Sentencing Sexting

On Monday former Congressman Anthony Weiner was sentenced to spend 21 months in federal prison for sexting with a minor.  He broke down and cried when the sentence was delivered.  Weiner, who had pleaded guilty to the offense, also was fined $10,000, will have to register as a sex offender, and will be subject to three years of supervised release after his prison term ends.

anthony-weiner-e4a324c0-fc5d-49b2-ac42-0b7f99f8b6e5Weiner’s lawyers had argued that he should receive only probation, contending that the case involved unusual facts and circumstances and that Weiner had made “remarkable progress” through participation in a treatment program for the past year.  After the sentence was announced, the lawyers contended that the punishment was more severe than it had to be.

The federal judge explained her sentence by noting that sexting with a minor is “a serious crime that deserves serious punishment.”  She added that Weiner’s notoriety was an significant part of the sentence — because people have paid attention to his conduct and his case, the sentence provided an opportunity to send a message that could change lives.  And Weiner could have received even more prison time.  The offense to which he pleaded guilty carries a maximum prison term of 10 years, and the sentence imposed by the judge was at the low end of the range suggested by federal prosecutors.

I think the judge got this one exactly right.  Weiner’s record of repetitive misbehavior shows an escalating pattern, and his conduct with the 15-year-old girl was reprehensible.  And it is important to use the sentence to send a message, on several levels — it not only notifies people that sexting with a minor will be sternly punished, but also shows that the politically powerful are subject to justice to the same extent as the rest of us.  In a time when politicians seem increasingly to live in their own secure little bubbles, distant and disconnected from the real world, the message that they will be held accountable for their illegal actions is an especially important one.

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Provocative Junk Mail “Re” Lines

We have a “junk mail” filter at work.  Most of the time, the filter just moves what is obvious spam into a “junk mail” folder without me looking at the email or doing anything to it.

donald-trump-money-worth_2015-11-16_19-44-39Sometimes, though — for reasons not known to me — particular junk mail will make it through the filter and be brought to my attention under the heading “Incoming Message Quarantined by Web Reputation Monitor.”  I’m not sure whether the filter concludes that such emails are more likely to be legitimate, or because they come from more plausible email addresses, or some other reason.  In any case, I recently got one of those messages, checked to make sure that the email wasn’t sent by somebody I know, and then stopped dead when I saw the “re” line:  “Trump reveals groundbreaking secrets to triple your income.”

Of course, I didn’t try to open that spammy email . . . but I have to admit I was sorely tempted.  Aren’t you curious about what income-tripling tips “Trump” might offer?  Tips like:  Be sure to inherit millions from your parents?  Become a reality TV show star?  Contribute to the political campaigns of every candidate for every office, regardless of their party affiliation, so you have ready access to the levers of power?  Make liberal use of the American bankruptcy laws?  Invest in “Man Tan” franchises?

Having seen the Trump income-tripling “re” line, I found myself thinking of other spam email “re” lines that would just be too tantalizing to pass up.  Here are a few that I came up with:

“Hillary Clinton’s Guide to Data Security and Personal Ethics”

“Rappers and Buddhism:  A Perfect Combination”

“Choosing A Soul Mate The Anthony Weiner Way”

“Personal Humility in the NFL”

I’m sure there are others.

Anthony Weiner Turns Up, Again

Just when you think — and fervently hope — that we’ve finally heard the last of Anthony Weiner, he turns up in the news again.  He’s the proverbial bad penny on the national political scene.

160922-anthony-weiner-featureWhen the world learned recently that Weiner was “sexting” with a 15-year-old girl, I didn’t write about it because, frankly, I think enough attention has been paid to a guy who is obviously a disturbed and narcissistic loser.  He clearly wants attention of some kind or another, so why feed the creep’s ego?  But now the investigation into Weiner’s texting with an underage girl has shaken up the presidential campaign, just when we thought it was about over.  In their investigation of Weiner, the FBI seized his laptop, as well as his iPad and cell phone — and yesterday FBI director James Comey sent a letter to Congress stating that, in that unrelated investigation, the agency found emails that relate in some way to their investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email practices.  The New York Times is reporting that the FBI found tens of thousands of emails involving Huma Abedin, a long-time Hillary Clinton aide who is married to (and now estranged from) Weiner.

There’s not a lot of information about the emails on Weiner’s server.  Comey’s letter to Congress says only that he felt he needed to supplement his prior congressional testimony that the investigation into Clinton’s email server was completed, that the FBI has now learned of emails “that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” that Comey had been briefed on the findings, and that he agreed it was appropriate for agents to determine whether they contain classified information.  The letter concluded that the FBI can’t yet assess whether the emails on Weiner’s laptop are significant, or when the FBI will finish reviewing them.  

So we don’t know much about the emails right now and, given the pace of the FBI’s prior investigation, we probably won’t know much more until after the election is over — which is why some people are criticizing the FBI director for calling attention to the issue at all.  The disclosure obviously roiled the presidential campaign at a crucial time, with less than two weeks to go.  I would note only that I appreciate the fact that the FBI director obviously takes his obligation to truthful in his testimony to Congress so seriously.

I’m not going to speculate about what might, or might not, be found in the emails.  I’m just going to groan at the fact that we have to hear about Anthony Weiner, again — and hope that we don’t learn that this creepy, apparently sex-obsessed jerk had any kind of significant national security information on his laptop.  Anthony Weiner is about the last person I’d want to have access to sensitive information.

