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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Scandal

Bathroom mirrors and cellphones, a lethal mix in modern American politics

Abraham Lincoln photographs himself with a CellphoneWho knew that bathroom mirrors would become such a politically potent item in this leadup year to a presidential election?

Especially when paired with a cellphone camera.

Some voters well beyond the age of 18 can remember when those reflective things were dinky squares of glass on the back of a little knobbed door opening to a modest medicine cabinet.

The personal closet behind the mirror held medicinal and other secrets that sometimes attracted the curiosity of visitors who were supposed to be using bathroom facilities.

Fathers and grandfathers stretched up their chins to see in that mirror where they were shaving a vulnerable throat. And women did whatever they do in front of those things.

But no one in those days envisioned mirrors stretching the entire wall width of the room, across two sinks and an expansive counter. And no one envisioned taking instant photos there, let alone transmitting such private images to a wider world.

Twitter profile pages would be blank, it seems, without bathroom mirrors to allow members to photograph themselves in all kinds of interesting positions.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who's the Dumbest Rep of All?

But here we are in 2011 with a flurry of seemingly otherwise intelligent folks photographing themselves or parts of themselva photo of Meagan Broussard she said she sent to anthony weineres and sharing them electronically with strangers they will likely never meet.

Which may actually be the reason for the false sense of security that comes with many of today's electronic goodies. The false sense of privacy and distance, much like those casual airplane conversations with adjacent passengers you know you'll never see again.

A few months ago we had the New York Rep. Chris Lee using his cell and bathroom mirror to photograph his own bare chest and abs -- and, worse, his actual face -- to post for an online date. How does a married man -- and a Republican at that -- explain that away?

He couldn't. So he was gone from Congress rather quickly.Rep Chris Lee of New York

Now, comes another representative who drinks New York water, Anthony Weiner. Despite initial denials, it turns out the married Democrat had serial sex by Twitter, Facebook and phones with at least six women across the country, including Meagan Broussard, a single mother in Texas (see photo).

Weiner has decided he does not need to resign, despite mounting calls for his departure.

The motivations for such public sharing are likely as diverse as each individual involved, prompted by the false sense of privacy and security from being alone, perhaps intrigued by the interest of a famous or attractive person and the seeming safety of distance, though surely not anonymity. And apparently fueled by a sense of omnipotence in the minds of some pols.

According to the TMZ website, Weiner was aware two weeks ago that some blogger was contacting his female correspondents about his electronic liaisons. Yet he continued his exchanges, including posting to Twitter the now notorious cellphone photo of his bulging underpants.

Thank you for sharing.


Anthony Weiner doesn't rule out more photos to emerge

Anthony Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, is reportedly pregnant

Weiner's resignation now sought by a growing number of people not sexted by him

 -- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Courtesy of @MrTruthIsHere (Lincoln); ABC News (Broussard); Associated Press (Lee).

Anthony Weiner still says he won't resign, doesn't rule out more photos

 Huma Abedin, left, aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,  center, walk to a meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheik Mohammed bin  Zayed Al Nahyan at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab  EmiratesRep. Anthony Weiner, confronted with a New York Post reporter armed with a video camera, explained Thursday that he was on his way to his community office and was not going to resign from Congress.

"I've betrayed a lot of people and I know it, and I'm trying to get back to work now, try to make amends to my constituents and of course to my family," a contrite Weiner said.

Yesterday Weiner was in the news for several reasons, the most salacious being the appearance of an X-rated photograph allegedly of the congressman. The image was on conservative Andrew Breitbart's cellphone and photographed by the Opie & Anthony radio program where Breitbart was a guest.

When the reporter from the Post asked Weiner on Thursday if there are any other photos of him that may surface, Weiner did not say no.

"As I said when I spoke in my press conference on Monday, I exchanged inappropriate things with people and I think that I've got to now deal with those consequences," he said.

Yesterday the New York Times reported that three sources confirmed that Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, an aide of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, is pregnant. Today when asked about the....

Continue reading »

Anthony Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, is pregnant


Anthony Weiner's
fascinating tale added a new chapter Wednesday when it was discovered that his wife, Huma Abedin, is pregnant with the couple's first child.

"Ms. Abedin, 35, is in the early stages of pregnancy, according to three people with knowledge of the situation," the New York Times' City Room blog reported.

Abedi, an aide of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was noticeably absent during Weiner's dramatic mea culpa Tuesday. When reporters asked him where she was he simply said "she isn't here."

