Friday, August 10, 2018

Trump's "Red Wave" May Be More Serious Than It Looks


Trump has been talking about a "Red Wave" when it is clear to everyone who followes electoral politics that what has been building is a Blue Wave or, more accurately, an anti-Red Wave. Is it because he's feeble-minded? Or is it because he's been working with Putin on stealing the elections again and wants to get his supporters ready for a counter-narrative? Perhaps neither Trump nor Putin was paying attention to Missouri's ballot initiative Tuesday. Missouri is a red state. The PVI is R+9. Trump beat Hillary statewide 1,594,511 ( 56.77%) to 1,071,068 (38.14%). Of Missouri's 114 counties, Trump won 110. There are only 2 Democrats in the state's 8 person congressional delegation. The state House has 163 members, 47 of whom are Democrats and the state Senate has 34 members, 24 Republicans and 10 Democrats. That's a hopelessly red state. Yet... on Tuesday 67.5% of the voters voted to kill Missouri's so-called right to work law. 32.5% voted for it. That's a 2-1 landslide. As Judd Legum put it in his popular newsletter, "The rejection of Missouri’s 'right to work' legislation, an Orwellian term for a law that kneecaps unions by allowing workers to benefit from a union while opting out of paying dues, exposes a huge cleavage in American politics... This week’s vote was in response to a bill passed by Missouri’s legislature in 2017. It was approved by huge margins-- 100-59 in the Missouri House and 21-12 in the Missouri Senate. It was quickly signed into law by then-Republican Governor Eric Greitens... Missouri’s Republican-dominated legislature pulled out all the stops to try to save the right to work law. In May, they voted to move the date of the vote from November to the August primary. It was viewed as an effort to “give Republican-backed right to work an advantage in a low-turnout primary election. It didn't work."

Perhaps bringing in Russian hackers would have. They're already working on the Claire McCaskill race in the same state. Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Kremlin hackers are working to tamper with the midterms, Republican signaling their acquiescence by refusing to fund efforts to stop them and by Trump firing the White House cyber security director.
The U.S. midterm elections are at increasing risk of interference by foreign adversaries led by Russia, and cybersecurity experts warn the Trump administration isn't adequately defending against the meddling.

At stake is control of Congress. The risks range from social media campaigns intended to fool American voters to sophisticated computer hacking that could change the tabulation of votes.

At least three congressional candidates have already been hit with phishing attacks that strongly resemble Russian sabotage in the 2016 campaign. Among them was Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat in one of the year's most hotly contested races.

Facebook has shut down dozens of accounts and pages to stop what appeared to be a coordinated disinformation campaign.

Three months ahead of the election, President Donald Trump's top national security officials are sounding the alarm. Five of them went to the White House podium last week to warn of interference and outline the government's preparations, even as Trump himself continues to publicly raise doubts about Russia's involvement in the 2016 election that he won. Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, warned that a major Russian effort to undermine the November election is "only one keyboard click away."

...Malicious hackers have plenty of ways to interfere, said Steve Grobman, chief technology officer of the security software company McAfee Inc. Russian hackers successfully penetrated voter rolls in 2016 in a few states. Security experts fear they may seek to reshape the electorate in 2018 by strategically deleting voter information.
That's part of the Red Wave Trump is encouraging. Thursday morning the Tampa Bay Times reported that Russian hackers have already penetrated Florida voter registration systems.
Russian operatives have "penetrated" some of Florida's voter registration systems ahead of the 2018 midterms, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Wednesday, adding new urgency to concerns about hacking.

The state, however, said it has received "zero information" supporting his claim.

"They have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about," Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times before a campaign event in Tampa. He said something similar a day earlier in Tallahassee but declined to elaborate.

"That's classified," the Democrat said Tuesday.

He is facing a re-election challenge in November from Gov. Rick Scott, whose administration said it has no knowledge of the allegations made by Nelson.

..."We were requested by the chairman and vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee to let the supervisors of election in Florida know that the Russians are in their records," Nelson told the Times on Wednesday. (audio below) He noted he is a member of the Armed Services subcommittee on cybersecurity.

...A spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the Intelligence Committee, declined to comment. U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice chairman, said in a statement that "Russian activities continue to pose a threat to the security of our elections, as Senators Nelson and Rubio rightly pointed out in their letter. … I hope all state and local elections officials, including Florida's, will take this issue seriously."

The warning comes amid a growing focus on election security ahead of the midterm elections. A July 13 indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers stated that operatives in November 2016 faked a real election vendor email account to send more than 100 "spearphishing" emails to organizations and personnel involved in administering elections in numerous Florida counties. The email contained malware designed to gain access to computer systems.

Nelson took things farther on Wednesday. His account was partly corroborated by two county officials, who said they heard a similar warning at a private meeting with Rubio in May.

All 67 counties have spent considerable time addressing election security and are in the process of spending federal money to fortify systems, following a 2016 attempt by Russians to hack Florida's elections apparatus.

...Rubio, a member of the Intelligence Committee, has raised alarms himself, and continues to express concern, though not as explicitly. Like Rubio, Nelson outlined a scenario in which hackers could alter voter registration records.

"This is no fooling time and that's why two senators, bipartisan, reached out to the election apparatus of Florida to let them know the Russians are in your records and all they have to do, if those election records are not protected, is to go in and start eliminating registered voters," Nelson said Wednesday.

"You can imagine the chaos that would occur on Election Day when the voters get to the polls and they say, 'I'm sorry Mr. Smith, I'm sorry Mr. Jones, you're not registered.' That's exactly what the Russians want to do. They want to sow chaos in our democratic institutions."

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At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If one expects the corporate Democrats to exploit this cleavage one is a political naif. They didn't couldn't pass card check when they had a 60 vote senate and every Dem Senator had spoken (lied about) about their support for Card Check. That is when I realized that Obama the Democratic Party was FOS when it came to labor and economic issues supporting the working class

At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having the Russians (if it really is them) steal the midterms appears to be the only thing remaining in the Republican arsenal if they are to maintain the control they have stolen via election fraud and voter suppression.

I almost wish Assange was going to actually testify to Congress about what is going on. I'm not willing to risk his freedom (such as it is) to know, for I'm sure that the forces of Uncle Scam will renege on any agreement regarding the safety of Assange. They will put him into some hellhole and never release him for daring to embarrass the Empire.


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