.

Posted on November 27, 2020 at 6:10 AM182 Comments


Jon November 27, 2020 6:27 AM

Part of the problem being that it’s true – the elections ARE rigged – but they’re rigged dramatically in favor of Republicans. How else could Mr. Trump have won with a minority of the vote four years ago?

It’s a classic debating trick too; accuse your opponents of doing exactly the underhanded things you yourself are doing. J.

QnJ1Y2U November 27, 2020 7:24 AM

This American Life has a fascinating demonstration of how persistent and pernicious this undermining can be:
https://www.thisamericanlife.org/724/personal-recount (transcript)

In the episode, they looked at one of the common rumors about the election (where 100k+ votes for Biden supposedly appeared without any corresponding Trump votes). They talked to the exact people involved, and described the combination of clerical error and deliberate lies that led to many people falsely believing that there was something fraudulent happening.

The host then presented the evidence to a Trump supporter who … completely discounted all of it, and clung tightly to the assertion that the election was stolen. There was probably nothing that could have convinced that person that they had been duped; the supporter had one story fixed in their mind, and facts were not going to change it.

Winter November 27, 2020 7:37 AM

“The host then presented the evidence to a Trump supporter who … completely discounted all of it, and clung tightly to the assertion that the election was stolen.”

In the Netflix documentary “Behind the curve”, Flat Earthers do two experiments to prove the earth is flat. The (in)famous light ray experiment with three posts at the exact same height and an experiment with a high precision gyroscope to prove the earth does not rotate.
h ttps://www.newsweek.com/behind-curve-netflix-ending-light-experiment-mark-sargent-documentary-movie-1343362

Both times, when their experiments show unambiguously that the earth is round and rotates, they claim to have a “problem”. But they stick to their believe that the earth is flat, even though they did the experiments to disprove it themselves with their own equipment.

Flat Earthers are Americans, just like Trump supporters. And they have the same detachment from observable reality.

Petre Peter November 27, 2020 7:37 AM

Election topics are difficult but they are definitely related to security. I am glad that our host is covering them.

QnJ1Y2U November 27, 2020 7:40 AM

@David Longfellow
I am quite confident that you could get any security expert to pay attention to actual evidence of voter fraud.

But first you have to provide evidence. Not some vague claim about ‘hundreds of cases’ – that is not evidence. And a list of supposed incidents without any supporting details is also not evidence, nor is any compilation of ‘affidavits’ filled with misunderstandings about the voting process.

Real evidence will include specific, verifiable details, and will describe exactly how the incident affected the election. If you’ve got anything like that, please let us know.

Winter November 27, 2020 7:58 AM

“I do not understand how filing totally legal challenges to an election should be considered undemocratic.”

The losing site insists on claiming they won, refuses to cede, and keeps repeating that the other side stole the election by massive voting fraud, without any reasonable evidence.

If you do not understand why that is undemocratic and undermines democracy, you obviously do not know what “democratic” means.

Clive Robinson November 27, 2020 8:18 AM

@ Faustus,

I do not understand how filing totally legal challenges to an election should be considered undemocratic.

Ever heard of the terms “malicious litigation” or “Vexatious litigation”?

There purpose is not to seek justice but for bullying, bankrupting, delaying or denying justice.

It happens so much in the US you have requirments to stop “Frivolous litigation”. And the more interesting “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”(SLAPP) legislation.

Much of this abuse occures because of the US notion that “each side bare the costs” rather than “the judge can award some or all of the defendents costs against the litigant”. The US system in effect breaks the notion of “equity at arms” that adverserial justice systems should rest upon.

I won’t go into all the ins and outs of the failings of the US justice systems, lets just say that to get justice through the US system you either have to be incredibly lucky or unimaginably wealthy compared to the average citizen.

The US system was set up English lawyers, who saw the strengths and weaknesses of the English legal system. For various reasons they picked what favoured the “might is right” imbalance to ensure that those like themselves remained in charge of the “republic” that was then and still is neither democratic or fair to all.

The sad thing about these Republican chalenges is they are suckering in money from those who probably can not aford to give it. This money they are then putting in the pockets of their “favourd few”. So adding injury to insult.

Zyni Moë November 27, 2020 8:23 AM

Is all of funny, rather sad and terrifying to hear Americans talk about ‘communist president’. Unlike them I was born and grew up under communism; unlike them I have recent ancestors who went to Gulag and did not return from it.

Is funny because is funny people are so lost in their minds; is rather sad because is sad that this can happen; is terrifying because we know what the consequences of this can be as we have seen them, and they are very, very bad: and the consequences we are not yet sure of are worse than that.

rrd November 27, 2020 8:36 AM

@ Bruce

These quotes are yours:

American democracy’s vulnerability to disinformation

That is far too narrow a view of humanity’s problems, even within the narrow yet life-or-death context of America’s struggle to have free and fair elections.

The fact is that each human being’s life itself has been vulnerable to disinformation since time immemorial. The negative beliefs resulting from such bad information range from nearly all societies blithely accepting misogyny, to different ethnic groups’ believing that they have some kind of intrinsic superiority over another ethnicity, to the belief that the COVID-19 virus doesn’t exist — to name just a few.

We must all learn how to accurately evaluate all the information that comes to us not only with respect to truth versus falsity, but with respect to morality versus amorality. Such accurate moral judgements must, of course, be the result of the person having a strong moral base. Such accurate moral analysis is not an intrinsic skill in human beings, but is strictly a latent potential that must be consciously and steadily developed by each person over the course of their lifetime. Ideally, such education should begin in childhood by loving, moral parents.

Beyond the moral ramifications of being able to accurately judge moral questions, moral comprehension and maturity lead the person to be able to ascertain information that comes to them with the possibility that they answer with a humble “I do not know” or “I do not have enough data yet” or “I need further contemplation”. Without the humility to know that they may not know, and without the patience and perseverance to wait and perform the necessary further analysis that inches us towards the truth, a person cannot find the answers to difficult questions.

Morality pervades every single aspect of every single person’s life, including which information we accept as true or deny as false. The fundamental beliefs we build with information are nothing less than the cornerstones of the various levels of society we form with our very selves.

When peoples’ faith in the democratic system is undermined, democracy stops working.

When peoples’ understanding of the necessity for personal moral perfection is undermined, society stops being moral because our default morality is reserved solely for one’s in-group. Such mammalian amorality impedes the effortful universal compassion dictated by our highest moral imperatives. The fact is that we must each fight against our own negative potential in order that we achieve that highest moral potential, first for our own moral perfection, then for that of the greater societies we inhabit.

Yes, absolutely, democracy is an essential step in the right direction, but it barely scratches the surface of what our societies could — and should — become. The fact is that even our potential to achieve personal moral perfection is denied by the vast majority of the human beings on this planet here in 2020, not to mention how to achieve it. But who has eyes to see, ears to hear, or a heart willing to learn and understand?

Such denial of our moral reality is in no way different to denial of the COVID-19 virus’ existence. Just like those dangerous fools, it is far too late once one gets intubated. The crucial difference is that we are our own moral doctors; no other but our own selves can lift our morality out of the darkness into the light, for all morality is the result of what we choose to believe and then use as the foundation for our ideals, attitudes and behaviors we either evolve or entrench.

Only once one accepts this teaching can one understand the simplicity of the fact that it is the GOP’s utterly shameless amorality that is the problem here. This is precisely as it is in the various powerful organizations (governments, religions, corporations) across the globe today in 2020.

And, remember: the indisputable fact is that ALL morality comes down to a question of lovingly creative selflessness versus ignorantly destructive selfishness, both individually and in our groups.

Simply put, Bruce, you are focusing on the symptoms instead of the disease.

Clive Robinson November 27, 2020 8:37 AM

@ Bruce,

There are two parts to the argument of is the vote democratic.

The first is about thr actual voting process, which is what you talk about.

But the second is the denying people the right to vote, and rigging thr system so those that do vote, their votes do not count (Gerrymandering etc).

The US needs to address both issues, but do not expect the Republicans to agree. Because as has been noted by othets if the elections were more honest, then the Republicans would never be in power.

And in part that is what this current Trumpian/Republican nonsense is all about, it’s making people take their eye off of the ball with respect to the real injustices in the US electoral processes.

Eric Valk November 27, 2020 8:51 AM

Bruce (and your fellow US citizens). My condolences on your present state of affairs. You did have a great country, and I remember that it accomplished great things 20, 30 and 40 years ago. However, your present situation is very likely not recoverable. Once trust is lost it is very diffiuclt to recover. Trust has been lost and there are people, organisations and media within the USA working very hard and effectively to further undermine trust. It’s possible you may recover, I hope you recover, but no one would bet on it.

Winter November 27, 2020 9:01 AM

“I don’t recall reading pearl-clutching gasps from you about the integrity of Our Democracy™ 4 years ago when prominent Executive branch employees flat-out said they would not do their jobs under Trump because the Orange Man Is Bad.”

Which the Democrats learned from the masters. It was the GOP that refused to work with Obama for eight years because he was Bad. And before that they did the same with Clinton.

Winter November 27, 2020 9:05 AM


You cannot run a country, or anything at all, on morality. If we had waited for morality to be achieved, we would have never left the caves, or even reached the caves.

rrd November 27, 2020 9:06 AM


Some diseases produce such deleterious symptoms that the symptoms must first be triaged before the disease can be addressed. The lack of free and fair elections are absolutely such a symptom of a society’s greater amoral rot.

In developing the multi-chemo treatment of childhood leukemia, it was first necessary to figure out how to augment the patients’ platelet count so they would stop bleeding out. Only once the researchers figured out how to stop the bleeding could they determine how to craft the cocktail of chemo drugs to actually wipe out the cancer.

As such, there is no positive moral government without democracy, so free and fair elections must be established first and foremost before the society can even begin to establish a properly moral society. The key understanding is that democracy itself is not the answer to creating a moral society, for it does nothing to address the persecutions of minority groups by the majority. And yet democracy is absolutely a crucial first step towards being able to have a moral society.

Note also that those same researchers (as recounted by Gladwell in “David and Goliath” IIRC) had to have the moral courage to hold a very sick child down and push a heavy gauge needle into the center of their thigh bone to ascertain the success of their new treatment. As well, they had to fight their own hospital administrators tooth and nail to be allowed to continue down the road to what eventually proved to be groundbreaking.

Such transformational pain and struggle against the old-guard is a necessary component of all evolution. Look what it took to unseat the Imperial Japanese of WWII, whose self-superiority was not really any different than 2020’s GOP in America.

Winter November 27, 2020 9:20 AM

“Winter is right…”

I think you misunderstood me completely. I agree 100% with Bruce on this one.

The current president is a disgrace for not conceding defeat. On the other hand, I think he can plead insanity as it is well known that he has a Narcissistic Sociopathic personality disorder.

That cannot be said of his supporters in this. They are simply criminals trying to stage a coup d’etat and thus are traitors.

rrd November 27, 2020 9:29 AM

@ Winter

The quotes here are yours:

You cannot run a country, or anything at all, on morality.

Every single person runs their life on morality or amorality, based strictly upon the choices their chosen ideals, attitudes and behaviors drive. Your statement is simply a denial that we are moral creatures who form our packs based upon our shared moralities, or lacks thereof.

The health care workers who are working themselves to exhaustion and mental distress are selflessly doing the right thing as we speak. When faced with a dying COVID-19 denier, an amoral doctor or nurse would simply let them die. Thankfully, those valiant persons use their superior ideals and beliefs to save their stupid lives anyway.

If we had waited for morality to be achieved, we would have never left the caves, or even reached the caves.

First off, 2020 is in no way the same as however long ago you vaguely reference. Secondly, you assume much about how human beings were back then. In the dawn of our struggle to survive on Earth, pure survival was a moral imperative in and of itself, just as it was a moral imperative to defeat the Imperial Japanese of WWII.

Beyond that:

Latent goodness as yet unrealized does not mean such goodness is not capable of being determined and chosen, no matter how much inertia against such goodness exists. This is demonstrated in the power of a true story such as “Schindler’s List”.

We must always choose the goals with the highest ideals and then figure out how to achieve them. Without that fundamental approach, no advancement in this world can be achieved, from science to tech to the mechanisms of government.

A failure to weigh one’s goals versus the benefit or detriment of the greater society is precisely why we have an amoral GOP and the likes of Bezos and Zuckerberg. If you say that we can not — and should not — figure out how to be better, you have aligned yourself with the amoral.

notrust November 27, 2020 9:35 AM


also CNN, MSNBC, WaPo, NYT;

I recommend AllSides, if you want to see the whole picture.

h ttps://www.allsides.com/media-bias/media-bias-ratings

Denton Scratch November 27, 2020 9:36 AM

@rrd: “Look what it took to unseat the Imperial Japanese of WWII, whose self-superiority was not really any different than 2020’s GOP in America.”

Are you implying that it was “democracy” that unseated the Imperial Japanese? In fact, they were unseated by massive force of arms, and they surrendered to the senior US general commanding the forces against them.

V November 27, 2020 9:56 AM

I’d be happy if all the people who claim fraud would sign up to be election judges in 2 years – they would learn how hard the system works to make sure the right people are allowed to vote* and how hard the system works to make sure the votes are both counted properly and preserved for a possible recount**.

*Legal voters are allowed to vote but even in the highest turnout states 20% of those eligible didn’t bother to turn out. Those people should absolutely shut up.

**Except in locations using electronic tally / no paper trail machines. Such machines should be burned, crushed, dipped in acid, shredded, dropped into an active volcano and replaced.

Winter November 27, 2020 10:00 AM

“In the dawn of our struggle to survive on Earth, pure survival was a moral imperative in and of itself, just as it was a moral imperative to defeat the Imperial Japanese of WWII.”

Which does nothing to teach us how we can run an army or country on morality.

Every human group bigger than a family survives because they have rules, laws, that govern the relations and actions of individuals. I have yet to hear of a single organization larger than a family that did not have rules, and acted solely on their members individual morality, and still survived.

But please, relieve me of my ignorance and give these examples.

Denton Scratch November 27, 2020 10:04 AM

Churchill said that democracy was the worst of all systems of government, except for all the others. (I’m not a lover of Churchill’s sayings, but he did have some nice turns of phrase)

Democracy is a slippery word. Many people seem to take it as the epitome of goodness, and equate it on some level with the act of voting. Well, let’s call that “electoral democracy” – you elect representatives, and hope that they do what is right.

You only need to look around to see that elected representatives mainly don’t do what is right.

Modern electoral democracies depend for success with voters on enormous sums of money. This money is then used to engineer election results: advertising, bribes, etc. Shocking lies are told to the electorate. Elaborate efforts are made to ensure that sections of the electorate don’t vote at all – e.g. by requiring government-issued ID, which can be hard to get if you are poor, but which every car-owner already has.

The money is provided mainly by corporations, whose officers are required by law to advance the interests of their shareholders.

I’m from the UK, and I may appear to be sniping at US “democracy”. But in fact recent UK votes have highlighted the extent to which US campaign techniques have arrived here; we don’t have gerrymandering yet (at least, not on the scale, and not as shamelessly, as it occurs in the USA). And we don’t yet have voter-ID laws.s

These problems are getting worse, and it’s our elected representatives who have to fix it. But they won’t, because it got them where they are now – company directorships, well-paid sinecure jobs on government commissions, government contracts for their buddies etc.

So there’s nothing built into western electoral democracy that can fix it if it’s going wrong. It follows that the only way to fix it is to completely overthrow it, and rebuild from scratch. That’s revolution, and I fear revolutions. But if the existing system refuses to reform itself, then revolution is inevitable.

rrd November 27, 2020 10:10 AM

@ Denton Scratch

You asked:

Are you implying that it was “democracy” that unseated the Imperial Japanese? In fact, they were unseated by massive force of arms, and they surrendered to the senior US general commanding the forces against them.

Not at all. It was a massive number of moral human beings who selflessly gave of their resources and very lives to defeat a deeply evil regime.

No evil force in this world is defeated without selflessly moral intentions, thoughtful introspections and purposeful actions, starting first and foremost with our own less-than-ideal ideals, attitudes and beliefs, that we, ourselves, must engage and defeat within our own hearts and minds, which are often our societies’ commonly-held traditional beliefs.

My greater point in my comments today is that democracy is a fundamental moral underpinning in the aim of creating a moral society, but that actually achieving such a glorious end result will require a great deal more work than merely establishing democracy, where, for example, the minority populations are almost always treated less than compassionately and the power of the powerful only grows. Furthermore, we must understand that a democracy can also be used for amoral ends, an example being America’s embrace of the for-profit corporations’ unlimited powers and the corruptions and oppressions and environmental destructions they produce.

rrd November 27, 2020 10:23 AM

@ Denton Scratch

I didn’t see your second comment as I was composing my response to your first.

You are bang-on correct.

I am stating that the only solution to all the problems you correctly point out requires deeply positively selfless morality both in our leaders and the populace at large, as an amoral populace will choose amoral leaders, and vice versa.

From my vantage point in America, it appears that your leaders are no less amoral than ours than are the leaders of the vast majority of countries across the globe here in 2020.

