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Janet Jackson’s Breast Edition

Has anyone else noticed that pre-election polls are almost worthless anymore for predicting the outcomes of elections? I mean, who would have ever guessed that Howie Dean would slip so dramatically from his commanding front-runner status like that? Or that John Kerry would emerge from nowhere to lead the pack?

Of course, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the two, beyond their carefully crafted public images, but that isn’t the point here. The point is that pre-election polls no longer correlate with election results. John Q. Public can share his opinions with pollsters, and reveal how he intends to cast his vote, but he has no control over how the vote-counting software records that vote. And the belief in free and fair elections is so firmly ingrained in the American psyche that nary a word is said when election results fail to come anywhere close to pre-election forecasts, as has become rather commonplace.

I mention this because it appears as though Bush’s Hollywood-spawned protégé out west is preparing to utilize modern voting machine technology to create a de facto dictatorship in the state of Kollefornia, which will cleverly masquerade as a shining example of pure, ‘direct democracy.’

Ahhnuld has stated repeatedly that if the state legislature won’t go along with his reactionary “feed the rich and starve the rest” agenda, he will take his proposals directly to the people, in the form of ballot initiatives. Of course, the catch is that Schwarzenegger’s backers control the vote counting, so the Plastic Man is free to propose any sort of reprehensible ballot initiative, secure in the knowledge that ‘the people,’ come election day, will vote it into law. And Team Ahhnuld, with the full support of the media, can claim that it is only giving the people what they want.

Ahhnuld’s first ballot measures, to be reviewed by voters in March, are already on the table, and they are decidedly unpopular. The proposal to float a $15 billion bond, for example, is supported by only a third of potential voters, according to two recent polls. Those in the know have opined that such a low level of initial support would ordinarily render the proposal dead on arrival. But I’m betting those numbers will mean nothing come March, much as Ahhnuld’s own pre-election poll numbers did not stop him from scoring a whopping victory.

Credit for the turnaround in public support for the ballot measures will, of course, go to Ahhnuld’s allegedly masterful salesmanship and uncanny media savvy (more on that later).

It did not take long at all for Schwarzenegger to display a strong predilection for dictatorial rule, which came as a surprise only to those who thought that Ahhnuld had been joking when he spoke of his desire to “speak to maybe 50,000 people at one time and have them cheer, or like Hitler in the Nuremberg Stadium, and have all those people scream at you and just being in total agreement with whatever you say.”

On the campaign trail, Steroidenegger repeatedly promised to repeal a recent hike in vehicle registration fees. And just after taking office, he did just that, accompanied by much cheering and fanfare. By cutting registration fees, however, he cut off a major source of funding for cities and counties. To rectify that situation, the ever-smiling governor simply instructed the state Legislature to restore the funding, without offering a clue as to where the money would be coming from. Lawmakers balked at the request, insisting, quite reasonably, on knowing exactly how Team Ahhnuld planned to squeeze a few billion dollars out of the state’s looted coffers.

Not to be deterred, the Plastic Man simply waited until the Legislature adjourned for the year and then he bestowed upon himself the authority to make an executive decision. Such a course of action was in clear violation of the state’s constitution, and it sent an unmistakable signal that Schwarzenegger is not a big believer in the notion of separation of powers.

Reaction came quickly from prominent state ‘Democrats’ and the editorial staff of the state’s ‘liberal’ newspaper of record, the Los Angeles Times. “We haven’t had this kind of bold leadership in Sacramento for a long, long time, and we are really grateful for it,” gushed James K. Hahn, Los Angeles’ ‘liberal’ mayor. “He’s exercising executive power to the max. That’s the only way to get anything done around here,” added California’s ‘liberal’ former governor, and the current mayor of Oakland, Jerry Brown. A lead editorial in the Timesrevealed an editorial staff on the verge of wetting themselves:

With a dizzying media savvy, Arnold Schwarzenegger rode to the rescue of California cities and counties Thursday … Legislators thought Schwarzenegger would take the blame when they dragged their heels in bailing out local government. Show us where the money will come from to make up for your car tax reduction, they demanded. Instead, Schwarzenegger went into action, seizing an obscure law to justify immediate payment of the money without legislative action. So much for Democratic lawmakers … [who] could only reply that Schwarzenegger was ‘skating on thin legal ice.’ Never mind the lawyers. If there’s a legal problem, Schwarzenegger will deal with that later. [“Schwarzenegger Steps Up,” L.A. Times, December 19, 2003]

Sure he will — in much the same way that he is dealing with the numerous allegations of sexual assault that he promised to address after the election. Apparently it is no big deal that Team Ahhnuld is running roughshod over state law. I guess we can’t let little “legal problems” impede the governor from doing the people’s work.

