Politics: May 2011 Archives

As many Americans avoided the news over the long holiday weekend, those watching the social networking site Twitter saw a fascinating story unfold involving a liberal congressman and a photo of a clothed but discernibly turgid body part that was broadcast publicly from his verified Twitter account and addressed to a young lady to whom he is not married.

In case you missed it, on Friday night a lewd photograph was sent from the Twitter account of U. S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) to an attractive female college student from Washington state. Weiner initially claimed that his account -- an account that has been verified by Twitter as genuinely belonging to Weiner -- was hacked. Despite this claim of identity theft, Weiner has not sought the assistance of law enforcement in finding the culprit.

The tweet in question contained the handle of a single Twitter user (known as a reply or mention) followed by a link to a photo on Weiner's yfrog account. (yfrog is a service that provides a simple way to upload a photo and share it onTwitter.)

I'd rather not describe it in detail, but the photo would qualify as a display of nudity under Oklahoma law, although the body part in question was somewhat clothed.

Blogger Ace of Spades took the lead in covering the story, on his own blog and on his Twitter account, pointing out the holes in Weiner's claim that the photo was the result of a hack, challenging Weiner to take the matter to the FBI or congressional computer security officials. As a "reward" for his persistence, Ace has seen the story brushed off and his own work dissed by conservative commentators in the mainstream press.

To my pleasant surprise, however, CNN has given the story some coverage. On Tuesday, Weiner, who is married to a former assistant to Hillary Clinton, finally deigned to be questioned by the press about the photo, but he didn't bother to answer any of the questions, as you'll see in the CNN video below. Kudos to CNN's Dana Bash for grilling Weiner and refusing to be satisfied with his lame non-answers.

To put this in context, last week there was a special election in New York's 26th Congressional District occasioned by the resignation of Christopher Lee, married Republican congressman who sent a shirtless photo of himself in response to a woman's Craigslist personals ad, evidently looking for an extramarital affair. When the picture came to public attention, Lee quit in disgrace.

(Someone will object that Republicans believe in family values, so Lee was a hypocrite and deserves more condemnation than a Democrat up to the same or worse. But I've never heard of a Democrat candidate for office defend extramarital affairs or sending lewd photos to strange women.)

For my Tulsa readers, Weiner's performance is the equivalent of Kathy Taylor's "That is crazy" response to evidence in computerized election board records of her double-voting in Florida and Oklahoma in the November 2000 general election. The denial didn't come for hours, during which time her team could have ascertained that the physical evidence linking her to double-voting no longer existed. Weiner's non-denial denial suggests that he believes evidence still exists that would finger him as the culprit.

Weiner has over 40,000 Twitter followers but followed only 91 Twitter accounts as recently as April. That's not an unusual ratio for a celebrity, as Peter Ingemi notes in a New York Post op-ed:

Coincidences all, but there's one more that millions of Twitter users will understand best: On Twitter, famous people tend to have tens of thousands to millions of followers -- but they themselves follow only a fraction of that amount. Rep. Weiner is a man of national prominence, a rising star in the Democratic Party, frequently on TV, a past and likely future candidate for mayor. He knows and is known by thousands of movers, shakers, members of the press and politicians on the city, state and national levels. Yet, as of yesterday, he was following fewer than 200 others -- and, with all those famous folks to choose from, one of the few he followed was Cordova, a 21-year-old college student who lives nearly 3,000 miles away in Bellingham,Wash.

The target of the lewd photo, an attractive female college student who tweeted a joking reference to Weiner as her "boyfriend", was one of those handful of follows. By following this young woman, Weiner made it possible for her to send him private direct messages (DMs) on Twitter. Karol Markowicz makes the case that it's likely Weiner intended to send his coed Twitter pal a DM but failed:

If you're not a twitter user, you may not be aware how easy it is to accidentally send a private message as a public broadcast. Here's my friend Iggy asking his 3614 followers if we're on for lunch tomorrow and here's his correction later. Here's reality star Lisa Vanderpump wishing someone well and her correction. These are just two examples in the last few days. It happens all the time. It's happened to the best of us.

That's why it was clear to most regular twitter users exactly what had happened. Congressman Weiner meant to send the photo privately but made the same mistake as Iggy and Lisa--with slightly worse-off consequences.

Back in February, Weiner promised to change his profile picture to his bar mitzvah photo when he had gained 10,000 followers. But he assured his Twitter followers at the time that he wouldn't go further than that.

Clearly the Jewfro is working. Nearly 10k followers. If i hit that ill post my Bar Mitzvah pic. #dontworrynobrispicsat20k

Despite that promise, it appears that on Friday Rep. Weiner provided his more than 40,000 followers evidence that the covenant ceremony had indeed been performed.

MORE: Blogger Doug Ross has put together a comprehensive timeline of the story and Weiner's intriguing Twitter connections.

