Thursday, February 18, 2016

Scalia's Son: Conspiracy Theories "Hurtful Distraction"

Appearing on the Laura Ingraham Show, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's eldest son, Eugene Scalia called conspiracy theories about his father's death "a hurtful distraction for a family in mourning," He asked for prayers for his father, instead. The younger Scalia said his family has no doubt that Justice Scalia died of natural causes. The family declined to have an autopsy in Texas.

Could that have factored into the decision not to have an autopsy? With the U.S. Marshals on the scene, is it possible they could have said something like, "Your Honor, we would prefer to do this in Bethesda?" Do we know Justice Scalia's body was cremated in Texas? This is rank speculation, the Bear admits, but the fate of Justice Scalia's mortal remains is shrouded in mystery.

Justice of the Peace Bishop Speaks to Infowars

In other news,  Presidio County Justice of the Peace Juanita Bishop implicitly criticized Judge Cinderela Guevara for not viewing the body herself before pronouncing the death of Justice Scalia, and for not ordering an autopsy. Both won contested elections in 2014, with Guevara unseating one-term incumbent Paul Hunt.

Bishop claimed Presidio County "usually" does autopsies when the deceased is not under medical care,  but was unable to provide Infowars numbers. The Bear finds it unusual that a justice of the peace would publicly question the professional decisions of a judge in the same county. However, he is unfamiliar with the politics of Presidio County, Texas, or Justice of the Peace Bishop's ambitions, if any.

Of course, Alex Jones, head of Infowars promises to "delve into the apparent assassination of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia." If that were not sensational enough, he's also going to talk about a CIA-developed dart gun that gives you cancer or heart attacks.

Bishop Gets the Call, Tries Twice to Hand it Off

Bishop had received the initial call, but she was two hours away.  She called Justice of the Peace David Beebe, and informed him only that there was "a dead body." Beebe demurred because he was busy at a political forum. That's when Bishop called Judge Guevara. She, like Bishop and Beebe, was unable to drive to the scene. (She has also reported that a U.S. Marshall discouraged her from coming to the ranch by phone. The Marshall's had been called, and were heavily involved.) Then, according to Texas law, she conducted her inquest by phone, relying on Sheriff Danny C. Dominguez to assist her from the scene.

Two hour drive or not, the Bear wonders why Justice of the Peace Bishop, who was first called, did not proceed to the scene, especially since no other official was in any better position. He also wonders why she did not provide Justice of the Peace Beebe with the name of the deceased. Bishop told Infowars that she "always wants to see the body," and "that's my job." The Bear supposes just not that night.

So you lujack a dead Supreme Court Justice on another official, then tell the press how you would have done everything differently. Interesting.

Pillow Clarification and Summary

Meanwhile ranch owner John Poindexter clarified his statement about the pillow, saying it was on Scalia's head, "against the headboard," not near his face.

See Slate for a short article on the circumstances surrounding Justice Scalia's death.

The Cremation Question

There are persistent reports that Scalia's body was cremated. They seemed to have originated as a joke by Democratic Underground types, saying that he would be cremated but 100,000 women would decide what should be done with his body. The casket will be closed when Scalia lies in state. But the Bear was unable to find any reputable source that said Justice Scalia was indeed cremated. Or was cremated after an autopsy conducted by pathologists with significantly more resources than a Texas county. There is no evidence to support this. The Bear merely shares his frustration that he does not have a chain of custody for the deceased U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Bear may have missed something, of course, If so, he would appreciate better information.

While the Church "earnestly recommends" burial, the Code of Canon Law (1983) permits cremation unless it has been chosen for reasons contrary to Christian teaching. Supposedly, Scalia had indicated in his will his desire to be cremated, which many have found unusual, given Scalia's traditionalist Catholic orientation.

Conspiracy Theories

Research on anything related to this story on the internet gets bogged down in hundreds of websites that have dedicated their bandwidth to conspiracy theories, most of them implicating the President of the United States who now gets to appoint a liberal justice, some adding the United Nations' Agenda 21 or other favorite threats of conspiracy theorists.


