Thinking back to when I was 17 in college, the standards and signals were certainly different. This young man might very well have raped the complainant, I don’t know the facts. Sexual assault is not a joking matter, and I’m not making light of this case, only observing how dramatically times and mores have changed from my era.
But the jurors seemed to have come to the case with a different understanding of what it means to show consent, highlighting the divide between the standards of sexual behavior espoused in freshman orientation programs and campus brochures, and those that operate in courts of law.
One, speaking anonymously after the verdict out of hesitancy to speak for other jurors, said the panel members asked themselves whether there was “enough evidence to show that there could not have been consent. And we couldn’t get there.”
James Galullo, another juror, said he did not understand the outrage that the verdict had inspired on campus, among students who wrote angry opinion pieces for the campus newspaper or took to social media to denounce the outcome.
“I just think it’s lack of experience in the world,” Mr. Galullo, 61, said. “The jurors were all basically middle-aged. They were able to see their way through all the noise.”
Alexandra Brodsky, a lawyer at the National Women’s Law Center who graduated from Yale College and Yale Law School, said, “Schools have adopted consent as an educational tool, but that sometimes means we end up using words that mean different things in different contexts.”
“There are many forms of violence that would be condemned on campus, where a prosecutor would have trouble getting a jury to convict,” she added.
Another entry into the This Would Be Funny If It Wasn’t So Sad file, and also another entry into Aren’t The Culture Wars Already Over? curtesy of your local un-friendly GOP party platform writers.
Via Amanda Marcotte:
While the final draft of the 2016 Republican platform won’t be finalized until next week, the drafting committee’s meeting is public and reporters have been sending out a steady stream of reports on platform items approved by the committee and therefore likely to be made the official party positions next week.
The list so far is a grab bag of right-wing obsessions, urban legends, and bigotries, one that would be comical if not for the depressing realization that a lot of people believe this nonsense. Marijuana, national parks, the IRS, and mythical electromagnetic pulses are all condemned in dramatic terms appropriate for signs of the apocalypse.
And, even though their presidential nominee is a thrice-married playboy who bragged on Howard Stern that avoiding STIs was his “personal Vietnam” — because of all the sleeping around, ha ha — the platform committee is extremely interested in policing what everyone else in the country is doing with their genitals. Cohabitation, homosexuality, abortion, even using the bathroom while trans: If it’s not hetero married sex performed in the dark no more than once a month for the reasons of procreation, they are probably against it.
And sorry, fellas, but as much as Republicans love male privilege, when it comes to the sex police, even your private habits are going on the Thou Shalt Not list. Porn, according to what will likely be the official GOP platform, has been declared a “public health crisis” and a “public menace.”
Seems like Ted Cruz and his sour band of Christian Taliban won the primary after all. Sad!
The Devil and Pope
Jack Holmes has a (partial) list of some of the horrors:
The Republican Party has always been against things. In Lincoln’s day, it was slavery; for the last seven years, it’s been a functioning federal government. But the Republican Party Platform, rewritten every four years before the party convention, is where things really run wild. That’s especially true this year, as presumptive nominee Donald J. Trump has stepped back to let the Ted Cruz-esque purists have their fun with the party’s official statement of principles. What follows is a list, likely non-comprehensive, of the things the GOP has declared itself against so far.
(Keep in mind, these are initiatives that have passed the platform subcommittees and are awaiting approval as a collective.)
Just days after the Democratic Party endorsed the rescheduling of cannabis and a “reasoned pathway to future legalization” of marijuana, delegates with the Republican Party voted against a more conservative platform that would have endorsed medical marijuana.
At a GOP Platform Committee meeting in Cleveland, Republican delegates on Monday just said no to endorsing medical marijuana.
But a number of delegates rose in opposition to the measure. A member from Utah claimed scientists have a “long way to go with research” on marijuana and argued that studies, which she did not provide, showed a link between it and mental health issues.
Another delegate absurdly claimed that people who commit mass murders are “young boys from divorced families, and they’re all smoking pot.” Yet another delegate claimed marijuana triggered schizophrenia, and is funded nationally by Democrat and New York financier George Soros. “Let’s think a little bit what happens with Percocet, with OxyContin,” claimed a third delegate, who drew a connection between the ongoing heroin epidemic and teenagers smoking marijuana.
Gays, of course, and anything having to with civil rights, adoptions, etc.
Delegates added to the pile of hot-button topics by unanimously adopting an amendment that called pornography “a public health crisis” and “public menace” that is destroying lives. The measure went further than the 2012 GOP platform, which mainly focused on problems with child pornography.
FRC’s Perkins also succeeded in introducing an amendment to the platform affirming “the right of parents to determine the proper treatment or therapy, for their minor children,” a reference to gay conversion therapy, which has been banned in a number of states.
