Interesting Predatorgate Questions

Mark Foley is due to be leaving rehab in the next couple of days. One week before the election, how will this play in the media? Will Foley make himself available to the media, and will he actually address the unanswered questions that have swirled for the past month? Or will his [...]

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Mark Foley is due to be leaving rehab in the next couple of days. One week before the election, how will this play in the media? Will Foley make himself available to the media, and will he actually address the unanswered questions that have swirled for the past month? Or will his doctors decide that he needs another couple of weeks behind the walls of the clinic?

Chip Reed (NBC’s congressional correspondent) told Chris Matthews this morning:

“I’m going to be a little cryptic here,” Reed began, then added, “the Mark Foley scandal investigation is going to widen a little bit.”

That’s all he said. Watch the video, and look at Matthew’s face when he responds. Gee, thanks for the cliff-hanger, Chip!

Sunday, October 29th, 2006 by Richard Blair |
Category: Predatorgate

Predatorgate: Worst Kept DC Secret in History?

The Washington Post has an extensive front page piece on Predatorgate today. It’s pretty lurid (within the bounds of what a newpaper can publish, anyway), and seems to paint a picture of a situation that everyone knew about, but was afraid to deal with. The incidents described in the article are more [...]

Commentary By: Richard Blair

The Washington Post has an extensive front page piece on Predatorgate today. It’s pretty lurid (within the bounds of what a newpaper can publish, anyway), and seems to paint a picture of a situation that everyone knew about, but was afraid to deal with. The incidents described in the article are more evidence that any protestations by the House GOP leadership that they didn’t know what was going on is specious at face value:

…The messages were innocent at first. But after the young man moved home, he recalled, Foley started asking about “my roommates, if I ever saw them naked.” Within months, the congressman was dangling a job offer, “because I was a hot boy,” he said. Two years later, when he contacted Foley for advice on D.C. hotels, the congressman wrote back: “You could always stay at my place. I’m always here, I’m always lonely, and I’m always up for oral sex.”

The WaPo article goes on to describe a very curious incident that took place at a Washington area eatery:

One evening early in the spring of 2000, a half-dozen pages – three girls and three boys – went to supper at Hawk –n’ Dove, a Capitol Hill pub. One boy had mentioned to Foley that they would be there, but no one expected that a congressman would show up.

Congressional pages rushed to shake President Bush’s hand after the State of the Union in 2004. Pages, high school juniors who are at least 16 years old, spend a year living, working and going to school on Capitol Hill.

Between House votes that night, Foley walked in. “It was the craziest thing. He ate wings off everybody’s plate,” recalled Rebecca Hoffman, a Democratic page who was there. He shot billiards with them, another page recalled.

“We were just absolutely shocked,” said Hoffman…

It’s been rehashed time and time again since Predatorgate struck – but this kind of display by a 40+ year old man, regardless of whether or not he’s a member of congress, is just plain creepy. Alarm bells had to have been ringing everywhere. And as the bells were indeed ringing, it appears that no one in the GOP House leadership bothered to pay attention:

However, Frattali and former pages said the rules were looser when members of Congress were involved.

And the program’s staff, even if they had known of a problem involving Foley or any other member, could not have simply invoked their zero-tolerance policy.

“One is sort of a page transgression,” Frattali said. “One is a member transgression. You can’t put a member on a plane and send him home.”

No? When activities such as those that Foley was engaged in clearly cross the line of what is proper interaction between a 40+ year old man and adolescents (regardless of gender), not only is censure warranted, but so is an investigation by those with the power to do so. The activities (online and offline) of Mark Foley, 40+ year old man, were never investigated because of the GOP leadership’s desire to hold power at any cost. Like avoiding the crazy uncle in the attic, people like Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay and Tom Reynolds and Jon Boehner chose to look the other way and ignore the problem, in hopes that it would go away and/or not blow up in their faces.

As a postscript to the WaPo article, I also ran into an article yesterday evening from the Philadelphia Jewish Voice that serves as an excellent recap of Predatorgate, and the myths and media obsfucation surrounding the scandal.

Predatorgate isn’t going away anytime soon. Not surprisingly, the House Ethics Committee is unlikely to issue a report before the upcoming midterm elections, however:

Despite an uncharacteristic spurt of activity, the House ethics committee is unlikely to complete its investigation of the Mark Foley page scandal before the election, but it may issue an interim report on Foley’s activities and how the GOP leadership responded to warnings, according to sources.

My guess? If an interim report does in fact come out, it’ll hit the news cycle late in the afternoon on Friday before the election.

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006 by Richard Blair |
Category: Predatorgate

Next Republican Diddling Pages, This One in Person, not with IMs

Well, that’s what’s hitting the blogzome all over the place, at Wonkette and several other places, for instance. The page was a girl, and supposedly 16 years old. The Republican is Jerry Weller, (R-IL), or so the rumor goes. But the veiled accusation didn’t make the papers until the Chicago Sun Times [...]


