Expect a Homeland Security Threat Level Ramp-Up Sometime Today

So, in recap: Mark Foley, the Republican co-chair of the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus is an aspiring ephebophile, knew all about the online predator behaviors he was legislating against because he was practicing some of them himself, the Republican House leadership knew their man on kid’s issues was awfully chummy with the pages but appeared to think the way to deal with it was just to suggest to him that, you know, maybe he shouldn’t send personal messages to the boys anymore, and while the House leadership seems shocked, shocked that Foley might possibly be enjoying the company of teen pages (although not so shocked that they removed him from his kid-protecting post) the GOP staffers themselves knew back to 2001, at least, to tell the pages to avoid getting too close to the guy.

This just in: Someone tried to sneak a bomb on an airplane! Inside a schnauzer!

The good news in all this, however, is now that Foley’s going into rehab for alcoholism, everything will be okay. Because nothing clears up an attraction to teen boys like rehab for booze.

Mmmm… pie.

I particularly like the spin Brit Hume is putting on this, along the lines of well, you know, Bill Clinton did sort of the same thing, too. But you know what, I think I’m going to go out among the people in my very conservative, very Republican rural Ohio county — whose representative is in some hot water about this whole thing, incidentally — and ask them if there’s a difference between a male politican getting a hummer from an adult female staffer, and a male politician, charged with the job of keeping kids safe, asking one of his underage male pages to get out a ruler and measure the length of his wang and to essay his favorite techniques for jerking off.

Hmmm. Adult female, underage teenage boy. Consensual adult heterosexual sex, homosexual pedophile cybersex. Hmmm. Maybe it’s just me, but I think my conservative, Republican neighbors might be able to parse the difference between the two that appears to elude Mr. Hume.

This just in: Al-Qaeda’s #2 man killed!

Look, here’s the deal: If the House Republican leadership knew they had a teen-loving, nasty-IM-writing middle-aged man heading up their child-protection caucus, and they hushed it up and let him keep the job, how can they not be removed from their posts? Can you imagine if something like this happened if the House leadership were Democratic, and it was a Democrat asking a teen boy how often he polished Flipper? Rupert Murdoch would personally head up the lynch mob. Of course, having this happen so close to an election might just solve the problem for them. It’s one thing to support throwing out habeas corpus, because it’s not like the average voter knows how to spell it, much knows what it means. But most voters know how to spell “man-teen cybersex cover-up,” and they know what it means, too. November just got a little more interesting.

This just in: Al-Qaeda’s #2 man has risen from the dead! It’s Bill Clinton!!! And he’s got a schnauzer! On a plane! While getting a blow job!

Fellated undead liberal former president terrorist airborne with a dog bomb!

Red alert! Red alert!

133 thoughts on “Expect a Homeland Security Threat Level Ramp-Up Sometime Today

  1. Talk about wagging the dog – I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rove try to spin this into some sort of anti-gay-marriage rhetoric. Of course that would assume that the average voter doesn’t know the difference between consensual, committed relationships between adult humans and, as John puts it, “man-teen cybersex cover-up.”

    Oh, wait…

    I think I’m going to be ill…

  2. Talk about wagging the dog – I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rove try to spin this into some sort of anti-gay-marriage rhetoric. Of course that would assume that the average voter doesn’t know the difference between consensual, committed relationships between adult humans and, as John puts it, “man-teen cybersex cover-up.”

    Oh, wait…

    I think I’m going to be ill…

  3. Man, if we could only remind voters this fall that the GOP is the party of shoplifters, macaca-haters, and sexual predators, this election would be so EASY.

  4. You’ve gotta love DC. Where else can an educator who also happens to be an amateur photographer get fired for taking pictures of his students (when they’re out in public and doing student-like things) while a high-ranking official gets to go on actually being a pervert without so much of a ‘knock it off?’

  5. You’ve gotta love DC. Where else can an educator who also happens to be an amateur photographer get fired for taking pictures of his students (when they’re out in public and doing student-like things) while a high-ranking official gets to go on actually being a pervert without so much of a ‘knock it off?’

  6. I personally enjoy this little slice of prevaricating, neo-conservative stupidity:
    Blame the Liberals

    Hopefully, that link works. I’ve never posted one of those here. If I break something, John, it’s probably Clinton’s fault.

  7. Say, isn’t this the second scandal where a politician was found doing something illegal/immoral/against their oath and trust and then suddenly went into/self admitted into alcohol rehab? I mean, did they mas produce the memo and just leave the date and name blank just so they could yell, “don’t pick on him, he’s an alcoholic. Just like a liberal to kick a man when he’s down.”

    Sigh. Must be getting crowded in that rehab.

  8. Look, here’s the deal: If the House Republican leadership knew they had a teen-loving, nasty-IM-writing middle-aged man heading up their child-protection caucus, and they hushed it up and let him keep the job, how can they not be removed from their posts?

    That’s a pretty big “if,” John. Is it your experience that guilty people immediately come totally clean about transgressions upon the first questioning, or do they hide and/or downplay them?

  9. Look, here’s the deal: If the House Republican leadership knew they had a teen-loving, nasty-IM-writing middle-aged man heading up their child-protection caucus, and they hushed it up and let him keep the job, how can they not be removed from their posts?

    That’s a pretty big “if,” John. Is it your experience that guilty people immediately come totally clean about transgressions upon the first questioning, or do they hide and/or downplay them?

  10. John:

    Thank you for educating us about the distinction between pedophilia and ephebophilia.

    For the moment, let’s leave aside the fact that the senator is gay—and pretend that he was a heterosexual adult man going after a 16-year-old female.

    I was recently listening to an NPR topic on this very topic. One of the guests, a psychologist, noted that most heterosexual adult males will occasionally “notice” post-pubescent females under the legal age of 18 (which is, after all, an arbitrary age at which the law defines “adulthood”). She went on to say that adult males who suffer these evil desires don’t have to worry about being “sick”, they just need to keep in mind that they can’t act on such impulses.

    I remember you wrote in one of your previous essays that you wouldn’t be particularly eager to have sex with an 18-yr.-old female; but I think you’re in the minority here among middle-aged men. (Of course, when you take your marriage into consideration, it is easy to see how you would resist the attentions of any young female sci-fi groupies.) Most guys in their thirties and forties find younger women (18-25)attractive, even if they ultimately decide that going after them would be “more trouble than they’re worth.”

    My point here is that Foley, as a gay man, didn’t so much suffer from sickness as hubris. If he wanted someone younger, he could have gone after a 20-yr.-old and this would have never made the news, but no, he had to have a 16-year-old.

  11. Gerrymander:

    Well, you know know. I’m not expecting finding out the truth here to be entirely easy. Indeed, I expect it to take up most of the next month. At least.

    Greg:

    I’m not as sure as you that a middle-aged Republican congressman having a same-sex relationship with someone 32 years his junior would pass without note, but I certainly agree that once his interests dipped belowd the 18-year-line, he certainly complicated matters for himself.

  12. While I agree with everything you;ve said, and despise this lowlife for his sleazy behavior…can I ask a fair, so-far-unasked question?

    Why was this leaked to the press one month before elections and not 7 months ago when Congressional Democrats (and Republicans!) knew about it?

    I’ll tell you: Because 1. It damages ALL Republicans in the upcoming elections, and 2. It prevents the Republicans from finding a decent replacement candidate.

    To let it go unreported just to manipulate the elections is kind of a dirty, sleazy trick to pull in light of the fact that we’re talking about minors.

  13. While I agree with everything you;ve said, and despise this lowlife for his sleazy behavior…can I ask a fair, so-far-unasked question?

    Why was this leaked to the press one month before elections and not 7 months ago when Congressional Democrats (and Republicans!) knew about it?

    I’ll tell you: Because 1. It damages ALL Republicans in the upcoming elections, and 2. It prevents the Republicans from finding a decent replacement candidate.

    To let it go unreported just to manipulate the elections is kind of a dirty, sleazy trick to pull in light of the fact that we’re talking about minors.

  14. I heard Malfoy (I mean M Foley) intentionally went easy on the IM penalties because he was using IM so much.

    And – my God – IM has so completely ruined the art of seduction. That, ahem, “exchange” is so crude and yucky and sleazy.

  15. Jim K:

    “Why was this leaked to the press one month before elections and not 7 months ago when Congressional Democrats (and Republicans!) knew about it?”

    Got me. However, I’m not aware of Congressional Democrats knowing about it — if you like to provide reputable, real-news cites for that, I’d be pleased to see them.

    And of course, inasmuch as this behavior was known since at least 2001 by GOP staffers, why wasn’t it addressed then?

  16. Why was this leaked to the press one month before elections and not 7 months ago when Congressional Democrats (and Republicans!) knew about it?

    I haven’t heard anyone say the Democrats knew about this seven months ago. Dennis Hastert is saying he only found out about it when ABC ‘broke’ the story last week.

  17. Why was this leaked to the press one month before elections and not 7 months ago when Congressional Democrats (and Republicans!) knew about it?

    I haven’t heard anyone say the Democrats knew about this seven months ago. Dennis Hastert is saying he only found out about it when ABC ‘broke’ the story last week.

  18. Greg,

    There are some fine but inportant distinctions to be made here.

    First, as you said, people need to be held accountable for their actions, not their thoughts.

    Once that is established then ‘a lot of people have these thoughts’ is no defense for a bad action.

    Once Malfoley crossed the line into the world of action then a couple other factors make this additionally sleazy. The power differential, both because he is dealing with an employee and a young employee. Second, for some people, the gay issue.
    Finally, the coverup.

    Leave out the gay part and the ‘everybody gets indecent thoughts now and then’ part and there is still plently to rile against.

  19. if you like to provide cites for that, I’d be pleased to see them.

    I will look around for more than just rumors, but common sense tells me that there are no secrets in the Capitol building: Everyone knows everything that goes on, and ALL the pages talk. Someone leaked this…I’ll bet money on a Democrat(ic) Congressperson’s page being the source. It just irks me that this was common knowledge among the page staff and no one gave it to the media then.

    And of course, inasmuch as this behavior was known since at least 2001 by GOP staffers, why wasn’t it addressed then?

    Oh you’re 100% right there. I cannot think of one single reasonable excuse for covering this up. I can think of a hundred sleazy, politician-style excuses, all of which make me want to stock up on water and ammunition and start a revolution.

  20. JimK:

    “Oh you’re 100% right there. I cannot think of one single reasonable excuse for covering this up. I can think of a hundred sleazy, politician-style excuses, all of which make me want to stock up on water and ammunition and start a revolution.”

    Sadly, the way things are going, I would hesitate to say you won’t get your chance.

