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Sun May 14, 2017, 10:23 AM

 

Shiny Objects You Will Soon Be Seeing

There are certain "set pieces" of political horseshit which get recycled over and over in different contexts for the business of "telling people what they want to hear" and/or raising donations.

Since we are already watching the Lucy/football cliffhanger saga, which runs like a "tune in next week" radio show, I'd like to list a few of the others (thanks to onenote) and see which ones I've missed:

1. "CRIMINAL CASE FILED AGAINST X"

This will headline a story about an actual criminal court proceeding filed in an actual court. The catch will be that it is a qui tam case, not actually filed by a prosecutor. That detail won't bother you, because hey, it is a Latin phrase which will make it seem more credible to you. After all, it's a fancy Latin legal phrase! And it was filed by a "private prosecutor" or a "citizen attorney general" or even someone called a "relator" who sounds like an official of some kind. Or, it will be filed "on behalf of the Justice Department". So, it must be real, and the frogs will be a'marching soon.

What you don't know, and won't be told, is that a qui tam filing is an actual thing, but commonly misused as a political stunt. In a nutshell, it is a type of filing in which someone believes there is a prosecutable offence of various kinds, but, for whatever reason - lack of evidence, resources, or investigation - an actual prosecutor has not pursued the case. In this kind of case, which can be filed by anyone, the filer - the "relator" - can obtain a portion of the penalty ultimately recovered.

Anyone can file this type of action by barfing whatever they want onto paper, and paying the court filing fee. Whether to actually pick up the ball and run with it is up to the prosecutor in that jurisdiction. These types of suits were popular vehicles for "Obama is a Kenyan" claims, among other species of assorted nonsense. But getting the DoJ to actually pick up the case, or having any merit to the case, is not really the point. The POINT is to be able to say "CRIMINAL CASE FILED AGAINST X" for media effect and/or to solicit donations because "we need your help to win".


2. "Official Body Charges X", or the Officious Non-Officials


In this one, you will be told that the "US Commission On Judicial Integrity" or the "Federal Corruption Agency" or some other official-sounding group with a fancy title is "holding a hearing", "conducting a trial" or engaging in some other activity that makes it sound like (a) this group actually has any significance and (b) is doing something that's going to lead to some sort of official action.

As a point in fact, the "US Committee On Foreign Election Interference" did indeed meet last night and issued charges against many administration officials. Of course, this committee consists of my wife and I, we talked about it over dinner, and we did indeed charge those officials. But so fucking what? What we didn't do is set up a website or send out mailers asking you for "your important opinion" and your optional donation.

A variation on this is to use a name which sounds kind of like to an existing and larger organization. For example, instead of the "American Bar Association" it will be (and forgive me if these exist for one thing or another, I'm going off the top of my head), the "American Lawyers Association" or something more specific like the "American Bar Association of National Security Lawyers" etc..

My favorite Officious Non-Official groups will include a retired Navy admiral. Because, yeah, I don't believe anything is credible unless it has a retired Navy admiral endorsing it. The "loony ex military person of high rank" is always a good touch, like the former Canadian defense official whom the UFO people adore. One of the great things about retiring from the US military with an officer's commission is that you get a decent pension at an early age, and can pursue any number of odd hobbies as you progress to senility.

3. "Citizen's Grand Jury Issues Indictment"

This one is more popular with right wingers, and is sort of like #2 with an additional (and fraudulent) claim of actual legal authority. While, for example, 9/11 truthers favor things like the "Independent Factfinding Commission", people on the Sovereign Citizen end of things have a complex and bizarre understanding of long-surpassed common law principles under which they believe that a group of yahoos can get together at Clem's place, have a few beers, and issue indictments upon which their local Sheriff is obligated to act.

So the story will be "Podunk County Grand Jury Issues Indictment". Below, in flowery language using legal phrases the way Jackson Pollack used paint, will be obscured the underlying fact that a couple of yahoos at Clem's place had a bender and showed up the next day to yell at their sheriff.

In one of the more colorful instances of this species of shiny object, a birther in Tennessee had become such a nuisance at the courthouse, that he was eventually banned from the place and ultimately arrested with a shitload of weapons on his way to force the court to "obey the law".

4. The Foreign Criminal Charge

This one was very popular during the W administration. The way this one goes is that some foreign jurisdiction or foreign official claims a violation of either their own laws or "international law" and rouses the cheerful celebrants to believe that so-and-so better not go to country X, or they'll be arrested for something. While, needless to say, that is actually true of a lot of Americans with respect to, e.g. North Korea, I'd be willing to bet there are still people at DU who think Dick Cheney or W will be dragged off in chains if they visit Spain (or wherever it was), on charges of war crimes.

