Thursday, March 16, 2006


Claude Allen's Crash

Well, that certainly didn't take long! The couch- potato psychoanalysis of Claude Allen from one Erin Aubry Kaplan.

Of course, it has to be because Allen is black. Um, no change that, it is because he is a black conservative:

I don't support conservatism in its current iteration, and I support black conservatives even less, but we cannot ignore the racial implications of this latest Republican fall from grace. Here is a decidedly white-collar black man getting clipped for a blue-collar crime associated with economic necessity, one that practically guarantees prison time for most black men in this country. (Even if he's ultimately convicted, it's doubtful that Allen will end up behind bars.)
Um, well we could "ignore the racial implications if we wanted to." But, why -- especially when we have a column to fill?

Here is a man who, like most black conservatives, has had to do an awful lot of
personal and political rationalizing to pay dues, which included apprenticing
with then-North Carolina senator and habitual racist Jesse Helms and opposing
the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Allen, a lawyer, was also President Bush's top advisor on domestic policy in an era when domestic policy has been indifferent at best to the growing needs of the poor — the black poor especially. Bush is fond of this kind of symbolism: putting black faces in key positions in order to appear racially progressive. It wouldn't be such a bad
thing if the faces actually were progressive or had a vision more pressing than being loyal to the president, but they don't.

Loyalty has been the price of admission to this administration, and black conservatives have proved to be more loyal than most.
Oh, right: "putting black faces in key positions to appear progressive..."

Um, like, there's no possibility that these "black faces" (NOT "black people", just "faces") might actually, you know, believe in conservative or Republican beliefs -- AND they might be actually capable in their positions too? Oh, perish the thought!

There's no way they would have some independent thought in their mind. You know, it's almost as if they were...yep, you know what's coming:

That has unfortunately, but not always unfairly, invited comparisons to slave times, when the most loyal blacks were those who worked in closest proximity to their white masters — house Negroes, as they were derisively known. Such Negroes gained privilege but lost standing in their own community, a price that might have been reasonable if they were eventually granted the same status as the whites they so assiduously served. They weren't, of course; race has always mattered. And it matters now, though the dynamic is more subtle and devious.

Fast-track people such as Allen are praised by conservatives for being shining examples of their race, and, at the same time, they are used in one way or another for public relations purposes and damage control during racially charged moments. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was hastily dispatched to tour the Katrina-shattered South. Her predecessor, Colin Powell, was forced to sit out a world conference on racism and reparations in South Africa five years ago because of his country's — not his — official disdain for the whole notion.
Funny, Rice and Powell are lumped in here -- as de facto slaves -- even though they aren't, at least in the 'movement' sense, conservatives. They are Republican, but they are not conservative.

I will agree with Kaplan that sending Rice down to Katrina-ville did smack of desperation, but given how many ways the Bush administration had already screwed up at that point, it is hardly surprising. Besides, Rice actually grew up in Alabama, so it's not like it was completely inappropriate.

Meanwhile, Powell's being mentioned here is rather curious given the earlier line, "black conservatives have proved to be more loyal than most." Has Kaplan even read any of Woodward's books with thinly-disguised voice of Powell attacking the pro-Iraq War faction within the administration?

Does race have some factor in Allen's fall? Perhaps. But, it is too damn easy to make that leap. In a way, it is as invidious as someone who is almost happy when some thug is hauled in on Cops -- and is black. It confirms the bigotry that was in the heart to begin with.

A black conservative picked up for fraud/shop-lifting -- it's because he was a right-winger! See -- told ya!

It couldn't possibly be because he's a human being who has made a tragic wrong turn? Years ago, after first rocketing to success in the Reagan administration, Larry Kudlow hit Wall Street and
developed a serious cocaine problem. It nearly wrecked his marriage and killed him.

But, he overcame it.

Academic Glenn Loury -- who is black -- also had a drug problem. After he cleaned himself up, he split from the right and is now more of a
mainstream academic at Brown University.

Political consultant Roger Stone was
found to cruise sex clubs.

Andrew Sullivan took out personal ads seeking unsafe sex.

(And there are numerous such "falls from grace" on the liberal side as well. My point here is to de-couple the race and ideology argument from one's emotional and mental crises.)

People in public life all have some personal demons with which they have to grapple -- some more insidous than others -- just like EVERYBODY ELSE.

In my own family, there are alcoholics, compulsive gamblers and felons. Different people all trying to put their lives back in order. Their foibles have as little to do with their race as it does with their political affiliation (for what it's worth, I'm the only official Republican).

