May 1, 2004

Duck Hunting, the High Court, Corruption, and Slam Dunks

By In Essays

In March, Antonin Scalia announced he would not recuse himself from the Supreme Court case in which it is to be determined whether or not Dick Cheney must make public the notes of his secret energy task force that formulated Bush energy policy in the spring and summer of 2001. By this time, it is public knowledge that Cheney’s task force met on scores of occasions with executives from the fossil fuels and nuclear industries (including Ken Lay), but with not a single advocate for consumers, the environment, or renewable energies.

Only weeks after the Supreme Court agreed to take the case, which had been making its way through the appellate courts, Cheney and Scalia chummed around on a private duck-hunting trip in Louisiana. Cheney’s rationale for keeping his notes secret, he says, is that he doesn’t want to jeopardize future officers of the executive branch in their ability to hold similar clandestine proceedings, which would interfere with their ability to formulate policy. Cheney has been silent about bribery or collusion, and he has not even a semblance of an argument as to why, in a democracy, secret energy policy deliberations are necessary. Who can blame him? Given the nature of our mainstream media, reasons and arguments are unnecessary. Moreover, Cheney, like Scalia (a virtual arm of the Bush administration), seems to be of the Adolph Hitler school of lying: if you tell a lie, make it a big one; the bigger the lie the more likely it is to be believed.

Don’t you love surprises? When Bush’s energy policy was announced, it was an extended commitment to fossil fuels, including tens of billions of dollars in subsidies and tax credits to the already stinking petroleum industry. In addition, it resurrected moribund nuclear power and allocated only a token handful of dollars for solar and renewable energy sources. There was nary a word about conservation – which would, after all, interrupt the massive profits of Bush and Cheney’s friends – nor a peep about the environment.

But getting back to Scalia. His written decision in this case is so poorly drafted it sounds like the ramblings of a skid row drunk, and to call him a liar is to pay the scoundrel a compliment. How he and his kind have risen to positions of power and respect in what is supposed to be the greatest country in the world and the standard bearer for democracy is an issue only history can judge; and she ain’t speaking just yet. In reality, Scalia is a piece of a puzzle of an administration completely out of control, one comprised of free market thugs and neo-conservative extremists that make the robber barons of the late19th Century and the Tea Pot Dome era seem like philanthropists.

I cannot even decipher Scalia’s logic in order to unravel it. Here is part of what he said in his written decision:

“Recusal would in my judgment harm the court. If I were to withdraw from this case, it would be because some of the press has [sic] argued that the vice president would suffer political damage if he should lose this appeal. But since political damage often comes from the government’s losing official-action suits, and since political damage can readily be characterized as a stain on reputation and integrity, recusing in the face of such charges would give elements of the press a veto over participation of any justices who had social contacts with or were even known to be friends of, a named official.”

According to Scalia, his recusal may, of all things, damage the vice-president. Another surprise. Some people might call that justice. How about this, Scalia? The reason not enough people know you ought to recuse yourself has nothing to do with whether the vice-president suffers or not, although in this case he obviously ought to, but whether you are capable of rendering an unbiased opinion based upon the law and the facts. And really the law is not at issue here. A democracy is, by definition, of the people, by the people, and for the people; and not of the secret energy task force, by the secret energy task force, and for the secret energy task force. The people have a right, not to speak of an obligation, to know what went on in those secret meetings.

Worse, Scalia goes on to reproach the mainstream press poodle as if it is a badger in reporting on corruption of unprecedented proportions, rather than extolling it as state-cheerleader and Ministry of Propaganda, which would have been more accurate, let alone honest. Scalia says critical reporting threatens the appearance of judicial integrity on the high court– Hitler again– insisting his duck-hunting trip doesn’t. When Scalia goes on to aver that there is no basis for recusing himself from the case as he would have liked to have done to demonstrate his integrity, even Goebbels would have been proud.

Scalia went duck hunting and palled around with Dick Cheney. Now he is back at his job on the high court, as is Dick Cheney back at his – or at a secret, undisclosed location. Soon Cheney’s case will come before Scalia and the Supreme Court. I haven’t the faintest idea why anyone would think there would be any bias in his decision.

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