Political MoJo

Maybe the Question Is: Who Didn't Know About Foley?

| Wed Oct. 4, 2006 2:29 AM EDT

Reports the LA Times:

"Almost the first day I got there I was warned," said Mark Beck-Heyman, a San Diego native who served as a page in the House of Representatives in the summer of 1995. "It was no secret that Foley had a special interest in male pages," said Beck-Heyman, adding that Foley, who is now 52, on several occasions asked him out for ice cream.

Another former congressional staff member said he too had been the object of Foley's advances. "It was so well known around the House. Pages passed it along from class to class," said the former aide, adding that when he was 18 a few years ago and working as an intern, Foley approached him at a bar near the Capitol and asked for his e-mail address.

Is it starting to feel like "if everyone thought it was no big deal, how much more of this is going on"?

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Foley Interrupts Vote Sending Money to Troops in Iraq to Have Internet Sex with Former Page

| Tue Oct. 3, 2006 10:25 PM EDT

ABC reports:

Former Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) interrupted a vote on the floor of the House in 2003 to engage in Internet sex with a high school student who had served as a congressional page, according to new Internet instant messages provided to ABC News by former pages.

ABC News now has obtained 52 separate instant message exchanges, which former pages say were sent by Foley, using the screen name Maf54, to two different boys under the age of 18.

This message was dated April 2003, at approximately 7 p.m., according to the message time stamp.

Maf54: I miss you
Teen: ya me too
Maf54: we are still voting
Maf54: you miss me too

The exchange continues in which Foley and the teen both appear to describe having sexual orgasms.

Maf54: ok..i better go vote..did you know you would have this effect on me
Teen: lol I guessed
Teen: ya go vote…I don't want to keep you from doing our job
Maf54: can I have a good kiss goodnight
Teen: :-*
Teen: [kiss]

The House voted that evening on HR 1559, Emergency War Time supplemental appropriations.

IN RELATED NEWS: Over at Political Wire, Taegan Goddard notes that: "House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), "under fire for his handling of the Foley page scandal, may have just one or two days to turn the affair around -- or quiet it -- or face being forced to step aside," Republican officials tell U.S. News and World Report.

"Hastert aides and the speaker himself have shrugged off the calls to quit, noting that now is the worst time possible for the House Republican Caucus to face a leadership race. But if that were to happen, it is likely that Majority Leader John Boehner would move up a notch. He has gone out of his way to distance himself from the Foley page affair."

In fact, Roll Call notes Boehner "reversed course" and today dumped blame for the scandal in Hastert's lap. Boehner says he told Hastert about Foley's problem "and he told me it had been taken care of."

State of Geographical Denial (Note to Cheney: Get a GPS Unit...)

| Tue Oct. 3, 2006 3:38 PM EDT

A tidbit from Woodward's book, via George Will:


While leading the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in the summer of 2003, David Kay received a phone call from "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, who wanted a particular place searched: "The vice president wants to know if you've looked at this area. We have indications -- and here are the geocoordinates -- that something's buried there." Kay and his experts located the area on the map. It was in the middle of Lebanon.

Of course then George goes on to say this is not the fault of the Bush administration, per se, but a fault of big government, and "those who regard government as a glistening scalpel for administering social transformation."

Ah yes. Well, when it comes to Iraq, at this point I'd be happy if the Bush administration could just pull off some meatball surgery.

Cheney Channeled Ghorbanifar (After All)

| Tue Oct. 3, 2006 4:38 AM EDT

Over at Tapped, Laura Rozen points out this choice bit from "State of Denial:"

[Chief U.S. weapons inspector David] Kay got a cable from the CIA that the vice president wanted him to send someone to Switzerland to meet with an Iranian named Manucher Ghorbanifar.

"I recognize this one," Kay said when he saw the cable. "This one I'm not going to do."