  21. JimK: Someone leaked this…I’ll bet money on a Democrat(ic) Congressperson’s page being the source.

    If I’m going to be outraged, it’s not going to be because the person who finally blew the whistle on this waited until just before the election. I am more outraged that people on the other side knew about it for years and did nothing.

    I guess when Republicans speak of ‘family values’ they mean in a ‘La Cosa Nostra’ kind of way…

  22. JimK: Someone leaked this…I’ll bet money on a Democrat(ic) Congressperson’s page being the source.

    If I’m going to be outraged, it’s not going to be because the person who finally blew the whistle on this waited until just before the election. I am more outraged that people on the other side knew about it for years and did nothing.

    I guess when Republicans speak of ‘family values’ they mean in a ‘La Cosa Nostra’ kind of way…

  23. I guess when Republicans speak of ‘family values’ they mean in a ‘La Cosa Nostra’ kind of way…

    No argument here. I an a reformed Dem who also quit the GOP last year, I just can’t take the mafia mentality anymore. I’m contemplating going the rest of my life with no registered affiliation at all.

    I’m just asking because I don’t want to see someone who sat on information like this and leaked it only because of the election cycles lauded as some kind of hero. They didn’t care about the boys or even the dirty, salcious gossip-mag feel of the whole despicable affair. They timed this solely to affect the elections.

    In no way do I intend my feelings about the timing to distract from the actual matter here, that a low-life was preying on under-age pages and that the GOP leadership tried to sweep it under the rug.

  24. Jim K:

    I think we can all agree that in cases like this, the sooner the information comes to light, the better. Some things shouldn’t be political, including the safety of kids and teens.

  25. Wonkette has been following this story for a couple of days, and they just posted a “who-knew-what-when” article: http://www.wonkette.com

    Basically, according to ABC, House Republicans were warning incoming pages about Foley in 2001. Dennis Hastert and the St. Petersburg Times have both known about the email for at least a year. Hastert claims that they gave Foley a good talking to, but did nothing else. The Times had an article about the email, but the page didn’t want to go public, so there was no story.

    The emails bounced around a bit until they got to a blogger named “Stop Sex Predators,” and the day after Wonkette posted a link to that site, ABC got the IMs, and it was all over the news.

    K

  26. Hey, I think we are forgetting the most important issue here… I mean, how many techniques ARE there to choke the chicken? What the hell. Am I missing out on something? What do these people know and when did they know it?!

    …and to essay his favorite techniques for jerking off.

  27. Hey, I think we are forgetting the most important issue here… I mean, how many techniques ARE there to choke the chicken? What the hell. Am I missing out on something? What do these people know and when did they know it?!

    …and to essay his favorite techniques for jerking off.

  28. Last year, after weeks of rumors about major financial shenanigans, NJ Governor Jim McGreevey announced that he is a “gay american”. Subsequent to his resignation, all curiosity about any prosecutable offenses dried up. A year later, he’s unloaded the wife, got a boyfriend and gets to go on Oprah to flog his book.

    What follows is the transcript of a press conference that will take place tomorrow (oddly enough, in a 2nd grade classroom in Sarasota, Fl).

    Mark Foley: I have a brief announcement and then I’ll be happy to take questions.

    On an undisclosed date in 2003, at appproximately 3:00pm, I was chairing a meeting of the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus. A young female page, who is cute as a button, and in whom I have no interest whatsoever delivered to me a can of Coca Cola. This Coca Cola was laced with vodka. She subsequently delivered three more cans of vodka laced soda to me. Since I have been a heavy drinker for years, these three measly beverages had no discernable effect on me. They did however exacerbate the effects of the Scotch I later consumed with fellow caucus members in the cloak room and a few more drinks I had upon arriving at home.

    At 7:25 P.M., in an inebriated state, I initiated an instant message exchange with what I thought to be a 55 year old transsexual. At no time, did I believe myself to be conversing with a minor. Had the female page, in whom I have no interest, not spiked my Coca Cola, none of this would have happened. I am checking myself into….

    -An Aide whispers in his ear–

    Mark Foley: I’m sorry. We’re going to have to cut this short. I’ve been informed that a schnauzer has been seen in the building and we’re being asked to evacuate.

  29. I cynically predict that this episode will leave no other impression on America’s heartland than “just another gay PRE-vert molesting children…what else is new?”

    Even if the glacially paced Official Investigation by DOJ were to bring to light details of the cover-up (which it won’t), by that time nobody will even remember anything but the sordid IMs in which Teen X admits to being made “a little” horny by Big Bad Gay Congressman Y.

  30. Charles Winder:

    “I cynically predict that this episode will leave no other impression on America’s heartland than ‘just another gay PRE-vert molesting children…what else is new?'”

    As I live in the heartland, allow me to humbly suggest that folks here may be slightly more politically sophisticated than that. I do think a cover-up will matter, if it exists.

  31. “Once Malfoley crossed the line into the world of action then a couple other factors make this additionally sleazy. The power differential, both because he is dealing with an employee and a young employee. Second, for some people, the gay issue.
    Finally, the coverup.”

    And, also, the “harassment” part, too. Ephebophilia is one thing, homosexuality is one thing; sexually harassing people you’re all in a huff about protecting–and then covering it up, as a party–that’s messed up.

  32. This morning, on the CW’s “Daily Buzz” program, they read a phone message from a viewer who did in fact blame the Democrats, saying that the Dems’ pro-gay, anti-family agenda caused Foley to do this.

    “Gee, Mr. IRS auditor, I haven’t paid my taxes since 2000 because the Republicans’ stance on lower taxes and smaller government inspired me to do so…”

  33. Those darn Democrats…when will they learn that only Republicans are qualified to Protect Our Children.

    Oh, wait…

    I’m still ill…

  34. Those darn Democrats…when will they learn that only Republicans are qualified to Protect Our Children.

    Oh, wait…

    I’m still ill…

  35. Will any of the apologists try the ‘blame the victim’ route?

    The Page, having been informed in 2001 what a weak but otherwise righteous person Malfoley was, spent years ‘seducing’ him with his coqeutish ways. He preyed on the innocent God-fearing senator, literally doing the devil’s work. I mean, who among us hasn’t wanted to know the penis size and masturbatory techniques of attractive 16-year-old boys? It was entrapment, plain and simple.

  36. John,

    Regarding the heartland, I meant no slight against the people of the midwest, but was referring more generally to what I see (cynically, of course) as the majority of Americans from all geographic areas who are dumbasses. Heartland was just my shorthand way of saying Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public. Why should I be anything but cynical about after the last 5 years?

  37. Charles,

    You should bear in mind there is the ‘good’ midwest in the larger cities. It is the people living remotely or on large plots of land that are the bad midwest. Except for Kansas, which is all bad. I think it is because they can’t get TV or cable and radio is excusively right-wing nowadays.

  38. Charles,

    You should bear in mind there is the ‘good’ midwest in the larger cities. It is the people living remotely or on large plots of land that are the bad midwest. Except for Kansas, which is all bad. I think it is because they can’t get TV or cable and radio is excusively right-wing nowadays.

  39. It is the people living remotely or on large plots of land that are the bad midwest. Except for Kansas, which is all bad.

    Please tell me you do not consider yourself a modern, progressive thinker.

  40. JimK:

    Tripp is likely to be making a joke at my expense, as I live remotely, on a large plot of land, and he knows it.

  41. Actually, the age of consent in most places, including D.C., is sixteen.

    So that federal law makes it criminal to solicit an action that itself wouldn’t be criminal. You don’t see that result a lot in criminal law.

    In other words, actual sex between Foley and a sixteen-year-old page in Washington would have been legal. He just can’t use the internet to ask him.

    Canada has the right idea – sixteen years unless there’s a relationship of trust or authority (like a Congressman and a page), then it’s eighteen.

    Of course, it’s eighteen in California, and now there’s IMs about San Diego.

    Say, isn’t this the second scandal where a politician was found doing something illegal/immoral/against their oath and trust and then suddenly went into/self admitted into alcohol rehab?

    Bob Ney is also in rehab now. I have to wonder if that’s one of those dog whistle things, like Bush’s comma remarks.

    I wonder if my supermarket carries molasses.

  42. I AM MOTHERF*%^ING TIRED OF THESE MOTHERF#$%ING SCHNAUZERS ON THIS MOTHERF@#$ING PLANE!

    Oh, I’m sorry. Is my meme lame now?

  43. I AM MOTHERF*%^ING TIRED OF THESE MOTHERF#$%ING SCHNAUZERS ON THIS MOTHERF@#$ING PLANE!

    Oh, I’m sorry. Is my meme lame now?

  44. I think Gwen may have this more right: this ultimately is a workplace sexual harassment issue. The age of consent in DC is 16, so from that perspective Foley probably didn’t do anything illegal. As a general rule, we don’t like to think of people as sexual beings under 18 (as if that were a magic number). Don’t get me wrong, what Foley did was wrong. But it doesn’t rise to any higher level than classic workplace harassment. Heck, we hired a Supreme Court justice who did and said much worse.

  45. I personally am looking forward to the spin that will no doubt be put in this issue and what wonders of logic will be performed, nay, what soimersaults of logic will be performed to believe the GOP’s spin they put on it.

    Then I will go take too much Atavan and drift the afternoon away.

  46. JimK,

    Yeah, like John said. I was hoping the ‘Kansas is all bad’ statement would be far enough over the top that people would detect the humor, but internet joking is a tricky thing.

  47. JimK,

    Yeah, like John said. I was hoping the ‘Kansas is all bad’ statement would be far enough over the top that people would detect the humor, but internet joking is a tricky thing.

  48. Mark DF: The age of consent in DC is 16

    Sorry, but it isn’t. It is legal for a person to marry at 16 with parental consent, but children in DC reach majority status at 18 just like everywhere else in the country.

    DC Statute 46-101 states it this way “Notwithstanding any rule of common or other law to the contrary in effect on July 22, 1976, the age of majority in the District of Columbia shall be 18 years of age, except that this chapter shall not affect any common-law or statutory right to child support.”

  49. I enjoy a nice public stoning as much as the next guy, but it worries me that Bush is probably sitting in a corner somewhere laughing his ass off…

    The spotlight has quickly left the Detainee Bill, so that we can now focus our full attention on bath towels and how the baby batter got cleaned up afterwards.

    Maybe the folks who leaked the “Masturgate” scandal, will be some of the first held as “American enemy combatants”.

  50. I enjoy a nice public stoning as much as the next guy, but it worries me that Bush is probably sitting in a corner somewhere laughing his ass off…

    The spotlight has quickly left the Detainee Bill, so that we can now focus our full attention on bath towels and how the baby batter got cleaned up afterwards.