  1. 1. If the son is satisfied, I am.
    2. Odd people in TX. "Cinderela Guevara" Che's abused step sister?
    3. You said: "She has also reported that a U.S. Marshall discouraged her from coming to the ranch by phone." Well, it would be difficult to travel to the ranch by phone.
    4. I find it odd that Scalia's remains would be cremated since he is a traditionalist Catholic.

    RIP. Thank you God for blessing our nation with his service. May his legacy not be destroyed overnight. God have mercy on us sinful people.

    1. 1. Hard to argue, and not just on a sentimental basis. The family might have information we don't.
      2. Her name is so cute, I just can't think ill of her. Funny. Too bad she's the most reviled woman in the country among conservatives. But she is a Democrat.
      3. You know, I spotted that, but said "what the heck," let someone have a little fun. That's what Bears are all about.
      4. How do we know they were? Are there any reputable news sources that say that, and where it happened? There may be, but I couldn't cut through the conspiracy theories and democrats dancing on his grave to discover the answer.

      Amen. We had him for a long time, and he made a difference to our country. Few people are more influential than a Supreme Court Justice. (Maybe too much so, but that's another discussion.)

  2. I believe Scalia died of natural causes, but some of the actors should have known that their blasé behavior was imprudent and unprofessional in context. It will never end now.

    1. With federal authorities on the scene it is possible that the things we think are odd or unprofessional may have an explanation in pressure by feds on small time politicians. He finds it odd that people are not sufficiently factoring in the known presence of the feds.

      Bear knows his feds. He can have his own conspiracy theory based on the notion that it difficult for him to imagine federal authorities sitting on their hands at the death scene of a Supreme Court Justice. Do you think news of Scalia's death didn't burn up the lines to Washington as soon as the first Marshal was called? Would they permit some rinky-dink frontier pathologist to do an autopsy on a Supreme Court Justice? We do know that U.S. Marshals were involved enough to turn Judge Guevara around. Bear likes his conspiracy theory better. But then, he would. But he is not going to assert it as a fact or a sound conclusion in public, either.

      Oakes, is the Bear right about the blackout on Scalia's remains? Do we know yet for certain that he was cremated, and if so where? Do we know for certain that he expressed a wish to be cremated in his will? (And yes, Pete, it would be difficult to cremate someone in a will.) How would we know that, unless the family told the press? And if there was no autopsy in Texas, do we know for a fact there was no autopsy at Bethesda? The signal to noise ratio is so low Bear may have just missed it.

      And it would have never ended, anyway. No matter what, many people would just insist that it's "too convenient that a conservative Supreme Court Justice dies and Obama gets to appoint a liberal to wreck the Court." Look at the all the wacky conservative websites (not ours, of course LOL). But the Bear concedes your point.

  3. In regard to the cremation issue.

    Note the reports from Washington now:

    [Donato] attended Thursday's wake for Scalia, saying he saw his friend "lying in his casket, and he looked like a guy who was just the warm loving guy he always was."

    Doesn't sound like cremation to me.

    The other way to tell definitely will be the requiem mass, since it is different if the body is present versus cremated remains. If internment occurs immediately following, I can't imagine digging a guy up to cremate him.

    The first I saw of it was in a combox comment by conspiratist. No news source at all. I'm not twit, so I don't twitter. Thus, I missed the other origin from the joke on twitter. Sites then started picking this up. Some unnamed source mentioned it being in his will, which is particularly odd, as who would have access to that other than the Executor?

    None of the primary sources reported cremation. If you're (Barbara) going to secondary or tertiary sources, you're making a grave mistake in consuming news, particularly if those secondary and tertiary sites are commentary sites, and not "straight" news. Even well-meaning journalists get facts wrong, and I've tangled with a few reporters directly on some stories. The best you can do is to use some common sense and take any unconfirmed "facts", especially early in the news cycle, with a grain of salt. You should also rely more heavily on primary news sources (local affiliates) because they are closer to the sources.

    So, why question "news" sources on a question like this? Let me tell a story (and maybe Barbara is reading). I read/watched a story about a local incident off a local affiliate. It had a glaringly wrong assertion of fact in the story which was incidental to the "human interest" of the larger story. I contacted the affiliate and pointed this out. The first defense from the station was "I googled the story and all the news outlets are reporting the same thing. Are you saying all these outlets are wrong and you are right?!!!"