Times‘ reporters were only slightly less enthusiastic than the paper’s editorial staff:

In the constant maneuvering for power between the governor and the Legislature, Arnold Schwarzenegger – just one month on the job – obliterated any lingering doubts Thursday that he is the supreme political force in the Capitol. Schwarzenegger’s raw assertion of executive power … sent a clear message that he can govern without lawmakers’ cooperation, a political reality that could leave the Legislature marginalized … Schwarzenegger demonstrated that he is not afraid to confront, diminish and, if necessary, humble the Legislature in pursuit of a popular agenda. [Peter Nicholas and Joe Mathews “Schwarzenegger Seizes Reins of Power in Capitol,” L.A. Times, December 19, 2003]

And that, presumably, is a good thing, especially since he is pursuing a “popular agenda.” It is unclear, however, how popular that agenda actually is with the people of California. It is certainly popular with the media and the political establishment though, and that is all that ever really matters.

To be sure, repealing the vehicle registration increase was a popular move. But using extra-constitutional means to rob money from needed social programs to make up the shortfall is another story altogether. And why bother? What is really gained by robbing from Peter to pay Paul? Team Ahhnuld has repeatedly emphasized that deep cuts will be made somewhere, so why not from cities and counties?

Why not? Primarily because much of that money is earmarked for emergency services, which is to say, much of it goes to funding city and county police agencies. Much of the state’s money, on the other hand, ostensibly goes towards tending to the needs of children, the sick, the elderly, and the disabled. And whereas cutting funding for social programs is perfectly acceptable, cutting funding for the police would be as crazy a notion as, say, cutting the ‘defense’ budget. And any fool knows that we have no alternative but to continuously increase ‘defense’ spending, regardless of how many social programs are gutted in the process. And so it goes with the police as well.

The reality is that it is imperative that funding for the police, like funding for America’s military machine, be dramatically slashed. Police agencies around the country are funded far in excess of legitimate needs, allowing for police forces that are too large, too militarized, and too well compensated. That overcompensation, by the way, is key to maintaining a force that will serve as enforcers of the status quo rather than as servants of the community.

Despite the state’s budget crisis, the police will not suffer. To the contrary, a proposal is on the table to boost Los Angeles County sales taxes by a half-cent, with the revenue going directly to the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, the L.A.P.D., and various local police departments. All of these agencies claim to be in dire need of additional funding, to hire more officers, purchase more equipment, and tend to new ‘Homeland Security’ duties.

What Team Ahhnuld is doing on the state level is the very same thing that Team Bush is doing on the national level: taking advantage of deliberately created budgetary crises to rob massive amounts of money from other programs and funnel it into the creation and maintenance of a high-tech police state. What he is doing, in other words, is stealing taxpayers’ money and then using it to create the very infrastructure that will strip away what remains of those taxpayers’ freedoms and civil rights.

In Sacramento, as in Washington, funding for violent repression is paramount. And in Sacramento, as in Washington, dictatorial rule seems to be openly coveted. Schwarzenegger could probably even teach Bush a few things about authoritarian rule. The L.A. Times‘ article noted in passing that when Ahhnuld announced his little scheme, most Legislators “were back in their districts, waiting for the start of the session that begins in January. Some who were in the Capitol, however, were simply barred from the room.”

I guess physically barring lawmakers from the room in which it is about to be announced that their power is being illegally usurped is what the Times meant by “humbl[ing] the Legislature.”

To give credit where credit is due, the L.A. Times did finally get it right on December 22. It was easy to miss though, since it was hidden in a brief, two-sentence Letter to the Editor from Times‘ reader Kathy Price. Ms. Price’s letter read as follows:

In response to “Schwarzenegger Seizes Reins of Power in Capitol,” news analysis, Dec. 19: The United States bypasses the United Nations, President Bush bypasses public will and now Schwarzenegger bypasses the California Legislature. Is dictatorship the “new democracy”?

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Speaking of Gropenegger (no, we’re not quite done with him yet), Superior Court Judge Loren E. Masters recently ruled, quite unexpectedly, that Schwarzenegger had illegally funded his gubernatorial campaign. When I say the ruling was unexpected, I am not suggesting here, by any means, that there was ever any doubt that the Plastic Man had illegally funded his campaign. No, I am suggesting that it is a bit surprising that there are still some judges left on the bench with at least a modicum of integrity.

