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Ear to the Ground

Foley’s Resignation Is Good Electoral News for Dems

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Posted on Sep 29, 2006

Conservative GOP Rep. Mark Foley’s resignation, over explicit e-mails he sent to a 16-year-old former page, means Democrats have a shot at a congressional seat that was all but a shoo-in for Republicans until Foley’s resignation.

  • Read the e-mails

  • AP via Yahoo:

    Rep. Mark Foley (news, bio, voting record), R-Fla., resigned from Congress on Friday, effective immediately, in the wake of questions about e-mails he wrote a former teenage male page.

    “I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent,” he said in a statement issued by his office.

    The two-sentence statement did not refer to the e-mails and gave no reason for Foley’s abrupt decision to abandon a flourishing career in Congress.

    Foley, 52, had been a shoo-in for a new term until the e-mail correspondence surfaced in recent days.

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    By Mad as Hell, October 3, 2006 at 7:40 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    R.A.
    Now that you’ve trotted out your credentials, you’ve managed to inform me of NOTHING I didn’t already know.  Yeah, I know most child molesters aren’t strangers.  Yeah, I know everyone is different.  But I also know that molested children ARE injured psychologically, and while everybody is different and every circumstance is different, that is a fact.

    YOU trotted out the Koran as an example of how it’s “OK” somewhere to have sex with a 9 year old. It’s your citation to support your view, not mine.  If you don’t approve it, why bring it?

    Next, you seem to advocate the age of consent to be set at 14…didn’t they teach you ETHICS in those psych programs of yours?  You advocate children UNDER 14 being free to explore their sexuality with their peers…this is TOTALLY irresponsible.  Sure little kids play “doctor”, but accepting a 13 year old boy and an 11 year old girl having intercourse represents moral bankruptcy.  Neither is ready. I’m not in the shrink biz, but I am a parent and an uncle—that’s MY credentials—and I can assure you they are not ready.

    Sex ed? I’m ALL FOR IT!  Yes! Education on risks, safety, differences—sure.  Even condom give-away programs are necessary.  Starting them young on that is FINE with me.  SAFE Sex? They MUST learn it—we agree on that.  Tolerance for gays and lesbians? I’m all in favor of teaching that.

    But until a child is 18 (OUR society’s standard for adulthood) adults need to stay away from kids for their sexual needs.  Otherwise, they are predators who are treating children as the sexual equivalents of toilets—recepticles and no more.  And that is evil.

    Childhood is, in part, defined as a time when you are NOT legally able to give consent.  Again, I agree with that.

    Report this

    By R. A. Earl, October 2, 2006 at 11:53 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Oh, “Mad,” settle down. Don’t let your self-righteousness give you a heart attack.

    BTW, a self-righteous person, or one who is “convinced of one’s own righteousness especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others” is also described in my Websters as “narrow-minded moralistic.”

    Where I come from, “Mad,” acquiring the label as “self-righteous” is NOT praise or admiration! It’s a definite sign that it’s owner is somewhat delusional about the value of his/her own status/accomplishments/abilities. To be labeled self-righteous is right up there with being offensive or dirty or thieving or untrustworthy. I guess we don’t come from the same place.

    You wrote: “I don’t know if this is true about the Prophet or not—but I do know YOU are saying that having sex with a 9 year old girl is OK.  Excuse me, but that makes me want to retch!”

    Please do me a favor and refrain from telling me what I said or meant. Your powers to analyse and infer are somewhat suspect. I did NOT imply that having sex with a 9 year old is or is not OK. Are we clear on this? I just stated a FACT as I understand it is written in the Koran. Retch away! There are many others like you who haven’t the ability to deal rationally with reality.

    You also asked “Do you have ANY idea of the psychological damage predators inflict on children by having sex with them?”

    As a matter of fact I do (8 years post-secondary training in the Social Sciences helps). I’ve lived for nearly 30 years with a person damaged by incest. But you state it as an absolute, universal fact that a child will be traumatized for life. This is not the case. Some will, some won’t. If, and by how much, depends on many factors too lengthy to delve into here. Children are far more likely to suffer long-term negative effects IF THEIR PARENTS GO BERZERK IN REACTION TO THE ASSAULT. Also, I wonder if you’re aware that MOST CHILDREN ARE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, HETEROSEXUALLY, BY A PARENT, SIBLING OR CLOSE RELATIVE, than by a stranger. And I’m sure you’re aware there’s a HUGE range of behaviors considered as a “sexual experience.” A casual “feel,” while legally an assault, is one hell of a long way, in fact and impact, from FORCED RAPE.

