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March 12, 2006

Comments

hilzoy: "What about you? Why do you think that someone in his position would do something like this?"

He's a dipshit?

(well, anyway, i saw this story first thing this morning and that was my immediate reaction: wow, what a dipshit.)

And aren't you glad he's not on the bench?

And how many more just like him, or worse, have wound up on the bench?

How many like the press commissar at NASA who hadn't finished his BA? How many like Mike "Heckuva Job" Brown?

This Administration may believe in many things. But they sure don't believe in appointing qualified people to high positions.

So how is it that he is discovered? After an estimated 25 heists, the stores are exhausted with our little Robin Hood? He has finally breached the marginal cost to Target of prosecuting him and they let him have it?
I like this:
It seems more like some sort of peculiar self-destructive urge,

Given his queer defence of his use of that term in the campaign defeating Hunt, he chooses to do penance now, looking for his own punishment. It takes 25 repetitions but finally he succeeds. The children being home-schooled are further evidence that he takes justice personally.

I assume he's unwell. I don't really know that this reflects badly on the WH - anyway I can imagine the same thing having happened to someone in a similar position at the Clinton WH without my feeling more than, "This looks bad but the other side wouldn't bash us with it if they were reasonable."

That said, there was some speculation out there that he was to some extent playing a role, that he was much less conservative (?) in actuality and simply occupying a vacant niche, in which case he might have been under the sort of strain which can lead to poor mental health.

They nominated this chump for a Federal judgeship. Twice.

Poor mental health? Probably. Poor example of vetting protocols? Definitely. Example number 4,128 and counting.

See a pattern yet?

Seems to me that for the most part the admin vetting has produced the desired results - loyal partisans. If there have 4k resignations due to bizarre crimes, I guess I've missed them.

Given that he thinks women should be property and LGBT people should be second-class citizens, it is very hard for me to muster any sympathy and detachment, but (with all the s. and d. I can muster) compulsive shoplifting is recognized as a psychological problem often linked with compulsive shopping. What Claude A. Allen needs is psychological treatment, not punitive treatment, and as he is a wealthy and influential white man that is doubtless exactly what he will receive.

I doubt that Allen would have used his authority as a judge (had he been appointed) to advocate psychological treatment for a compulsive shoplifters (or for other people whose crimes were plainly caused by mental illness), but I'm less resentful of his not getting the same treatment he would have inflicted on others than I am of the fact that he'll get what he needs because he is privileged, not because everyone who is mentally ill when they commit a crime gets the same treatment.

I think many people understand the appeal of high-stakes gambling or adultery or dangerous sports. Surprises me how few understand upping the stakes to crime or corruption and drug abuse.

It is exciting and it is fun. The more you have to lose the more fun it can be.

I don't really know that this reflects badly on the WH - anyway I can imagine the same thing having happened to someone in a similar position at the Clinton WH without my feeling more than, "This looks bad but the other side wouldn't bash us with it if they were reasonable."

Sandy Berger, anyone?

The only person I bashed over the Sandy Berger incident was Sandy Berger.

So...you're thinking that Sandy Berger is just a compulsive shoplifter of classified documents? Interesting.

Claude Allen is black, and was a aide to Jesse Helms. That is very strange. The WP said his White House job was: "His broad portfolio involved advising Bush on policy issues including health care, space exploration, housing and education."


I think he might have needed the money. He bought a $958,300 home in October according to the Washington Post this morning. Most of his previous work was in governement posts, and so not big money jobs. His wife is home schooling and probably not working out of the house. 161,000 is not a lot of money for that big of a mortgage with the property tax associated with it. Trying to keep up with his rich republican friends might have been his downfall.

Slarti,
If the hat doesn't fit, don't stick your head in it. I was thinking more of things like this. [rant about mind reading deleted] I refrain from digging up previous ObWi posts, since I didn't have anyone in particular in mind when I wrote this, just wanted to highlight rilkefan's cheery optimism.

I felt sorry for the guy when I saw the story yesterday, but that's before I knew he was wrapped up in the Finn thing. This was a big deal in the local media while it was on -- a Schiavo story that didn't quite go national -- and I'm not ready to forgive the guy for this.

Or the supposedly principled Republicans who not only tolerate this sort of thing, but actively pander to it. They presume to lecture us on the proper role of government in society?