STILL MORE: Stacy McCain boils it down -- one consequence or the other is true and either way the story matters:

CONSEQUENCE A: An influential member of Congress has been the target of a disgusting,criminal and perhaps politically motivate smear attempt, involving the illegal penetration of a government official's private communications; or

CONSEQUENCE B: An influential member of Congress, married to a key aide to the Secretary of State, has been engaged in surreptitious sex-messaging online and, when this sordid activity was exposed, has initiated what can only be called a "cover-up attempt."

Browsing through a copy of The Happiness Project at the airport bookshop, I encountered the phrase "aspirational clutter," the stuff you don't need but keep around because represents some project or plan you hope to accomplish (but very likely won't). Consider this a yard sale of blog entries and news articles that turned into aspirational clutter in the form of browser tabs; perhaps someone else will find them useful:

Michelle Malkin: Finding Marizela: The maddening quest for a missing young person's online/text info: People young and old, especially young, leave behind a long trail of digital tracks, but the trail isn't readily accessible when a young woman vanishes.

I have two tabs containing a friend's Facebook notes on political topics. Is it allowable to blog about someone's Facebook notes? Should what happens on Facebook stay on Facebook?

Ed Stetzer: FIRST-PERSON: The May 21 phenomenon & a lesson for all Christians: The forecast and fizzled apocalypse inspires a look back at May 19, 1780, when New England's skies turned dark from smoke and fog and many thought the end was at hand. What should a Christian do in light of the end? Be about his Father's business:

The Connecticut legislature was unsure if they should meet or go home with their families and face the end. They would have to bring in candles to conduct even the most basic business. But, Abraham Davenport (later made famous by a poem) stood up and expressed it clearly. He stood up and proclaimed:

"I choose, for one, to meet Him face to face, No faithless servant frightened from my task, But ready when the Lord of the harvest calls; And therefore, with all reverence, I would say, Let God do His work, we will see to ours. Bring in the candles!"

Davenport was not embarrassed or ashamed that the King might suddenly return. He was waiting and ready -- if this was the moment, so be it. Yet, for many Christians and churches, they have been unengaged in Kingdom work, so the return of the King is bad news -- so, suddenly, they want to "look busy."

You don't need a billboard with a date. You need a passion to live for a soon-returning Savior. I'm not the model on this by any means, but I will be here, doing the same thing I had planned because that's what I think Jesus would have me do.

I want to live ready in light of the soon return of Jesus, not acting like a nut because someone said He is coming back tomorrow. Honestly, I think that is part of why Jesus says, "no man knows the day or the hour." It's because we don't have to think, "Jesus is coming! Look busy" because we have been living in light of His return.

Timothy Dalrymple: A Letter to Harold Camping and Those Who Expected Judgment Day: "Your heart was in the right place.... You were right to believe that God will, one day, gather his children unto himself and draw history as we know it to a close.... You were right to spread the warning.... Our faith is not placed in a person or in a prediction, but in the good news of Jesus Christ.... No one knows when the end will come-so we must always be ready. ... We should remember the difference between scripture and an interpretation of scripture.... We should always beware the power of charismatic leaders and groupthink to sway our beliefs.... Finally, we should never believe that we've got God figured out...."

Hot Air: Is the Rapture schadenfreude turning sinister?: "Despite Camping and his followers being an extremely small fringe group, the media has covered this story as if the entire Southern Baptist church made this prediction."

Christianity Today: Should Christians Care about Harold Camping, May 21, & Doomsday?: A round-up of more commentary on the end of the world

Volokh Conspiracy: Nine Puzzles of Space and Time: Brain teasers involving time and geography. For example:

"I am located in one of the 48 states in the Continental U.S. If I go 90 miles in a straight line, regardless of direction, I will have needed to move my watch one hour ahead to keep it set correctly." In what state was Art?

Mark Steyn: The unzippered princeling and the serving wench: Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the special dispensations reserved for the Great Men of the Permanent Governing Class. And here's Ace of Spades' commentary on the Rights and Privileges of the Ruling Class:

The New Aristocracy isn't made by blood but by credentials. The aristocracy is "born" in each countries two or three most elite schools, and the formal induction into the class occurs in key international/financial government bureaucracies.

And then?

Then you can stop paying taxes with no fear of the consequences the commoners face, and you can forcibly rape (or, actually, sodomize) the help and know that an entire nation's aristocrats will defend you and criticize those lowly prosecutors who charge you.

It has always been the case that the nobility in one country supported the nobility in other countries, even countries with whom they were at war, because national ambition is always well, well secondary to personal ambition. Perpetuating the rights and privileges of the new class is more important to the members of the new class than any transitory policy goal.

Don Surber: They don't want you to travel: Government energy and security policy seem designed to take away Americans' cherished mobility.

