June 1, 2011

On Penthouse Letters and Conservatives Snorkeling in the Sewer: Take My Word For it, You Never Get Rid of the Stink


For many days now, the Right/Libertarian side of the blogosphere seems to be consumed and obsessed with 1) what may or may not be a Democrat congressman's underwear-clad penis and 2) to whom a photograph of it may or may not have been sent. It's an unseemly, distasteful, and an ultimately meaningless obsession. Yet it seems to be impossible for many otherwise smart bloggers to let go of this particular congressman's penis.

In addition it would seem that many people as commenters or bloggers risk having their "Conservative in Good Standing" Nametag taken away if they don't choose to swallow the tweeted penis whole and stay on it until they receive full satisfaction. Sounds a little messy to me, sort of like humping, pumping and dumping a stock, but what do I know?

At this point the drive to see who can be the bigger dick in the whole matter has come to the point where the following 'good question I just thought of' seems to be of such turgid moment that it is fit for an email blast:

" Did Weiner ever sext others, particularly minors like the high school girl he followed for a time?"

That's a very sleazy line and reveals just how deep into the sewer everyone seems to have submerged. It's become a game of political "gotcha" that has got out of control and has spattered sewage on all who have touched it.

Long ago and in another universe, I worked for Penthouse Magazine. Everyone, even those who never read it in its glory days, knows Penthouse rose to "fame" in large measure on the back of the "Penthouse Letters."

The classic question I am always asked whenever this part of my odd "career" comes up is invariably: "Are the letters real?"

My answer is, invariably, "Yes insofar as they are delivered to the magazine by an official member of the US Post Office. Whether or not they refer to sexual adventures that actually happened is something we didn't really know."

Except that in cases of "fads in the letters" we always knew. And there were fads.

There were fads in letters about three/four/five-somes. There were fads in letters about bondage and discipline and new saddles for pony girls. There was a very memorable fad for letters about "monopediamania," a term we coined for the strange attraction that growing numbers of readers/correspondents, even those in the prisons, claimed they had for women who were missing one or more limbs.

Yes, it was grisly. Yes it was distasteful. Yes it sold magazines. And so we just tossed all the letters into the tiny office inhabited by the newest and most junior editor and let her wade through them all and pull out the choicest, wettest, and most fetid giblets of prose for subsequent publication.

In like manner it would seem that, first for the right and then for the left, the endless "Just askin'" questions, the meticulously written out timelines, the intense examination of the penis in question, the returning and returning to the subject like a dog returns to his vomit, has become a kind of "approved by the Right" witch-dick hunt.

The entire penis pumping crusade is a classic case study in the devolution of discourse. It's a get-even moment. It's a "I'm not talking about the penis but about the HYPOCRISY!" moment! It's the always tiresome and been-done-to-death "If a Republican had done this..." moment. And it's utterly and continually revolting.

It began as a kind of sophomoric obsession by playing with the name of the congressman involved and it has ended with many otherwise sane and even-minded bloggers just fondling with each other's postings, coming up with questions they'd like to feed to the MSM since they have no power or access or stature to do it themselves, and drilling down into the mire well below snorkel depth. And every hour some one or another of these pearl divers seems to bob back up to the surface with some new semi-solid Baby Ruth-shaped object which they brandish in the air like a trophy.

The problem with the whole sordid and fetid mess is that no matter what the outcome it won't be possible to wash off the stink for a very long, long time.

What will these heroes of truth, justice and the American way have achieved from all their thrashing about in an onanistic daisy chain? The future of the republic will not be changed one whit. The congressman in question will go on being the congressman in question. The state of the world will remain as it was last week if only a bit worse for wear and a tad more slimey for all of their "efforts". They will not have improved the lot of their fellow Americans on tittle of an iota of a jot. Instead they will, at best, have gotten themselves and their readership off on a recurring session of the Two Minute Hate down in the sewer.

I feel sorry and disappointed with the right sphere over the last week. I was once a professional when it came to dealing with skeevy, sleazy, and turbid sexual fantasies and I know when a particular sexual fad is spent. Some one needs to tell them:

"You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

Posted by Vanderleun at June 1, 2011 6:41 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Come sir, we're dealing with those who know no shame. There is no bigger left wing dick in the Congress than Weiner. If he's hanged for a slice instead of a loaf, so much the better. In any other walk of life, the man would have quickly resigned, and skulked away. At least we won't have to see pictures of him standing next to Barney Frank anymore.

Posted by: Casca at June 1, 2011 7:30 AM

It's not the target, it's the targeting.