    You might be interested to know that reputable, peer-reviewed research has discovered that children can be significantly MORE TRAUMATIZED by the witnessing of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BETWEEN THEIR PARENTS than by having a sexual experience with an adult.

    But we agree. Foley did a no-no at least in context with today’s America. He should be sanctioned for his actions… resignation seems quite adequate to me… AND THAT SHOULD BE THE END OF IT.

    Remember… there are MILLIONS MORE “FOLEY"s out there typing their salacious emails at this very moment. HUMANS WILL BE HUMANS… you going off the deep end isn’t going to solve the problem.

    Lest you still think I’m advocating for child molestation let’s be clear. CHILDREN, especially those 14 and under, should be free to discover and enjoy, their sexualities, if they so wish,  WITH PEERS ONLY, not experienced adults of any age or station. And NO ONE, of any age, should be FORCED to perform a sexual act of any kind at any time.

    One last thing… all children over age 12 should be EDUCATED, without hysterics or bias,  about ALL human sexualities as well as pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and their prevention, and rights and responsibilities. Any adult who disagrees or who disallows this education is a contributer to CHILD ABUSE, in my professional opinion. Keeping a person of any age IGNORANT should be a crime.

    Report this

    By Mad as Hell, October 1, 2006 at 7:53 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Self-righteous?
    Next you’ll be telling us that the Man/Boy love association (or whatever it’s called) has a point that there should be no age limit of when adults can have sex with children.

    Damn straight I’m self-righteous!  R.A. is right about one thing—Foley shouldn’t be treated the same as rapists and murderers for sending eMails.  If that’s all he did.  But usually, by the time sexual predators are discovered, they have a LONG history of predation.

    Don’t tell me 16 years old isn’t a kid.  That’s BULLSHIT!  Yeah, we “arbitrarily” set 18 as adult-hood, or 21.  And, yeah, other societies may have a different point.  But I AM an adult, and have been on for many, many years, and I’ve also been 16 (obviously) and remember it.  Haven’t gone senile yet.

    When a 52 year old man solicits sex from a 16 year old (girl or boy) he’s SICK and dangerous—and deserves to be punished.  If Foley wants to cruise gay bars for young guys, I have NO problem with that—as long as they are over the LEGAL age of consent.  If he wants to do it by the Internet, fine with me.

    But I have NO tolerance for anyone defending adults soliciting sex from children (and let’s not be absurd and talk about an 18 year old man and a 17 year old girl—most states have exceptions for similar circumstance where they are just on opposite sides of the line).

    “Further, the boy was a FORMER page… so was no longer in a subordinate position to Foley.”

    Wrong! The boy in question was actively a page for another Congressman. ANY COngressman going after ANY page is violating the subordinate’s rights.

    “Defining a person of 16 years to be a “child” is an arbitrary choice of a culture. If I remember my anthropology lectures, in many cultures a person of 16 years is not only considered an ADULT but is expected to be MARRIED. I believe Mohammed married one of his wives when she was at age SIX (6) although it’s written he didn’t have sex with her until she was NINE (9). “

    I don’t know if this is true about the Prophet or not—but I do know YOU are saying that having sex with a 9 year old girl is OK.  Excuse me, but that makes me want to retch!

    Apart from being revolted by concept of being sexually attracted to children (especially pre-pubescent or barely past puberty), Do you have ANY idea of the psychological damage predators inflict on children by having sex with them? Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mild disorder in comparison (and I KNOW PTSD is super-serious—I don’t mean to demean it).

    Yeah, I got NO problem with being self-righteous on this one.  If it’s too self-righteous for you, R.A. then maybe you better ask yourself why.

    Foley’s a predating shit, and I bet he goes to jail on this one.  But as the cover-up by the House leadership unfolds, it’s going to be really funny watching Hastert and Boehner sweating bullets!

    Report this

    By paul kibble, October 1, 2006 at 11:51 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Re Comment #26515 by R. A. Earl:

    Of course, definitions of who or what constitutes a “child” are fluid and culturally determined. For evidence, one has only to look at our own pioneer past, where child brides as young as 12 and 13 were not uncommon. From a global-historical perspective,  Phillipe Aries pointed out many years ago in “Centuries of Childhood” that the often sentimentalized idea of “childhood” as a special preserve of innocence and spontaneity is a comapratively modern development.