Weiner and Abedin were married less than a year ago in Long Island, N.Y., where former president Bill Clinton presided at the wedding.

Abedi is currently traveling with Hillary Clinton in northern Africa.


Eliot Spitzer says he sympathizes with Anthony Weiner [Video]

Anthony Weiner's drama opens the door for Alec Baldwin to consider NYC mayorship

Anthony Weiner's resignation now sought by a growing list of people who were not sexted by him

-- Tony Pierce

Photo: Huma Abedin and Rep. Anthony Weiner in January 2011. The couple is expecting their first child. Credit: Charles Dharapak / Associated Press


Anthony Weiner's resignation now sought by a growing list of people who were not sexted by him

A photo Democrat Representative Anthony Weiner reported sent to Meagan Broussard ABCNews

There are at least three prominent Democrats out there who have not yet suggested that fellow Democrat Anthony Weiner should resign from the U.S. House of Representatives -- Barack Obama's White House, ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and CNN's Eliot Spitzer.

They all have good reasons to steer clear of the Weiner mess. Why would a president, even one out of the Chicago machine, want to touch such a thing? Pelosi needs all the Democrats she can hold in her minority caucus -- and anyway she's from California.

And as the notorious Client No. 9, Spitzer walked into his own public sex scandal for patronizing prostitutes after prosecuting them, moving from one political scandal in office to another of spouting DNC talking points on CNN with low ratings.

However, elsewhere, the $174,000 congressional salary of the New Yorker Weiner seems in distinct jeopardy since he suddenly became more famous for his underwear (briefs), for what they were covering or not, for what he was sexting while on duty and for lying and concocting a phony hacker plot when confronted with the distasteful news.

Tim Kaine, former chairman of the Democrat National Committee, Wednesday suggested Weiner's public lying was "unforgivable and he should resign."Eliot Spitzer former NY Democrat governor who resigned after using prostitutes

Admittedly, Kaine is himself running for office again (albeit only the Senate). So he could hardly be expected to endorse or ignore behavior involving even consensual sexually explicit online messages.

Then, Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a senior official of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Weiner should go. This one is serious.

"Having the respect of your constituents is fundamental for a member of Congress," Weiner's House colleague suggested. "In light of Anthony Weiner’s offensive behavior online, he should resign."

As his opening ploy to avoid joining the unemployment line after 10 days of lying, the seven-term Weiner this week appeared tearful at a news conference admitting his falsehoods and the allegations and sexting. He did claim that the half a dozen or so ongoing online and telephone relationships with women across the country were virtual affairs, not physically consummated.

While not suggesting Weiner resign, the often-speaking authority on pop stuff Dr. Drew confessed to his CNN audience that he had serious concerns for Weiner. "My fear," the doctor said, "is when all this really rushes in those moments that you see him looking so overwhelmed and so ashamed, that he could develop a severe mood disturbance."

In previous pathetic political news, Republican Rep. Chris Lee, who also drinks New York water, immediately resigned merely for posting a shirtless bathroom photo of his amazing abs. Weiner, however, is from New York City, which makes him far more important than upstater Lee.

Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, suggested that Pelosi's response, a simple call for a House Ethics Committee investigation, was empty and silly. "Do we really need an investigation to determine if this guy's a creep or not," Priebus said.   

Priebus, whose party now controls the House and is in position to take over the Senate next year, may want to rethink this approach. If creepiness becomes a bipartisan disqualification for Congress, neither chamber would likely ever have a quorum.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who represents Nevada, home to one of Weiner's more explicit virtual mistresses, candidly said he would like to defend Weiner.

But he could not.


News Shocker: Eliot Spitzer says he sympathizes with Anthony Weiner

Speaking of online, Twitter is having a hilarious time with Anthony Weinergate jokes

The advice Anthony Weiner gave Ben Aflleck about playing a crooked congressman on screen

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Top photo: Anthony Weiner holds a sign to verify his identity in a photo sent to Meagan Broussard. Credit: ABC News. Bottom photo: Spitzer. Credit: Associated Press

Anthony Weiner's drama opens the door for Alec Baldwin to consider NYC mayorship

Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin at the 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA on January 30, 2011
Anthony Weiner's spectacular fall from grace has some speculating that the best liberal chance for mayor of New York is Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin.

In January, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer asked the "30 Rock" star if he was ready to "get into this [political] game." The award-winning thespian of both the silver and plasma screen replied in the affirmative. 

