Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Eliot Spitzer

Sex in the Senate, the Governor’s Mansion in South Carolina, Etc., Etc., Etc.

There are so many scandals involving politicians that to try to list them all would make this article a book in no time. However, the news conference that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford held on Wednesday, June 24th, was one of the more bizarre “fessing up” sessions seen to date, even by Washington standards.

 I watched the FOX news conference “live” and, at first, could not figure out exactly what Mark Sanford was confessing to. He talked about his love of hiking. He talked about how he had let people down, naming some of them by name. His wife was nowhere around…always a bad sign for the candidate. Then, he (finally) got down to brass tacks and admitted that he had cheated on his wife with a woman from Argentina (no less) whom he had known for 8 years via e-mail, although he said that he had only been “with” her (I assume this means in the Biblical sense) 3 times. Kind of a meager amount of poon tang for the destruction of a political career that some said had him as a front-runner for the presidential nomination for the Republican party in 2012. But, then, if you want to talk about meager amounts of sex giving you major-league headaches, John Edwards would be a good one to ask.

 Edwards, as we all now know, was involved in an affair with a woman whose “adopted” stage name was Reille Hunter, formerly a videotographer for his failed presidential bid. This was while cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth Edwards’ disease was in remission, so John apparently felt that was a green light of some kind. All I know about the Edwards’ decision to keep on running in the aftermath of John’s infidelity is that I sat next to people from North Carolina at Invesco Field, and they were thoroughly disgusted by the entire mess, especially since many of them felt that Elizabeth was aware of the extent of John’s philandering but advised him to still keep on in his quest for the presidency, which would have been a fatal mistake for the Democratic party had the revelations that were triggered by stalking Edwards’ into a hotel room where he had arranged a tryst with Ms. Hunter (and her newborn child). John did the normal thing: he ran like a rabbit for a nearby restroom and barricaded himself inside. It didn’t help. He was “outed” and his career was in shambles, not to mention his marriage. In one fell swoop on Wednesday, with Mark Sanford’s revelation that, over Father’s Day weekend, he went off to South America for 7 days to be with his lover, leaving the other Carolina a rudderless ship of state, he destroyed the Carolinas’ reputation for clean-living politicians. You’ve got Edwards and you’ve got Sanford and baby makes three!

 Lest we forget that these things have been going on for a long time, let’s go all the way back to Earl “Huey” Long (Louisiana, 1939-1940; 1948-1952; 1956-1960) who had an affair with a Bourbon Street stripper named Blaze Starr in the 1950s. (In the movie, Paul Newman played Huey and, later, Sean Penn.)

 Strippers seem to have a sort of magnetic attraction for Washington’s finest. Back on October 16, 1974, 65-year-old Wilbur Mills was found, intoxicated and with cuts on his face, in the company of one Fanne Foxe, aka “the Argentina Firecracker,” aka Annabell Bathstella. Ms. Foxe had 2 black eyes, which were never really explained, and she had jumped into the Tidal Basin after a car crash. As facts emerged, it came to light that Ms. Foxe worked as a stripper at the Silver Slipper at 815 13th St. N.W. in Washington in 1973, a fine family-oriented establishment (not) that was located between an adult movie house and an adult bookstore. [The place charged $5.80 minimum cover charge, so you know it had to be a family kind of place.] There had been some problems with the location, including 2 revocations of their liquor license and an allegation that prostitution services were solicited by some of the girls. But Wilbur had been marching in the front door and proudly shelling out $1,700 a night in cash (in 1974!) for magnums of champagne. Other strippers at the club said that Fanne and Wilbur, although a contentious couple that fought a lot, had been keeping company since July of 1973. Soon after they met, Fanne quit stripping and became a resident of the Crystal Towers, the very same apartment complex to which Wilbur and wife Polly had moved, from Arlington.  Why wasn’t Polly along this night? According to Wilbur, she had a broken foot. So, the Chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, who had dined with a party at the Junkanoo Restaurant just 5 hours before, was now junkaroo, himself. (*An interesting personal note: I know someone who actually dated Fanne Foxe…after Wilbur’s indiscretion. He said she had an early…and bad…boob job, which caused her breasts to sort of become bi-level, with the implants drooping below the real breasts. She was 38 at the time of her liaison with Wilbur, so implants might have come before…or after…but the Argentina Firecracker’s breasts did sort of explode…or implode.)

 Then there was Gary Hart, D, Colorado. Remember when Gary Hart was the leading contender for the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 1988? According to John Steele Gordon in “Gary Hart’s Monkey Business: How and Why a Congressman Got Caught” on American Heritage.com, the former Yale Divinity student (and none-too-happily married man) said, to the news media (in particular, ABC anchor John Chancellor), “You should follow me around.  You’ll be very bored.” And, as John Chancellor retorted later, “We did. We weren’t.” Even Hart’s own former aide Jim McGee was quoted in Steele’s article saying, pre Donna Rice, “Hart is going to be in trouble if he can’t keep his pants on.” Hear! Hear! Hart and so many others, it would seem.

