Monday, February 10, 2014

Weaponized Justice

The Sword Of Justice Has No Scabbard. I Mean, It Could. It Just Doesn't Happen To Come With One. There's, Like,  an Eye-Bolt On The Hilt You Can Use To Hang It Up Though.
Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.
-- Ian Fleming
Are three governor-grade front-runner GOP 2016 hopefuls really under criminal investigation? The answer is YES when you add in the possibility that Wisconsin's Scott Walker is under investigation for some kind of campaign finance shenanigans.

We now have Chris Christie (Bridgeghazi), former VA Gov. Bob McDonnell (under investigation for taking illegal gifts in return for favors), and, oh yeah, Dinesh D'Souza (charged with campaign finance fraud). Is it possible that Obama has weaponized the justice system (just like he weaponized the IRS to go after the Tea Party)?

The Conspiracy Theory
The approach to dealing with conspiracy theories is to avoid focusing on individual facts and, instead, look at:

  1. The purported Operational Plan to carry out the conspiracy (i.e. how many people would have to be involved and remain silent to pull off a 9/11 controlled demolition of the World Trade Center and missile attack on the Pentagon?).
  2. Motivation and Risk-to-Benefit Analysis (i.e. If I want to ban assault rifles, is it worth it to have brain-washed minions shoot up movie theaters and elementary schools as, (a) this may not lead directly to an AW Ban and (b) if I am caught doing this, my entire operation will be exposed and I will go to jail or be executed).
Most conspiracy theories fall down on these principles (you'd need 100's of silent accomplices depending on which version of 9/11 conspiracy you believe, and no one in power today would live to see the take-over-America benefits of an Assault Weapon Ban if it did work). On the other hand, in the case of Weaponized Justice ... it's plausible.

Operational Plan
It is worth noting that, while Christie denies he did anything (although no one now denies there was misbehavior), and right now everything "indicating" Walker is hush-hush, the Operational Plan here is for a small group of political operatives to investigate, get evidence, and get it into the hands of prosecutors.

It wouldn't even take a coordinated effort: Each of these people has their own "hate club." On the other hand, if it isn't coordinated from the top, it isn't A Conspiracy (and the fact that the charges, such as they are, do not appear 'trumped up' also weakens the persecution defense).

Motivational Analysis
When it comes to motivation, though, it's much easier to see a top-down picture. The coming 2016 election will be very important to the future of the GOP. If they lose three times in a row they are going to look more and more like a state-level party ... and, if demographic trends don't reverse, a bunch of has-beens. If you wanted to "clear the field for Hilary" you would go after GOP governors.

In general, The Crazy (in politics) goes like this:
  1. MOST CRAZY: Individual House Representatives. They just have to win a district. Districts can be full of crazy or, through gerrymandering, packed with additional crazy (note: this does not mean all representatives or even those from re-drawn districts are crazy--it just means you have a better chance to be a nut and get elected to the House than anywhere else).
  2. LESS CRAZY: Senators. Because you have to win a state-wide election you can't be too off the wall. Sure, you can get some pretty far out guys there--but generally even 'extreme' Senators are less extreme than 'extreme' House Representatives.
  3. LEAST CRAZY: Governors. State governors must win a state-wide election and must get things done. They also don't send much of a message to "Washington." State Governors are like CEOs of a company you work for--you care more about keeping the lights on at that stage than 'being heard.' As such, Governors develop a track record in office far stronger for reaching the Oval Office than even experienced Senators.
As such, the likely GOP candidates to really challenge would be governors from successful states (of which all of these more or less are) that might run in 2016.

In short, there IS a top-down coordinated reason to go after them.

Does That Mean It's A Conspiracy?
A lot of people hold that the charging of D'Souza was because his Obama 2016 documentary was a thumb in the eye of the President. If that's so, the damage you must do to bring down Justice on yourself is pretty small: his documentary was successful as a movie--but that's about the size of it. It had no impact on the election and didn't blow the doors off of anything we hadn't heard before.

Also: his defense isn't exactly that he didn't do it.

That's the problem with the Conspiracy Theory. There are two basic kinds of 9/11 conspiracies: MHOP and LHOP. These are "Made-It-Happen-On-Purpose" and "Let-It-Happen-On-Purpose." In the MHOP camp (the most common) the theories range from: "the CIA worked with Osama Bin Laden to put together the plan as we see it" to "There were planes, missiles, and controlled demolitions all working flawlessly together to steal gold out of the basement ... and invade Iraq ... or something." It is telling that this second is the most popular.

The MHOP theories fail the conspiracy tests. Even in the first case where all it requires is a willing Bin Laden (not hard to imagine) and a resourceful and secretive CIA directed by Bush (harder to imagine--and not in a good way) it fails the Risk/Benefit Analysis. 

The small MHOP conspiracy, for example, could not be sure Bin Laden wouldn't talk--or that the towers wouldn't fall sideways and plunge NYC and the world economy into a 2008-level recession. In short, no one saying "I need a reason to invade Iraq" would resort to "Let's blow up one of my most important cities."

Like, I dunno, hit Cleveland or something. It'll still piss people off.

It's the LHOP theories that are actually potentially plausible--especially if you assume that not all the plans were known. In this case, Bush understands there is a high possibility of a terrorist attack and simply doesn't do much to stop it, believing that it is necessary to galvanize the American people for [ reasons ]. This still doesn't do well with the Risk-Analysis test--but at least it requires on a small cabal to take no action. 

I think we can all believe government is capable of that.

The problem for The Weaponized Justice conspiracy theory is that in order for it to work in its most likely form, it requires the targets to all be pretty dirty. In this case it's just directed investigation that does, indeed, uncover evidence of modestly substantial wrong-doing.

If you assume your targets are dirty to begin with, JD targeting isn't as much of a conspiracy as if you assume they're framing the targets or, worse, entrapping them by, like, infiltrating Chris Christie's inner circle with people who will cut him out of the loop, commit misdeeds, and then "roll over" for immunity when told to (or, I dunno, tempt the McDonnell's with gifts they cannot turn down?).

In short: to reach the level of an actual conspiracy we'd need actual evidence of coordination. No one has yet alleged that even exists at this point.

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