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NEED TO KNOW! We’d love to see Klein’s book reviewed–and we think you might should read it: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2007

DISAPPEARING THE LUNACY: Like tristero, we were struck by Gail Collins’ column in Thursday’s New York Times. Collins’ “what, us give a flying fig?” tone almost always drives our analysts wild. But like tristero, we were struck by the way she described Mike Huckabee’s intervention in a tragic Arkansas parole case.

Huckabee, of course, is the latest conservative Republican whom all mainstream journos are required to love. (The last Big Dem who was treated this way was Bill Bradley, in 1999 only.) He thus inherits the John McCain Chair, a seat left vacant from Campaign 2000. In her piece, Collins played good upscale High Manhattan pseudo-liberal, looking for ways to savage those red-state conservatives, the ones who won’t vote for the wondrous Huckabee. Eventually, she gets to Wayne DuMond’s parole. You may not know this case at all. But here’s how Collins described it:
COLLINS (10/25/07): Lately, anti-Huckabee conservatives have been suggesting he's soft on crime. The story involves an Arkansas man, Wayne DuMond, who was accused of kidnapping and raping a high school cheerleader in 1985. While he was free awaiting trial, masked men broke into his home, beat and castrated him. His testicles wound up in a jar of formaldehyde, on display on the desk of the local sheriff. At the trial, he was sentenced to life plus 20 years. When Huckabee became governor, DuMond was still in an apparently hopeless situation, though theoretically eligible for parole. Huckabee championed his cause, and wrote him a congratulatory letter when he was finally released in 1999. Then in 2000 DuMond moved to Kansas City, where he sexually assaulted and murdered a woman who lived near his home.

''There's nothing you can say, but my gosh, it's the thing you pray never happens,'' the clearly tortured Huckabee recently told The National Review. ''And it did.'' If by some miracle he became the presidential nominee, there would obviously be many opportunities to point out that Michael Dukakis never sent a letter to Willie Horton celebrating his furlough.

Why do the leaders of the religious right keep sidling away from a Baptist minister whose greatest political sin seems to have been showing compassion to a prisoner who appeared to deserve it? Why can't they rally around the candidate who pushed for more government spending to promote poor children's health and education, and reminded his conservative critics that when they talk about being pro-life, ''life doesn't begin at conception and end at birth?''

I think we have answered the question.
What absolute, consummate garbage! Within the confines of Collins’ silly, pseudo-lib tale, Huckabee is a “clearly tortured man” whose greatest sin was “showing compassion to a prisoner who appeared to deserve it.” Poor DuMond, of course, was “in an apparently hopeless situation” when Darling Huckabee began to “champion his cause;” she forgets to say that DuMond was sentenced to “life plus twenty years” at his trial because he was found to be guilty of that vicious kidnap and rape. But so what? With this portrait, Collins achieves her objectives. She panders to Huckabee, and assails those savage red-staters, the ones who liberated DuMond from his testicles. She also disappears the 1990s. But these days, when isn’t that done?

We won’t try to tell the full story of DuMond and Huckabee. If you want to read a gripping journalistic account, we’ll recommend this June 2001 news report in the Kansas City Star, after DuMond, now paroled and living in Missouri, has murdered at least one woman there. (He was paroled in Arkansas on the stipulation that he find another state to live in.) But let’s state the point which Collins leaves out as she boo-hoos, sobs and weeps over Huckabee: The Arkansas cheerleader whom DuMond kidnaped and raped was a distant cousin of Governor Bill Clinton! And by the rules of the 1990s, therefore, crazy tales were spread all about, suggesting that DuMond was the latest innocent victim of President Clinton’s vicious wrath. By the time Huckabee got involved this story, the drive to let poor DuMond out of jail was largely being fueled by this typical, Clinton-hating lunacy. In short, this whole tragic tale was another chapter in the insanity of the American 1990s. And this, of course, must be disappeared.

Collins forgot to mention this fact when she boo-hoo-hooed and cried real tears about poor compassionate Huckabee, who, of course, can now be found in the McCain Memorial Chair.