Even people like me, living in sin (i.e., unmarried) are targeted:
Meanwhile, on cultural issues, the committee showed no inclination to temper its traditional views. Multiple references to the horrors of abortion and the sanctity of human life were inserted; a reference to “aborted fetuses” was changed to “aborted children”; opposition to “policies and laws that create a financial incentive or encourage cohabitation” was adopted. “A traditional two-parent household” was deemed best for children, and women’s “exemption from direct ground combat units and infantry battalions” was urged. (In a departure from 2012, however, the platform did not call for amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage; it urged instead that an amendment allow states to determine their marriage laws.) The platform condemned the Obama administration’s “edict to the States concerning restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities” for transgender people.
Tony Perkins, the head of the socially conservative Family Research Council and a delegate from Louisiana, pronounced himself exceedingly pleased with the result. “This is one of the most conservative platforms the party has ever had, and I didn’t think we could get more conservative than 2012, which was probably one of the most conservative platforms in our history,” he told me.
Can’t forget the 6,000 Year Old Earthers, gotta give them a tickle:
Teach the Bible as literature: The committee labored for a long time on Monday over whether to encourage public schools to teach the Bible as a literature elective. Ultimately, they decided that yes, public schools should do that. And on the subject of education, the committee decided to take a stand against early childhood education because, as one delegate put it, it “inserts the state in the family relationship in the very early stages of a child’s life.”
On the subject of religion, the delegates have reportedly included an amendment calling for the Bible to be taught in schools as part of “American history.” Maybe the Garden of Eden really is in Missouri, after all?
GOP Platform amendment calls for teaching the Bible as part of “American history”
and the Christian Taliban basically are in control of the GOP:
And while Republicans continue to warn about the non-existent threat of Sharia Law, their platform insists that religious law isn’t an option—it’s required.
The platform demands that lawmakers use religion as a guide when legislating, stipulating “that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights.”
It also encourages the teaching of the Bible in public schools because, the amendment said, a good understanding of its contents is “indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry.” Who interprets God-given, natural rights? Conservatives, of course, and their interpretation presents an incredibly strict, incredibly narrow, and quite detailed picture of what it takes to be a Real American.
The Republicans: Preventing Sharia Law, by imposing Sharia Law.
You get the idea. Sheesh, what a bunch of twats. The head twat is Kris Kobach, who you’ve probably never heard of, but he has some plans for you and me:
For years, Kris Kobach has led an effort to pull the Republican Party to the conservative extreme. But in this election cycle — as evidenced by the platform pulled together by him and his fellow convention delegates in Cleveland this week — he doesn’t have a presidential candidate who is going to stand in the way.
The Kansas secretary of state was on the convention committee responsible for finalizing the proposed planks of the Republican party platform, which the full convention delegation will vote on next week. Normally, the process doesn’t get wide public attention because the platform is seen as little more than aspirational, something for party activists to rally around as they ramp up for the general election.
Enter Kobach, a Trump supporter with some experience pushing the Republican Party to the far right. With a nominee who has isn’t steeped in movement conservatism and doesn’t much seem to care, Kobach and conservatives on the committee appear to have had a long leash.
Browser scraps your humble blogger was too damn lazy to make an entire blog post out of. Refund checks are in the mail, promise…
Drink Beer Like An Egyptian
I saw the traveling King Tut exhibit in Toronto as a kid, still remember how awed I was.
King Tut was buried with a dagger made of an iron that literally came from space, says a new study into the composition of the iron blade from the sarcophagus of the boy king.
Using non-invasive, portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, a team of Italian and Egyptian researchers confirmed that the iron of the dagger placed on the right thigh of King Tut’s mummified body a has meteoric origin.
The team, which include researchers from Milan Polytechnic, Pisa University and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, detailed their results in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.
Not at all surprised to find municipalities hiding their hands in the wet sand:
At least 33 cities across 17 US states have used water testing “cheats” that potentially conceal dangerous levels of lead, a Guardian investigation launched in the wake of the toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has found.
Chicago residents take action to be rid of lead pipes as fear of toxic water grows Read more Of these cities, 21 used the same water testing methods that prompted criminal charges against three government employees in Flint over their role in one of the worst public health disasters in US history.
The crisis that gripped Flint is an extreme case where a cost-cutting decision to divert the city’s water supply to a polluted river was compounded by a poor testing regime and delays by environmental officials to respond to the health emergency.
The Guardian’s investigation demonstrates that similar testing regimes were in place in cities including Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee.
Some Donald Trump supporters on 4chan–that time-honored bastion of gentility, courtesy, and sensibility– hatched a plan on the forum to use sockpuppet Twitter accounts to pit Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton supporters against one other. The plan had a slogan: “Let’s troll Bernie and Hillary supporters systematically.”
Their scheme didn’t really work, and has been removed from 4chan. But something like this could be effective in the future–and who knows, another instance of this same political game may be working elsewhere, undetected, right now.