    Maybe the folks who leaked the “Masturgate” scandal, will be some of the first held as “American enemy combatants”.

  51. John H:

    I did a quick google and got a broad spectrum of “age of consents” from 15 up. I’m not a legal scholar, but maybe someone else can say if there’s a difference between age of consent and age of majority (age of majority does not mean, for instance, that you can drink). I suspect they are two different legal terms. Age of consent was much discussed here is Massachusetts during the whole priest scandal, so I’m tending to thinking it’s two different things.

  52. John H:

    Unless they’ve changed these recently:

    D.C. Code § 22-3001; D.C. Code § 22-3102

    It’s 16 in D.C. for consent.

    Sadly, I no longer have my Lexis account.

  53. John H:

    Unless they’ve changed these recently:

    D.C. Code § 22-3001; D.C. Code § 22-3102

    It’s 16 in D.C. for consent.

    Sadly, I no longer have my Lexis account.

    However, the Adam Walsh Child Protection Safety Act of 2006, which Foley championed, makes it illegal to solicit sex over the internet from anyone under 18. Which makes it illegal to solicit something that’s legal in a lot of places. That’s Congress for you.

  54. John H:

    Unless they’ve changed these recently:

    D.C. Code § 22-3001; D.C. Code § 22-3102

    It’s 16 in D.C. for consent.

    Sadly, I no longer have my Lexis account.

    However, the Adam Walsh Child Protection Safety Act of 2006, which Foley championed, makes it illegal to solicit sex over the internet from anyone under 18. Which makes it illegal to solicit something that’s legal in a lot of places. That’s Congress for you.

  55. Majority/Minority status does not necessarily correspond to the age of consent for sexual purposes. F’rinstance, in Colorado, adulthood starts at 18, but sexual assault on a child applies to victims under the age of 15. (Or 18, if the assailant is in a position of trust relative to the victim.)

  56. The age of consent for sex in DC is 16, for minors engaging in sex with other minors. It doesn’t mean an adult is free to have sex with a minor. Click here and scroll down to (or search for) TITLE X: SEXUAL ABUSE. It reads in part:

    (a) Section 101 (D.C. Official Code § 22-3001) is amended by adding a new subsection 5a to read as follows:

    “(5a) “Minor” means a person who has not yet attained the age of 18 years or a person attending high school or its equivalent who has not yet attained the age of 19 years.”

    It then goes on to list the various offenses – in each case the offense is for a person ’18 years of age or older’ engaging in sexual activities with a minor.

  57. The age of consent for sex in DC is 16, for minors engaging in sex with other minors. It doesn’t mean an adult is free to have sex with a minor. Click here and scroll down to (or search for) TITLE X: SEXUAL ABUSE. It reads in part:

    (a) Section 101 (D.C. Official Code § 22-3001) is amended by adding a new subsection 5a to read as follows:

    “(5a) “Minor” means a person who has not yet attained the age of 18 years or a person attending high school or its equivalent who has not yet attained the age of 19 years.”

    It then goes on to list the various offenses – in each case the offense is for a person ’18 years of age or older’ engaging in sexual activities with a minor.

  58. As a conservative (NB: that’s different from ‘Republican’), what really frustrates me most about all of this is that I have essentially two choices at the polls this year: (A) Voting for a bunch of ninnies that have been (relatively) demonstrably ineffective when it comes to advancing ideas that I’d like to see tried in the public forum (or at least honestly debated, if nothing else). Or, (B), supporting a party whose ideas I disagree with to a greater or lesser extent, but for whom the memory of being out of power is still fresh, and thus might exhibit some semblance of responsibility and accountability. (And yes, I’m leave out independent votes because for the most part a vote in that direction isn’t likely to actually gain me anything legislatively.)

    (You don’t by any chance have a recipe for Cognitive Dissonance Pie over there, do you John?)

    More on topic, if Repub staffers and/or Congressmen did know about underage dalliance of this sort happening and chose to do nothing about it… I’m gonna be pretty hard to convince that there’s any reason to let them continue making the country’s policy decisions. The fact that this whole deal represents just one reason of many why I’m not too fond of the GOP currently says that I probably won’t be very surprised/disappointed if Congress gets shaken up pretty heftily in November.

  59. On age of consent: I’m not a lawyer, but I know for a fact that Age of Consent laws apply to sex with everyone and not just sex with other minors. Several states have separate age of consent laws– one that applies to other minors and one that applies to everyone.

    For instance, in Maryland, there are two ages of consent. At the first (which is somewhere around thirteen; I’m too lazy to look it up), the minor can consent to sex with anyone who is no more than four years older than they are. At the second (which I believe is sixteen, but I’m still too lazy to look it up), they can consent to sex with anyone. They may not consent to participate in pornography of any kind (Which raises a fun question about whether IMs are “sex” or “pornography”).

    The fact is, though, that whether or not it was legal for the guy to solicit someone that age, it still makes him a freakin’ creepy dirty old man, a hypocrit, and an all around ‘guy who should have been fired years ago.’

    I also find it quite possible that other pages didn’t have any idea. I had a close friend who was ‘involved’ with an older man via the internet back in high school. She didn’t talk about it, because she knew we’d all tell her she was being an idiot. I didn’t hear about it until after she broke it off. Mary K. Leternaeu’s spouse aside, no one wants to be ‘that kid.’

  60. On age of consent: I’m not a lawyer, but I know for a fact that Age of Consent laws apply to sex with everyone and not just sex with other minors. Several states have separate age of consent laws– one that applies to other minors and one that applies to everyone.

    For instance, in Maryland, there are two ages of consent. At the first (which is somewhere around thirteen; I’m too lazy to look it up), the minor can consent to sex with anyone who is no more than four years older than they are. At the second (which I believe is sixteen, but I’m still too lazy to look it up), they can consent to sex with anyone. They may not consent to participate in pornography of any kind (Which raises a fun question about whether IMs are “sex” or “pornography”).

    The fact is, though, that whether or not it was legal for the guy to solicit someone that age, it still makes him a freakin’ creepy dirty old man, a hypocrit, and an all around ‘guy who should have been fired years ago.’

    I also find it quite possible that other pages didn’t have any idea. I had a close friend who was ‘involved’ with an older man via the internet back in high school. She didn’t talk about it, because she knew we’d all tell her she was being an idiot. I didn’t hear about it until after she broke it off. Mary K. Leternaeu’s spouse aside, no one wants to be ‘that kid.’

  61. So the Republican congressional leadership covered up their own foreknowledge of Rep. Foley’s sexual wrongdoing? Wow: They’re positively Catholic in their evilness.

  62. Kansas is a vortex of goo where a cess pool of dim thinking and bigotted khaki pant wearing, bowl cut having, Dean and Deluca cup wielding, think we’re so cool cuz we live where bono made a video once ten years ago thinking, Fred Phelp’s son is my neighbor bragging, evolution denying, red whit and blue magnet sticker on big truck displaying people that aren’t my father or my sister or maybe one or two others but pretty much everyone else live.

    Oh, Did I just type that out loud? Just kidding! It’s a sickness I have.
    wink wink wink wink wink wink wink

    (My name is Lisa. And I am a Kansas Escapee. I get my ten year Kansas Anonymous medallion next summer. HI, LISA!!)

  63. Thanks Steve Brady for the age provision of the child protection act.
    Chang thanks for the memeories.

    Kendoway note that there are other heinous pieces of legislation that are being pushed through as well. This little ditty does not seem to have gotten any traction what with torture and gay texting all the rage. So much for separation of church and state, gotta watch out for Brownback; he is apparently quite the little Dominionist.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/29/AR2006092901055.html

  64. Annalee: I’m not a lawyer either, but from what I can see online you are right. It doesn’t appear to be illegal for an adult to have sex with a person 16 years or older.

  65. Annalee: I’m not a lawyer either, but from what I can see online you are right. It doesn’t appear to be illegal for an adult to have sex with a person 16 years or older.

  66. Brian I like to think of myself as a progressive though not a democrat (sorry they have become such pussies). I have wondered why conservatives have thought that the current Republican Party is representing their conservative interests. Small government, low taxes, personal privacy, rights of the individual over the state etc. were traditional conservative ideals. Traditional liberals and conservatives are the check and balance, liberals legislating every new issue with conservatives making sure the bone headed stuff never gets signed into law. Together they are the accelerator and brake pedals,
    who represent the clutch? This is simplistic so before someone jumps me on this yes of course the real world is more complicated. I guess the real point is Brian I really want a bunch of conservatives out there that I can respectfully disagree with, not a bunch of lying sacks of shit trying to establish a monarchy, theocracy or other fun form of government. Get your friends together Brian, its going to take all of us to solve this little problem.

  67. Hilary,

    Thanks for the link. Although I really didn’t need more evidence that the religious right is a dangerous political power, I think everyone should be aware of their shenanigans.

    HI LISA!

    I’m an Eastern Colorado refugee myself…which might as well be Kansas.

  68. Midwestern Progressive – he could get the job of Pope, according to yesterday’s Panorama programme on the BBC over here.

    Greater love hath no man than he gives his (political) life for another. Isn’t it good to see someone prepared to fall on his (pork) sword for the good of his President.

  69. Midwestern Progressive – he could get the job of Pope, according to yesterday’s Panorama programme on the BBC over here.

    Greater love hath no man than he gives his (political) life for another. Isn’t it good to see someone prepared to fall on his (pork) sword for the good of his President.

  70. Hilary:

    I have wondered why conservatives have thought that the current Republican Party is representing their conservative interests.

    My personal theory is that it’s because, of the two parties of our two-party system, the ideals of the GOP are nominally closer to conservative than those of the Democratic Party. It’s something of a “these guys over here aren’t really doing much for us, but we’re pretty sure that those guys over there would do stuff we like a lot less, so…” Very definitely a ‘lesser of two weevils’ sort of choice.

    I guess the real point is Brian I really want a bunch of conservatives out there that I can respectfully disagree with, not a bunch of lying sacks of shit trying to establish a monarchy, theocracy or other fun form of government. Get your friends together Brian, its going to take all of us to solve this little problem.

    Wish I knew where to start. (Incidentally, under ‘other fun forms’ I’d file socialism, welfareism, nanny state, etc.) The main gripe I have with most of the political “debate” that’s going on in the States today (or, well, that subset with which I’m directly familiar and that has substantive intellectual merit) is that rarely are both sides arguing from the same set of core assumptions. Thus, each side’s arguments make no sense to the other, as the fundamental point of the former side may sit contrariwise to a basic assumption of the latter. Enter the spittle-flecked, vein-hemorrhaged, totally useless screaming match. Perhaps one point of agreement between us would be re-introducing principles of debate as a required subject in public secondary education? :-p (Incidentally, I don’t except myself from that – I’m sure I would benefit greatly from such a course!)

