Patterico's Pontifications

7/3/2007

Sorry, but we DO have a legitimate right to know about the sex lives of our public officials

Filed under: Government,Media Bias,Public Policy — Justin Levine @ 6:44 pm

[posted by Justin Levine]

In case you haven’t heard the news yet, the longstanding rumors have now been publicly confirmed. Our (married) mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa has been having an affair with Spanish-speaking Telemundo news anchor Mirthala Salinas.

She has apparently gotten around the corridors of the Latino power structure in Los Angeles.

More about the story here, here and here.

For the record: Salinas passes the Justin Levine hottie test. She has kind of a Latina Jeanne Tripplehorn vibe that I can easily get into.

[UPDATE FROM PATTERICO: But why take Justin’s word for it? Judge for yourself:

mirthala.jpg

I express no opinion, but leave it for you, the reader, to decide. I’ll turn it back over to Justin now.]

With that out of the way, I need to just say that I continue to laugh at people who insist that the sex lives of our politicians are none of our business. If you actually believe that, then I can only assume that you generally don’t care about the notion of conflicts of interest in either government or media circles – I point of view that I frankly find to be astonishing.

If the boss of a company is having an affair with a subordinate co-worker, all sorts of public scrutiny is invited through sexual harassment laws and the legal system. But when people with even more power in government and the media have affairs that potentially effect how taxpayer money is spent, who gets promoted in public office, or how officials are scutinized in the media, suddenly the finger-waggers show up to try and convince us it is none of our business. To that, I say “Harrumph!” (Actually, I never say ‘harrumph’, which is a pretty silly word. What I really say is not appropriate for a family blog such as this one.)

“Ah, but Justin, what if the affair is with someone outside of government or media circles? In that case, it surely is none of our business.”

My response to that is twofold: 1. How are we supposed to know that the person in question is outside conflict of interest circles unless the media takes an active role to verify as such? 2. How often are affairs by politicians really outside of such circles? (Government interns count too I’m afraid, since they are eventually able to receive perks and promotions at taxpayer expense.)

Also, I don’t mean to imply that potential conflicts of interest should always be avoided. We don’t need a legal rule dictating who our officials sleep with. I simply hold that such potential conflicts should always be publicly revealed for the sake of public accountability.

Thus speaketh your humble guest blogger. So there!

— posted by Justin Levine

Did Blogs Defeat the Amnesty Bill?

Filed under: Immigration — Patterico @ 6:02 pm

The Wall Street Journal says blogs played a central role in defeating the amnesty bill. Allah begs to differ, pointing to blogs’ relatively low readership numbers.

I think Allah has a good point — but he underestimates the influence blogs have amongst powerful people in media and government.

I believe that well-written and insightful blogs can have an influence beyond that reflected by our admittedly pathetic hit counts. Reporters and politicians’ staff members monitor the better blogs for an indication of how the public feels. People e-mail posts to friends and relatives. And because the Internet is everywhere, you never know whom you’re going to reach.

It would be foolhardy for blogs to take all the credit for any major political occurrence like the defeat of amnesty. But blogs’ signifiance should not be unduly downplayed, either.


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