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Yesterday a worried first-time diarist was hounded to the point of deleting his diary and posting a second diary to apologize for the first. To their credit, Kossacks quickly assured him that some of the insensitive comments arose from anxiety, as everyone was a bit stressed out.

A sarcastic diary that has been posted twice this morning by MRDFS, at 1:56 and again with a slightly different title at 9:27, and lightly Rec'd, turned my thoughts back to some comments from yesterday that I found disturbing. The diary:

Nothing about Tagg Romney's voting machines and software patches?

You mean that can't just "flip" a switch and "steal" and election?

You mean even if we only have  3 point lead in a state we can still win it?

You mean we actually have the ability to fight their voter suppression schemes and we aren't helpless victims going up against the almighty Karl Rove secret cabal.

We should always be diligent and stand up against those seeking to curb voting rights (which they do IN THE OPEN). We should learn the lessons from the past

But it's time to get over the PTSD from 2000 and 2004 and drop the conspiracy theories and the victim posture.

More below the squiggle.

Partly, I suspect what's going on is something I've gradually learned to work with during my marriage of 42+ years. People handle anxiety in different ways. Some, like my husband, lean toward denial, and it works for them. (A certain amount of denial is healthy. For one thing, it lowers the likelihood of depression.) Others, like me, lean toward preparing for -- and fighting, if possible -- every bad scenario we can't convincingly rule out. Which would you rather have in your surgeon?

I'm not a psychiatrist or psychologist, but it's my impression that the vigilant sort of person is more likely to have suffered betrayal and/or abuse, particularly during his or her formative years. (I myself was abused as a child.) This adds a third dimension to the clash between people whose anxiety is heightened when others bring up worrisome possibilities, and people whose anxiety is lessened by addressing worrisome possibilities head-on.

My recommendations?

1) Please don't come down on worriers as if we're crazy, or tell us to "take a deep breath" or "get a massage" (as if we hadn't thought of that), or flame us as Concern Trolls without very solid reasons. It only makes our anxiety worse, and solves nothing. In the situation diaried above (and elsewhere, by others, repeatedly), it isn't crazy to worry about digital vote tampering. It may not be as potentially significant as flat-out not letting people near the polls, but what if it shaved a fraction of a point here and there, and this made all the difference?

2) Maybe it would help in future elections to have a thread for self-admitted worriers. There are plenty of us, I assure you. This way, we would keep our defense from disrupting your defense, and all of us would benefit.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." -- Thomas Jefferson

    by pianogramma on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 10:17:06 AM PST

  •  Rational Consideration of Vulnerabilities (0+ / 0-)

    is important, but as long as some find it more important to maintain focus and upbeat attitude, than to be vigilant against demonstrably possible tampering, there will be a conflict. One sees this also with the pro-plutonium commenters who feel it is  important to downplay the dangers of radioisotopes to preserve enthusiasm for nuclear energy, which they feel is important for fighting global warming. Their priorities put reality below message, which is arguably acceptable on a site dedicated to promoting Democratic candidates, at least in the former case.

    •  for worriers, facts help enormously (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino

      eg in the case of election tampering. If those in the know have time to attack the messenger, maybe they have time to rebut the worry with something on the order of "this happened in 2004 and you can be sure OFA is all over it, but the most the Repubs ever pick up with this sort of scheme is maybe half a percentage point, so right now we need to concentrate our efforts elsewhere."

      There was some of this going on yesterday, but I also noticed a lot of flat-out denial. Better not to read worry diaries at all, if that's the reaction.

      Which reminds me: everyone, worriers included, should check the past day's diaries (at least) to make sure they aren't duplicating an earlier diary. So much duplication yesterday!

      "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." -- Thomas Jefferson

      by pianogramma on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 11:17:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But for conspiracy theorists (0+ / 0-)

        all facts only seem to confirm their theory more.

        Not all people questioning electronic voting machines were conspiracy theorists, but quite a few were (the diarists who claimed the election not only could be rigged, but already was rigged).

        I don't see why we should have a different standard for birthers and truthers than we have for conspiracy theories about voting. And in fact, birthers and truthers are comparatively harmless; if you convince a sufficient number of people that  it's pointless to vote because the machines are rigged then you might actually end up producing the result you claimed was going to happen anyway.

        •  yes and no (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sandino, renbear

          I think what you mean is conspiracy delusionists, in which, as you say, facts only confirm their theory more. If anyone here at Kos was insisting that the Ohio election was certainly rigged, you may have a point. What I saw was diarists who are neither IT techs nor experienced poll watchers or campaigners, expressing their concerns about a sequence of news reports that can be summarized as follows:
          1) Ohio SOS Husted (R) did everything possible, including defying the spirit of a high court ruling about early voting, to selectively suppress the vote in precincts likely to favor Dems
          2) the Romney family indirectly owns some or all of the crappy voting machines in Ohio
          3) where those machines are used in Ohio, no paper ballots are retained
          4) at the last minute, an experimental software "patch" was inserted into some or all of these machines, with no independent certification by non-Republicans.