I have no idea why Claude Allen did what he did (assuming it wasn't his twin brother -- whose existence nonetheless does raise odd parallels to the Don Cheadle plot in Crash).

But neither does Erin Aubry Kaplan. But, it's so easy to make the "mentally-disturbed race-traitor" leap. Ironically, Kaplan is doing a version of what Allen has been arrested for: Going for the goods on the cheap.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006



No? Well, this blog can be easily translated into an, ahem, broader style! Peep this!

Major props to my main Sac-town bee-yotch,
Craig DeLuz for giving me the 411 on Gizoogle!

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Scientology Update

1) Isaac Hayes quits "South Park" after the show makes fun of his religion -- Scientology. Kudos to co-creator Matt Stone who noted that Hayes didn't have a problem when the show was "making fun of Christians." Or Jews. Or Muslims. Or Catholics. Co-creator Trey Parker adds that they "never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."

2) Brokeback Mountain author Annie Proulx rants that
the Hollywood Scientology bloc may have been responsible for the movie that she (and Ken Wheaton would undoubtedly would also) calls "Trash" winning the Best Picture Oscar.

For what it's worth, a friend who decamped to Hollywood for about a year to try his hand in the acting business says that he was surprised at how many Hollywood royalty were Scientologists (i.e. it's not just Tom Cruise and John Travolta). Of course, this sort of talk raises unflattering comparisons to the old "Jews run Hollywood" line (except, of course, that since
Jews created Hollywood, what's the big deal that they "run" it?).

However, Proulx's disparagement of Crash and her raising the Scientology angle brings up an interesting idea: Is much of the creative friction in Hollywood now a proxy fight between the "Scientology Mafia" and the "Gay Mafia"?


Talk about a "War of the Worlds"!

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Doug Bandow Shoots From Outside...

...and scores!

An excellent take-down on the high-dollar scam that is collegiate athletics -- special March Madness variety.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006


Comic Book Blogging: Moore Not Merrier

The Times has a great story on comic book living legend Alan Moore and his repudiation of anything connected with the V For Vendetta movie opening this Friday (which will be controversial, completely apart from Moore).

Moore is also responsible for writing Watchmen, one of the finest works of illustrated fiction ever. It's nearly two decades old now and still holds up.

However, Moore is either a man of unique integrity -- or just plain eccentric.

Either way, you won't see his name anywhere on ads or credits attached to "V," which is a shame.

In Mr. Moore's account of his career, the villains are clearly defined: they are the mainstream comics industry — particularly DC Comics, the American publisher of "Watchmen" and "V for Vendetta" — which he believes has hijacked the properties he created, and the American film business, which has distorted his writing beyond recognition. To him, the movie adaptation of "V for Vendetta", which opens on Friday, is not the biggest platform yet for his ideas: it is further proof that Hollywood should be avoided at all costs. "I've read the screenplay," Mr. Moore said. "It's rubbish."

Mr. Moore has never been shy about expressing himself. With "Watchmen," a multilayered epic from 1986-87 (illustrated by Dave Gibbons) about a team of superheroes in an era of rampant crime and nuclear paranoia — and again with "V for Vendetta" (illustrated by David Lloyd), published in America in 1988-89, about an enigmatic freedom fighter opposing a totalitarian British regime — Mr. Moore helped prove that graphic novels could be a vehicle for sophisticated storytelling. "Alan was one of the first writers of our generation, of great courage and great literary skill," said Paul Levitz, the president and publisher of DC Comics. "You could watch him stretching the boundaries of the medium."

But by 1989, Mr. Moore had severed his ties with DC. The publisher says he objected to its decision to label its adult-themed comics (including some of his own) as "Suggested for Mature Readers." Mr. Moore says he was objecting to language in his contracts that would give him back the rights to "Watchmen" and "V for Vendetta" when they went out of print — language that he says turned out to be meaningless, because DC never intended to stop reprinting either book. "I said, 'Fair enough,' " he recalls. " 'You have managed to successfully swindle me, and so I will never work for you again.' "

Mr. Levitz said that such so-called reversion clauses routinely appear in comic book contracts, and that DC has honored all of its obligations to Mr. Moore. "I don't think Alan was dissatisfied at the time," Mr. Levitz said. "I think he was dissatisfied several years later."
Well, the article is a nice glimpse into the epitome of a tortured genius. Whatever you think about the movie -- and I fear it will likely become one of the most politically-viewed and argued films in recent memory -- read the graphic novel.

It's a treat.

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