Ghorbanifar had been the Iranian middleman in the Reagan administration's disastrous secret arms-for-hostages deals in the Iran contra scandal. Though he had been a CIA source in the 1970s, the agency had terminated him in 1983 and the next year issued a formal "burn notice" warning that Ghorbanifar was a "talented fabricator."

This time, Kay read, Ghorbanifar claimed to have an Iranian source who knew all about Iraqi nuclear weapons, but who wanted $2 million in advance, and who would not talk directly to the U.S., only through Ghorbanifar.

Kay discovered the latest Ghorbanifar stunt involved Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, a former NSC colleague of Oliver North who had been involved with Ghorbanifar in the Iran-contra days.

All of which sounds hideously familiar if you know a little about Ghorbanifar's m.o. (and you will after reading Rozen's piece on the "talented fabricator's" intel peddling in Mother Jones). And it also sounds awfully suspicious given how strenuously the Pentagon and the White House have denied that anyone seriously tried to open a back channel to Ghorbanifar. Congressional investigators take note.

The Washington Times Calls for Speaker Dennis Hastret to Resign Over Foley Scandal

| Tue Oct. 3, 2006 3:22 AM EDT

Good flipping god! The editors of The Washington Times, the most conservative paper in the country, are calling for the resignation of the Republican Speaker of the House.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert must do the only right thing, and resign his speakership at once. Either he was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account and ordering a swift investigation, for not even remembering the order of events leading up to last week's revelations -- or he deliberately looked the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away. He gave phony answers Friday to the old and ever-relevant questions of what did he know and when did he know it? Mr. Hastert has forfeited the confidence of the public and his party, and he cannot preside over the necessary coming investigation, an investigation that must examine his own inept performance.
Uh, all election bets are now officially off. (BTW: The Congressman the WT is putting forth as the interim Speaker? Mr. Abortion Foe/ OG "Youthful Indisicretion" Guy: Henry Hyde. But of course.)

Whole editorial after the jump.

What Can Women Write? The Byline Divide

| Tue Oct. 3, 2006 3:01 AM EDT

Over at WomenTK.com, Ruth Davis Konigsberg, who's also an editor at Glamour, has analyzed a year's worth of bylines at general interest magazines—namely Harper's, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and Vanity Fair—and found that overall the ratio of male writers to female is 3 to 1. (TK, by the way, is reporter/editor shorthand for "to come," as in haven't yet nailed this fact/gotten this quote.)

The breakdown is as follows:

The Atlantic: 3.6 to 1
Harper's: 7 to 1
The New Yorker: 4 to 1
New York Times Magazine: 2 to 1
Vanity Fair: 2.7 to 1

As Ruth notes (and I've noted before here and here):

The numbers speak volumes, but they're not the whole story. As a former editor at The New Yorker wrote me in an e-mail, "in addition to counting bylines, you should look at what women are allowed to write about. I've been struck by a pattern, at The Atlantic in particular, where women only seem to write about marriage, motherhood and nannies, obsessively so. If you count the number of women's bylines there that weren't about hearth and home, the number would approach zero." And a current student at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism also noted, "At The New Yorker, it seems as though many of the female bylines aren't for hard-news-type stories. Women write about dance, or they write the short story, or a poem, or a profile of a fashion designer, or something. But the 'heavy' stories are left to the guys."
At a panel I was recently at with editors of all these magazines, the EIC of the NYT Mag, Gerry Marzorati, rightly noted that part of the issue is that the punditocracy is dominated by men, in part because (warning: gross generalizations apply) they are more likely to believe that the world is just waiting to hear what they have to say.

But another part of it is, as Ruth quotes, Ursula K. Le Guin's observation that "there is solid evidence for the fact that when women speak more than 30 percent of the time, men perceive them as dominating the conversation."