If there was a hell, Ken Starr should be burning in it soon
Today it was Ken Starr—yes, that Ken Starr—taking his turn with his version of the truth. On Thursday, the regents said they were keeping him on as chancellor and as a tenured professor at the law school. That news, like so much else of what Baylor has said, got the Baptist university bad press. Today, Starr told ESPN’s Joe Schad that he has decided to step down as chancellor but stay on at the law school. Starr said the move was “a matter of conscience.” (He didn’t point out that June 1 also has in the past been a key date for his contract.)
At this point, Starr has decided he doesn’t even agree with the findings of fact released by the regents, which he can do because the finding of fact contained no facts.
Starr also has insisted that he had no idea there was a problem at Baylor until 2015, even though former Baylor football player Tevin Elliot was convicted of two counts of sexual assault in 2014. Several of his victims have spoken openly about how they reported their rapes to Baylor only to be met with indifference.
One of the world’s largest fast food chains, McDonald’s, is making plans to move to the former Harpo Studios campus in the West Loop, according to a report.
According to Crain’s Chicago, McDonald’s is in advanced negotiations with West Loop-based developer Sterling Bay to move its headquarters to a more-than 300,000-square-foot building the developer plans to build on Randolph Street at the former Harpo Studios in Fulton Market.
McDonald’s corporate employees are now located at a campus in suburban Oak Brook. The company was poised to take over 350,000-square-feet at One Prudential Plaza downtown last year before backing out of the deal, according to Crain’s Chicago, and also has office space in River North.
Suckers are born every moment, and anyone who votes for Trump is one. The world hopes there aren’t enough suckers to put Trump in the White House.
Before Donald Trump was the Republican nomination for president, he charged thousands of dollars for an education at “Trump University,” promising to share the secrets of his real estate investing success.
The only problem: Trump University wasn’t anything close to a university. It was a multilevel marketing scheme.
Students were lured in with a free 90-minute seminar. Trump University promised that the real insider knowledge, and even access to Trump himself, could be theirs if they could just commit to the next level of classes.
Representatives urged prospective students to charge the fees to their credit cards if they needed to, according to court documents — and promised that a few more thousand dollars would change their lives.
Instead, those students sued, saying Trump and his eponymous university defrauded them. The case has its final pretrial conference in May. When it goes to trial, Trump will almost certainly have to testify.
Not only are bookings at Trump Hotels way down, but there are also petitions for businesses to break ties with Trump. Like Starbucks:
Starbucks has suddenly found itself on the unfamiliar side of social activism: A petition is circulating online that demands the coffee chain, arguably among America’s most overtly political corporations, terminate any and all leases it holds on properties owned by Donald Trump. It’s racked up 7,000 supporters in less than a day and, at last glance, had already stretched that goal to 8,000.
On the page for the petition, posted to activist-networking site Care2, creator Kyle Brooks tries to clue CEO Howard Schultz and the rest of the company in to the paradox he sees:
Starbucks is a bold company that values belonging, inclusion, and diversity. They have continuously stood beside the LGBT community, African-Americans, and other minority communities. Unfortunately, Starbucks still has a business partner with a man who has called Mexicans rapists, stereotyped the Muslim community as terrorists, and disgraces women.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has taken out 16 loans from 11 different lenders, totaling at least $335 million, according to a Mother Jones analysis of Trump’s financial disclosure form.
His favorite lender, according to the forms, was Deutsche Bank, a major German institution with American subsidiaries that attempted to dodge new regulations instituted by the Dodd-Frank Act.
Deutsche Bank lent Trump at least $295 million between two major projects of his, Trump National Doral golf course and Trump’s hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. Trump also has two outstanding loans worth at least $50 million from the German bank.
While this country has had wealthy presidents, none have been so deeply in debt as Trump. How much pressure could an institution like Deutsche Bank, upon which a sizable portion of Trump’s wealth is dependent, pile on the Republican nominee should he become president?
“They weren’t in a situation where someone could put pressure on them to do what they want,” said Richard Painter, who was the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, to Mother Jones. “Whereas having a president who owes a lot of money to banks, particularly when it’s on negotiable terms—it puts them at the mercy of the banks and the banks are at the mercy of regulators.”
Humans can’t do without chickens. Chicken is the most popular meat today. Americans eat more than 80 pounds a year, more than pork or beef. So we tend to think people must have domesticated the chicken because it was good to eat, right? Well, no. Scientists now believe chickens were not domesticated to eat in the first place.
Every chicken you see on Earth is the descendant of the red jungle fowl, a very shy jungle bird that lives in south Asia, all the way from Pakistan to Sumatra and Indonesia. It’s a small, pheasant-like bird hunters like because it’s very hard to find, so it poses a great challenge. The strange thing is that these birds are so shy that when they’re captured in the wild, they can die of a heart attack because they’re so terrified of humans. So the question is, How did this bird, that is incredibly shy, become the most ubiquitous bird on Earth?