As Bruce rightly says above: “When you really need to worry is when insiders go bad.”

Our top-level insiders have been bad for a very long time, indeed, it almost being the result of their amoral desires being the very reason they sought to be in government in the first place. They are bad precisely because they are amoral, where lying is as easy as putting their socks on and the pleas of the disadvantaged are as callously disregarded as a used toothpick.

rrd November 27, 2020 10:32 AM

Correction: the first sentence of my last paragraph should read “… indeed, it almost always being …”

My meaning is that it appears that only a few people actually run for office with purely good intentions. Some of them then fall into corruption over time, while others remain true and stout in heart like our great example, the late John Lewis. Regardless, the vast majority seem to enter politics for the amoral personal advantages they or their groups can obtain, whereas what this entire world needs are true public servants.

Le Deplorable November 27, 2020 10:36 AM

@David Longfellow

“That’s major league projection and dissembling.”

I am beginning wonder about that myself. Anyone who believes that there is no fraud in elections is living in an echo chamber of ignorance. However, this time the fraud is skirts up obvious and the security “experts” do seem less concerned with securing elections than with ensuring their side wins.

Which is really what politics has always been. Winning at the contest of ancestral politics meant more resources. More resources meant more offspring surviving to a breeding age. Being able to win in such contests, therefore, improved the inclusive fitness of an individual. Humans evolved the capacity to deceive themselves because a self-deceiver is a more effective liar and liars succeed more often in political disputes than do non-liars.

Etienne November 27, 2020 10:39 AM

The use of mail-in voting by non-absentee’s pretty much overwhelmed the system.

The system was never designed for a central (un-monitored) precinct. It was designed for local precincts staffed by people who knew their local population.

Moving the election out of the precincts to a central command and control center, is the first tool destroying a Republic.

Clive Robinson November 27, 2020 10:45 AM

@ V,

Such machines should be burned, crushed, dipped in acid, shredded, dropped into an active volcano and replaced.

With what?

You’ve left it open for some to say “new improved machines”…

I’m not domiciled in the US, or a US citizen let alone one alowed to vote, but my view point with regards voting systems has not changed for several decades, that is “clear and simple is best”[1]

Which means paper ballots, sealed boxes, and records of who voted and hand counting in open sight, and every thing stays in plain sight untill any recounts etc are over. Then it’s all collected sealed and deposited at a “court” untill it’s safe to burn them.

There is however a problem woth this, in the UK ballot papers have serial numbers and the serial numbers are recorded against peoples identity. So whilst it is possible to fully audit and check for ballot stuffing, it is also possible to find out how someone voted. Something I’m very against for a number of reasons most of which have unfortunately happened to people over the last century to their detriment.

So all ballots have a degree of fallibility due to errors, as “to err is human”. But to get a high enough level of audit to satisfy some people requires there to be a lack of privacy in who a voter choses.

Thus we have a trade in security requirments…

So I’m not sure there can be a perfect voting system, but I think the old joke about Microsoft applies in the case of voting,

“What ever the voting security question is… the answer is not machines.”

AlexT November 27, 2020 11:43 AM

For someone who claims the US Army invaded Germany and the late Hugo Chaves (2013) directed the conspiracy of Biden against Trump, 10% correct will be an unattainable challenge.

Well the US army is still very much present in Germany. As for the Dominion Voting Systems they indeed have a history dating back to Chaves Venezuela. Doesn’t mean much per se but it indeed a fact.

rrd November 27, 2020 11:43 AM

@ Winter

But please, relieve me of my ignorance and give these examples.

As background: because every single human being is a moral being, every single group of human beings has a moral orientation as some kind of center of mass, if not an overt doctrine. Likewise, morality is in no way different to “rules, laws, that govern the relations and actions of individuals”. Resultingly, there are positively moral rules/laws and negatively moral (amoral) rules/laws that people choose to govern their societies.

The only way a person can disavow the fact that all laws are moral representations of human attitudes is to deny that human beings are all moral creatures, the only such creatures on Earth.

Now, for the examples (not that any should be needed at this point) :

Which does nothing to teach us how we can run an army or country on morality.

In America, we have had laws that forbade African-Americans from drinking from so-called “White” water fountains. Those laws were immoral/amoral, and while horrific, they are among the least atrocious laws passed by America in their quest to maintain not just White supremecy, but brutal Non-White oppression.

Then, in the 1960’s, laws were passed that forbade discrimination against Black people (though enforcement still lacks to this day). Hopefully, we will further progress to likewise equally protect all sexual orientations and gender identifications. Progressions such as this are nothing less than a progression towards positive morality and away from amorality.

Which does nothing to teach us how we can run an army or country on morality.

The Geneva Convention dictates that even in war there are moral constraints to how the soldiers must conduct themselves. Beyond their bare minimum moral dictates, the American military’s own rules of conduct led to this wikipedia page’s existence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_executed_by_the_United_States_military

It contains a list of the 141 executions between 1942-5 of US soldiers by the US military. Only one was for desertion; all the rest were for rape and/or murder.

The reason that such laws are necessary is that war is only moral when waged to relieve persecutions of the innocent by the amoral. Even with such a moral mandate in the face of the atrocities committed by the Axis powers in WWII, it is essential that the moral army conduct itself in a moral way, especially with respect to the populations that are being liberated.

Any distinction you try to make between morality and “laws/rules that govern the relations and actions of individuals” is the result of a fatally flawed core misunderstanding. Simply put: there is absolutely no such distinction for they are different terms for the identical concept.

Etienne November 27, 2020 12:07 PM

K.S. says: “I don’t understand why anyone would consider regular mail to be sufficiently secure and robust to handle time sensitive and valuable ballots.”

The mail is never secure unless very strict procedures are followed.

  1. There must be several secret addresses that are not associated with the election process.
  2. The ballot must be double-enveloped to hide the ballot from the mail system personnel until its arrival at the secure drop.
  3. Personnel at the secure drop must check for bombs and chemical weapons.
  4. Mail arriving after the eligible date and hour should be destroyed unopened by shredding and then burning them in batches for at least 15 minutes at 1500 degrees.

Only legal ballots be extracted un-opened and hand couriered to the individual precincts for opening and counting.

Anything less is insecure and a threat to a Republic; A threat to one man one vote system.

MarkH November 27, 2020 12:13 PM

Well, Pavlov’s dogs are drooling on cue …

We have the usual sentiment, “how dare you, Mr Schneier! Stay in your own damn lane!!!”

Many objectors don’t seem to have both read and comprehended the essay. The comments include the usual refutations of things Bruce didn’t write … sad.

The essay’s central concept seems quite clear, at least to me. In order for democracy to work, quite a lot of people (most of whom are virtually unknown to the public) must guide their official actions by commitment to fact, adherence to law, traditions of self-government, and respect for the voice of the people as expressed by elections.

When such people are willing to betray these values, self-government is in danger.

That perspective is neither partisan nor biased.


In 1783, having commanded the victorious army in the American Revolution, George Washington shed his uniform and returned to his rural estate, Mount Vernon. It was reported that when King George III heard news of this, he said that if it were true, then Washington was the greatest man in the world.

For those who don’t know history, there are many, many, many examples of victorious generals in such circumstances who subsequently assumed a dictator’s mantle as their right.

Washington’s action was not democratic in the sense of specific practices or institutions; the Constitution would not be ratified until six years later.

But it was profoundly democratic in spirit: the newly independent country would be governed according to laws and elections.

Washington set an even more extraordinary precedent when, after completing two terms as elected president, he simply stepped down from office in favor of his elected successor. This was radically at odds with usual successions of heads of state up to that time.


I see some accusations that Bruce ignores “facts” and is indifferent to “truth”.

Let’s look at some facts that aren’t made up, shall we?

• Election fraud is a crime, and in most jurisdictions quite a serious one. How many people have been charged so far in connection with the November election? How many tallied votes were allegedly affected?

• Trump and his allies have filed dozens of election-related lawsuits since election day. How many votes have been changed/overturned in consequence of these suits?

The answers to such questions are factual, and by studying them an honest person can begin to see truth.

Etienne November 27, 2020 12:37 PM

MarkH says: “Election fraud is a crime, and in most jurisdictions quite a serious one.”

“most” is an unknown variable. It is not like a mean, median or mode.

Restated: Election fraud is a crime, but in some jurisdictions you can get away with it.

QnJ1Y2U November 27, 2020 12:48 PM

From a quick look at that analysis:

  1. It’s all based on ‘vote updates’, pulled from an informal table maintained at the NYTimes. That’s not an official thing, and we have no idea what process the NYTimes used to receive or group updates. A statistical analysis that assumes a random process is going to be skewed when looking at a non-random process.
  2. We know that inputs from the states are not going to have a random distribution. Vote counting is done by precinct, and due to gerrymandering, precincts are very often skewed towards one party.
  3. He assumes that there should be similar patterns for Biden voters and Trump voters. That’s simply not true – we knew even before election day that in-person ballots would tilt towards Trump, and that more Biden voters would use mail-in ballots. These were counted at different times by different processes, and would have very different behaviors.
  4. He’s analyzing unofficial numbers. We know that there were some clerical errors in the unofficial counts (see my link above). Does this pattern appear in the official, audited tallies?
  5. It’s all based on ratios, which are very sensitive to sample sizes. The author is quite proud of his ‘unusual’ analysis, but there’s likely a reason such an analysis isn’t often used by statisticians. He could address this somewhat by analyzing states where Trump won – that would indicate a bit more whether this is a valid statistical technique.

As someone in the comments noted, the entire article could be summarized as “that’s weird”. It’s not proof of anything, and it’s far, far away from being any real support for the libelous and anti-democratic claims being made by Giuliani and the Trump campaign.

QnJ1Y2U November 27, 2020 3:39 PM

We could try to play whack-a-mole with every variation of “that’s weird”, and “this can be hacked”, but a) I’m not that bored, and b) that’s not the point.

US presidential elections literally involve millions of people and thousands upon thousands of separate jurisdictions and agencies. Trump and crew are alleging that in an election decided by hundreds of thousands of votes, across several states, there was a deliberate, coordinated effort by a huge number of people to change the results. And somehow that effort managed to avoid detection by all of the poll watchers and challengers and auditors and canvassers, and was only visible to some guy ranting on a YouTube video.

It’s an extraordinary claim. And as has been noted often, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Yet so far, despite having significant resources and offering huge rewards, the campaign hasn’t been able to produce even a hint of evidence in court. They have not been able to find anyone involved in this theoretical conspiracy. Just today, a Trump-appointed judge threw their latest case out of court with this statement:

Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.

Outside of court, they’ve been making all sorts of ridiculous claims, and attacking election officials of both parties. This is the attack on our election system that Bruce identified – Trump’s attempt to undermine democracy with lies and libel, with the complicit silence of many elected officials. And it’s only only attack where there is any real evidence.

Didier Frick November 27, 2020 4:20 PM


How convenient. My question was not whether anything was hacked but why the narrative did a U turn.

Guess I’m done here, enjoy your blinders while I enjoy my popcorn.

SpaceLifeForm November 27, 2020 5:34 PM

Juli, you have some ‘splaining to do.


Next up: PDF metadata. The author of the PDF isn’t Sidney Powell, it’s Juli Haller. Who is Juli Haller?

Juli Haller, who wrote the Powell Georgia claim, is a current US Government employee, working for HUD in the Trump Administration.

1&1~=Umm November 27, 2020 6:54 PM


They say it pays to advertise. Well maybe, but people should remember a coin has two sides and most times you do not know which way it’s going to land.

From the first page of a simple name search, no need to even follow the links as the search engine displays enough you can see that there are LinkedIn and Facebook accounts.

But also the text shown by the search engine under these links is quite a trove as well,




You can work out how old she probably is by the number of years she’s been licenced to practice, and quite a few other things. That’s just from a simple name search and the first page of results…

If you then ‘add the Z’ in the simple name search you find,


Then you can replace the Z with ‘Zsuzsa’ and so on. I’ve not done so but it shows way to easily how you can track people down in seconds…

Scary to put it mildly.

ResearcherZero November 28, 2020 12:43 AM

These recommendations are extremely straightforward, and as such a reminder that adversaries most often penetrate large systems by targeting the “weakest link.” –


One could argue that public perceptions are a weak link, but I could also argue that a man I once watched huddled in a ball, up against the side of a hanger, balling his eyes out and clutching at a little girls jumper (as if she was some kind of human shield), probably is not so strong a link either.
But Mercer and Bannon wanted a puppet, and though not very responsive or malleable (the kind of puppet that gets it’s strings tangled and brings the entire show crashing to the stage), they had their minds set on it.
There is a lesson to be learned though, if someone suggests a future presidential nominee, and has white powder hanging out of his nostril, don’t listen to him. Actually, don’t listen to anyone with white powder hanging out of their nose, unless they require medical attention and you are obliged to render such services.

Read the papers, they contain far more practical knowledge than anything else that has happened in the last 12 months, and provide some good recommendations.

Anonymous November 28, 2020 1:27 AM

not a single world of the real technical cause of this, voting on pc that leaves no traces.

I have really hard time believing you are honest about this issues, I read more than one book and you always talk about technical systems or incentives actually determines political outcomes, instead now it seems is all about “disinformation” (that is just a way to say that one part is idiot and believe anything and the other not), honestly I was expecting way more from you.

very sad, a democracy on pc will make America even more fake, you are all on a path with no return cause you lose your honesty Americans, I’m sorry.

you are marching through civil war at a speed that few really understand

ResearcherZero November 28, 2020 2:05 AM

The truth is rather simple, a bunch of 400 kids at computers on the other side of the planet, with admittedly some help, managed to get a large number of people, and at least one significant other, all running in circles chasing their own tails.

Here is a quote though from someone who disagrees (in the interests of balance), “I know the truth! I get it from Facebook on my Ipad”.

To avoid such scenarios in the future, next time we have some murdering rat bastard proxies pinned down in a hole, don’t rescind the order to fire.
When you allow certain individuals to commit crimes without consequences for three decades, in order to obtain some very good intelligence, we might just end up with a predictably bigger problem.

The problem is about 1.2 Megaton in size and it goes “poof”! Every second person is an idiot, and every other person is a fool, and they mostly all are looking for a fight, without even having any idea of what real stress is.
Ask a doctor or a nurse what stress is, or maybe a firefighter, or someone who has been repeatedly under fire. Ask them about how you get hooked on it.

Or better yet ask the people who designed the algorithms for Facebook and gambling machines. The algorithms that are keeping you wanting more of that fix, man, one last electronic click hit, dude. The algorithms that light up the same areas of your brain that a tiger up the arse once achieved.

here some dude talks about how he and others got everyone hooked on dopamine

techniques used by social media platforms

There are some very good papers on how the algorithms work themselves,
but go and get your fix, look them up yourselves. Instead, here is some information on ’emotional targeting’ and data mining. fix

Here, I’ll get you started. It has scripting examples, so you can try it out yourself.

You know you want it…


ResearcherZero November 28, 2020 2:22 AM


You actually have to read the words. There is a heck of a lot written about how the voting system actually works and the paper trail. Bruce has written and linked to articles about this, on more than one occasion.

There is a whole plethora of information about how the American electoral and voting system works. Any discussion on any technical exploits of security are just problems that should be thought about, looked at, and addressed in any products considered in the future. Just because a vulnerability is found, DOES NOT MEAN IT HAS BEEN EXPLOITED, or can be exploited easily.

The American voting system is incredibly robust, and well above the security of all other nations, that I am aware of, by a significant degree. There are a number of checks and balance before and after you cast your vote. It is not just point and click. Any discussion of improvements that can be made are simply that, improvements. But the foundations and basics are pretty rock solid, and that that level of integrity is maintained, is where the focus should remain.

ResearcherZero November 28, 2020 3:01 AM


If information about disinformation is what you want, start here.

Disinformation in Europe and it’s affects on popular opinion.

The basic methods of hacking public opinion are fairly simple.

Security companies and government agencies have good reason to move their focus from Beijing to Moscow.

Hacking Public Opinion – there is a BlackHat presentation about it by Renee DiResta, fire up search and look for it.

If it is bulk information you want, there is quite a bit, but if you want it enough, just annoy me enough and I will oblige.

here is a starter

If anyone wanted to discredit disinformation with more disinformation I would definitely start with the above facts, repackage them with about 94% bullcrap, then feed it to Rudy Giuliani.

Sunlight as a disinfectant November 28, 2020 4:24 AM

xcv –


Reboiling rotten cabbage does not make it any less rotten.

That stuff has been debunked already as,for the “Dear Dr” he has a lot of opinion but “facts they are not in evidence”{1}.

You need to get out and get some Vitimin D built up.

{1} At best his document is self contradictory and his liberal use of the likes of “through the Internet without leaving a trace” is in opposition to his own point 7 on page 2, which also has the disproved Frankfurt data center nonsense in it.

Anonymous November 28, 2020 4:25 AM

This is not an assault against our democracy – it is a final assault. The question is whether we, or society’s institutions, can reassert its stability.

