Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The "Russian Hack"

The primary US media outlets have been spending a LOT of ink and air time talking about the Russians and their purported hacking of the US presidential election last month. These stories are disingenuous. In point of fact, the hacking that was done — by whomever — was, according to the detail behind the stories, of the Democratic National Committee (& maybe the Republican National Committee) and the Hillary Clinton campaign organization and the Hillary Clinton State Department. There have been no real reports of the hacking of any state's election voting processes. So the claims are really of using hacked material to influence voters to change who they voted for, no matter how the primary media outlets may wish to spin them.

Let's look at some of the issues surrounding these claims.

First is the difference between what is claimed in the stories and what has actually been reported by the stories' sources. That is pure deception. And the reality takes us from the realm of direct action to the realm of influence. In the latter realm, Russia would have a lot of company.

And what was Russia doing to influence the US presidential election? It was purportedly releasing through Wikileaks e-mails sent among members of the Hillary Clinton campaign showing it and she were disingenuous, deceptive, unethical, criminal, & etc. Meanwhile, as the hacked e-mailes showed, others were working to influence the election.

Second is motivation. As reported

"The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter," the Post reported on Friday.
The problem is that despite Vladimir Putin's reported dislike of Hillary Clinton, Russia could more easily have pushed the US around with her as president (just as with President Obama) than with Donald Trump in the Executive Office. A serious pragmatist like Vladimir Putin would — and has — go with what best serves his purposes regardless of his personal feelings.

Third is the question of why the Russians (or whoever) would have released data hacked from the Democrats but not the Republicans. There are two possible answers to this, both of which may be true.

(1) It may be that the Republicans' e-mails gave the Russians (or whoever) nothing juicy as the Democrats' did — nothing unethical or illegal to attach to the Republicans' candidate or his campaign like what whoever found in the e-mails of Hillary Clinton and her campaign, including her campaign manager.

(2) The hacker may not have gotten into the Republicans' e-mails. Perhaps no one at the Republican National Committee responded to a phishing e-mail and no one in the Donald Trump campaign did that or kept and used a completely unsecured server.

Fourth is was it really the Russians? The leaked e-mails came out through Wikileaks. And the Wikileaks folks insist they didn't come from the Russians — or anyone else foreign — but from a disgruntled Hillary Campaign individual frustrated and disgusted by the behaviors he saw running rampant in the campaign. Of course, the primary media outlets are ignoring what Wikileaks keeps saying — it doesn't fit their narrative.

Fifth is the question of what impact the leaked e-mails had. In a way, it doesn't matter:

  • If they had a major impact, it was because of what they revealed about the candidate and her campaign organization (see "third" (1), above). In such a case, the impact would be the same whether the e-mails came from a whistleblower, a hacker, or Woodward & Bernstein.
  • If they had no major impact, the whole premise of the media story collapses. In that event, it doesn't really matter who got the e-mails out. Aside from a desire for blame, of course.
In any case, it appears the likely answer is that the e-mails didn't have much impact. The reason I say that is that we kept seeing stories about how sparse the crowds were at Hillary Clinton events, while Donald Trump events were . . . well, like this:

The remaining question would be how well such crowds transfer into vote margins. This time, the rally crowds appear to have transferred just enough to make a real difference; last time (2012), not so much.

The bottom line of all this is that No, Democrats, Russia and Vladimir Putin didn't steal the presidential election for Donald Trump.

Since the election, Leftists have used the purported Russian hack (as well as other reasons and no real reason at all) as excuses for demands that the election results be overturned. All of these excuses boil down to "It isn't fair! We didn't win!" A typical immature child's reaction.

But even an immiature child should understand that don't change the rules of the game after the game has started. And you especially don't change the rules of the game to change the winner after the game is over. That would be like changing the definition of Checkmate because you don't like the fact that you lost.

All of this still leaves at least one problem, one that is suggested by the issues above. With all these issues, why did the CIA (reportedly) give this story to press people but (apparently) not not to those in the normal reporting chain? And why, when asked, was the CIA unwilling to provide more information — and maybe even evidence — to appropriately cleared folks like Congressional intelligence committees (and unlike the press folks who lack security clearances)? This key question, put another way, is

[I]f it turns out people in the CIA were pushing a phony story to damage Trump's presidency, and that a credulous anti-Trump press eagerly spread these claims — they should be held accountable as well. Undermining the credibility of our Democratic system is a terrible offense, no matter who is behind it or why.
That same article provides a thought that can perhaps help lead us toward an answer.
Until some actual facts are known, however, everyone would be wise to keep in mind that everyone currently pushing the Russians-stole-our-election story has a reason to hope it was true.
I wonder if that would be "hope" or "wish". And what they would do to make their wish come true.

UPDATE: Even some of Hillary's friends on the Left can't swallow these claims. See this story, citing this one.

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