Claude Allen is a Duke-trained lawyer and, until recently, a ranking White House advisor on domestic policy. He has also confessed to shoplifting stuff from department stores and returning it for the refund money.
Where to begin? First off, this is obviously a sick man. His government salary was $161,000, so it's not like he needs the money. (He was stealing from Target, for pity's sake, not from Neiman Marcus.)
But second, the guy's a jerk. Here's a taste of an old article from LAWeekly:
In 1984, Allen accused [his employer, Senator Jesse] Helms’ Democratic challenger, then-Governor James Hunt, of having links to "queers," "radical feminists," socialists and unions (Hunt was, in fact, a Bible-quoting right-wing Dem.) And Allen forged his odious reputation as a black capo for the racist right when he continued working for Helms despite the senator’s militant opposition to making Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday.
Lovely man, eh? During a stint at Health & Human Services, he also did his best to make AIDS organizations promote abstinence rather than condoms. But wait, as the Ronco adverts used to say -- there's more!
After he was first arrested, Allen started suggesting to friends and the media that maybe his twin brother was the real culprit. Yes, you heard me. He tried to frame his own brother. Man, that's cold even by the standards of anti-feminist, anti-gay, pro-racist kleptomaniacs. And yet, astonishingly, there's more.
When he confessed today, Allen explained why he had chosen his life of petty crime: He "lost his bearings" because he was working 14-hour days after Hurricane Katrina.
The hurricane made him do it. Poor feller was just working too hard. Happens to all of us. Why, after Holy Week, I often run out and jump a few turnstiles, snatch a purse or two, maybe kill a hobo.
So Claude Allen is (1) demented, and (2) a jerk. But here's the part that really burns my biretta: he got away with it.
Judge Eric "Softy" Johnson gave him 40 hours of community service, $1350 in restitution and fines, and two years probation. But if he doesn't get caught stealing again for two years, his record will be expunged -- the guy may even be able to practice law. It will be as if this were all a bad dream (Which is how I have come to think of the Bush Administration as a whole).
Compare that wrist-slap to the judge who gave a 15-year sentence to each of three New Orleans residents for stealing some booze after the hurricane. I mean, if you want to talk about Katrina-related stress, you really might want to start with people who were caught in the storm.