The minority-won elections should have been a wake-up, but even before that journalists were decrying the propaganda being spooned out over America, and the Republicans having developed a strategy that does not depend on the majority of the population, are now openly contemptuous of them, showing quite clearly that their priority is not the needs of the people, instead what is best for the Republican Party. Look at the discord being sowed this year in a futile reelection campaign rather than addressing the critical problems in the country.

Thank you for giving your voice to this. We may be much more interested about algorithms and developing technology, but there comes to a point where we must step away and help the majority assert itself, and hopefully we can return to more enjoyable efforts afterward.

Winter November 28, 2020 5:53 AM

“The American voting system is incredibly robust, and well above the security of all other nations, that I am aware of, by a significant degree.”

I think you cannot substantiate claims about all other nations. The US system is robust, but more robust than those of all other nations! There is no evidence for that, on the contrary.

Clive Robinson November 28, 2020 10:20 AM

@ Anonymous,

I conclude many people on this forum are not acquainted with this evidence, but I can’t say why. It is publicly available now.

What evidence? I see many lies, innuendo and maybes with a little unsubstantiayed opinion thrown in but evidence of what is being claimed, it is most certainly not.

That’s why many are just waiting for a judge to bring Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure down on these litigants attorneys, and have done with it, unfortunately rule changes since 1937 have effectively reduced it’s usage.

But the big failing I see is people getting emotionaly invested in a pile of “horse apples” a bunch of grifters are pushing. Worse some people are falling for it not just emotionally they are also being conned out of their hard earned money by these fraudsters.

If you want to talk about their confidence tricks then maybe some would be interested. But like others here I’ve quickly debunked these stories as they came up. Mostly because they did not past the “snif test” or even the “sanity test” they were not even half way to being conspiracy theories. They relied on people suspending their logic and reasoning skills.

But some of them get worse and are the equivalent of,

1, You think your neighbor is missing something.

2, Your neighbor has a window.

3, You claim that your neighbour has been burgled through their window.

4, Your neighbour knows there is nothing missing thus claims you are a “nutbar”…

5, You get upset because nobody is taking your claims seriously.

6, You start claiming your neighbour is lying about things going missing to cover up the burglary.

You can see where that is going to go…

7, Those who hear you say “Where’s the evidence there is anything missing?”.

8, You can not provide any such evidence…

Thus the inevitable happens,

9, Everyone treats you like the little boy who cried wolf.

Your only solution to this is to provide actual evidence that something is missing from your neighbour… And that’s where the next thing inevitably happens,

10, Your neighbour and others start claiming that as you know so much about the burglary, you must have been involved if not did the whole thing.

And that’s where we are at with this. The Trumpians have protested to much, and thus others are now pointing the finger at the 2016 election and asking if that was “a stolen election” as the “Trumpian’s sure claim to know a lot about electoral fraud”. After all we know they can and have Gerrymandered and used discriminatory legislation to stop what they see as “the wrong people having a vote”…

The most sensible thing to do is take one or two steps back and let things cool off, then let the competent authorities make the next few moves.

North Realist November 28, 2020 10:57 PM

The fundamental problem for the US is that it continues to adhere to an out-dated electoral college approach and uses inconsistent voting process across state jurisdictions.

For a so-called democracy, American political parties do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time and effort attempting to disenfranchise voters.

SpaceLifeForm November 29, 2020 1:00 AM

@ Sunlight as a disinfectant

The kitchen looks familiar.

Juli Zsuzsa Simonyi suddenly came into some bucks last year?


SpaceLifeForm November 29, 2020 1:51 AM

@ Sunlight as a disinfectant


Clive Robinson November 29, 2020 1:12 PM

@ Winston Smith,

I’m reminded that the truth is everything that exists without lie, perversion, corruption, distortion.

Not true, in fact very far from true.

True is not the opposite of false, except in binary logic, which can be used for some reasoning. True and false are in human terms the distent ends of a spectrum with most things lumped in the middle somewhere.

That is there is a very great deal in life that is neither true nor false in absolute terms, but only in terms of perspective of an observer. As I’ve mentioned before every observers perspective is different therefore there is always atleast one more truth than there are observers.

Look at it this way, put a cheeseburger on the table and ask “Is it a true cheeseburger?” and see how many different answers you get.

There is no absolute truth or false in a cheeseburger just somebodies interpretation of what goes into their ideal cheeseburger or in some cases what makes a cheeseburger something they dislike.

Be a pragmatist not a determanist or absolutist and you will find life is so much easier to live.

Live life by the old,

“If it looks like a duck, and
If it waddles like a duck, and
If it quacks like a duck, then
Why not call it a duck? unless
You can prove it is a goose, because
It cares not what you call it.”

In life most things simply “are” not “are true” or “are false” it is highly changable human perspective that decides “good, bad or indifferent”.

Givon Zirkind November 30, 2020 6:34 AM

Lovely speech. Very hypocritical from people who tweeted for years #NotMyPresident and engaged in bogus impeachment hearings to remove a duly elected president.

The genius of the founders was checks and balances. As much as we don’t like the electoral college, it is one of those balances. With this election, it seems a good thing to help decide a contentious point.

Jury power is the right to decide in contradiction of the law and facts presented. That is why juries were made. If you feel the law unjust or applied unjustly, as a juror you can acquit the accused. Similarly, if you think you are being lied to, evidence is being suppressed, as a juror you have the right to decide in contradiction of the facts as presented.

This concept is now being applied by citizens in a peaceful petitioning of the government through the State legislatures to pick the electoral college electors. With all the people you see behind it, there are always more, who don’t make an appearance. With all the funds coming in from individuals and the cost of such an operation, a large portion of the citizenry is in favor of this. The fact that the media refused to cover the hearings or the massive demonstrations outside the legislatures, doesn’t mean it happened. It means the media, including social media, is trying to invoke the axiom, “that if it wasn’t reported in the news, it didn’t happen.” Ah, but it did.

Coincidentally, Kamala Harris has a known, unrefuted, history of suppressing exculpatory evidence. That doesn’t mean she or her associates are suppressing anything now but, now that the question of disinformation comes up; that history darkens the credibility of her and her associates. After all, she got away with suppressing evidence for years and was never held accountable. Is history repeating itself?

Of the overt interference of Google, Twitter, Facebook, et. al. they say nothing. Some of the people at these companies, are Americans. Some born & raised here. Rich, powerful people who not only want to stay that way but, gain more power and riches as well as impose their ideas, philosophies and values on everyone. Democracy be damned.

Michel R. November 30, 2020 7:05 AM


If the Earth was flat, cats would have pushed everything off it by now. That should put an end to their theory. 🙂

Denton November 30, 2020 8:22 AM

I’m deeply disappointed in this essay and I now have to reevaluate everything you’ve written in light of this highly partisan piece. I come here for objective information on security related issues and that objectivity has been completely obliterated.

First ask if this would have been a similar essay if Trump was the apparent winner. Would it be that the election was free and fair?

I do agree with you though, that trusted insiders can be the biggest threat. This has been proven since 2016 with the Steele Dossier and continuing with the refusal of one party to accept the results of that election. Along with their 4 year effort to undermine the potential results of the 2020 election.

The trusted insiders who gamed the FISA courts and other trusted insiders who convinced a good number of citizens that basic security measures constitute disenfranchisement.

In 2014 you wrote an essay about how the NSA is a threat to national secuity, highlighting their domestic spying capabilities. Even going so far as to say that bills introduced at the time won’t actually do much to limit their spying.

Two primary and underlying principles in security research are: be objective and trust nothing until it can be proven to be trusted. Both of those principles have been thrown out the window here.

Suspected cheating dismissed as “error” because your guy won. If an error happens once it’s likely an error. If it happens twice, maybe an error. How many times and across how many different venues does it take for the same error happening for it stop being an error? In 2016 the samre “error” happened in 37 percent of the precincts in the Detroit area and only in that area and in accordance with the views of the majority of voters in the precincts. It was more widespread this election.

You seem to dismiss two of the three rules of security. Authentication-verifying the identity of the person (or resouce) trying to access a system or resouce. Somehow when it comes to voting, authentication is not only no longer necessary, it’s an infringement.

The second, authorization, ensuring the person (now authenticated) has the credentials, the right, to access the requested resource.

That those who question the validity of the processes to enforce those two rules are somehow unAmerican and dishonest.

Your 2019 essay “Eight Ways to Stay Ahead of Infulence Operations” you advocate for social media megaliths take on the responsibility for silencing dissent. That takes on a far more sinister tone in light of this current essay and the actions of social media platforms in 2020.

In your parting shot “They may have long-term worries about the consequences, but they’re unlikely to do anything about those worries in the near-term unless voters, wealthy donors or others whom they depend on make them pay short-term costs.” with the “they” being Republicans, you imply that Republicans are the party of huge donors. According to Open Secrets in 2020 Democrat Presidential candidates collected $3 billion in donations, of which $1.5 billion came from individuals. Republicans collected $598 million, of which $595 million came from individuals.

BLT November 30, 2020 2:38 PM

Trump is NOT equal to Republicans. And Trump is clearly and demonstratively even worse than he is made out to be. That is not saying anything about “Republicans” as a group, or as individuals.

You are correct. Trump has proven himself to be a pro American non war monger which makes him unique among both parties.
– No new wars
– Bringing home the troops in stages (long overdue)
– Making allies pay their share of mutual defense
– Historic peace deals in the middle east
– Protecting our borders and protecting Americans.
– Enabling our military to finally defeat ISIS unlike his predecessor who preferred to unleash them in Syria against Assad.

These are the actions of a patriot who loves America not someone who can be bought and sold by the lobbyists that both sides eagerly embrace.

anon November 30, 2020 2:45 PM

@Denton.Thank you.

Bruce has crossed the line for me as well and lost his credibility.

I have been subscribed to the CRYPTO_GRAM mailing list going back to when it was started in the late .90s, so I am no newcomer to the field.

Just for fun, on June 24 2019 he posted a report titled: “Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center has published a long report on the security of US elections. Summary: it’s not good.”
How quickly things change!

In the past, I have never read such partisan and biased material on this blog. As posted by a couple of people on a few older threads over the last days, there are plenty of irregularities that should not be acceptable to any security expert. Fraud or not, the fact that we are discussing (or better “trying to start a discussion, but immediately being shouted down by the virtue signaling hordes”) problems shows how badly the process has been designed.

If we had a security system that sent different messages in distinguishable form or over different channels, security guys would be having a field day lecturing us how insecure this arrangement was, as an attacked could deliberately suppress one type of message (e.g. ALARM), while letting OK messages pass through.

The same people now tell us it is ok to have Republicans vote in person, while Democrats voted by mail, both completely different processes with completely different subjective requirements. This alone made a fair election all but impossible. What would have been fair in this situation, rejecting the same number of in person and mail-in ballots? Requiring in-person voters to fill out the same mail-in form without any ID?

The job of a security expert is to be paranoid and not trust anything implicitly. What is also sad is how people on this forum claim that complexity and the large number of people and jurisdictions involved would actually guarantee security.

If many eyes would have guaranteed security, Heartbleed would not have happened.

Neither should it be acceptable that no formal security analysis of the electoral process seems to exist. Someone posted a best practice guide, which, while interesting, is trivial compared to the kind of analysis we normally do in engineering.

The sad part of it is that @Bruce is now actively undermining future election security. Instead of claiming the election was fine, he should be compiling a list of every claim raised by the Republicans, show how it can be disproven, and how we can harden the next election against fraudulent claims.
If it can’t be disproven, he should give a recommendation how it can be mitigated against for the next election.

Bullying the opponent into acquiescence, and the author of this blog is doing nothing else, is not security.

Security is designing system that delivers clear and uncontestable results, in a fair, efficient, transparent, and secure manner.

Michael November 30, 2020 3:21 PM

re “Undermining Democracy”

@Bruce, Thanks for showing how you’d do it!

Afaik the man said he would obey the wishes of the electoral college — and is giving people time to make sure everything was in order, nvm the bluster.

I do not see what’s wrong with verifying system integrity.

BLT November 30, 2020 3:31 PM

A few more points to ponder:

  1. The Carter/Baker election study way back in 2005 ended up being very accurate in a lot of the system weaknesses identified. Why was nothing really improved?
  2. Stopping the vote in swing states appeared very coordinated and just gives the appearance of impropriety. It is also a common fraud tactic that happens. This plus the suspicious appearance of Biden only (no democratic down ballot votes) votes in batches in these states look clearly like a sloppy rushed fraud. Someone thought they would only need to steal 200$ in Monopoly but it turns out Trump voters were up by 1000$ and they were not even ready for the magnitude of the fraud needed for the steal. Anyone who can read the zerohedge article and think none of those circumstances look suspicious have blinders on.
  3. Why isn’t Dominion suing if it isn’t true? Their reputation is being so challenged its sue or implicit guilt at this point given the seriousness of allegations being levied against them by those that they could garner a significant judgement from. Failure to do so puts their whole business model at risk.

1&1~=Umm November 30, 2020 4:18 PM


“Metadata is still rich today”

Yes Yoda say’s “scat on chart big piles you will be finding”

Enough even for Hercules to look for a third river to divert through the stables…

MarkH November 30, 2020 4:37 PM

Some observations on reader comments:

• a significant percentage of comments on this thread are about analysis of the integrity/security of the recent election, which was not the subject of Bruce’s essay … there are two other threads specifically for such discussion

• the core subject of the post is the disparity between the evident facts of the election and public perceptions, and the contributions to that gap by people whose duty is protect democracy

Including comments from one of the other threads related to the recent U.S. election, I see several accusations against Mr Schneier, who (we are told):

• is “bullying the opponent into acquiescence”

• is “supporting his political beliefs”

• “claim[ed] Trump won only because he had help from the Russians” and “actually supported his impeachment on that basis”

• writes from “personal bias”

• since he “revealed his political leanings some time ago, he has started to allow his own opinions taint his reasoning”

A particularly devastating accusation addressed to Bruce reads, “Your political biases have neutered your technical insights” … this from an author whose name seems to mean “John of the Clowns”.

Mr Schneier has lost his “credibility” with some, and left others “disappointed.”

In addition to Bruce’s “bullying” cited above, dissenters have complained that they:

• are “trying to start a discussion, but immediately being shouted down by the virtue signaling hordes,” or

• met with “calls for censorship and repression of opinions [other commenters] don’t agree with.”

vas pup November 30, 2020 5:18 PM

Please do not equate republican form of government with core as election of ruling government officials and democracy as political regime with set of human rights protection, rule of law which applied uniformly, not like ‘for friends everything, for other – Law’, access to real justice regardless of demographics, income, connection and last but not least – independent media.

Winter December 1, 2020 12:37 AM

@Anyone complaining Bruce is “partisan”

The first paragraph of the original post is:

Last Thursday, Rudy Giuliani, a Trump campaign lawyer, alleged a widespread voting conspiracy involving Venezuela, Cuba, and China. Another lawyer, Sidney Powell, argued that Mr. Trump won in a landslide, the entire election in swing states should be overturned and the legislatures should make sure that the electors are selected for the president.

None of the detractors claiming “Bruce has lost it” have addressed this paragraph. They do, however, all claim in one way or another that the Democrats “stole” the elections run by a Republican administration in Republican run states under the noses of Republican officials and Republican observers.

None give any evidence that would hold up in court, least of all the Trump campaign legal team who never even claimed any election fraud in any of the court cases.

What can we learn of these responses:
1) The detractors are not interested in the health of USA democracy.

2) There is no evidence known to any of the commenters to support Giuliani or Powell statements that would hold up in court

3) They do not need such evidence to be convinced Biden could never have won

4) The conspiracy theorists have no clue about how USA voting works, especially not how postal voting works. And they do not care because it failed to make Trump win.

5) None of the commenters, none at all, have any qualms at deleting any and all votes by Democrats based on a feeling that Trump should have won

These points, especially 5), show that Bruce was right: Trump’s followers in the Republican party are not only undermining democracy, they want to abolish it.

Clive Robinson December 1, 2020 6:59 AM

@ Winter,

What can we learn of these responses:

And, that they have not yet learned, –despite upto half a century of living it,– that “The Great American Dream” is in reality far worse than the “law of the jungle” and importantly the reasons why…

Whilst you might not be able to slow boil frogs…

Not that it’s realy any better in many other Western countries it could be easy to name. The flowers of peace, democracy, freedom, and free association have wilted under the grasping hands of the self entitled few who can never have enough status above all others.

Winter December 1, 2020 8:45 AM

“The flowers of peace, democracy, freedom, and free association have wilted under the grasping hands of the self entitled few who can never have enough status above all others.”

What is called no-liberalism over here, or neo-cons in the US, has shown to be about making the rich wealthier and the poor poorer.

I suspect that this growing inequality is what is driving the anti-establishment wave in politics. As usual, the ant-elitist are electing the worst exponents of the elite to make their case.

rrd December 1, 2020 12:00 PM

@ Winter

The quotes are yours:

has shown to be about making the rich wealthier and the poor poorer.

Greed is a vice whose paired virtue is generosity.

