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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Sunday Cartoon Blogging – July 31, 2016

Happy post-conventions Sunday! Now settle back and watch the hair pulling between the Pant Suit and the Pant Load for the next 100 days or so.

Here is an apocalyptic story that you didn’t see while watching the war of tweets between Bernie, Hillary and Donald. First a heatwave hit Siberia. Then came the anthrax:  (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

Temperatures have soared in western Russia’s Yamal tundra this summer. Across Siberia, some provinces warmed an additional 10 degrees Fahrenheit beyond normal. In the fields, large bubbles of vegetation appeared above the melting permafrost — strange pockets of methane or, more likely, water. Record fires blazed through dry Russian grassland. In one of the more unusual symptoms of unseasonable warmth, long-dormant bacteria appear to be active. For the first time since 1941, anthrax struck western Siberia.

Ok, so only 13 Siberian nomads have gotten anthrax so far, and the science is unsettled on tundra warming.

Here are a few cartoons to take your minds off the living hell of the election season, or alternatively, taking it off of anthrax and the Zika virus.

Hillary’s nomination was greeted by change on the home front:

COW Glass Ceiling

Bernie mansplained politics to a supporter in Philly:

COW Bernie Explains

Trump’s negotiating style puzzles Putin:

COW Donald Unfaithful

Boris and Natasha get a new gig:

COW Boris and Natasha

The Dems had a bit of buyer’s remorse:

COW Dems Rationale

The big fear with Trump voters between now and November:

COW Big Fear

 

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About Trump and Russia

From Emptywheel:

There has been a lot written about Russia intelligence agencies allegedly hacking the DNC server and — by leaking it — attempting to influence the election. Some observers have, based on that assumption, called the hack an act of war.

The good news was that the leak of emails defenestrated the detestable Debbie Downer Shultz, head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). It also exposed the DNC’s tipping of the playing field in favor of Clinton during the Democratic primaries, after much speculation that they were doing exactly that.

There are many claims being made, all serving a narrative that Putin is playing a role in our presidential election, and that he (Putin) prefers to see Trump in the White House. More from Emptywheel: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

I’m not saying the Russians didn’t do this hack, nor am I dismissing the idea that they’d prefer Trump to Hillary. By far the most interesting piece of this is the way those with the documents — both the hackers and Wikileaks — held documents until a really awkward time for some awkward disclosures

It is doubtful that the Russians care in the slightest about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or the DNC. Perhaps there is another shoe to drop on the Clinton campaign. It is interesting that the Main Stream Media is focused on the hacking, and not the content of the hacked emails and the DNCs lax IT security. Is it possible that we will see a series of ever more damaging releases as the campaign goes on?

A piece of underreported news was that Trump and the Russians have had a cozy business relationship since the 1980s. Josh Marshall at TPM took an in-depth look at the business connections between Donald Trump and Russia. Marshall reports that Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money, some of it from persons close to Putin. Here are a few facts:

  1. Trump’s debt load has grown dramatically over the last year, from $350 million to $630 million, according to estimates by Bloomberg. This happened in a year when his liquid assets have also decreased.
  2. There is evidence that some big US banks don’t want to work with him, but Deutsche Bank has lent him $300 million since 2012.
  3. Post-bankruptcy, Trump has been highly reliant on money from Russia. WaPo has a good overview which includes this:

Since the 1980s, Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities, and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world.

  1. One example of this is the Trump SoHo development in Manhattan. The project was hit with a series of lawsuits, and emerging out of that litigation was news about secret financing for the project from Russia and Kazakhstan. As the NYT said: (brackets by the Wronologist)

Mr. Lauria [an FBI informant who worked for Bayrock Group, developer of the Trump SoHo project] brokered a $50 million investment in Trump SoHo and three other Bayrock projects by an Icelandic firm preferred by wealthy Russians “in favor with” President Vladimir V. Putin, according to a lawsuit against Bayrock by one of its former executives. The Icelandic company, FL Group, was identified in a Bayrock investor presentation as a strategic partner…

While not all in the Josh Marshall article checks out, there is something to the reasoning that Trump has a “special relationship” with Russia, which bears examination, even if Russia didn’t hack the DNC. The relationship is based on circumstantial, but non-trivial evidence for a financial relationship between Trump and Russia.

Even if you see no adverse news, Trump’s financial empire is highly leveraged and has a questionable reliance on capital infusions from foreign banks and oligarchs.

Even if you yell, “but, the Clinton Foundation has the same issue”, Trump’s dependence is simply not something that should be ignored. As Mustang Bobby said:

I’m old enough to remember when even a whisper of a connection between a political candidate and a foreign power — to say nothing of the country that makes up what’s left of the former Soviet Union — would be instant political death.

The question, is: Will this gain any traction in the American media, or will Mr. Trump be hailed as a deal-maker who can work with our adversaries?

Will Trump’s neo-conservative supporters who hate Russia think, “Commie sympathizer”?

Don’t hold your breath.

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