    Well, yes! You're the primary source. They're just repeating your error. They didn't send reporters from across the nation to first hand report on a minor incident.

    Only after digging up a third-party resource site and referencing evidence from their video, was I able to convince them with incontrovertible evidence that they were wrong on a fact that anybody with knowledge of the concerned field would instantly know. The irony is the error was likely created by a typo in the teleprompter text and not in the original news gathering, but the reporter and editor didn't know anything about the subject material and couldn't recognize it. Nor could any of the other news outlets.

    Journalists are parrots. They think that because they can type (or speak) that makes them qualified to report on anything.

    1. Great catch. The Bear, being a Bear, shall take a moment to pat himself on the back on questioning the cremation from the beginning, one reason being the one you cite: who the heck would have seen Scalia's will and be talking about it? Strike another leg from the conspiracy theory stool. (Does it have any left.)

      Now for the final question, can anyone tell the Bear why we should not assume Scalia's mortal remains were not autopsied near Washington? Maybe Admiral Monahon or somebody else will have a statement for us someday soon. At this point, we just don't know. But the lack of a cremation makes it much less unlikely.

      Not that it would change any minds.

    2. take out a "not" last sentence first graph.

    3. Your approach to news is wise. The Bear relied most on local affiliates when he could. And Judge Guevara had a lot to say to those who would listen. I still can't figure out how Justice of the Peace Bishop got suckered into dissing Judge Guevara on Infowars lol. She probably had no clue what kind of operation they were, and was flattered someone was interested in her. Unless she was besties with Judge Cinderela (Love that name!) Guevara, things are probably going to be chilly in Presidio County. The sad part is, neither the Judge nor Sheriff asked for this difficult situation. (Bishop lujacked the case to Cinderela.) They seem to have performed their duties well, and in consultation with federal law enforcement. And they've had their names dragged through the muck.

  4. While I'm ranting, let me give you a horrifying example of journalists that should know better who completely blew a report. About ten years ago Cardinal Montini mouthed off about condoms being acceptable in the case of AIDS. I read the initial reports out of Rome at about 3:00 AM US time probably from Sandro Magister who reported it was Montini. The AP picked up the report and Montini became "The Vatican says". At around 7:00 AM local time, Relevant Radio (or Irrelevant Radio depending on your perspective) reads the AP wire and reports to US catholics that "The Vatican says...". Around noon (5 HOURS later), Sheila Liaugminas hits the air with her "Rome correspondent" and starts to discuss the implications. About 5 minutes of that and I had to turn off the radio because I couldn't stand it anymore. I don't know if they finally got corrected. Any Catholic with catechesis 102 should have instantly known this reported statement WAS NOT POSSIBLE. Somebody needed to check their facts before spreading this.

    This is my biggest beef with "catholic journalists", esp radio hosts. They may be very sincere catholics, but think that because they are radio journalists AND catholic, that qualifies them to host discussions on catholicism. That and two other arguably WORSE cases, finally drove me from listening to "catholic" radio, and is also why I don't let catholic bloggers analyze/interpret facts for me, I go to the primary sources and analyze for myself.

    One more vignette the Bear will appreciate. My field relies heavily on analysis. Part of my job is to field reports of incidents from witnesses, determine WHAT actually happened, WHY it happened, and usually to make sure it doesn't happen again. These witnesses regularly lie to me. They don't intend to; they don't even want to. But they lie nonetheless because they can't accurately describe what they witnessed, much less what actually happened, and most are completely unqualified to interpret why it happened. I long ago adopted the Reagan approach, "Trust but verify."

    1. In view of recent Papal excretions, I amend "WAS NOT POSSIBLE" to "WAS NOT POSSIBLE under Benedict".

      (remainder of comment redacted out of fear for my soul).

    2. In a different matter, you have been given full credit for the find that Scalia was not cremated. I believe you have said he wasn't from the beginning, too, unless I'm thinking of someone else. So, you're famous utubeo. Well, at least among the woodland creatures, but it's a start.


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