aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Heading for 1929?
ROBERT KUTTNER: I mean Alan Greenspan, is one of the revered public figures of our time. I think he made one huge mistake - he did not use a lot of the regulatory power that he had. Every time there was a credit crunch, he would race to the rescue.
BILL MOYERS: By putting in cheap money?
ROBERT KUTTNER: Yeah. So it seems to me, if you’re gonna bail out-- problems after the fact, you have an obligation to prevent some of them before they start. And for 13 years, Greenspan’s Fed and now Bernanke’s Fed has had not just the authority but the mandate from Congress to look at mortgage loan origination standards. Had they issued regulations under that authority, you never would have had a sub-prime crisis because they would have gone in and noticed that loans were being made that people couldn’t possibly pay off. And the only reason they were being made was that somebody at the end of the daisy chain was willing to buy the paper.
Genarlow’s mirror and a constitutionally shocked conscience
The AJC today points out that Georgia’s Supreme Court rejected a plea that mirrored Genarlow Wilson’s:
[Joshua] Widner, now 23, has been in prison since February 2004 for having intercourse and oral sex with a 14-year-old Henry County girl, whom his lawyers say he considered a girlfriend, when he was 18. The girl testified for Widner at his trial, backing up his story that he thought she was 16 when he had sex with her. The girl’s parents, however, told authorities they had warned Widner she was 14 and told him to stay away from her.
The jury convicted him of statutory rape, which carries the possibility of parole, and aggravated child molestation, which mandates 10 years in prison… [Widner argued to appellate judges that they were teenagers when the crimes occurred, and the Legislature had intended the law to target predatory adults.] ...in a legal ruling, issued four days before the so-called Romeo-and-Juliet provision became law on July 1, 2006, Supreme Court Justice Harold Melton wrote for the unanimous court that the change in law did not warrant vacating Widner’s child-molestation sentence because it did not “shock the conscience.”
The point of the story, not told here for the first time, is that the Widner rejection is a big hurdle for Genarlow. They credit Genarlow’s media-savvy attorney for getting Genarlow press (& blogger) attention:
Christopher McFadden, an Atlanta attorney who consulted with [Wilson attroney BJ] Bernstein on the Wilson case, said the court has a legal duty to ignore public clamor and stick to the law, but he noted judges are only human.
“The court doesn’t act in a vacuum,” he said. “They operate in the world.” [...]
The media onslaught seemed to get the high court’s attention in the Wilson case, too. At the July hearing, while an assistant attorney general argued Wilson’s conviction should stand, Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears asked her at least twice, “Where’s the justice?”
The chief justice’s words struck an ironic chord for Scott Key, who had appealed Widner’s case to the Supreme Court a year earlier.
“I guess I was asking the same thing: Where is the justice?” Key said. “If there is any difference between the cases, it is the amount of publicity one has got. And I hope that is not what these cases come down to.”
I can imagine some distinctions without a difference being made in the 2 cases - Widner was of age, Genarlow not; there was a four year age difference rather than three which seems to be an emerging age-span consensus among lawmakers; finally, there’s the odious prejudicial and illegal distribution of a sex-tape by the Wilson prosecutor - but there is no question in my mind that Widner, too, must be freed.
I’m still thinking former DeKalb County district attorney J. Tom Morgan is informed in his guess that, “the justices would not have granted the expedited appeal unless they were interested in finding the legal means to correct an injustice.” And if there is a favorable ruling for Genarlow maybe Sonny can find it in himself to grant Widner a pardon.
Not likely, I know, given that we’re told we have 1,100 juvenile sex-offenders in Georgia, and every one of them is a threat and that to show even reasonable lenience to one opens up all the rest.
Clearly, Georgia’s recently enacted Romeo-and-Juliet provision notwithstanding, this state desperately needs still more statutory rape reform, something I promise to do my best to promote. Along with justice for Genarlow and Joshua.