    I’ve held the position for quite a long time that, in general, those people best suited to be in places of power and making decisions are those people who wouldn’t touch politics with a ten-mile pole. (Annnd, I s’pose that’s a bad analogy for this particular thread. Sorry, guys…)

    Anyways, John, sorry to meander off-topic-ish. Uhhmmm… “Damn those lousy, lying, immoral Republicans!” <shakes fist> ;-)

  71. Also, Hilary, to add to your accelerator/brake analogy – in some areas, I believe the role of conservatives also includes trying to actually shift gears into reverse on some issues. This, of course, really gets on the nerves of those progressives who worked so hard to get those issues enacted in law. *COUGH*ROE*COUGH* ;-)

    But, I’m not trying to pick a fight here. I suspect that to some folks, “progress”, however it’s defined, is inherently and inevitably positive. While I’ve got nothing against trying new ideas on for size, I’m of the position that dead-set refusal against ever rolling back change isn’t really a good thing.

  72. Also, Hilary, to add to your accelerator/brake analogy – in some areas, I believe the role of conservatives also includes trying to actually shift gears into reverse on some issues. This, of course, really gets on the nerves of those progressives who worked so hard to get those issues enacted in law. *COUGH*ROE*COUGH* ;-)

    But, I’m not trying to pick a fight here. I suspect that to some folks, “progress”, however it’s defined, is inherently and inevitably positive. While I’ve got nothing against trying new ideas on for size, I’m of the position that dead-set refusal against ever rolling back change isn’t really a good thing.

  73. Brian, actually, some of us get involved in politics simply because we can’t stand to see our local government run down the wrong tracks. You could say I’m not the best person for the job that I really didn’t want to have to do, and you may be right, but I was better than the people that were there.

    Sometimes rolling back change is why people get elected, case in point, the Republican Take-Over of 94. Also see Democrats Regain Power 06 (I hope and pray that they will, but today I am still… hopeful). It just depends of which direction you’re rolling.

    And I think the main reason why this story has the legs it does (besides the “ick” factor, the corruption factor, the cover up factor, and just the really stupid way it’s being handled) is that it has the possibilty to stall-out the Republican Comeback and re-envigorate the Democrat Party Advance.

  74. While I agree with everything you;ve said, and despise this lowlife for his sleazy behavior…can I ask a fair, so-far-unasked question?

    Why was this leaked to the press one month before elections and not 7 months ago when Congressional Democrats (and Republicans!) knew about it?

    […]

    I will look around for more than just rumors, but common sense tells me that there are no secrets in the Capitol building: Everyone knows everything that goes on, and ALL the pages talk. Someone leaked this…I’ll bet money on a Democrat(ic) Congressperson’s page being the source. It just irks me that this was common knowledge among the page staff and no one gave it to the media then.

    This is all some sort of internet performance art to prove John’s point in posting this in the first place, right?

  75. You know what’s frustrating me most right now? How mundane this issue is and yet the press is acting like Foley is the first guy to hit on a teenager. Don’t get me wrong, what he did is wrong, but in today’s world, an adult in a position of authority—teacher, coach, counselor, whatever—being exposed for hitting on a teenager is fairly commonplace.

    Contrast this to the fact that not two weeks ago on Meet The Press, Cheney said they (and I do mean “they”) would have attacked Iraq even if they knew there was no WMD and no al-Qaida connection (which, um, they did know). Where is the firestorm? A sitting vice president admits, in public, that his administration would have gone to war on no credible evidence—in other words, would have made the decision to lie to the American public to gain support—and it’s completely off the news radar two weeks later.

    From what I’ve read so far, the House leadership isn’t guilty of a cover-up. It’s guilty of indifference. The Bush administration, on the other hand, is responsible for the deaths of 3,000 American soldiers that it flat out says they would do again whether evidence is credible or not. AND THEY WOULD LIE ABOUT IT.

    Let’s roll the tape:

    Undeclared War
    No WMDs
    No al-Qaida connection
    Loss of privacy rights via Patriot Act
    Abu-Graib
    Flouting the Geneva Convention
    Passing a pro-torture bill

    *yawn*

    Oh, hey, didja hear Foley likes to beat off with teenage boys.?
    HOLY SHIT CALL THE MEDIA!

  76. Brian I completely buy into the bipolar weevil theory of American party politics. I also understand your need to point out “the other fun forms” there is no paucity of foolishness on either side. The idea that all people are equal is horseshit; that all people should be granted equal rights under the law and equal opportunity to the government’s best ability to facilitate is not. What needs “granting” and “best ability” is where we all get to rumble.

    It has been said the short term thinkers are Republicans because they want what’s coming to them now to hell with everyone else. Midterm thinkers are Democrats because we are all equal and it takes time (and all the money plus the vig) to level the playing field. Long term thinkers revert to Republicans because for the good of the species we must let Darwinism take its course. Look ma no hands, no tongue in sight (it’s firmly in my cheek).

    Realistically, we need to transcend old boundaries, we are in an era when we can fix inequity on many levels for both polarities, if we are smart about it. Government is the people’s advocate and should do those things that individuals and small groups can’t. At the same time, the world is dangerous place and when you do something stupid well geez that was stupid we can’t protect you from yourself.

    At the weevil extremes the spittle has always flown, and has been exploited by the contestants to define an issue. The current administration has dumbed everything down to soundbite simplicity in order to obscure the important nuances involved. This one seems to have eschewed even the illusion of cooperation for the mantle of uncontested power, where is Mr. Smith when you need him (certainly not in Washington).

    Your core disconnect theory has merit and the ability to properly debate a subject is a fundamental skill of critical thinking. I think we need to go further. The one problem I have with debate is that ultimately the winner is often the skilled debater and the winning idea is not always best the best solution.

    The teaching the fundamentals of critical analysis and thinking tools are required, I am sure formal debate training include some of this. As an engineering physicist I have been taught to look at problems from many different perfectives and examine cause and effect in great detail, an approach I know you are intimately familiar with Brian. If one is not used to thinking in this mode it can be time consuming and cumbersome, tools for the non-technical are needed.

    I think your last point is that not all forward motion is progress and boy have you said a mouthful. I truly believe that the safety labels on extension cords, which requires a razor blade to remove (thus almost guaranteeing a cut in the insulation) cause more failures but fewer lawsuits.

    We need more than two political ideologies. I have always been angry at Perot for squandering his opportunity to create a viable third party, by running the second time. I did not agree with much of what he said, but I did want him to say it. Thank you Brian and John, how do we solve this people?

  77. Brian I completely buy into the bipolar weevil theory of American party politics. I also understand your need to point out “the other fun forms” there is no paucity of foolishness on either side. The idea that all people are equal is horseshit; that all people should be granted equal rights under the law and equal opportunity to the government’s best ability to facilitate is not. What needs “granting” and “best ability” is where we all get to rumble.

    It has been said the short term thinkers are Republicans because they want what’s coming to them now to hell with everyone else. Midterm thinkers are Democrats because we are all equal and it takes time (and all the money plus the vig) to level the playing field. Long term thinkers revert to Republicans because for the good of the species we must let Darwinism take its course. Look ma no hands, no tongue in sight (it’s firmly in my cheek).

    Realistically, we need to transcend old boundaries, we are in an era when we can fix inequity on many levels for both polarities, if we are smart about it. Government is the people’s advocate and should do those things that individuals and small groups can’t. At the same time, the world is dangerous place and when you do something stupid well geez that was stupid we can’t protect you from yourself.

    At the weevil extremes the spittle has always flown, and has been exploited by the contestants to define an issue. The current administration has dumbed everything down to soundbite simplicity in order to obscure the important nuances involved. This one seems to have eschewed even the illusion of cooperation for the mantle of uncontested power, where is Mr. Smith when you need him (certainly not in Washington).

    Your core disconnect theory has merit and the ability to properly debate a subject is a fundamental skill of critical thinking. I think we need to go further. The one problem I have with debate is that ultimately the winner is often the skilled debater and the winning idea is not always best the best solution.

    The teaching the fundamentals of critical analysis and thinking tools are required, I am sure formal debate training include some of this. As an engineering physicist I have been taught to look at problems from many different perfectives and examine cause and effect in great detail, an approach I know you are intimately familiar with Brian. If one is not used to thinking in this mode it can be time consuming and cumbersome, tools for the non-technical are needed.

    I think your last point is that not all forward motion is progress and boy have you said a mouthful. I truly believe that the safety labels on extension cords, which requires a razor blade to remove (thus almost guaranteeing a cut in the insulation) cause more failures but fewer lawsuits.

    We need more than two political ideologies. I have always been angry at Perot for squandering his opportunity to create a viable third party, by running the second time. I did not agree with much of what he said, but I did want him to say it. Thank you Brian and John, how do we solve this people?

  78. Setting snark aside, I really do hope Foley gets the help he needs. He may not find it during alcohol treatment but it could be a start.

  79. I enjoy a nice public stoning as much as the next guy, but it worries me that Bush is probably sitting in a corner somewhere laughing his ass off…

    The spotlight has quickly left the Detainee Bill, so that we can now focus our full attention on bath towels and how the baby batter got cleaned up afterwards.

    The problem with this kind of “distraction” complaint about a news story is that it could be applied to just about anything: every big story that pops up is a distraction from the previous one.

    I think it’s actually the other way around. The detainee bill was not supposed to be any sort of secret subterfuge; it was grandstanding. it was intended to be popular. The point of it was to get Dems to vote against it so they could be called soft on terrorism in the run-up to the election. The Foley thing has completely derailed the narrative the Republicans were trying to build.

    Sure, it’s a shame that a sex scandal is a bigger deal than gross flouting of the Constitution, but that’s the way these things work.

  80. Now *here’s* a conspiracy theory – Republicans leaked it to distract us form new about an upcoming military strike on Iran.

    And no, I don’t belive that. But it’s more fun than “Cos Democrats is eeeviiiil”

  81. Annalee is right, it’s not against the law to have sex with a 16-year-old in DC. But it apparently is against the law to have cybersex with a minor.

    I’m much too tired and headache-y to sort through the bill, but I’ve read (from Glenn Greenwald, I think?) that the “Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006″ (co-sponsored by Mark Foley. Irony & pie!) makes this illegal. If you’re feeling brave, you can comb through http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h109-4472 (look at Title VII, I think) for the details.

