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Posts Tagged ‘2017’

Some More Thoughts about Macron Leaks: May 6, 2017

May 6, 2017 14 comments

In my previous post on this topic, I wrote about some oddities concerning ‘MacronLeaks’. To recap, the main point I made towards the end of that post concerned the most peculiar timing of their release. As many of you might have heard, releasing them so late in an election superficially reeks of bad timing- especially when Macron looks like the favorite to win this election. Also, releasing it so close to the date and even time of legally enforced election silence in France seems a bit odd- especially since it carries the small risk of making that asshole look sympathetic.

So what is going on? Who is behind the leak? What is their likely calculation and motivation? And most importantly, who benefits from such a leak?

As I have said in many previous posts on similar topics, there are two paths to analyse such events. You can look at such events as part of some elaborate, choreographed and large-scale conspiracy OR you can see them as marginally interconnected scams perpetrated by conmen of average intelligence. I find the later path usually provides a far more accurate and realistic explanation for such events and occurrences. Explanations based on 11th dimensional chess moves are almost always wrong, while those based in human arrogance, greed, stupidity and hubris always turn out to be correct.

Having said that, let us look at the most likely parties involved in these leaks and their motivations- in no particular order of likelihood.

Possibility #1: Macron’s camp leaked those emails and other associated materials to make him look more sympathetic and increase electoral turnout for him.

The idea that Macron’s staff leaked those communications might, at first sight, seem odd. However they had the ability and motive to do it. The ability part is self-explanatory but the motive part might seem a bit confusing, especially since most polls show Macron winning the upcoming french presidential election. However, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that somebody in the Macron camp had the bright idea that doing so might make him look more sympathetic and perhaps increase turnout for people who would vote for him.

History is replete with instances of campaign managers and underlings with such “bright” and usually disastrous ideas. You might remember that Robby Mook decided that HRC should not campaign in states such as Michigan and Wisconsin during the 2016 presidential in USA because it might give Trump the idea that they were not so strong in those two states. You might also remember how Donna Brazile screwed up Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign even more than that centrist hack could have done by himself.

Possibility #2: Somebody from within the old establishment of one of the two major political parties in France decided to teach Macron a lesson.

Macron’s rise in the french political scene has made him many enemies, both with the Socialist Party and Republicans. It is within the realm of possibility that somebody loyal to the establishment of one of the two was part of his campaign or has access to the leaked materials. While such an actions might look rather petty and vindictive to most people, it is squarely within what is considered acceptable behavior within the political sphere of any country. This is especially so since elections for the french national assembly occur just over a month from now.

Perhaps this is a case of settling old political scores or hobbling Macron after he assumes office and has to work with the newly elected National Assembly. Maybe this leak could be a warning shot from the old establishment to keep them happy after election. Or it is a quick glimpse into the dirt others in the french political establishment have on him. As I said before, this particular possibility is feasible as well as within the range of acceptable political intrigue.

Possibility #3: A state or non-state actor external to France decided to screw over Macron by releasing these leaks.

While this is the most popular possibility at this moment, I am not sure that it is the most likely. I mean.. sure, hackers employed by the Russian government could certainly hack into Macron’s emails and leak them to the world. But what is in it for them, given that polls show Macron having a significant lead over Le Pen. What would a leak released so late in the electoral campaign achieve? Especially since whoever obtained it had it for over a month before releasing it. To put it another way, if the “Russians” wanted to smear Macron they would (and could) have released this leak a few weeks ago when it would have caused more damage to his campaign. A more likely possibility is that countries such as USA or Ukraine hacked into Macron’s email and are leaking them to smear Russia.

We cannot also discount non-state hackers, either truly independent or partially allied with some country, hacking into those emails and releasing them- just for the lulz. Indeed, that is by far the most likely scenario if those leaks are due to actual hacking as opposed to some hare-brained campaign idea or internal french political intrigue. The timing of their release is however rather odd, since the only way they can really hurt Macron is by depressing voter turnout for him. It is an open secret in France that many who voted for Macron in the 1st round of election did so out of considerations of social respectability rather than agreeing with his policies. In other words, his support among the electorate is usually fragile. Perhaps the hackers know this and are using these leaks to reduce electoral turnout for him.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Initial Thoughts about Macron Leaks: May 5, 2017

May 5, 2017 6 comments

You might have heard by now that somebody has leaked about 9 GB of emails, photos and attachments which either originated from, or are somehow connected to, Emmanuel Macron. As many of you already know, Macron is the neo-liberal ideology professing “front-runner” candidate in the 2nd (and final) round of the french presidential election of 2017. He is running against Marine Le Pen, who is.. depending on whom you ask.. either a Nativist or Nazi-lite type of candidate. In other words, the 2nd and final round of the french presidential election is between an unabashedly neo-liberal ex-banker who does not care about most french people and one who hates non-white people in France. Quite a choice, I must say.