Cheney news management skills
Dan Bartlett is on the lecture circuit telling insider’s stories about Vice President Dick Cheney:
There was, for instance, the Cheney hunting incident in south Texas, when he accidentally blasted a buddy in the face with birdshot. Years before, Bartlett had faced another bad-news hunting incident when Gov. George W. Bush was photographed shooting a bird, which upon closer examination by the photographer, turned out to be a protected species.
As soon as he got that news, Bartlett sprang into action, and by the time newspaper presses ran that night with the photo, the incident had already been officially reported to state authorities, a fine was paid and Bush had issued an apology. The result: a one-day story that you, in fact, probably never heard before reading this.
The way Bartlett describes the Cheney incident, it took forever to reach anyone with Cheney, and the White House aide discovered to his horror that the hunting party had already been strategizing for 24 hours. They planned to give the story to a Corpus Christi reporter, except that, it being the weekend, no one could find him.
Bartlett finally reached the vice president and urgently presented another option: getting him on the phone with a national press pool to explain the entire incident in his own words ASAP. There was dead silence. Then, the vice president intoned he would handle it his way. Which Cheney did.
And, not coincidentally, his hunting story is still the subject of talk show jokes.
Via Kevin Drum, “Ladies and gentlemen, the vice president of the United States.”
RELATED: I thought Lynne Cheney did a good job on The Daily Show this week.
Yes, yes, yes she’s an odious dragon lady who proudly spouted the Republican talking point that we haven’t been attacked since 9/11 (did Dick come up with that one, too? I wish more “journalists” would call all of them on it when they use that bogus argument). And yes she said that the Spanish and English bombings and all the bombs in Iraq were not “ about American interests.”
Boo to all that.
What I liked was that she faced the gay question much better, if not perfectly, than I’ve seen before. If she keeps saying that around, that’s good. It’s progress. And movement. Not enough, but progress.
And she brought a pie.
On (Republican) Language
Such fun fodder for an On Language column, I won’t be holding my breath waiting for William Safire to weigh in on these.
AP note that “Wide Stance” has entered the lexicon:
Among the most famous excuses ever given for questionable behavior, “I have a wide stance” must fall somewhere between the schoolchild’s favorite “the dog ate my homework” and President Clinton’s “I didn’t inhale.”
But Sen. Larry Craig’s contention - made just after his arrest in a restroom sex sting - has permeated the public consciousness, showing up as more than just the punch line to late-night talk show jokes.
The online Urban Dictionary defines “wide stance” as a euphemism for a closeted homosexual. David Kurtz of the blog “Talking Points Memo” called Craig’s wide stance claim “The Best Legal Defense of 2007.” And Beau Jarvis, who writes about wine, travel and food on the blog “Basic Juice,” notes that the phrase has become less than innocent and proposes “cleansing” it by using it to describe a well-balanced wine.
On the other hand, who needs Safire when we’ve got Phil Nugent:
By now, it’s clear that “We don’t torture” is going to be George Bush’s equivalent to “I am not a crook” or “I did not have sexual relations with that woman"--an embarrassingly transparent, obviously untrue statement that the speaker never would have even made in the first place if he hadn’t been obligated to deny something that everybody had already figured out was the case… George Bush is supposed to be our self-styled Mr. Grim Reality, President Bauer. Why the hell is he denying that we do what he must know his most hardcore supporters worship him for having the balls to do? Why doesn’t he respond to questions about whether we torture by barking “Damn straight,” and then pulling a former Gitmo resident’s spleen out of his jacket pocket to gnaw?
At some point, every politician is put in the position of having to flatly deny that he’s doing what he’s doing, but few of us have made that the automatic life choice that Bush has. Whether he’s demonstrating his patriotism and support for the Vietnam war by not showing up for his service in the Texas Air National Guard, showing off his Christian charity by rubber-stamping orders to keep the assembly line that is Texas’s Death Row industry rolling along smoothly, or denying health care to children to show how much he loves kids, he’s never had any problem with maintaining a total disconnect between his actions and what he says they reveal about what’s in his heart.
Hedwig and the angry inch - midnight radio
The show played forever downtown to raves from everyone I know and still I never saw it. Until last night… on DVD… from Blockbuster of all places…