Favorite

Russia and Trump 

Are we watching an American presidential campaign or the pilot episode of a bizarre new TV series? Or both?

Are we watching an American presidential campaign or the pilot episode of a bizarre new TV series? Or both? The hallmark of "reality TV," of course, being its extreme unreality.

On a daily basis, the Trump campaign invites sheer disbelief. Recently, Ivanka Trump, the statuesque daughter her father talks about dating, posted an Instagram photo of herself sightseeing in scenic Croatia with Wendi Deng Murdoch.

The New York Daily News explains, "Deng, who was divorced from Rupert Murdoch in 2013 ... has been linked romantically to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin." The newspaper adds, "the optics of the photo could raise further questions about the relationship between Ivanka's father and Putin."

Geez, you think? Maybe I'll ask Boris and Natasha. That's my pet name for the Russian operatives who started sending me obscene emails after a recent column critical of Trump. The subject line in Boris's latest reads "TRUMP SHOULD [DEFECATE] IN YOUR TRAITOROUS MOUTH!"

With impressive tradecraft, Boris calls himself "Jason Larenzen," a name that appears not to exist in the United States.

Anticipating the latest Fox News fantasy theme, Natasha (masquerading as "Karyn") asks, "Will lying c**t Hillary last to the election before brain blood clot ruptures?" Her IP address links to Yandex.com, which a Google search locates in Moscow, within walking distance of the Kremlin.

They aren't even subtle about it.

Of course, in Putin's Moscow offending journalists get shot dead in the street, so I shouldn't complain. Besides, having grown up in New Jersey, profanity makes little impact on me.

Yo, Natasha, you eat with that your mouth?

But think about it: Russian operatives are openly intervening in an American presidential election, hacking Democratic Party emails and harassing obscure political columnists.

Always on Donald Trump's side. You've got to ask yourself why.

One possible answer may have appeared in the New York Times. Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort's name turned up 22 times on a secret ledger detailing $12.7 million in illegal payola handed out under deposed Ukranian president Viktor Yanukovych.

Supposedly, Manafort was also involved in a "murky" $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable TV "to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin."

Him again.

The information was given to Times reporters by the Ukranian government's "National Anti-Corruption Bureau," no doubt tasked with putting as many of the current regime's political rivals as possible in prison.

At the expense of being a spoilsport, I've learned to be highly skeptical of New York Times "blockbusters." From the Whitewater hoax onward, the newspaper has produced a series of abortive Clinton scandal stories, culminating in last April's attempt to hint that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had corruptly engineered the sale of a Wyoming uranium mine.

"Look," I wrote last April, "there's a reason articles like the Times' big expose are stultifyingly dull and require the skills of a contract lawyer to parse. Murky sentences and jumbled chronologies signify that the 'Clinton rules' are back: all innuendo and guilt-by-association. All ominous rhetorical questions, but rarely straightforward answers."

So it comes as no great surprise that Ukranian investigators "have yet to determine if [Manafort] actually received the cash."

So is Manafort a victim of the "Clinton Rules?" Could be.

But there's no doubt about this: "Before he fled to Russia two years ago, Mr. Yanukovych ... relied heavily on the advice of Mr. Manafort and his firm, who helped them win several elections."

On evidence, little things like democratic institutions and the rule of law don't appear high on Manafort's priority list. Among his previous clients were Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos and Zaire's infamous Mobutu Sese Seko, aptly described as "the archetypal African dictator." Both regimes were essentially kleptocracies, characterized by nepotism, brutality and extreme corruption.

Comparatively speaking, Putin would appear to be one of Manafort's more savory associates.

So when candidate Trump expresses a Russia-friendly foreign policy agenda — musing aloud about recognizing Putin's illegal occupation of Crimea, and hinting that a President Trump might refuse to defend NATO allies against Russian attack, it's reasonable to wonder what's being said behind closed doors.

Or when Trump invites Boris and Natasha to conduct cyber-warfare against his Democratic opponent. "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said in July. 