    In medieval times, for example, young people who had reached the age of 7 were regaded as, essentially, miniature adults (hence Roman Catholic theology could claim that the age of reason is attained by that age). The idea of the “child” as we understand that term was first adumbrated in the 16th and 17th centuries among the European upper classes, crystallized there in the 18th, then bt the 20th had trickled down through the general culture. (Obviously, the trend to isolate children as a unique class requiring special protection was given added impetus by the horrors of the early industrial revolution, which yielded the child-labor laws. But prior to the passage of these laws, young people were either tilling the fields or slaving in the workhouses at a very early age.)


    As for sexual relations, yes, the age of consent has varied through diffent ages and cultures (although that concept in some cases is altogether absent). Thus, in many European countries, having consensual sex with a 16-year-old (or even a 14-year-old) is not considered a crime. But Foley chose to live in this culture and, irrespective of his sexual orientation, chose to (at least verbally) scorn in practice what he claimed to uphold in rhetoric, and is therefore subject to the (frequently arbitrary and irrational) laws of that culture. Poor, tortured closet case? Maybe—-but it’s his loathsome hypocrisy that galls the most.

    Of course, gay people are often singled out for harsher punishments when they commit the same offenses as their straight counterparts, e.g., Matthew Limon, who received a 17-year prison sentence because, shortly after he turned 18, he performed oral sex on a nearly-15-year-old developmentally disabled youth in Kansas. If he had instead performed oral sex on a 14-year-old female, he would have received 12 months in jail under the “Romeo and Juliet Law,” which applies only to heterosexuals. Of course, the fact that the male was developmentally disabled surely undermines the argument that this encounter could have been fully “consensual.”

    But arguments that emphasize the relativity of all cultural constructs about “childhood” as a privileged status invite the response (often coming from the right) that without some moral
    absolutes, there is nothing to stop out-and-and -pedophiles from wanting to crash the party. Essentially, as Mad as Hell has suggested, this is as much a question of power relations as of sexual relations. (Unfortunately, the most extreme version of this concept is represented by Andrea Dworkin, who claims that even consensual sex between a mutually consenting heterosexual couple is a form of rape because of the inherent disparity between their access to power.)

    BTW, technically, Foley is an “ephebophile,” i.e., someone whose object of affection (real or virtual) has reached the age of puberty. For most people, this will be a distinction without a difference.

    Report this

    By Guitarsandmore, October 1, 2006 at 11:39 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Foley is just one Republican in a long, long, line of Republicans whose criminal actions should make everyone realize the Republican party is not the party that will usher in a new era of morality into government.

    Rather this bunch of creeps is the antithesis of everything America needs and everything Americans want.

    Report this

    By Mad As Hell, October 1, 2006 at 4:29 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Fox/Pravda has swung its propaganda machine into action on this one.  Of course, they are throwing Foley to the wolves—that is to be expected, and he deserves it.

    But they are moving to spin to protect the House leadership:
    Today’s online Pravda, oops, Fox/Pravda, headline worded already to spin:
    “Republicans Offer Explanations in Wake of Foley’s E-Mail Scandal With Teen Boy”  implying that they have a good reasons for covering this up since August.

    Then they list out very carefully bullet points…

    “At the Capitol, Republicans spent the night trying to explain how this could have happened on their watch.

    Among the explanations during the night:

    — The congressional sponsor of the page, Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., said he was asked by the youth’s parents not to pursue the matter, so he dropped it.

    — Alexander said that before deciding to end his involvement, he passed on what he knew to the chairman of the House Republican campaign organization, Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y. Reynolds’ spokesman, Carl Forti, said the campaign chairman also took no action in deference to the parents’ wishes. [MAH Note: Watch them all pass the buck.]

    — Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., chairman of the Page Board that oversees the congressional work-study program for high schoolers, said he did investigate but Foley falsely assured him he was only mentoring the boy. Pages are high school students who attend classes under congressional supervision and work as messengers. [MAH Note: See Shimkus squirm, duck, cover and toss Foley to the wolves?]

    — The spokesman for Speaker Dennis Hastert, Ron Bonjean, said the top House Republican had not known about the allegations. Shimkus said he learned about them in late 2005.”

