Saturday, December 21, 2019

Mysteries: Ukraine, Lindsey Graham, and Trump's "ghost towers"

Here are a few conundrums which gnaw at me on this chilly December day...

Why did Trump hold back the Urkaine aid? After Trump and Zelensky had their infamous "perfect" conversation, the president froze aid to Ukraine.
"Based on guidance I have received and in light of the Administration's plan to review assistance to Ukraine, including the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, please hold off on any additional DoD obligations of these funds, pending direction from that process," Mike Duffey, the White House official in the Office of Management and Budget responsible for overseeing national security money and a Trump political appointee, wrote to select OMB and Pentagon officials on July 25.
Apparently, Duffey understood that the freeze could be illegal. After all, Congress had appropriated the funds.

During the impeachment hearings, one of the witnesses -- was it Bill Taylor? I think so -- suggested that, from the Ukrainian perspective, the nightmare scenario was that Zelensky would announce the investigation and still not get the aid. Looks like the nightmare was reality.

The mystery: Why would Trump do this?

My theory: Trump wanted something more than Zelensky's aid in the 2020 election. He wanted to force Ukraine to enter into negotiations with Russia on terms favorable to Putin.

Heretofore, I felt that the deepest truth underlying this scandal involves control of natural gas in that part of the world. Gas may have been on the minds of Firtash and Parnas, but I now think that what's really driving this scandal is Putin's drive to reconstitute the USSR.

Incredibly, Trump is willing -- even now -- to risk a government shutdown in order to block legislation requiring prompt release to aid to Ukraine. The White House justified this move on the grounds of protection of presidential powers. Really? Would Trump invite a shutdown so close to an election, just so he could retain the power to screw over the Ukrainians? Would he do so right after being impeached for the Ukraine scandal? Does that scenario make any political sense to you?

Occam's razor, people. The simplest theory is that Trump dances to Putin's tune. 

Does the con artist con himself? Digby addresses a related mystery which has bedeviled me for ages.
The big question remains: Did Putin tell Trump that Ukraine did the hacking in 2016 to frame Russia and him on behalf of Hillary Clinton (which makes little sense since it required hacking herself but whatever) and he believed it? Is he that dimwitted? Or does he just pretend to believe it because he and Putin are scratching each others backs? Does it even matter?
Yes. It matters.

Does the con artist buy into his own con? As noted in an earlier post, that question started to bug me back in the '70s, well before I first heard the name "Donald Trump." That question resounded in my head as I flipped through the pages of Fawn Brodie's biography of Joseph Smith. Donald Trump is the most outlandish Joseph Smith in the history of Joseph Smithery.

Is Lindsey Graham a shoplifter? I suspect that this DU post is a gag. If so, it's a good one.
Did I just hear Al Franken correctly? About Lindsey?

"Lindsey Graham is a shoplifter. It's a compulsion. I've been with him when he goes into a pottery store and takes things. And he's on tape."
Since no source is cited, I have no idea if Franken actually said these words. I also have no idea if Franken ever went shopping with Graham, or how Franken would know that such a tape exists.

Many people (including some Trump supporters) presume that the president has something on Graham, and the most popular theory is that this "something" concerns homosexuality. (The difference between gaydar and stereotyping is...what, exactly?) Wouldn't it be surreal if something as absurd as shoplifting corrupted a senator and endangered the nation?

Trump's empty apartments. Last Halloween, a Twitter-user named Jeff -- who claims to be an attorney in Florida -- offered a series of tweets which deserve more attention than they have received.
Crooked guys love Florida, and have bought half of Miami as a vehicle to hide some wealth away for a rainy day. There are entire beachfront buildings where only a few people live. Here are the Trump towers in Sunny Isles, notice how almost no one has any balcony furniture?


I mean no one actually lives in these places. Dollars to doughnuts it's all one big money laundering scheme. The fees alone are thousands of dollars per month; a terrible investment property even with appreciation.


This is what a normal building looks like across the street from the Trump buildings...

Certain responses to this thread may be of interest.
I’ve been there in this building and at night you can hardly see any lit condos across the street in Trump Towers. First off, only about 30% of those Trump condos are sold the rest are still for sale. Of the 30% sold only 10% are occupied, the rest is russian mob parked money.
"This building" apparently refers to the structure in the last image -- the one that is clearly tenanted.
I do not live there, I had a dear friend who rented in the building across the street from th Trump Towers, so I stayed over a few times and every time it stroke me how very few Trump condos were actually occupied. Smart Floridians are moving away from the coasts.
From a 2016 Miami Herald story...
But in South Florida, Trump helped local developers sell condos to buyers from Latin America and Russia, including people allegedly involved in corruption and wrongdoing, as well as to dozens of anonymous offshore companies.

In 2004, Trump signed a licensing deal for an 813-unit condo project called Trump Towers in the city of Sunny Isles Beach. The Apprentice star’s gold-plated name was used to market the units to wealthy foreigners.

The Miami Herald found that at least 13 Trump Towers buyers have been the subject of government investigations, either personally or through their companies. They include members of a Russian-American organized crime group, a Venezuelan oilman convicted in a bribery scheme and a Mexican banker accused of robbing investors of their life savings.
For more, see here. That Reuters investigation attracted some attention in 2017. But at the time, few understood just how empty Trump's "ghost towers" were. (Actually, the Towers appear to belong to Trump's partner in the project, the flamboyant Gil Dezer. He and his father are definitely worth a google.)
Comments:
Vladimir Putin wants to reconstitute the old Soviet Union by retaking the Satellite States. Russia would be on the ropes but for Trump and republicans.
A fish rots from the head down, we know Trump #MoscowMitch and #LeningradLindsey are compromised, possibly Devin Nunez, Matt Gaetz, and Gym Jordan. How far into rank and file republicans the cancer spread?
 
