One of these weeks, I swear that I will get back to my serial satire Salmonella Springs. In the meantime, today's post will be scattershot as I write about several issues. Each is worth a separate blog post, but considering how many celebrities seem to be dying this summer (Karl Malden? I keep expecting to hear Patrick Swayze's name next) and other weird events (the sex lives of politicians being exposed for public consumption), I better leave the next week open for possible major news stories to write about.
First item is a blog I've come to read nearly every day (http://www.dogwalkmusings.blogspot.com/) by a writer in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (where I hope to have a summer home some day when I'm a successful novelist). I agree with her views on most things, but there was one blog post she wrote where people's comments irritated me, so I left a couple comments myself. She had written on a member of Congress who asked for a minute of silence to honour Michael Jackson. Of course, people debated whether he was "worthy" of such distinction, with someone piping in that we should honour the troops who die every day with a minute of silence.
The problem I had with that view is a problem I have with a lot of views of people who don't know the day to day details of Congress. Since I interned in the U.S. Capitol building for four months in 2000, I saw a lot of the things most Americans are clueless about. But, its to be expected. You can't really know things unless you've experienced or seen it for yourself. I've been blessed to have had that opportunity as a young man. So essentially, I said that it was not out of the norm for a member of Congress to honour a distinct constituent in his or her district. It happens all the time on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Honour is given for any number of events...from the winners of the Little League World Series to the National Spelling Bee Champion, etc. Besides, if Evel Knieval, Dale Earnhardt, and Pat Tillman could get a mention by a member of Congress with a minute of silence, why shouldn't Michael Jackson? Whether you love him, hate him or are indifferent, you cannot deny that he was the biggest global superstar of our lifetime. He truly transcended race, gender, nationality, religion, ethnicity. He's what you would call a global citizen, where every nation wanted to claim him as one of their own.
The above photograph shows a front page of a book that is published and distributed every day on Capitol Hill. It is called The Congressional Record. It is basically a transcript of everything that is spoken on the House and Senate floor for that day. When I interned on Capitol Hill, I was shocked by the speed and volume (so much paper!) of this document. The print is a bit small and there are two columns on a page (like a newspaper). Its not the kind of publication that you would read cover to cover. Its mainly for the historical record and to use as a reference. I think I have a copy saved in one of my boxes for souvenir's sake. Not only does it include elaborate speeches on any given issue by members of Congress, it includes little tributes to various people you never even heard about (the above sample is about a barbecue restaurant, for pete's sake!). I see these tributes as a nice gesture. I wish people would understand that Congress isn't always debating the controversial issues of the day or voting. Its also giving speeches and recognizing various Americans (famous and not) for their deeds.
When I interned in D.C., there was one member of Congress (James Traficant of eastern Ohio) who gave loony one minute speeches every day that he included on his webpage (before he was indicted for bribery and other financial racketeering charges, if I'm not mistaken. The rumour was that he had mob ties). He would pick some strange things to talk about (for example, in one, he criticized CBS for canceling the popular TV show Touched By An Angel). His one minute speeches were basically rants about stupid stuff and he always used the expression: "Beam me up!" and would end it by saying something like, "I yield the violence and profanity back to the immoral Hollywood producers." And yes...his one minute speeches are part of The Congressional Record. Congress considers this daily publication to be a historical document. It is the reason why Congressman Dennis Kucinich read his articles of impeachment against President Bush and Vice President Cheney on the House floor a few years ago. He knew that Congress put impeachment off the table, but he wanted it in The Congressional Record for the sake of history. It is one thing he did that I am quite pleased about.
So, please, people. Let some member of Congress ask for a minute of silence on behalf of her famous constituent Michael Jackson. It truly is not a big deal. Anyone who makes it such does not understand our Congress.