Did Governor Huckabee “champion” DuMond because of the Clinton-hating insanity? For today, we’ll try not to mind-read the case; again, we’ll suggest that you read that news report if you want to ponder this tragedy. But we will offer the following thoughts about Collins’ latest bowdlerized tale:

It’s Hard Pundit Law in New York and DC: The lunacy of the 1990s must be disappeared. You have to pretend that you can’t understand why Hillary Clinton is hated so much. (Disappeared: The fact that mainstream news orgs, all through the 1990s, allowed the nation’s biggest crackpots to accuse a first lady of serial murders.) You have to pretend that you don’t really know what happened to Candidate Gore. (Disappeared: The fact that the simpering apes of our mainstream press corps conducted a two-year war on his candidacy.) And now, you even invent fairy tales in which Governor Huckabee did what he did because he was so filled with compassion—compassion DuMond appeared to deserve! (Disappeared: The utterly lunatic Clinton-hating which drove this event, which still helps fuel our politics.) As they giggle their way through their bowdlerized columns, there’s nothing these people won’t type and say to disappear the 1990s—in whose lunacy they and their news orgs played so vital a part. Kept from hearing about that insanity, we live with its ugly, inane, grimy aftermath, every single day of our lives.

SMALL FACTUAL POINT: Collins states it as a fact: “While [DuMond] was free awaiting trial, masked men broke into his home, beat and castrated him.” But is that what actually happened? There’s an alternate theory about DuMond’s mutilation. Gene Lyons explains in an update at the end of tristero’s post.

ANOTHER FINE EXAMPLE: The lunacy of the 1990s must be disappeared—especially, when it involves mainstream news orgs. We thought of this precept when we read Kevin Drum’s unobjectionable summary of the new cover piece in The Nation.

We haven’t read the Chris Hayes piece; we’ll assume it’s accurate and informative. But Kevin’s post is headlined, “The new right-wing smear machine”—and that’s where the disappearing comes in. According to Kevin, the Nation piece examines the way the “right-wing” generates smears through chain e-mail. Indeed, in the excerpt Kevin quotes, we see that The Nation takes us back to the 1990s—even to “a lot of the chain letters that were accusing Al Gore of things in 2000.” (For the sake of mere accuracy, let us guess that most of these accusations started in 1999. Because we’re so hapless, our side almost always starts by understating this story, by half.)

As we say, this Nation report may be quite informative. But it wasn’t just (or principally) “chain e-mail” which slimed Al Gore in 1999 and 2000; much more significantly, it was the entire mainstream press corps, along with The Nation itself. Absent the bald-faced lying of the Washington Post and the New York Times—we showed you one clownish example just yesterday—those “right-wing chain e-mails” wouldn’t have done diddly-squat during Campaign 2000. But your mainstream and liberal news orgs work hard to keep you clueless about their own recent lunacy. Under the rules, you’re allowed to know what the “right-wingers” did. You’re not allowed to hear about the Post or the Times—or about The Nation.

In this way, these loathsome hustlers continue to treat you like naifs, marks, know-nothings, rubes. This new Nation piece may be quite informative—but somehow, the scriveners at these high-minded orgs always seem to know what to leave out. We know! Some of you don’t want to “get” this point—but then, that’s what makes us such perfect marks! As noted, we haven’t read the report in question—only the summary offered by Kevin. So go ahead—read it and see what you find there. Do you learn what the “mainstream” and “liberal” press did? Or are you consigned to your ghetto again, invited to rail about “right-wingers”—with everyone else disappeared?

Special report: Book whirl!


PART 4—NEED TO KNOW: An admirer of Naomi Klein e-mailed, touting her book, The Shock Doctrine:
E-MAIL: Thank you for putting the spotlight on this important book. I have been recommending it to anyone who will listen, and many who won't. As a student of politics and history my whole life (if you believe my sheepskins I am a political scientist and a legal scholar), the individual chapters retold in the book are nothing new, but Klein's genius is in putting together the cohesive story of what a failure "free market" policy has been every single place and every single time it has been imposed, and the relationship between the [Milton] Friedman doctrine and the death, destruction and erosion of civil liberties and human rights that inevitably follows.

This is a vitally important book because these failed policies still dominate our world and even our own nation. Rather than merely a conspiracy book, as I am sure Klein's wing-nut, Ayn Randian detractors will be quick to label her (she's a freakin' Canadian after all!), this book is a brilliant insight into historical fact, and the sad reality that is our failure to learn from past mistakes. As long as money controls the political process, and as long as there is money to be made for the scrupulous few from privatization of the public trust and now war, these sad, sad economic "experiments" will continue to be repeated, and the vast majority of us will suffer for it. That is not a conspiracy theory, it’s just the plain simple truth.
Is our e-mailer right? We can’t really tell you. As we incomparably e-mailed back, we’re far from expert on Klein’s subject matter, which helps explain why we’ve gnashed our teeth as American newspapers refuse to review her. But we also told our e-mailer this (and no, we haven’t finished the book): For us, The Shock Doctrine is only the second book which has even begun to make sense of Bushism. (The first such book: Made in Texas, by Michael Lind. Texan Bush as Central American oligarch,) All of a sudden, those eccentric decisions by eccentric old Rummy aren’t quite so eccentric any more—quite the opposite. But yes: Though we tend to find Klein’s portrait convincing, we’d like to see it critiqued.