          Now, a rational worrier like myself wants information to contradict her perception that something reeks here, and her resultant fear that Repubs who would reduce voting hours may not have excluded subtle digital tampering as one leg of their Ohio strategy. I hate worrying.

          Believe me, I looked for contradictory evidence; I looked for reasons to lay this tampering concern to rest. Instead, I found brusque denials here and lengthy treatises online as to why we should wake up to the risk. I'm not sophisticated enough, digitally or politically, to judge the wisdom of ignoring the risk. Yet I also didn't want to get flamed here like other worriers were, so rather than post or comment I tried to stay busy and trust that OFA knew what they were doing, and apparently they did. But I was worried until Ohio withstood Trickster Rove's challenge of the results.

          "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." -- Thomas Jefferson

          by pianogramma on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 01:22:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  also, IMO birthers and truthers aren't harmless (0+ / 0-)

          not by a long shot. Their crazy theories turn out a lot of susceptible Republican voters who might otherwise sit the election out.

          I hadn't considered the angle that people might stay home if they heard that the machines were rigged. Wouldn't have been my reaction: I would have taken the Green approach, only sooner and better ;)

          "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." -- Thomas Jefferson

          by pianogramma on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 01:28:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The Software Patch Worriers Have Programmers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pianogramma, sockpuppet, Sandino

    and systems analysts backing them up. While everyone is relieved that there wasn't an obvious electronic theft, the claimed vulnerability remains hard physical fact. And in Ohio the worries were underscored by the consistent pushing if not breaking of law by the belligerent sec state who oversaw the computer threat.

    So this is a different caliber of worry than classic conspiracy. Everyone I know with relevant expertise still agrees that the electronic voting needs far better security than it has; many feel that it shouldn't even be done.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 10:47:55 AM PST

    •  I agree. I'm not talking about paranoia here, (0+ / 0-)

      but worry over actual, if slim, possibilities that could be disastrous for our side.

      "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." -- Thomas Jefferson

      by pianogramma on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 10:53:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not if you dig below the surface, though (0+ / 0-)

      The patch was to software that controlled central tabulation. If it monkeyed with the incoming data, it would have been glaringly obvious. It's not as though there were no eyes on the ground in Ohio looking for this kind of thing.

      •  So you think a last minute patch (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pianogramma

        was just standard procedure that should be ignored?  You are such an expert on the systems that you know that no possible backdoor or unauthorized tabulator-precinct communication was possible even without access to the code on either end?  Perhaps you are not even qualified to realize you are not qualified.

        One reason so many lawyers and OFA people were watching everything so carefully was the post-mortem analysis from previous elections done in diaries like the ones you now casually dismiss as CT.  

  •  I was thinking of something similar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pianogramma

    to your #2.  

    While trying to remain tolerant of all of the worry diaries and comments, I did see it straining relations and sapping energy in some places on dailykos -- and wondered if a shelter of some sort could be set up next time, to give worriers a place to vent without clogging up other activities.  

    Can worry be virtually quarantined in that way?

    Please proceed, Governor.

    by vivadissent on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 10:56:57 AM PST

    •  I think it can, for self-aware worriers. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivadissent

      Not sure about the others :)

      "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." -- Thomas Jefferson

      by pianogramma on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 11:03:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What about the people who kept posting (0+ / 0-)

      diaries claiming evidence of vote flipping from the Republican primary? That wasn't mere worrying, that was advocacy of a conspiracy theory.

      •  good point (0+ / 0-)

        Maybe another side-tent for voting "irregularities."  Unfortunately, I'm not sure they'll be willing to stay in a separate thread when they're sure that they've uncovered a plot to overthrow democracy.

        Please proceed, Governor.

        by vivadissent on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 12:52:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  do you know what their evidence was? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sandino

        or wasn't? It's difficult to prove a negative, but has someone actually proved there was no vote flipping in the Republican primary?

        Not that I care about past elections since ours turned out great, but dang, if Santa Clara County, California, home of Silicon Valley, tried electronic voting and ditched it in favor of paper ballots because it proved impossible to guarantee accuracy, shouldn't this point the whole country toward paper ballots?

        "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." -- Thomas Jefferson

        by pianogramma on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 01:55:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Worry Room is a great idea (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pianogramma

    Although I'm typically an optimist face-forward kind of gal, every once in a while I had a huge worry attack. The one time I posted about it, I was roundly roasted, so I didn't do it again. So I'd love a place to vent when the anxiety creeps up.

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