Ask Mrs. Vera: Should Jesse Jackson Jr. receive a suspended sentence because he’s bi-polar?

Dear Mrs. Vera,

Should Jesse Jackson, Jr. receive a suspended sentence after stealing three quarters of a million dollars because he’s bi-polar?

Yours Truly,
Vincent van Gogh,
Arles, France.

Mrs. Vera Newman, with Silly Putty™ eggs and eisenglas circlettes.

Mrs. Vera Newman,
San Francisco, California.
Photo: Bill Bowers

Dear Vincent,

I’ve heard an earful this week from readers wanting to know how to handle themselves around politicians suffering from bi-polar disease, but yours was the only one that generated a lot of very keen interest from the dog when it arrived in the morning mail. Unfortunately, I don’t give her those pig-ear treats anymore since so many of them are produced in China, where they are often treated with unsafe chemicals, though I appreciated the gift. I hasten to add, in light of our topic, that the staff at Ask Mrs. Vera have been reminded that our policy is never to accept any form of bribe or payment, of any kind, to avoid any suggestion of either conflict of interest or influence buying being even hinted at by those seeking favorable outcomes regarding disputed items of contention such as toilet seats being left up or down, dishes not being done even though it was the one thing asked of their partner to do to get the place ready for company, or just to get a law passed granting your industry an exemption from paying its taxes. We are here to assist those who have questions regarding proper manners in the political realm, and besides, none of you have anything I want so I can afford to have all sorts of integrity piled up and waiting to be filed while pedaling, under the influence, all around the office on my trike.

Now it’s true — many penniless artists who have died tragically in obscurity over the ages have been impressed by notions of $750,000, and the number of chocolate croissants that could be translated into, because it seems like it would be an awful lot.  But in very little time they discover that not only do those things go down quicker than you’d think, but that by the time you come to your senses, there usually isn’t enough money left to buy new clothes since nothing your formerly romantically skinny, impoverished form used to wear still fits. The only other real difference to having all that dough in your life is that, generally, waiters are a lot happier to see you coming than they used to be, and soon even that stops. Not to diminish the severity of Mr. Junior’s crime, but to the truly wealthy looking at the situation, the really embarrassing thing is not that he stole some money but that he got caught. It embarrasses everyone that lives off investment income in order to wield power to see someone clumsily handling even a small fortune simply to indulge themselves, as it makes avarice look bad.

It is sad to see promising politicians throw away their careers, and any chance they dreamed of to make the world a better place, because of their youth and inexperience, but it is a learning curve lined with doors that close forever once you’ve peeked inside the wrong one, like box number two on Let’s Make A Deal™ and the goat within, or that hallway the bad guy chases the Scooby Doo™ Gang through in the Old Mill, where the missing jewels are hidden somewhere. I’m a big Old Mill person, but I’m sorry, I’ve yet to encounter or understand the purpose of that corridor, which may explain why I never got into politics. Anyway, those with generations of experience and hundred-plus years of familial associations with top legal firms get walked through the process at an early age, and are instructed by Nannies and accountants that one simply does not spend one’s own money on oneself, because that is what other people are for, people who could otherwise simply be avoided. Mr. Junior went all big spender, the sign of a good politician, but made a basic mistake by assuming the money donated to his campaign was his money, which is definitely spelled out in the handbook as not to be the case, under the “How to avoid pitchforks, torches and get ahead in business” section, so alas for him there is no avoidance of blame to be granted, or even sympathy due for the crime.

But to have personally touched the cash himself is rankly amateur, and heaps derision, which never expires, on top of the embarrassment of receiving a prison sentence, which after a period of time served can be forgotten as easily as dumping your wife with cancer on her deathbed for an upgrade, or moving an entire South American charter member of the United Nations to West Virginia without so much as a how-do-you-do. At least when Mark Sanford did that, he didn’t leave an Appalachian trail of receipts linking him to the purchase. Furthermore, Mr. Junior’s poor lack of judgment is again demonstrated by his actions subsequent to party-heartying, in the odd claim that what he did was out of his control. Even if it were, how advisable or impressive is it to start out your career by Buying-Poland, or investing in bleached bears? Calling it a disease is only going to anger and offend some voters, most likely those of Polish descent and voters employed by the light bulb industry for a start, not to mention P.E.T.A. types. Blaming bad choices on Poland seems hopelessly out of date and a little cruel to a country unwise enough to have located itself so close to Germany right before World War II started. What were they thinking? Even the fact that Sarah Palin‘s grandmother could see that country from the upstairs bathroom window of her igloo, if you believed her, doesn’t help, considering what followed.  Aside from Kielbasa, I just don’t see much connection between Chicago politics and the western Russian suburbs, except that both seem better if you don’t look very closely at how things get done. Or at least a bit less gristly.

The bottom line on how to deal with bi-polar political thieves is to wisely have less nice or valuable things in your house. That way you can downplay that awkward social moment when one of you is going to have to let go of the heirloom in question, and as hostess it should probably be you, since your fingers are more likely to be tired from cooking or soapy from getting the place ready for the fundraiser, at which no money changes hands among friends who have no political agendas between them. Most politicians have a very firm grip from years of practice.

As always, when it comes to understanding the personal redistribution of wealth, it helps to czech-out how the Republicans do it on the down low, with, pretty much, anyone who’s carrying the going rate in their front pocket, or is just glad to see them. Bob McDonnell, the currently still elected governor from Virginia, smoothly allows people seeking political favors to buy him pretty things for his wife, pay for his vacations, his daughter’s wedding, pick out expensive $10,000 man jewelry, and etc, just because he thinks you’re swell. But since they are pals, you can’t call the governor a whore. I guess he’s more like a sex worker surrogate, or maybe a booty call, but for late-night clandestine laws and junk and stuff.  It seems, to me anyway, that his wife being in on the Gift-O-Rama™ is a little too progressively French for Conservative America’s taste, but it could be they secretly like to watch.  Rolexes are, admittedly, pretty sexy.  It’s all too sordid as far as I’m concerned, but who am I to judge the handless moral compass of the Southern Gentleman of today? Giving all that stuff back even though he still wanted it very much shows how much character Governor McDonnell (no relation to Notwitch Christine O’Donnell, the current Republican Notsenator from Delaware) has, or perhaps what kind of character he is; one who majored in plausible deniability, I guess — With a minor in freedom from shame.



Mrs. Vera, lost.Mrs. Vera Newman is a San Francisco absurdist character, humorist, artist, writer, community organizer, clothes horse and co-founder, with Mister Tina, of The Verasphere. She has been answering the unasked questions she receives from the lonely, empty rooms of America’s heart-shaped circulatory pump room ever since it began beating. Nestled in the politically bent bowels of the Nation since she was a young girl babysitting the very same newborn Nation, her ability to self-reflect about anyone else’s embarrassing shortcomings, inept fumblings or lousy recipes has enabled her invisible rise as a modern-day Cassandra, whatever that means. Feel free to dispose of all your worries by leaving them on her doorstep!



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