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Daily Howler: Pseudo-liberals pleasured themselves with dumb, feel-good tales about race
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THE JOY OF RACE! Pseudo-liberals pleasured themselves with dumb, feel-good tales about race: // link // print // previous // next //

THE SUMMER OF 99: Before the unqualified Michael Brown, we had the unqualified Joseph Allbaugh—Bush’s first director of FEMA (and the inept Brown’s college roommate). In the past week, pundits have been asking how these men were ever chosen to head up FEMA; as they’ve done so, our thoughts have drifted back to the press corps’ first puppy-love for Allbaugh, expressed in the summer of 99. At the time, the mainstream press was punishing Gore because Bill Clinton had gotten ten blow-jobs. (What explains the “harsh coverage and punditry” directed at Gore, Howard Kurtz was asking in the Post.) Meanwhile, career liberals were brilliantly looking away, pretending that this wasn’t occurring. But over at the Washington Post, love was in bloom for the wonderful Allbaugh. Predictably, it was Ceci Connolly whose heart was a-flutter. In a pair of front-page stories about Gore’s alleged crazy spending, she offered this anecdote about the big lug, then the Bush campaign chief:
CONNOLLY (7/17/99): Aside from a candidate himself who is notoriously tight-fisted, Bush campaign officials said the designated "Dr. No" on spending is campaign manager Joe Allbaugh, an imposing man with the build of a football linebacker.

One Republican fund-raiser recalled a recent trip to Austin when he witnessed firsthand the Allbaugh ability to say no. Approached to approve $10,000 in expenses, Allbaugh instead tore up the piece of paper, ignoring the aide's response that it was a project signed off on by Allbaugh himself.

Awww! That was fun! (Needless to say, Connolly had no way to know if this story was true.) As noted, this anecdote comes from Day 2 in a pair of back-to-back, front-page stories about Candidate Gore’s wild overspending (contrasted with Bush’s wise money management). This ridiculous theme was so blatantly fake that even the Post eventually dropped it; indeed, these articles (co-written by Susan Glasser) may have been the fakest stories published by the Post during Campaign 2000—and that’s really saying something. To see Allbaugh’s introduction to the public—and to remember how much the Post would lie in order to punish Vile Clinton through Gore—see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/19/99, with a link to our previous report. Connolly was baldly dissembling—and career liberals were all standing silent.

Those front-page stories do explain how Bush found his way to the White House. They explain how losers like Allbaugh and Brown ever headed FEMA to begin with. Today, career liberals wail about their tenure. But when it mattered, they played it safe. When it mattered, they looked away. It was the summer of 99—and career liberals knew not to notice.

THE JOY OF RACE: Kanye West knew it, and Imus did too. “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” West said on NBC’s celebrity gala last weekend. (Would that FEMA could move as fast as the nation’s self-pimping celebrities!) “He doesn’t care [about blacks] enough,” Imus said, over and over again, Tuesday morning. (He continued this line of critique the next day.) According to West, that was why it took five days for relief to reach New Orleans. Indeed, if you doubted the Bush Admin’s callousness, you only had to watch Aaron Broussard, Jefferson Parish president, on Sunday’s Meet the Press:

BROUSSARD (9/4/05): Let me give you just three quick examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. FEMA—we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away." When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. "FEMA says don't give you the fuel." Yesterday—yesterday—FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines." Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America—American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.
Moments later, Broussard described the Friday night drowning of an aide’s mother; she’d been stuck in a nursing home, without help, for five days. But through no fault of Aaron Broussard, there’s a problem with the larger story-line here; Jefferson Parish—just west of New Orleans—is about 70 percent white. The apparent ineptitude which bedeviled New Orleans left Broussard’s parish lacking help, too. If George Bush was trying to take down blacks, he was willing to take white folk down with them.