I'm not sure what the usefulness of this shiny object is, other than to take hope in the clever trap which has been set if the person in question goes to wherever it is. But, in general, given that foreign legal systems can be very different from our own, and the "facts" get breathlessly passed on and mutilated, it is often difficult to determine whether it is more or less the equivalent to a kegger at Clem's place issuing an indictment.


5. "UN Official Finds/Declares/Charges... Something Really Important"


The UN Human Rights Commission appoints a number of people to report to them on various themes of relevance to the UNHCR in various countries or regions. As the title suggests, these rapporteurs, typically experts of some kind, issue reports to the UNHCR.

What the rapporteurs do NOT do is to "file charges with the UN" or any sort of international court, nor do they have the power to do so. What they do have the power to do, however, is to provide their opinions to the media, and to have wishful thinkers believe that someone is required or empowered to act on them in some official capacity.

I'm sure there are more on this hit parade. If I missed your favorite, let me know. What these stunts ultimately do, is to provide convenient distractions to discredit those enlisted to disseminate them.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Judy Garland:



Where people lack hope, there is always someone willing to fulfill the laws of supply and demand.

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 21 replies Author Time Post
Reply Shiny Objects You Will Soon Be Seeing (Original post)
jberryhill May 2017 OP
PubliusEnigma May 2017 #1
COLGATE4 May 2017 #2
jberryhill May 2017 #16
DarthDem May 2017 #3
Orrex May 2017 #4
jberryhill May 2017 #15
Mr. Ected May 2017 #5
jberryhill May 2017 #12
Foamfollower May 2017 #6
ucrdem May 2017 #7
lunatica May 2017 #8
The Velveteen Ocelot May 2017 #9
Honeycombe8 May 2017 #19
Roy Rolling May 2017 #10
jberryhill May 2017 #14
WinkyDink May 2017 #11
jberryhill May 2017 #13
Honeycombe8 May 2017 #17
askyagerz May 2017 #18
jberryhill May 2017 #20
askyagerz May 2017 #21

Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Sun May 14, 2017, 10:29 AM

1. Are you a lawyer and a psychic?!?

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Response to PubliusEnigma (Reply #1)

Sun May 14, 2017, 10:33 AM

2. No. He's a lawyer and a damned good one. nt

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Response to PubliusEnigma (Reply #1)

Sun May 14, 2017, 12:02 PM

16. I am not a psychic

 


However, just as in science there are tell tale signs of scientific bullshit (perpetual motion schemes, free energy, etc.), there are common scenarios that rely on people's misunderstanding of law to sell legal bullshit.

Here is Carl Sagan's baloney detection kit:

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/03/baloney-detection-kit-carl-sagan/

In the legal context, though, the "argument from authority" is a valid argument, provided that the "authority" is a statute, rule, or constitutional provision as interpreted and applied by a relevant court.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Sun May 14, 2017, 10:35 AM

3. WE. GET. IT.

Thanks.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Sun May 14, 2017, 10:45 AM

4. So... About that last Oreo...

k/r

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Response to Orrex (Reply #4)

Sun May 14, 2017, 11:58 AM

15. I had to eat it

 


Because you peed in my cornflakes.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Sun May 14, 2017, 10:46 AM

5. Appreciate the history lesson and the reality check

But not 100% sold on your prescience.

I've filed away last nights revelations as unsubstantiated rumor by internet sources. Not news.

If corroborated in the future, I'll return to the OP and comment at that time.

Seems you're peddling a pretty strong opinion that will either be born out or repudiated in the near future.

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Response to Mr. Ected (Reply #5)

Sun May 14, 2017, 11:55 AM

12. I'm not selling "prescience"

 


These are things that are likely to happen, in any environment where people are looking for something to latch onto, and other people are looking for reasons to attack the credibility of those same people.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Sun May 14, 2017, 10:49 AM

6. CT nutbags always spew those stories.

 

RW CT nutbags spewed it under Clinton.

LW CT nutbags spewed it under Bush II

RW CT nutbags spewed it under Obama.

And now, LW CT nutbags are spewing it under Trump.