Jes:

The court for which Allen was nominated isn't really the kind of place where compassion of the kind you're willing to show would be part of the mix. The mix of cases they get is quite different from your regular local criminal court, and disturbed but petty criminals are not all that common in the Fourth Circuit. On the bigger question, I'm not sure it would have made any difference whether this guy is on the most conservative court in the country (for those of you not following this, there is a reason for the governemnt's decision to prosecute Moussawi in Alexandria VA rather than NYC, and it's the same reason that Padilla was moved to SC from NYC). He may even have been a comparative liberal.


Jes, as best I can tell from the NYT photo, Allen is a black man.


Anyway, I agree with rilkefan--I don't see the significance of this shoplifting story. That aspect of his life is merely sad. He needs treatment. His political career is disgusting, but that has nothing to do with his apparent mental illness.

liberaljaponicus - I reacted the same way to what you actually wrote as Slarti but he beat me to the punch. If you are offended by mind reading, then write what you are thinking. Sandy Berger! For heaven's sake. And I didn't read your link, I'm sure my first impression was correct. This man is ill and needs help.

I suspect there are more Allens in politics than we know. A college classmate of mine--a "rising College Republican star" himself--was disinvited to walk with his graduating class when the college discovered he was using his RA privileges to burgle dorm rooms. Luckily, that little youthful indiscretion didn't keep my classmate's star from continuing to rise and he is now the Chief of Staff to a California Republican Congressman.

(Will happily share details in email.)

And I didn't read your link, I'm sure my first impression was correct.

Well, that serves as a lesson for us all. All I can say is that I didn't have any person on this board in mind when I wrote it, and if I had, I would have quoted them. As I always try to do.

I am also impressed at the amount of sympathy that you seem (I assume this) to extend to someone who employed a systematic deception over the course of more than a year to steal over $5,000 dollars in refunds and potentially an equivalent amount in shoplifted goods. Rilkefan and DJ, I can see, but to realize that you are a font of sympathy for those people (especially those of color) who engage in larceny does my cold hard liberal heart good.

Oh, I can top that-- our class president embezzled a load of money that had been set aside for the students. As far as I remember, MIT kicked him out. Wonder what he's doing now?

All I can say is that I didn't have any person on this board in mind when I wrote it, and if I had, I would have quoted them. As I always try to do.

And I didn't take it that way, just to be clear. Was simply voicing where I stood on the subject. And with that, I've probably said two more things than I need to on this topic.

The way I see it, politics is a field in which pathological liars excel. That there was a compulsive thief or two in the mix is unsurprising.

liberaljaponicus, its the pettiness of the crimes that leads me to believe this unfortunate man has a different kind of problem. My heart bleeds for him and his family. As for Sandy Berger, I doubt even your cold liberal heart would allow you commit treasoness felony for the Clinton cult followers. Clintonites?

I'm glad to hear that, Slarti, though if that is the case, I'm not sure why you asked me if I thought Berger was a compulsive shoplifter.

He's someone who friends said is horribly disorganized, so unless one believes that this story is a cover for a part of a wide ranging conspiracy (as bbm seems to), I'm not sure why he didn't deserve a measure of sympathy that everyone is asking be extended for Allen.

I'm trying to figure out was 'treasoness felony' is (treasonless? treason-ness? singular felony?) I also think given the vague antecedent of 'Clinton cult followers', that looks an awful lot like something that regulars try to avoid here.

Though it does bring back this memory.

liberaljaponicus - actually, I thought I separated you from the Clintonites like Berger and McDougal and Foster. I can only doubt your (de)attachment based on our discussions in the past, yet I am not a mind reader.

Well, yes, I caught that, and thank you for the dispensation mi'lord, but what about everyone else? Especially with you using the term 'monkey gallery' Maybe you are trying for humor a la Podhoretz, but I would suggest that you step back and recalibrate. You're bombing here.

I'm not sure why you asked me if I thought Berger was a compulsive shoplifter.

Humor? Ar ar.

No other reason, though.

Donald Johnson: Jes, as best I can tell from the NYT photo, Allen is a black man.

Yes. I realised that after I made the comment. Color me embarrassed for the assumption I made. :-(

My heart doesn't bleed for this guy. I imagine him giggling to himself every time he successfully pulled this scam. He's on an I-am-God trip. He judges others, uses power to wag others around, and seeks opportunities to make himself feel superior. Narcisisic personality disorder. Pretty common amongst Republican rising stars.

One of the strongest conservatives on this site writes, about a thief: "This man is ill and needs help."