But when I started to dig into it, I discovered that the chicken has actually played more roles across human history, in more societies, than any other animal, and I include the dog and the cat and cows and pigs. The chicken is a kind of a zelig of human history, which pops up in all kinds of different societies.
If you go back to ancient Babylon, about 800 B.C., in what is now Iraq, you find seals used by people to identify themselves. Some of these have images of chickens sitting on top of columns being worshipped by priests. That expanded with the Persian Empire. Zoroastrians considered the chicken sacred because it crowed before dawn, before the light appeared. And in Zoroastrian tradition, the coming of the light is a sign of good. So the chicken became associated with an awakening from physical, as well as spiritual, slumber.
and finally one last tidbit, one that I was unaware of: roosters don’t actually have a penis!
Do roosters really have no penis?
This is true. And the odd thing about it, of course, is that roosters are the byword for the male reproductive organ. Yet they don’t have penises. Ducks and a lot of other birds do. But chickens are among those birds that don’t need a penis. When two chickens get romantic, they have a cloacal “kiss,” pressing their cloaca against one another. The reason the rooster has been for so long the symbol for sex as well as the male organ is because they’re randy creatures. They will mate continuously, and with different partners. In the ancient world, that was considered a sign of vibrancy and fertility. So they became associated with human sex.
In Puritan America, we tried to stamp the word “cock” out of our English language. It used to be you would call a weathervane a weathercock or a water spigot, a water cock. But in the 17th and 18th centuries in New England, people decided that they shouldn’t even use the word cock, because it was too suggestive. [Laughs] Luckily, it didn’t catch on.
Unsurprisingly, Rick Santorum’s understanding of science is just as piss-poor as his understanding about living in the 21st century, C.E.
There were lots of things to poke fun at in Rick Santorum’s anti-porn pledge, but the element perhaps most deserving of mockery has been widely ignored: his claim that “a wealth of research is now available demonstrating that pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences.”
You want to know what’s profound? How scientifically inaccurate that statement is.
Pornography surely changes the brain in some ways — but so does everything. “Watching the NCAA playoffs is going to change your brain, eating chocolate — any time you have any kind of experience, it’s going to change your brain,” says Rory C. Reid, a research psychologist at the Neuropsychiatric Institute at UCLA. “The real question is, ‘Are those changes substantial enough that there’s going to be some observable effect?’”
As to Santorum’s claim that such damning research exists, Reid says: “Well, if there is, I’d sure like to see it!” He continues, “There’s not a single study to my knowledge that has even demonstrated half of that [claim].” Allow me to put into perspective Reid’s expertise: He not only specializes in neuropsychology but he’s also one of the world’s top experts on hypersexual behavior. If any such evidence existed, let alone “a wealth of research,” he would have seen it.
Still, he humored me by logging onto PubMed, a database maintained by the National Institutes of Health, and doing a search for any studies involving neuroimaging and pornography. Plenty of related research showed up, but none reliably demonstrate “profound” brain changes. The problem with much of the research in this arena is that it’s limited to (in nerd-speak) cross-sectional and quantitative data — it doesn’t establish a cause and effect.
In order to reliably demonstrate such a brain-damaging impact, researchers would have to engage in the sort of study that no review board would approve — especially when it comes to the impact on children. “You would have to get a group of children that had never looked at porn and then divide them into two groups,” Reid explains. They would all undergo brain scans and then half would have to be repetitively exposed to pornography before another round of brain scans. In addition to then showing “that there had been changes in the brain that would be detrimental, you’d also have to correlate that with behavioral outcomes,” he says. (That’s not even mentioning the issue of how to define pornographic material. As David Ley, a psychologist and author of “The Myth of Sex Addiction,” says, “The Supreme Court couldn’t answer that, but Santorum can?”)
Joe Paterno, social conservative and proud Republican, was allowed to remain coach of Penn State long enough to break the record of most victories because Penn State valued the contribution of the football program’s revenues more than raped children, and that is shameful. In the 2009-2010 school year alone, Penn State’s football program reported revenue of $70,208,584 ((as reported to the U.S. Department of Education)) and profits of $50,427,645! ((Of course, student/athletes don’t get any of that cash – all they get is free tuition, another scandal if you ask me)) That’s the reason Paterno wasn’t fired in 2002. Or rather, $700,000 reasons, give or take. (( roughly $70 million times ten years))
The university’s most senior officials were clearly seeking to halt the humiliating damage caused by the arrest last Saturday of the former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Mr. Sandusky had been a key part of the football program, but prosecutors have said he was a serial pedophile who was allowed to add victims over the years in part because the university he had served was either unable or unwilling to stop him.
Mr. Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span, and two top university officials — Tim Curley, the athletic director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business — have been charged with perjury and failing to report to authorities what they knew of the allegations. Neither Mr. Paterno nor Mr. Spanier was charged in the case, though questions have been raised about if they did as much as they could to stop Mr. Sandusky.
