Slump, Meet Anger. Slump, Watch Out.

My training malaise is still hanging tight, so I intend to find a way to channel my growing rage at the Congressman Anthony Weiner sex scandal to get my ass in gear.  For those of you who are blissfully unaware of the latest bad behavior by a member of the US Congress, here’s a quick summary in my own words.  Democrat Anthony Weiner of New York sent a picture of his erect penis bulging through his boxer briefs to a 21-year old college student who followed him on Twitter.  He mistakenly sent it over his public timeline rather than as a direct message and in the time between his realization of what he did and deleting it, some crazed troll who watches the accounts of politicians which they oppose had nabbed the photo and sent it to troll-overlord Andrew Breitbart, a far right-wing gadfly who roots out left-wing mistakes and hypocrisies and then publicizes them (way to use your power for good and not evil, shithead). When confronted by the media after the Brietbart exposé, Weiner lied his ass off for TEN DAYS that he’d been hacked, etc., etc., etc.  This past Monday, he held a press conference and confessed that yes, he had in fact sent the picture and even worse, weirder and MORE DISGUSTING, confessed that he has been doing this for years with at least a half dozen women.  Oh, but don’t worry, I am really sorry, my wife loves me and we’re going to stay together and I plan on not resigning my seat in Congress, because I didn’t do anything illegal, just completely objectionable and possibly deviant.

Are you puking yet?

Get ready to: the media just outed the news that his wife Huma Abedin, the smart, talented, glamorous and powerhouse right-hand woman to Hillary Clinton, is pregnant.

Go ahead.  Puke now.  Aim your projectile vomit at the media for not staying the hell out of that very personal piece of business.  I have been close to where Ms. Abedin is now and I cannot even imagine what it must be like to have the entire world know about the avalanche of cursed circumstance that has come down upon you.  She should call up Sandra Bullock or Maria Shriver or the ghost of Elizabeth Edwards.  Even though I didn’t agree with Hillary’s decision to stay with Bill, perhaps her counsel will offer some latent projection and she will tell her to get out.

I find myself particularly enraged with this whole mess for a number of reasons, even though I also agreed with many of the sentiments that Maureen Dowd brought up in her Op-Ed on this very topic.  I want to be clear that I am not a prude nor a moralizer.  I am a realist and a feminist and a mature adult.  So while I understand that human beings are extraordinary at making terrible decisions that complicate their lives when if they had paused for thought for maybe 10 more seconds beforehand all would be averted, I will NEVER understand the bald-faced lying when they get caught as a result of their impulses!  (Made the bad decisions, but I personally have not lied in regards to the consequences of said bad decisions.  I have however, denied myself the self-respect to express true feelings in the vain hope I was not hurting another.  Lessons learned, will never do again.)

Much is being made of whether or not he should resign, a charge for the “not” being led loudly by Rachel Maddow, mostly with the partisan angle that Republican Senator David Vitter was caught being a client of a madam in DC and patronized brothels in Louisiana for years (prostitution is illegal remember?), but no one, Republican or Democrat got any traction with calls for resignation, not to mention he sold his candidacy on family values and he was reelected.  She is right.  But for me, I still think Weiner needs to step down, because of the lying, and ironically, that we know now the personal info about his wife’s pregnancy.  My thoughts on this were crystallized in this brilliant post from New Yorker writer Amy Davidson.  She argues that his inability to understand that his actions, while not illegal like Vitter’s, do not properly estimate levels of risk, and isn’t that what a politician is elected to do?  She writes,

That is why it is, sad to say, a matter of legitimate interest that Weiner’s wife was pregnant when he sent those tweets. It widens our sense of just how careless he is with the lives of others, particularly those of people who are more vulnerable than he is. That is good to know about a politician; it is distinct from the question of whether someone who lies to his wife will lie to the public and, I’d argue, is more important.

So, if he lies to his wife, the thinking goes, he is going to lie to his constituents.  Funny, he was a co-sponsor on the legislation that I support and have been to Capitol Hill twice to lobby for.  Was he just lying to us too?  Imagine if the media spent the same amount of time, energy and resources to rooting out the near daily corruption scandals and collusions between our elected officials and the lobbyists and corporations who care only about money and not people?  Imagine if we were not hearing about the sad and personal circumstances that Ms. Abedin now faces, but rather how if we just raised the income limit on Social Security from $106,000 to oh I don’t know, $200K, it would be funded for like another 100 years.  Did you even know about the limit??

But you know all about Weiner’s peen.  It’s gonna take a lot of miles for me to forget about it.

I’m Just A Bill: Getting Ready for the Hill

US Public Service Academy Youth Conference 2010 was a study in grassroots gumption, all volunteer and many peanut butter sandwiches.   Since 2008 the grant money that kept an office open for us and Chris working on the Academy full time and supported by a compliment of super incredible interns ran out.  And we had a new Congress to introduce the bills to.  And our champion in the Senate became the Secretary of State.  And our Republican Co-Lead in the Senate switched teams and became a Democrat.  And the economy melted down.  And health care debates seemed endless.  And wars raged.  And Haiti crumbled.  And the Gulf drowned in oil.   All of the sudden, we found our bills being sidelined for way bigger issues, and the irony continued to be that so many of the agencies directly involved in administering to these civilian needs were being revealed to be run by the inexperienced, the inept and the unethical.  So what did we do?  We organized a pay-your-own-way conference to come to DC and lobby for the Academy.