ROTFLMAO. Because a Black republican with political connections is in trouble with the law, NOW we get concerned about the mental health of the criminal class?

tell you what, bbm. my wife is a public defender in Compton (a small city in LA County which is having a vicious gang war). Spend a week or two sitting in her courtroom and then tell us how you feel about the justice system.

god i love modern conservatism. lock 'em up and throw away the key (except, of course, when he's one of ours, in which case he needs understanding and compassion and diversion into the oh-so-well-funded mental health programs that operate in parallel with the criminal justice system.)

bbm, you should write to the public defender of the county in which Allen is facing charges and find out the difference between supply and demand for mental health diversions. I'd be fascinated to know the answer.

ROTFLMAO - Kind of a monkey thing, don't you think?

bbm,

You clearly didn't read the rest of his post. Or, you don't care to comment on the point and would rather make comforting noises.

Byron York, of all people, points out one reason this might reflect badly on the White House: the dishonesty of the statements made at Allen's departure.

Of course the first mention on the Corner was something more predictable: John Podhoretz's "Claude Who?", reminiscent of all the various statements by Republicans lately (Bush, DeLay, etc.) about how they barely knew their former "good friends" (Lay, Abramoff, etc.) who'd gotten into legal trouble.

More of a Rift Valley Great Ape kind of thing. the tail, you see, got re-absorbed a while back.

feel free to comment on the substantive part of the post at any time.

I just wonder what public officials say when they resign because the really do want to spend more time with their families.

I just wonder what public officials say when they resign because the really do want to spend more time with their families.

"Three little words: I. Am. Gay."

This man is ill and needs help.

Funny how, when it is one of their own, conservatives go all soft and suddenly realize that criminals are only people who are ill and just need some understanding and help. And that all this demonization is just so unfair to the poor guy.

"Why would he do this?"

Desire for self-destruction, based on self-loathing. He's a black man who worked for Jesse Helms, for God's sake.

Also, I went to high school with Claude Allen in North Carolina. I was two years behind him, but he was prominent in the school and I do have some recollection of him -- he was in student government, active in lots of extracurricular stuff. I don't have any proof, and probably I shouldn't speculate, but from what I remember of him it wouldn't surprise me to find out he was gay. A lot of virulent homophobes seem to be closet cases, and it wouldn't surprise me if Claude Allen was an example.

Underlining: that's pure speculation.

So, to repeat: my unscientific speculation as to "why" is a desire for self-destruction, based in self-hatred.

While we have the sympathy brigade's attention, perhaps we could spare a moment for Stephen Heller.

Fledermaus,
I'm curious what constitutes 'demonization' in this case and in general. I think the Fancy Ford website is demonization, but highlighting hypocrisy isn't so much.

Francis, I just think you buried the lede. Mental illness is a horrible problem. My wife has Huntington's Disease with dementia as a symptom. I'm not sure why you all are climbing all over my ass because I believe Mr. Allen has a mental problem. If you think he was doing this as a criminal strategy to pay off his million dollar house, then you may have a few screws loose yourself. By the way, do you believe this is similar to the Berger case, that's where this silly thread began.

bbm, I am really sorry about your wife's illness.
Re: how this is different from Sandy Berger. 1. Allen did it more than once. Actually he did it often. With Berger it was a onetime event. 2. Allen's action was clearly premediatated. Berger's may have been premeditated or could ahave been an acto of carelessness. 3. Allen was apparently motivated by money or perhaps by the desire to chortle disdainfully at the "fools" he snookered.. One of the reasons why people thik Berger acted out of carelessness is that he had no apparent motive. He didn't doctor the documents or anything like that. he didn't make them disappear. ( at least I don't think so. I don'r remember much about this efent)
allen could have dsome kind of mental illness but from this distance it looks more like a personality disorder to me.

FWIW, I did in fact have the Berger thing in mind when I commented above. I see his transgression as a letter-not-the-spirit act, and deeply stupid but not otherwise blameworthy (pace Slart's principled and more informed view otherwise). I suspect Allen is unwell, hence not blameworthy in my scheme of things; neither is this something I'd care to be partisan about.

bbm, awfully sorry to hear that - I hope your children (if you have any) don't have the bad allele.

Mark Kleiman, less "sunny" than me.

Funny how, when it is one of their own, conservatives go all soft and suddenly realize that criminals are only people who are ill and just need some understanding and help.

Penalty. Unnecessary overgeneralization; 15 yards, repeat first down.

