Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Condi Connection: Picking up on Kong tomorrow at last, but first, this from Kondi's Kissin' Kuzzin! Can't Get Enough of Condi? Meet Constance!

I've about finished my King Kong piece for posting here -- concluding the multi-part 'think piece' I launched last week -- and hope to have it up by Friday AM at the latest. But there's been a number of things that demanded immediate attention in the meantime, what with dear friends and family in need, making sure Blue Underground got in touch with Eddie Campbell and had access to the necessary issues of Taboo for the upcoming DVD release of the rare 1977 giallo The Pyjama Girl Case (never before released in the US!), the launch of filmmaker Walter Ungerer and my online film class for the University of Vermont -- which I meant to alert you all to here in advance, but the necessary info never reached me -- not to mention all the shit relevent to the year coming to a close, and Marj and I just getting back from a trip and all... so, apologies, thanks for being patient.

So sure, it's been a hectic day, but I have to share this scattershot info turned up while researching my buddy Mark Martin's fave Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- and the synchronistic conjunction of a recent item HomeyM sent my way.

First off, it seems Condi has a cousin, Mark -- and she's a mighty interesting cousin at that.

To quote 200 Motels: "Which -- do -- you -- chooooooose?"

According to Ronald Hilton (in "Confederate Flag: Stand Firm, Howard Dean", November 6, 2003), "Constance L. Rice, lawyer, is director of the Advancement Project in Los Angeles... [addressing] the battle for equal education in a city that is racially and ethnically divided." Hilton wrote about Constance:

"Always a studious tomboy, Rice gained admission to Harvard, only to be physically beaten during her freshman year by a fellow student whom she had refused to date. Left with a broken nose and a determination never to be that powerless again, Rice began studying tae kwon do and became a national champion. With a degree in government from Harvard and a degree in law from New York University, she also is a champion fighter for women's rights, minority rights and community rights.... Rice began her legal career as a federal clerk, drafting an opinion that created the "reasonable woman" standard. She moved to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and became co-director of the Los Angeles office. During her tenure, the fund's Los Angeles office won more than $1.6 billion worth of injunctive relief and damages through class action lawsuits on behalf of multi-racial coalitions of clients. In 1998, the Los Angeles Times designated her one of 24 leaders considered the "most experienced, civic-minded and thoughtful people on the subject of Los Angeles."... The Advancement Project, which Rice co-founded, is responsible for a dramatic court victory that required the state to spend the funds it had to build new schools in the districts that needed them. Also, her firm was deeply involved in efforts to expose the recent Ramparts corruption scandal, and it now has a contract to advise the city's police union. "We need to help them have the tools they need to be humane," Rice says. Unlike her second cousin, Condoleezza Rice, Constance Rice avoids party affiliations and political labels. But she says the two women share an appreciation of "facts, analysis and a solution."

Ah, very diplomatically put, Mr. Hilton. And here all this time I thought Condi was lying through her teeth. But enough of that, back to Constance, who makes the heart grow fonder.

Seems Constance has quite impressive career credentials, having received more than 50 major awards "for her work in expanding opportunity and advancing multi-racial democracy" (quoted from the article, below) after having graduated from Harvard College in 1978 and winning the Root Tilden Public Interest Scholarship to New York University School of Law, where she earned her law degree in 1984. Constance thereafter served as law clerk to the Honorable Damon J. Keith, judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; worked at Morrison & Foerster as a litigation associate; joined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (in '91), and so on per Hilton's article, above.

As a litigator, Rice filed a landmark case on behalf of low-income bus riders that resulted in a mandate that more than 2 billion dollars be spent to improve the bus system; launched a coalition lawsuit that won $750 million for new school construction in L.A. (reportedly rerouting funds previously slated for far more affluent suburban school districts); etc. Beyond that, Rice served as counsel to the Watts gang truce; spearheaded a statewide campaign to save equal opportunity programs; was appointed to the governing board of Los Angeles's Department of Water and Power (where she served as president); etc. etc. etc. It's a head-spinning whirlwind career, to say the least.

All that and more about Condoleezza Rice's cousin can be found online in various venues (google her!). Among her many online documents is Constance's "Confederate Flap: Stand Firm, Howard Dean: Candidate's allusion to poor Southern whites opens an important issue," which is
  • here.
  • Worth a read, if only to balance the spin.

    Anyhoot, by coincidence, here's what HomeyM sent me this past week:

    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.... 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....

    Members of Congress from both parties are now calling for an independent investigation into possible abuses at Guantanamo. But even with the painful lessons learned from Abu Ghraib, the White House says "no." Civil rights crusader and regular NOW contributor 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."

    The talk between David Brancaccio and Constance Rice is
  • here.

  • And here's the link for
  • The Advancement Project,
  • should you be so moved.

    OK, enough Condi and Constance and such -- back to Kong!