Furthermore, our compassion is tested when we get more than we need, especially when we know that there are those without enough. It’s a way of embracing and showing gratitude.

I suspect that this growing inequality is what is driving the anti-establishment wave in politics.

Better still would be a rise in societal morality that is learning how to better select our leaders, the “establishment” being shamelessly immoral in their pursuit of money and the power to be above the law.

As usual, the ant-elitist are electing the worst exponents of the elite to make their case.

Well, it’s a work in progress. As George Carlin said, “Imagine how stupid the average American is, then remember that half of them are even stupider.”

Beyond basic intelligence, from Gordon Gecko to Trump to Bernie Madoff, America has shown its love of the ruthlessly greedy for a very long time, indeed. It’s their friggin idea of royalty.

Winter December 1, 2020 12:14 PM

“Better still would be a rise in societal morality that is learning how to better select our leaders,”

And how should society deal with the incorrigibly immoral? If two people discuss True Morality, you get three opinions. So whatever morality on section of society will have, another section will object.

I am still waiting for an example of a community that can do without laws and function on morality alone. But I am not holding my breath.

“As George Carlin said, “Imagine how stupid the average American is, then remember that half of them are even stupider.””

In every community, half of the members will be below average. Irrespective of the community or what you measure. Be it IQ in Mensa or running speed in a home for the elderly. That revelation is utterly irrelevant.

What can be said of the average American is that their education is severely lacking. And this inadequate education is not something you can blame on the victims.

rrd December 1, 2020 1:40 PM

@ Winter

All quotes are yours:

And how should society deal with the incorrigibly immoral?

We make laws and set punishments and then fairly and universally prosecute those who break the laws. If America’s system was implemented fairly for one and all, it would do just fine, so long as it undoes all the intrinsic racial/class discrimination built into its very structure. But the parts about warrants and representation and burden of proof and all that are all quite fair, in theory, though I am no legal scholar.

IIRC, America’s uppermost tax bracket paid something like 90% in the 1950’s. Besides preventing the acceleration of the wealth gap, that steeply progressive tax scale incentivized companies to instead plow their money back into the company, creating divisions such as R&D. Over time, their bottomless greed drove them to find tax dodges and create lobbying firms to relax their tax burden. By any measure, they’ve been wildly successful, and our government and society and environment are suffering greatly as a direct result.

I am still waiting for an example of a community that can do without laws and function on morality alone. But I am not holding my breath.

[First off, that is not what you asked for in your previous comments.]

[Secondly, you refuse to acknowledge that all human ideals, attitudes and behaviors are moral or immoral, as necessarily are our aggregate actions we enact as entire societies. As yet, each society is a mix of moral and amoral laws combined with a combined moral/amoral (ie: far from perfect) implementation. That is because we have not begun seriously trying to self-evolve ourselves individually with some kind of eventual, goal-driven universal societal peace and harmony in mind.]

What you fail to understand is that morality is precisely a set of laws that function to help us regulate our interpersonal relations between people. All such moral laws fall under the umbrella of “love your neighbor as yourself”. That they may or may not be codified into the government’s legal structure is irrelevant to the fact that each person has a moral code to adhere to, at least in some obvious outer cases (random murder is bad, random generosity is fine). Regardless of how moral the legal code is right now, the success of the society will depend on how moral each citizen chooses to be, and that includes disobeying immoral laws.

Regardless, it is our responsibility to regulate our own behavior by self-evolving ourselves towards selfless humanitarian behavior as opposed to our naturally default, biologically built-in mammalian selfishness for the group, as well as the even deeper-still reptilian {feed, fight or fornicate} firmament. This self-evolution is away from animalistic competition, and towards humanitarian cooperation.

To achieve a moral society is less about moral laws and more about educating the populace about how to maximize the entire society’s happiness via each person contributing to the moral standards of the community by their attitudes and behaviors. Yes, laws and punishment are necessary so far, but morality is really about the citizens choosing to live morally with respect to their fellows, for that is the only state of being where peace, happiness and co-prosperity can exist unhindered.

In every community, half of the members will be below average. Irrespective of the community or what you measure. Be it IQ in Mensa or running speed in a home for the elderly. That revelation is utterly irrelevant.

That’s just a joke from one of the most interesting comedians America has produced. But it’s funny because it’s so damned true. D&K strikes again.

That said, my judgement of intelligence begins and ends with one’s moral and emotional intelligence. How one scores on a certain academic test or what job they do is of no relevance to a Sufi. How one approaches life in a multi-cultural world with limited resources is the only test of intelligence that will ever serve to help us improve life for all our societies and all their members. It is also a test we exist within, every day of our lives, our cumulative score determining our happiness or its lack, but nearer actions carrying more weight (that makes it like a moving average).

What can be said of the average American is that their education is severely lacking. And this inadequate education is not something you can blame on the victims.

Regardless of the utter truth of your first sentence, we are each responsible for our own education, especially our moral self-education.

And I am most certainly not blaming anyone, except the willfully ignorant that refuse to educate themselves on how to best treat their fellows. The areas we refuse to study result in accurately reflecting our ignorance of such areas, especially if they are moral areas, for those blind spots show up in our negative attitudes and behaviors. Regardless, whatever we desire to understand will accumulate, and some intellectual pursuits can certainly help general intelligence. That said, it doesn’t matter one single whit how academically intelligent Jeff Bezos is or how accomplished a con-artist is.

Too many people in America choose to refuse to educate themselves, though you are correct that the vast majority of Americans don’t really get the ability to reach anywhere near our academic potential due to the poverty we are born into. I have had close friends that were the product of very expensive private schools, thus I have seen first-hand how great their advantage is when they get to university.

Regardless, we are all responsible for our own moral self-evolution, no matter how privileged we were raised, no matter how evil or good our parents were, and no matter how evil or good our peers and friends are. “I was just following orders” is no more a valid justification than “Everyone I hung out with was just like me”. That is why doing the easy thing and going along blithely with the herd must be accompanied by a very honest evaluation of the herd one runs with, lest one fall in with rogues and scoundrels. Of course, one has to desire to not be a rogue or scoundrel, in the first place.

We all bear sole responsibility for our own ideals, attitudes and behaviors, yet early child upbringing is a major factor in the direction we are pointed towards at adolescence, when we start coming into our power and responsibility.

Winter December 1, 2020 3:03 PM

“we are each responsible for our own education, especially our moral self-education.”

Children are not responsible for their upbringing. And education should predominantly be achieved during childhood.

Winter December 1, 2020 3:07 PM

Even attorney general William Barr says there was no widespread election fraud
h ttps://apnews.com/article/election-2020-joe-biden-donald-trump-elections-william-barr-b1f1488796c9a98c4b1a9061a6c7f49d

rrd December 1, 2020 5:37 PM

@ Winter

Quotes are yours:

Children are not responsible for their upbringing.

Of course they’re not. I’m sorry that I wasn’t clearer but I’m speaking about adults. Until adulthood, we are not responsible. That is why parenthood comes with great responsibility: bringing the potential of either incredible joy or deep sadness or a mixture of the two, always according to the parent’s selfishness or selflessness and whether their teachings are vicious or virtuous, as all morality is measured and recompensed. AFAIK, we are not, however, generally responsible for their pre-adult actions, yet we are fully responsible for how we raise them. Further, we do get some karmic feedback when they manifest a moral or amoral teaching of ours.

And education should predominantly be achieved during childhood.

First off, education must be a lifetime endeavor. Defeating the selfish Id is not “Recite the magic incantation and all is now good.” Though a rapid transformation can be achieved in major inflection points, the path to full virtuousness requires long, hard graft, as surmounting one vice’s hurdle only reveals others not yet faced, and backsliding is certainly possible if one is not careful.

[From the brain literature, it looks like men’s education needs to be very active until they are at least 25 (frontal lobe development), but I’m risk-averse and would prefer we go full Hobbit and make it a nice 33, with a graduation date of 30 being for very precocious students only. {smile}]

Beyond that, I fully agree, which is why I closed my previous comment with the following (that I have italicized here) :

We all bear sole responsibility for our own ideals, attitudes and behaviors, yet early child upbringing is a major factor in the direction we are pointed towards at adolescence, when we start coming into our power and responsibility.

The key is that we each have the moral machinery — the conscience / mind / free will complex — built into us, no matter how poor our childhood training was. In adulthood, we must use that machinery to find a beginning of the path that leads us to the knowledge of how to defeat our Id’s selfishnesses in detail. At that point one will have fully committed one’s self to achieving the highest ideals, attitudes and behaviors, and yet there will still be a lifetime’s work ahead in the struggle against our own negative traits as they are cleansed and purified, one lesson at a time, one setback at a time, and one victory at a time.

Sunlight as a disinfectant December 1, 2020 10:10 PM

@Harry Potter –

So Steve Micallef the author of the ‘SpiderFoot’ tool, used in the ‘305th military analyst’ affidavit, has looked at the data in the affidavit and basically said it’s a compleat load of nonsense…

@ALL –

This is the same alleged ‘evidence’ that many are claiming is proof of wide spread vote rigging and a secret German data center that got raided by US troops etc etc.


Strike 1 :- The affidavit of the ‘Dear Dr’ Navid Keshavarz-Nia with the multiple degrees, expert witness for ‘a large defence contractor’ etc etc (see affidavit) that was claimed as evidence the,


By xcv amongst others has been “debunked” as false (thus probable purjury).

Strike 2 :- Now the ‘305th military intel’ expert that was likewise claimed as evidence, has now been debunked and shown likewise to be false (thus probable purjury).

Strike 3 :- Oh and Bill Barr Attorney General has said their is no evidence of widespread vote tampering…

What as they say is next, to get the debunking treatment?

Is there in fact anything left in the alleged ‘evidence in affidavits’ to debunk?

“Answers on a post card to :- Rudi & Sidney grifters emporium, care of…”

Winter December 2, 2020 12:58 AM

Now we have seen dozens of court cases that fizzled without presenting any legal evidence of fraud, not even to dismiss.

We have seen documents and affidavits that were pure fantasy, including claims of an invasion of Germany.

We have seen reams of accusations about the shortcomings of the postal ballots from people who clearly had no knowledge about how postal voting works.

Now the Attorney General went in looking for evidence and returns with “Nothing Found”.

Still, Trump&Co still claim voter fraud.

Combining all these lines of thought, I reached the conclusion that we have misunderstood Trump.

Democrats stole the elections by convincing people to vote for Biden. The Fraud of the Century was voters voting for Biden.

It is clear America is not ready to halt this type of election fraud. The only short-term solution is to throw out all votes for Biden.

This is exactly what Trump’s lawyers have asked.

I assume future Republican administration’s will close this security hole in the US elections.

Winter December 2, 2020 1:24 AM

“However, he was in fact speaking about himself, not about “the other side”. He was publicly announcing the main body of his personal election fraud campaign at this moment.”

I could not agree more.

Winter December 2, 2020 3:15 AM

@Winter (myself)
I must admit that I have been slow. My recent insights have long been published.


President Donald Trump’s legal team today said it now believes the conspiracy to steal the election for Joe Biden may have included more than 80 million Americans who, evidence shows, “purposefully and willfully marked their ballots so they would not be counted for the President.”

Speaking before the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani cited as proof the certified 80,318,657 votes for Biden – votes he said should have gone to the President but, mysteriously, didn’t.

MarkH December 2, 2020 3:55 AM

@Clive, Winter:

That large fortune (roughly USD 100 million) now in Trump’s PAC (Political Action Committee) is substantially under his direction.

He can (for example) pay himself or his relatives for “services” provided to the PAC.

Winter December 2, 2020 4:31 AM

“He can (for example) pay himself or his relatives for “services” provided to the PAC.”

Fitting for a Fake Billionaire.

Winter December 2, 2020 5:07 AM

Here is information about Trump’s Leadershp PAC:

h ttps://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-is-already-using-his-electoral-loss-to-raise-money-for-his-new-leadership-pac/ar-BB1aTrxK

Leadership PACs also offer wider berth for expenses. They do not restrict politicians from using contributions for personal use, acting as something of a slush fund. Such a perk may appeal to Trump, campaign finance expert Brett Kappel told Salon.

“Leadership PACs are subject to very few spending restrictions — they can use their funds for any legal purpose,” Kappel said. “A leadership PAC could be used to pay for travel all around the country, and it could have all of its fundraising events at Trump properties as long as they charge the leadership PAC the fair market value for those services.”

Erik Johansson December 2, 2020 9:01 AM


“American democracy’s vulnerability to disinformation has been very much in the news since the Russian disinformation campaign in 2016. The fear is that outsiders, whether they be foreign or domestic actors, will undermine our system by swaying popular opinion and election results.

This is half right. American democracy is an information system, in which the information isn’t bits and bytes but citizens’ beliefs. When peoples’ faith in the democratic system is undermined, democracy stops working. But as information security specialists know, outsider attacks are hard. Russian trolls, who don’t really understand how American politics works, have actually had a difficult time subverting it.”

I would like to mention the media’s role in this context and I wonder if not that could be of importance too. It’s not a security problem but from Swedish experience that is the most effective way to affect an election, and it’s lawful.

In Sweden the main stream media has a well documented green and left dominance in staff by over 80%. I think, due to the art of work, there is a natural unbalance to the left compared with the population in most media, though in Sweden we tend to be on the extreme end in many aspects.

After following the voting process from the counting start til the closing time on several channels and I was left wondering what really happened. What stroke me most was the difference in news media coverage of the two parties, both before and after the poll.

A report example:

Winter December 2, 2020 9:20 AM

“In Sweden the main stream media has a well documented green and left dominance in staff by over 80%. ”

In general, if I look at the journalists and their readers/viewers, I see a good match. Which is not surprising, Media outlets need consumers. If the message strays from what the consumers want to read and view, they will leave.

If predominantly people on the left an green end of the spectrum read and view news (and pay for it), then you can expect the news media to cater to their tastes.

If you do not consume media, you cannot complain that the media do not cater to your tastes.

Erik Johansson December 2, 2020 11:05 AM

“If the message strays from what the consumers want to read and view, they will leave.”

That may be the case for magazines of various kind.

I was referring to journalists in nation wide newspapers and public service TV channels. They are all included in surveys from 2012 to recent year, looking at the green it’s now in majority of its own compared to less than 4% of the population. Not counting the middle, the right parties together are about 10% in media versus nearly 50% in the population.

I have little insight in US mainstream media, they seems more distributed over the scale than over here. What I wonder is if this could be an even larger factor in the process than eventual fraud in some swing states.

I should have linked to the MRC report itself:

Winter December 2, 2020 11:24 AM

It has been written before: Conspiracy theories can also be used as a weapon to avoid having to argue facts. The voting behavior of Republicans show they do not believe the elections are rigged. Claiming they were rigged is just a way to refuse to accept the fair outcome:


We see the same behavior in flat earthers and climate change deniers. The reasons they reject rational arguments is not that they are not true, but that they will not accept the consequences whether true or not.

Winter December 2, 2020 11:29 AM

“. Not counting the middle, the right parties together are about 10% in media versus nearly 50% in the population.”

But do these 50% watch the news and buy newspapers?

If Swedes are like the people around me, the answer is no.

So why make news for people who do not watch?

Furthermore, journalists are supposed to write the truth. If the audience wants to hear there is no environmental pollution and all foreigners are criminals, their is a problem. Fox News solved that problem by ignoring facts altogether. But Swedish media are not yet ready to do that.

Erik Johansson December 2, 2020 1:42 PM

“Furthermore, journalists are supposed to write the truth.”

Actually, that general assumption is what makes the report I linked to interesting, wether it’s anecdotal or truthful.

Sunshinevas a Disinfectant December 2, 2020 2:10 PM

Bownse –

A video from “PT News Network” are you serious?

They are “Red Neck knuckle chewers” even by the typical “trucker” OneAmerica/Patriot nutter standards.

“Beer, Tachos, Trump n Fists”

Petr December 2, 2020 2:47 PM


The American voting system is incredibly robust, and well above the security of all other nations, that I am aware of, by a significant degree. There are a number of checks and balance before and after you cast your vote.

Actually the American system is incredibly fragile:

In-person voting:
– authentication system in many states is rather weak (no robust voter identification), the probability of successful impersonation attack is high.

Mail-in voting is disaster waiting to happen as signature-based verification is flawed as perfectly described in this pre-election article:

Five seconds to verify a signature by an untrained person doing this for multiple hours during a day? This is an example of security theatre. The security is not there even if the workers doing the verification are perfectly honest.

Ask yourself a question: How many dishonest persons you need to be able to successfully exploit some of the many a vulnerabilities? My guess is that two persons might be enough. This is really weak.

Then we have those reports of alleged processing the same ballots multiple times – as can be heard in the video posted above. How is it even possible that the ballots, once processed by the machine, were not guaranteed (i.e. guaranteed by design) to always end up in a locked and sealed box?

Security is a process and one of the “results” of this process is trust. It is the lack of trust in the election process what successfully undermines the democracy, not the fraud claims as such.

I am sorry to say that, but what you have now is more like a third world election security assurance.

