Jewish World Review June 27, 2003 / 27 Sivan, 5763

Jay D. Homnick

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The Tempest (not "The Taming of the Shrew") | A tempest has roiled the House of Stewart. No more torrential rain has fallen on its reign since Martha bought a four-door car and rendered the Tudor obsolete. Apparently, she had become too much of a legend, which drew the attention of Lore Enforcement. They went looking for her line of merchandise and found it at Target, at 45K Martha and at Wall Martha.

At least when they went after Oprah, they were suitably civil. For Oprah it was a plain tiff. She was spurred into action and leaped into San Antonio. As much as those ranchers beefed, their evidence was lacking in red meat. The jury gave them no award and Oprah got an Emmy. But the prosecution of Martha is just criminal. Yes, Oprah stood up to the art of the stew, but can Martha win freedom?

Methinks that this lovely lady pro is being tested too much. This is not about justice. This is just US — the government overreaching. And it is just us — the man off the Street trying to take pot shots at Martha's recipes for success, pushing her from the frying pan into the fire.

It seems a barbaric ritual, verging on human sacrifice. The U.S. Attorney is trying to humiliate her — to put her in stocks, to lead her away in bonds, to foreclose her options, to call her out and put her away for an infraction at best marginal. Her co-defendant, standing accused in the stock aid, is her poor schnook of a broker, who had been working merrily, merrily on her income stream and now is getting lynched.

What grave crime of commission is attributed to this kid? Nothing different than what every insecure salesman of securities has always done, humping stocks up Wall Street and dumping stocks down Wall Street. The king of the FCC and his men can yell themselves hoarse, but the fine art of brokerage primarily consists of convincing the client that you KNOW the stock will move, that the fix is in. In fact, most financial advisers try to convey the impression that "If it ain't fixed, we don't broker it".

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Yes, just US. The FBI were once called Feebs only in slang, they used to scoop up bad guys like a Hoover, they diligently nabbed Dillinger, they stopped Pretty Boy Floyd from breaking out, they aborted Ma Barker. On the TV show based on their exploits, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. apprehended various strata of outlaws with as much grace as his father played the Stradivarius.

Lately, this panache has worn a bit thin. They found a gem in Richard Jewell for the Olympics bombing while Eric Rudolph circulated for seven years, until he was brought down by Murphy's Law. Then they lost their Luster into Mexico, where the Max Factor heir lived off liquid assets until he was absorbed by a brawny bounty hunter. The Unabomber had an explosive reaction every time he visited his sketch in the Post Office, but in the end was caught not by the pros but by his prose. ("This is a heavy writing style." "He's not heavy, he's my brother.")

Tim McVey was only tagged because a trooper spotted an expired tag, and the first World Trade Center bombers were corraled because they came to get their money back for the rental van. (As one wag said, they were Islamic refund-amentalists.) Remember, too, botching the wackos in Waco and creating a Greek tragedy with a Koresh. The sharpshooters at Ruby Ridge were sharp as tax; it cost the taxpayers millions to compensate Mr. Loony Tune Weaver for killing his wife.

It has gotten to the point where the Bureau can't seem to find its own drawers. And speaking of drawers, who did that sketch of Kaczynski that looked like the marquee for West Side Story? Now these crack detectives have finally cracked a case more challenging than a crack house: they have cornered the great criminal mastermind of modern times, Martha Stewart ! And not even for the trading, but for misstatements to the FBI. Indicted for inditing?

Just US, my friends, not justice. Stewart dethroned because she didn't cram well? No, don't cart her away, show some magnanimity.

Then, too, just us. Us trying to pull down ten dollars an hour and Martha Stewart. Us trying to spite our strict boss at the construction site by enforcing strict construction of the rulebook, looking up from our manual labor to belabor the manual. Us trying to bop Martha with our lunch pail. Us trying to shrink her by throwing her in the money laundry. Us trying to cut her down to size because we don't like the size of our cut. Friends, our Martha worked her own way up, no one gave Martha a farthing, this thing is far too insignificant to bring her back down. If she became an idol, it wasn't by being idle.

It doesn't behoove the FBI to pester our decent citizens. Nor does it become us to build our self-esteem engine by smoking the successful. Let justice be blonde. Let's throw in the towel (Martha will throw the towel in to the deal for free). That would be big of US. That would be big of us too.

JWR contributor Jay D. Homnick is the author of many books and essays on Jewish political and religious affairs. Comment by clicking here.


06/16/03: Iraq and roll
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04/23/03: The Nutrasweet War against the Axis of Evil: Did Rummy forget?

© 2003, Jay D. Homnick