It seems that California’s action hero – after bragging that he didn’t need to take anyone’s money, and after promising that he wouldn’t – financed his campaign by taking out a low interest, sweetheart bank loan that he planned to repay by raking in what is generally referred to as “special interest money.” And he has been, since taking office, raking in contributions at a fever pitch, bypassing laws enacted by California voters aimed at limiting individual contributions. Back in the days of yore – which is to say, about three or four months ago – such behavior could get you thrown out of office. But that was a different era, I guess.

On Monday, January 26, Judge Masters ruled that the $4.5 million loan was illegal and he ordered that Ahhnuld personally repay it. The very next day, the governor made a lunchtime appearance before the Sacramento Press Club, where he attempted to provide some positive spin to the court decision. It was a pathetic performance — possibly even eclipsing his work in Twins.

Schwarzenegger, beaming as always, told the assembled reporters that he fully agreed with the judge’s decision. He said that what the judge had ordered was “great” and, as is virtually everything in Ahhnuld’s world, “fantastic.” “We never wanted to raise the money to pay it back,” said he, “I myself [will] pay for that.”

Well, I suppose he will now, assuming that he intends to comply with the judge’s order. Before losing the case, however, Schwarzenegger hadn’t made much of an effort to repay the loan. And he had mounted a vigorous defense in the case, even filing a motion questioning the motives for the suit and stridently arguing that the matter should be dismissed. He had worked very hard, in other words, to avoid the outcome that he found so “fantastic.” And the very fact that he did borrow the money tends to argue against his claims that he always intended to use his own money. After all, it shouldn’t have been too hard for Ahhnuld to scrape together $4 or $5 million. And being that he is such a ‘fantastic’ businessman, you would think that he might have had the foresight to free up some of his cash in anticipation of financing a run for the governor’s office. But apparently not.

Of course, the California Kid had an explanation. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Schwarzenegger said he had been on the campaign trail and unable to write a check himself to cover campaign expenses. Being a ‘hands-on guy when it comes to money,’ he said, it was not the sort of task he liked to delegate to others. So instead, he said, he authorized the $4.5-million bank loan.”

These were not just your garden variety lies that Ahhnuld was telling. No, these were absurd, nonsensical lies — the kind of lies that probably would not even be believed by the people who believe that that tiger really was trying to save Roy.

Since the problem, by Schwarzenegger’s own account, was not a lack of funds, but rather an inability to access those funds, due to being out on the campaign trail, it is not entirely clear how obtaining more funds through a bank loan solved the problem. Wouldn’t the loan, after all, just result in more money being dumped into an account that could not be accessed? And why would someone who wouldn’t delegate authority to sign checks decide to delegate authority obtain a $4.5 million loan? Or did Ahhnuld have the time to arrange the loan himself, just not enough time to sign a check?

It’s all very confusing to me. But at least Ahhnuld was happy with the court’s decision: “It was a good decision by the judge. Exactly what we intended to do.”

The governor didn’t bore the assembled reporters for long with his bizarre praise for the judge’s decision. Instead, he quickly moved on to offer praise for the reporters themselves. He spoke glowingly of the press, and of how his careers as both a bodybuilder and a film star had been aided and abetted by the generosity of the media. He repeatedly offered thanks to the assembled reporters. Amazingly enough, he even openly bribed the Press Club, handing over a $1,000 check for its scholarship program. Incredibly, he had somehow found the time to sign the check himself.

Schwarzenegger concluded his appearance with the following appeal: “Let’s all work together. And please continue selling my projects and selling my philosophy and the different things we’re going to get out there.”

And that, dear readers, is an example of “dizzying media savvy.” This is how it works: when confronted with possible exposure as a corrupt fraud, go before the press on bended knee; tell easily discredited, nonsensical lies; heap shameless praise on an undeserving press corps; offer a pathetic bribe; and then wrap up by openly reminding reporters what their true function is.

It should go without saying that anyone with true “media savvy” would have known that they could have gotten a free ride from the press without all the groveling.

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One final note on Ahhnuld the Barbarian: did anyone else notice that it seemed rather odd to use the State of the Union speech as a forum to condemn the use of steroids in professional sports? Am I the only one who interpreted that as a truly bizarre attempt to distance Bush from Schwarzenegger?
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In other news, we were just days into the new year when my daughter got herself suspended from school. And this was not, I must confess, her first run-in with school authorities. No, the first was three years ago. That was when I received a phone call informing me that she had been sent to that feared and mysterious place known only as “The Principal’s Office.” She was five years old at the time. In Kindergarten. True story.