Indeed, over at the Huffington Post, New Orleans semi-resident Harry Shearer seemed to be (quietly) making this point in a set of posts called, “It’s Not Just New Orleans.” Here was Shearer’s first such offering, posted last Friday. It concerns St. Tammany Parish, north of New Orleans—a parish which is 87 percent white:

SHEARER (9/2/05): The (do I need to say this? white) emergency official in St. Tammany Parish just was seen in a taped piece on WWL TV issuing a blistering, profanity-laden denunciation of FEMA, accusing agency officials of turning away needed vehicles and fuel from the badly damaged parish (county) because of the need to fulfill arcane (my word, not his) regulations. Then he said he'd heard word that FEMA was going to "seize" some of the county's own vehicles and he added, menacingly, that if they "try to take any of my stuff, they'd better bring weapons".
On Saturday, Shearer offered a follow-up post about assistance to St. Bernard Parish. St. Bernard is east of New Orleans—and it’s 88 percent white:
SHEARER (9/3/05): WWL TV just interviewed Mike Sanders of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office. He said the Parish has received no Federal assistance as of yet. He was emphatic about it.
Did New Orleans get left for dead because George Bush doesn’t care about blacks? For pseudo-liberals, the story has been pleasing, leading up to those Imus remarks. But white jurisdictions were left for dead too, all across the New Orleans area and all throughout the larger gulf region. If New Orleans was dying because Bush doesn’t care about blacks, why then were elderly women drowning in neighboring parishes, which were heavily white? Everyone knew not to notice the logical problem. Everyone knew not to ask.

Indeed, the pleasures of race were apparent last week as America’s pseudo-liberals began to churn the types of pleasing stories they like. Was there any story so dumb that they wouldn’t pleasure themselves with it? Apparently not, to judge from the consummate nonsense which (basically) started at the Eschaton site, then spread wherever pleasing stories are sold. A single photo caption from Agence France Press failed to use the naughty term “looting”—and a pair of white people were portrayed in the photo! To Atrios, a college professor (!), this single, unexplained example seemed to display a troubling race bias—and the stupid story quickly spread around the liberal web (ending up in a stand-alone story in the New York Times). As it turned out, the photojournalist had a very good reason for saying this couple “found” bread and soda from a local grocery—he said he had literally seen them do it! But pseudo-liberals were outraged by this one example—and when pseudo-liberals start to pleasure themselves, one example is all they need to establish a troubling principle. Their well-trained professors (!) play along.

But then, so it has gone as pseudo-liberals have pleasured and flattered themselves about race, attempting to “reason” about this topic. Last night, the hapless Chris Matthews presented his latest hour of Hardball; he offered utterly unfocused questions as he pretended to examine events along the gulf coast. At one point, he interviewed the Post’s Gene Robinson and our own congressmen, Elijah Cummings. He asked Robinson a question about crime—and the Post scribe knew how to play it:

MATTHEWS (9/7/05): Gene, let me ask you this about that. Do you feel that that is a big part of this story, as a reporter, the guy—you read about these 100 guys running around with guns in the Superdome, gang leaders?

ROBINSON: Well, you know, some of that happened, not as much as has been reported. But it`s a part of the story.

As we’ll see, others have played this scripted card much more stupidly. But Robinson knew the correct answer to Matthews’ question—there was less crime than has been reported, he said. But uh-oh! Just two hours later, Eddie Compass, New Orleans chief of police, appeared on Larry King Live—and to our ears, he told a quite different story. Here was its first iteration:
COMPASS (9/7/05): You have to understand the situation down here. For six days we worked 20 to 24 hours a day, no food, no water, no transportation in waist-deep water, no radio communication because our towers were knocked down, no electricity. So I put my commanders on the street because that was our way of communicating with each other.

I mean it was some horrific situation, environment that we were in. And then you're in running gun battles with individuals who were shooting at you when you're trying to rescue them.

Individuals were in the Superdome with 30,000 people. You had 30,000 people at the convention center and with the help of the local sheriff offices, local, state and federal and state agencies we were able to hold these individuals off for about six days.

Say what? The NOPD was involved in “running gun battles?” And what exactly did Compass mean about “holding people off” at the convention center? Moments later, Compass went into more detail about the situation good pseudo-liberals all know they must dumbly deny:
KING: Chief, what do you make of people shooting at cops, why?

COMPASS: Well, it was crazy, Larry. I was in a helicopter...We were spotting for the boats to find out the safest routes that they could take in order to pick up people who were trapped on their roofs.

And all of a sudden they started shooting at the fire engines who were trying to put out a fire, so we had to leave the rescue mission and go into a tactical role. I had to dispatch my SWAT team, and my captain and I were spotting for the sniping. We went from rescue to tactical almost instantaneously.

They were shooting at us in the helicopter. They were shooting at my SWAT team. I mean it was crazy. How do you shoot at people that's trying to save your lives? It was incredible. I've never seen anything like that in my life.

