The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age

    The Nuremberg Defense

    It was summer of 1972 and G. Gordon Liddy along with his plumbers had just broken into the Watergate with the help of some disgruntled Democrats, but gotten caught. Meanwhile, the DNC in a futile attempt at unity had forced the Eagleton choice on McGovern only to see it blow up in his face with stories of psychiatry and electroshock. The Republican majority in Congress largely ignored the crisis until the drip-drip-drip of bad news on TV and the major newspapers forced them to respond, and by the following summer, the impeachment was in full swing, leaving us with the legacy of McGovern as a terminally flawed candidate and Nixon as the ultimate crook.

    Of course that's not how it happened. The Dems had a huge majority. While they did an anybody-but-McGovern attack on multiple fronts, they didn't help Liddy. The Eagleton selection was McGovern's own unforced foul. Nixon's break-in was indefensible, it was mild compared to Hoover's FBI overreach, the shooting at Kent State, and the riots during the previous 4 years and the horror clips still coming back from Vietnam. The Watergate Committee was largely bipartisan liberal. And McGovern was still a flawed candidate. Unlike Hillary.

    44 years later, liberals largely torpedoed the chances of the Democratic candidate, but hardly by the devastating margins that dislike of McGovern brought. Instead, it was a combination of media-inspired horse jockeying and long-standing dislike of Clinton (a similar disdain Nixon had somehow overcome), an odd messaging alliance of leftwing Democrats & Independents, Republican slush funds, Russian-paid spammers, and some high-tech international "analytics" firms tied to conservative GOP money set free by the Citizens United ruling (a ruling specifically focused on nontransparent PACs running black PR on Hillary from 8 years before).

    While Clinton easily won the primary, wrapping up the numbers months before the end, the narrative had been switched from "inevitable" to "barely" or "flawed" or "Bernie would do better in the finals", ignoring such previous claims that had come and gone eventless aside from Michigan.

    Little noticed in this mashup of interests was the growing efforts and effectiveness of foreign powers in the mix - not just Russians with their sponsoring leftwing social media & their pseudo mainstream RT & Sputnik (issues like "fracking", "Ukraine/Crimea/Donbas", "Syria", "sanctions" and the drawnout smear job around Benghazi), but also China's rising influence to largely discredit the largely pro-US/anti-Chinese TPP. Sanders' admins noticed the wave of unnusual hackers and "allied" websites springing up, but were largely helpless to to anything about it even had they wanted.

    Shortly after the primaries had officially ended, the Russians and GOP allies had coordinate with hackers and the usual big money backing the party to start seriously hobbling Democrats' efforts, including taking out the DNC through continued Bernie-fan lobbying, a sustained media blitz, and the slow leak of hacked party emails by a foreign entity spun and hyperventilated over by the media to make things look the worst. (it didn't matter that even the worst of these "revelations" paled by far a slough of nightly ravings and attacks by the Republican candidate and his supporters invoking beatings, shootings, mass deportations, nuclear war in the Mideast, and the infamous pussy-grabbing misgynist statements - "deplorables" was enough to label the Dem as inapt as a candidate).

    As the campaigning continued into the fall, Clinton's efforts to regroup for November were hampered by the continual dripping of new fake & spun "news" releases, including possibly a catfish attack on her chief aide's husband's machine but purely spun-from-thread pizza pedophilia charges, along with over a year's worth of hyperbole over a few emails kept at home when State, DoD and other gov branches along with voting offices were actually hacked. And this hyperbole rose and fell with regularity throughout the fall until the damage was done.

    Much of this to-do persisted because it was largely assumed Clinton would still win, including a large part of the left being AWOL for much of the campaigning in the Fall. But a large part was based on the assumption that the party would make a new start, that whites were on their way out, that the "establishment" was discredited, that it'd be a new day and a new party, somehow sweeping both neocons and on-the-fence Democrats into the dustbin of history.

    And immediately after the November disaster, it was then accepted that Hillary'd been flawed, that the new party belonged with Bernie's faction, and that it was important to stop whining about any Russian involvement, and just move on. This movement started by Nov 9, but picked up even more speed with the Steele Dossier - anyone claiming Russian involvement was deluded and still crying over liberal spilled milk, and of course Hillary couldn't have won because of disaffected whites and her "baggage", ignoring that her opponent's baggage of bankruptcies, outrageous statements & actions, and absolute cluelessness was minimally 10x as severe.

    But in any case, the post-mortem continued to be that nothing would have saved Hillary, that nothing untoward took place on the other side that could have shifted the race enough to change her flaws, that Bernie should have been our steward to unite our efforts and sway independents, and that going forward the Democratic Party needed to be remade in his image.

    Now it's July, and instead of fake Wikileaks drips coming out, we're dealing with the press finally waking up and unpaid citizen tweet journalists filling in where they're still sleeping, to get a much better picture of just how much malfeasance and criminal activity and ties there were on the other side. Yet still the Nuremberg Defense largely continues to hold - "we didn't know", "to the best of my recollection", and a continually shifting sea of denials that are replaced the next day by more accurate but still unbelievable versions.