Posted by: Vanderleun at June 1, 2011 7:38 AM

Government officials shouldn't be on the internet like this. They shouldn't be indulging in "social media." As far as I'm concerned, as long as my tax dollars pay the salaries of these people, their lives are mine, 24/7. That means no "fun" like sexting and sending pictures of your bulging mansack to anyone. Weiner needs to resign in disgrace and possibly enter a monastery. Before that he should pay back out of his bank account all the tax money that went into it from his "salary," if he has any left from buying cases of K-Y. If not then he should work a real job with all his wages garnished until he pays the taxpayer back, and then enter the monastery.

That being said, I really haven't followed any of this crap, because picky, obsessive questions about did-he-or-didn't-he-and-how-many-inches-were-bulging etc. bore me to high heaven. Of course this is deliberately designed to do so, and as usual conservatives are falling into the mess instead of cutting to the chase as I did above. I call it the Clinton effect. The result of all the outrage about Clinton and Monica, the blue dress, the trial or inquisition or whatever it was, just ended up boring everyone to death, and had the unsalubrious effect of making people feel sorry for Clinton. From what I'm seeing so far Weiner doesn't seem to be getting the same sympathetic response, but that's because he seems to be an arrogant asshole. However, Americans can feel sorry for anyone given enough chance. It's already starting.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 1, 2011 8:35 AM

I'm no prude, but all I have to say is "ew" Just "ew". And that applies across the board wherever this guy is concerned. Then again, all Democrats have that effect on me. I agree, the reporting was sophmoric, especially with the bad fortune of his name (as if the guy wasn't repulsive enough just looking at him now I have the image of those chicken legs of his.. ew!) and it certainly is being played as a "had this been a Republican" moment. But since Weiner is a Democrat, I'm stuck with "ew" indefinitely. Enough already. No more reports on Weiner's weiner. I hope he is prosecuted and fades into Democrats Behaving Badly history (or should we brace for his 2016 run for the White House? Ew!)

Posted by: RedCarolina at June 1, 2011 10:26 AM

correction: reporting was sophomoric - what will be interesting are the jokes that rise above the obvious. Now that would be an interesting take on this story that even I would enjoy.

Posted by: RedCarolina at June 1, 2011 10:29 AM

Another day, another turd. It's a job without end, but you've still got to flush now an then.

Posted by: chuck at June 1, 2011 10:35 AM

I read a survival piece before reading this. It began thusly: ""Outside" has the story of elite marathoners attempting to run down an antelope to verify a belief that men could run down the fastest animals on the planet. What the runners are really proving is how brain-dead stupid people can be. If ancient hunters had frivolously wasted energy simply running down a wild animal, we wouldn't be here."

Anyway, you're a good man Gerard.

Posted by: MizzE at June 1, 2011 11:11 AM

"What will these heroes of truth, justice and the American way have achieved from all their thrashing about in an onanistic daisy chain? The future of the republic will not be changed one whit."

Taking down (metaphorically speaking) one particularly rabid SOB Democrat would indeed change the Republic one whit - for the better. We (moreso you great conservative bloggers) are NOT the politicians. We/you do what you can within the limitations of your work/field. It seems the "all or nothing" thinking expressed sort of resembles the Nirvana Fallacy.

Posted by: Ed Wallis at June 1, 2011 11:54 AM

Unlikely since, in this particular district, the rabid one in question would be replaced by Rabids #2, 3, 4, etc.

And we're not working with Nirvana here. But we do have to learn when to quit handling feces.

Posted by: van der leun at June 1, 2011 11:58 AM

Ah, but the impossibly delicious real and possible headlines that can be spun from this fiasco are simply worth a slightly foul whiff of sewer gas. Slug-lines like "Barney Frank Demands Weiner Probe" and "Weiner Girl Denies Link to Member of Congress" surely will never, ever come along in our lifetimes again. We must savor the comic serendipity of reading about how "Weiner Claims He Is Getting Shaft, Dem. Congressmen Stand Behind Him" and "Weiner Picture Too Small to Investigate." Please, supply your own entry for best headline of Weinergate. I like "Liberals Irritated By Weiner Probe."

Posted by: Blastineau at June 1, 2011 12:35 PM

No, sir. You're trying to circumcize the limits of political debate. This will not stand.

Posted by: Rich Fader at June 1, 2011 2:08 PM

Then I guess I shall just have to screw my courage to the sticking post and carry on!

Posted by: Vanderleun at June 1, 2011 4:05 PM

Since when is it a crime to pole your constituents?

