Blackmail, Russian Style

Not worried about the whole Russiagate thing yet?  Then read this Daily Beast article and see how truly plausible it is that the next POTUS will be a puppet of Russia.  The DB article has many details and sources, but here’s the gist:  (1) RNC emails were hacked by Russia, but (2) have not been disclosed like the DNC emails were, (3) meaning that whatever dirt — ranging possibly from merely embarrassing to illegal — might be in the RNC emails is in Putin’s possession, and (4) Putin could well be exacting cooperation and concessions from Trump and the GOP with whatever dark secrets lurk in those emails as leverage.  Note that it was separately reported by the WaPo, LA Times and others back in July that it was Trump’s team who pressured the GOP into softening its anti-Russia/pro-Ukraine platform language.  Suddenly Trump’s consistently pro-Russia stance (which threatens NATO) takes on a whole new, terrifying light.


Was the Election Hacked?

No one knows yet if the 2016 presidential election was hacked, but it’s not so far-fetched an idea. There’s historical precedent according to Alex Halderman, a U. of Michigan Computer Science Professor: “In 2014, during the presidential election in Ukraine, attackers linked to Russia sabotaged the country’s vote-counting infrastructure and, according to published reports, Ukrainian officials succeeded only at the last minute in defusing vote-stealing malware that was primed to cause the wrong winner to be announced.”

Halderman and others have noted a statistical anomaly in some swing state counties where voting was done electronically instead of with a paper ballot.  Specifically, there was a higher percentage of votes for Trump in the electronic voting counties, where some type of hacking could have played a role.

Of course this finding raises alarm, given that Russia is known to have hacked the DNC and other political organizations with the apparent purpose of skewing the election results. I have heard from informed sources that Halderman is not an activist, either, but a hard core reputable scientist.  If he’s concerned, we should be, too.

Halderman and others have been encouraging the Democratic party to ask for a recount, but party leaders apparently are hesitant given the turmoil that might result if the recount finds that Clinton actually won the election. Used to playing the role of gad-fly, however, Green Party candidate Jill Stein has jumped in on this issue, officially asking for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, three key swing states that went for Trump by narrow margins.  Her fund-raising site to support the recount effort is at $2.8M as of this morning, with a goal of raising $4.5M.

Make that $2.8M plus $20.