John Piper: Thoughts on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment: An irenic and solid case for upholding the definition of marriage, despite the reality of sin and brokenness in marriage. Point 2 puts homosexuality in the broader context of disordered sexuality. Point 3 address the relationship between God's law and human law: "Not all sins should be proscribed by human law, but some should be.... there are many sinful behaviors that should not be illegal." Point 4 addresses the legal significance of marriage, leading to the crux of the issue in point 5:

The issue is not whether same-sex unions are permitted, but whether they are institutionalized. The issue is not whether we tolerate same-sex relationships, but whether we build on them as a foundation for society. The issue is not whether we forbid a particular sin, but whether we mandate social approval of that sin. The issue is not whether we block a sinful behavior, but whether we imbed it in our laws.

That's a few tabs cleared away....

An op-ed by Sullivan appeared in the Sunday, May 8, 2011, Washington Examiner.

Sullivan addresses the connection between the price of gas and the obstacles placed in the path of domestic oil and gas exploration by the Obama Administration. He writes:

The best way to moderate gasoline prices is a consistent source of oil and gas -- and not from foreign countries but from our own backyard.

The offshore energy potential of the United States is about 44.4 billion barrels of oil and 183.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to government estimates. That's enough oil to power 60 million vehicles for almost 25 years and enough natural gas to heat 60 million American homes for 57 years. It is also more than enough to reduce our imports by more than one-third.

However, this administration's energy security policy is to increase the cost of energy for American consumers and to shut the door on new exploration. Officials reversed a 2010 decision to expand offshore energy explorations, and have instead proposed no new exploration in new areas of the Outer Continental Shelf until at least 2017....

Obama's proposal to help lower prices? Remove long-recognized business and operational deductions (similar to deductions for all business and individuals). This will not lower fuel prices, but will actually result in higher costs for consumers.

This kind of logic makes you wonder if the president will tax grocery store owners more because food prices are up. Increased taxes increase the cost of doing business, and when the cost of doing business increases in any industry, those costs are passed on to the consumer.

Sullivan doesn't address his NATGAS Act -- about which more, later -- except in passing and by implication. ("House Republicans will bring up several pieces of legislation to undo that damage caused by the Obama administration's anti-American energy agenda....")

He makes an important point about removing deductions. Deductions are not subsidies. We tax businesses based not on their revenues, but on their profits -- income minus expenses. The tax code defines (in excruciating detail) what constitutes a legitimate business expense and how certain special expenses are treated (acquisition of capital equipment, for example, which is depreciated over several years rather than written off as a one-time expense). How a given piece of capital equipment is categorized -- e.g. three-year depreciation vs. seven -- can have a big impact on a small company's tax bill.

President Obama vowed to find the evildoers who are driving up the cost of energy, which brings to mind O. J. Simpson's vows to find the real killer. (Both of them seem to expect to find the culprits on the golf course, judging from the amount of time they spend there.) Mr. Obama needs to look in the mirror. His energy, budget, and monetary policies are driving up the cost of food and the cost of going to work, a regressive tax on the low-to-middle-income families he says he most wants to help.

May 4, 2011: I'll be on the air with Angel Clark on WGMD 92.7 at 8 pm Eastern (7 pm Central) Listen online at wgmd.com.

Business had taken me to Dover, Delaware, and Friday morning on my way to work, I heard a news story about the upcoming Delaware Republican State Convention. I had been wondering what to do with my weekend, had considered a trip into DC or Philadelphia, but hadn't been in touch with friends there to make any plans. It's always interesting to me to see how politics are done in other places. And given the fuss over last year's GOP Senate primary (Mike Castle vs. Christine O'Donnell), I thought there might be fireworks between the party establishment and Tea Party activists. (I was wrong about that, as it turns out.)

So I looked up the GOP convention on the web, made a call to GOP headquarters (which is in Wilmington, the state's largest city, not Dover, the state capitol) to put my name on the list, and then got in touch with Angel Clark, talk radio host and the state's top political blogger -- I met her and her husband last fall at FreedomWorks' BlogCon -- to see if they planned to attend. (As it turned out, they did, and I enjoyed getting an expert local view on the political scene.)

Although the First State is tiny, and the GOP hasn't had much success there in recent years, its Republican organization has the same representation on the Republican National Committee and the quadrennial national convention rules and platform committees as bigger and more Republican states like Texas and Oklahoma. So what happens at this Delaware gathering has national impact.

Delaware Democrats hold a 26-15 majority in the State House and a 14-7 majority in the State Senate. All of the state's congressional delegation (2 senators, 1 representative) are Democrats, as are all but one of the statewide elected officials. Only 29% of voters are registered GOP. Democrats are as dominant in Delaware as Republicans are dominant in Oklahoma. Regarding redistricting, one convention speaker said, "Unfortunately, we're in the party that has absolutely no say."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from May 2011.

Politics: April 2011 is the previous archive.

Politics: June 2011 is the next archive.

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