    [MAH Note: Uh-huh…“I do not recall….”—a LONG practiced technique. Hastert FORGOT that a top GOP member, the Deputy Whip was a sexual predator, preying on Congressional pages? Just kinda slipped your mind, eh, Denny?  I guess “family values” means protect your own until your OWN ass is on the hot seat!]

    Fox/Pravda can’t completely cover the GOP, but they are CLEARLY trying to help position the scandal to have the minimum impact.

    This is Fair and Balanced? Bullshit—this is propaganda—but I’ll bet there isn’t enough teflon to go around this time!

    Report this

    By R. A. Earl, September 30, 2006 at 9:09 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    “Mad as Hell” is just a little too self-righteous for my taste. And holds a strong tendency for living out a couple of other cliches… “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” and “going off the deep end.”

    BTW, “Mad” my dictionary defines a pederast as “one that practises anal intercourse especially with a boy.” Maybe I’m missing something but I don’t think it’s possible to have anal intercourse with ANYONE by EMAIL - yet! To my knowledge Foley never even MET the boy in question let alone have sex with him. Further, the boy was a FORMER page… so was no longer in a subordinate position to Foley.

    And speaking of going off the deep end, “Mad” wrote of pederasts:“They are predators, just like rapists and serial killers.” Oh REALLY. Emailing a 16 year old to take off his boxer shorts is the equivalent of being a SERIAL KILLER? You’ve got to be kidding! Get a grip, “Mad” - you’re in the throes of hysteria!

    Defining a person of 16 years to be a “child” is an arbitrary choice of a culture. If I remember my anthropology lectures, in many cultures a person of 16 years is not only considered an ADULT but is expected to be MARRIED. I believe Mohammed married one of his wives when she was at age SIX (6) although it’s written he didn’t have sex with her until she was NINE (9).

    If “Mad” chooses to view the world through a black and white lens - e.g. “if you’re 16 you’re a child (even if you’re married with a child yourself) then that’s “Mad’s” choice. If an entire society chooses that definition then so be it FOR THAT CULTURE. That doesn’t make it so everywhere or for everyone.

    What “happened” to Bill Clinton was the direct result of a complete (and VERY expensive) overreaction by unsophisticated, anal-retentive prudes who probably have never enjoyed intercourse undressed or with the lights on in their lives, to an event precipitated by a lack of judgement by someone who should have known better!

    Unfortunately, there are an awful lot of people, many of whom identify as Americans, who I label as the “point and titterers” - they just go nuts at the sight of breasts or a penis. They blush and stutter and giggle and get all defensive and self-righteous. Now that’s MY DEFINITION OF CHILDISH BEHAVIOR which I expect from a CHILD, not from an adult!

    All that said, I do agree that Foley crossed the line of acceptable behavior for a person in his position.

    Report this

    By Mad As Hell, September 30, 2006 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    R.A. Earl doesnt’ get it.  It isn’t about Foley being gay. It isn’t about being gay.

    Foley should not have been chasing the pages for 2 very obvious reasons:

    1) They WERE under-age. The one that blew the lid off it all was 16.  That means it is no longer between consenting adults and makes him a pederast—which is BY DEFINITION a sexual predator.

    2) As Congressman, he is in a superior-subordinate position to ALL pages, male/female, underage/adult.  This makes propositioning them to be sexual harassment—remember what happened to Bill Clinton—and THAT woman ACTIVELY wanted to “do it” with the President (Kissinger said power is the greatest aphrodisiac).

    It has NOTHING to do with being gay or being straight.  I am of the opinion (reaffiremed by the SCOTUS) that what happily consenting adults do is their business and nobody else’s.  Foley’s actions do NOT qualify as “happily consenting” (as they were subordinates) or adults (16 is a child).  I have NO sympathy for pedarasts. They are predators, just like rapists and serial killers. They cross the line from deserving liberal, sympathetic open-mindedness to pure criminals deserving justice.

    And, of course, the leadership of the House was protecting a predator doing EXACTLY what they claimed to be against.

    How much will be enough for the American People to take back The People’s House?

    Report this

    By R. A. Earl, September 30, 2006 at 10:32 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Sam asked “Where has the Republican house leadership been, this was turned in to them in August 2005.”

    Sam, you sound as if you expect your elected representatives to be of good moral character and honest to a fault.