I suspect Allen is unwell, hence not blameworthy in my scheme of things; neither is this something I'd care to be partisan about.

Excellent, although I'd shy away from "blameworthy" and more toward "responsible for not getting himself looked at".

I mean, is it possible that he didn't know?

I don't know a lot about Claude Allen, so I'm loth to speculate on him personally. But I'm more reluctant to conclude that someone like him should be let off the hook than many of you. I think that something is probably wrong with a person who does this. But I suspect it's the sort of thing where there's a spectrum ranging from, say, a student who tends to court disaster with respect to paper deadlines to some opposite extreme of risking self-destruction; and I think I'd draw the line at which blame ceases to attach farther along than some of you.

Maybe this comes of dealing with students and their deadline problems on a regular basis. But I think part of it also comes from the following belief, which I'll probably write more about sometime: that letting people off the hook (when the reason isn't just flat-out ignorance or some other very localized problem) is a double-edged sword. It can protect them from censure, but the price is saying that they have no real control over what they do. And since that is a damning thing to say, and a deep insult, I am reluctant to do it.

That I'm reluctant to say people are not blameworthy doesn't mean that I am eager to blame them; just that I feel caught between two bad things to say, and thus sometimes tend to withhold judgment when, as in this case, I really don't know enough.

Though I would feel comfortable agreeing with Slarti: I think he's at least responsible for not seeking help when it became clear that there was a problem.

Last point: those conservatives who want to let him off the hook should be careful. If he was really out of control, it's a lot harder to see how his colleagues and supervisors could have not seen this without themselves being negligent.

bbm:

1. As any public defender could tell you, the prisons are full of people who are mentally ill.

2. Conservatives across the country are not known for supporting funding to divert the mentally ill who commit crimes into quality mental health programs.

3. Amazingly !! enough, when a black conservative commits a crime, suddenly a rock-ribbed republican wants to show compassion.

4. Compassion for the mentally ill caught up in the criminal justice system is sorely needed. So, bbm, you're now on board to fully fund mental health diversion programs? Lobby for federal funds? Lobby state legislatures for compassionate sentencing laws?

just curious how far beyond a black republican your compassion extends.

Note that this was a victimless crime, which makes speculating simpler. I sometimes think about the men hanged for poaching the king's deer to feed their families. Perhaps he was desperate, and out of control, but had managed to keep it partitioned away from the rest of his life; and perhaps he feared that having gone as far as he had he couldn't step back without losing everything anyway - the counsel of depression or folly, of course, but people do listen to bad advisors. For all we know he had sought help, but it hadn't taken; or he's just a bad guy. Certainly I think we need to know more before making a judgement - I'm just arguing based on my guess.

Note also that one can think that people's actions are determined without insult and without refusing to judge the character of that determination - insufficient information or competence, insanity, criminal intent, whatever.

Francis: "2. Conservatives across the country are not known for supporting funding to divert the mentally ill who commit crimes into quality mental health programs."

bbm isn't the sum of conservatives across the country.

"just curious how far beyond a black republican your compassion extends."

Seems a bit uncharitably phrased, no?

Penalty. Unnecessary overgeneralization

Slarti,

Look I'm not saying that all criminals are bad and should be locked away forever. I don't also advocate ever increasing sentneces for any and all crimes. That's the GOP's bag. All I'm saying is I see all these Republican politicians who say things like this:

"You all recognize that these youthful predators need to be held accountable, and the punishment ought to fit the severity of the crime - regardless of age!"

Or perhaps this:

"The [U.S. Senator Spence] Abraham [R-MI] campaign gave reporters a glimpse of the red meat early Monday with the release of a set of documents that chronicle Stabenow's efforts as a state legislator on behalf of a convicted murderer who was seeking parole. Among them was Stabenow's comment that the inmate — convicted in the brutal slaying of a young mother — was the "victim'' of the political system."

Slarti, you may have (like most of us do) a more nuanced understanding of crime. But let's not pretend like GOP canidates don't accuse Democrats of being "soft on crime" at every opportunity. Thus to now see those on the right saying: "Hey, here is a troubled person who just needs help (and happens to be a well connected memeber of the administration" really chaps my hide. I was just observing how all that rhetoric about "personal responsibility" and "facing consequenses" only seems to apply to those now well connected to the power establishment. Especially because he had no reason to steal $10 Swatches from Target except to just get kicks. Meanwhile the GOP has no problem with a life sentence for someone who stole a slice of pizza

Just out of curiousity, rilkefan, how do you address the points made in Kleiman's post? And if you agree with them, how does one address those without 'demonizing' Allen. And thanks for linking that, I'm not cruising around to collect opinions on Allen.