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Well, that’s what’s hitting the blogzome all over the place, at Wonkette and several other places, for instance. The page was a girl, and supposedly 16 years old. The Republican is Jerry Weller, (R-IL), or so the rumor goes. But the veiled accusation didn’t make the papers until the Chicago Sun Times ran a short article about the Jerry Weller campaign denying the rumors. I understand one blog source is giving this story 48 hours to break wide open.

Hmm. I am not so skeptical as Chicagoist, but I am going to wait before I condemn Jerry Weller. Still, the story sounds like a barrel of laughs with just a couple weeks to go before the elect, and you gotta wonder why someone seeking to make up a story would choose Weller as its subject. Because he’s close to Hastert? Then why not make up a rumor about Hastert living with Scott Palmer?

Saturday, October 21st, 2006 by Steven Reynolds |
Category: Predatorgate

Foley Refocused

The Mark Foley Excuse Machine™ is cranked up to full speed today. Predatorgate was never about Foley’s behavior itself – which was clearly inexcusable and possibly criminal in nature. The most disturbing aspect of Predatorgate is the GOP’s efforts to deflect blame for Foley’s actions, and for their lack of accountablity in Foley [...]


Commentary By: Richard Blair

The Mark Foley Excuse Machine™ is cranked up to full speed today. Predatorgate was never about Foley’s behavior itself – which was clearly inexcusable and possibly criminal in nature. The most disturbing aspect of Predatorgate is the GOP’s efforts to deflect blame for Foley’s actions, and for their lack of accountablity in Foley not being confronted earlier. Predatorgate is, and always has been, about the GOP leadership being aware of Foley’s activities, and putting their political party ahead of the safety of young men and women in the page program.

As I made clear before, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that GOP congressman Mark Foley was a member of the GOP house leadership. And that fact alone renders as nonsensical any claims by other GOP congressmen in leadership positions that they “didn’t know”, or “forgot” that a member of their leadership was potentially engaged in inappropriate relationships with underaged male pages.

The House Ethics Committee hearing into Predatorgate kicks into high gear today, with the testimony from former House Clerk Jeff Trandahl. We already know about Foley’s emails, IM’s, and late night visits to the page dorm, but this little tidbit from CNN is apparently new:

…Two sources close to Trandahl told CNN that he had been monitoring Foley’s interaction with pages after being told of troubling behavior by the congressman in the House cloakroom and elsewhere…

For the moment, it’s unclear as to where the “elsewhere” might have been, but perhaps the term refers to the page dorm incidents. This is the first time that the phrase “troubling behavior” has been used to describe Foley’s interaction with pages who worked in the house cloakroom. So, perhaps something new is going to be revealed.

Also, there were reports earlier this week that Foley’s lawyer was going to “out” the Catholic priest who allegedly abused him in the past. Interesting, then, that the church apparently decided to preemptively identify the priest – who is now (conveniently) in Italy Malta, and apparently unreachable by investigators and reporters. (Update: I was wrong – seems as if he’s singing like a bird, according to somegirl in the comments.)

In recent years, the GOP has done an excellent job of refocusing debate and commentary on controversial issues. When the GOP gets caught doing something bad, their footsoldiers in the right wing blogosphere and on talk radio get the talking points relayed to them, and then turn the story around completely. They throw so many countermeasures up in the air, that the core issues become (apparently, for most reporters) confusing. So, it should come as no surprise that they’ve been trying to do the same thing with the Foley investigation since the very beginning.

In the remaining time before the election, it’s important that the media not lose sight of the fact that this scandal was never about salacious activity by a disgraced congressman. It’s about the coverup, and the GOP’s quest to maintain power at any expense. That’s all that matters to them. The question has to be asked:

Why? Why is maintaining power so important to the GOP, above and beyond every other consideration, including the safety and well being of young adolescents in their care? Is the GOP leadership that afraid that the voters are finally going to give the Democratic Party a flashlight to shine into a dark corner?

Thursday, October 19th, 2006 by Richard Blair |
Category: Predatorgate

Gay Old GOP? Or Pedophile Old GOP?

Let’s make sure to set the record straight, yet again. The Foley scandal is about a man taking advantage of underage pages. It has nothing to do with the amount of gay staffers in the Republican Party. Certainly it has nothing to do with the hypocrisy of the Republicans villifying gay Americans [...]


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Let’s make sure to set the record straight, yet again. The Foley scandal is about a man taking advantage of underage pages. It has nothing to do with the amount of gay staffers in the Republican Party. Certainly it has nothing to do with the hypocrisy of the Republicans villifying gay Americans on the campaign trail while hiring them in the campaign staff. Still, Frank Rich is interesting in detailing those phenomenon, and especially in how we must be vigilant toward the Republican backlash, which will be to use whatever strategies of prejudice possible to strike at gay and lesbian citizens.

More interesting, perhaps, is the idea that George Bush knew about Mark Foley during the 2004 campaign and that he was actively shunning Foley. It is one of those things that looked like internet speculation for a while, but now it is showing up as Sunday Columnist specualtion. Hmm.