  82. Steve Buchheit:

    Props to you for stepping up and getting involved – with local gov’t it’s probably easier to maintain accountability, since I assume most folks know their local officials more directly than the state or national level representatives (lower-case). Also, at the local level each gov’t official represents fewer people than at the national level, which means that, in theory, the system represents true democracy a bit more closely.

    I s’pose what I’m really going for is a ‘Theorem of Inverse Suitability': The higher the rank or prestige of a given public office, the higher the probability that a given candidate for that office will be seeking that position for a reason other than quality governance. Pride, power, etc. become much more tantalizing draws for certain types the higher the position gets.

    Hilary:

    Yeah, I have a bad habit of being wordy. Without time to revise it down… dangerous things happen.

    It has been said the short term thinkers are Republicans because they want what’s coming to them now to hell with everyone else. Midterm thinkers are Democrats because we are all equal and it takes time (and all the money plus the vig) to level the playing field.

    It’s interesting that you put it that way; one thing I’ve noticed recently is that often each side thinks the other is shortsighted about some critical part of the situation. For example: Fighting terrorists in Iraq (and/or broader Middle East) versus fighting them here in the future; contrasted with the administration doing what it wants in the ME now versus keeping in mind the complexities of long-term global diplomacy. Also: Raising taxes to redistribute wealth in the present ignores the long-term disinclination to work hard in the long term; contrasted with giving companies leeway to run rampant in the present ignores the long-term sacrifice of the power of the people to the hands of said companies. (Hope those made sense, I tried to keep them concise. Mayhap there’s a blog post in this…) Regardless, my point is that, again, differing base assumptions and different priorites make it difficult for useful discussion to take place unless both parties try to really understand where the other is coming from.

    My best grasp of the situation is that, to a greater or lesser extent, Americans at large want things to be easy and simple, they don’t want to be held responsible for their own lives and actions, and they think the world owes them a comfortable life. And, precisely none of those are accurate. Creating this country took a lot of work. Maintaining it will take just as much. Debating issues is challenging, and requires rather more than American Idol-level brain activity. Unless we can somehow get folks up off their backsides and involved in issues… entropic apathy death awaits. Not really a pretty picture.

    The same ‘lazy’ problem permeates education, too… recentered SAT scores because of declining student performance… grade inflation at Ivy League schools… the list goes on. Personally, this whole ‘esteem’ thing in school is crap. If you can’t do the math (or the writing, or whatever), you should fail the course. Period. That way, degrees actually mean something, other than just ‘hey, I snoozed in lecture for four years, yey!’ In my book, improving education means insisting that students actually learn, and demonstrate the ability to use the acquired knowledge. I would expect the necessary skills like critical thinking would naturally follow. Until people are equipped to parse issues for themselves, we’ll only see more of the “dumb[ing] everything down to soundbite simplicity in order to obscure the important nuances involved.” Really, is the dumbing down occuring to obscure important nuances (i.e., with a malicious motive), or is it occurring simply because the average Joe can’t or doesn’t want to actually dig under the surface to find out what’s really going on?

  83. Steve Buchheit:

    Props to you for stepping up and getting involved – with local gov’t it’s probably easier to maintain accountability, since I assume most folks know their local officials more directly than the state or national level representatives (lower-case). Also, at the local level each gov’t official represents fewer people than at the national level, which means that, in theory, the system represents true democracy a bit more closely.

    I s’pose what I’m really going for is a ‘Theorem of Inverse Suitability': The higher the rank or prestige of a given public office, the higher the probability that a given candidate for that office will be seeking that position for a reason other than quality governance. Pride, power, etc. become much more tantalizing draws for certain types the higher the position gets.

    Hilary:

    Yeah, I have a bad habit of being wordy. Without time to revise it down… dangerous things happen.

    It has been said the short term thinkers are Republicans because they want what’s coming to them now to hell with everyone else. Midterm thinkers are Democrats because we are all equal and it takes time (and all the money plus the vig) to level the playing field.

    It’s interesting that you put it that way; one thing I’ve noticed recently is that often each side thinks the other is shortsighted about some critical part of the situation. For example: Fighting terrorists in Iraq (and/or broader Middle East) versus fighting them here in the future; contrasted with the administration doing what it wants in the ME now versus keeping in mind the complexities of long-term global diplomacy. Also: Raising taxes to redistribute wealth in the present ignores the long-term disinclination to work hard in the long term; contrasted with giving companies leeway to run rampant in the present ignores the long-term sacrifice of the power of the people to the hands of said companies. (Hope those made sense, I tried to keep them concise. Mayhap there’s a blog post in this…) Regardless, my point is that, again, differing base assumptions and different priorites make it difficult for useful discussion to take place unless both parties try to really understand where the other is coming from.

    My best grasp of the situation is that, to a greater or lesser extent, Americans at large want things to be easy and simple, they don’t want to be held responsible for their own lives and actions, and they think the world owes them a comfortable life. And, precisely none of those are accurate. Creating this country took a lot of work. Maintaining it will take just as much. Debating issues is challenging, and requires rather more than American Idol-level brain activity. Unless we can somehow get folks up off their backsides and involved in issues… entropic apathy death awaits. Not really a pretty picture.

    The same ‘lazy’ problem permeates education, too… recentered SAT scores because of declining student performance… grade inflation at Ivy League schools… the list goes on. Personally, this whole ‘esteem’ thing in school is crap. If you can’t do the math (or the writing, or whatever), you should fail the course. Period. That way, degrees actually mean something, other than just ‘hey, I snoozed in lecture for four years, yey!’ In my book, improving education means insisting that students actually learn, and demonstrate the ability to use the acquired knowledge. I would expect the necessary skills like critical thinking would naturally follow. Until people are equipped to parse issues for themselves, we’ll only see more of the “dumb[ing] everything down to soundbite simplicity in order to obscure the important nuances involved.” Really, is the dumbing down occuring to obscure important nuances (i.e., with a malicious motive), or is it occurring simply because the average Joe can’t or doesn’t want to actually dig under the surface to find out what’s really going on?

  84. Now *here’s* a conspiracy theory – Republicans leaked it to distract us form new about an upcoming military strike on Iran.

    And no, I don’t belive that. But it’s more fun than “Cos Democrats is eeeviiiil”

    Again, wouldn’t the whole political point of a military strike on Iran be to publicize it as much as possible? Rally ’round the President, be Tough on Terror and all that?

  85. There’s an intersection, or collision, between consent laws and statutory rape laws; i.e, the age of consent to have sex limits (by statutory rape laws) the age and the gender of the person you’re legally allowed to have sex with.

    For example, you can consent to having sex at 16 – as long as the person you’re consenting to have sex with isn’t X number of years older than you, and isn’t the same gender as you. (The reason for the age difference proviso is obvious and defensible; the reason for the gender proviso is less so.)

    However, statutory rape provisions differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, SFAIK. I don’t know what DC’s statutory rape laws are.

  86. You know what’s frustrating me most right now? How mundane this issue is and yet the press is acting like Foley is the first guy to hit on a teenager. Don’t get me wrong, what he did is wrong, but in today’s world, an adult in a position of authority—teacher, coach, counselor, whatever—being exposed for hitting on a teenager is fairly commonplace.

    It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup. Glib, but true in this case.

    Had no one in the House actually known about this, and Foley just resigned, sure, there might be a criminal investigation, but it’d be a fairly well-bounded scandal, maybe a day or two of heavy coverage. But now you have almost a dozen GOP congressmen and staffers involved.

  87. Scalzi said: “As I live in the heartland, allow me to humbly suggest that folks here may be slightly more politically sophisticated than that. I do think a cover-up will matter, if it exists.”

    Well, if Ben Stein can be taken at his word in the American Spectator, some conservatives ARE trying to conflate homesexuality with pedophilia. AGAIN. However, one doesn’t need to go the heartland to get that kind of closed-mindedness, certainly.

  88. Scalzi said: “As I live in the heartland, allow me to humbly suggest that folks here may be slightly more politically sophisticated than that. I do think a cover-up will matter, if it exists.”

    Well, if Ben Stein can be taken at his word in the American Spectator, some conservatives ARE trying to conflate homesexuality with pedophilia. AGAIN. However, one doesn’t need to go the heartland to get that kind of closed-mindedness, certainly.

  89. Brian, for trying to get away from sound-byte nuggets, you sure put a lot of them in your post.

    Raising taxes to redistribute wealth in the present ignores the long-term disinclination to work hard in the long term

    Was the worst one. I can only assume your talking about welfare and other entitlement programs designed to help the poor. These programs, taken together, account for a very small part of government spending. And raising taxes doesn’t “redistribute wealth” it “raises the funds necessary for the government to opperate.”

    As a local goverment, we tax so we can provide services, like paving roads, providing police, snow plowing, fire department, ambulance, street lights, etc.

  90. Well, if Ben Stein can be taken at his word in the American Spectator, some conservatives ARE trying to conflate homesexuality with pedophilia. AGAIN.

    Ben Stien himself did it in the same article you quoted, AND he pulled the “Some of my best friends are gay” line.

    Dude, if I was Ben Stein’s gay friend, and I read this : “ hope it won’t come as a surprise to anyone that a big part of male homosexual behavior is interest in young boys. (Take a look at anyone renting Endless Summer next time you are at the video store.)” I’d punch him in the face.

    Goddamn blood libeling mthrfckr.

  91. Raising taxes to redistribute wealth in the present ignores the long-term disinclination to work hard in the long term

    I myself find it much harder to motivate myself after several hundred billion are redistributed every year to asshats like Ken Lay, the board of Halliburton, and other rich corporate leeches.

    Oh, I’m sorry, you were talking about those shiftless lazy POOR people, weren’t you, Brian? Oh yeah, let me tell you, there’s nothing better than life in subsistance level poverty, and allowing people to stay there by giving them hardly enough to live on motivates them to just, well, stay there.

    Right Mr. Scalzi?

  92. Raising taxes to redistribute wealth in the present ignores the long-term disinclination to work hard in the long term

    I myself find it much harder to motivate myself after several hundred billion are redistributed every year to asshats like Ken Lay, the board of Halliburton, and other rich corporate leeches.

    Oh, I’m sorry, you were talking about those shiftless lazy POOR people, weren’t you, Brian? Oh yeah, let me tell you, there’s nothing better than life in subsistance level poverty, and allowing people to stay there by giving them hardly enough to live on motivates them to just, well, stay there.

    Right Mr. Scalzi?

  93. Again, wouldn’t the whole political point of a military strike on Iran be to publicize it as much as possible? Rally ’round the President, be Tough on Terror and all that?

    Given how popular Iraq is these days, you think asking the public to support *another* round of the exact same thing si going to get support?

    If so, you’re more cynical than I am.