Later, of course, the candidate alibied that he was being sarcastic. He's a great kidder, Trump. Something blows up in his face, it was a joke.

Washington Monthly's David Atkins poses the million ruble question: "How much does [sic] Trump and his team need to do before we start asking serious questions about whether they're a Manchurian Candidate campaign actively working on behalf of a foreign nation?" 

Basically, that depends upon how big a piece of Trump Russian oligarchs own — one big reason we'll never see his income taxes.

Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Gene Lyons

  • Fact check

    Here's your presidential election coverage in a nutshell.
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Boris and Natasha

    • Sep 1, 2016
  • Swing and miss

    It follows that baseball is both too important and too trivial to lie about. Even if your name is Hillary Clinton.
    • Aug 24, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • In God's name

    Because I'm not running for anything, I can give it to you straight: Christianity pretty much got out of the genocide business when church and state became separated in the United States and Europe following the American Revolution.
    • Feb 12, 2015
  • What's at stake

    The real question before the Supreme Court in the ballyhooed case of King v. Burwell isn't merely the continuance of "Obamacare's" mandated health insurance subsidies. It's whether or not the United States has essentially become a banana republic — an oligarchy whose legal institutions exist to provide ceremonial cover for backroom political power plays.
    • Mar 3, 2015
  • Send your daughters to A&M

    This just in: "Study Finds Fruitcake Right, Anti-gravity Left Share Similar Traits, Tactics."
    • Feb 5, 2015

Most Shared

  • George H.W. Bush will vote for Hillary. Or will he?

    Politico reports that Kathleen Harrington Kennedy Townsend says former Republican President George H.W. Bush is voting for Hillary Clinton for president. The article quotes a Bush spokesman as declining to confirm or deny.
  • Who's harming women?

    Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is an Arkansas Republican. Thus, like the governor and the Republican-majority legislature, she intends to do everything she can to deny women comprehensive medical care, particularly abortion.
  • New normal

    No two presidential candidates since polling began have run up negatives as massive as those of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who yet won their parties' nominations easily. "What gives?" may be the biggest political mystery in history.
  • Additional rape charges filed against Conway doctor

    Special Prosecutor Jason Barrett has added 11 more victims to two others alleging rape by Dr. Robert Rook of Conway.
  • Big Dam Bridge 100 brings big damn complaint about celebrity rider Hincapie

    The Big Dam Bridge 100 is this weekend and one dedicated biker isn't happy about a celebrity rider, admitted doper George Hincapie.

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • Fact check

    Here's your presidential election coverage in a nutshell.
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Boris and Natasha

    • Sep 1, 2016
  • Swing and miss

    It follows that baseball is both too important and too trivial to lie about. Even if your name is Hillary Clinton.
    • Aug 24, 2016
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

September

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Most Viewed

  • Don't blame trigger warnings

    "Trigger warnings" have recently resurfaced in the news because of a letter from a University of Chicago dean of students that warned incoming freshmen to not expect advance notice of potentially upsetting material in the classroom
  • New normal

    No two presidential candidates since polling began have run up negatives as massive as those of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who yet won their parties' nominations easily. "What gives?" may be the biggest political mystery in history.
  • Who's harming women?

    Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is an Arkansas Republican. Thus, like the governor and the Republican-majority legislature, she intends to do everything she can to deny women comprehensive medical care, particularly abortion.
  • Trans moment

    It is a moment in which trans issues are not just newly visible in entertainment but at the center of the most vibrant American civil rights battle of the day.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Don't blame trigger warnings

    • It would seem pretty much a given that an instructor, even at the university level,…

    • on September 24, 2016
  • Re: Dope, dice, death

    • At this rate a special master will soon be needed to adjudicate the citations handed…

    • on September 24, 2016
  • Re: New normal

    • "New"? Despite your very comforting rehash of the received talking points, it is exactly the…

    • on September 24, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation