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Spiky pulls his punches on how Mike Huckabee's son killed that dog

[Welcome, Digby and C&L readers!]

182HHstagscout Yesterday, we asked the question:

How, exactly, did Mike Huckabee's son David kill that dog?

(To be fair, there was a second Scout involved in the killing with Huckabee; we'll get to that below.) And, based on the contemporaneous accounts, we gave what we thought was the best answer.

Today, Newsweek's Michael "Spiky" Isikoff tackles the Huckabee dog-killing story. Using the enormous reportorial resources of the Washington Post operation, he adds some interesting data points, but he circles round the real question which is, again:

How, exactly, did Mike Huckabee's son David kill that dog?

With that, let's look at how Spiky moved the story forward, starting with the fact that Huckabee seems to be running Arkansas like a personal fiefdom for the benefit of his family members* instead of like, you know, an actual state of the Union governed by the rule of law:

A Son’s Past Deeds Come Back To Bite Huckabee
[The killing] also prompted the local prosecuting attorney— bombarded with complaints generated by a national animal-rights group—to write a letter to the Arkansas state police seeking help investigating whether David and another teenager had violated state animal-cruelty laws. The state police never granted the request, and no charges were ever filed. But John Bailey, then the director of Arkansas's state police, tells NEWSWEEK that Governor Huckabee's chief of staff and personal lawyer both leaned on him to write a letter officially denying the local prosecutor's request. Bailey, a career officer who had been appointed chief by Huckabee's Democratic predecessor, said he viewed the lawyer's intervention as improper and terminated the conversation. Seven months later, he was called into Huckabee's office and fired. "I've lost confidence in your ability to do your job," Bailey says Huckabee told him. One reason Huckabee cited was "I couldn't get you to help me with my son when I had that problem," according to Bailey. "Without question, [Huckabee] was making a conscious attempt to keep the state police from investigating his son," says I. C. Smith, the former FBI chief in Little Rock, who worked closely with Bailey and called him a "courageous" and "very solid" professional.

That's the atmosphere down there in Arkansas under the ruling Huckabee dynasty. It's not enough just to stay silent and keep your head down in the face of official wrong-doing. No, no, you've got to endorse the wrong-doing. You've got to write a letter, go on record endorsing it. Yuck.** So, if Spiky's having a little trouble with sourcing, the atmosphere of intimidation may be part of the problem.***

Spiky also moves the story forward by highlighting the role of the animal activists in pressuring the local prosecutor (who is, interestingly, not named in the story) to bring cruelty to animals charges--the dog's throat was**** slit, it was hanged, and stoned to death--as they "regularly" did. (Presumably, the activists read a copy of the fax that Kinky Freidman's Utopia Animal Rescue posted.)

Kudos to Spiky as well, for moving the story forward by finding one of the animal rights activists. The Animal Legal Defense Fund got the fax, and subsequently:

A local animal-rights activist, Joyce Hillard, later contacted the camp director. Notes of Hillard's report to the defense fund read, "Boys confessed & were fired. Dir. is making excuses, saying dog was sic & boys were putting him out of his misery."

So, here's are some questions that somebody with the vast reportorial resources of the Washington Post might be asking:

1. Who was the unnamed local prosecutor who was "bombarded" with complaints? (The Utopia fax gives the name Tim Williamson.) Were the calls logged, and if so, how many calls did he get? Was any investigation done? Was a file on the case opened? Were any records kept?

2. Who blew the whistle on David Huckabee and sent the original fax? (The posting says the information comes from "friends in Portland, Oregon." Where did they get it from? The Animal Legal Defense Fund? Unlikely.)

3. The Utopia posting also asks activists to call Scouting's Chief Executive Jere Ratcliffe and to demand an internal investigation. Were any such calls made, and was an internal investigation performed? If so, what were the results?

4. Who were the other boys in the troop? What do they have to say?

So, kudos to Spiky. But the "blue dress" in this story really is the question I keep asking:

How, exactly, did Mike Huckabee's son David kill that dog?

Here, Spiky adds a little detail from the elder Frady, but not much. However, if we run what we know, I think we can (again) come to the best possible answer, given the evidence we have so far. Here's the evidence and what people say:

Everyone agrees that Scout Director Marcal Young fired two Scouts, David Huckabee (18) and Clayton Frady (17) from the Scouts after the dog killing for violating Scout Law by not being "kind."

1. Here's what the director (Marcal Young, not named by Spiky) tells Spiky today:

The director told NEWSWEEK only that a stray dog was "put down"...

And here's was Marcal Young said in 1998:

Young would not release the names of the boys nor explain how the dog, “probably a mixed breed,” was killed..... “They felt it [the dog] was ill and what have you, still our policy is it was inappropriate behavior. He would not say what the boys thought was wrong with the dog, but he said they did not suspect rabies.

2. The Huckabees aren't talking. Clayton Frady's father is, and here's what he told Spiky:

His father told NEWSWEEK that his son did not engage in "intentional torture." "There was a dog that apparently had mange and was absolutely, I guess, emaciated."

And here's what Frady said in 1998:

The elder Frady said his son told him he came upon one or more Scouts who had the dog “hung over a limb and choking” so the younger Frady helped “put it out of its misery.”

So, let's go through the statements in order.

First, the director, Marcal Young statements: Today in 2007, Young is airbrushing the story by using the phrase "put down," implying, though not stating, that the Huckabee and Frady engaged in a mercy killing. That's absurd. For a mercy killing, what you do is shoot the animal or call an animal control officer. That's not what Young said back in 1998, even though, if the killing had been clean, that's exactly what you would have expected him to say. Instead, Young fired their asses for violating Scout law by not being "kind." Well, a mercy killing is kind. That's why they call it a mercy killing, because it's better to kill the animal than let it suffer horribly!

Second, the elder Frady: His statement is notable for what it does not say. In 2007, Frady says that his son did not engage in "intentional torture"--implying, at least, that the dog suffered greatly, and leading to the obvious (though unasked) question: Did anyone else torture the dog with intention? Because Huckabee was the Governor's son, that would make him the leader, if I remember my adolescent boyhood and its Lord of the Flies-like pecking order correctly. And oddly, or not, Frady never says anything about what Huckabee did at all. One can only wonder if Spiky even asked him.

So, what have we got?

1. A troop of Scouts, led by David Huckabee (18) and Clayton Frady (17) come upon a dog hung up on a tree in the woods. (Maybe they hung it on the tree themselves, maybe they didn't; maybe Huckabee and Frady arrived together; maybe Frady arrived when Huckabee was already there; there's no evidence either way.

2. They don't call animal control.

3. They don't get in touch with any of the other 65 staff members in the camp.

4. They don't shoot the dog (at least, nobody has said so).

5. The dog is killed.

6. Huckabee and Frady are fired for not being "kind," so apparently the killing wasn't a mercy killing.

7. There's no suggestion that the troop killed the dog. And if the troop didn't kill the dog, then Huckabee and Frady did, since there's no suggestion that any other Scout staffers did (and surely YOung would have said).

8. So how, exactly, did Huckabee and Frady kill the dog if there were no adults present and they had no gun?

The only way I can see (as I argued previously) is that Huckabee and Frady worked with the tools to hand. That is, they would have used their Scout knives, their Scout ropes and/or belts, and possibly any rocks they found in the woods. Just as, in fact, the Utopia Animal Rescue fax said.

Can anyone break the chain of logic, here? As Sherlock Holmes said: "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."

Isikoff calls the story "murky." Yeah, with Huckabee intimidating the director of the State Police, it would be. More reporting, Spiky! More reporting!

NOTE * The usual name for this mode of governance is, as Digby points out, aristocracy. Funny how that Conservative Movement scam about "family values" boiled down to the values of "the best" families, isn't?

NOTE ** Huckabee is going to fit into the Village fine, just fine. I'm sure the Villagers will be able to work with him, and I don't know what they're all panicked about.

NOTE *** Nevertheless, many people who worked with Huckabee are anxious to tell the story of what happened to them when they did, intimidation or no. I wonder why?

NOTE **** Bud, from Legal, insists that we add the word "allegedly" here. Consider it added throughout this post, and any other post pertaining to the subject under discussion.

NOTE ***** Is anybody else noticing the creepy subtext that the dog deserved killing? It's a "mixed breed," "mangy," "emaciated," and though not rabid, "ill."

UPDATE I've been trying to figure out what Huckabee's next move on this is going to be, assuming that our famously free press doesn't let the story drop. Leaving witness intimidation out of the picture, I can see Huckabee arguing for a mercy killing (but see above for why that won't work); throwing the blame onto Frady (Clayton Frady, assuming it's the same one, though injured in the Texas A&M bonfire, is still alive; or saying that Huckabee and Frady were protecting the troop, because the troop hung the dog on the tree.)

Again, the moral for me is that Huckabee isn't ready for prime time. The Bush organization would already have destroyed the records and suborned all the witnesses, as in the Bush AWOL story. I guess I should be thankful that Huckabee is not in their league.

NOTE The Democrat Gazette gives the ages of Huckabee and Frady as 17 and 18, respectively; Utopia swaps them. So I revised the content accordingly. Hat tip, alert reader bringiton.

NOTE Spiky's story gives rise to an additional theory, involving rocks, but not necessarily a knife. I'll try to post on this shortly.

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Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

don't forget rudy's judy: To cap it all, Judith is being called a "puppy killer" after it was revealed that she worked as a saleswoman in the 1970s for US Surgical, a medical supply company that operated on dogs purely to demonstrate medical stapling equipment to doctors - and would then have the injured animals put down.

the difficulty, apparently, people had with her behavior was that she did this to market the surgical instruments she was demonstrating, not medically experimenting to save lives or teach. [i know, still grim and splitting hairs.]

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Many are blaming the kid for the alleged atrocities, and for trying to take a gun aboard an airplane. Better to blame the real cause, the father and mother of this pos. Welcome to the pospile, huck.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

not merely by Scout law (and custom, as an 18-year-old can no longer work toward merit badges or awards unless special circumstances apply -- e.g. the teen is developmentally or otherwise seriously disabled) but by the legal standards of most states, including Arkansas.

David Huckabee was old enough to have quit school without fearing truancy charges; have a marriage license issued without parental assent; join the military; enroll in college; sign contracts.

What happened in those woods?
Why won't David Huckabee clear the record?
What is Mike Huckabee hiding, for his son?

Submitted by lambert on

I'm not sure whether Huckabee was 18 at the time of the crime or 18 at the time of the coverage, which was some weeks later (though he was, in any case, older than Frady).

For the rest of it, I think "What happened in those woods" is the question....

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Here is the text of the dog killing article from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, pubished on August 7th, 1998 - according to this site.

The article puts Huckabee at 17 almost 18 and Frady at 19 when the dog was killed. I don't think the relative ages matter much, when you're the Governor's beloved son you'll be the alpha in any peer group. It was already widely known what happened to people who crossed Big Mike; Frady would have been the follower.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

"It’s a “mixed breed,” “mangy,” “emaciated,” and though not rabid, “ill.”"

i.e., non-Republican and non-Christian.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Impure.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I know the "rifle and shotgun merit badge" comment in yesterday's original article was intended as snark (at least i hope so), but just for the record:

I'm in the next Council over (Quapaw), and trained in BSA shooting instruction, and UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES are rifles and shotguns to leave the range (and even there must be shot under supervision). Those are the set-in-stone rules; I can't imagine the adults would let that happen. Neither Huckabee nor Frady should have had a pistol, either - that would be a huge violation of the rules in and of itself.

As I heard the story (granted third- or fourth-hand through the scout grapevine), the gruesome details are correct. The two were in their free time (i.e. they were not acting as counselors at the time of the incident).

Submitted by lambert on

No, LittlePig, it wasn't snark. I was trying to rule out the possibility that they had been carrying guns, because that seems to be the classic method for a mercy killing.

So, you give an excellent additional datapoint. Thanks!

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

The thanks is to you for getting this out there. It is among the things I expected to make news once Huckabee began surging.

It is my understanding (and again, we are talking third- or forth-hand) the dog bled to death - the slitting of the throat WAS the mercy killing.

Submitted by lambert on

Hat tip to the lovely, the talented Avedon, but Republican seem to be kinked about animals generally, not just dogs, and not just Bill "Hello Kitty" Frist.

In fact, there's a disturbing trend. I collected our various postings on this yesterday, and here they are again:

We’ve got Rick Santorum’s obsession with “man on dog” sex, we’ve got Bill “Hello Kitty” Frist stealing cats from the pound, treating them like pets, and only then dissecting them, we’ve got George Felix Allen “shoving” a severed deer’s head into a mailbox, we’ve got Bush himself blowing up frogs by shoving firecrackers up their ass and lighting the fuse, we’ve got one Janet Rowland comparing gay marriage to a man marrying a sheep, we've got Rudy's current wife, Judy, who used a surgical staple gun on puppies, as part of her sales technique, and then had them put down, and of course, we’ve got Willard Mitt Romney strapping his dog Seamus on top of his car until a “brown liquid” ran down the back window.

And I would argue that the comment thread here is mortification of the flesh of others (the "mangy," the unfit... the liberals...). Je repete:

Here in The Mighty Corrente Building we view Republican and Conservative abuse of power as a seamless garment. It is not a coincidence that the Party that normalized torture for humans is also the party of many (including Dear Leader) who abuse animals. Not to mention pages. And boys.

Animal kinking is not an accidental part of the movement Conservatism. It's of their essence.

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Either they chased the animal down to catch it, in which case they were the aggressors, or they lured the dog into trusting them and then perpetrated the violence. 17 & 18 years olds know better unless they're sociopaths. Disturbing.

Submitted by lambert on

Huckabee should have just bought the State Police director off. That's what the Bush team would have done. Unfortunately for Huckabee, he's operating from a small-time, regional base. He doesn't have the experience yet.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

My question is this: I have sent this information to every Journalist, News/TV Station, all who are presently running for President and not once has this pertinent issue been addressed.

Why???? They will question Mitt Rommney for being a Mormon. Huckabee accuses Mitt Rommney for lying. Not true. Listen, I am not a Mormon and would not want a Mormon for President, however, I do respect Mr. Rommney for speaking honestly about his religion and openly admits he will follow the laws of his religion.

Mr. Huckabee attempts to pass himself off as a man of the cloth. To me, a man of the cloth has compassion for all living creatures. It is clear to me that Mr. Mike Huckabee had only compassion for his son who in my opinion is a demented and dangerous human being. History proves those who start out harming animals will eventually become anothr Dahmer.

Again, I would like to know why this issue has been covered up and not addressed to the public who I will bet 98% are not aware of this.

Thanks you.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

I went on a date with a boyscout once in college. Once. Worst experience of my life. I am not suprised by this article.

Turlock