But I want to tell America that, you know, you're focusing on a few cowards that walked away [quit the police force]. We had 1,200 men and women with the help of local—of other local agencies that held this city intact and we were so tactically sound. We were outnumbered. We were outgunned but we were so tactically sound not one of my commanders left their post.

My 40 commanders stood intact and we did not lose one police officer's life in all these running gun battles that we had because of the training of this New Orleans Police Department. One officer was shot in the head and he's going to be OK. One National Guardsman's weapon was taken and he was shot in the leg—with those two exceptions.

My SWAT team made over 30 entries into the convention center. Now you got to understand the situation at the convention center. You have 30,000 people who haven't been searched. There are weapons everywhere. They're shooting at us and we can't return the fire because there are so many civilians and children in there.

So, what my SWAT team commander Jeff Wynn came up with—we devised a strategy that, when we would see the flash, we would all converge to the flash and start patting people down and when you grab an individual you felt with a gun, you would yell, "Gun!" We would converge to that and then we would extract it out.

Now think about doing that one time, Larry, in a place where human feces and urine was all over, a bunch of civilians everywhere and heavily armed thugs, just think about doing it one time. My SWAT commander went in there over 30 times. This is the kind of police department I want to talk about the kind of people I want to talk about....

As we were driving to the different locations we were being shot upon but not one of my commanders backed down and that's really what the real story is.

Compass is an interested party; it’s always possible that he is exaggerating about what he calls “the real story.” And by the way: None of this changes what Congressman Cummings (whom we greatly admire) told Matthews about the New Orleans flood victims: “I got to get you on this one, Chris. Most of these people, probably 99 percent of these people, are wonderful folks, law-abiding.” Indeed, as we watched the horrors unfold last week, we thought we were watching superhuman acts of patience and forbearance from the crowds of suffering people at the Dome and the Center. But what exactly makes Robinson think that there was less crime than has been reported? Compass—whose city has a high crime rate even when there isn’t mass disorder—seemed to be telling a quite different story. But all across the world of pseudo-liberalism, good pseudo-liberals knew their scripts on this matter: No black person would commit a crime—and when the press corps dared suggest otherwise, they were engaged in the worst kind of slanders! How dare they suggest that such things could occur? In Sunday’s Post, Lynne Duke and Teresa Wiltz wrote a lengthy, script-heavy essay on race, an essay straight from the pseudo-lib Bible. They too were appalled on the subject of crime—appalled by the “unconfirmed reports:”
DUKE AND WILTZ (9/4/05): The image of the ghoulish Other arose in natural disasters more than a century ago. In the Chicago Fire of 1871, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, minority groups (Germans, African Americans and Chinese) were rumored to be preying on white women by chewing on their fingers to steal their jewelry. It's not such a stretch to see parallels in the unconfirmed reports of roving bands of rapists in New Orleans.
Duke and Wiltz enjoyed the greatest pleasure of race—the pleasure extracted from the suggestion that everyone else is a racist but me. According to Duke and Wiltz, when people spread those “unconfirmed reports,” they were acting like the historical racists who demonized minorities back in 1871. (It isn’t such a stretch to think so, they said.) But were last week’s rape reports really “unconfirmed?” Since Duke and Wiltz were careful not to specify what reports they meant, it’s hard to contradict their heartfelt assertion. But were people being raped in New Orleans? Duke and Wiltz weren’t in the city, so they had no apparent reason to care. But again, let’s turn to Chief Compass, who didn’t seem to have the time to recite the appropriate pseudo-lib scripts. James Dao reported in the New York Times, two days before the Duke-Wiltz essay:
DAO (9/2/05): A weeping young woman held out her dehydrated-looking child and pleaded for help. ''This is not about rich people or poor people,'' she said. ''This is about people.''

All over the city hung a sense of helplessness, of an anarchy that not even top officials could pin down with hard facts or figures.

''We have individuals who are getting raped,'' the city's police superintendent, Edwin P. Compass III, said in a brief interview about the scene at the convention center. ''We have individuals who are getting beaten.”

So how about it, readers: Has a crime report been “confirmed” when the fucking chief of police reports it? On the same day, the Times’ Joseph Treaster quoted Compass about rapes in the streets of New Orleans:
TREASTER (9/2/05): Chaos and gunfire hampered efforts to evacuate the Superdome, and, Superintendent P. Edward Compass III of the New Orleans Police Department said, armed thugs have taken control of the secondary makeshift shelter at the convention center. Superintendent Compass said that the thugs repelled eight squads of 11 officers each he had sent to secure the place and that rapes and assaults were occurring unimpeded in the neighboring streets as criminals ''preyed upon'' passers-by, including stranded tourists.