All of this just emphasizes the Republican moral bottom line. The only moral bottom line to the Republican Party is winning in November. Ask Max Cleland.

Sunday, October 15th, 2006 by Steven Reynolds |
Category: Predatorgate

Poll: No Impact of Foley Scandal on GLBT Issues

Here’s some pretty good news for those in the gay and lesbian community who were concerned about backlash from Predatorgate:
WASHINGTON ” The Human Rights Campaign today released a new nationwide poll that shows the aggressively coordinated attempts by anti-gay right-wing leaders and anti-gay groups to brand the Mark Foley scandal as a gay issue are [...]

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Here’s some pretty good news for those in the gay and lesbian community who were concerned about backlash from Predatorgate:

WASHINGTON ” The Human Rights Campaign today released a new nationwide poll that shows the aggressively coordinated attempts by anti-gay right-wing leaders and anti-gay groups to brand the Mark Foley scandal as a gay issue are a resounding failure.

The new, nationwide poll shows that, by a 2-to-1 margin, voters believe that “this type of behavior is typical of politicians” over “this type of behavior is typical of gay men.” The poll also showed support for either civil unions or marriage for same-sex couples at 66 percent, which is consistent with other polls on the same question.

“Some right-wing leaders and politicians have tried to divert attention from the congressional leadership”s failure to investigate Mark Foley”s abhorrent behavior, and their cover-up in order to hold on to power, by insisting that his being gay was the central issue,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Conservative politicians have tried to promote prejudice against gay Americans, rather than push for accountability in this scandal. Today”s poll shows that Americans reject their outrageous claims.” …

Hope this calms some fears…

Saturday, October 14th, 2006 by Richard Blair |
Category: Predatorgate

CNN: U.S. Attorney in AZ Opens Kolbe Page Investigation

I’ve been picking up vibes for a week now that there was another shoe ready to drop in the ongoing Predatorgate scandal. Late this evening, CNN reports:
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The U.S. attorney in Arizona has begun a preliminary inquiry into a 1996 camping trip that included Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Arizona, and two male former [...]

Commentary By: Richard Blair

I’ve been picking up vibes for a week now that there was another shoe ready to drop in the ongoing Predatorgate scandal. Late this evening, CNN reports:

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The U.S. attorney in Arizona has begun a preliminary inquiry into a 1996 camping trip that included Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Arizona, and two male former congressional pages, according to two federal law enforcement officials who are familiar with the issue.

The officials stressed the initial assessment by prosecutors in Arizona stems from a single allegation regarding Kolbe’s behavior on the trip.

“This inquiry has just recently begun, and it is much too early to know whether there is anything there,” said one official with knowledge of the matter.

Spokesmen for the Justice Department refused any comment…

All I have to say: the DNC better max out their American Express Gold Cards this coming week in buying ad time. Even the less competitive races could all of a sudden flip if there’s so much as a whiff that Kolbe’s been involved with pages longer than Foley.

Saturday, October 14th, 2006 by Richard Blair |
Category: Predatorgate

Predatorgate: Nazis -vs- Good Nazis

The dirty little secret that Predatorgate has kind of brought to the forefront is the fact that there are an awful lot of gay Republicans working in Washington, DC. Actually, it’s probably the worst kept secret in the world. Apparently even the front line homophobic fundie umbrella organizations have been well aware of [...]

Commentary By: Richard Blair

The dirty little secret that Predatorgate has kind of brought to the forefront is the fact that there are an awful lot of gay Republicans working in Washington, DC. Actually, it’s probably the worst kept secret in the world. Apparently even the front line homophobic fundie umbrella organizations have been well aware of the situation, at the same time that they’ve made homos their number one wedge issue with the fringe right GOP base.

And now, merely being a Nazi is apparently not good enough. A guy (or gal) has to be a good Nazi to exist within the GOP. I laugh when I hear the Log Cabin Republicans justify their existence within the confines of the GOP small tent by saying, “well, we’ll change the party from within”. Good luck with that, guys:

They just call it “the list.” It supposedly bears the names of two dozen gay and lesbian Republicans – including a female Senator, four members of Congress, nine chiefs of staff, and two White House advisors. This “velvet mafia,” say inside sources, helped cover up former US Congressman Mark Foley’s appetite for underage congressional pages – in order to protect one of their own.

The scandal over Foley’s salacious and highly inappropriate e-mails and instant messages with teenage boys has turned into a witch hunt for gays within the Republican Party…

I knew from the very beginning of Predatorgate that it was going to come to this kind of a conclusion. In fact, on a couple of blogger mail lists that I belong to, I cautioned against playing up the gay angle of Foley’s internet predatory tendencies. Foley could have just as easily been a hetero sicko preying on 16 year old girl pages, rather than boy pages.

The “gay angle” blurs the narrative tremendously, and is a classic red herring for the Dobsons of the world to use in obfuscating the real issues. Ah, but then, no one listens to me anyway.

Friday, October 13th, 2006 by Richard Blair |
Category: Predatorgate
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