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Media on Foley: Bloggers vs. Old Media

| Tue Oct. 3, 2006 2:24 AM EDT

So amid this story about how various mainstream media outlets (among them the St. Petersburg Times, the Miami Herald, and NBC's Brian Ross) were alerted to the Foley situation months ago and chose not to run with it, is the source of what eventually prodded the capital P Press to pick up the story: Stopsexpredators.blogspot.com.

Despite three days of full-court press coverage, this website is still something of a mystery (though one that may be solved by the time I wake up tomorrow). It began in July, and has had just a handful of posts, most of them Foley related.

Conservative bloggers like Americanthinker wonder, as do I, what/who is behind SSP—or more to the point, how it/they managed to push this story out. Notes Tom Maquire at Justoneminute

And yet, 3 separate people who had contact with Congressman Foley somehow found this website independent of one another and supposedly sent emails to the owner of this site to complain about Foley's inappropriate behavior.
Color me skeptical. Maybe the blog author was an unwitting catspaw, but I would want some assurance that this was not simply a successful attempt to promote a story that wasn't quite ready for the Mainstream Media by laundering it through some blogs.

Which is an interesting point, as is the (gasp!) notion that Foley's opponent helped to push out the story, though then Tom veers off into a heady mixture of denial and desperation. Make no mistake, when confronted with the IMs, Foley instantly folded up the tent and went to rehab, which he wouldn't have if he could have denied or somehow justified the correspondence.

Meanwhile, the St. Petersburg Times editor's note on why the paper didn't run with the story—detailing valid concerns as: we don't go with unnamed allegations, amid some waffling—can be found here.

In a nutshell, this looks to be as interesting a media story as a political one.

Polls Find Dems Have Good Chance to Take Senate (If They Can Get Out the Vote)

| Tue Oct. 3, 2006 1:15 AM EDT

What follows is an NBC analysis:

"Five weeks out from the midterm elections, MSNBC/McClatchy polls, conducted by Mason-Dixon in eight states, show Democrats are in striking distance of taking control of the Senate. The Democrats are very likely to gain several Senate seats with some races still rated as toss-ups.

In the Senate, Democrats need to gain six seats to regain control of the chamber. Our polls show that this is certainly possible as five races are toss-ups, one now narrowly shows a gain for Democrats -- Pennsylvania -- and the party maintains control of Sen. Maria Cantwell's Senate seat in Washington. In addition, other Mason-Dixon polls released Sunday indicate trouble for Republicans in three other GOP-held seats.

•In Pennsylvania, incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum is well behind his challenger Bob Casey, with Casey currently ahead by 9 percentage points, 49 percent to 40 percent, with 10percent undecided.
• In Rhode Island, incumbent Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee and Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse are in a virtual tie with Whitehouse supported by 42 percent of likely voters compared to Chafee's 41 percent. But there are still 1 7percent undecided.
• In Virginia, incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen, whose campaign has recently been plagued with public gaffes and charges of the candidate as racist, and his Democratic opponent, Jim Webb, are tied with 43 percent each and 12 percent undecided.
• In Missouri, incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Talent and Democrat Claire McCaskill are tied with 43 percent each and 13 percent still undecided.
• In New Jersey, incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez is in a virtual tie with his Republican challenger, Tom Kean, Jr., with 44 percent of likely voters supporting Menendez and 41 percent supporting Kean. There are still 13 percent undecided.
• In Washington, incumbent Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell leads Republican challenger Mike McGavick by 10 percentage points, 50 percent to 40 percent, with 9percent undecided.
• In Maryland, Democratic candidate Ben Cardin is leading his Republican opponent, Michael Steele, 47 percent to 41 percent, with 12 percent of voters still undecided.

