The Moscow Algorithm

Algorithm: A process or set of rules for solving a problem, especially by computer.

Robert Mueller, special prosecutor, is solving the problem of Trump’s potential collusion with the Russians, in tampering with the 2016 presidential election. It looks like he is close to figuring it out.  The motive looks like massive financial manipulation and international money laundering. He is reeling in a school of little fishes, some already hooked and in the boat and he has buddied up with the New York Attorney General, to ensure there will be crimes that even Trump can’t pardon.

And now, it appears he is zeroing in on a Watergate burglary style operation, not with real breaking down of doors, just firewalls, and/but the burglars weren’t even in this country. I explain: modern national political campaigns use computers and so-called “digital platforms” for targeted advertising, with things like “profiling.” Guys that are nerds figure out which voters are most prone to be influenced by what issues and approaches, and the Trump campaign probably figured out just which “swing states” were most important to target, and maybe they enlisted burglars like Boris and Natasha (cartoon characters from the Bullwinkle Show) to hack into the voter records from targeted districts most pivotal to the final electoral college totals.

The Russian hackers did do just such things, this was known before the election, recall.  Well, once entrance was gained, they used complex algorithms to identify the 5% of voters with a strong record of no strong affiliation with either party-the usually undecideds sometimes maligned with the unsavory title of “Independents” (unsavory to knee-jerk reaction died in the wool party stalwarts) and then those Ruskies, KGB trained in propaganda and subliminal stimulation and mind control, targeted just those susceptible voters, and apparently bumped just enough over the edge, to edge Trump to an unanticipated victory.

The key here, is that they didn’t want to bother with either the confirmed Democrats (who might have blown the whistle on these tactics) or the staunch Republicans, who likewise might have resented what might have seemed to be Russian influence.  Also key here, is that this sort of outside manipulation would never have even been considered or investigated, had not Trump fired Comey, and a special prosecutor like Robert Mueller been appointed to investigate these very things.

Now, targeted advertising, consumer preference, buying histories, are a thing that is all around us every day — preferred customer/loyalty cards are designed to record your preferences for marketing research-and customers are rewarded with discounts because tracking purchases helps companies better serve their consumers — nothing wrong there. But when a presidential campaign buddies up with another nation’s intelligence operatives, that becomes dirty pool, capiche?  And these Russian hackers are not buffoons like Boris and Natasha, they are much more sophisticated — this looks more like NCIS or Mission Impossible — but hacking still leaves an electronic “paper trail” and savvy FBI operatives apparently are zeroing in on the algorithms even as we speak, so don’t expect this investigation to be closed any time soon.

PAUL PETERSON

Storm Lake