JonKnowsNothing December 2, 2020 2:53 PM

@Winter @Erik Johansson @All

re: Furthermore, journalists are supposed to write the truth.

During an outbreak of truth from the publication of the Snowden NSA documents, the USA had a very tough time about this because in fact, many news media do not write “the truth”, they write a) what sells b) what’s allowed c) what’s promoted d) propaganda and e) maybe what really happened.

Due to the nature of “news hot off the presses”, now “hot off of twitter”, the retractions and apologies for getting it wrong, regardless of reason, are back paged and hardly noticed.

The US Government with iirc(badly) Senator Dianne Feinstein in the lead, tried mightily to define “journalist” and ended up with a many page list of “What is and is not a journalist”. This was pre the CIA attack on her Senate Staffer over parts of the CIA Gitmo Torture Report that never got released (like many similar reports world wide) (see CIA Head Gina Haspel for breadcrumbs).

Afaik nothing of that list ended up in US Laws because we have some pesky lines in our current Constitution that got in the way.

However, bits and pieces did manage to embed themselves in various official departments in attempts to legally indict and convict anyone publishing information contrary to US Government policies. (War stories abound). The main outcome of which was to harness US Espionage Laws because these are more flexible than trying to charge someone as a “journalist” or “doing journalism”.

In addition, there are plenty of propagandists globally to keep “journalists” out of “journalism”.

If you want to see the back end propaganda machinery working in real-time, try editing any hot-topic Wikipedia entry. Pick a really touchy one, where you will trigger massive notifications, blowing around the globe, that a topic has been modified. Read the history and talk pages. The page history is more fun because not every roll-back-forward will be discussed.

Just don’t expect to be able to fly or travel, get a passport or visa afterward, even after COVID-19 vaccinations become routine. Once on a list, forever on all lists.

ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dianne_Feinstein
ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gina_Haspel
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

MarkH December 2, 2020 3:46 PM

@Petr, plus MANY others:

This thread is not for analysis of election security. There are two recent threads which address these questions specifically.

This thread is actually about people in positions of trust engaging in anti-democratic public rhetoric, and anti-democratic abuses of their positions.

Back On Topic …

Two attorneys who have participated in Trump’s court challenges to the 2020 election results yesterday tweeted this message, addressed to Mr Trump:

Eighty and more million of us request that you use the Insurrection Act, Suspend the December Electoral College Vote, and set up Military Tribunals immediately, to properly investigate and resolve the cyber warfare 11-3-2020 election issue. Further, we request that you suspend the Jan 6 GA Senate Runoff Race, and the January Inauguration until this issue is resolved.

Disclaimers: Presumably, neither of these attorneys (Sidney Powell and Lin Wood) was acting as counsel to POTUS in making these social media broadcasts, and at least one of them has since deleted it. If I understood correctly, neither is the author of the text; rather, both were retweeting.

Some notes:

• the phrase “Eighty and more million” presupposes that more voted for Trump than Biden, for which there is no evidence

• the Insurrection Act enables the use of the U.S. Army within the United States in case of a violent rebellion (as in 1861-65)

• POTUS has no authority to “suspend” any activity of the electoral college; any attempt to do so would be a violation of the constitution, and betray the process by which power passes based on election results

• POTUS has no authority to “suspend” the inauguration starting the next presidential term on 20 January; any attempt to do so would be a violation of the constitution, and betray the process by which power passes based on election results

• the coming Georgia elections for both Senate seats are planned in accordance with state law, over which POTUS has no authority

If the message endorsed by these two Trump attorneys is not an attack on democracy, then what on Earth is?

I further note that the Georgia runoffs are scheduled for January 5, not January 6 … so if Trump says that the January 6 elections must not take place, who will oppose him?

Although Sidney Powell didn’t write this verbiage with the wrong date, she did (just a few days ago) file a suit alleging massive election fraud in Edison County, Michigan.

Those allegations can never be disproved, because Michigan does not have, nor has it ever had, an Edison County. This is consistent with a spectacular number of basic factual / spelling / grammatical errors in her other recent filings.

I judge the most likely explanations to be that either attorney Powell is dumber than a hoe handle, or has a terrible drug abuse problem.

What does this tell us, about the people who trust what she says?

Greg Jaxon December 2, 2020 5:17 PM

I really expected an Information theorist to recognize the US electoral process as a Game, whose rules were and have always been oriented toward the nation as a federation of sovereign states (and not a homogeneous citizenry). And to further recognize the voting processes themselves as vulnerable games. Yet you and most commenters throw terms like ‘honest election’ around as though they were synonyms for plurality of the voting populace.

Realistically the election game comprises both the game itself (still in progress at least until the Electoral College votes) and also the meta game of how much a divided populace can be milked for political and financial ends.

I’ve been soaking up the lore concerning exploits run against voting protocols, canvassing, harvesting, de-duping, counting, and final reporting as any game theorist should. Most of the hysterical AND mainstream press about it is just abysmal (no surprise), and labels about misinformation are just more moves in the game, not objective findings!

Quite a few of the statistical ‘anomalies’ make interesting topics, were their arguments tightened up for courtroom presentation. For those I wait with decreasing patience, since the fund-raising meta-game also consists of doses of theatrical excess. The prospect of court-acceptable evidence would be a huge relief in the modern world of media shock events spun beyond reality and swallowed without solid court-tested evidence. Election 2020 collapsed the MAGA tower in a way we can feel is fishy. The value (to politicos) of systems that are able to do such things seems greater than the will to do the hard forensic research to discover whether the tower fell of its own or needed hidden disruption. So the meta-meta-game is probably going to decide this Trump v Biden in the court of public propaganda and nothing any of us can say or do will get us closer to any ideal governance for the federation. The game has gone meta, and we only imagine ourselves to be players.

rrd December 2, 2020 5:31 PM


Sidney Powell is totally unhinged

Her blink rate when talking is ridiculous, but the real study in illness is when she’s listening to whatever other fool she’s talking with.

And the tragedy is that there are far too many people listening to her insanity and nodding along, although one would be too many.

Disinformation’s modern large-scale effects really show D&K’s applicability to general intelligence being amplified by a person’s moral character times how long they’ve entrenched their attitudes and ideals.

Wants to be a liar? Will believe liars.

Wants to be an oppressor? Will support oppressors.

Wants to be greedy? Will admire the greedy.

Wants to show their hatred? Will support the hateful.

Wants to see justice? Will see the unjust for who they are.

Wants to see peace? Will see the violent for who they are.

Wants to manifest personal moral perfection? Will see others’ unrepentant moral imperfections with clarity, and as much grace as the situation and their development allows.

Sidney Powell is playing the liar’s only game: “I don’t think they can ascertain my true motives.”

But there is only the truth. In the universe. In what we say. In how we say it. Simultaneously, what we really want — the source of all our emanations — stands firm at the center of it all, within each one of us, with inertia and feedback and trajectory and the ability to course-correct for better or worse or more of the same.

Clive Robinson December 2, 2020 6:31 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm, MarkH,

Sidney Powell is totally unhinged and should be disbarred.

Whilst she might be just unhinged, I get the feeling there may be an underlying pathology. That is she may “hit the chardonnay” a bit hard fairly to often. Because the mistakes exhibited are a lot like someone suffering temporary dysphasia caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Which if true, will in time cause damage to a number of the organs of the body including the brain.

They symptoms can also be caused by early onset of certain types of dementia.

What ever the cause, what is going to happen, if it happens in public, will be like a “slow motion replay of a car crash” to unpleasent to watch but unfortunately unavoidably played out in full sight immediately before your eyes…

xcv December 2, 2020 6:42 PM


Disclaimers: Presumably, neither of these attorneys (Sidney Powell and Lin Wood) was acting as counsel to POTUS in making these social media broadcasts, and at least one of them has since deleted it. If I understood correctly, neither is the author of the text; rather, both were retweeting.

Attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood have been acting in the public interest on behalf of U.S. voters who elected Donald Trump by a landslide.

Some notes:

the phrase “Eighty and more million” presupposes that more voted for Trump than Biden, for which there is no evidence

There is ample evidence, despite the incessant and repeated denials of mainstream media channels owned by Donald Trump’s business rivals and political opponents. h++ps://hereistheevidence.com/

SpaceLifeForm December 3, 2020 1:22 AM

@ Clive, MarkH

like a “slow motion replay of a car crash” to unpleasent to watch but unfortunately unavoidably played out in full sight immediately before your eyes…

Yes, this near hourly sitcom, named “The Grift of Edison County” continues.

Now, after 49 months, we still have to endure the final 7 weeks of episodes.

Here are some highlights from recent episodes:

In this episode, we actually have a readable court filing, no typos even!
You have to peek, I don’t want to spoil the plot.


In this episode, we learn why KrakenWood is a step to build a fire.


In this episode, we learn why Grifters usually set up their Charity correctly.


Apparently this show has a lot of fans. Pulling in over $5M per day last 30 days.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasons December 3, 2020 1:27 AM

@ Clive, quoting your quote,


blockquote>Sidney Powell is totally unhinged and should be disbarred.Following up on the statement about dysphasia, isn’t that what Star Fleet specifies as the phasor level above stun?

Winter December 3, 2020 1:56 AM

“There is ample evidence,”

Why was this evidence never presented in court? Why don’t you present us this evidence?

In court, we only get hearsay and nitpicking about a few ballots. All the supposed evidence talked about on the internet boils down to hearsay from people who do not understand the procedures and fiction about invasions of NATO partners.

Unless the evidence is presented in court, I do not believe that it exists.

“incessant and repeated denials of mainstream media channels owned by Donald Trump’s business rivals and political opponents.”

William Barry is neither. He was personally appointed by Trump and has always helped and supported him. He was unable to produce any evidence at all. Giuliani himself has not been able to come up with evidence in court.

What do you know Giuliani and Barry don’t?

Clive Robinson December 3, 2020 5:26 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

Yes, this near hourly sitcom, named “The Grift of Edison County” continues.

Such sitcoms and their older bigger costume drama brethren such as “Dallas” usually have a central cast grouped either in a common domicile or family.

As you forgot to mention the family name I’m assuming it’s the “Spewings”.

As for the domicile, I’m assuming it’s going to change in the final seasons episode to a “Room without a view” on Rikers Island or equivalent.

Hopefully the season will not have a rerun, or be suficiently funded for a second season, though a spin off might unfortunatly get sufficient funding.

vas pup December 3, 2020 5:35 PM

EU vows to crack down on disinformation targeting democracies

“A draft law will be unveiled next year, as the European Commission seeks to limit the influence of state actors on elections in Europe. “We don’t want elections to be bought with dirty money,” said the EU’s Vera Jourova.”

They in EU basically consider dirty money based on origin of money – outside of EU and from state actors.

I guess less election outcome depends on money from tycoons/big business contributions(even from your own country), but rather on ideas, then the more it is closer to real democracy. For this reason I see SCOTUS decision Citizen United as counterproductive for declared goals of election.

Balog Pal December 3, 2020 7:35 PM

Come on!

I was waiting from the moment of the election to see some reaction here, at least on the electronic related points like how come “software updates” happen on machines the day before the election and some even right in the middle. To me that alone invalidates the system.

Not even mentioning what kind of confidence one is supposed to have in “democracy” that lacks the basic security in its voting and allows to explain in this as a virtue. In every other place it is natural to have ID, and no one would think it is voter suppression or anything. But it’s an old story. Now this election switched to the next level dropping even the illusion of honesty by the mass mail-in vote possibility combined with just removing all the safeguards attached to it like the signature checking. When the result is decided by tens of thousands and you can input trash by millions, it is not conspiracy theory, it is the conspiracy. Squared. And shame on everyone hailing it just because it cheated their candidate into power, potentially.

Yeah, I also think SP’s claims are far fetched and look more likely to come from misinformation — while the involved machinery looks as vulnerable as it gets, it might not have been exploited when it seemed enough to just use the propaganda machine, the FB/twitter censorship of the biden corruption, the aimed alerts to vote going only to dems, the ballot harvesting, and the old fashioned ballot stuffing should have been enough.

And they were exactly as promised weeks before, in all the swing states the vote counting got conveniently halted just before it went beyond repair and all the crap engaged. There are affidavits describing the events by the thousands and recently even video evidence started to turn up. So yeah, the cheating is not just evident, it might be even be provable.

And you know more than us what serves the “democracy” and confidence in it. It is transparency, open investigation supported by ALL the involved parties and everyone working hard to reveal the source of every discrepancy, suspicion. Instead, dems go full denial, shout CT and switch to claim the system is not penetrable, forgetting all the claims they made in the last decade. So yeah, whatever the decision will be, everyone will stay unhappy and know it was FUBAR, and kinda no one gave a damn about honesty, just kept pumping for their favorite. And it will likely stay that way.

Winter December 4, 2020 12:20 AM

@Balog Pal
“In every other place it is natural to have ID, and no one would think it is voter suppression or anything.”

In every other place everyone has an ID so showing your ID is not a burden. However, in the US not everyone has an ID and not everyone is able to get the right ID at the right time, and the ID to vote caries a cost. So, requiring an ID to vote is indeed a burden in the US that disadvantages some voters and not other voters.

Putting up a burden to vote, and a selective one at that, is not democratic.

Winter December 4, 2020 12:27 AM

@Tempest in a Teacup
“All that has been accomplished in this moment is to expose the insanity of subjective and collective thought of individuals who are listening with one ear out-of-band. ”

I think the comment section of this post, your comment included, indeed shows the insanity of the current days. Especially, the blind adoration of the incumbent president and the Flat Earth like mentality with respect to voting results and procedures is illustrative to the disconnect with reality of a large part of the GOP support base.

Maybe not your interpretation, but then, I have facts on my side, you only blind adoration and an amok-running narcissist.

Sunlight as a disinfectant December 4, 2020 12:30 AM

Tempest Cloud –

Do you have any thing to say other than,

1 bombastic pomposity.
2 destroy what you don’t like.

We can all see the virtual spittle fly from your lips as you shout your poisson invective to the world like a little tin pot dictator screaming ‘my way or die’.

Sorry but you just come across as incredibly petulant like a small girl threatening to scream and scream till she gets her way. Not nice in a six year old in the playground, but how much worse in an adult in a civilized nation?

Winter December 4, 2020 12:32 AM

@Balog Pal
“There are affidavits describing the events by the thousands and recently even video evidence started to turn up. So yeah, the cheating is not just evident, it might be even be provable.”

What do you know Giuliani, Barr and their teams do not know?

They never showed any such evidence in court. And the affidavits that were investigated were never more than hearsay and based on ignorance about the election procedures.

And there is video evidence that Elvis Lives! Yeah.

Tempest Cloud December 4, 2020 11:24 PM

Bruce’s policy has long erred on objective reasoning, discouraging or forbidding political partisanship, hatred, and subjective idiocy. The essay, although we can believe was written in good faith and for sound intent is nothing but abrasive, obtuse, and politically biased.

Sunshine, your comments are sexist and agist. You should be cancelled like the parasitic culture of your imagination.

Winter undermines narcissism by projecting its own. Good job.

Sunshine and Winter exemplify fraud in your rejection of careful thought and attention to detail. Your commentary deserve no reaction, yet it is incumbent upon someone to reject your omniscience.

No one on this thread can argue that since inception Bruce has consistently encouraged and even insisted that this forum be free from political bias. Each of you have systematically overlooked the meaning of this essay and all commentary contained within it; blinded by your own biases.

The essay’s intent should not be about political stakes, but about ensuring integrity in an election process. An American election. Those you oppose, reject, refute, undermine, or dismiss based on their political position, a fair American election process are not deserving of such constitution.

Support a legal and fair election process or leave it to the adults who can.

Leave the insane political rhetoric, shaming, and cancellation at the borders of democracy as it is insignificant to civil discourse.

SpaceLifeForm December 5, 2020 12:20 AM

@ Clive, Winter, Sunlight as a disinfectant

Not sure which is better

Tempest in a teapot (American English), or storm in a teacup (British English)

Whichever, just because there is a cloud, does not mean there is any water there.

Winter December 5, 2020 2:39 AM

@Tempest in a teacup
“No one on this thread can argue that since inception Bruce has consistently encouraged and even insisted that this forum be free from political bias.”

Facts are still facts even if one party want to deny them.

The earth is still round, COVID19 a deadly pandemic, and Biden won the election even if some deny these easy to verify facts for political reasons.

MarkH December 5, 2020 5:10 AM


A little feedback …

This blog has many readers who are really smart. Most of them have met, and learned from, people even smarter than themselves.

Writing fancy words when everyday vocabulary can do the job, doesn’t help you in any way.

When my brother (always an avid reader) was in secondary school he developed an immense vocabulary with many exotic words I surely wouldn’t know, if he hadn’t taught me.

It amused him to sprinkle his school papers with his $5 words. I was young enough to imagine that his teachers would be favorably impressed by vocabulary that sent them to their dictionaries.

In fact, they wrote on his papers “simplify your language.”

Sunshine as a disinfectant December 5, 2020 6:14 AM

Tempest Cloud-

“Sunshine, your comments are sexist and agist. You should be cancelled like the parasitic culture of your imagination”

Err would you care to point out the truth of that statment?