Weiner Rolled

Here is some good news:  disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner limped home to finish fifth in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary, getting less than 5 percent of the vote.

Why is it good news?  Because it not only shows that voters have good judgment, it hows that maybe — just maybe — we’ve gotten past the point where politicians and sports figures and celebrities are immediately forgiven by the American people simply because they appear in public and express regret for their appalling actions.

Weiner was repeatedly confronted by disgusted voters during his campaign, he was forced to admit that he had continued his misconduct even after he resigned from Congress, and he sank like a stone in the polls.  He was (or should be, at least) further embarrassed by his ill-advised reentry into politics and held accountable for his bad behavior, his previous lies, and his stunning willingness to expose his wife to even more humiliation.  (And, to top things off, another disgraced New York politician, Elliot Spitzer, also lost in his attempt to get back into politics.)

Some people may think these comments are unfair piling on a man who is down, and we should forgive and forget.  I understand that perspective, but I am fed up with people who abuse the public trust and then trade on their misconduct to achieve heightened fame and fortune and end up making jokes about their prior misdeeds on late-night talk shows.  I hope no network offers Weiner a “news” program in hopes that his notorious status will attract viewers.  I hope Saturday Night Live doesn’t recruit him to host a show.  I hope no reputable publisher will print a sugar-coated confessional.

I’m perfectly content to let Anthony Weiner live his life — but he should do so out of the public eye, without constantly looking to benefit from his past errors.

Weiner Comes Cleaner

Hey, that Anthony Weiner sure was a busy and hard-charging fellow!  He’s now admitted that, even after he resigned from Congress in disgrace for lying about sending sex-soaked texts, he sent additional sex-related photos and texts to a woman he met on-line.

That’s exactly why Anthony Weiner would be such a great Mayor for New York City!  When he’s decided on a course of action, he’ll continue to pursue it, no matter the devastating consequences!  And, unlike some of the old fogey candidates in the race, Anthony Weiner knows all about social media.  Why, he even uses social media sites few people have heard of, like Formspring.  Who better to identify with the youth of New York City than someone so adept at delving into all of the ways that the internet can be used for meaningful interpersonal communication?

Well, his wife Huma Abedin — who’s also a politico — says she’s forgiven him for his many indiscretions and worked hard to put their marriage back together.  They’re moving forward, she says — so why shouldn’t New York City move forward with them?  C’mon, Gothamites — how can you hold anything against a guy who’s apologized multiple times for engaging in weird, self-destructive, bizarro behavior?  If he’s elected and makes the kinds of mistakes that mayors typically make, you can at least be sure that he knows how to apologize for his stupid stunts.

It is an absolute embarrassment not only for New York City, but for anyone in America, that a person like Anthony Weiner is running for mayor of a major American city.  He was actually contending in some polls before these most recent revelations.  Seriously, how can anybody even be considering voting for this guy? Doesn’t character count for anything anymore?  Wake up, NYC!

Hoping For More Heckling

I’m not generally a fan of heckling, except when I am.  Take, for example, the pointed questions being posed to Anthony Weiner, who has launched an ill-advised campaign for Mayor of New York City.

What a surprise!  Some people think Weiner — the jerky former Congressman who tried to intimidate and lie his way out of a sexting scandal — is unfit to lead America’s most important city.  It’s hilarious that Weiner wants people to focus on his “ideas.”  How about this for an idea:  New Yorkers are entitled to a Mayor who isn’t a bald-faced liar.

The Politicker report linked above reports that the New Yorkers attending a candidate’s forum posed two really good questions:  first, why is it that every candidate for Mayor of New York City needs to apologize; and second, why don’t people like Weiner who have had their chance and disgraced themselves have the decency to get out of the way and let some new voices be heard?  I think those are eminently fair questions.  I hope New Yorkers keep asking those questions, again and again and again, until Anthony Weiner does the decent thing and slinks back into the anonymity he so richly deserves.

Voting For A Liar

Anthony Weiner has declared that he is running for Mayor of New York.  You’ll no doubt remember him.  He’s the former Congressman who sent compromising photos of himself via text message, then lied about what he had done and kept stringing out the lie, to an increasingly skepticism, until finally he was forced to admit the truth and resign.

He says he’s learned his lesson, and he wants to get back into the fray and fight for the people of New York.  But why would any voter want to pull the lever for a politician who showed such contempt for voters that he stuck to obvious falsehoods until it no longer become possible?  Who would believe him?

The New York Daily News story linked above says that Weiner may be a formidable candidate, because he has lots of money left over from his campaign war chest when he resigned from Congress.  I refuse to believe that money is going to cause voters to forget that this is the same guy who was serving in an important office only two years ago when he decided that lying to the electorate was in his best interest.  I hope I’m not wrong.

As far as Weiner himself goes, I think his decision to run for Mayor is pathetic.  If he had any class, he would retreat to a private life — but the pathetic thing is that he can’t.  Whether it is because he has nothing else that he really can do, or because he craves the limelight, or because he has a war chest and figures he may as well spend it, Weiner can’t resist opening himself and his wife up to intense ridicule.  He deserves it, but his wife doesn’t.  If he had any class and decency, he would recognize that.  That he apparently doesn’t recognize it also says something important about why this guy should never be the Mayor of a major American city.