"The answer is: Yes, it's something that I am very, very interested in," Baldwin said on CNN's "In The Arena."

Alec Baldwin hints about NYC Mayorship on Twitter"People would say to me all the time, 'Why would you want to do that?' And sometimes I don't want to do it because to leave what I am doing now would be extremely painful," Baldwin said.

Wednesday, The Daily quoted a friend of the actor's who said that in the wake of the Weiner scandal Baldwin might now seriously consider running for mayor of New York City in 2013. The congressman was, in most people's minds, the Democrats'  frontrunner.

"Alec said, 'Hey, maybe this changes the race. The dynamics have shifted,' The Daily reported Baldwin's unnamed friend as saying.

The current Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, (who was elected as a Republican but left the GOP in 2007 and is now an Independent) will be stepping down from office in 2013 due to term limits.

"It's a long way till November of 2013," Baldwin tweeted Wednesday.


Eliot Spitzer says he sympathizes with Anthony Weiner [Video]

The advice Anthony Weiner gave Ben Affleck before you-know-what happened

Anthony Weiner admits he lied about underpants photo; Twitter erupts with jokes

-- Tony Pierce

Photo: Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin at the 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Jan. 30. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

According to Democrat Anthony Weiner, he lied, had numerous lewd exchanges, is sorry and won't resign

A photo Democrat Representative Anthony Weiner reported sent to Meagan Broussard ABCNews

According to New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, who for the moment represents Brooklyn and Queens in the House of Representatives, he actually did lie about his Twitter account being hacked last week to send a lewd photo to a female college student.

According to New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, who is married to a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,he did in fact engage in serial online exchanges of lewd photos with other women during the past three years.

According to Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, he has engaged in online conversations with perhaps six women in recent years. He says he never actually met any of the women.

According to Maegan Broussard,a 26-year-old single mother in Texas, she was one of those women. She said she received the above photo (note wedding  ring) from Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner during their online exchanges, ABC News reports.

According to Rep. Anthony Weiner, "I have not been honest with myself, my family, my constituents, my friends, my supporters and the media" and he is "deeply ashamed."

According to Andrew Breitbart, who broke the original Twitter story last week, numerous other photos involving New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner have been made available to, at least one of which he will not be publishing becayse if its graphic nature.

According to House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi,she is "deeply disappointed and saddened about this situation" for the following people: "Anthony's wife, Huma, his family, his staff and his constituents."

According to Pelosi, she is seeking a House Ethics Committee investigation to see whether any official resources were used or House rules violated.

According to Rep. Anthony Weiner, he has no intention of resigning.

According to recent history, Rep. Anthony Weiner is dreaming.


Weinergate: Twitter erupts with jokes over you-know-whose you-know-what

Turns out, Paul Revere did warn the Brits; Anthony Weiner aside, who's stupid now?

-- Andrew Malcolm

Please no lewd photos  However, don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: ABC News

Weinergate: Whose crotch was it and when did he know it?

New York Democrat Rep Anthony Weiner 6-11This posting of personal photos business that become extremely embarassing when made public has become a bipartisan affair, at least for a member of a member of the New York congressional caucus.

How can anyone forget the look-at-my-abs bathroom mirror shot of a shirtless New York Rep. Chris Lee a while back? The Republican resigned his upstate seat. And Democrats just won it in a special election.

Now, there's New York Rep. Anthony Weiner. He's a Democrat. Somehow a photo of someone's bulging briefs was posted on Weiner's Twitter page seemingly aimed for a West Coast college coed.

The seven-term member seems to have taken as his PR role model the serial stumbles of the Obama White House following the successful whacking last month of Osama bin Laden: Tell your story ASAP. Then change part of it. Get part of it wrong. Make more mistakes correcting it. Blame the media. Having confused most people, announce you won't talk about it anymore, causing them then to wonder about everything,

This is the negative corollary of the Sarah Palin "One Nation" bus tour media strategy, which is "don't-tell-anyone-anything-then-they'll-want-your-story-all-the-more." Now that Weiner isn't talking about the underwear shot anymore, everyone else is.

At first, he said his Twitter account was hacked, that he didn't send the photo. But the United States congressman with a hacked communications account did not report it to the FBI, which seems odd if you are genuinely concerned and hacked. As the venerable Roger Simon points out here this morning, sending a lewd photo to an adult is not a crime. However, lying to a federal agent about it is.

