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Gender: Male
Hometown: Delaware
Member since: Fri Jan 20, 2006, 08:14 PM
Number of posts: 62,444

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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:


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.

Bear Man Strikes Again!


"A Bear man was arrested Thursday after a drug investigation yielded 600 grams of marijuana and more than $2,000 in cash, according to New Castle County police."

A lawyer for Louise Mensch seems worried that her latest "bombshell" is bullshit.


Morgan Lewis Partner Shortlisted For Bharara Replacement

Quid, meet quo.


President Donald Trumpís administration is considering nominating Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP partner David I. Miller to be the next U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, sources said Monday, as the process for replacing Preet Bharara is appearing to heat up.


The "Russia Firm Of The Year" will get right on those prosecutions in New York. Yesssiree.

Plan ahead for news watching this weekend

Make sure you have everything you need:

To be fair, it's not just "But her emails..."

She also, as I understand it, coughed several times.

Certainly having a madman in the White House is a far better outcome than someone who has coughed in public.

The Senate should subpoena the tapes that Twitler implied to exist

Dimwit just opened the door to the question, "Do you have such tapes" in a way that certainly provides probable cause to obtain them.

Of course he doesn't have them, but he has raised the issue of whether he does.

Sooner or later "Son of Texas Air National Guard Memo" will emerge as disinfo

Rumors on Twitter from all kinds of folks are fun to indulge in.

Things which are conjectured or suspected, may indeed be true.

Speculation is a valuable tool in developing hypotheses which can be tested against facts. That's certainly a good thing.

However, believing that something is likely, coupled with the desire to believe it to be true, can lead to unfortunate consequences.

I have seen attempts in various phases of the campaign, and now this horrific maladministration, to get folks to "bite" on suspect information.

There is extremely fertile ground now in which to plant something that everyone wants to be true, but the falsity of whatever the shiny object happens to be, won't be made apparent until a lot of people have taken a big bite on it.

Jumping on to things which are not supported by facts, and require a buttload of conjecture to fill in the gaps, does not prove anyone to be "smart" if whatever it is does turn out to be correct. It simply proves that one is gullible and lucky.

For example, a few days from now when we are all agape at a grainy video of unknown origin of a fat blond guy being peed on, or whatever sensational thing emerges, do try to remember that absent a definite origin of the video, etc., that being peed on is not actually a crime in the first place. So when it turns out to be a fuzzy version of some existing porn video, and those promoting it as "proof" of something are thus discredited, please remember how the Texas Air National Guard Memo managed to suck all of the oxygen out of the legitimate allegation that W shirked his duty to do political work and get drunk for long periods of time.

On allowing Russian state press with electronic equipment exclusive Oval Office access

You can't make this stuff up

Notice the sub-headline of this NYT front page:

And then today:

Right down to Henry Fucking Kissinger:

You just can't make this shit up.
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