Main Menu

Archive | November, 2015

Conspiracy nation

I was updating this site’s list of recommended books from what was on my bookshelf, and I came across the book, Conspiracy Nation: The Politics of Paranoia in Postwar America (2002). It’s a collection of essays, edited by conspiracy historian Peter Knight. Somehow I hadn’t read it, and I am correcting that oversight now.

For those of us interesting in conspiracy theories, I think that the book is rather valuable in that it challenges a number of popular notions, not the least of which is that conspiracy theorists are a just bunch of crazies, a fringe aberration in an otherwise normal population.

Another challenged notion is that there are just two alternatives to explaining world events: a malevolent hand or a bunch of screw-ups. The idea came to me that writing off conspiracy theorists as crazies is rather like debunking a conspiracy theory by invoking screw-ups and accidents. Neither is particularly rigorous, and neither explains much of anything.

I’m finding the book thought provoking. I am spending more time thinking about what I am reading than I am reading.

Zullo to appeal Snow ruling

H/t to Nancy Owens for the link to this remarkable document filed in the Melendres case by Mike Zullo. It is a motion to stay the order of Judge Snow until Zullo can appeal to the 9th circuit. Judge Snow’s previously denied a motion by Zullo to obtain a 30-day delay in his testimony and deposition while he retains counsel.

Interested readers will probably want to review the document in its entirety because it is full of conspiracist thinking. What strikes me is that what we see here contains elements of the same conspiracy theory involving the Department of Justice alleged by Dennis Montgomery, which was part of the Seattle Operation. And here, the same day that I mentioned the name Lanny Breuer in connection with a Jerome Corsi article from 2012, the name pops up once more in the Zullo notice. My perception is that Zullo has been primed by Montgomery, and does not share Sheriff Joe’s spoken assessment of Montgomery’s information, that it was “junk.”

I’m sure Zullo will win no points by injecting Judge Snow’s wife into the story again.

Mike Zullo believes that he is entitled to a lawyer paid for by the County; he cites the fact that the County provided a lawyer for Arpaio and others. What he doesn’t seem to get is that the County-provided lawyer does not represent any of the defendants in the matter of criminal contempt of court. For that Arpaio has to pay for his own lawyer, and if Zullo believes that he is in criminal jeopardy, he cannot expect the County to pay for a criminal lawyer for him any more than it did for Arpaio. I suppose that Zullo could say that he cannot afford an attorney and ask the Court to appoint one for him. The Court has the discretionary power to do that, and there is some precedent for the right to counsel in a civil case where fifth amendment privilege is invoked. See Maness v. Meyers 419 U.S. 449 (1975).

I think Judge Snow is being imminently fair with Mike Zullo, and I expect the 9th Circuit to agree that Zullo has no legitimate complaint.

The Zullo notice contains reference to objections filed by Defendants to his original motion for more time to get a lawyer. These are available in the Jack Ryan collection.

Trump birthers

I came across an article this evening from April of 2011 by Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com titled, “Poll Finds Most Americans Uncertain of Trump’s Birthplace.” As Silver hastens to point out, it’s not a joke.

According to the survey, just 43 percent of Americans believe that Mr. Trump was definitely born in the United States. Another 20 percent believe that he was probably born here. Some 7 percent of respondents told Gallup that Mr. Trump was probably or definitely born in another country, while 30 percent were uncertain.

The poll is worth a chuckle anyway, and perhaps provides some validation of karma, but what I found interesting is what Silver said about it:

But seriously: I’m not ready to believe that all of the 7 percent of Americans who said they thought Mr. Trump was born abroad — or the much larger fraction who expressed some doubts about his birthplace — were being entirely earnest with the pollsters. Instead, they were giving a stupid answer to a stupid question.

I’ve never been comfortable discounting Obama birther polling numbers, but like Silver, I also have a hard time believing them. I allow some validity to the “crazification factor” theory and I wonder if some express doubts about Obama just because they don’t like the guy. Silver tends to doubt the high numbers of Obama birthers too, and I’ll let you read his reasons for yourself.