Political MoJo

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.

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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."

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.

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Which Is Worse: The U.S. Torturing British Residents or Britain Not Taking Them Back?

| Mon Oct. 2, 2006 9:40 PM EDT

You know the War on Terror is a joke when the U.S. and Britain are reduced to bizarre bickering over what to do with Britain's share of the Gitmo detainees. It seems cooperation on the matter extends only so far as championing the cause of moral depravity. The London Guardian revealed today that the U.S. has been holding at least nine former British residents at Guantanamo, but the U.K. only wants to take back one of them. That might sound kind of understandable, in a callous, self-interested way, if the UK wasn't arguing in the same breath that the men pose very little threat to anyone. These are, after all, people who have never been convicted on terrorism charges. The Brits pointed out as much in response to a demand by our government that any of the men it releases to the UK be essentially spied on 24/7. The Brits said that would be too expensive and noted that the men "do not pose a sufficient threat." So why do they only want back one guy out of nine? Only they know. Perhaps they're worried that men who have been tortured four years running might not be very socially well adjusted. Even though the men are scheduled for release, their lawyers say they are still being exposed to inhuman treatment, such as extremes of cold and heat--all too literally making for a depraved game of hot potato.

Salacious Exchanges With Underage Male Pages

| Mon Oct. 2, 2006 9:26 PM EDT

No, it's not a line out of Gilbert and Sullivan; it's a line out of this AP story, which takes up the crucial question in the scandal all of Washington is calling, with cheeky brilliance, "Foleygate": "What did GOP leaders know and when did they know it?" As Media Matters notes, the press inititally bought Dennis Hastert's spin that the emails Republican leaders were "over friendly" (which they were!), but is now rallying to the the view that, as one Republican strategist says, "[It's not] so much about Foley as it is about the handling of this." Democrats, once again the beneficiaries of a Republican disaster they did nothing to bring about, are "delighted."

Foley Now In Deeper Trouble

| Mon Oct. 2, 2006 4:50 PM EDT

Congressman Mark Foley, already in enough trouble for sending sexually explicit and other inappropriate messages to adolescent Congressional pages, is now looking at a more serious charge. It turns out that Foley made repeated attempts to get a page to rendevous with him at night.

"I would drive a few miles for a hot stud like you," Foley said in one message. This text, according to the FBI, could constitute what it takes for the government to make a federal charge of soliciting for sex with a minor on the Internet against the former Congressman. There is also at least one message that indicates that Foley met with at least one page in San Diego, though the nature of the meeting is not known.

Here is the text of one message:

Maf54: I want to see you
Teen: Like I said not til feb…then we will go to dinner
Maf54: and then what happens
Teen: we eat…we drink…who knows…hang out…late into the night
Maf54: and
Teen: I dunno
Maf54: dunno what
Teen: hmmm I have the feeling that you are fishing here…im not sure what I would be comfortable with…well see

Foley, former co-chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, has checked into a rehab facility in order to deal with his alcoholism. He once said, "We track library books better than we do sexual predators." Apparently, Foley was counting on a continuation of that poor tracking.

Environmental Damage: Another Reason Why a Border Fence is a Bad Idea

| Mon Oct. 2, 2006 4:43 PM EDT

Ranchers like Mike Vickers, and others who make their living on the US-Mexico border, aren't the only ones who think building a fence to keep out illegal immigrants is a dumb idea. Environmental groups working along the border and the National Park Service object to a fence on environmental grounds. Where illegals routinely cross the border you find millions of tons of trash, erosion from thousands of illegally carved trails and roads, and habitat fragmentation, among other environmental effects. Building a fence doesn't solve that problem; it just shifts it to another location as immigrants cross somewhere else. "We realize that the problems we are facing environmentally in this region are a direct effect of past border patrol strategy that have relied primarily on walls," says an environmentalist in a new Mother Jones piece. Read it here.