Wednesday morning, I arrived on a red-eye which is about as glamorous as ditch digging.  I collected one of our volunteers at the airport and on we went to meet the rest of our gang at George Washington University.  Handshakes for the newly introduced and big hugs for those of us on the 2nd or 3rd time around.  We got checked-in, ate lunch and found more caffeine, then hustled over to our meeting rooms for introductions, lobbying prep and to hear our speaker for the evening, retired Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia.  I was impressed to count about 40 of us all together and got super-energized hearing the intros from all the students and grad students who had come to join the cause.  I breathed a sigh of relief that we have some very smart and inspiring young people coming up behind us and felt honored to be their mentor for a couple days.  Tom Davis gave a great speech and as he promised, made me cry, then made me laugh really hard while we took some photos and ultimately, left us all feeling pumped for our meetings the next day.

On Thursday morning, I joined our lead conference coordinator, Amy, for a run around the monuments.  We were joined by Andrew, a Teach for America teacher about to start his second year of the program in Missouri. He is considering law school and fell into the Academy tractor beam when he sought out Shawn, also a TFA alum and an attorney.   Amy is a Peace Corps alum and seems to have walked out of the pages of the Perky and Spunky Catalog.  She is a MORNING PERSON (!) in every sense, yet is gifted in the ability to be magnetic rather than overbearing.  She is organized and flexible, very quick to a joke, and, girl after my own heart, leads and delegates with confidence.  We peeled off from Andrew and she took me to the good, local coffee place where I found a coffee geek to make me something not taste like coffee.

We cleaned up  and headed to the Hill.  My group was a little quiet on the way over, I couldn’t figure out if they were still asleep or nervous.  The overwhelmingly humid walk from the Metro the Rayburn Building perked everyone up, if only to commiserate on the heat.  Then, some unexpected fun.  The entrance we chose to Rayburn just happened to be right next to a live hearing room where Rep Henry Waxman from California was holding a meeting of the Energy and Commerce Committee which just happened to be waiting on the Republicans who were late so an intern ushered us in to the gallery.  The Waxman was talking about a bill which would specifically change the testing requirements and maintenance for blow-out preventors on off-shore oil wells.  Nice!

Click to enlarge. Rep Barton is seated directly to the right of Rep. Waxman

The Republicans joined and all members started making statements in reference to the bill.  Chris pointed out to the students that Rep. Joe Barton of Texas was on the committee and he was recently the center of much public ire when in another meeting of this same committee a few weeks prior apologized to the CEO of BP for the US government, specifically the White House forcing BP to pay $20 billion in to a clean-up fund for the spill.  He said it was a “shakedown.” Needless to say, his colleagues were not amused and there he was right in front of us, doing his committee work.  The kids were digging it.

And then off to Jim Moran’s office, and a lot of waiting…

I’m Just A Bill: Here’s the Intro

I am totally, unapologetically, emotionally, proudly American.  I don’t know how I got this way, especially considering the fact that I was born while Nixon was president and went down in scandal, soon followed by heavy-handed-politically-correct liberal governing, which was then kicked in the gut by the deregulation of everything, which of course brought upon more scandal and polarization and war and deficits and double-speak and chaos in our government.  I am guilty of romanticizing our past and glossing over the tedious details and fights and politicking and general horrors that went into getting laws passed, wars ended, or regulations enacted.  But even still, I love the process of how it all works from the campaigns to the bill signings and all the pomp in between.  And even though I have been this way my whole life, I have only recently taken the leap to be a part of the process.  I am a late bloomer ’til the very end.

The leap I took happened about three summers ago when I was driving home from work one day, listening to NPR, when an interview came on with two guys about my age talking about these bills they had before Congress to create a US Public Service Academy.  Basically it would be a civilian West Point: students would go to this undergraduate Academy and be educated and trained in civilian policy, programs, and leadership and upon graduation they would give back five years in a public sector job in education, health care, emergency management, law enforcement, etc.  I was so taken with the idea I didn’t even realize how much time had passed and was shocked to find my car engine was off.  After running in the house and emailing these two geniuses, I knew my life had just changed and I was now part of the process.

Last week I got to go to Washington DC for the third time to work with Chris Myers Asch, Shawn Raymond and high school and college students from all over the country to meet with our Senators and Representatives to promote the US Public Service Academy Act and make this institution a reality.  It must also be said, again and again, that this is entirely volunteer, entirely grassroots and entirely awesome.  We are not funded by any big underwriting and the grant money ran out, so I turned to my family and friends to send me to DC this time.  And oh my God did they come through in a huge way!  Through the donations from my peeps, I was able to get to the conference, wrangle students, head to the Hill and lobby it up.

Being a part of this movement has never felt more natural to me, even in the face of all the super-accomplished, multi-degreed, well-traveled, Ivy-covered academics, lawyers, professors, PhDs, a few Tracy Flicks that always surround me and my big wide eyes in DC.  I may not have the multitude of letters behind my name, but I have that uniquely American thing going for me: I believe I can do and be whatever I want and right now, I want to make this bill pass.

On we go.