 There’s little reason to belabor Bill Clinton’s  extra-marital love life, “Troopergate” or Monica Lewinsky. That’s been done to death, but suffice to say, in recap, he did also have alleged liaisons with Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones before Monica and the blue dress. And those are just the ones we know about!

 And what about Kirk Fordice of Mississippi (1992-2000), that staunch Republican Governor who was hospitalized after he ditched his security guards and drove himself 200 miles to Memphis, Tennessee to have lunch with a woman who was not his wife…then. When he was photographed coming back from a Paris trip with the same woman, the proverbial s*** hit the fan, his wife of 40 years divorced him, and he married the mistress from Memphis.

 Then, there was Bob Wise of West Virginia (2001-2004), a Democrat who acknowledged in 2003 that he had not been faithful to his wife and family after he had an affair with another government employee’s estranged wife. That was the end of Wise’s political career, as he (wisely) did not run for a second term in 2004.

 In New Jersey, James McGreevey gave this old familiar refrain a new twist when he admitted to being “a gay American” and cheating on his wife with another man. (New Jersey Democrat, 2002-2004). He and his wife, Dina Matos, were divorced in August of 2008 and, really, who can blame her?

 Paul Patton of Kentucky (D, 1995-2003) had served 7 years of as Governor, in terms that focused on economic issues and education, when he also became interested in nursing homes, apparently, and took up with a western Kentucky woman who was owned a nursing home. After a tearful admission on national television not unlike the embarrassing Edwards interview, he finished his term and then folded his tent and did not seek reelection.

 So far, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s hiking trip to South America has not caused him to resign the governorship, although he did give up his post as Chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association, but, really, I can’t think of a person better suited to represent Republican politicians, in general, than someone who admits that he is screwing other people while on the job, as Sanford did. However, you really have to hand it to Eliot Spitzer of New York after this.

 As we all know, by now, Eliot Spitzer was that crusading New York Governor (2007-2008) who was elected on an anti-corruption platform and became famous as “Client #9” of a call girl whose name was Ashley Dupree. Supposedly, Spitzer, who was married with two daughters, spent tens of thousands of dollars to arrange visits with prostitutes and law enforcement officials were only too happy to expose the hypocrisy of his “Crusader Rabbit” rants against corruption. His wife, a fellow lawyer whom he met in law school, stood awkwardly by his side (unlike Sanford’s, who asked him to move out of the house and not speak to her) while he confessed all and resigned, taking full responsibility for his actions. Spitzer, today, blogs and deeply regrets his downward mobility, but, when it comes to “keeping it in their pants,” the days of JFK’s philandering with Fiddle and Faddle while the White House Press Corps looked the other way are long gone.

 Politicians: let this be a lesson to you. Do NOT take up hiking to South America! It will end your careers.

The Price You Pay Can Make A Difference in Pleasure

      Who knew that an area of our brain known as the medial orbifrontal cortex could affect whether we enjoy something purchased at bargain basement prices as much as an item or service for which we have paid Top Dollar? New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, conducted by researchers at the California Institute of Technology and at Stanford demonstrates that the price people pay for something can change how much pleasure they derive from that item or service.

     Neuro-economist Antonio Rangel of the California Institute of Technology and Baba Shiv, a Stanford University behavioral economist had subjects evaluate bottles of wine. One bottle of wine cost $10; one bottle cost $90. In reality, both bottles were filled with the same exact wine.

     The researchers then conducted a brain-imaging study of the wine tasters and learned that the wine drinkers who thought they were drinking the more expensive vintage experienced a greater degree of activation in their media orbitofrontal cortex. These wine drinkers also reported that the expensive wine was better, even though, in reality, the wines were identical.

     Many studies have shown that, because of a general assumption that something expensive should be better, consumers value everything from clothing to food more highly when the price is marked up.  This effect, called the price-placebo effect, because it seems similar to the placebo effect in medicine, has been reported in a number of studies over the years. Researcher Baba Shiv said, “The price-placebo effect comes from the fact that you form this global belief that low price equals low quality.” My friends who believe that anything marked “Sony” must be better than a competing brand would fall into the majority of buyers.

     In addition to the wine study, there was a corollary study involving solving word puzzles.  Subjects were offered an “energy drink,” which they were told would boost their puzzle-solving performance. Some were asked to buy the drink at full price of $1.89. Others were offered the same drink, but told that, because of a bulk purchase, they could purchase the energy drink for only eighty-nine cents. Those who paid full price for the energy drink were able to solve nearly two times as many puzzles as those who received the discounted energy drink.