On average, [the richest 68 college football programs] earned $15.8 million last year, or well over $1 million per game.
They posted that jump in combined profit even though revenue rose by only 6% to $2.2 billion. That means the schools had a combined profit margin of 49%, enough to make any pro team owner green with envy.
Increasingly lucrative broadcast deals and strong ticket sales have been driving revenue. And, of course, not having to pay your athletes gives big-time college football the ultimate business model.
After top Penn State officials announced that they had fired Joe Paterno on Wednesday night, thousands of students stormed the downtown area to display their anger and frustration, chanting the former coach’s name, tearing down light poles and overturning a television news van parked along College Avenue.
The demonstrators congregated outside Penn State’s administration building before stampeding into the tight grid of downtown streets. They turned their ire on a news van, a symbolic gesture that expressed a view held by many that the news media exaggerated Mr. Paterno’s role in the scandal surrounding accusations that a former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, sexually assaulted young boys.
“I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for JoePa going down,” said a freshman, Mike Clark, 18, adding that he believed that Mr. Paterno had met his legal and moral responsibilities by telling university authorities about an accusation that Mr. Sandusky assaulted a boy in a university shower in 2002.
Demonstrators tore down two lamp posts, one falling into a crowd. They also threw rocks and fireworks at the police, who responded with pepper spray. The crowd undulated like an accordion, with the students crowding the police and the officers pushing them back.
“We got rowdy, and we got maced,” Jeff Heim, 19, said rubbing his red, teary eyes. “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.”
Really, clueless college students? You are rioting because a child molester-enabler was eventually fired, years after he should have been? Disgusting. Are football victories really that important to your self-worth? More than protecting kids from being raped? I hope for your sake, you don’t post any photos of yourself rioting in support of this creep: future employers might not think your logic skills are sound.
Tony Auth’s take on Penn State’s priorities
Update: Elizabeth Gettelman of Mother Jones concurs:
Penn State did the right thing tonight when it fired its storied football coach Joe Paterno (and its president, Graham Spanier). But it’s pretty little, and it’s way late. Joe Paterno remained Coach Paterno for nearly a decade after learning that his former defensive coordinator had allegedly raped a 10-year-old, and for nearly a year after a grand jury investigation confirmed as much. In fact, he stayed coach just long enough to become the winningest coach in Division I college football history, a record he achieved two weeks ago, 11 months after said grand jury investigation (see page 8 referencing December 2010 interviews). Had his complicit role come to light last December would Paterno have had a shot at his record-breaking victory? If present outrage would have held, and it should have, then no, he wouldn’t have coached at all this season.
The timing is probably not a coincidence, and it’s illustrative. This whole hellstorm was swept under the rug for so long because of the money machine that is college football, a successful program with a superstar coach and a sterling reputation is money in the bank, and when you’re Penn State that’s $50 million a year kind of money.
and Mike McQueary should be drummed out of the coaching business for his cowardice:
Penn State wide receivers coach Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed Jerry Sandusky performing a sexual act on a young child in a Lasch Football Building shower in 2002…and didn’t intervene.
This detail is in the grand jury report about the scandal surrounding Sandusky and Penn State University.
I’ll start this by saying my knowledge of the law is limited, but I understand the idea of an accessory. Usually, however, the person is a witness to murder. In this instance, McQueary was a witness to an alleged rape.
And he left.
These are all things that McQueary has admitted. He must feel terrible, being that he was 28 years old at the time and did nothing. However, the thought that he physically walked away from a rape is disgusting.
An all time favorite blues. But what does the spoonful refer to? Heroin? or…
Howlin’ Wolf favored a sexual metaphor—or rather, he literalized one when he played the song in his shows. He’d grab a big cooking spoon that drummer Sam Lay bought him at a flea market and brandish it at crotch-level, engaging in blatantly phallic monkeyshines. Wolf would work this raunchy shtick no matter the crowd. On two occasions—a benefit for a black Little League team, the other the International Jazz Festival in Washington, D.C., before an audience of gowned and tuxedoed dignitaries—many were not amused. At the benefit, someone closed the stage curtains on Wolf to spare the kiddies the sight of him getting busy with a kitchen utensil.
Howlin’ Wolf recorded “Spoonful” in 1960, backed by a top-notch studio band comprising the guitarists Hubert Sumlin and Freddie Robinson, pianist Otis Spann, Fred Below on drums, and Dixon on the double-bass. But its origins, like those of several other Dixon compositions on Rocking Chair, go back several decades further. It’s adapted (loosely) from Charley Patton’s 1929 “A Spoonful Blues”, which derives from Papa Charlie Jackson’s 1925 recording, “All I Want Is a Spoonful”. The song’s tailor-made for Wolf; like his own “Smokestack Lightnin’” and “I Asked Her for Water”, it’s the kind of modal chant with which he crafted his incomparable brand of gripping drama.