You won’t, because in reality you can not, as it’s all in your head, which says a great deal more about who you are than you might suspect. Thus people will be able to track you down by your behaviours not any fancy words you might wish to try to hide behind and shout insults from.

So are you ‘a popup troll’ just for this thread or a ‘regular troll’ that goes by a different name in other threads?

Winter December 5, 2020 7:28 AM

@Tempest in a teacup
“The essay’s intent should not be about political stakes, but about ensuring integrity in an election process.”

There is a classical sentence that describes your use of integrity:
You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

For one thing, integrity means that the outcome of the elections express the ballots cast by the voters.

For all the hot air sprouted by the losing camp, all counts, recounts, re-recounts, investigations, audits etc by both camps have shown again and again that the published results agree with the ballots cast.

So, when you look at the facts, those things that are observable, you find that “integrity in the election process” has been ensured well.

What remains is assertions about non-observed events that left no traces and no witnesses, but with a lot of hearsay. Also, we see statistical arguments from people who do not understand probability nor statistics. And we see a lot of hypotheticals and just-so stories.

It is clear by any reasonable observer that all these base-less (==non-observed and non-observable) allegations, accusations, and libel lead to a “a spiral of distrust and destruction” that undermines the trust in the elections.

In short, these accusations are Undermining Democracy.

Which is 1) The title and subject of the original post and 2) What you and other trolls have been relentlessly doing.

The only truly secure voting system is where no one votes.

lurker December 5, 2020 12:04 PM


The only truly secure voting system is where no one votes.

Ever noticed the oddity where some of those systems in the same breath describe themselves as the Democratic Republic of *** and as a Dictatorship of the Proletariat?

MarkH December 5, 2020 5:36 PM

While the deniers splutter and fume, the processes of law proceed.

Not only have all of the states in which Biden won by narrow margins already certified their election results; enough states have certified Biden/Harris as winners to ensure more than 270 electoral college votes.

By federal law, these certifications cannot be overturned.

The presidential election is officially over.

The last Japanese soldier to surrender from World War II did so 29 years after government of Japan had done so.

It was hard for him to accept reality.

Clive Robinson December 5, 2020 6:33 PM

@ lurker,

describe themselves as the Democratic Republic of *** and as a Dictatorship of the Proletariat?

But… In the same vein you have the “United States” becoming the “Disunited States” as for “Pesident of the Republic and Supreme Commander” I’ll others flip the logic on that…

Mind you I think Australians had the right idea, few of them admit to knowing the words of “Advance Australia Fair”[1]or being able to do much more than sing “Tara de dum tara de dum” vaguely in time.

However ask them to sing all five verses of “I am Australian” and “No worries”[2] even the Parliment sings it occasionaly as for those a bit older “Waltzing Matilda” still sounds good with a beer in the hand. Both songs facing up to the nations past.

Mind you Australia is not the only place if you want to see tears in a Kiwi’s eyes, wait till they are a little mellow or home sick and sing “Now is the hour” / “Po Atarau” (Mãori Farewell). It gained popularity in 1915 as Mãori troops sailed off to Europe and the first world war. In my experience a now glum looking Kiwi Generally needs a good hug a friedly smile and another drink afterwards.

As for the official New Zeland anthem it’s a poem set to a funeral hymn and called “God Defend New Zeland”… Like australia they also sing “God Save the Queen” the “English” national anthem (Don’t talk about Marshal Wade in the alledged sixth verse, just stop at the fifth…).

But in Britain the national anthem is not popular any longer either. The English prefere a bouncy sea shanty of Rule Britania or the “Pomp and Circumstance March which you can be jolly and wave flags to even when you are a tiny tot (see any Last Night of The Proms for adults doing the same). Scotland has the song “Oh flower of Scotland” which expresses the opposite view to the alledged sixth verse of “God save the Queen” but it’s got a few awkward bits that fair trip even the most lubricated of tongues. As for the Welsh now there is a question… It’s “Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” (Land Of My Fathers) and unless you’ve spent seven years practicing in a coal mine or chapel you’ve not got a chance.

And yes in my younger days I’ve had occasion to sing them all, well apart from Land of my Fathers I just could not get my voice around it and sounded like the proverbial frog in a drain pipe trying.

[1] Writen by a Scottsman and first played to an audience on St Patricks Day 1878… As I mentioned the other day there are a lot of people of Scottish descent in Australia their ancestors first ariving a century before that, not of their own choosing. I won’t say it’s revenge but oh boy is it a dreary song at almost the same beat as a lament march, it does not put a spring in your step.

[2] More importantly they are happy to have fun with it and dance along as a waltz or even “hardstyle”,


I heard the original probably before many Australians did, it was back in 1993 in the Royal Albert Hall London sung by Judith Durham and the Seakers on their 25th aniversary tour and I quite liked it, but could not get hold of it back then. Many more have heard it recently when it was recorded to raise money after the horrendous bush fire that claimed much of Western Australia, killing upto half a billion creatures.

Winter December 6, 2020 4:55 AM

“The presidential election is officially over.”

Threatening those who select the electors, and the electoral college is still an option to change the outcome.

As Trump’s supporters are already threatening the election officials, with Trump’s approval, I think this strategy is a very real possibility.

JonKnowsNothing December 6, 2020 10:27 AM

@Winter MarkH All

re: Messing with the Electoral College

Trump’s best chance to do this “legally” is to convert some Electors (the people who are sent to vote at the Electoral College) to Faithless Electors (people who vote contrary to their stated mandates).

Faithless Electors are not uncommon and generally are “protest” votes without changing the final outcome.

Trump needs to get enough Faithless Electors, from Blue States, that control number of votes he needs to flip the election. There are 538 votes but some states have more votes than others due to how they are apportioned. So Trump needs 70+ votes from N-Electors.

There are 2 attacks here:
  a) target more electors from small states that have close results
  eg: Target Maryland (10) + Michigan (16) + Wisconsin (10) etc

  b) target 1 or 2 big states that can flip the results
  eg: Target California (55) + Illinois (20)

There are some states that have laws to prevent Faithless Electors.

Trump would have to persuade the Electors but not cross the boundary of bribing or other criminal action. He has proved he has the machinery to do both.

Would Trump risk 2024 to do this? Elections are a USA ritual every 4 years with serious campaigning beginning in 2022. Excluding his potential problems on leaving office, he can continue as-is stumping and holding rallies building on the 49% that like him and waving a hand at the 51% that didn’t. (see Ross Perot)

That 2% is an easy enough change to obtain particularly when the huge costs, economically and human of COVID-19 will be landing on Biden’s Plate. Biden is going to get the depression, famine, 2nd Wave (USA is still in the 1st Wave) and he will likely get the 3d Wave too. He has to deal with the wreckage of the global economy and global political landscape changes. There is 49% of the country that is already beyond unhappy and there is 51% of the country that is seriously unhappy.

The one thing that unites all USA is that we are collectively VERY UNHAPPY.

ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faithless_elector
ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faithless_electors_in_the_2016_United_States_presidential_election

In the 2016 United States presidential election, ten members of the Electoral College voted or attempted to vote for a candidate different from the ones to whom they were pledged. Three of these votes were invalidated under the faithless elector laws of their respective states, and the elector either subsequently voted for the pledged candidate or was replaced by someone who did.

Although there had been a combined total of 155 instances of individual electors voting faithlessly prior to 2016 in over two centuries of previous US presidential elections, 2016 was the first election in over a hundred years in which multiple electors worked to alter the result of the election.

As a result of the seven successfully cast faithless votes, the Democratic Party nominee, Hillary Clinton, lost five of her pledged electors while the Republican Party nominee and then president-elect, Donald Trump, lost two.

ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ross_Perot
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Winter December 6, 2020 11:40 AM

“2nd Wave (USA is still in the 1st Wave) and he will likely get the 3d Wave too. ”

Looking at the graphs, the US is already in their third wave.

h ttps://www.vox.com/21523039/covid-coronavirus-third-wave-fall-winter-surge

Biden could also benefit from the vaccines that are becoming available and the subsequent economic growth

Clive Robinson December 6, 2020 2:13 PM

@ Winter, JonKnowsNothing, MarkH, All,

Looking at the graphs, the US is already in their third wave.

Not realy the US curve is noticably different to other Western countries. That is they did not have a clear first wave peak followed be an exponential decay into very low or zero cases before rapidly climbing for a second wave this past month and a bit.

The US had a peak then a slight decline follpwed by a continuation of the first climb. Likewise a second slight decline then another ratchet up.

As you look at the graph they never realy had a decline sufficient to say theor first wave is anything close to being over…

We are currently seeing the start of the Thanksgiving infections and the start of the deaths from the election infections. I suspect that the winyer solstice to New Year period will be somber occasions for quite a number of US house holds with the end of January being the start of more somber occasions for other households.

This year the Luna New Year will be Friday 12th Feb the start of the Valentines Day Weekend. I dred to think what the results of that weekend will be as much of the world will be celebrating one or both days by traditional close contact and the Northern Hemisphere will be well into Flu/Cold season, where peoples immune systems are at their lowest.

I guess my usual celebration of the 25&26th of January will not realy happen this year. It will be Cullen skink, haggis and neeps for one with a tail order of Cranachan accompanied by I think a couple or three hot toddies this year for medicinal reasons 😉 Rather than wasting a whole bottle of whisky on making Atholl Brose[1] As for Australia day, well the “beach party barbi” is not going to happen this year so probably spend the day “duvet surffing” instead.

[1] A drink to help you slit a giants gizzard… Or so the story goes. It’s a lightly fermented mix of whisky (1bottle) left to steep in oatmeal (1handfull) then strained (the oatmeal can be used in pudings) disolved into which a decent measure of clear Scottish heather honey (to taste) either bottle and leave in the fridge for a week or add double cream and whipped egg whites and serve in Champaign goblets with a little fresh oatmeal spinkled on top with a few fresh raspberries and a silver spoon (or gold if you have it, both give a better taste than stainless steel).

Balog Pal December 6, 2020 3:38 PM


“A court ordered statistically significant sample of Arizona’s mail in ballots found 11% of the accepted ballots did NOT match according to the Democrats’ own expert. That is thirty times more illegal ballots than the margin of victory. Georgia, Pennsylvania & Nevada likely worse.”

This is what undermines the democracy: accepting and tabulating ballots that should not be. AND what I already mentioned: instead of working toward investigating every claim on fraud or mistakes trying to sweep them under the rug. Especially together with calling those raising the issue all kinds of bad people and the ones trying to undermine anything. If the claim is false, then there is no reason to do that: it will fall under scrutiny. The behavior of blocking the light belongs to those who have good reason to fear the claim is actually true.

O the somewhat narrower issue, IUC during the first GA recount they discovered 3 distinct instances when a memory stick with a batch of ballots was not entered into the system.

If I were an expert to evaluate the security of the system, I would certainly not sign it off if such flaw is allowed to happen. I.e. around here the counters may manage to mis-evaluate a ballot, but the totals can not come out with discrepancy, as the total number of ballots is known and verified by all observers. Not entering a batch would be discovered on matching the total counted and reported vs. the total of incoming.

Possibility to palming sticks is IMNSHO a very serious flaw that allows for a pretty simple attack capable to swing an election in itself.

Sunlight as a disinfectant December 6, 2020 6:59 PM

Balog Pal –

“A court ordered statistically significant sample of Arizona’s mail in ballots found 11% of the accepted ballots did NOT match according to the Democrats’ own expert. That is thirty times more illegal ballots than the margin of victory. Georgia, Pennsylvania & Nevada likely worse.”

Lets reword that,

1, 11% of some fraction of all the votes.

2, The margin of victory across all votes.

You are not comparing like with like.

That alows all sorts of false statistics to be made up to suit a purpose.

Get the actual real numbers for all the states you mention and then we can talk about what is or is not an act as an agent that

“… undermines the democracy: accepting and tabulating ballots that should not be.”

But as others have noted there has been many cries of election fraud that are frankly ludicrous and for which no evidence exits that is anything other than (in)expert opinion based on unverifiable information, or is plainly wrong to the point of perjury.

This has created a huge “credibility gap” and “blind emotional investment” which have done more harm/damage than just about anything else, upto and including “killing off of the voter base” due to encoraging unsafe behaviours in a time of pandemic…

Balog Pal December 6, 2020 7:56 PM

11% of the mail-in votes. The test was made on statistically representative sample agreed upon by the judge and experts on both side, and the result of evaluation too.

The fraction of mail in votes within all votes is known, you can convert it to actual numbers and ratio on the whole pool.

The test was done in Nevada, the state that does mail in voting for a long time and has plenty of experience. Unlike all the other swing states that did very little of it. So by any logic you can expect way bigger error rate. Though there is no necessity to speculate, similar test can be made in any state. Or on bigger samples. Until that happens I accept the measurement over speculation.

From this the conclusion is pretty simple and sad: if the results get accepted as they stand now without amendment and the base procedure proceeds, then the election will be decided by the mass of illegal/incorrect votes. As compared to actual democracy where the election is clean and the sum of legal ones is what counts.

On the bright side there is still some trace of hope, the situation can be remedied by either redoing the election correctly (one of the state is actually running election anyway for the 2 remaining senate races, it can be done in the timeframe) or declare the result contested and follow the procedure for that. It appears the USA constitution has provisions for those outcomes too, and it would not even be the first case for use.

And certainly those who actually care about honesty and democracy should work in the following years to learn for all the mistakes and fix the system to not have this clusterfrak on the following ones. One would think it should be a simpler feat than sending people to the Moon and bring them back alive.

JonKnowsNothing December 6, 2020 9:07 PM

@ Sunlight as a disinfectant @ Balog Pal

re:error rates and magnitude

disclaimer: I don’t tweeters

Balog Pal quotes a twitter feed as proof of source and claims the twitter announcement shows a 11% failure of sample source but doesn’t specifically indicate which percentages of error go each way. 2% error in the Trump count or 9% more for Biden?

It may be that twitter is now an official election officer for Arizona, but I don’t think that’s the case.

As noted:

(11% of 11) is different from (11% of 100,000) and different from (11% of ~2MILL) (1)

Perhaps M. Pal would like to supply some official information?

1, Which is why when corporations state salary increases or bonuses as percentages, the payroll only increase for the Big Dogs at the End of the List.

  * Inventory Specialist $25K/year * +11% = $27,500 / year
  * Jeff Bezos $200BILL/year * +11% = #2,220,000,000 / year

Magnitude makes a difference.

ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Bezos
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

xcv December 6, 2020 10:09 PM

What the Center for Technology and Civic Life is

According to Influence Watch, the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) is: “a Chicago, Illinois-based center-left election reform advocacy group formed in 2012. The organization pushes for left-of-center voting policies and election administration. It has a wide reach into local elections offices across the nation and is funded by many left-of-center funding organizations such as the Skoll Foundation, the Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation.

The Center for Technology and Civic Life has two main programming areas: “civic data” (a term it uses for election and candidate information), and training for election officials. CTCL has assembled resources to collect data from nearly every local election office; covering candidates on the ballot for each race, information describing those offices, and contact information for elected officials. The organization boasts that more than 250 million voters have accessed its data and that CTCL acts as a major supplier of ballot data for tech giants Facebook and Google. Additionally, Rock the Vote, the Women Donors Network, and the Voting Information Project have all used data provided by CTCL

QnJ1Y2U December 6, 2020 11:22 PM

@Balog Pal
The test was done in Nevada
Your link says Arizona. And as others have noted, it’s an unsubstantiated Twitter link, from a partisan pundit who has lied before.

And I’m pretty sure he’s lying now. The closest thing I could find was this story. If that’s the correct court case, then Barnes got the percentage wrong, the process wrong, and the conclusions wrong.

From that story:

county officials don’t use that [signature] standard, which is typically applied in criminal cases … election officials have other information available to them to help verify a voter’s identity.

This contradicts your conclusion that the votes in question should not have been counted.

Trump is alleging that there was a massive fraud across several states, involving literally hundreds of jurisdictions, while we’re getting posts here talking about six ballots with inconclusive signatures. Trump is obviously lying, and raking in hundreds of millions while doing it, so his motives for undermining democracy are clear. But why are others playing along?

Winter December 7, 2020 12:54 AM

“A court ordered statistically significant sample of Arizona’s mail in ballots found 11% of the accepted ballots did NOT match according to the Democrats’ own expert. That is thirty times more illegal ballots than the margin of victory. Georgia, Pennsylvania & Nevada likely worse.”

There is a good reason Barnes does not link to the court case. It was totally busted.

This is the case:

Defendants’ expert testified that 11 of the 100 envelopes were inconclusive, mostly because there were insufficient specimens to which to compare them. He too found no sign of forgery or simulation, and found no basis for rejecting any of the signatures.

