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May 09, 2017

On Macron, and that 11th Hour Hack

Macron was in fact the victim of an 11th hour hack of his emails, including some of his financial records. Some of those records have been confirmed to be real -- while others, presumably those which detail his secret accounts in offshore banks -- he implies are false.

Who was behind the leak? Well, some say it was Russia's army intelligence GRU, and some say it was the far right or "alt right."

Macron has blamed Russia and, of course, "fake news." (It's amazing how global our media is now, with memes passing so easily across borders like the Zika virus.)

Either the far left or the far right. One's as good as the other, depending on the media's storyline needs of the day.

This news was embargoed by the French government:

French media warned not to publish Emmanuel Macron leaks

Election authorities will prosecute internet users who pass on documents from massive En Marche! hack


France's electoral commission warned media and internet users that they could face criminal prosecution for publishing documents obtained in a "massive and coordinated hacking attack" on the presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron's political movement.

The commission, which held an emergency meeting to discuss the leak, said some of the documents appeared to contain "false information".

Thousands of internal En Marche! (On the Move!) documents were published on the internet an hour before the Friday midnight deadline for the start of a campaign blackout, meaning neither Macron nor his far-right Front National rival Marine Le Pen was allowed to respond.

France's presidential electoral authority, the CNCCEP, asked the media to avoid transmitting information from the leaked documents and reminded them of their responsibilities given the "seriousness of the election".

Here's the strange thing: Macron actually warned people that claims that he had secret accounts (a big deal in France, as I've said, given that they had a huge (and I do mean huge) political scandal about such accounts from around 2013 to 2014) before word of it was out.

I can't find the article now, but I read a week or 10 days ago that he was warning people not to believe any 11th-hour claims of financial impropriety and specifically told people they would be hearing of that.

Here's what I don't get: Presumably Macron knew he had been hacked before others did.

So I get the warning about the hacked information.

But how did he know that false reports of secret offshore accounts would be inserted amidst the real records?

When you're hacked, you do have an idea of all the real information the hackers could release about you. After all, it's your data. You know basically what it says.

But how do you know, before they release it, the stuff you're claiming is fake that they're going to stuff into it?

If they invented that stuff-- how did you know what the stuff they invented woudl say?

Maybe Macron saw some reports, containing the false information, circulating on internet websites. Maybe French intelligence somehow got a head's up about the plan and told him about it ahead of time.

That could be.

Or, it could be that the reason he knew the leaked emails would include information about secret overseas accounts is because he knew such information was included in the originals of the hacked information.

I'll be curious to watch this one. Now that the embargo is over, French media is, presumably, permitted to discuss the leaked information, and determine if Macron's warning that the stuff that makes him look bad was all forged is actually true. Or not true.

I do know this: If it's true, it's a big problem. The widespread use of secret accounts among French officials was nearly a Watergate level scandal in France, and I'm not sure if the center-right media in France will keep from looking into it. The center-right media in France (weirdly, France does in fact have a major center-right media, though, of course, it's just less socialist than the admitted socialists and communists) will protect him.

They supported him against Le Pen (whom they hate more than the Parti Socialist, of which Macron was a member until he claimed to be an "independent" four years or so ago), but they probably won't support him if there's any there la.

Is there? I have no idea. I just think this question -- how did you know there were going to be "false documents" mixed in with the ones you admit were real, before people knew about them? -- needs to be answered.

Maybe there's an innocent answer (French intelligence alerted him to the forgeries after seeing a preview of them). Maybe there's not.

One mistake I have to correct: Last week I said Macron's new party was called "On Marche," which means "We're moving." I misheard it -- as you all probably know by now, it's En Marche!, or "On the move." "On" and "En" sound alike in French, and I guess I only heard the party's name and didn't read it, or at least hadn't remembered reading it.

One thing the media isn't reporting too much, because they love the "Populism loses, Take That, Trump!" storyline: France had the highest level of blank ballots -- an official "None of the Above" vote -- in history, I think, or at least in decades, at around 25%.

When you hear that Macron got 65% of the vote and Le Pen got 35%, that's the percent of the two party vote they got. That doesn't take into account the 25% no-vote vote. So Macron actually got 65% of the 75% of votes cast for an eligible candidate (somewhere around 50%, I reckon) and Le Pen got something like 27%.

And while the media is loving talking this up as a Fire Which Will Ignite The World Against Trump, hailing Macron as a model for Democrats to follow, they're ignoring a big part of this story: Macron wasn't just a repudiation of Le Pen, he was also a repudiation of both of France's major parties (the center right former UMP called Les Republicaines (LR), and the Parti Socialist (PS)).

Oddly enough, there was a bigger movement on the left to vote None of the Above and cast a blank ballot than on the right. (At least as far as open declaration and marches encouraging that.)

It could turn out to be that Macron got more support from the "anti-socialist" LR than the usual coalition that votes the PS into power.

Les Republicaines didn't make the second ballot largely due to candidate Francois Fillon's own financial scandal (claims his wife held a no-show job with the government). The Parti Socialist didn't make the second round due to the disastrous outcome of the Parti Socialist's last five years in power.

Macron, a socialist, made silly claims that he represented a third way and was running against both major parties.

So it seems to me that you can make the case that Macron is just as much a Trump analogue as a repudiation of Trump.

One last point:

I don't think the FN can ever win in France (all other parties vote against them if they make it to the second-round two-party runoff). The fact that they could only get around 27% of all votes (from the entire pool of votes, including the blank ballots) kind of shows what their ceiling is.

Always happens. People thought FN could grab a bunch of regional seats when they made the second ballot in like 6 or 7 regions in 2015, they only came away with a single win out of those. FN's 27% is enough to finish in 2nd or even 1st place in the first round, with a very divided field of a half dozen or full dozen parties, but it just cannot win many 2-party 2nd-round contests.

But I'm also now wondering if LR can ever win if it doesn't steal some issues from FN -- like an anti-EU plank, or being more restrictionist on immigration -- without all the baggage and actual racist elements of FN.

Marine Le Pen does not seem to be a racist (though I can't follow her actual words in interviews), but her father definitely was (very anti-Jewish, for one), and every once in a while there's an embarrassing story about some FN official turning out to have a prior history as a skinhead or something.

While FN cannot win many races in the near future, it's possible they can win in, say, 20 years -- early analysis of returns suggests that up to 44% of young French people voted for her in the election, and very few older people. Young people presumably do not have the negative emotional reaction to the name "Le Pen" caused mainly by her father.

But that kind of plan for the FN winning in the future is like the prog "Coalition of the Ascendant" seizing complete power -- they just have to wait for Old People to Die Off In Massive Numbers, and then hope nothing else much changes politically over the course of 20-30 years.


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posted by Ace at 05:02 PM

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