Didn’t quite know what to expect from this documentary, though I was aware of the broad details of Polanski’s eventful life – Sharon Tate’s husband when she was brutalized by Charlie Manson, surviving concentration camps, and so on. Quite watchable, if a bit disquieting.
This penetrating documentary explores the tumultuous events of director Roman Polanski’s personal life, including the murder of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, and the controversial sex scandal that prompted him to flee the United States for France. Highlights include an interview with Polanski’s victim, Samantha Geimer, as well as candid conversations with Chinatown screenwriter Robert Towne and actress Mia Farrow.
The tragic story of Roman Polanski, his life, his suffering and his crimes, has been told and retold until it assumes the status of legend. After the loss of his parents in the Holocaust, after raising himself on the streets of Nazi-controlled Poland, after moving to America to acclaim as the director of “Chinatown,” after the murder by the Manson family of his wife and unborn child … what then?
He was arrested and tried for unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13- year-old girl, one of several charges including supplying her with drink and drugs. Then he fled the country to avoid a prison sentence and still remains in European exile for that reason. That is what everybody remembers, and it is all here in Marina Zenovich’s surprising documentary, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.”
But there is so much more, and the story she builds, brick by brick with eyewitness testimony, is about crimes against the justice system carried out by the judge of Polanski’s case, Laurence J. Rittenband. So corrupt was this man that the documentary finds agreement among the three people (aside from Polanski) most interested in the outcome: the defense attorney, Douglas Dalton; the assistant D.A. who prosecuted the case, Roger Gunson, and Samantha Gailey Geimer, who was the child involved.
Their testimony nails Rittenband as a shameless publicity seeker who was more concerned with his own image than arriving at justice. Who broke his word to attorneys on both sides. Who staged a fake courtroom session in which Gunson and Geimer were to go through the motions of making their arguments before the judge read an opinion he had already prepared. Who tried to stage such a “sham” (Gunson’s term) a second time. Who juggled possible sentences in discussions with outsiders, once calling a Santa Monica reporter, David L. Jonta, into his chambers to ask him, “What the hell should I do with Polanski?” Who discussed the case with the guy at the next urinal at his country club. Who held a press conference while the case was still alive. Who was removed from the case on a motion by both prosecution and defense.
The sharply argued documentary “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” isn’t about the innocence or guilt of its title subject, who after pleading guilty in 1977 to having “unlawful sexual intercourse” with a minor flew from Los Angeles to London, never again to return to America. Neither is it about Mr. Polanski’s likability, his tragic past, morals, short stature, brilliant and bad films, the sleaze factor or your personal feelings on whether there’s anything wrong with a 43-year-old man’s having sex with a 13-year-old girl. All these elements come teasingly into view here, but really this is a movie about a very different kind of perversion.
“Wanted and Desired,” which opened on Friday without advance press screenings, was bought by HBO at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Its one-week theatrical run will make it eligible for Academy Award consideration, though given that organization’s often pitiful record when it comes to nonfiction film, it seems unlikely that a movie this subtly intelligent would make its short list. That’s especially true because the director, Marina Zenovich, refuses to wag her finger at Mr. Polanski, even when presenting the sordid and grimly pathetic details of his crime, like the Champagne and partial Quaalude he furnished the 13-year-old girl and her repeated nos.
Mr. Polanski’s guilt isn’t in doubt, arguments about the age of consent notwithstanding. In March 1977, he was arrested at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and charged with raping the girl at the home of his friend, Jack Nicholson, the star of his film “Chinatown.” (Mr. Nicholson was away.) He was released on $2,500 bail and eventually indicted on six felony charges, including child molestation and sodomy. In August, after agreeing to a plea bargain, he pleaded guilty to one felony count of illegal sex with a 13-year-old girl. Her family’s lawyer, Lawrence Silver, told the judge that his clients were not seeking a prison term for Mr. Polanski, only an admission of wrongdoing and rehabilitation. By Feb. 1, 1978, Mr. Polanski had fled.
As Ms. Zenovich forcefully explains — using talking-head interviews, a wealth of archival material and generous clips from Mr. Polanski’s films, including “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Chinatown” — he had every reason to run. The story of what happened between the initial charges and his flight has been sketchily told before, including by his victim, Samantha Geimer, who in 2003 wrote a commentary for The Los Angeles Times in which she stated that she believed that he and his most recent film at the time, “The Pianist,” should be honored on their own merits. She added, “Who wouldn’t think about running when facing a 50-year sentence from a judge who was clearly more interested in his own reputation than a fair judgment or even the well-being of the victim?”