And what, you may well be wondering, had she done at such a young age to earn herself a trip to the principal’s office? Well … as it turns out, she had tied her shoes to the legs of her chair, and she had knotted them so tightly that neither she nor her teacher could untie them. So after being cut free, she was shipped off to see the principal. The school seemed very concerned about this incident. The teacher seemed very concerned. My ex-wife seemed very concerned. I, on the other hand, found it quite funny. I probably blew any chance I may have had at being named the school’s “Parent of the Month.”

For some strange reason, I seemed to be the only one able to recognize her behavior for what it was: she had staged a symbolic protest against the incredibly repressive and conformist atmosphere of an institution that more closely resembles a prison than a school. And to that, I say, “you go, girl!” … ooops, sorry … I forgot that I am not supposed to laugh or make light of the situation, lest my daughter learn the wrong lesson from this episode, or some such thing.

Anyway, here we are three years later and I get another phone call. Now call me old-fashioned if you must, but I had never heard of an eight-year-old getting suspended from school. But then again, I had never heard of a five-year-old being sent to the principal’s office. That’s just me. I grew up a long time ago, in a different era. I grew up with Peter and Bobby, and with Danny, but not really with Greg or Keith, because they were a little older and a little cooler … especially Keith, but also Greg when he got his own room with all the beads and stuff. I think that might have been the year that all the boys returned for the new Fall season sporting “Afros.”

Remember that? The previous season had ended with everyone having their normal hair, and then they all showed up on the season premiere with ‘fros! Even Mr. Brady! What the hell was up with that? And then, even more bizarrely, all the ‘jocks’ at my school starting sporting ‘fros as well. And then, perhaps in a bid for acceptance by the ‘cool’ people, my own brother came home with one, immediately earning himself the nickname “Greg Brady.”

I try to forget about all of that, but every now and then I will see the old school photos, and there it will be, staring me in the face. The ‘fro. And coupled with it, the hideous Hawaiian shirt. It isn’t a pretty sight. And then the memories will come flooding back — legions of white guys inexplicably sporting ‘fros, my brother selecting just the right ‘fro pick, Afro-Sheen on the bathroom counter, neighbor Juan (later the bass player for the band Ratt) strolling the halls of our high school, a mass of human hair roughly the size of a hot air balloon struggling valiantly, and yet failing, to follow the rhythms of his walk.

Anyway, I guess that’s another story. And by the way, I do know now that Greg wasn’t really all that cool. And I’m okay with that. Let’s move on then, shall we?

So here is the scenario: my daughter, still determined to break free of the school’s psychic bonds, joined in an elaborate plot to launch a daring daylight escape. There were six other eight-year-olds involved. Collectively, they formed what we shall refer to here as the Gang of Seven. Their intended destination? A nearby 7-Eleven store. Their objective? Jaw Breakers.

There are indications that an initial attempt during school hours failed. But luckily, they had a back-up plan: during the after-school program, two of the Gang would set up a diversion to draw the attention of the campus aides while the other five slipped out through a back door of what passes for the gym. That plan, alas, was foiled, and the Gang of Seven was quickly rounded up. The purported leader was suspended for four days. The rest received lighter sentences. Meanwhile, I ventured off in a fruitless search for a “My Child Was Suspended From School” bumper sticker.

“But Dave,” you may be asking, “is there a point to any of this”? Uhh … not really, now that you mention it. There was certainly no legitimate reason for including that extended Brady Bunch reference. As for the rest, it serves as an introduction, of sorts, to the first on a short list of links to articles that, for various reasons, struck me as being particularly noteworthy (since some of these articles will likely soon expire, or be transferred into some dreaded paid archives, I have taken the unauthorized liberty of re-posting them, and I have included links to both the originals and the re-postings).