Mr. Compass said the federal government had taken too long to send in the thousands of troops—as well as the supplies, fuel, vehicles, water and food—needed to stabilize his now ''very, very tenuous'' city.

Once again, that was the chief of police. He had made these statements on September 1—three days before the Duke-Wiltz essay appeared. And by the way—Duke and Wiltz quoted that “weeping young woman” from Dao’s report, suggesting that they themselves had actually read Compass’ statement about the rapes. But so what! Duke and Wiltz knew much, much better—they knew much better than the black police chief—and they wanted you to know better, too. Three days later, they were still complaining that the rape reports were unconfirmed. But then, all pseudo-liberals knew to say such things. Instead of saying what was so plainly true—that “most of these [flood victims], probably 99 percent of these people, are wonderful folks, law-abiding”—and instead of saying what was also true—that most of the victims were showing superhuman patience in the face of this vast disaster—Duke and Wiltz had to make up tales in which no crime exists in New Orleans, even after normal order has broken down. Instead of praising the many who soared, they covered up for the few who had fallen.

Before we’ll tell you why we despise these pseudo-liberals so much, let’s make sure that we note one more part of their endless self-pleasuring tales. Let’s revisit the world’s fakest man as he played one more card last evening:

MATTHEWS (9/7/05): Some people have been pretty brutal in their commentary about the people left behind [in New Orleans]. Let me start with Gene Robinson on that.

You know, you have heard the commentary, usually from white people, saying these people are too stupid to leave, or why didn`t they get the message, or it`s their fault. What is going on in terms of people you have talked to about that decision?

Really? Have you “heard the commentary, usually from white people,” that the victims were “too stupid to leave...or it’s their fault?” For ourselves, we haven’t heard anyone saying such things (and Matthews, like Duke/Wiltz, knew not to name names); indeed, we just returned from a bagel joint where we heard “white people” denouncing Barbara Bush for making snide comments about the flood victims. (Matthews, of course, would never mention such comments. Too dangerous.) Indeed, all over America, “white people” (and people of other “colors”) have been sending money, plane tickets and supplies to help the victims of this disaster. Meanwhile, cheap, phony punks—cheap punks like Chris Matthews—know to take their greatest joy from this misery. They know to pretend that they’re better by far—more pure, much more pure, than these unnamed “white people.” Other people are saying these things. But I’m not, their stupid script says.

We know, we know! We’re supposed to appreciate the pseudo-liberal’s intentions—the pureness of spirit that drives these people to utter these age-old, dumb, stupid tales. But we have seen, for decades now, where their self-indulgence takes us. For decades, we’ve heard them tell their dumb-ass tales about low-income kids in our public schools—their bogus, stupid, phony tales about how low-income kids can do just as well if we simply raise our standards and if we fix the (imagined) hole in the roof of their school. They tell these tales for an obvious reason: Because they’ve never set foot in an urban school, and because they have no plan to do so—because they have no plan to dirty their hands in the ongoing struggle about race and poverty—they like to conjure up a tale in which they turn out to be the good people. Sorry: In our book, they’re disgusting people, who cure the hollow core of their souls with pleasing tales in which they are the moral stars. So Matthews knew to tell the world that he was purer, much purer, by far. Meanwhile, in the past eight years, when has Chris Matthews ever done a show about some poverty topic? The question answers itself, and so we express our full contempt for the pseudo-liberals whose endless indifference has helped to keep this bit of the status quo in place for the past forty years:

HERBERT (8/29/05): An education task force established by the center and the institute noted the following:

''Young low-income and minority children are more likely to start school without having gained important school readiness skills, such as recognizing letters and counting. By the fourth grade, low-income students read about three grade levels behind non-poor students.

Yep! That’s how it was when we started teaching fifth grade in Baltimore, back in 1969—and that’s how it seems to be today. Thirty-six years later, nothing has changed—and we’ve heard the same stupid pseudo-lib stories over the course of that 36 years! Last week, you heard the same sort of dumb-ass stories from people who don’t plan to dirty their hands with the realities of New Orleans. They weren’t going to get raped on her streets —so they could afford to tell pleasing tales about the way the others—those ugly racists—were simply faking those rape reports. They wouldn’t get raped on the streets of New Orleans—so what did they care if the outside world heard the truth and was moved to send help? They cared about reciting their scripts—scripts in which their sorry souls keep assuring themselves of their purity. And what about the actual people who actually faced crime in the actual streets? Those people could go f*ck themselves, these ardent, pure pseudo-libs told us.

