Silly dustups with people from our side spreading the claim that Trump stole $2.8 million from veterans' organizations, or, more realistically, raised the money for veterans' organizations and kept it for himself, which I agree would come to the same thing. Including the extremely estimable David Atkins, who put it in the Washington Monthly:
it should still leave us speechless that only a few days ago the President of the United States was held liable by judge of defrauding veterans to the tune of millions of dollars via a fake charity he used for vainglorious personal and campaign expenses....Only that's just not what happened.
that's not quite what he did. His campaign gave vet orgs money that he claimed was from the Foundation. https://t.co/ctXg5JMmFF the portrait and other stuff were funded by Other People's Money, but not vets'.— Yastreblyansky (@Yastreblyansky) November 11, 2019
It was money that he raised ostensibly for vets, but didn't use for them.— David Atkins (@DavidOAtkins) November 11, 2019
That he didn't. He used plenty of Foundation money on personal profligacy but not that. It's not what he was busted for, and it's not what the source for your Washington Monthly piece says.— Yastreblyansky (@Yastreblyansky) November 11, 2019
Trump's specific crime or rather offense in the rally of 28 January 2016 (which he staged, you'll recall, to compete for eyeballs with a Republican debate he was afraid to participate in), was to involve his "charity" in a political campaign, which is against the law in New York State, having the whole thing entirely run and organized by his then campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and the Foundation serving only as checkbook, checkbook being basically all it was in the first place. But the money raised did, after mostly being deposited in the Foundation accounts, wind up over the next few weeks in the accounts of those those veterans' associations, such as they were. The following, from the evidence brought to the case, lists the recipients of the $2.76 million that had been distributed (by Lewandowski, though not by the imaginary staff of the "charity", since the charity didn't have a staff:
|From Exhibit 20, New York Attorney General v. Trump Foundation.|
|Judge Salliann Scarpulla, Trump Foundation Decision, 7 Novembere 2019|
Does it make a difference? Does it make a difference that the "transcript" of the 25 July call between Trump and Zelenskyy really is more a transcript than it is anything else, and a pretty good one except for the couple of spots where it appears to have been manipulated? Does it matter that the downfall of the Bolivian government still doesn't seem to be a coup d'état by any conventional definition?
I think it does. I think there needs to be a big and categorical difference in the way we, in the reality-based community, do our work as opposed to the other guys, pushing false stories, like the current effort to suggest the Mueller investigation had no grounds to work on and Joe Biden was encouraging Ukrainian corruption when he was doing the opposite.
I'm thinking among other things about the fostering of paranoia, and cynicism to follow, when you get people believing in things that don't exist: the "true" transcript of the Zelenskyy phone call, the disappearance of the money raised in that Iowa rally. It leads people to believe in occult forces that can never be caught, deep states and Illuminati fraternities, and their own powerlessness.
When people began to believe that Clinton had rigged the 2016 primary, or that she'd sold herself to bankers for speaking fees, or that she and Podesta were running a child sex ring in the basement of a pizzeria that didn't have a basement, they didn't rise in the revolution that Bernie Sanders had hoped to see; they gave up. Voted for the meaningless Stein or the bad joke Trump or didn't vote at all.
A really interesting thing about the ongoing ferment in Latin America came up on NPR this morning, from the former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castaneda:
What's animating the movements agitating Latin America at the moment isn't to be described on an axis of left-to-right, though we can say if we want that the failures of the existing government are from the right whether the people or the rulers know it or not, in those four or five central aspects of health care, retirement security, wages, education, and public transportation, and a recognition that the authorities, left or right, haven't been honest. And they're revolting because, unlike a decade or two ago, they're not afraid; they believe they have power.
False stories, fake news, encourage paranoia, and paranoia encourages paralysis. The information chaos of 2016 brought people to a kind of helplessness in which the only protest they could manage was a joke. A certain level of comfort encourages a sense of power, but the most important thing may be a sense of realism, and the recognition that we in the lower orders do have some power after all, and start imagining that we might be able to use it. It's better to make the effort to tell the truth.