But before I get into my initial thoughts on this particular leak, let me quickly tell you a bit about how the french electorate ended up with these two delightful creatures on their presidential ballot. It comes down to the ongoing collapse of center-right and center-left parties in France.. and much of the “west”. You might have seen something very similar happen during the Brexit referendum in UK and 2016 presidential elections in USA. The thing is.. since the end of WW2 (but especially since the early 1980s) most western countries have been governed by a rotation of political parties that were either center-right or center-left. This arrangement was functional till the global financial crisis which started in 2008.

This game of musical chairs between center-right and center-right parties in western countries came to a rude end in the aftermath of that crisis when most voters in those countries realized that both types of parties were almost identical entities run to facilitate neoliberalism. It certainly did not help that, in the aftermath of 2008, these parties supported and implemented unpopular and counterproductive policies such as austerity for the masses, increased privatization and other measures which enrich the rich at the expense of everybody else. To put it another way- it became obvious that these so-called ‘mainstream’ political parties were basically shell entities meant to provide the illusion of legitimate governance in those countries.

Consequently, there has been a surge of public interest in, and support for, ‘non-mainstream’ political parties and candidates. We saw it in UK when the “yes” campaign vote the Brexit vote, we saw it in the incredible popularity of Bernie Sander’s bid for democratic ticket for presidential elections in USA and we saw it in Trump’s surprising win over HRC in the actual election. This phenomenon is also obvious in other western countries such Italy (Five-star movement), Spain (Podemos) and Austria (Freedom Party). The rise of non-traditional political candidates in the french presidential election is therefore part of a much larger trend. It should, therefore, not surprise anyone that candidates of two main-stream parties in 1st round of french presidential election got less than a third of total votes cast.. combined.

Now coming back to the main topic at hand.

It is no secret that the french establishment, including its main-stream media, prefer Macron over Le Pen. He after all, was a loyal and high-ranking member of one of the two main-stream parties, before deciding to contest this election as an “outsider”. Marine Le Pen, on the other hand is a bit of a wild card. While she has been in politics for a couple of decades, it is far from clear that she would go along with the neoliberal agenda- especially since her public positions and support are strongly based in right-wing populism.

To make a long story short, the french establishment (and its mains-stream media) have gone to great lengths to belittle and demean her and her loyal voter-base. Consequently, french MSM is full of stories about how macron will win with a huge margin over her- like how the MSM in USA was full of stories about the inevitability of HRC defeating Trump by massive margins in 2016.

Of course.. the french establishment and MSM forgot about the existence of (or ignored) the internet- specifically its ability to let non-mainstream political candidates and their supporters bypass and subvert the MSM. They also forgot that hackers, freelance and state-sponsored, were more than capable of obtaining and releasing very embarrassing documents about certain candidates on the eve of important elections. They also forgot that trans-national social media platforms can spread information very fact and without much regard to the wishes of the elites in any given country. And then, the inevitable happened..

A few days ago, I first came across postings on multiple forums and social media platforms which said that somebody had been able to obtain emails and documents showing Macron’s involvement in some scheme to park the bulk of his money in overseas tax shelters. To be clear, there was no hint that what he did was illegal.. and as we all know laws don’t apply to the rich. The story, however, was not helpful to the electoral prospects of Marcon in the 2nd round- especially since many voters in France see him as another rich neoliberal con-artist. The story also would not help his chances with voters who had voted for candidates other than him in the 1st round.

At that time, I was not sure if it was just another rumor or a sign of things to come. Well.. as it turns out, there is a lot of material supporting the claims that macron hid (perhaps “legally”?) a considerable amount of his millions in Caribbean tax havens. The leaked documents also show Macron to be an establishment insider involved in the execution of many deeply unpopular economic policies which he had previously blamed on the incumbent president. In other words, these leaked documents provide proof that Marcon is a consummate insider liar and hypocrite- two qualities which do not auger well for winning elections in an era where most voters want leaders who are outsiders and, at least, somewhat honest.

The added wrinkle in this particular saga is that French election law, made in the age of old mass media, makes it illegal to distribute news which would affect results so close to the election. While these laws might stop the already discredited french MSM from reporting on it, it is certainly not going to stop others doing it on Twitter, Facebook and a host of other media and communication platforms. I should point out that trying to filter and censor on the internet and social media is a fool’s errand since users will just keep on spreading the news by changing the digital signatures of their wording or graphics.

So, will this leak affect the french elections on Sunday? Probably. What we don’t know is- by how much. Macron, you see, consistently had problems getting over 50% support in many recent telephone and internet based polls. Even more worrying is the fact that between 10-20% of potential voters have refused to indicate their choice for president in recent opinion polls. My best guess is that the french presidential election on Sunday might turn out be far closer than most establishment types want to believe.

What do you think? Comments?