Representative Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) resigned from the House of Representatives this week following an email flirtation with a woman he met after responding to an ad in the “Women Seeking Men” section of Craigslist. Sadly for him, the woman also knows how to use Google to look up people’s names, and how to send emails to Gawker.
See the Gawker reporter who broke the story.
And while it’s remarkable what 24 hours can do to damage the life of a politician with high libido, low impulse control and a camera phone, I want to – instead – look at one particular sentence that the Washington Post wrote in their article covering the incident:
“The familiar cycles of a Washington sex scandal were compressed into a blur of tweets and news alerts.”
Investigators are still trying to determine exactly why Jared Lee Loughner allegedly killed six and wounded 13, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, at a supermarket in Tucson. Gun control is usually debated when mass shootings occur, but they don’t usually cause significant changes in gun laws. Whether or not the shooting was politically motivated, this should be a moment when Americans should look at ourselves and ask, “Why are guns so important?”
I’m not talking about a debate about gun laws, though that’s important, too. I’m talking about exploring why guns are so important to so many Americans. It’s not enough to say, “Guns are a part of our culture.” Why are they and violence a part of our culture? In a country where there is a gun for nearly every person, why are some people resistant to reasonable restrictions for firearm purchases? Why do some people feel the need to carry guns on them all the time, like Texas Gov. Rick Perry who carries a handgun while jogging? What motivates these men in Northern Virginia, a relatively high income, low crime area, to think that a criminal with a gun is around every corner, and therefore feel they must openly carry guns on their hips?
I always got the feeling that machismo influences some of the more vocal and passionate guns rights supporters. Guns are powerful. They can extinguish lives. What better way to show strength than to hold that lethal power in one’s hands or strap it to one’s waist? The need to show that strength and power indicates a fear of something. Maybe it’s an insecurity about oneself. Maybe it’s fear of the government or fear of the guy down the block. Michael Moore explored the link between guns and the “fearful heart and soul of the United States” in his film Bowling For Columbine. Until we examine and confront that fear of the unknown, often fueled by imagination, guns will continue to be plentiful and there will be more shootings like the one in Tucson.
Lastly, a sad bit of irony: One of the first pieces of business for the new Congress this week was to vote on the repeal of healthcare reform. That, along with other House business, has been postponed because of the Tucson shooting. Many of the same congressmen who want to roll back healthcare reform support laws that allow the easy purchase of firearms. We have to re-evaluate our priorities. As a country, we need to figure out why so many feel that providing healthcare for every citizen is an American nightmare, but the reality of firearms for nearly every citizen is an American ideal.
Proposition 8 – that banned same-sex marriage in California – was overturned in federal court, but it will may be a while before gay and lesbian couples will be walking down the aisle. [SFGate]
“You vote in favor of something if you believe it’s the right thing. If you believe it’s the wrong thing, you vote no.” Sounds simple, right? Not in Congress, and sadly, not when it comes to giving additional healthcare to first responders and others affected from dust and debris due to the 9/11 attacks. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) passionately sets Congress straight.
Hef the activist? A documentary premieres this month that paints Playboy founder Hugh Hefner as a Civil Rights Activist. Skeptical? Check out this article and let me know what you think below. [The Root]
The Appleseed Project teaches participants how to shoot targets at 500 yards just in case the “revolution” comes. Where does this fear of Teotwawki (the end of the world as we know it) come from? [New York Times Magazine]
Cheerleading may be competitive, but it will never be a sport. [Double X]
When public figures break the law or do something very bad, forgiving and forgetting can be two very different things.
Two weekends ago, Chris Brown tried to resurrect his career and redeem himself in the eyes of the public with a tribute to Michael Jackson at the BET Awards. The performance was almost a year to the day since Brown pleaded guilty to one count of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, pop singer Rihanna. The first half of Brown’s performance was a dance tribute to Jackson. The second half was Brown weeping to Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror.” He was supposed to sing the song, but Brown appeared as if he couldn’t hold back his tears. I say “appeared” because there are allegations that the tears weren’t real.
Another redemption story came to an end a few hours after Brown’s performance. Robert Byrd – the longest serving U.S Senator in history – died that Monday morning at age 92. Byrd was in the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940′s, voted against Thurgood Marshall’s appointment to the Supreme Court and filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Then in the late 1960′s, Byrd had a turnaround on race. He supported the creation of the Martin Luther King National Holiday and endorsed Barack Obama for president. How’s that for a switch? A former Klan member endorsing the man who would become the first black president.
Also that same weekend, the world mourned (again) over Michael Jackson’s death. One year after he died, the media and some of the public rehashed the King of Pop’s life, death and money. Though he was never convicted of anything, the allegations of child molestation followed him for over a decade. Those allegations along with the years of strange behavior - we all know he did, so I won’t list the incidents here – made the Michael Jackson who died into someone different from the one who made hit records. There was one Michael Jackson who was a megastar performer in the 1970s and 1980s and became one of the most famous performers on the planet. Then from about 1993 until his death, he was another Michael Jackson: the guy who once a megastar, but did a lot of weird things and was accused of molesting kids.
Sarah Palin’s and Barack Obama’s very different styles and appeal illustrate the contradiction Americans have about our leaders. Some people like Joe the Plumbers. Others like elites. Others like the two wrapped up into one.
Palin, who has said she’s thinking about running for president in 2012, blew away the Tea Party Convention crowd in Nashville for a price of $100,000. What unique brand of folksy does the Tea Party get for 100-grand? She delivers lines like, “How’s that hope-y, change-y stuff working out for ya?” and writes on her hand. (You’d think with all that money, she could just remember the four concepts she scribbled on her palm.)
On the other hand (pun intended), Obama’s State of the Union speech last month was just the opposite of Palin’s folksy speech. There were the customary two introductions of the president and 91 ovations, including 58 that brought Congress – at least some of them – to their feet. Kings, queens and dictators get that type of adulation.
In case you haven’t heard, Question No. 9 on the 2010 U.S. Census, which will begin to be mailed on March 15, asks “What is Person 1′s Race?” One of the choices is “Black, African Am., or Negro.”
The antiquated word “Negro” has apparently been on previous census forms. (I can’t remember the census form 10 years ago. Does anyone know if it was on the 2000 form?) Bureau spokesperson Shelly Lowe is quoted in theGrio saying census questions were tested and using Negro “outweighed the potential negatives.” Another Census Bureau spokesperson Jack Martin said in this New York Daily News article, “Many older African-Americans identified themselves that way, and many still do..Those who identify themselves as Negroes need to be included.”
This is why Americans have such a low opinion of politicians.
CNN filed a report about the back room deals needed to get Democrats to pass a filibuster-proof health care bill in the Senate. Take Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska. He was the last senator to agree to vote for the bill. What did this Democrat get for his state? The Federal Government will pay 100% of Nebraska’s share of Medicaid funding for all low-income Americans.. indefinitely!
The CNN story goes into detail about several deals like this. When pressed on the issue of back room dealing, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said about the bill, “If they don’t have something in it important to them, then it’s — [it] doesn’t speak well of them.”
It doesn’t? It doesn’t speak well of our representatives to vote for the bill solely because they believe in reforming healthcare? I’m definitely not a part of the Tea Party movement, but their line about corruption in Washington begins to ring true when the Senate Majority Leader says this at press conference.
Government handouts to states or districts in exchange for votes shouldn’t be business as usual.