From Australia’s The Age comes this short but revealing piece by an expatriate American who recently returned to visit a country that looks much different than the one she grew up in (which happens to be, coincidentally, the one I remember growing up in). The author takes a clear-eyed look at what irrational fear has already done to our communities, and what it is doing to our children.
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This next offering comes from, strangely enough, the op/ed pages of the Los Angeles Times. Normally when I turn to the newspaper’s editorial pages, I am greeted by offensive cartoons from Michael Ramirez and the repulsive writings of such propagandists as the CFR’s Max Boot (nice name, by the way). But on January 28, 2004, the Times‘ editors fell asleep at the wheel and allowed CSU professor Theodore Roszak to rage against the machine (actually, against the corruption of the machine’s potential, and against man’s twisted relationship to the machine).
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Next up is a look at how electronic voting machines are quickly stripping away Americans’ alleged right to vote (actually, the right to vote for one of two nearly indistinguishable candidates, but let’s not quibble here). If you are already familiar with the issue, you probably won’t learn anything new from this four-page exposé. However, it is a very good, and fairly short, overview that comes from a respected media outlet in the home of our staunchest ally. As such, it is a good article to pass along to skeptical friends and colleagues.
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I was thumbing through the paper the other day, incidentally, when I happened upon a list of sample questions taken from the test given to those applying for U.S. citizenship. One of the questions was: “What is the most important right granted a U.S. citizen?” The correct answer is supposed to be: “The right to vote.” That being the case, you would think that someone in Washington, or in the America media establishment, would express some concern over whether that right still exists.

Next on the list is a three-part offering from the Philippines. Read it, and understand it, and you will be well on your way to understanding how the global ‘War on Terrorism’ is really being waged.
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This final offering is a rather lengthy affair. It is, nevertheless, essential reading. Very rarely, I must say, do I encounter such a lengthy, ambitious rant with which I have no major quarrels. Kudos to Mr. Kupferberg for a job well done.

I have a number of other links to share as well, but I have just a little more ranting to do first.

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The Democratic presidential contenders were recently asked by an obviously bored reporter to name the living Republican that they like the best. Several chose ‘moderate’ Republican Senator John McCain (who, in an hilarious development, will be playing the role of a Bush critic on the new panel that will be trying to solve one of the most baffling mysteries of modern times: the Iraq ‘intelligence failure’), but one of the contenders broke from the pack and chose decidedly conservative commentator Patrick Buchanan.My first guess, upon hearing of this, was that it was perhaps Joseph Lieberman. My theory was that Lieberman – thinking back to how, during the 2000 presidential election, Buchanan had secured the votes of all those Jewish concentration camp survivors in south Florida – saw the endorsement as a way of shoring up his base of support.

But I was wrong. It turns out that it was actually that wily little ‘ultra-liberal,’ Dennis Kucinich, who expressed admiration for Buchanan. Go figure. All I can say is that my favorite living Republican, if he proves to be for real, is a much different Buchanan.

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This one is from the “things that make you go ‘hmmm …'” files.

A story that has been circulating in the conspiracy community for quite some time now holds that our back-up quarterback, Dick Cheney, has a fondness for playing “The Most Dangerous Game.” In other words, he allegedly likes to, quite literally, hunt humans. Preferably young, naked, female humans. For sport.

I know what you’re thinking, so let me just say that I don’t make this stuff up. Nor do I vouch for its veracity. All that I am saying is that these claims have been made — albeit not, to my knowledge, by the most credible of sources. Nevertheless, what is being claimed is not beyond the realm of possibility. After all, what we are talking about here, on the one hand, is abhorrent and psychopathic behavior. And on the other hand, we are talking about Dick Cheney. These two things are not, quite obviously, mutually exclusive.

Everyone has by now heard about the hunting trip recently taken by Cheney and his invited guest, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who will soon sit in judgment of Cheney’s withholding of the notes from his “Top Secret Energy Club.” The hunting trip was, quite obviously (to everyone but Scalia), wildly improper. It is difficult to imagine, however, that it did much to influence Scalia’s pending decision. The trip was, in other words, completely unnecessary, since, as everyone knows, Scalia was already wearing a Team Bush uniform.

Why then the provocatively timed, and much-publicized, hunting trip? And why has Scalia steadfastly refused to acknowledge the obvious and recuse himself? One possibility is that there is a plot twist in this script: instead of doing what everyone assumes he will do, perhaps Scalia’s role will be to provide the ‘swing’ vote that turns the high court’s decision against Cheney.

Such a strategy, if employed, would represent an attempt by the political elite to reestablish the illusion of an independent judiciary, after that illusion was shattered three years ago by the court appointment of Team Bush. By now highlighting, rather than downplaying, the close personal relationship between the two men, Scalia’s unexpected decision can later be hailed as a shining example of judicial independence.

Another possible goal of such a scenario could be to create the appearance of dumping previously withheld information into the public domain — except that it won’t be the actual Energy Task Force notes that are released; it will be a very carefully packaged bundle of information that appears to be damaging, and that appears to provide ammunition to critics, but that actually serves to further the agenda.