    And yet the major narrative holds - there were 2 candidates that shouldn't have been running, and the least flawed was voted in. Why a few unimportant emails at home and a charity foundation in Haiti made the one candidate more flawed is never elaborated, nor is the innate hawkishness of the American people that wants more sanctions on Muslims and wars in the Mideast that makes any Hillary hawkishness seem still (thankfully) mild.

    Don Jr. got an email promising dirt on Hillary, so dragged Trump's top 2 leaders to a meeting 2 days after Hillary clinched the nomination (when presumably they had many better things to do). It was obviously illegal, whether the dirt was produced or not - conspiracy is still a crime. But in the new vernacular, the new morality, Nuremberg's now accepted - "I didn't know", "nothing of value was produced", or Krauthammer's damning summary, "the fence didn't show up with the promised stolen goods, so I didn't do anything wrong".

    But there's nothing new about this equation - I've been hearing moral relativism, rationalized wrong-doing for over a year from less than surpising sources - say from the time Bernie's team got caught grabbing Hillary's data and managed to blame the DNC and Hillary and pretty much everyone but themselves for making it too easy to steal her campaign lists. There was no concern or acknowledgement that Karl Rove was running largely pro-Bernie/anti-Hillary ads and Russian spammers were flooding the gates with all sorts of crazy and non-crazy junk that strengthened Bernie's insurgency. We still don't have a proper accounting of all those magical $27 donations that don't have to be itemized & reported to know if Mercer or Putin or someone else was bankrolling part of that low-denomination donations that supposedly showed how much more democratic and popular Sanders' candidacy was - why look a gift horse in the mouth? But we more and more know for sure that laws were broken - not subtley, but whole-hog - conspiracy, collusion, well-funded, widespread. And still it was close.

    I once traded money on the street, and it wasn't til later going to pay for food that I realized I'd been had, with a bunch of high valued bills on top & stack of worthless bills on the bottom. It's hard to accept you've been had. But at some point it's important to do it, so as to move forward. There's a chance that the collapse of Trump will bring down a good part of the GOP with it, but it's still not certain - they've been pretty resistant to acknowledging reality, even reality that goes against their supposed values, as long as they can point to some benefit, however small.

    Yet Democrats aren't immune to this logic either. Someone recently posted an easily debunked "study" on how atheist families raise more tolerant kids than religious familes. Yet we want to believe everything that fits our worldview, gives us an advantage. It's an easy trap to fall in. But it's still a trap. And when caught out, often we can only manage a feeble "I didn't know". Nor did Oedipus, but he paid his dues, his sins and responsibility, as Kundera pointed out. Trump Jr and those around him will continue to deny their involvement, their agency, their guilt. But will we? Or will we stick to those easy pedantic words, the "we didn't know" even though it looked too good to be true at the time and still does? Or our usual escape when things get too uncomfortable, when the bottle spins towards us, when the cop lights are in the rearview and we start to note that innocent, miniscule activity might have been part of a much larger illegal problem...






    I'm reminded of the final line of a Henry Green novel. " And the next day they all went on the same". 

    Or less elegantly : "What else is new?"

    Very thoughtful piece, as usual, but depressing as hell.

    Edited to add:

    Part of an interview with the last living Nuremberg prosecutor:

    Lesley Stahl: Did you meet a lot of people who perpetrated war crimes who would otherwise in your opinion have been just a normal, upstanding citizen?

    "War makes murderers out of otherwise decent people. All wars, and all decent people." 

    Benjamin Ferencz: Of course, is my answer. These men would never have been murderers had it not been for the war. These were people who could quote Goethe, who loved Wagner, who were polite--

    Lesley Stahl: What turns a man into a savage beast like that?

    Benjamin Ferencz: He's not a savage. He's an intelligent, patriotic human being.

    Lesley Stahl: He's a savage when he does the murder though.

    Benjamin Ferencz: No. He's a patriotic human being acting in the interest of his country, in his mind.

    Lesley Stahl: You don't think they turn into savages even for the act?

    Benjamin Ferencz: Do you think the man who dropped the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima was a savage? Now I will tell you something very profound, which I have learned after many years. War makes murderers out of otherwise decent people. All wars, and all decent people.

    So Ferencz has spent the rest of his life trying to deter war and war crimes by establishing an international court – like Nuremburg. He scored a victory when the international criminal court in The Hague was created in 1998.  He delivered the closing argument in the court's first case.

    the full article is here:  ​

    Thanks, C(ecille B De)Ville - I actually read that when you posted it,
    just didn't have anything to add - we all think we're doing right.
    Had an angry skinhead bartender last night going on and on about
    why the Americans knocked off Qaddafi to keep him from introducing
    the African dinar, and it's all the Rothschilds' (read Jews') fault.
    He'd started out seeming very drunk (was 3am or so when I went to the bar
    at the beach for their last call) but friendly normal, and then some guy who actually knew and
    lived with Arabs in Germany set him off on a long racist rant that I couldn't defuse,
    so walked away leaving the 2 of them, waiting for the sound of blows or glass or... 
    that fortunately never came.
    But yeah, everyone thinks they're doing right by their side. Sucks for those of us
    who actually are.

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