Does Trump believe his nonsense? Of course he does. Not only that, but he no doubt believes that he is THE CHOSEN ONE. I think I previously mentioned "Rogue Messiahs" by Colin Wilson. Trump is typical not only of Sabbatai Tzvi, but of David Koresh, Jim Jones, the Hale-Bopp lunatics and others like them. They always end up believing their shit. As to Joseph Smith, that brings up an interesting question. Suppose the entire Jewish written and oral tradition date from the Maccabees, would that render Judaism meaningless? Of course not. Suppose that a letter from Jesus was found which said, "Just kidding," would that destroy Christianity? No, a thousand times no. Suppose Mohammed didn't exist, could Islam continue? Of course it could. It is the teaching of the religion, not the requirement of inerrancy that matters. As long as Jesus is not seen as a divinity, and many Christians including Thomas Jefferson did not view him as a deity, Christianity can easily survive. Neither Mohammed nor any Jewish icon is even suggested to be a deity, so their existence is not necessary. The question is then, if Joseph Smith is a fraud, can Mormonism survive? I haven't done more than perused the Book of Mormon, but I am quite certain that Native Americans did not come from the Middle East. There was PhD geneticist, I think at the University of Washington who was a devout Mormon who endeavored to prove the origin of Native Americans. After doing his research, he left the Church. So what happens to the LDS Church if it has to reject some, even many, of the Church's teachings and history?








 
joseph, part of me wonders: If Jesus or Muhammed had lived in times for which we have more accurate historical records, would they now be seen the way we see Joseph Smith or Sabbathai Tzvi or David Koresh?

Smith always struck me as the most audacious of the lot, because lived in relatively modern times and the documentation of his life is reasonably ample. I was particularly struck by the "Book of Abraham" episode, because in that instance, Smith "translated" a work which provably existed. Part of it still exists, outside of LDS hands. In other words, we can demonstrate conclusively that the actual text said something other than Smith said it said. We can't conclusively disprove the existence of the golden plates, but we can conclusively prove that the Book of Abraham is a concoction.

The book of Abraham was produced in 1842 at the latest, while the book of Mormon was produced in 1823. So in the space of twenty years, Smith became impudent enough to stake his reputation on the translation of a document outside his control. The Rosetta Stone had been discovered decades earlier; Smith must have known that text would one day receive a REAL translation. He wasn't a stupid guy. He could understand that his fraud would eventually be exposed.

Yet he committed the forgery anyways. He did so even though this literary hoax could not benefit him financially.

Conclusion: On some level, he genuinely believed that his "book of Abraham" was the real deal.

I'd like to think that this kind of self-deception is remarkable and rare. But maybe it happens more often than we think. Maybe it's characteristic of the species.

We both know the history of fraudulent mediums during the heyday of Spiritualism. Did some of those mediums actually convince themselves that they were channeling the dead? It's impossible to believe that Florence Cook (whose case may be known to you) managed to fool herself the way she fooled others. But some of the other famous mediums of yore were probably quite sincere.

Madame Blavatsky is another example of a notorious liar and fraudster who sincerely believed in a good many of her own lies and frauds. During his lifetime, Aleister Crowley was often derided as a rascally con artist. He did tell quite a few lies -- but I've read enough of his diaries to know that he took his core beliefs very seriously. He really believed that he had met gods and demons and other supernatural entities.

I've had personal communications with a gentleman who knew L. Ron Hubbard. This guy swore -- convincingly -- that Hubbard would visit science fiction conventions and gleefully admit to his cronies that Dianetics was a complete sham. But there is also a good evidence that Hubbard came to believe in his own guff.

Maybe we ALL do that at one time or another.

Maybe Trump is US.




 
To your point, Muslims do not believe that Jesus was a diety, but do believe in existence of Christianity. They believe that Jesus was a profit much like Mohammed.
 
It seems to me that there are differences between the ordinary con artist and the religious operators.

The grifter, running either a short or a long con is essentially in business and knows always what the script is, from beginning, through the middle, to the end, at which point, they disappear with the money.

The religious, or spiritualist, operator is working in the lush fields and open skies of belief and passion. The psychology of belief is deep and can have effects throughout the mind. So, it’s understandable that such people, like Smith or Blavatsky, actually believe their fabrications. Hubbard, by account, just wanted power and tax free money.

Trump appears to be more complex than he is because he’s not really very smart, and is now either becoming more dysfunctional or demented. The real question is how such a low grade jerk survived so long without becoming the intense focus of such legal authorities as we used to have.

There was the similar case of St. Ronald of Dementia, who, by his own reminiscences, believed that he had flown those bombing missions and liberated that camp during WW2, Trump seems in the same murky neighborhood. He probably believes all kinds of stuff now.

Tom
 
Happy Xmas Joseph.
 
And a Happy New Year.

Let’s hope for some much needed miracles.

Tom
 
Xmas tidings from the 60's feminist who loves you no matter what!
 
There's also the Trump tower in Azerbaijan. From 2010 till 2016 Trump was working with corrupt official Ziya Mammadov to build his Trump-branded Tower. Mammadov was money laundering for the IRGC on the project and apparently Trump was the only US businessman prepared to breach US sanctions. The IRGC was seeking to purchase WMD technology acting on instructions from Qassem Soleimani. Ivanka Trump was Donald's agent on the ground.
 
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