June 26, 2005

Condi's Smarter Cousin

Last Friday on NOW, David Brancaccio talked with Constance Rice, Condi's talented, compassionate and humane second cousin, about what Guantanamo says about our society. Connie Rice is a director and co-founder of The Advancement Project, an organization dedicated to building a racially just democracy and breaking down barriers to real opportunity. As a civil rights lawyer, Connie Rice has had extensive experience with the justice system and she knows that a lot that is being exposed in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib is reflected in the US prisons. David talked with her about those prisons.

Constance Rice says that there are parallels between the treatment of prisoners in American prisons, those in Abu Ghraib, and the prison camp at Guantanamo that are instructive. "Am I saying that our prisons are as bad as Abu Ghraib? No,” she says. "But do we have conditions that are illegal, unconstitutional and cruel and unusual? Yes."

Connie Rice knows that how we treat those in prison shapes the outcome when prisoners come back into our society. When Chief Bratton became the chief of police in LA, she wrote him about how fixing the problems in LA would take more than fixing broken windows but would take changing the way the LAPD worked with the neighborhoods.

The LAPD can't fight crime effectively unless probation and parole run smoothly. Nor can you make a real dent in crime without an ear to the ground in jails and prisons, where much of what happens on the streets is orchestrated. And without effective rehabilitation and reintegration strategies, far too many ex-cons end up in a revolving door of incarceration and release that endangers their neighbors as well as police.

...None of this can happen within the LAPD's current culture. The force you now command has many strengths, but it also has an insular, rigid and retaliatory culture that, unless changed, will doom it to repeat its past failures. The LAPD has always shot down demands for change. If reversing crime waves requires creative, data-driven, community-savvy cops, then you have no choice but to aggressively change the department.

How would we appear to the world if Connie, not Condi, was the Secretary of State? I suspect we'd have much greater credibility and greater success with finding creative solutions to some of our international problems with someone who was less rigid and doctrinaire than Condi.

Posted by Mary at June 26, 2005 11:16 PM | Law/Justice | Technorati links |
Comments

Earth knows how we could have had the dream administrative team if Kerry won (vs. the nightmare of nightmares we are suffering through)…

I imagined:

* Constance Rice as Attorney General (vs. “Torture rationalizing, Geneva Conventions are obsolete Berto Gonzales”)
* Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as Secretary of Interior (vs. “Strip mining Clear-cutting lobbyist Gale Norton”) - [or another attorney general candidate]
* Joseph Biden as Secretary of State (vs. expert on Soviet ‘Cold-War’ Union, switch Evil Communist Specter with Evil Terrorist Specter –and-no-one-will-know-the-difference-Condi-Rice)
* and Wesley Clark as Secretary of Defense(vs. skeletor, the incarnate rhetorical question D. Rumsfeld).

Ah if this fiction were only fact… We would not be so disillusioned with our country. Our founding fathers (Deists and Free Masons – NOT evangel Christians) may not have envisioned such a loss of balance of power, the running down of separation of church and state, and the possible breaking point of our Republican Democracy. How long do we have left until our country is beyond any recognition of our founding fathers’ vision. Bush will be the death of their vision if the course does not change sooner the later. Later, unfortunately for ALL of us, will be too late.

Posted by: Tony Scauzillo at June 27, 2005 01:16 AM

Mary wrote "How would we appear to the world if Connie, not Condi, was the Secretary of State? I suspect we'd have much greater credibility and greater success with finding creative solutions to some of our international problems with someone who was less rigid and doctrinaire than Condi."

Yes it would be nice, but as we have seen repeatedly such a person would never have surived in Bush's world.

Posted by: Gail Davis at June 27, 2005 08:34 AM

In a previous appearance on Now a few years ago, Connie Rice offered up the ocomment that her family Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were occasionally "interesting". I can only imagine what happens when Cousin Oil and Cousin Water sup together.

Posted by: N in Seattle at June 27, 2005 12:44 PM