“Wanted and Desired” answers Ms. Geimer’s bombshell question with shocks of its own, notably corroborating interviews from Douglas Dalton, Mr. Polanski’s lawyer, and Roger Gunson, the assistant district attorney who led the prosecution. Together these two former opponents pin the blame for Polanski’s flight directly on the presiding judge, Laurence J. Rittenband (who stepped down in 1989 and died in 1994). Aided and abetted by an avalanche of fluidly organized visual material, the lawyers fill in the appalling details of what was effectively a second crime, one largely perpetrated by a celebrity-dazzled judge and the equally gaga news media he courted. This crime left two victims, Mr. Polanski, who was denied a fair trial, and Ms. Geimer, who was denied justice. As she wrote, “Sometimes I feel like we both got a life sentence.”
Interesting, if true. Eliot Spitzer’s rise and fall was an interesting diversion at the end of the Bush years. More details at the film’s website, but Andrew O’Hehir writes:
“Client 9” builds a forceful, if circumstantial, case around the disclosures that led to Spitzer’s downfall. Avowed Spitzer haters like investment banker Ken Langone, former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg and ex-New York Stock Exchange head Dick Grasso were clearly seeking any opportunity to take the governor down, and Langone has made murky comments to the effect that he knew about the prostitution scandal before the news broke. (See, a friend of his was in line behind Spitzer at the post office … No, really.)
Notorious right-wing political trickster Roger Stone has claimed to be the initial source who told the FBI about Spitzer’s dalliances with hookers (and he’s definitely the source of the scurrilous knee-socks allegation). Although Stone was an aide and confidante to state Sen. Joe Bruno, one of Spitzer’s biggest Albany foes, Stone says he heard about the whole thing on his own, at random, from a hooker in a Miami nightclub. (Given Stone’s background and reputation, that part of the story is strangely believable.) Add up all these billionaires, rogues and past and future indictees — along with a scandal-plagued Justice Department at the tail end of the George W. Bush era, eager to claim the scalp of a leading Democrat — and the whole thing looks overdetermined, as the Marxists say.
Nothing about this case is clear-cut, and we’ll probably never know for sure. (The official story, via the government and the mainstream media, is that the whole thing emerged from a routine money-trail investigation and Stone et al. had nothing to do with it. Not impossible, but not all that plausible either.)
The truth is, the Rethuglicans have perpetuated so many dirty tricks over the years that when a prominent Democrat is accused on any kind of impropriety, our immediate instinct is to suspect there is more to the story.
“We have probably 60 or so foreign multi-national companies in our membership that we have had for decades, many of which have been in the United States for half a century or a century,” said Josten.
The Chamber is being deceptive. In addition to multinational members of the Chamber headquartered abroad (like BP, Shell Oil, and Siemens), a new ThinkProgress investigation has identified at least 84 other foreign companies that actively donate to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6). Below is a chart detailing the annual dues foreign corporations have indicated that they give directly to the Chamber
But, if I were a teacher, I’d definitely bring in my humidifier and park it in the corner of a classroom. Leaving one humming in the background might just reduce the transmission of all those combined flu particles hanging, exhaled, in the air. Studies have shown that humidifying nursing homes reduces flu transmission – so it’s not just a theoretical benefit. So if you’re a parent, consider sharing this info, as well as the gift of a humidifier, with your kids’ teachers. You don’t need an expensive humidifier – in fact the types that simultaneously heat the air may lead to mold growth in the humidifier (something you definitely don’t want to be blowing into the air you breathe). A good old cheap type of humidifier that you dump out each day and refill is plenty good enough.
Two years ago today, Jonah Goldberg offered Juan Cole a bet: “Anyway, I do think my judgment is superior to his when it comes to the big picture. So, I have an idea: Since he doesn’t want to debate anything except his own brilliance, let’s make a bet. I predict that Iraq won’t have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I’ll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now). This way neither of us can hide behind clever word play or CV reading. If there’s another reasonable wager Cole wants to offer which would measure our judgment, I’m all ears. Money where your mouth is, doc
The notion that Tribune editor Gerry Kern would be offended is laughable and just goes to show you how lame the whole company has become – I mean, it was lame before, but at least in a less psychotic way. We get Corporate Lame. This is the jocks vs. the nerds and I can’t take sides in that crappy fight. I hated high school. I’m with the rockers, the burnouts, the misfits, the pranksters, and the smart and witty independent outsiders who don’t care about the prom, their SATs, or tattling about beer and sex. My god, when they came for the journalists there were none of us left!
I didn’t go to my high school prom either, can I join your club…
I know it is an ad for a probably inane film, but I still laughed.
Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone
Lens: John S
From IMDb: Four guys, one camera, and their experience chronicling the exhilarating and terrifying rite of passage: losing your virginity. As these guys help their buddy get laid, they’ll have to survive friends with benefits, Internet hookups, even porn stars during an adventure that proves why you will always remember your first
Rick Santorum would very much like to be president. For the past few years, he has been diligently appearing at the sorts of conservative events—the Values Voters Summit, the Conservative Political Action Conference—where aspiring Republican candidates are expected to show up. But before he starts printing “Santorum 2012” bumper stickers, there’s one issue the former GOP senator and his strategists need to address. You see, Santorum has what you might call a Google problem. For voters who decide to look him up online, one of the top three search results is usually the site SpreadingSantorum.com, which explains that Santorum’s last name is a sexual neologism for “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.”