These ballots were admitted at trial and the Court heard testimony about them and reviewed them. None of them shows an abuse of discretion on the part of the reviewer. Every one of them listed a phone number that matched a phone number already on file, either through voter registration records or from a prior ballot. The evidence does not show that these affidavits are fraudulent, or that someone other than the voter signed them. There is no evidence that the manner in which signatures were reviewed was designed to benefit one candidate or another, or that there was any misconduct, impropriety, or violation of Arizona law with respect to the review of mail-in ballots

Another failed case referring to it:

Winter December 7, 2020 1:27 AM

the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL)”

I had not expected that you would advertise the good works of the CTCL.

Kudo’s to you!

Sunlight as a disinfectant December 7, 2020 3:31 AM

Balog Pal –

Your reply to me is further evidence of dishonest intent by you.

Rather than supply the figures which would clearly show what you were saying was a load of horse scat, you tried to worm around it.

Thus rather than being held as just a fool who did not reason, you’ve now been shown as a malcontented idiot who can not hide their intent to deceive.

In Europe they have a number of derogatory expressions for people of your intent, and here in the US laws of free speach that alow them to be written in plain sight for everyone to see.

However as others from Europe have shown the mature and responsible thing to do is “debunk your fraud”.

People might hope that you would learn from this, but the fact you hide behind a pseudonym to hide your identity suggests you have no intent to learn and will carryvon your deceit either here or in other places.

As some one in Europe has observed in another place (which you can search for),

“Every time you see it comeing then just make the sign of the cross/holy horns/sphagetti etc and call out LOUDLY “Begone foul shade”. If the boss gets uppity then just claim religous persecution. Growing old is mandatory, growing wise is optional”

Any way it is now well past ‘Rack Ops’ time, so time to get some sleep.

Balog Pal December 7, 2020 6:18 AM

In a previous post I said Nevada at one place that is correctly Arizona, that’s my mistake, sorry, the rest what I said stands with amending the typo.

Winter provided the link to the official case, it is worth reading. It contains the expert testimony and it is not debated.

The court indeed decided that having 6-11% of signatures being “inconclusive” on the check is fine and allow them to be counted in the result that results speaks volumes about the court. (Or the verification and remedy procedures around election result debate, the court may be tied to just enforce some broken standard. Though especially section 4 argues from conclusion rather than toward conclusion.)

It changes nothing about the facts of the real reliability of the election results. This is supposedly a security related blog with people versed in that field. What is the correct security baseline here? I certainly expect to count only conclusive results and treat everything else out. Not the other way around.

And if someone wants to include the noise it should be the burden on them to prove it is a good idea. I’d welcome some real arguments from those having a different opinion rather than just partisan mudslinging that belongs to the “politics ruin everything” pile.

Winter December 7, 2020 7:22 AM

“The court indeed decided that having 6-11% of signatures being “inconclusive” on the check is fine and allow them to be counted in the result that results speaks volumes about the court.”

That is not what the court said. The signatures were not inconclusive, but the experts could not decide on the validity “mostly because there were insufficient specimens to which to compare them.”

Which means that not having stored conclusive specimens of a voters signature is not reason to take away the right to vote from a registered US citizen. Especially not as the verified contact information of that voter was present with each signature. Voting is a right, not a favor, not to be denied for frivolous reasons.

The signatures were not inconclusive, or fraudulent, or suspicious or whatever. But the voting registers did not store a useful specimen of the voters signature to compare it to. However, the voter could have been contacted about whether or not she or he had send in a mail ballot because verified contact information was present on the envelopes.

Furthermore, the court decided that:
“There is no evidence that the manner in which signatures were reviewed was designed to benefit one candidate or another, or that there was any misconduct, impropriety, or violation of Arizona law with respect to the review of mail-in ballots ”

In short, people voted and their votes were counted. Nothing was found that indicated foul play, fraud, or impropriety. No evidence was presented that indicated anything wrong was done.

To summarize, the votes were found to be valid votes by registered voters without any hint of foul play, tampering, fraud or other impropriety.

MarkH December 7, 2020 11:36 AM

@Winter, JonKnowsNothing:

What Trump wants to do with the Electoral College is abundantly clear — he’s the burglar who breaks the windows of an occupied house and then uses a jackhammer to open the safe.

By my math, he would need to persuade 38 electors in order to steal the election. His plan is more of a reflection of his desperation to escape criminal prosecution, than his comprehension of reality.

Many states have the authority to replace electors who refuse to comply with their laws for electoral college votes.

Try to imagine being that 38th hypothetical elector, whose personal decision would accomplish an authoritarian overthrow of U.S. democracy. Surely, bloodshed would ensue.

My optimism is that we don’t yet have enough traitors shameless enough to do so.

I learned from J S Bach the phrase, “Wir haben ein Gesetz” — we have a law. So far, the 2020 election has proceeded with an adherence to law far superior to my anxious expectations. Most likely, it will continue to do so.

Winter December 7, 2020 1:02 PM

“His plan is more of a reflection of his desperation to escape criminal prosecution, than his comprehension of reality.”

Trump never has show any proficiency in planning, let alone planning a coup d’etat. Also, he never showed any planning about his own future.

And he cannot keep a secret. If Trump ever has a secret plan, he will brag about it on twitter.

JonKnowsNothing December 7, 2020 2:27 PM

@MarkH @Winter @All

re: Faithless Electors

The possibility of Faithless Electors is part of how our system works.

As you pointed out, some states have enacted laws to prevent Electors from casting their votes in ways other than the results of the state election (changing the vote or abstaining). Some states have explicitly not changed these same rules.

155 times in the History of the United States of America, the Electors have voted against their mandate. It’s not “treason”, it’s built into the USA election system. It may not be “nice” but it is allowed.

If We The People chose to prevent this, then those states that do not have prohibitions need to enact such laws. Electors are State based; not Federal based, so it would be up to the relevant states to do this.

Electors can vote or abstain. If there is no clear winner in the Electoral College on round 1, a series of run-offs happen. Trump does not necessarily need to win the first vote, he needs to prevent Biden from crossing the threshold to win. Again, Trump would have to target Blue States and Electors that do not have state enacted mandates.

The process of multiple rounds of Electoral Voting has also happened more than a few times in the History of the United States of America sometimes with different unexpected outcomes.

A similar debate swirls over US Political Party Nomination Conventions, where delegates from states are supposed to cast their votes for the Primary Winner in their state-party-primary but often do not do so or only on the first symbol round of votes. The political parties address this in various ways and with lots of backroom meetings. Some of these backroom deals and their results have been explored by historians.

It’s not a unique problem to the USA.

The UK is having a bad time too with BREXIT looming and the smell of dead fish rising from their Parliament and no one really wanting to vote on which pile is less odoriferous, even though a United-Party-Line vote is expected. Rebellion swells in the ranks and Political Career Savage Operations can be expected there too.

We continue to live in interesting times.

SpaceLifeForm December 7, 2020 2:54 PM

Ones signature tends to get less pretty over time.

When I voted, I showed ID, they checked the electronic pollbook to verify I was registered and had not voted already.

I did not even have to provide a current messy signature that possibly could be construed as a bad forgery of my own signature from say 5 years ago.

xcv December 7, 2020 2:59 PM


Ones signature tends to get less pretty over time.

That’s what you get for an M.D. degree and a shot of liquor for every delivery in the maternity ward.

When I voted, I showed ID, they checked the electronic pollbook to verify I was registered and had not voted already.

Old ladies at the local library are polling your hair like you’re a little boy.

I did not even have to provide a current messy signature that possibly could be construed as a bad forgery of my own signature from say 5 years ago.

They were ready and waiting for it, weren’t they? Show up at the voting booth and there’s a federal cop waiting out back in an unmarked riot van with large zip ties instead of handcuffs.

MarkH December 7, 2020 10:36 PM


As is usual in optimization problems, the combination of trends whose first derivatives have opposite signs yields a “sweet spot” … in other words, beyond a certain degree the Idiocy can overwhelm the Usefulness.

The dynamic you described is common in authoritarian systems. In Putin’s Russia, for example, observers judge it likely that some of the most extreme outrages are not explicitly commanded from the Kremlin.

Rather, the Autocrat makes his attitudes and wishes broadly known. Lesser officials — sometimes far down the hierarchy — commonly feel a desperate need to make displays of loyalty (to the All-Highest) even more gorgeous than those of their colleagues.

So, they carry out what they know to be the wishes of their Master.

“Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

Winter December 8, 2020 1:52 AM

“True but he may not know about “His Secret Plan” as he’s not been told about it yet and may never be told even though it will be said “It’s his plan”…”

That was what I would normally assume. However, the way Trump lashes out left and right and will follow the “advice” of whomever he spoke last makes this kind of manipulation hazardous.

It has been written many times before, that everyone who tries to “use Trump” for his own devices will end up being used and discarded. Look at the fates of Steve
Bannon and Rudy Giuliani who both attached to Trump to further their own agendas.

Especially look at the picture of Giuliani in front of a landscaping firm next to an adult book store to claim Trump was “still” winning the elections:
h ttps://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/11/four-seasons-total-landscaping-trump-team-news-conference.html

We can only speculate how the elections would have gone had Trump been a “useful idiot” in the hands of competent conspirators, but I would have been have been very afraid indeed.

Winter December 11, 2020 10:58 AM

“The U.S. now has a development which illustrates precisely the point of Bruce’s essay”

150 million Americans voted. This whole fracas from the Republicans is only to ensure that this never happens again.

If everyone voted, the Republicans would never win an election again.

MarkH December 11, 2020 6:15 PM

SCOTUS has rejected the Texas lawsuit, as was virtually inevitable.

It wasn’t merely a case with some flaws — it consisted exclusively of flaws, with no valid component.

Dozens of officials have shamefully slimed themselves by endorsing the stupidity.

The highest court in my country was not ready to follow them.

Winter December 12, 2020 9:07 AM

We seem to have another trolling group supporting each other (probably just 3 Sybils of the same agent)

Simple to spot: Complaining about partisanship and censorship, but not supplying supporting facts or new information.

That has always been my best Troll detection strategy:
Trolls never ever make you any wiser. They never volunteer useful information.

JonKnowsNothing December 12, 2020 11:53 AM

@Winter @MarkH @SpaceLifeForm @All…

Thank you for the troll patrols

It will be over soonerish and then the trolls can move on to another topic.

def Soonerish:

“Soon(erish) = Quite some time after “shortly”, but before “eventually”, a while after “in the near future”, but without a doubt “before the usual appointed time”, perhaps close to “early”, but surely long after “at once”. My guess is… as soon as the info leaks out.”

MarkH December 12, 2020 12:53 PM

Meanwhile, outside my home country …

Both Hungary and (more recently and to a lesser extent) Poland have right-wing governments which are undermining democracy, and the rule of law (which is an indispensable component of democratic governance).

Both governments are violating European Union standards, which require member states to adhere to democratic principles and modes of operation.

Here’s in interesting piece in The Guardian about the EU temporarily suspending its threat to withhold certain funding from those two rogue states until/unless they reform.

It’s perhaps a mixed outcome. The EU famously has a horror of internal conflict, understandable in a union which generally requires major decisions to be unanimous. The delay in the application of budget sanctions is obviously a disappointment to those hoping for reform, but at the same time the looming threat might exert some useful pressure on the governments of Hungary and Poland.

It’s a complex and important story, of great interest to people who, like me, believe that increasing the proportion of humanity living in democratic states is better for human rights, alleviation of poverty, international peace and stability, and the cooperation of states to work on vast problems like climate change.

Winter December 13, 2020 7:10 AM

@xcv and @All
About the infamous Kraken witness Spyder.

It is now out that this was all a fabrication of, surprise, Sidney Powell:

“Spyder,” according to Powell, is a former military intelligence officer. The Washington Post, however, identifies “Spyder” as Joshua Merritt, a Dallas IT consultant, and Merritt confirmed to the paper that he was the clandestine witness. Merritt was, in actuality, a wheeled vehicle technician who enrolled in intelligence training and failed to complete it.

Note that Powell has lied in court about her source.

MarkH December 13, 2020 1:35 PM

In January, some Republican members of Congress are reportedly planning to object when tomorrow’s Electoral College tallies are reported there.

This will be another asinine stunt with no practical effect on the transition of power, but will bolster the seditious “November criminals” myth in the minds of tens of millions of Americans.

MarkH December 14, 2020 12:17 PM


The Wisconsin supreme court is notorious for being packed with far-right judges, who in 2020 made rulings calculated to tilt elections toward the GOP.

My guess is that this court was inclined to rule in Trump’s favor, but understood that they would merely cover themselves in shame and deserved opprobrium by so doing.


As of this moment, the states whose electoral college meetings have reported out show a tally of 125 electors for Biden, with no defections (“faithless electors”).

I don’t know what time the total is projected to cross the required 270, but I suppose it’s a matter of two or three hours.


Ironically, the best depiction of Trump today comes from AG William Barr, who has been shockingly corrupt in his perversion of the Department of Justice as a tool for Trump’s personal and political agendas.

But even Barr wasn’t corrupt enough for Trump, so the president has turned against his accomplish, raging against him and threatening to dismiss him.

Barr reportedly characterized Trump’s attacks as “a deposed king ranting.”

Conservative commentator George Will (who left the GOP because of Trump) predicted a few weeks ago, that Trump will end his presidency as he began it:


MarkH December 14, 2020 2:38 PM

Biden’s tally of electors now stands at 215.

Still no faithless electors.

In particular, all of the narrow-margin states which suffered so much turmoil from Trump’s lying slanders have already come in; if some electors wanted to make their symbolic protest, I would thought it more likely in those states.

Among states not yet reported, California by itself will bring Biden’s total to 270.

It’s all over, except for the snarling, whining, sobbing, raging self-pity.

If Biden doesn’t end up with the 306 electors as lawfully determined by the state elections, the tally will still probably be quite close to that.


I see you’ve been paying attention to Wisconsin …

PS I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before, but I can readily visualize him as a slug … and some slugs are indeed orange in color. Donny the Wonder Slug!

Clive Robinson December 14, 2020 3:11 PM

@ MarkH,

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before, but I can readily visualize him as a slug

Sorry “Slugo” has been taken by that NY born twerp in the UK because although he realy does look like a slug, “slugo” rhymes with “Bo-Jo”…

I have a friend who’s a little bit dour in demeanor and I was speaking to him on the phone, just this afternoon after the anouncment London is to be put in “Tier 3 Lockdown” first thing Wednesday morning.

I made the comment that maybe tommorow we should do something festive to chear the place up. And I mentioned “Traitors Gate” has some spikes on it… After a moments pause a supprisingly bright and chearfully whistfull comment came back of “Aye Boris would look fair brèagha up there”.

Winter December 14, 2020 5:08 PM

It’s over.


Rep. Paul Mitchell, a second-term Michigan Republican who is retiring from Congress, announced Monday that he is leaving the Republican Party and will become an independent in protest of the GOP’s embrace of Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

h ttps://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/12/14/biden-transition-electoral-college-live-updates/

I suspect the GOP will start the new year leaving behind even the pretext of having any principles at all, besides Might is Right.

The interesting question remains whether a political party can survive without any ideology?

JonKnowsNothing December 14, 2020 9:56 PM

@MarkH @Winter

re: It’s over…

This was the longest 3d Act ever… Barr’s gone too.

Maybe there will be a fire sale before end of year?

Winter December 15, 2020 12:50 AM

@Tempest Cloud
More than 1 month and 50 court cases later, and still not a shred of evidence has been put on the table for inspection. Trump’s very own legal team did not even dare to present this “evidence” for lack of substance.

Trump lost!

Trump lost the popular vote, the recounts, the re-recounts, the electoral college, and 50+ court cases against the outcome, even those presided by Trump assigned judges. The executives that Trump hired to oversee the elections said he lost, and his own, hand-picked Attorney General said he lost.

The loser that keeps on losing.

More than 80 million people voted for Biden, 74 for Trump, and those states that voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012, again voted for the Democrats in 2020. Nothing strange.

Biden won, by every means. Get over it.

MarkH December 15, 2020 1:57 AM


I don’t know about a fire sale … but I suspect that auction of corrupt pardons is in full swing.

JonKnowsNothing December 15, 2020 8:42 AM


re: Corrupt pardons

Another interesting (ahem) phase of history about to unfold.

In other countries when changes of leadership are equally difficult or violent or even more than violent, often the out-going president is given some sort of legal immunity just to Get Out of Dodge.

Later on, when the dust settles and the new strong-person is running the show, that immunity starts to waiver and in some cases ends up being removed and the previous-strong-person ends up in court or prison or both.

Marcy Wheeler has some interesting insights as to what might or might not be on the table for Trump and why. She is known for her analysis and highly accurate timelines of events and legal issues. Her current insights into Post-Trump prosecutions are that a good number of analysts are focusing on the wrong bits that won’t fly legally due to complex previous investigations.

There is a little less than 50% of the USA who is not best pleased about the current election. Getting bogged down into a shoot out over Trump might not be the best thing to do when so many more things need doing.

Deferred action might be the best action.