    Since few of them, if any, demonstrate either characteristic to any great or consistent degree, the answer to your question is: They’ve been trying to find a way to “spin” it or bury it or disown it or pretend it’s not true… ANYTHING BUT HONESTLY AND ABOVE-BOARD DEAL WITH THE FACTS.

    What a bunch of DISHONORABLE SLEAZE BAGS!

    As for Foley… and being a closeted gay… and being attracted to young men… and being horny… SO WHAT? He’s no different than tens of thousands of other men in American society.

    The worst problem is having to exist in a society where you feel you must hide who you are. I wonder how many centuries will have to pass before America grows up enough to understand that HUMAN BEINGS COME (from GOD, if you are so inclined to believe)IN A RAINBOW OF ORIENTATIONS. What makes gays and other “different-from-the-norm” people sick is the DISCRIMINATION THEY SUFFER FROM THE IGNORANT MAJORITY… not their differentness.

    (As an illustration… when you construct buildings and sidewalks in such a manner so as to prevent a wheelchair from passing, DON’T BE SO IGNORANT AS TO BLAME THE PERSON IN THE WHEELCHAIR FOR NOT BEING ABLE TO GET AROUND.)

    In Foley’s case, the reasons for his resignation should be…(1) having fraudulently represented himself to his constituents, and (2) having very poor judgement in conducting his “affairs”... imagine being so stupid as to use your own email system when in his position! He obviously was subconsciously trying to tell everyone he is gay but his learned self-loathing prevented him from doing so in an open and honest fashion. Foley is only HALF to blame for this situation. There’s a big difference between flirting with a “teenager” of 14 and and a “teenager” of 19. I didn’t see the age of the teenager published. Are we just supposed to assume the worst? Society doesn’t go off the deep end if a 52 year old man flirts with an 18 year old female! WHAT’S THE DIFF?

    If this “kid” was 18 or 19, he was old enough to join up and DIE for his country. Surely he was old enough to have any sex life he wanted to!

    There are openly Gay members of parliaments and other governments all over the world. The ONLY important aspect is that they be COMPETENT LEGISLATORS. The LEAST IMPORTANT aspect is who they love and sleep with.

    Report this

    By paul kibble, September 30, 2006 at 10:09 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    OK, I confess. Foley’s public disgrace and humiliation made me (in his phrase)  “a little horny,” too. The boxers are on the floor and just hope my dad doesn’t bust in here and catch me trying to pull a fast one. Forget Jena and the rest. Who knew that Schadenfreude could be such a turn-on? Leave it to the Republicans to do kinky right.

    So the chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus who sponsored a bill to protect kiddies from Internet-trawling grown-ups was really trying to protect the little buggers from. . .himself.

    This is one of those sledgehammer ironies that, were it to appear in a work of fiction as some sort of cautionary tale about the Wages of Hypocrisy, one’s response would be, “Oh, please, that could never happen in real life.”

    Luckily, our friends on the right aren’t big on subtlety or, for that matter, reality. In fact, the Republican party hasn’t been on speaking terms with “real life” for at laest 30 years now. That’s why everything that spills from their bizarro world into ours has that fascinating-but-repulsive funhouse-mirror quality.

    So thanks to Markie-mark for this entertaining foray into retro-tabloid shockorama. Haven’t had this much fun since I read those headlines about Family-Values Guy Jimmy Swaggert getting his dick sucked by that ho in Alabama or wherever.

    Report this

    By Marina making pictures, September 30, 2006 at 5:54 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Yes I agree with you, the Foley scandal is a big chance for Democrats. The whole case is very smeary and ugly, I find.

    Thank you for sharing this story with me !

    Report this

    By TomChicago, September 30, 2006 at 5:32 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Right, Sam.  Foley is the tip of the iceberg.  The rest of the scandal is the lying still going on as of last night about “who knew and when did they know”.  Was Hastert told or wasn’t he?  When did Boener know?  It is a cover-up, apparently, performed as stupidly as the Catholic bishops did it.

    Report this

    By Bukko in Australia, September 30, 2006 at 1:29 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Sam: Maybe the Repug leadership was hoping to get Foley’s sloppy seconds…

    Report this

    By Sam, September 29, 2006 at 3:50 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Where has the Republican house leadership been,
    this was turned in to them in August 2005

    Report this
     
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