Santorum’s problem got its start back in 2003, when the then-senator from Pennsylvania compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, saying the “definition of marriage” has never included “man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be.” The ensuing controversy prompted syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage, who’s gay, to start a contest, soliciting reader suggestions for slang terms to “memorialize the scandal.” The winner came up with the “frothy mixture” idea, Savage launched a website, and a meme was born. Even though mainstream news outlets would never link to it, Savage’s site rose in the Google rankings, thanks in part to bloggers who posted Santorum-related news on the site or linked to it from their blogs. Eventually it eclipsed Santorum’s own campaign site in search results; some observers even suggested it may have contributed to Santorum’s crushing 18-point defeat in his 2006 campaign against Bob Casey.
I’ll admit to remembering, with somewhat guilty pleasure, that I read every word of the Starr Report and related texts when it was dominating the American news back in the late 1990s. Seems like so long ago, but it really wasn’t. The show trial was so obviously partisan even Republican rubes in the office I worked at during this time admitted as such. We still talked about it a lot during our “water cooler” moments.
At the end of “The Death of American Virtue,” Ken Gormley’s tough, labyrinthine account of the legal nightmare that beset Bill Clinton’s presidency and led to his impeachment trial, Paula Jones takes stock. Ms. Jones, the woman who accused Mr. Clinton, then governor of Arkansas, of sexual harassment and saw her lawsuit snowball its way to the Supreme Court and take on constitutional ramifications, complains about “the mud they’d drug me through” and about being called trailer-park trash. “I never lived in a trailer in my life,” she says.
In a book that will surely rivet those willing to revisit such byzantine material, the legal handling of Ms. Lewinsky emerges in a new light. Mr. Gormley provides a detailed account of her initial entrapment by investigators from Mr. Starr’s office and raises serious procedural questions about how she was treated. Lured to a mall for a lunch date by Linda Tripp, who in this book sounds even more troubled and delusional than she used to, Ms. Lewinsky was ambushed by agents and essentially held hostage in a hotel room while they tried to extract information from her. The book provides participants’ accounts of this showdown and describes the agents’ efforts to dissuade Ms. Lewinsky from calling a lawyer. The agents would later insist they had not tried to frighten or browbeat her.
“So if I was allowed to call a lawyer, why didn’t I?” the sharp-sounding Ms. Lewinsky now asks Mr. Gormley. “Period. End of story. I’m not that stupid.” This book startlingly claims that a report critical of the conduct of the agents, who were eager to discuss the minutiae of Ms. Lewinsky’s sexual behavior, has been withheld from the public for reasons of privacy — their privacy. It contains many a bombshell of that magnitude.
So will I read this book? Probably yes, eventually, though I’ll wait until it comes out in remainder bins first. The whole affair was so juvenile in retrospect, especially when contrasted to the lack of impeachment proceedings against George Bush for much worse crimes than lying about receiving a blow job or two.
This book’s readers will quickly think of water. Facts overwhelm you like Niagara. And when you’ve finished reading about President Clinton and special prosecutor Ken Starr, you may want to take a long shower. Gormley, a professor of law at Duquesne (Archibald Cox), reviews the entire sordid business of Clinton’s foolishness and his enemies’ efforts to bring down his presidency. It’s not an edifying tale. Very few of the book’s cast come off well, except for Secret Service officials and a judge or two. If there’s a sympathetic character, it’s Susan McDougal, who refused to rat on her friends. Starr makes error after error and confuses vindictiveness with duty. While not altering the basic story in any way, Gormley gains much from effective interviews 10 years after with participants and his use of newly available documents. While his book is too long, Gormley remains in control of the details, and this riveting first look at events that only future history will put into full relief shows how affairs of sex and enmity can become affairs of state. 24 pages of b&w photos.
Ten years after one of the most polarizing political scandals in American history, author Ken Gormley offers an insightful, balanced, and revealing analysis of the events leading up to the impeachment trial of President William Jefferson Clinton. From Ken Starr’s initial Whitewater investigation through the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit to the Monica Lewinsky affair, The Death of American Virtue is a gripping chronicle of an ever-escalating political feeding frenzy.
In exclusive interviews, Bill Clinton, Ken Starr, Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones, Susan McDougal, and many more key players offer candid reflections on that period. Drawing on never-before-released records and documents—including the Justice Department’s internal investigation into Starr, new details concerning the death of Vince Foster, and evidence from lawyers on both sides—Gormley sheds new light on a dark and divisive chapter, the aftereffects of which are still being felt in today’s political climate.