I'm slightly tempted to ask what sort of comments people are thinking about when they talk about demonization, but I don't want to open the floodgates. However, if there is a respectable commentator that someone feels is demonizing Allen, I would like to see it (if someone feels that some sites attack on Allen reveals their true nature, then it stands to reason that you didn't respect that site so much in the first place)

Don't forget the Koufaxes.

Re Kleiman, I don't think he's being entirely reasonable saying "Bush should have been aware", because, hey, Bubble Boy. And does

"So unless Miers and Card were completely asleep at the switch, someone from the Secret Service should have been on the Allen case the day after he told them about his arrest"
seem entirely convincing to you? I don't know. It seems to me he has prefaced that with
"At the time, of course, the White House went along with the "time-with-the-family" story. But it seems overwhelmingly likely that senior people there, and presumably Bush himself, knew it was false"
more rhetorically than logically. But ok, if Card's job calls for snooping around when an employee says he got arrested due to a misunderstanding, fire him. I mean, I don't know Slart, but I assume he has a sterling reputation, and if he went to his boss with Allen's story I assume his boss would say, "Ok, let me know when you clear it up" without sending investigators out to check up on him, but then I know nothing about management or secrecy or even crime.

Allen's crimes were not victimless ones. The stores from which Allen obtained his fraudulent refunds were the victims, I suppose more specifically the owners of said stores, and/or their insurers. And of course the costs of losses due to shoplifting are eventually passed on to the honest consumer.

Thanks rf, those are reasonable points. I'd also point out that Card is apparently not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I don't know if this strengthens or weakens Kleiman's case, just pointing it out.

3. Amazingly !! enough, when a black conservative commits a crime, suddenly a rock-ribbed republican wants to show compassion.

Or Rush Limbaugh.

First of all, I know that many others have more to deal with personally than I with their family and friends - maybe an open thread some day to share.

Francis, you've ignited my wayback machine. Too many moons ago my Junior College Basic Phyche class took a field trip to Mt. Pleasant, IA to the mental health institute there. It was one of those huge gothic structures that one imagines from a lightning flashing horror movie. The people we saw there slapped this young man's idealistic mind around a bit. Several years later I saw the movie "Frances" (with an 'e') and was even more disturbed. And mentally ill in prisons? Whodathunk! Politicians need to come up with something better than give us more of your money and we'll think of something. What's the plan? I'm all ears.

Well, the Bush plan seems to have been embodied in the Freedom Commission on Mental Health. Unfortunately, the term 'freedom' suggests that the emphasis is on prescribed drugs which, along with comprehensive screening for mental disabilities (with an emphasis on screening children) would deal with mental illness. While I agree that remarkable strides have been made in terms of drug treatment, it seems that the goal is to have a plan that requires few people, but lots of money paid to drug companies.

The 'freedom' plan was based, like the no child left behind, on a Texas program called the Texas Medication Algorithm Project, which was discussed in this whistleblower's report (pdf file) by a Pennsylvania inspector when the program was imported into that state. Unfortunately, this has received limited coverage here in the US, and was revealed by a British medical journal. While the basis for the TMAP algorithms have been rejected, I believe that the algorithms are still in place because there is nothing to replace them. A discussion of how medical algorithms work is here. This strikes me as not untypical of this administration, and, when linked to the the Medicare Part D Debacle (duly documented by hilzoy here, here and here, along with several other posts) packs a powerful one-two whammy. If you are concerned about mental health treatment in the US, it is difficult to understand why you could even consider supporting this admin.

But let's not pretend like GOP canidates don't accuse Democrats of being "soft on crime" at every opportunity.

Every opportunity? I'd think twice before making a claim like that. And I'd also think twice before using the excess of others as excuse for my own personal excess.

Not that I haven't done so, just that it's not a palatable excuse for me anymore.

Thus to now see those on the right saying: "Hey, here is a troubled person who just needs help (and happens to be a well connected memeber of the administration" really chaps my hide.

I'm pretty sure that the D side of the aisle hasn't got the market on stupid cornered just yet. I'd be willing to bet, though, that at least a few of those offering up this plea for help are doing so while savoring the irony. Too much of this and we'll all be speaking out of both sides of our mouths.