Some countries take years before they act; some never do and are just happy to have a change of scenery.

note: EmptyWheel can be difficult to follow (legal technicalities) and articles referencing Julian Assange and/or Edward Snowden are going to be on the strident side of analysis. They are equally of interest because of the entwined legal issues with Trump.

ht tps://www.emptywheel.net/2020/12/12/the-mistaken-timeline-of-virtually-all-discussions-of-a-future-trump-prosecution/

The Mistaken Presumptions of Virtually All Discussions of a Future Trump Prosecution
December 12, 2020 by emptywheel

(url fractured to prevent autorun)

MarkH December 15, 2020 9:29 AM


Just to be clear, the corrupt auction of pardons is for people Trump doesn’t care about (but are willing and able to pay his asking price).

The likely pardons for himself, his family, and his criminal associates present an extremely complex and tangled thicket.

I doubt that anyone can meaningfully predict where that story will go … but it will be an engrossing drama for people who either (a) like that sort of thing, or (b) want the U.S. to continue as a republic.

Anon E. Moose December 15, 2020 6:03 PM

I read through many of the opinionated comments above. I finally gave up when I realized the fallacy behind them. Let’s see if we can uncover it with some questions.

How many of you have personally witnessed ballot counting in any of the contested races’ locals? Probably None.

How many of you have had hands on alone time with the intention of compromising any of the ballot counting machines in question? Probably None.

How many of you are well versed in the political climate at any of the contested locals? Perhaps a couple.

This is a security blog and yet the majority of the comments are political in nature.

Grow up and investigate the facts.

State the number of independent security audits done before and after the votes were counted.

Were the tabulating machines quarantined from outside influence?

Does all log data match the paper trail?

Honestly treat the election with the value you say it has and stop the politicized insolent attitude.

Winter December 16, 2020 1:12 AM

@Anon E Mouse
“How many of you have personally witnessed ballot counting in any of the contested races’ locals? Probably None.”

Please, share your experiences in ballot counting and election fraud with us

“State the number of independent security audits done before and after the votes were counted.”

The previous commenter, Clive Robinson, has written about the difference between an opportunity for a security breech and an actual crime above.

You might want to comment to that:

MarkH December 16, 2020 7:58 AM

@Moose, who wrote:

This is a security blog and yet the majority of the comments are political in nature.

Please read my comment above.

In it, I patiently explained that this is not an election security thread … and that there are, in fact, two other threads devoted to the security of the 2020 U.S. federal election.

For the convenience of our readers, those posts can be found here and here.

This thread is about the abuse of office by many officials and and professionals of the Republican party, in ways that threaten or damage the foundations of American self-government.

Given the nature of these offenses, and the self-evident political motivations behind them, it is hardly feasible to discuss the matter without referring to politics.

It is a source of continuing bemusement to me, how easily some readers of this blog are excited into frenzies of tongue-clucking Victorian indignation:

“It isn’t done. I won’t have it! It’s scandalous! How dare they!! The Duchess will be furious!!!”


I’m not the comment police — we have kind and attentive moderation here — so I offer as a perhaps useful example, my personal approach:

• I make and effort to read and understand Bruce’s post

• I spend at least a little time looking through previous comments, to survey what has been said, and what perhaps has been missed

• though I often enough wander off-topic, I try to discipline myself to stay within within hailing distance of what Bruce wrote about

Eddie December 16, 2020 10:29 AM

From the linked NY Times article about Senator Lee: “To some extent, Mr. Lee was saying out loud what many conservatives have been saying quietly for years: that redistribution of wealth through taxation or attempts to regulate business are a threat to liberty, even if they are widely popular.”

I’m not going to argue whether wealth redistribution and business regulation are good or bad. What I will argue is that being widely popular doesn’t necessarily make them good. See patrikedblad.com/logical-fallacies/the-appeal-to-popularity-fallacy/.

It’s unclear, from the NYT article alone, what exactly Senator Lee meant when he mentioned “rank democracy” and so forth. But what seems clear to me is that pure democracy–i.e., everyone having a chance to vote on every new law–is nothing but rule by the mob, or tyranny of the majority. With such a system, we’d probably still have Jim Crow and segregation in the south. School desegregation was wildly unpopular in New Orleans, and it took Federal officers going in, against the wishes of the outspoken locals, to enforce the rights of minorities; see John Steinbeck, “Travels with Charley,” for a very moving description.

See also Haidt and Lukianoff, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” for a good explanation of how a democratic system can fail. They give an example of a hypothetical high school with 80% white students and 20% black, and the whole student body votes on what songs they want to hear at the school dance. Everyone gets an equal vote; it’s democratic; that makes it fair, right? No, not really. The black students like different songs than the white students, but since the blacks are only 20% of the student body, they get outvoted every time and 0% of the songs chosen are the ones they like.

Maybe it would be more fair if there were some elected representatives who choose songs, and 20% of those reps are black (i.e., proportional representation)?

MarkH December 16, 2020 10:43 AM


“Democracy” means rule by the people. Don’t trust me on this: look up its Greek language roots.

Calling a system of governance democracy does not specify by what mechanism(s) the people exercise such rule.

Your comment describes direct democracy, which is not the primary basis of the government of any of the world’s states, because (as you observe) it functions poorly.

Whoever equates “democracy” with “direct democracy” is either

(a) ignorant, or

(b) lying.

It happens that Senator Lee’s party has become the party of minority rule: in the great majority of recent federal elections, more votes are cast for Democratic candidates for the House, the Senate, and the presidency.

They despise majority rule.

MarkH December 16, 2020 10:53 AM

This is what Bruce was writing about

It has just become public that (according to allegations by local law enforcement) a few days before the election, an HVAC contractor in Texas had his vehicle rammed, and a gun thrust in his face, by a hired operative who claimed that the unlucky air conditioning worker had 750,000 “fake ballots” in his van.

I note in passing that if this were even conceivable, the load of perhaps 4+ tons of paper would be difficult even for a contractor’s van.

Most of us will not be surprised, that the van was empty of ballots.

According to law enforcement, the alleged perpetrator of this serious crime “had received $266,400 from the Liberty Center for God and Country, a Houston-based organization funded by Republican megadonors.”

Note that the apparent basis for the claim of fake ballots, were the fact-free ravings of a Very Stupid Orange Man.

That is an attack on democracy.

MarkH December 16, 2020 11:00 AM

This is what Bruce was writing about, pt. 2

Yesterday, Trump retweeted a statement that the governor and secretary of state of Georgia “will be going to jail.”

That was an endorsement of said message by the most powerful man on Earth, who has under his authority a federal department with nearly unlimited power to investigate and jail anyone.

The offenses of these two officials — both Republicans! — are apparently that their administration oversaw an a lawful and impressively accurate November election, and that they have defended the lawfulness and validity of that election’s results.

That is an extreme, grotesque, and dangerous attack on democracy.

JonKnowsNothing December 16, 2020 11:09 AM


re: redistribution of wealth

The primary fallacy in all these types of arguments can be determined in at least 2 ways.

A) The It’s Mine, You Cannot Have It fallacy.

B) The fall back to “free market” slogans.

There is no free market in the USA and in most parts of the world. The rules are written precisely to prevent this. Would you like to be an ISP and compete with ATT? Would you like to start an Electric Car business and build them? Would you like to be able to borrow large sums of funds required from banks to start your business?

If you understand that the claims of “It’s Mine, You Cannot Have It” are built on a Closed Market system designed precisely so you cannot compete on equal footing, financial, etc with any other business in the same class, the fallacy becomes quite clear.

It’s not theirs and historically, they don’t get to keep it all that long. Check out Emperor Maximilian to see how fast it becomes Not Theirs.

ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilian_I_of_Mexico
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

c1ue December 16, 2020 4:35 PM

The Democrats just spent 4 years pushing utter bollocks based on paid oppo by Steele.
To then advocate that the Republicans “act nice” is delusional.
The election was absolutely rigged but largely legally – in that mass mail-in ballots are a recipe for fraud but even without fraud, can be relied on to turn out a lot more Democrat welfare voters who otherwise aren’t particularly high turnout.
A lot of the rest is a consequence of a sudden, mass uptick in mail-in ballots: verification processes etc based on a minority absentee vote could not possibly scale so quickly.

JonKnowsNothing December 16, 2020 7:03 PM


re: vote could not possibly scale so quickly.

You got any hard numbers on the lack of scalability?

It would seem odd since the last N-years the Trump-Republicans (as opposed to the decent sort of Republicans) have been gerrymandering the election tracts to make sure that only Republicans can win them.

All perfectly OK and approved by the US Supreme Court on a number of occasions.

Perhaps someone in the Trump-Republican contingent went to a Betsy DeVos designer school and missed the 20 minute overview on math skills and messed up the scale?

  1:1 1:10 1:100 1:1,000 1:10,000 1:100,000 1:1,000,000

Here’s a scale you can check your maths against. It’s called Exponential Rate of Increase or Exponential Growth. You can look up any graphic of the number of COVID-19 dead (USA or Global) to double check your calculations.

ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betsy_DeVos

ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exponential_growth
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Winter December 17, 2020 12:46 AM

“in that mass mail-in ballots are a recipe for fraud but even without fraud, can be relied on to turn out a lot more Democrat welfare voters who otherwise aren’t particularly high turnout.”

See here, the reason the elections were rigged: Democrats voted!

The fraud is that 81 million Americans came out to vote for Joe Biden. Without mail-in voting, they could not have voted.

Read the report:


Winter December 17, 2020 1:23 AM

“You EFF’ers are 100% Mafia. ”

So you consider Electronic Freedom a crime?

“That premise is a farce and fraudulent on its face, to think the very poor would support the welfare trap policies that prevent them from getting good jobs or going in profitable business for themselves.”

You obviously have not asked poor people about their preferences.

It is next to impossible in the USA for a poor person to get a good job. Any jobs pay too little to even keep a roof over your head. In the USA, the less welfare in a state, the lower the pay for low end jobs. And the poor support welfare because it is their only chance for food, healthcare, and an education for their children. With a job, they have to live in a car, begging for food.

“You only talk about rights and freedoms from the point of view of a Democrat cop handcuffing us and reading us our rights on the way to jail.”

I am not an American and consider the Democrats only the lesser evil. Also, I support human rights. Jailing people for their opinions is not part of that.

“Your politically motivated criminal charges for “hacking” are getting really, really old especially in view of your absolute refusal to acknowledge or fix CVEs and zero-days without a full disclosure of vulnerabilities including working exploit code.”

All not evidence a crime was committed.

If the dead voted, give names of dead people who voted. If the machines counted mail-in votes wrong, the hand recounts and re-recounts would have shown. If there had been evidence, it would have been presented in one of these 50+ court cases. But Trump’s lawyers even did not assert in court there had been fraud.

However, @c1ue was right, Republicans objected to mail-in voting because it allowed Democrats to vote.

Winter December 17, 2020 1:46 AM

Xkcd has a map of the distribution of votes over the USA in the 2020 elections.


The nice feature of this representation is that it shows very neatly how the published voting results distribute between states over the map.

If you hover over the map, you see a noteworthy text.

Tempest Cloud December 17, 2020 9:40 PM

Winter is full of snow.

If your idea of exercising democracy is to abstain discourse and encourage non-citizens, felons, dead persons, and non-person entities to vote in order to win an election, well then assuredly it is not your critics who comfort an unresolvable hatred for spring.

To others, Americans embrace the value of a profound Democratic-Republic. To be one without the other is a shallow and fleeting existence. Don’t let Winter fossilize your spirit of liberty. Even a frigid, arduous winter thaws.

xcv December 18, 2020 1:02 AM


Xkcd has a map of the distribution of votes over the USA in the 2020 elections

There’s a weather man on TV and a stand-up comedian.

@Tempest Cloud

To others, Americans embrace the value of a profound Democratic-Republic

And there’s a People’s Democratic Republic of Korea

I just hate all that Communist Party stuff, at some point or another, it’s no wonder the Nazis went to war against it.

Clive Robinson December 18, 2020 2:33 AM

@ Tempest Cloud,

Raining down on peoples rights,

encourage non-citizens, felons

They are still contributing members of the USA thus entitled to a say in US governance.

The fact you want to exclude people, tells us what your idea of democracy is, and it’s realy not a very nice one at all.

Because it can only go one way, and on some dark and stormy day when you discover you have become a “non-person” excluded from having a say and much else besides, what will you think? Because you won’t be alowed to say, as protesting it will make you not just a non-person but a criminal one fit only to be used, abused and broken up for spares or some such as happens in other parts of the world.

Such are the joys of authoritarian states where status and fear are the currencies of the “Ruling Class” and “Powerless Classes” respectively, and you have no choice as to which you are put into.

Winter December 18, 2020 5:14 AM

It seems I tripped up some wires in moderation. Second try

@Tempest in a teacup
“The day in court will come.”

If at 50th time you do not succeed, try again for another 100 times.

It is a sore loser who wants to change the rules after the match is lost.

“Americans believe in justice.”

Not what I see. They believe in revenge and human sacrifice, yes. But they especially eschew real evidence and prefer rumors and hearsay. Especially when they lose.

Very sore losers indeed.

“To ignore the irregularities is either due to ignorance, is an opportunity to be purposely misleading or a conflation of the two.”

Indeed, it was all the fault of the referee who did not disqualify the players of the other team. So unfair that they could simply play and win.

And so unfair we could not change the rules of the game after the match was lost.

Such sore losers.

50+ court cases presided by so many Republican chosen judges, all the way to the SCotUS, who all said “Show us the evidence” and “The law allows citizens to vote”.

Sore losers, all of them.

Winter December 18, 2020 6:54 AM

“I just hate all that Communist Party stuff, at some point or another, it’s no wonder the Nazis went to war against it.”

Writing something like this is in Europe considered a red flag, with lights and sirens.

We know what road lies ahead here. But we know how your divine leader thinks about it, so it is not really a surprise.

Goat December 18, 2020 7:53 AM

“It seems I tripped up some wires in moderation.”

@Winter, it seems these aren’t uncommon, I hope there isn’t an AI Black box for this….Though moderation is a very difficult [and undignified] job. Once I heard in a podcast libre lounge(h ttps://librelounge.org/episodes/25-managing-spam-and-hate-speech-on-the-fediverse.html) how they were making plans to fight spam on the fediverse, though it would require some kind of account(may be made to work with pseudonyms). I would like to take this moment to thank the moderator, who does the work of filtering out things for us.

MarkH December 18, 2020 8:00 AM

@Moderator(s), Goat:

I wish to second Goat’s expression of gratitude for the moderation of comments on this blog.

I’ve seen enough online discussion forums turn into disgusting slug-fests (and I’m sure other participants have seen this as well).

Thoughtful moderation has kept this as a resource in which comments can significantly enrich and enlarge on Bruce’s posts, and thoughtful dialogues occur.


Winter December 18, 2020 8:24 AM

“It seems I tripped up some wires in moderation.”

In no way was this intended as a criticism of the moderator.

I am always grateful that the moderator(s) of the sites I visit keep the discussion readable and enjoyable. And I can imagine how difficult (and thankless) this job is.

I accept that I will have to adapt my replies to the etiquette of good taste and a reasonable and polite discourse. Sometimes, the heat of the moment can let me forget my good taste a little.

JonKnowsNothing December 18, 2020 10:52 AM

@Winter MarkH Goat @All

re: Thankful Moderation

“whoever” it is does a really good job. It’s very hard to keep basic junk out of system like this (btdt) and some topics should have a “fire warning” label.

Early on in the COVID-19 crisis there was a concern that COVID-19 wasn’t on-topic but later it was decided to let the topics continue, for which I am extremely grateful. I have learned a lot of science and useful tips (Clive’s cooking classes) and much has kept me focused on seeing it through to the end.

I play on-line MMORPG games and those have terrible difficulties with moderation as a rule and it takes a long time to get policies and procedures and notifications in place to tamp-down the worst of the Chat-Shouts that erupt for any number of reasons including RNG/PRNG outcomes (1).

So, I pile on the kudos to whoever has the task of keeping things civil without drying up the stream.

1, MMORPG combat games are 99% PRNG based. See recent topics here on RNG and non-random outcomes.

confused January 9, 2021 2:57 PM

I’ve been waiting a while on this because someone posted it already and not a single person responded to the allegations. This IT forensics report is quite significant and looks to be direct evidence against what is stated in this blog post.

I’d appreciate it if people would take the time to actually look at the evidence and weigh it. It doesn’t matter if the courts dismissed all the cases, if they didn’t look at the evidence.

This is evidence:


confused January 9, 2021 6:42 PM

This is exactly what I’m talking about. I read your link, and every follow-up link. None of them directly handled the evidence in that report. I know how to analyze these reports, being experienced in the IT and software engineering world for almost 15 years now.

It is more of the same he said/she said, fact-checked with he said/she said, laced with character impugning. Not a single thing was actually said about the data in the report. Just more people saying it was false and/or dismissed.

I fully understand the low-level, technological and mathematical methods used in the report. I want someone else who does, too, who can point me to how it is false.

This is another one I find highly credible:


Please don’t give me more of the same responses I see here. This is a security blog for, what I thought, technical people, and I would like a technical response. Otherwise, I’m left with thinking you can’t refute the evidence on its merits.

A simple link to a technical rebuttal will do.

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