My eerie Scalia premonition
In the year 2000, my one and only novel was published, the then futuristic 2006: The Chautauqua Rising. Set, as the reader might surmise, in 2006, this political action thriller tells the tale of a grassroots insurrection in Western New York that in many ways anticipated the Tea Party insurgency of 2009-10. As an aside, those thinking of writing a book should be sure to give it a title that people can pronounce. I learned this the hard way. The county in question is pronounced sha-TAWK-wa.
The proximate cause of the “rising” is a school shooting. The original reports at the scene suggest that the shooters were of Mideast origin. Within hours, however, the story changed, and the media began to insist that the shooters were home-grown American extremists. Knowing the likely consequences, our protagonists “watched in awe and horror, marveling at the ability of some unseen hand to shape the news to its own design like a vase on a pottery wheel.”
What left our protagonists vulnerable was a recent change in the composition of the Supreme Court, one that gave progressives a free hand to interpret the law any way they saw fit. “We are reaching, I fear, a turning point in American history,” wrote one conservative editorialist. “Since the untimely and inexplicable death of Antonin Scalia and the ascension to Chief Justice of Laurence Tribe, the forces of federal and judicial usurpation have gone virtually unchecked.”
In the book, Scalia dies unexpectedly in his sleep. “After a hasty investigation,” I wrote, “the DC police ruled the death carbon monoxide poisoning.” Of course, the whole thing smelled. “Not everyone bought the explanation,” I continued. “Talk radio jocks began to demand a fuller investigation. As usual, the outcry was quickly dismissed as right wing conspiracy blather.”
Less than 12 hours after the real Scalia news broke, I was reading articles headlined “Alex Jones: ‘My gut tells me Antonin Scalia was murdered.’” Hours before that, however, the New Republic had run a story mockingly headlined, “The leading conspiracy theory about Antonin Scalia’s death: Obama did it.” Indeed, there were more – and earlier – mainstream stories dismissing conspiracy theories than there were conspiracy theories to dismiss.
In my experience, Occam’s Razor – the simplest explanation is the best – explains most political phenomena. Most, but not all. My next book details the most successful political conspiracy of our time, and it is no longer just a theory. TWA 800: The Crash, The Cover-Up, The Conspiracy will be out in time for the twentieth anniversary this July. Hillary fans, fasten your seat belts.