Meanwhile the GOP has no problem with a life sentence for someone who stole a slice of pizza

I had no idea that stealing a slice of pizza was a felony. I've got absolutely no problem with the three-strikes rule putting someone away for a long stretch for stealing a car, though.

What that has to do with this particular situation, though, is a bit of a puzzler.

I've got absolutely no problem with the three-strikes rule putting someone away for a long stretch for stealing a car, though.

I'm not trying to be snarky, but if what Claude Allen had done would have been a third strike offense, wouldn't he be looking at life in prison? I realize that you haven't clearly weighed in (I think, though your 2:48 is suggestive that you do think he deserves some punishment) on how he should be punished (assuming he guilty, etc. etc), but can you see how this could be taken as a disconnect? (not of you in particular, but of the right in general?)

At any rate, I appreciate you trying to keep things cool on a subject that invites snark, but I would point out that the reaction has been pretty subdued here, imo.

I think the pizza reference was to the case of Jerry Dewayne Williams.

I'm not trying to be snarky, but if what Claude Allen had done would have been a third strike offense, wouldn't he be looking at life in prison?

Yes, but that NOT being the case, I think the question is kind of irrelevant. Also, having had a couple of previous felony convictions on his record ought to have impeded his GS career a bit, methinks.

Slarti -- given the lack of qualifications displayed by Ron Brown, that NASA flack, Bush's favorite journalist & ho', etc., not to mention Bush's own DWI and coke history, and his more recent flouting of the FISA, I don't know why felony convictions should have impeded Allen's career. Seems to me he'd fit right in. Unless you mean that the WH only cares about how things look?

Besides, the question went to the fairness of "three strikes" for petty theft, not to whether Allen literally could have had a rap sheet.

Similarly, this exchange is silly:
>>But let's not pretend like GOP canidates don't accuse Democrats of being "soft on crime" at every opportunity.
>Every opportunity? I'd think twice before making a claim like that.

Colloquial hyperbole is hardly a "claim." Everyone knew what liberaljaponicus meant -- and by "everyone" I mean, the general run of reasonably intelligent people, and not literally every person in the world or even every single person who read it.

If you want to quarrel with the substance of the statement, which seems to be that the GOP hits the "soft on crime" button regularly and unfairly, go right ahead. But please eschew nitpicking snark.

As for Allen, unlike some in this thread, I see no need for the hypothesis of mental illness. It's perfectly rational that a person spending just a little past his budget would want a little extra income. And he seems to have made a habit of it, so it's quite possible he has been doing this on and off for years, making it, in his eyes, a rational risk. We don't need to posit mental problems, just plain old-fashioned immorality.

I have a mortgage, tho not as big as Mr. Allen's, and there are surely times at the end of the month when a couple thousand bucks would come in really handy. Difference is, I don't think ripping people off is a reasonable way to handle my financial strain.

Besides, the question went to the fairness of "three strikes" for petty theft, not to whether Allen literally could have had a rap sheet.

Which, as I've noted, is beside the point. You haven't done anything to convince me otherwise.

Colloquial hyperbole is hardly a "claim." Everyone knew what liberaljaponicus meant -- and by "everyone" I mean, the general run of reasonably intelligent people, and not literally every person in the world or even every single person who read it.

I don't think anyone anticipated the breech of the levees.

Ok, so what does "at every opportunity" mean to you, hyperbole taken into consideration? Every other opportunity? Every third? It's been a while since I've seen the "weak on crime" ploy used, so I'm curious. I'll accept frequently as vague enough to be a decent fit.

But please eschew nitpicking snark.

This just shows me that you completely ignored the sentence after the one you objected to. Which is kind of...well, nit-picky. To clarify, though, that was the point: don't attempt to excuse your bad behavior by pointing to the bad behavior of the other guys.

Oh, and I gave up snark for Lent. If you're seeing me as snarky, I suggest that's a problem over on the observer end.

Besides, the question went to the fairness of "three strikes" for petty theft, not to whether Allen literally could have had a rap sheet.

Given that Allen is accused on 25 different counts, doesn't that mean he is 22 counts over the "three strikes you're out" limit? This is not sarcastic, it's a plea for information: I don't understand how the "three strikes you're out" system works.

Jes. I think the "strikes" are convictions. So he's likely to get one conviction for all 22 offenses.
I agree with the spirit of your remarks. It does show a weird scale of values to slam the door forever on some small time schumk whose third conviction is petty, but make all kinds of excuses for a well-off well-cinnected guy who has a pattern of ripping people off. Remember the Watergate guard who causght the burgerlers? He did jail time for stealing a pair of shoes that were a Christmas gift for one of his kids. now that5 guy I feel sorry for. Allen I'd like to see in the public stocks.