Surely there is no crime in New Orleans! How dare the press corps talk about looting? And oh yes—New Orleans drowned because George Bush doesn’t care about black people (and I, of course, do)! But folks, Bush doesn’t seem to care about anyone, except perhaps for his largest donors, and white folk were suffering and drowning all last week too. But such simple facts got washed away as pseudo-libs began an uprising.

Yes, pseudo-liberals have been out in force, suggesting that, after all these long years, a pseudo-liberal consensus may be building. Before it’s done, it may end up as phony and fake as the pseudo-conservative pap we’ve endured overt he course of the past dozen years. Pseudo-lib or pseudo-con, people simply love pleasing stories—and they simply adore fake facts. Tomorrow, we’ll review where “facts” come from.

HARD TO BELIEVE BUT: Check it out! The headline on last night’s Larry King Live is: “Celebrity Studded Panel Discusses Hurricane Katrina Disaster”

WALSH CONFUSED TOO: On that celebrity-studded program, John Walsh (America’s Most Wanted) also had the mistaken idea that crime had occurred in New Orleans:

WALSH (9/7/05): Well, I've never seen anything like it. I was at the Oklahoma bombing. I was one of the few guys that was allowed at Ground Zero at 9/11 and I've never seen such widespread devastation.

The Louisiana state troopers took me through some of the rough areas where the thugs and hoodlums were and the U.S. marshals took me out in boats very, very deep into the suburbs where bodies are still floating. They haven't even recovered those bodies yet.

I've never seen anything like it and, you know, we're going to try to put these families back together but I'm sure in a week or so we'll be working with the New Orleans police and those law enforcement agencies to try to get those low-life cowards, those scum bags who have committed crimes in the dome, in the convention center, the people that exploited people. There are prisoners who escaped. There are sex offenders who are missing so, you know, you see the best of the best during these crises but you also see some people the worst of the worst. So you know, it's just sad that there were people who exploited these people, these helpless survivors.

Good for Walsh! For being able to distinguish the 99 percent from the one. Pseudo-liberals, of course, took a different approach. Unable to empathize with the massive numbers of decent flood victims, they took an approach that made them feel good. They suggested no crime had occurred.

MORE OF BUSH’S HATRED OF BLACK FOLK: Over the weekend, Salon published first-hand reports from other locales. Alicia Crider sent this report from Washington Parish—67 percent white:

CRIDER (9/3/05): Franklinton, La., in Washington Parish is without any federal assistance, and there is only a small Red Cross office open. The entire parish is without food, water and electricity. We are panicking. The citizens here are wondering why no one is helping us. From what we can pick up, FEMA and the rest of the government didn't know we were in need because no one called them and told them. Hello!
We think Bush’s performance was disgraceful. But white folk were high and dry too.

TOMORROW: The joy of fake facts.

A FULL YEAR OF SCHOOL: In evacuation centers, officials are rushing “low-income kids” into their new public schools. After all, we wouldn’t want them to miss any time there! But how poorly do our public schools serve those “low-income and minority children [who] are more likely to start school without having gained important school readiness skills?” In 1972-73, the Philadelphia schools had a long teachers strike in which some schools remained open and some schools were closed. What happened to the kids who missed all that school? The Phi Delta Kappan reported:

PHI DELTA KAPPAN (1977): Similar results were obtained from a study following the Philadelphia teachers strike in 1972-73. The strike lasted eight weeks. Some schools were closed and others were open the entire time. At the end of the year, scores of students who attended full time during the strike were compared with those of students who were out the entire eight weeks. No significant differences in achievement were found between the two groups.
This, of course, is only one study of only one event. We don’t know what larger, planned studies would show. But to urban teachers, the suggestion was obvious when this result was announced—urban schools are so ineffective that low-income kids will gain as much (due to normal maturation) whether they go to school or not! We’ve often thought of this study this week—as we see the mainstream press corps assure the public that it’s very, very, very important to get these kids right back to those schools. After all, we all know that low-income kids—kids who “are more likely to start school without having gained important school readiness skills”—can do just as well as everyone else. We “know” this because it makes us feel good to pretend that we know it—and because it helpfully lets us stop thinking about issues of race, class and poverty.