    Some of the explanation for the improved puzzle-performance on the part of those who paid full price was attributed to persistence: “I paid full price and I’m going to hang in there and solve this (these) puzzles!” The studies bring up an interesting question: If I paid Top Dollar for something, and, as a result, derived more pleasure from it, was I ripped off, or did I actually get a better deal than the person who got a discount? If you found that comment confusing and contradictory, join the club; it becomes almost like as complicated as chess trying to decide if it is better to get a bargain or to pay full price.

     The implications in these studies were very interesting, in light of the large number of consumers today who purchase many items in discount houses such as Sam’s Wholesale Club, Circuit City, Best Buy, and/or CostCo. When I recently purchased a Calvin Klein black pea coat from Sam’s for $25, I remember feeling that, although the coat looked good on me, fit well, and was a “name” brand with a much-higher price tag attached (from the original Calvin Klein stores), I found myself telling people that the coat had come from Sam’s Club and “only cost $25.” Rather than enjoying it less because of that fact, however, I actually think I enjoyed it more, feeling that I had gotten a bargain.

     I wonder if the item makes a difference? A coat, after all, is more of a necessity than wine, puzzles or hookers…the third purchased “service” the article discusses at length.

     The original article discussed former Governor Eliot Spitzer’s purchase of sexual services from a prostitute in The Emperors’ Club known as “Kristen” and debated, at length, whether Spitzer got 10 times the value for his $1000-an-hour tryst of someone who only paid a prostitute $100 an hour.

     For me, the ultimate answer to that question is whether the price Spitzer paid— his future in politics, his family, his reputation and his aspirations for higher office—were worth the few hours of hedonistic pleasure he derived in hiring a high-priced call girl for sexual services. Logic would suggest that Spitzer not only crossed the line morally, but also paid far more than what “Kristen’s” services were worth.


Eliot Spitzer Self-Destructs

      Current Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer, the 48-year-old successor to Republican Governor Pataki, fell from grace with a resounding thud, today, as he was implicated in a federal investigation into a prostitution ring operating in several international cities known as “The Emperor’s Club.”

    “The Emperor’s Club” rated prostitutes in “diamonds,” and a day with one of the 7-diamond girls could cost you $31,000. Hourly rates for the 50 escorts who worked New York City, Washington, Miami, London and Paris ran from $1,000 to $5,500 an hour. Spitzer was supposed to have paid for the services of “Kristi” (who sounds as though she physically resembled his real-life wife, Silda Wall Spitzer) and left some additional money “on account.”

    Not only did the service, owned and operated by 62-year-old Mark Brener of New Jersey, take credit cards, it also took cash and Euros.

     Spitzer made his reputation in New York as a Governor crusading for better ethics. He alienated those in his own party by introducing unpopular bills, such as one legalizing same-sex marriage and the move to issue drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens that surfaced during a Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama debate.

     Spitzer, born June 10, 1959, was a Jewish child of privilege born in the Bronx who attended Princeton, where he graduated in 1981. After Princeton, he scored a perfect score on the LSAT (Law School Aptitude Test) and entered Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. As an undergraduate at Princeton, Spitzer was elected chairman of the undergraduate student body, and it was widely reported that he hoped to become the first Jewish President.

     On October 17, 1987 Spitzer married his wife Silda and they are the parents of three daughters, Elyssa, 19 (born in 1989), Sarabeth 16 (born in 1992) and Jenna 14 (born in 1994).

     Four people were arrested last week for their connection(s) to the Emperors’ Club. Spitzer was caught on a wiretap interacting with the prostitution ring.

    Spitzer, accompanied by his wife, gave a mid-afternoon press conference, in which he said, “I apologize, first, and most importantly, to my family. I apologize to the public, whom I promised better.  I do not believe that politics, in the long run, is about individuals.  It is about ideas, the public good, and doing what is best for the state of New York.  But I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself.  I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.”

     It was rumored that Spitzer would resign at 7 p.m. but, as of this writing, there was no confirmation of that action.

    In his short tenure as Governor, Eliot Spitzer alienated even his friends, after winning in the general election by 70%. A Siena College poll showed that, when asked if they would re-elect him Governor in 2010, only 25% said they would vote for him again, while 50% said that they would not. His ratings had sunk as low as 33% favorable, although the Siena College poll showed it to be 41% favorable, versus 46% unfavorable.

      Spitzer allegedly paid $4500 in cash on February 13th…the day before Valentine’s Day… making the phone call himself to a 5’5″ petite brunette (105 lbs.) called “Kristi.” Spitzer had “Kristi” take a train to Washington, D.C. to the Mayflower Hotel. Some say the entire act by Spitzer showed a hubris that was self-destructive, but consistent with his arrogant personality. Bill O’Reilly, on his nationally-televised Fox network television show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” argued that Spitzer wanted to get caught.

     David Paterson, Spitzer’s Lieutenant Governor, is both legally blind and African American. If Spitzer resigns, Paterson would become only the second African American Governor in the United States, along with Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. No word on whether he would be the only legally blind Governor serving, but we can conclude from Spitzer’s actions that “love is blind.”

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