"anyone" in "I don't think anyone anticipated the breech of the levees," could reasonably mean something like "anyone important," or "anyone with expertise," or maybe even "almost anyone with expertise who I personally spoke to." Unfortunately, to make Bush's statement true, you have to define "anyone" down to "me."

So that's a bad comparison.

Nitpickery on my part? Fair enough. But I don't think I have an obligation to address every point in a post. Selecting from various conversational topics fairly raised is quite different from poking at figures of speech in a way that tends to distort and draw attention away from the point towards which the figures were raised. You made two points, I addressed one. Lj raised one point, you quibbled with her idioms. Not the same thing.

Sorry, not to undercut anyone here, but some nitpickery on my part.

Colloquial hyperbole is hardly a "claim." Everyone knew what liberaljaponicus meant

Errr, that was Fledermaus. I myself never ever engage in colloquial hyperbole. :^)

and
Lj raised one point, you quibbled with her idioms. Not the same thing.

Errr, his idioms. -us is the masculine ending in Latin.

As for quibbling with idioms, I was going to ask about 'non-starter', because it seemed like Slart was accusing Feingold and others who support censure as being hypocritical because they really want impeachment.

Again, sorry to break in there, please go back to what you were doing when I interrupted you.

Again, the wrong thread. The non-starter thing should be in the censure thread. No colloquial hyperbole, a whole lot of posting in the wrong places.

it seemed like Slart was accusing Feingold and others who support censure as being hypocritical because they really want impeachment.

No, I don't believe I was. I was just wondering why, if what the NSA was doing was so obviously and outrageously illegal, impeachment wasn't the obvious step. Certainly that concern vanishes if censure is seen as a measure leading up to a motion to impeach.

Otherwise, all the outrage just looks like more political jockeying for position.

"Certainly that concern vanishes if censure is seen as a measure leading up to a motion to impeach."

Gotta walk before you can waltz. Gotta stand before you can can-can. Gotta step before you can do the Texas two-step.

Slarti: I, for one, think that impeachment is entirely appropriate. I worry about the business of impeaching two presidents in a row -- I think that's unhealthy, and other things equal to be avoided -- but on the other hand I think that for the President to assert his right to break the law is extremely serious, and that impeachment is warranted.

That said, I also think that impeachment is roughly as likely as my sprouting wings and turning into Tinkerbell. Since I think the worst possible outcome would be for the President to get away with it entirely -- and "worst" here means "worst for the country" -- I am more than happy to work for censure.

"Gotta walk before you can waltz. Gotta stand before you can can-can. Gotta step before you can do the Texas two-step."

What a world ObWi is! All this brilliance AND dance lessons from rilkefan too... Be still my heart.

You gotta blog before you can [fill in the blank]

You know lj, this could be the start of something truly annoying. If it is, blame me. (And by the way, after all this hand wringing and psycho-babble over Claude Allen, I still maintain the guy's just a dipshit. End o' story). And no more posting rules violations...i promise... thanks for the indulgence.

I don't think he was doing this for money unless he was reselling what he took. The MO of this crime was to purchase items, take them to his car, return with the bag and the receipt, then grab another instance of what was on the receipt and "return" it. Then he could drive off with the goods, including allegedly a Bose home theater e.g., without having paid for it.

Life is stranger than fiction. Truly, truly bizarre.

lj: that is a twist that truly never crossed my mind. How completely bizarre.

Hilzoy: That said, I also think that impeachment is roughly as likely as my sprouting wings and turning into Tinkerbell.

*applauds loudly*
I do believe in fairies! I do believe in fairies! I do believe in fairies!

And speaking of weird theatrical moments, I see that apparently Claude Allen blames the whole thing on his evil twin. If true, then I think Claude needs to get Floyd to grow a goatee.

Ah...the evil twin defense. Helps to have an actual twin, I guess.

This is just bizarre enough to be plausible, though, so hang on to your hats.

So there's this quote from the NY Times:
" He was a guest of the first lady in her box during the president's State of the Union speech, nearly a month after Mr. Allen first informed Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, and Harriet E. Miers, the White House counsel, that he had been issued a misdemeanor citation for theft.