The outspoken Queens Democrat, who had eyes on the New York City mayor's office, went silent Tuesday, talked endlessly about the issue Wednesday and then went silent again Thursday.

Many people with intimate knowledge of their own crotch began to wonder and chuckle over Weiner's wiggling response; he said he was unable to say "with certitude" whether it was his private area in the photo, which carried no credit line.

Classic political strategy, of course, strongly suggests that if you experience this problem for more than four days, you should consult your PR professional immediately.

He or she will tell you that whatever the issue or body part, you put every bad news detail out there yourself all at once, take your mortification, the late-night jokes and reboot. As our colleague James Oliphant writes here, political strategists are noting that Weiner has done just about everything wrong, for a politician who hopes to continue in that line of work.

Although if this was a TV season finale, the Weiner story is a great cliffhanger. 

-- Andrew Malcolm

Speaking of briefs, don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images (Weiner in elevator).

The story behind the stories on the Schwarzenegger baby and his separation from Maria Shriver


Arnold schwarzenegger and Maria shriver on the oprah winfrey show in 2003

ICYMI, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver have separated after 25 years of marriage.

The story was broken here on

ICYM the Los Angeles Times follow-up here, they are separated because Schwarzenegger admitted fathering a child a decade ago with their family maid.

Now Mark Barabak, the news organization's top political reporter, explains how the story came to be reported by a team, written, verified and published.

In this video below, the veteran Barabak talks with CNN's Howard Kurtz about the old-fashioned "shoe leather" used in researching the stories and why the news organization chose not to name the maid in its initial coverage.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Harpo Productions (2003).

In genuine flip-flop, Obama White House ends faked news photo practice

President Obama reenacting his Osama bin Laden is dead speech for photographers 5-1-11A quick update on that embarrassing faked photo imbroglio over President Obama's 'I-caught-Osama-bin-Laden-and-he's-dead' speech two weeks ago.

As Ticket readers recall from this item at the time, the photos viewed by millions around the world of the American president making the dramatic White House announcement late that Sunday night were actually not taken during the speech.

They came from a staged reenactment by Obama for the benefit of news photographers minutes after the live TV coverage had ended.

Although some previous presidents have also facilitated the fake photos at times to maximize publicity of whatever event it was, the Osame bin Laden speech reenactment was particularly dicey because this Democratic administration had not and will not release photos of the SEALs raid event or Osama bin Laden's body.

So, some admitted fakes on the controversial death announcement in a conspiratorial world suggested there might be other fakery involved.

Late last week a White House spokesman said it was ending the little-known practice. "We have concluded that this arrangement is a bad idea," said Josh Earnest.

For the record, Earnest only made the statement one time.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press (Obama reenacting his May 1 speech on the death of Bin Laden).

Superman renounces U.S. citizenship in latest issue of Action Comics

Superman renouncing his U.S. citizenship

Superman renouncing his U.S. citizenship is the newest wrinkle of the fascinating life of the man of steel.

In the latest issue of Action Comics, Superman becomes overly concerned that his heroism is being viewed as a tool for the United States exclusively.

Superman renouncing his U.S. citizenship"I intend to speak before the United Nations tomorrow and inform them that I am renouncing my U.S. citizenship. I'm tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy," the superhero says in issue No. 900.

" 'Truth, justice and the American way' -- it's not enough anymore," the man from Krypton says, refocusing on a more global approach to crime-fighting.

"Superman is a visitor from a distant planet who has long embraced American values. As a character and an icon, he embodies the best of the American way," DC's co-publishers, Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, said in a statement to the N.Y. Post.

"In a short story in ACTION COMICS 900, Superman announces his intention to put a global focus on his never-ending battle, but he remains, as always, committed to his adopted home and his roots as a Kansas farm boy from Smallville," they said.

The controversial story in question is titled "The Incident,"  written by David S. Goyer with art by Miguel Sepulveda. In the tale, Superman is reprimanded by a Secret Service staffer for appearing at a nonviolent protest in Tehran against the Iranian regime. It's then that he realizes he doesn't represent the U.S.A.; he is on Earth to protect everyone.


Nicolas Cage’s ‘Action Comics’ No. 1 recovered 11 years after theft

Superman photo gallery: The stars (and story lines) of Metropolis

Jeph Loeb: Superman is apple pie, Captain America is a soldier

 -- Tony Pierce

Images: Superman is shown in the latest issue of Action Comics. (Associated Press / DC Comics)


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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