  94. Brian,

    Personally, this whole ‘esteem’ thing in school is crap.

    I agree totally. The whole ‘esteem’ thing was invented by Publicans to use as a club against the teacher’s unions whom they hate.

    Oh, wait, you mean you actually think there really is something like an esteem ‘thing’ in schools? That’s so . . . touching, really. I don’t suppose you could refer to any real world examples could you? Because having watched my 4 kids traverse public schooling I can’t say I’ve seen any ‘esteem’ thing going on.

  95. Setting snark aside, I really do hope Foley gets the help he needs. He may not find it during alcohol treatment but it could be a start.

    Y’know what: I hope he DOESN’T. I hope he DOESN’T get “healed” or “helped” or “counseled” or “rehabilitated.” I hope he’s PUNISHED. I hope the judge throws out any and all pleas of insanity or compulsion and assumes what should be assumed of virtually all adult criminals: That they did wrong because they chose to do wrong and that they are therefore responsible for their actions.

    “Alcohol rehab” is the modern-day equivalent of a religious retreat in the Middle Ages. Didn’t a bunch of Enron and Worldcom guys try to do that? If you’re rich and you get in trouble, what’s not to like about rehab? You duck out of the limelight for ahile, you avoid pretrial jail, it’s comfy (you’d better believe guys like Foley patronize a better class of rehab facility than your average wino), and then for a kicker, you get to give the impression that you aren’t a bad criminal–you’re mentally ill and you deserve, no not justly deserved punishment, but care and solicitude.

    Fuck that. Foley deserves a lifetime of prison rape and so do the rest of the Republicans.

  96. Setting snark aside, I really do hope Foley gets the help he needs. He may not find it during alcohol treatment but it could be a start.

    Y’know what: I hope he DOESN’T. I hope he DOESN’T get “healed” or “helped” or “counseled” or “rehabilitated.” I hope he’s PUNISHED. I hope the judge throws out any and all pleas of insanity or compulsion and assumes what should be assumed of virtually all adult criminals: That they did wrong because they chose to do wrong and that they are therefore responsible for their actions.

    “Alcohol rehab” is the modern-day equivalent of a religious retreat in the Middle Ages. Didn’t a bunch of Enron and Worldcom guys try to do that? If you’re rich and you get in trouble, what’s not to like about rehab? You duck out of the limelight for ahile, you avoid pretrial jail, it’s comfy (you’d better believe guys like Foley patronize a better class of rehab facility than your average wino), and then for a kicker, you get to give the impression that you aren’t a bad criminal–you’re mentally ill and you deserve, no not justly deserved punishment, but care and solicitude.

    Fuck that. Foley deserves a lifetime of prison rape and so do the rest of the Republicans.

  97. Steve Buchheit sez:

    Brian, for trying to get away from sound-byte nuggets, you sure put a lot of them in your post.

    I said:

    Hope those made sense, I tried to keep them concise.

    Steve, you’re right, the stuff I said was sound-bite-short. I wasn’t going for a detailed examination of all the points I raised, though, since it would’ve really spilled all over John’s nice, shiny comment thread here. If you’d like to discuss any one of those issues at length, I’d be happy to set up a post or few on my blog and we can discuss away. Steve sez, quoting me:

    “Raising taxes to redistribute wealth in the present ignores the long-term disinclination to work hard in the long term” [w]as the worst one. I can only assume your talking about welfare and other entitlement programs designed to help the poor.

    Psychologically speaking (though IANAP), I doubt that folks much like the idea of hard-earned money being forcibly taken from them and handed to others. In that sense, no matter how well-intentioned a welfare/social program is, on some level I think that most people would be motivated to work less if a bigger chunk of their paycheck is being handed to someone else.

    Your point is well taken about the relative size of entitlement spending compared to the overall tax burden, though I think my point still stands even if you drop the phrase “to redistribute wealth” – are you familiar with the Laffer curve? (Now, please work with me, don’t just Laff it off, ha ha.) From the Wik article:

    The idea is clearest at both extremes of income taxation—zero percent and one-hundred percent—where the government collects no revenue. At one extreme, a 0% tax rate means the government’s revenue is, of course, zero. At the other extreme, where there is a 100% tax rate, the government collects zero revenue because (in a “rational” economic model) taxpayers change their behavior in response to the tax rate: either they have no incentive to work or they avoid paying taxes, so the government collects 100% of nothing. Somewhere between 0% and 100%, therefore, lies a tax rate percentage that will maximize revenue.

    If the theory is accurate, then one can test where one is on the curve by raising or lowering taxes. Other factors aside (which I’ll admit may not be a valid assumption), since Bush’s 2003 tax cuts have resulted in steadily increasing federal revenue on the same order as the increases during the runup to the dot-com bust (see Heritage Foundation’s chart), it implies that we’re actually still overtaxed at the moment, in terms of getting to the maximum possible federal revenues based on Laffer’s theory. So, it’s not just taxation for entitlement spending that I’m talking about.

    Steve again:

    As a local goverment, we tax so we can provide services, like paving roads, providing police, snow plowing, fire department, ambulance, street lights, etc

    As it should be. All of those things are important functions of government. I’m forced to wonder how much of the money the fed gov’t spends is put to equally useful purposes. (And the current administration & GOP-led Congress is just as guilty of pork as anybody, I’m not trying to defend them here.) That’s why I’m really hopeful that the pork database bill will really help the public pry into federal spending, so we can strip things back to the really important, core services. (And “important” and “core”, as Hilary said, are the questions we should really be tussling about.)

    As a nod to the actual topic of the post, porky paychecks for people porking pages are not where I want my Congressional salary dollars to go. $165k per year isn’t exactly small change; I don’t think respectable behavior and honesty are too much to ask…

  98. Josh Jasper:

    I myself find it much harder to motivate myself after several hundred billion are redistributed every year to asshats like Ken Lay, the board of Halliburton, and other rich corporate leeches.

    You don’t have to persuade me that many corporate salaries are pretty ridiculous; but I’d argue that it’s no more insane than the money that movie and sports make. Fundamental question is: Do all of these people really contribute that much value per year to make them worth those salaries?

    Oh, I’m sorry, you were talking about those shiftless lazy POOR people, weren’t you, Brian? Oh yeah, let me tell you, there’s nothing better than life in subsistance level poverty, and allowing people to stay there by giving them hardly enough to live on motivates them to just, well, stay there.

    As a partial response, I’ll refer you to my response to Steve Buchheit that should be popping out of the moderation queue shortly. Also, a question: is it better overall for a person to improve his own situation by working to improve himself, or to depend on others to provide income and sustenance for him? This is not to say that social programs are categorically bad – just that I think the priority should be giving people the tools they need to raise out of poverty on their own, not just propping them up indefinitely with government money. I wasn’t very politically aware when it happened (was in high school at the time), but as an example, on the broad points I’m pretty sure I approve of the motivation behind Clinton’s welfare reform last decade. Helping folks, but making sure they couldn’t make a career out of welfare.

    I’ll be posting a reply to Tripp shortly; that response will also speak somewhat to this question.

  99. Tripp:

    Oh, wait, you mean you actually think there really is something like an esteem ‘thing’ in schools? That’s so . . . touching, really. I don’t suppose you could refer to any real world examples could you? Because having watched my 4 kids traverse public schooling I can’t say I’ve seen any ‘esteem’ thing going on.

    After I posted that, I figured I’d probably have to clarify. Fair ’nuff.

    ‘Esteem’ is perhaps the wrong word. It’s less overt than that. I’m more referring to the declining “curricular” (probably the wrong term, as I mean it more broadly than just the plan for what’s taught in schools) emphasis on correctness, on accuracy. Take Whole Language, for example:

    Because knowledge doesn’t exist separately from the people who construct it, whole language practitioners don’t see curriculum as a prescribed course of study or a particular set of instructional materials. Instead, they see it as the cognitive experience each learner has. […] Therefore, whole language practitioners support their students’ efforts–even those that aren’t entirely accurate–rather than directing their thinking and language use.

    Certainly, language is about conveying meaning. In early language learning, sure… focus more on meaning than on form. However, I would argue that a fundamental and important tool is lost if students are taught that only conveying meaning is important, and that structure/grammar is unimportant: without a common grammatical structure, dialects will migrate into separate languages. Just try to compare Boston and Texas English on raw pronunciation alone – from my POV the grammar they share is important in order for a speaker of one to understand the other.

    But. Grammar is <whine>hard</whine>. “So,” saith (my perhaps hypothetical) schools, “let’s drop the emphasis on it! That way students won’t have to trouble themselves with going through the hassle of learning it!” </snark> In my personal experience, I had an actual grammar class once, in seventh grade. The only reason my SAT & GRE Verbal scores were what they were is ’cause I took Latin in high school, which forced me to actually understand the difference between, e.g., the present continuing tense and a present participle. While that might sound somewhat esoteric, it allows me to readily incorporate new vocabulary quite easily because I know very well where and how it should be used. Not something I use every day, but still an important thing to be able to do.

    Another example: SAT score recentering. I especially like this part: “The significance of the 100 point “recentering” was that a perfect score of 1600 was no longer perfect. A student could miss as many as five questions and still “ace” the test. The number of perfect scores soared from less than 25 students per year nationally to more than 2,500 – a hundred-fold increase.” What in the world was the purpose of this, if not to make everybody feel good about how well they all were doing?

    Grade inflation. Goodness. My dad does programming work, mostly data analysis. The university where he works asked him to teach a programming class. He gave it a shot. A few of his students earned F’s. The school refused to allow him to fail those students, saying something to the effect of “We can’t let you fail them, because this course is required for them to graduate.” Come on. What is the point of a college degree unless you’ve actually demonstrated that you’ve learned something? In the past several years (Decade or so? Bit more?), college degrees have become the de facto (or explicit) requirement for many jobs in the country. Why? There are many important jobs that would only really require (AFAI am aware) two years of tech school and a couple of years of apprenticeship… electrician, plumber, carpenter, painter, etc. But these are the jobs “that Americans don’t want to do.” They’re too menial, too… unrefined. We want important jobs. We want to feel educated. I don’t wanna do that kind of job.

    Life’s not fair. Everybody does not have equal abilities. We’re only hurting ourselves by trying to pretend that everyone can be a superstar. That doesn’t mean that students should be made to feel stupid or incompetent if they aren’t able to handle a particular topic, just that a reasonable and realistic evaluation of their individual abilities is, ultimately, the best thing for them in the long run.

    Back to Josh Jasper… those who are truly in need, sure let’s support ‘em. Those who are simply unwilling to work a job that they think is “below” their dignity… I don’t have too much sympathy for them.