The Task Force meetings were conducted in complete secrecy (possibly even utilizing the Cone of Silence). No one (except those who attended) can therefore verify what is in the mysterious notes. It naturally follows then that no one will be able to verify that what is released is legitimate, or that the release represents anywhere near a full disclosure. Cheney has had ample time down in his secret hideaway to tailor the notes for public consumption. It would be incredibly naive to think that that hasn’t been done.

If we assume that, contrary to expectations, the court will order the release of the notes, then what should we expect to be ‘revealed’? My guess is that the documents that will be released will indicate that Team Bush’s energy policy (and foreign policy) are based on concerns over ‘Peak Oil.’ I am not saying here, mind you, that that is the true motive behind the actions of Team Bush; I am saying that that is what the Task Force’s notes will indicate.

I believe that the Washington gang wants to promote the notion of ‘Peak Oil,’ but they want to do it in a backhanded way. They want to plant the seed in the public consciousness, but they want to do it without directly discussing the issue, and they want to do it in a way that makes it appear as though their hand has been forced. What they want, in the final analysis, is the consent of the American people for the continuation of their rampant warmongering. But the old lies aren’t really working anymore. So I’m thinking that maybe the Washington gang is betting that the American people can be recruited as unacknowledged conspirators.

This is how such a scenario could play out: first, the seeds of ‘Peak Oil’ theory are planted, but then no one really talks much about it. Then, as wars continue to be waged, the same old lies will be trotted out about promoting democracy, preventing genocide, and ridding the world of ‘weapons of mass destruction.’ The media, of course, will play along. And the people will also play along, even though they will know that they are being lied to, because everyone will ‘know’ that the unspoken truth is that we need to do whatever is necessary to secure the oil supplies that will prevent our cherished way of life from coming to an abrupt halt.

… Uhhh … I’m a little confused here. I set out to pen a short piece on the Cheney/Scalia hunting trip and I seem to have somehow segued into predicting some bizarre scenario that, to be perfectly honest, just came to me as I was writing this, which means that I haven’t really thought it through. Your first clue that I am full of shit will come when Scalia unabashedly sides with Cheney. Your second clue will come when the Task Force notes remain under wraps.

Now that we have that out of the way, let us now return to the original focus of this particular rant — exploring whether there may be a much darker side to the hunting trip story. Consider the following report from the venerable Los Angeles Times:

“Two Black Hawk helicopters were brought in and hovered nearby as Cheney and Scalia were whisked away in a heavily guarded motorcade to a secluded, private hunting camp owned by an oil industry businessman [identified as Wallace Carline, the head of Diamond Services Corp.] … the Cheney-Scalia trip drew the attention of local officials because of the unusual security precautions … on the morning of Jan. 5, a large security contingent was in place — two Black Hawk air combat rescue helicopters, a line of armored sport utility vehicles and a ring of federal agents and sheriff’s deputies who set up a security perimeter. The area was declared a no-fly zone for other aircraft … Perry [Ken Perry, of the Perry Flying Center at the Harry P. Williams Airport] said Cheney was among the first to deplane, followed by Scalia and a young woman who was identified to Perry as one of the justice’s daughters. Both Perry and Naquin [David Naquin, the local sheriff] said there were orders prohibiting photographs of those who exited the planes and climbed into the motorcade. But two days later, Cheney returned to the airport without Scalia, and photographs were allowed … Scalia stayed on to hunt a few more days, the sheriff said, but local officials said it was unclear how he returned to Washington.”

[David G. Savage and Richard A. Serrano “Scalia Was Cheney Hunt Trip Guest,” Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2004]

Uhmm, would it be considered rude to ask what happened to Scalia’s ‘daughter’? Why is there no mention of how she returned to Washington? And would Scalia really have brought his daughter along on such an outing? Since it wasn’t a big secret that Scalia and Cheney were there, doesn’t it seem reasonable to conclude that the ban on photographs was intended to protect the young woman’s identity? And did Scalia really hang around to hunt for a few more days, despite the fact that, according to Sheriff Naquin, the hunting “was terrible. There were very few ducks killed.”?

Is it possible that Scalia and Cheney opted to leave separately so as not to highlight the fact that someone in their party had gone missing? Since no one saw Scalia leave, then it follows that no one can confirm whether his ‘daughter’ left with him. And even if she did, doesn’t this story, at the very least, have the makings of a good sex scandal? I mean, when two older guys and a young woman go duck hunting for a couple of days and no one brings back any ducks, people are going to talk. And if the two guys come back without ducks or the girl, then I think we could have a serious problem.