This past week, the news reported that former aide to John Edwards, Andrew Young (not the Civil Rights leader) has sent a book proposal to literary agents and publishers. So much for loyalty. He supposedly received some money from the campaign which doesn't take a genius to figure out was "hush money" to go along with the "cover story" that he (and not Edwards) was the father of Rielle Hunter's baby. Despite being married, Young agreed to have Edwards' New Age mistress move in with them for awhile. When money changes hands, you know something is up. Even more suspicious was when Hunter refused to get a paternity test for her baby. Why would a woman NOT want to know who the father of her baby is? It was so obvious that she was trying to protect Edwards, because according to Young, Edwards had led Hunter to believe that he would marry her after his wife died. What a callow asshole Edwards turned out to be!
That's not all. Another bombshell in Young's book proposal is that he had discovered a sex tape in a box of videos from the campaign. Unbelievable, but not really surprising. I still can't get the image of Edwards looking into the mirror and preening his hair like a Breck girl (which you can find on YouTube. The background music is "I Feel Pretty"). I'm not really shocked that Edwards would make a sex tape with Hunter because he seems like the narcissitic type who loves watching himself. I bet he even has a mirror over his bed. According to Young, Hunter was shocked that Edwards didn't mind making a sex tape and it told her how reckless he was with his personal life. Duh! The guy was running for president and he knew damn well that Clinton's sexcapades with an intern cost Gore the presidency (without the scandal, I have no doubt that the election would have been won by a larger margin in Gore's favour).
As one who still dreams of being a political aide someday to a politician I admire, I can tell you that I am a pretty loyal person but I won't go to jail for the politician. I would see as part of my duties to be the Jiminy Cricket voice of conscience if the politician ever attempted to do something that violated his best interest. More people should be that way. Or more politicians should seek out a conscientious aide like me. I am glad that Andrew Young has decided to write about the part he played in the campaign and cover-up. Edwards might cry foul for being betrayed...but who's he kidding? He betrayed his family, his marriage vows, himself, his career ambitions in public office. The last person he should be angry at is a former aide who decides to spill the beans.
A voyeuristic part of me hopes this video will be available online. John Edwards, porn star! His New Age girlfriend is probably screaming like a banshee: "you're so hot! you're so hot!" Honestly, Elizabeth should dump him and take him for all he's worth.
In other news, the above photo is of the Sanford family that I found online. Governor Mark Sanford gets my vote for "Republican Father of the Year Award." He has four young sons. What did he do for Father's Day this year? Well, while his wife took the boys to the beaches of South Carolina, he was down in Buenos Aires ("I want to be a part of B.A. Buenos Aires. Big Apple," Madonna sang in Evita) crying in the arms of his Argentine lover. How do you explain that one to the kids? Gee dad, I want to be just like you when I grow up!
Since he's been back, news has come out that his spiritual counselor spoke about the Sanfords participating in an intensive couples group (a form of retreat therapy with several couples that is big in some evangelical circles). He's also being compared to King David in the Bible (of course!) and talking about how to redeem himself from this kind of sin. Governor Sanford has so far resisted calls to resign, making speeches with religious overtones about how God supposedly wants him to work through his personal crisis by remaining as Governor since resigning to devote time to himself would be considered the easy way out. What a loser. I hate when people use God that way. It only fosters cynicism about spirituality.
But its common in the South and one of the things I hated about living down there. People tend to prefer candidates who are open about their faith, even though their religious views should have no bearing on the office they hold. However, if someone was private about his or her faith, Southern voters would less likely vote for that person. They prefer someone who is talky about their faith (even if their actions are the complete opposite) than one who is private about faith (but whose actions show an admirable ethical background).
The other thing I hate is that evangelical Christians give Republican politicians a pass at adultery, even as they demand that courthouses around the country display the Ten Commandments or accuse Democrats of not having "family values." Its hypocritical. Even worse, conservatives claim to be against gay marriage because they believe that allowing gay people to marry would undermine heterosexual marriages. Um, I think hot Argentine women have a greater chance of undermining heterosexual marriages than two men (or two women) marrying one another. Seriously...does Melissa Ethridge's marriage to her girlfriend cause Governor Sanford's marriage to fail?