But that just wasn’t in the cards at the Great Raccoon Lodge last weekend. The Post still hasn’t reviewed The Shock Doctrine—but Sunday’s “Book World” played an embarrassing game of kissy-poo with lodge member Howard Kurtz. Meanwhile, another lodge member has written a book which noses around in the Clintons’ marriage—and so Tim Russert, the Head Raccoon, invited its author onto his program to knock over favorite old garbage cans and root through familiar old tales. (There’s a “curious amnesia” about Whitewater, we were told during this segment! None of the Raccoons said squat.) Meanwhile, Paul Krugman found his new book assailed, right there in his own newspaper. Klein was ignored—and Krugman was trashed. In Raccoon culture, that’s what will occur—if your coloring strays outside the lines.

They love the stories they always have told—the lodge-friendly stories they always have heard. When Russert chatted with Sally Bedell Smith, he just couldn’t wait to start quoting:
RUSSERT (10/21/07): Sally Bedell Smith, your new book, For Love of Politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton, the White House Years— you write about her 2000 campaign in this way. And let me read it for you and our viewers.

"Hillary's speech was heavy on issues and light on political ingratiation.

"Her approach reflected the campaign strategy devised by her cadre of consultants, led by Mark Penn. On the basis of focus-group research, they concluded that Hillary needed to emphasize competence and mastery of policy. For all the sympathy generated by her stoicism during the Lewinsky scandal, voters mistrusted her, and white suburban women were among her harshest critics. In videotaped discussions, they judged Hillary ‘threatening and unwomanly,’ ‘ruthless and greedy for power,’ ‘very controlling’ and ‘self-serving.’”

Very much the same strategy we're seeing played out in 2008.
Too funny! As in 2000, Clinton is using her “focus-group research.” She’s trying to deal with the way she’s perceived—as threatening, unwomanly, ruthless, greedy, very controlling and self-serving. The words rolled off the Head Raccoon’s tongue—words that he’d stumbled upon in a book. And because those words had been in that book, its author was rushed on the air.

Russert loved the sound of those words. (Perhaps he recalled the ruthless way the word “ruthless” was used against Candidate Gore.) But it’s funny! Throughout the course of this segment, Russert forgot to mention a fact—the fact that Clinton, for all her greedy/threatening/unwomanly ways, has led Giuliani in all national polls over the course of the past four months. As far as we can tell, Russert has never mentioned this fact on the air—although twice, in July, he cherry-picked stunningly, suggesting that Rudy was really ahead. We couldn’t help thinking: Just imagine where Clinton’s numbers would be if she weren’t perceived to be so ruthless—and so unwomanly, of course.

But then, the Raccoons have always told that tale. Most likely, they always will.

That said, we’d like to see Klein’s book reviewed—and we’d suggest you consider reading it. It covers high-profile events of the past thirty-five years; throughout, Klein discusses the ways certain elites have reaped huge gains from the tragic events that unfold. And it’s funny! As we have read this book, we’ve often thought of the well-bred people who sit on those Sunday TV programs. They’re being paid extremely large sums themselves—and they seem to know that they must never say so.

Repeatedly, Klein’s book has made us think of those likable, dissembling Raccoons. For us, it’s part of what makes her account ring true. If we could use an old southern term, it’s why you might should read it.

OUR PRAYER: If other big newspapers do review Klein, we hope they’ll do better than Tom Redburn did in this Times review, the one with “conspiracy” right there in its title. “[H]er argument constantly overreaches,” Redburn says—but he skips the chance to give examples. In her book, Klein goes through a long list of famous episodes, from various countries you’ve actually heard of. We hope the next reviewer who rolls his eyes will explain what’s wrong with even one such account.

Meanwhile, Klein has rolled her own eyes a bit, at her reviews in the world’s business press. This eye-rolling took place in The Guardian. You know what to do—just click here.