Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Elusive Reasons

     People want to understand the things they see, hear, and read about. They want explanations. Motives. The reasoning that would connect the responses to the stimuli. Now and then they get it, but not as often as they’d like...and not nearly as lucid, either.

     Writers of fiction understand this. It’s why we venerate Tom Clancy for his maxim that “fiction has to make sense.” Getting our characters to make sense is the toughest part of our job. We can’t merely model them on real people, because real people often do what they do for no good reason whatsoever.

     An old friend once opined to me that there are really only two reasons for doing anything:

  • “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”
  • “I was only following orders.”

     Watch out for that second one. It didn’t save the accused at Nuremberg and it might not save you, especially if the orders were oral rather than written.

     I’m grappling with a “why?” this morning: the “why?” behind the seemingly insane actions of a huge cabal of CIA, FBI, and DoJ functionaries, from the lowest to the very highest, to damage a presidential candidate they believed, one and all, had no chance of winning. As it is now established beyond a reasonable doubt that various CIA, FBI, and DoJ elements did take part in such an effort, there must be some reason.

     A few motives have suggested themselves:

  • To ingratiate themselves with the Clintons;
  • Envy of the “upstart from Queens” who had succeeded so spectacularly;
  • To establish for all time that challenges to the political Establishment will not be tolerated.

     All of these have a surface plausibility. However, when the potential gain is measured against the potential loss – a retribution being enacted in slow motion as the nation watches – it’s hard to accept any of them as truly plausible.

     The enumerated motives themselves deserve further exploration. For example: is it really possible to gain the loyalty of creatures as low and corrupt as Bill and Hillary Clinton? They haven’t evinced a lot of loyalty to anyone over their years in the public eye. Or is it that the conspirators feared that unless they demonstrated a willingness to act as venally and viciously as the Clintons, they would be denied places in a Hillary Clinton Administration?

     Envy is a powerful force, capable of animating a great many evil deeds. Still, virtually every conspirator whose name has come to light has no prior connection, whether good or ill, to Donald Trump. To argue for the envy motive is to suggest that Trump, above and apart from all the other fabulously successful men in America, had somehow earned their specific ire. That’s hard to swallow.

     The third possible motive, to establish that a severe penalty will be inflicted upon any commoner who dares to assert himself against the Powers That Be, is the one that best holds up under scrutiny. Yet the various CIA, FBI, and DoJ conspirators strike me as unlikely to have been animated thus for personal reasons. Such a motive is the sort that’s normally superimposed from above: by the truly High, as orders to their palace guards to see that the gates to the dive are well and truly secured. That makes a certain amount of sense, but it implies direction from above that would be extremely difficult to prove.

     Yet all of these, their relative probabilities notwithstanding, pale against the downside possibility of the ruination of the conspirators’ reputations, their social and occupational positions, even of their liberty. People could still go to prison over this, as unlikely as it might seem at the moment.

     Whenever the available motives make little or no sense, it’s required that we entertain the ugliest of all possible explanations: the one detectives dislike to the point of nausea.

     Maybe they did it simply because that’s what they do.

     Unless the perpetrator is standing over the body with the bloody knife in his hand, a crime committed simply because the criminal was moved by an inexplicable impulse to commit it is the very hardest sort to investigate – and to prosecute. Any good defense lawyer knows how to attack a weak tender of motive.

     Yet there have been many crimes, and many criminals who were discovered to have committed them for no logical reason whatsoever. And innocent actions performed as a matter of identity fulfillment are not unknown to us. Perhaps these spies, scandal fabricators, and calumniacs did what they did for that reason alone: it’s what they do.

     It’s an ugly mess, one way or the other. In particular, it destroys any nonsensical ideas about “incorruptible” government agencies, not that we should have harbored any notions of that sort in the first place. But in the aftermath of a discovery such as the campaign to smear Donald Trump, what we want most is an analysis that will show us a way to prevent a recurrence. Just now we don’t have one, unless it’s “forbid the erection of government agencies empowered to spy on private citizens.” While that’s a laudable goal, its practical application is as elusive as the motives, whatever they may be, of the conspirators whose actions we’re trying to understand.


Linda Fox said...

I think you have to consider a 4th motive - the same one that many OTHER gang members have as their reason for acting:

They fear the retribution of the gang.

The other side (the good guys) MIGHT toss them in jail for a time. But, the gang will DESTROY them - torture, not just of them, but their entire family/friend structure, followed by death, or, at least, a serious beat-down that result in brain and body permanent damage.

To ally oneself with a gang is a lifetime decision. You can't leave.


Manu said...

Linda may be on to something. There is one other possibility that popped into my head as I read your screed, though.

You have a Corvette, so you may have experienced this phenomenon once or twice as well. Around these parts, they call it the "ricer flyby." Whenever you're at an empty stoplight late at night or something, and a young kid with a souped up import with one of those fart can mufflers rides up next to you... and a bit of hooning happens, you can see the effect.

Normal protocol is you accelerate to a reasonable speed - i.e. one that isn't likely to get anyone sent to jail - and if you see tapped brake lights in front of you, you've lost the race. Give the wave or thumbs up, go on about your business.

Ricer flybys happen when the young punk doesn't like to think he's lost the race. You tap your brakes, slow down, give the respectful wave due to your opponent... and he blows past you at 100+ and gives you the finger. Or maybe pretends he didn't see your brake lights and thinks to himself "I really won the race, see?"