Fortunately, though, Governor Sanford's name can effectively be eliminated from the 2012 pool of Republican sacrificial lambs who will face President Obama's reelection campaign. Its interesting how so many Republicans lately have sabotaged their own presidential ambitions. A few years before 2008, there was talk that Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee would make a run in 2008. Then he lost credibility with the whole Terri Schiavo situation (as a doctor, he watched a video of the comatose woman and made a diagnosis that argued for prolonging her life after nearly 20 years of being in a vegetative state). After he left Congress (in 2006?), he devoted time towards offering medical care in the developing world. I was actually impressed when I heard about his new calling in life. He was a conservative ideologue in the Senate, but is now doing truly important work for people who most need help in our world. That's all I ask of conservative politicians...enough with the mudslinging and holier than thou attitudes despite skeletons in your closet. Just stop calling Democrats immoral and live your values for once.
The other person who got a lot of mention for a possible 2008 run was Senator George Allen of Virginia. He was running for reelection to the Senate in 2006 when someone caught him on video calling an Indian-American (that means heritage from India, not Native American) "macaca." The video went viral and in the magic of today's YouTube / Myspace / Facebook (and now Twitter) world, it was a case of a single word ending a distinguished career. If he couldn't win reelection, what was the point in running for president?
Which brings me to the sore loser, Senator Norm Coleman. On Tuesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court followed the precedent made by local courts and election board that certified Al Franken as the winner of the 2008 Senate race. Earlier, Coleman had vowed to go to the Supreme Court of the United States if he had to, but after Minnesota's Supreme Court ruled, he finally conceded defeat. I'm surprised that he went this long and wasn't embarrassed about it. I hope people everywhere will make a baby wahhhhhing sound anytime they see him. He deserves to be remembered as a crybaby and a sore loser. The irony is that Republicans seemed to encourage his fight through the courts, yet just eight years ago, they were calling Gore a "Sore Loserman."
There is a reason, however. I've read speculation online that Rush Limbaugh was the person behind Coleman's refusal to concede defeat. The rightwing hate Al Franken with a passion. Its not surprising. In his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Franken gives point by point facts against claims made by Limbaugh, Coulter, and his biggest nemesis Bill O'Reilly. In fact, O'Reilly seems to go apoplectic anytime Franken's name comes up.
This defeat for Coleman, though, is karmic retribution. In 2002, the most liberal member of the Senate died in a suspicious plane crash just weeks before the election. This was deja vu to another Senate campaign in Missouri two years earlier (Mel Carnahan was killed in a plane accident just weeks before the election. His dead body still managed to defeat incumbent Senator John Ashcroft. Yes, that Ashcroft!). There is speculation online that the plane might have been sabotaged so that it would crash because Senator Wellstone was the biggest opponent of Bush's push for an Iraq War vote and he was expected to run for president in 2004. His funeral was criticized for being too political, but according to Franken, who was a personal friend of the Wellstones and spoke at the funeral, he said that the soul of Wellstone would have loved the political debate his funeral inspired. Wellstone was in my Top Five of favourite Senators. I loved his brutal honesty, which was matched by his fiery passion and personal integrity. He's probably the opposite personality of Senator Harry Reid (the epitome of a wimp).
In the aftermath, the DFL Party (Democrats Farming and Labor) of Minnesota trotted out former Vice President Mondale to run for Wellstone's seat, but he lost to Coleman, who was a friend of Bush. I remember reading jokes about how pathetic it was for Democrats to humiliate poor Mondale with another political loss. It was a bad thing to do to him, but the people of Minnesota were the ones who gave Wellstone's Senate seat to a guy like Coleman. Now, Franken gets to assume Wellstone's seat in the Senate. Whoo-hoo! Celebration time! Gosh darn it, you're good enough and people like you!
What's to come of Norm Coleman? Well, what can you say about a guy who lost the 1998 Governor's race to a feather boa-wearing professional wrestler (Jesse "The Body" Ventura) and the 2008 Senate race to a former Saturday Night Live comedian? Maybe he should try stand-up!
Crazy week. Politics rarely gets this good on a monthly basis...but we get all this in one week? Beam me up! I yield these lying, hypocritical, sex addicted adulterers and cry babies back to the Republican Party where they belong (and Edwards, too!). Put that in The Congressional Record.