Mr. Allen told the White House at the time that there had been confusion with his credit cards and he would make sure the matter was cleared up."

If it was really his evil twin, as is now being claimed, why didn't he just explain it that way instead of the horse-pucky about his credit cards?

I suppose you can "hold onto your hats" if you want to but IMHO It just don't pass the sniff test.

If it was really his evil twin, as is now being claimed, why didn't he just explain it that way instead of the horse-pucky about his credit cards?

I could easily see him not wanting to talk about his troubled twin brother in that context, especially if he expected that the matter would be resolved shortly.

(Note that I'm not saying I necessarily buy the evil twin story, just that I don't see your objection as being strong evidence against it.)

((However, if this story really does pan out, it's a beautiful example of why people should be hesitant to pass judgment on others based only on what they've read in a few news stories.))

My cynical thought is that Floyd Allen has been bribed to take the fall for Claude, thus saving Claude's career.

My cynical thought is that Claude has used the government's secret time-travel and cloning resources to insert a copy of himself as the Evil Twin, after the fact.

Hey, if speculation is open, let's kick it wide open.

Sorry, I guess I'm given to excess today. More than usual, I mean.

In my defense, I didn't suggest that Claude was captured by aliens, probed, brainwashed and given posthypnotic suggestion to steal everything that's not nailed down.

Which is a good thing, maybe.

Slarti, if you think the idea of a Republican politician giving or receiving a bribe to conceal a criminal offense is a wild speculative idea, I really urge you to read the news more often.

If it was Claude's evil twin, he identified himself as Claude when the "Target loss prevention manager" spoke to him...

Slartibartfast wrote, Ah...the evil twin defense. Helps to have an actual twin, I guess. This is just bizarre enough to be plausible, though, so hang on to your hats.

Except for the fact that, according to the Washington Post, the cops found the merchandise in his home.

rilkefan wrote, I don't really know that this reflects badly on the WH - anyway I can imagine the same thing having happened to someone in a similar position at the Clinton WH without my feeling more than, "This looks bad but the other side wouldn't bash us with it if they were reasonable."

I would agree if it were just a matter of compulsive shoplifting. But it's not---he has a whole constellation of mental problems. Working for a racist despite being black isn't a sign of mental stability. Nor is an unhealthy obsession with other people's sexual behavior.

Donald Johnson wrote, His political career is disgusting, but that has nothing to do with his apparent mental illness.

Nonsense. See above.

rilkefan wrote, Note that this was a victimless crime...

Huh? Just because the cost of the crime is spread out over many people doesn't make it victimless.

Certainly I think we need to know more before making a judgement - I'm just arguing based on my guess.

I don't think so. The guy's a jerk. Aside from working for Helms, he lied under oath (see Hilzoy's post) and had a despicable record on AIDs treatment and anything else remotely tied to sexual issues.

Except for the fact that, according to the Washington Post, the cops found the merchandise in his home.

I'm not sure how that's contradictory of anything at all, liberal. I just noted that if you're going to use the evil-twin gambit, it probably helps to have a twin.

I just noted that

Actually, you just noted that
"Claude has used the government's secret time-travel and cloning resources to insert a copy of himself as the Evil Twin, after the fact"
and
"Claude was captured by aliens, probed, brainwashed and given posthypnotic suggestion to steal everything that's not nailed down.
which you appeared to feel were equally plausible with the suggestions that (a) Claude Allan is lying when he claimed it was his "evil twin" who did the crimes, (b) if Floyd Allan confesses, it might be because Claude Allan figured he could blame the crimes on his twin.

Actually, you just noted that

You are going to make me resort to smileys, aren't you? I mean, just when I think I'm being abso-frickin-lutely obvious that I'm yanking your chain, you insist on taking me literally.

It's probably all my fault: I'm just not nearly as funny as I think I am.

Slarti: I mean, just when I think I'm being abso-frickin-lutely obvious that I'm yanking your chain, you insist on taking me literally.

Oh, it was obvious you were yanking my chain, yes. Presumably (for all your brand-new much-vaunted I-am-no-longer-a-Republican-ness) because you really cannot bear to see left-wing criticism of right-wing public figures, no matter how justified the criticism, without attacking the critics. It's not that amusing, no: I can't recall that it ever was amusing, either.

"It's probably all my fault: I'm just not nearly as funny as I think I am."

If we had signature tag lines, like at Tacitus, I would be _so_ stealing that.

Presumably

I'd say this sort of presumption is about 90% of the problem, J.

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