The fun thing is watching which nutbags switch from LW to RW and back to LW depending upon which party controls the WH.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Sun May 14, 2017, 10:50 AM

7. There's probably a carefully planted germ of half-truth somewhere

The FISA goof kind of killed it though.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Sun May 14, 2017, 11:04 AM

8. Thank you!

This is why I love DU.

Thank you for taking the time to explain these activities. I often wondered what happens to these official sounding so-called filings. Now I know I can pretty much file them under "Skeptical" until proven otherwise.

I truly appreciate that you took the time to explain these "shiny objects".

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Sun May 14, 2017, 11:09 AM

9. Thank you.

There's already a lot of nonsense floating around - much excitement about the FISA court issuing indictments, except that FISA courts don't and can't issue indictments, which was the first and loudest clue that this was, at best, some vague rumor based on little more than wishful thinking and ignorance of the legal system. I don't know whether Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor (and Bill Palmer) are well-meaning rumor-mongers or actual trolls, but it is wise to keep in mind that wanting something to happen doesn't mean it will happen, and the fact that a rumor is packaged in legalese doesn't make it more likely to be true.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #9)

Sun May 14, 2017, 12:11 PM

19. +1. Looks like some are grasping at straws. Understandable, but...

facts are still facts. The left still needs to be the party that relies on facts. Facts will be verified and corroborated and reported by legitimate news organizations (who, BTW, have sources reaching around the world; its not likely, IMO, that some reporter somewhere who used to work for a news org. or still does - particularly a conservative one - would have a reliable source that huge global news organizations don't have).

Unverified stories are just that. They need to be watched, but not relied on as truthful, until verified by legitimate news organizations in our country.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Sun May 14, 2017, 11:27 AM

10. Great!

And also, the only thing remaining for someone caught: exciting new stories/documents that appear and will be "discovered" to be a hoax, a la Dan Rather.

It's the only thing left for them.

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Response to Roy Rolling (Reply #10)

Sun May 14, 2017, 11:58 AM

14. Yes

 


In fact I am aware of persons who did this to the birthers with "Obama's Real Kenyan Birth Certificate".

It was a hoot.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Sun May 14, 2017, 11:37 AM

11. You're on a tear to edumacate and advisory the rest of us, ain'tcha?

 

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Response to WinkyDink (Reply #11)

Sun May 14, 2017, 11:56 AM

13. I enjoy discussions on a discussion forum

 

It has a convenient ignore feature if my posts bother you.

Thank you for your deeply considered and well reasoned analysis and criticism of my work.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Sun May 14, 2017, 12:08 PM

17. Thanks for the heads-up.

There's off and on stories of this or that, references to warrants and crimes, etc., which sound legit but which are meaningless, even if true, some of which are not even true.

Also, need to consider whether some pushing these stories are trolls, whose function is to disrupt the country or a political party or to egg on nonsensical behavior or stir up passion over nonexistent actions by the opposition.

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Response to jberryhill (Original post)

Sun May 14, 2017, 12:08 PM

18. I actually enjoy turning over rocks

For puzzle pieces. Occasionally you find a shiny object but that's not gonna stop me from trying to figure out what the picture is gonna be. I think most people here are smart enough to know the difference between a fact and a rumour.

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Response to askyagerz (Reply #18)

Sun May 14, 2017, 12:18 PM

20. Me too

 


The reason I got really into UFO's as a kid was because I wanted to know that ET's were zooming all over the galaxy, visiting us, and having their remarkable abilities covered up by government bureaucrats.

I read all kinds of conspiracy theory stuff and "amazing things they don't want you to know". It drives my wife nuts that I watch every episode of Ancient Aliens. It's a great show, goes to cool places, and has beautiful videography of those places.

"I think most people here are smart enough to know the difference between a fact and a rumour."

I think so too. But the types of stunts in the OP are not "rumor". They are "fact" when they happen, but they rely on people's ignorance to hype the nub of fact into something that it is not.

I treat things I "want to believe" with more skepticism than not, because I have to recognize that "wanting to believe" something is true leads to a built-in bias against latching onto some bullshit.

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #20)

Sun May 14, 2017, 12:49 PM

21. Well

I'm an adult now and no longer just want to believe in something as I did when I was 8. I now only believe in things after finding sufficient evidence to satisfy my own curiosity. That requires lots of digging and exploring and looking at something from every possible angle. Lots of shiny objects to be seen. I look at them, catalog it in brain and move on but every once in while that main puzzle piece is actually under the shiny object that's underneath the rock. That very well could be the case with the whole indictment thing. I don't know yet so I'm just gonna keep flipping rocks

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