    Geh, if only I put this much time/effort into my own blog… sorry for running on so long, John…

  100. “Fuck that. Foley deserves a lifetime of prison rape and so do the rest of the Republicans.”

    And *that*, ladies and gentlebeings, is what is known as the “REVENGE!” mentality. It tends to lead to things like the death penalty, torture, and “guilty until proven innocent”. It is in direct opposition to the Constitution of the United States, but since we don’t have that anymore anyway, who cares?

    Feeling: disgusted, angry…

  101. “Fuck that. Foley deserves a lifetime of prison rape and so do the rest of the Republicans.”

    And *that*, ladies and gentlebeings, is what is known as the “REVENGE!” mentality. It tends to lead to things like the death penalty, torture, and “guilty until proven innocent”. It is in direct opposition to the Constitution of the United States, but since we don’t have that anymore anyway, who cares?

    Feeling: disgusted, angry…

  102. Brian, I think your shifting the topic of this discussion of course, but I can’t let you make your “easy statements of fact” and then walk away.

    I think you’re missing critical pieces of that article. One is that, in theory, the “optimal point” is above 50%. Another is that people have a greater incentive to not pay taxes as taxes go higher. This doesn’t mean they drop out and become shiftless slobs, this means the market shifts more toward a gray market, and the black market economy grows stronger (example of the Soviet Union in it’s final days). Or in other words, an immediate affect of raising the taxes to the sweet point (and yes, the argument can go both ways for lowering and raising taxes) would see a greater percentage of those working shift to what’s typically called “under the table pay.” Also, the Laffer curve, while touted by those who wish to lower-taxes, really doesn’t fit with in other economic systems (Kinsean per say). This is why you don’t see it discussed even in many “Supply Side Economic” theories, although that’s where it really exists. It also only exists in a tax system based purely on flat income taxes. As for the “conclusion” that we’re still overtaxed, that’s at best a gross over simplification and the Hertiage Foundation isn’t exactly a non-partisan player in this realm.

    “Psychologically speaking (though IANAP), I doubt that folks much like the idea of hard-earned money being forcibly taken from them and handed to others”

    Actually you’ll find that most people support entitlement programs. Just try and end Social Security or MediCare and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll also find that tax revenues didn’t immediately go up after the “Tax Reform” Acts. There’s also no metrics on where the tax revenues are coming from either, so we can’t state exactly why revenues are up this year. If you really want I can point to increases in overtime (without adding jobs), increases in transfers of wealth (the estate taxes), and increases in government spending (ie. there’s a war on). And while we all want lower taxes, there does come a point where people are actually willing to raise taxes, and it’s not to support the military, but when they talk about entitlement programs.

    ” I don’t think respectable behavior and honesty are too much to ask”, no argument here.

  103. Brian,

    If you were in highschool during Clinton’s welfare reform then I expect you are late twenties or early thirties, right?

    I don’t have time for a lengthy reply so I’ll be very brief. Your posts made me think you might believe a couple myths that are false but that a lot of people believe.

    The first is about self esteem and claims some group of people think all you need to do is tell someone enough times that they are ‘good’ and that will solve all their problems.

    The second paints all welfare as a big entitlement scheme complete with welfare queens and lucky duckies.

    Do some research and you’ll find the truth behind these myths.

  104. Steve, you raise good points, and I freely admit that I’m speaking outside of my area of expertise here. I could be talking both sidewise and out my arse.

    I think you’re missing critical pieces of that article. One is that, in theory, the “optimal point” is above 50%.

    Sure, I agree that’s quite possible. But, since the theory attempts to include consumer psychology, to some extent the only way to test it (assuming there’s validity to it at all) is to twiddle with tax rates and see what happens to revenues. (Obviously other variables will influence results, and thus must be accounted for. Etc.)

    … and the Hertiage Foundation isn’t exactly a non-partisan player in this realm.

    Agreed. It was a quick Google search, not an extensive review of available info.

    Anyways, I hit the third rail pretty hard bringing up entitlement spending, even tangentially, which sidetracks from the point I was trying to make about differing assumptions in arguments. There’s definitely a lot of meat to be chewed over in the entitlement spending question, Steve… I’m thinking that this comment thread isn’t the place to do it, though. The discussion did highlight some good examples of different base assumptions though: psychological assumptions, market/economy model assumptions, etc. It’s a rough job making sure everybody knows what page everybody else is on.

    And no, that was not meant to be a crude joke about the original post topic.

  105. As a partial response, I’ll refer you to my response to Steve Buchheit that should be popping out of the moderation queue shortly. Also, a question: is it better overall for a person to improve his own situation by working to improve himself, or to depend on others to provide income and sustenance for him?

    This presumes that “working to improve himself” is an option that isn’t improvedby welfare, which is false in many cases.

    College grants for the poor are a form of welfare, as are food stamps. Both “improve” people, one by giving them colelge edcations, and the other by not having them starve.

    But really, what it comes down to is that being poor sucks ass, and almost all poor people want to stop being poor. If you think welfare is keeping them poor, or encouraging them to stay poor you’re wrong.

    It’s as simple as that.

    This is like the global warming debate, or the intelligent design/evolution debate. Sure tehre are well educated sounding talking points on the conservative side, but they’re still wrong.

    No one gets ‘propped up’ by government money who’s poor. At best what they get is not enough money to live on uncomfortable.

    You’ve been fed a ration of bullshit. Educate yourself.

  106. As a partial response, I’ll refer you to my response to Steve Buchheit that should be popping out of the moderation queue shortly. Also, a question: is it better overall for a person to improve his own situation by working to improve himself, or to depend on others to provide income and sustenance for him?

    This presumes that “working to improve himself” is an option that isn’t improvedby welfare, which is false in many cases.

    College grants for the poor are a form of welfare, as are food stamps. Both “improve” people, one by giving them colelge edcations, and the other by not having them starve.

    But really, what it comes down to is that being poor sucks ass, and almost all poor people want to stop being poor. If you think welfare is keeping them poor, or encouraging them to stay poor you’re wrong.

    It’s as simple as that.

    This is like the global warming debate, or the intelligent design/evolution debate. Sure tehre are well educated sounding talking points on the conservative side, but they’re still wrong.

    No one gets ‘propped up’ by government money who’s poor. At best what they get is not enough money to live on uncomfortable.

    You’ve been fed a ration of bullshit. Educate yourself.

  107. Tripp:

    I’m 25 now… Welfare reform was 1996-ish, according to the Wik… that puts me in ’bout freshman year.

    The first is about self esteem and claims some group of people think all you need to do is tell someone enough times that they are ‘good’ and that will solve all their problems.

    I don’t think that there’s a belief that telling someone that they’re good is a means of solving their problems. I think that some people assign a false importance to feelings of accomplishment (NB: this contrasts with feelings of worth and value) instead of focusing on an honest evaluation of skills and material learned. Yes, it’s important to have good self-esteem… to have things that one is good at doing. But rigging the system so that the established standards provide no information about the actual skills of an individual… I see that as counterproductive.

    Tripp and Josh:

    You both raise good points regarding welfare & social programs. Allow me to note that I don’t think such programs are categorically bad, just that I think they must be used and managed judiciously or else the potential for misuse or abuse exists. A well-constructed welfare program will provide those in need with what they need, while helping them to climb up to where they no longer need the assistance. I’ll admit, I don’t really know enough about existing programs to say whether or not they’re working well by that metric. Also, Josh: your point is well taken that improving oneself and receiving government assistance are not mutually exclusive options.

    Anyways, you’ve given me plenty to think about… thanks!

  108. Brian,

    I think that some people assign a false importance to feelings of accomplishment (NB: this contrasts with feelings of worth and value) instead of focusing on an honest evaluation of skills and material learned.

    I would very much like to see an example of this. I hear people talking about this case all the time and yet I never can seem to find a real life example.

    I’ve had a fair amount of experience in youth mentorship and coaching and what I see is an emphasis on the positive and an attempt to build on strengths.

    For example, baseball is one of my sports, so I’ll give you a baseball example.

    Let’s say that we play a ‘game’ twice a week and we don’t keep score. Everybody bats each inning and no one strikes out. Is that good or is that bad?

    Clearly the answer is ‘it depends.’ I will argue that the age of the player makes all the difference. It makes sense to start out (with Kindergardener?!) emphasizing fun and skill building and not having competition. Gradually, as the child gets older, competition is phased in and 4th grade is when they are finally playing competitive ‘real’ baseball.

    With the younger kids it is all about encouragement, patience, and sticking with it while you are building skills.

    I think my experience is fairly common and I always wonder if this is what people are talking about when they complain about teaching self-esteem at the expense of building skills.

  109. Brian
    “each side thinks the other is shortsighted about some critical part of the situation.”

    And you would be right, in most cases they are, because these days, we reward the winners who defeat the others, not those that find an optimal solution.

    Relative to the middle east thing, fighting the terrorists there rather than here feels like progress to many because we are “kicking ass”. The fact that we have destabilized the situation and now have a fledgling terrorist hatchery was just bad policy and planning. Global chess is a complicated thing the subtlety of which is lost on most people (including the current administration). I feel a one paragraph rant coming on, yep it’s here.

    When I hear Rummy (in CNN this week) say that no one expected the insurgency, that he asked 30 questions about potential failure modes, and that people make mistakes I have to put my head in a vice to prevent it from exploding. The pentagon is the largest contingency planning construct the world has ever known. If the soldier on the hill picks his nose and flicks it to the right do this, if he flicks it to the left go to plan B-3456\2niner-punt. So he’s either lying or the planning process was shut down, either way he’s no longer fit to lead. Iraq was an opportunity (to exploit it or not is a valid point of contention) squandered by hubris and lack of foresight, Vader would have offed him long ago.

    You have been spanked by others on the tax thing; I choose to believe that your point was, this is an example of opposing base contexts, not a subject under debate in this thread.

    I have commented here before on the prevalence of intellectual laziness in this country. We are an affluent nation, many of us (not all) are accustomed to certain privilege and the idyllic Norman Rockwell life so many crave, has collided the with the reality of a world that requires intricate solutions to problems if increasing and mind numbing complexity. People are confounded by daily life and comforted by bread and circus.

    In 1976 the Boston Phoenix interviewed several local visionaries and asked them what their life strategy would be for the future. A common concept emerged; the world is getting too complicated, one needed to be an expert in order to fully comprehend many issues on a meaningful level. They were cultivating a circle of friends with a variety of skills and knowledge and trading expertise betwixt them. I think teh interweebs is filling a substantial part of that role these days (oi we’re fucked), this is one place I go to help me understand a variety of issues (thanks again John).