And in other Mason-Dixon polls, Democrats seem well positioned to gain seats:

• In Ohio, a Plain Dealer poll shows incumbent Republican Sen. Mike DeWine and Democrat Sherrod Brown in a virtual tie, 43 percent for DeWine to 45 percent for Brown. There are 10 percent undecided in this race.
•In Montana, a Lee Newspaper poll shows incumbent Republican Sen. Conrad Burns trailing Democratic challenger Jon Tester by a 40 percent to 47 percent margin with 10 percent undecided.
• In Tennessee, a poll conducted for the Memphis Commercial Appeal Chattanooga Free Press shows Harold Ford, Jr. and Bob Corker in a virtual tie, 43 percent for Ford to 42 percent for Corker with 14 percent still undecided.

In all, these key Senate races show the following:

• Two Republican incumbents in very serious trouble, Burns and Santorum.
• Four Republican incumbents tied with their challengers, Chaffee, Allen, Talent, and DeWine.
• One Democratic incumbent tied with his challenger, Menendez.
• One Democratic incumbent with a real lead, Cantwell.
• One Democratic open seat with a Democrat in the lead, Cardin in Maryland.
• One Republican open seat with a tie, Tennessee.

The results show that the Democrats have a real chance of gaining control of the Senate. However, as the election approaches, Democrats may have to lead by significant amounts to counteract the well-funded Republican get-out-the-vote effort. And almost every toss up seat needs to break for the Democrats for them to gain the six seats that they need."

The Full Monty: Foley IM File

| Mon Oct. 2, 2006 11:22 PM EDT

ABC has published one of the IM messages a former Congressional page says he had with Rep. Foley in 2003. If you want to read the whole thing, go here. I include the relatively non obscene passage below to note that Foley is in real legal trouble, as perhaps only he is well aware. As his own website notes (it has been taken down, but ah the beauty of the wayback machine), Foley was the author of several anti-child pornography/explotation bills. (More on that can be found on a cached version of a Foley press release.)

Which makes the following all the more sick:


Maf54 [that's Foley's screen name] (8:09:44 PM): thats a great size

Xxxxxxxxx (8:10:00 PM): thank you

Maf54 (8:10:22 PM): still stiff

Xxxxxxxxx (8:10:28 PM): ya

Maf54 (8:10:40 PM): take it out

Xxxxxxxxx (8:10:54 PM): brb...my mom is yelling

Maf54 (8:11:06 PM): ok

Xxxxxxxxx (8:14:02 PM): back

Maf54 (8:14:37 PM): cool hope se didnt see any thing

Xxxxxxxxx (8:14:54 PM): no no

Xxxxxxxxx (8:14:59 PM): she is computer dumb though

Xxxxxxxxx (8:15:01 PM): it makes me so mad

Maf54 (8:15:04 PM): good

Maf54 (8:15:08 PM): haha

Some of the bills that Foley wrote/sponsored/pimped himself as part of have faced constitutional challenges, but might be possible that Foley falls prey to legislation that he himself wrote! Talk about justice.

Condi Busted on Her Own Personal State of Denial

| Mon Oct. 2, 2006 10:36 PM EDT

A few hours ago, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that she can't recall then-CIA chief George Tenet warning her (two months before 9/11) that an Al Qaeda attack within the United States was impending, as Bob Woodward's State of Denial claims that Tenet did.

"What I am quite certain of is that I would remember if I was told, as this account apparently says, that there was about to be an attack in the United States, and the idea that I would somehow have ignored that I find incomprehensible," Rice said.

But now we learn (via the NYT):

A review of White House records has determined that George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, did brief Condoleezza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001, about the looming threat from Al Qaeda, a State Department spokesman said Monday.
The account by Sean McCormack came hours after Ms. Rice, the secretary of state, told reporters aboard her airplane that she did not recall the specific meeting on July 10, 2001, noting that she had met repeatedly with Mr. Tenet that summer about terrorist threats. Ms. Rice, the national security adviser at the time, said it was "incomprehensible" she ignored dire terrorist threats two months before the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mr. McCormack also said records show that the Sept. 11 commission was informed about the meeting, a fact that former intelligence officials and members of the commission confirmed on Monday.
Whoops.