The thrashing about of the Derp State (h/t to my friend Nicki for "Derp State") strikes me as very similar to the ricer flyby. They can't admit that they've lost. They keep doubling down on arcane, bizarre rationalizations on how they really won. No friendly wave or thumbs up. No admission of loss. In their heads, they really won. Trump must have cheated. And if he didn't, if they all saw the brake lights, they have to pretend he did cheat, that they didn't see the brake lights.

Gotta go with the ricer flyby. It's an inability to admit defeat, to even contemplate losing. Because damnit, they were so sure they could take that rickety looking contraption in the lane next to them.

They didn't know what Trump had under the hood.

Steve said...

My working theory: It's all about religion.

The "secular" left worships the State and gov power as their deity of choice. So they are religious fanatics, which would explain the "win at all costs" behavior with apparent disregard for potential consequences. Same mentality that drives Muslims blowing themselves up: anything goes in service of the cause.

The reason you don't need a coordinated, organized conspiracy is that the fanatical behavior is driven by the underlying belief system (again, same reason Islamic terrorists don't need complex communication networks - individual cells and lone-wolf attacks can function more or less independently while supporting the same overall goal).

And of course if anyone ever does take the fall, they are venerated by their peers (with the media providing close air support) and will likely have cushy jobs lined up after their "firing" or whatever slap on the wrist they actually receive.

Trump presents a serious roadblock to their realization of nirvana, and to make matters worse, he has insulted (and CONTINUES to insult and attack) their deity. So yeah, the left is acting like they have lost their minds....almost reminds you of how certain other fanatics might react if you were to say, draw cartoons insulting their prophet.

Maddog said...

Why did True Believers like Strok, Paige, McCabe, Brennan, Clapper, Lynch and others take unreasonable risks?

So, why do otherwise rational people behave irrationally as so many did in the Obama administration when seeking to undermine the Trump campaign, create an October Surprise for Hillary, and then after he won, trying to soft coup the President-elect and later, the President out of power through made-up impeachment charges?

The first comment rests on gang affiliation and Omerta. The second rests on ego, and the third rests on religious belief. I think all of these are aspects of Eric Hoffer's theme in the True Believer: "The famous bestseller with “concise insight into what drives the mind of the fanatic and the dynamics of a mass movement” (Wall St. Journal) by Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Eric Hoffer, The True Believer is a landmark in the field of social psychology, and even more relevant today than ever before in history. Called a “brilliant and original inquiry” and “a genuine contribution to our social thought” by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The True Believer is mandatory reading for anyone interested in the machinations by which an individual becomes a fanatic."

Fanaticism incorporates all of the ideas put forth in the comments and answers why people like Brennan, Clapper, McCabe, Strok, and Paige would all fall down this obviously dangerous rabbit hole. Like fanatical NAZIs and so many other True Believers, these peoples fanaticism that Clinton could not lose led them down a perilous path which seems likely to end in prison.

I recommend the True Believer; there is even a free copy at the link if you do not want to pay for the book. If you are unfamiliar, it is a short book written in aphorism style. It is packed with a tremendous amount of information.

This is continued in another comment.

Mark Sherman

Maddog said...

There is one person who does not appear to fit the mold of the True Believer, James Comey. He was not all in for Hillary, and the Democratic Party, to the contrary he was playing both sides. He inflicted some damage on Hillary and Trump. But the damage was incredibly well crafted to only damage but not sufficient enough to change the results of the election. It seems obvious he thought Hillary would win but wanted the insurance policy if she did not. It seems his plan was, sweet talk Hillary after she won, telling her the only reason he reopened her investigation was to make her appear above reproach. Her win combined with the fact he had a 10-year tenure as Director of FBI would likely have worked to keep him his job.

He did something similar with Trump, although we all know that did not work in the end and Trump figured out that Comey was a self-dealing Grimma Wormtongue and fired him.

Comey is not a True Believer, Comey is a sycophant. I can understand the malign psychological needs of the True Believer although I do not agree with them, I cannot understand sycophancy under any conditions.

So, why mount an elaborate campaign against Trump who was a sure (98-2) loser? Because, for the True Believer, the benefits of being in the mass movement comes from the way the others in the movement make you feel when you are working towards the movement's goals. We see this represented in the Strok and Paige text messages. One says something, the other reinforces the statement and frequently praises the other and occasionally adds a new caveat or concern. Lather, rinse, repeat. They texted each other tens of thousands of times in less than a year! This is the mass movement reaffirming the individual. Because reaffirmation feels good; the individual is weakened to the warning center of the brain attempting to warn of the potential danger of pursuing a criminal enterprise to further the mass movement.

Final point, the "I was just following orders" is post hoc rationalization by the True Believer who has had the scales fall from his eyes. Even he cannot understand what happened or why he was controlled by the mania of the mass movement, and so he rationalizes that he was required to act due to the authority of another. This is not a valid excuse; this is post hoc rationalizing. The True Believer must be held to account for his actions. He was fully responsible.

Well, I hope this was valuable, and, please, read the True Believer it is worth your time. I consider it one of the necessary books to understand mass movements and their dangers. It will answer your questions as to why Islamist behave the way they do, why progressives and SJWs are behaving the way they do, and any other True Believers.

Mark Sherman