Posted by: Gagdad Bob at June 1, 2011 4:15 PM

Frankly, It's fun to watch the twitter machine engorge itself as the Weiner is hoist with his own petard.

Until recently conservatives have been elevating the dickscourse to our country's fall.

Posted by: monkeyfan at June 1, 2011 6:01 PM

I-Right-I said it, VanderLeun:
Giving this (Weiner's) behavior a "pass" only emboldens such [already beyond the pale] conduct on the Left.

While I agree with you that there has to be a measured cost-vs-gain, you need to take your wins where you can. Even considering "what District" or "what replacement" there may be, one needs to also take into account the value of THE ACCOUNTABILITY of removing such as Weiner.

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Posted by: Ed Wallis at June 1, 2011 6:42 PM

I am completely at peace with the notion that Republicans, and especially conservatives, should resign when they behave very poorly, and that Democrats should never resign for despicable behavior.

Posted by: james wilson at June 1, 2011 6:55 PM

But there's no real win here. It's lose-lose. Beyond a thrill going up the leg at the taking of a scalp nothing will be gained. Nothing. If there's a replacement it will be the same sort of creature who will vote the same way.

This is the 9th of New York which has gone Gore 67% Kerry 56% Obama 55%. Weiner's continued career is irrelevant to the political makeup of the house. The 9th is not vulnerable.

Then there's the question of how, absent resignation, he can be removed. There will be no recall election in the 9th.

There may be chortling and crowing, but the wave will roll on unchanged.

Posted by: vanderleun at June 1, 2011 7:00 PM

First, some background:

Some years ago, on a rainy night in Rancho Bernardo, I was invited to dinner with a formerly famous blogger to dine with a couple of his friends. On the way in, I nearly ran over, well, you. Though you likely have little memory of the night, I remember well sitting back and soaking in the wisdom of you, Scott, and Meryl over chinese food.

Unbeknown to me at the time, we shared a former employer. I was a bodyguard - officially an events associate tasked with the security of the models at sponsored events - for Penthouse magazine for a brief period, and got to know a number of the executives who lived a life both full and shallow at the same time.

I can't say that my 23 year old self was changed by the experience, but my mid-30s self continues to pull lessons out of the memories, looking back and seeing just how...common it is for a man - married, powerful, wealthy, vulnerable - to risk it all for nothing more than the prospect of a fantastical night.

I say that because I find the whole affair - much like those of Foley, Ensign, Frank, Hart, etc - being a case of men who profess to be our betters proving that they have been corrupted. Their names are now shattered, the ambitions limited, and it is up to their consitutents to decide if they are the best representatives of themselves.

The focus on this particular Weiner do hold perils. By trying to kill off Weiner, conservatives are validating all the efforts to kill of any GOPer who shows any sign of being less than morally perfect. Barney Frank alone proves that the Democrats will always ride out scandal, but the conservative attempt to use this will only serve to set the standard for their own future political crucifiction.

The attention paid to the latest Weiner is, as you say, only an effort to kill the public life of a Congressman who, at most, will one day make it to Senate - a pretty even exchange considering the current holders of the NY seats.

Beyond that it's a mere distraction. Republicans are tarred by the pecadilloes of a single member (maybe a little pun intended) (that too could be a pun). This 'scandal' is tarring... what, Brooklyn?'

The fact is, there are other, bigger, more damaging to both the public and private lives of the citizens or this country going on while the MSM produces yet another distraction.

I just learned via American Digest that next month is honoring who you prefer to shtupp month. Next in line are the vegans, the Earth Firsters, and the communists.

This is far more damaging to the America ideal than yet another congressman showing off just how little he really has to offer.

Posted by: Dan at June 1, 2011 7:38 PM

The fact is, there are other, bigger,...

Weiner begs to disagree.

Posted by: chuck at June 1, 2011 8:10 PM

"I confess, without shame, I am sick and tired of fighting—its glory is all moonshine; even success the most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands and fathers ... tis only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated ... that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation." W.T. Sherman

Yet when in the thick of it he waged total warfare that broke the back of the Confederacy. We be in a war now-not sure total warfare is not called for.

Posted by: A SLow Boat To Purgatory at June 2, 2011 6:22 AM

You're right, it is a Two Minute Hate fest. Where The Party insisted on participation, we do it of our own free will and much like The Party, there are always people paying attention to it's usefulness.

Posted by: David McKinnis at June 2, 2011 11:31 AM

Back to basics: Proper retort...

Not so much fun when what you have done to others out of unkindness it’s done to you in righteousness.


Posted by: Tom Moeller at June 2, 2011 12:28 PM