    My point is, we have created a society were the average Joe feels overwhelmed by the minutiae of daily existence and is easily and gleefully seduced by a commercial media looking for eyeballs with cash in hand. We have bought hook line and sinker into almost pathological consumerism at the expense of our citizenry’s ability to factor moral, ethical and logical factors into any value proposition. What you wear and what you drive is often considered more important that what you know, just charge it. Detailed knowledge is viewed with suspicion and often met with ridicule; what a nerd, stop reading let’s go see the game, I don’t need to know math I’m going to be a millionaire I’ll hire accountants.

    Dr. Feelgood is in the house and every child gets a certificate of merit so that no child will be left behind. A funny thing about the esteem awards, in my kids’ school, the smart ones figured out that those who get the awards early in the year are the ones that behave and perform better, and thus the meaningless piece of paper provides unintended value. I understand your distress at grade inflation and false accomplishment but remember, the piece of paper is merely a piece of paper. You should be proud of yourself, getting into MIT is harder the graduating, of course top of the class is a different thing and I don’t have to tell you about the post graduate shark pit.

    As to entropic apathy death of American civilization, I am counting on you and your peers to carry much of the load; go read The Marching Morons. I had to stop in the middle of this to do some work so I’ll just back off and regroup for a while.

  110. Brian
    “each side thinks the other is shortsighted about some critical part of the situation.”

    And you would be right, in most cases they are, because these days, we reward the winners who defeat the others, not those that find an optimal solution.

    Relative to the middle east thing, fighting the terrorists there rather than here feels like progress to many because we are “kicking ass”. The fact that we have destabilized the situation and now have a fledgling terrorist hatchery was just bad policy and planning. Global chess is a complicated thing the subtlety of which is lost on most people (including the current administration). I feel a one paragraph rant coming on, yep it’s here.

    When I hear Rummy (in CNN this week) say that no one expected the insurgency, that he asked 30 questions about potential failure modes, and that people make mistakes I have to put my head in a vice to prevent it from exploding. The pentagon is the largest contingency planning construct the world has ever known. If the soldier on the hill picks his nose and flicks it to the right do this, if he flicks it to the left go to plan B-3456\2niner-punt. So he’s either lying or the planning process was shut down, either way he’s no longer fit to lead. Iraq was an opportunity (to exploit it or not is a valid point of contention) squandered by hubris and lack of foresight, Vader would have offed him long ago.

    You have been spanked by others on the tax thing; I choose to believe that your point was, this is an example of opposing base contexts, not a subject under debate in this thread.

    I have commented here before on the prevalence of intellectual laziness in this country. We are an affluent nation, many of us (not all) are accustomed to certain privilege and the idyllic Norman Rockwell life so many crave, has collided the with the reality of a world that requires intricate solutions to problems if increasing and mind numbing complexity. People are confounded by daily life and comforted by bread and circus.

    In 1976 the Boston Phoenix interviewed several local visionaries and asked them what their life strategy would be for the future. A common concept emerged; the world is getting too complicated, one needed to be an expert in order to fully comprehend many issues on a meaningful level. They were cultivating a circle of friends with a variety of skills and knowledge and trading expertise betwixt them. I think teh interweebs is filling a substantial part of that role these days (oi we’re fucked), this is one place I go to help me understand a variety of issues (thanks again John).

    My point is, we have created a society were the average Joe feels overwhelmed by the minutiae of daily existence and is easily and gleefully seduced by a commercial media looking for eyeballs with cash in hand. We have bought hook line and sinker into almost pathological consumerism at the expense of our citizenry’s ability to factor moral, ethical and logical factors into any value proposition. What you wear and what you drive is often considered more important that what you know, just charge it. Detailed knowledge is viewed with suspicion and often met with ridicule; what a nerd, stop reading let’s go see the game, I don’t need to know math I’m going to be a millionaire I’ll hire accountants.

    Dr. Feelgood is in the house and every child gets a certificate of merit so that no child will be left behind. A funny thing about the esteem awards, in my kids’ school, the smart ones figured out that those who get the awards early in the year are the ones that behave and perform better, and thus the meaningless piece of paper provides unintended value. I understand your distress at grade inflation and false accomplishment but remember, the piece of paper is merely a piece of paper. You should be proud of yourself, getting into MIT is harder the graduating, of course top of the class is a different thing and I don’t have to tell you about the post graduate shark pit.

    As to entropic apathy death of American civilization, I am counting on you and your peers to carry much of the load; go read The Marching Morons. I had to stop in the middle of this to do some work so I’ll just back off and regroup for a while.

  111. Wait until someone digs up Foley’s AOL anonid from the recent searc query release. That should be interesting.

    hmmm
    mysql> select * from aoldata where query like ‘%mark%foley%';
    +———-+—————————-+———————+———-+—————————+
    | anonid | query | querytime | itemrank | clickurl |
    +———-+—————————-+———————+———-+—————————+
    | 8229707 | mark foley | 2006-05-30 07:08:19 | 0 | |
    | 4580187 | contact mark foley jupiter | 2006-03-25 17:58:07 | 1 | http://www.congress.org |
    | 3834057 | markfoley.com | 2006-05-29 21:02:46 | 10 | http://www.markfoley.com |
    | 11214362 | mark foley | 2006-05-28 18:57:07 | 0 | |
    | 7944705 | mark foley is gay | 2006-05-23 18:00:50 | 3 | http://www.blogactive.com |
    | 7944705 | mark foley | 2006-05-23 18:02:12 | 0 | |
    | 7729780 | mark foley | 2006-05-15 16:39:09 | 1 | http://www.house.gov |
    +———-+—————————-+———————+———-+—————————+
    7 rows in set (1 min 5.86 sec)

    I might start there and look around.

    shaun (crossing fingers that pagebreaks work)

  112. Brian,

    I finally saw your comment from 1:03 this afternoon. I’m not sure why I missed it earlier. Sorry about that.

    I can tell from your comment that you’ve got a nice little world view all carved out, complete with snippits of dialogue that you play in your head that reinforce your beliefs.

    Since I’m pressed for time I’m going to be terse and rather blunt. Putting things plain and simple nearly everybody agrees with your ideas, so you don’t need to go putting on airs about them. In my 50 years of dealing with kids and teachers and coaches I have never yet met anyone who says the things you mock, so while it makes you feel superior to imagine leftists or liberals being all touchy feely overly concerned with feelings you probably should know it is all a load of BS.

    Like I said, I’m being blunt mostly because I have better things to do but I’ve seen your kind all over the place. You are convinced the world is going to hell and people were so much better in the olden days and there is nothing I can say or do to change your mind. Just don’t expect me to be quiet when you insult me or mine in your ignorance.

  113. “Fuck that. Foley deserves a lifetime of prison rape and so do the rest of the Republicans.”

    And *that*, ladies and gentlebeings, is what is known as the “REVENGE!” mentality. It tends to lead to things like the death penalty, torture, and “guilty until proven innocent”. It is in direct opposition to the Constitution of the United States, but since we don’t have that anymore anyway, who cares?

    After 50-some years of white, rich, Christian, hetero guys getting death-penaltied, tortured, and presumed guilty, then maybe I’ll care.

  114. Ugh. That didn’t come out right, either visually or verbally. This part:

    “And *that*, ladies and gentlebeings, is what is known as the “REVENGE!” mentality …”

    Was by Gwen. The last part was me being snarky.

    Do I really want to see Mark Foley et al suffer so? Yes and no. But what I’m certainly implacably opposed to is the creeping phenomenon of rich defendants being able to avoid punishment in favor of “counseling” or “rehabilitation.”

    ‘Cause don’t tell me anyone is seriously fooled into believing Foley is seriously undergoing rehab right now? He may be in some sort of facility right now, but its less likely that he’s sweating out his demons than it is he’s getting a simultaneous pedicure, neck rub, and four-fruit smoothie from three or four solicitous Thai women (or men, given his proclivities) in the backroom of some gold-plated “clinic” for wealthy gentlemen who “need a rest”.

  115. Ugh. That didn’t come out right, either visually or verbally. This part:

    “And *that*, ladies and gentlebeings, is what is known as the “REVENGE!” mentality …”

    Was by Gwen. The last part was me being snarky.

    Do I really want to see Mark Foley et al suffer so? Yes and no. But what I’m certainly implacably opposed to is the creeping phenomenon of rich defendants being able to avoid punishment in favor of “counseling” or “rehabilitation.”

    ‘Cause don’t tell me anyone is seriously fooled into believing Foley is seriously undergoing rehab right now? He may be in some sort of facility right now, but its less likely that he’s sweating out his demons than it is he’s getting a simultaneous pedicure, neck rub, and four-fruit smoothie from three or four solicitous Thai women (or men, given his proclivities) in the backroom of some gold-plated “clinic” for wealthy gentlemen who “need a rest”.

  116. “But what I’m certainly implacably opposed to is the creeping phenomenon of rich defendants being able to avoid punishment in favor of ‘counseling’ or ‘rehabilitation.'”

    Me too. I’m just against “cruel and unusual punishment”, whether it’s of the officially sanctioned kind, or the “look the other way” kind.

  117. J,

    I think hardly anybody (besides the rich) likes the idea of rich people getting a better deal from our justice people than poor people get.

    Sadly I don’t think that is anything new. Hell, Ford pardoned Nixon of all things.

    Setting that aside, I’m sure we both can agree the punishment should fit the crime. I really really hate the idea of Foley skating on this one, mostly because of his abuse of power and trust.

    Sitting back and looking at what actually happened, though – he is single and his victims were nearly adult and lets assume he never did anything ‘physical.’

    Like I say he is guilty of huge hypocrisy and deception and abuse of power. I’d like to know what harm happened to the victims because it seems like they were kind of going along with things. I’m open to the idea that there was harm.

    I’m NOT excusing the guy. I’m trying to put the deeds into perspective.

  118. Tripp (and others):

    I’m quite willing to consider the idea that my worldview is inaccurate – that’s why in a previous comment I said, “Thanks, you’ve given me a lot to think about.” Trust me, I will be considering what y’all’ve said. That’s kinda the whole idea of this particular enterprise, isn’t it?

    Specifically Tripp: briefly, a response and a question:

    Extending your baseball analogy: a better comparison to what I’m talking about would be, if the skills of baseball players trying out for the major leagues was dropping (extreme examples: fielders constantly letting grounders through, pitchers hitting every other batter), and to keep the same number of new players coming in every year the teams dropped their acceptance standards, how would that ultimately affect the quality of the play at the Major League level? (The analogy is imperfect, but this is closer to where I’m coming from.)

    And yes, of course making things too competitive too soon will only discourage kids when they’re first learning. I guess my gripe isn’t really as much with the primary/early secondary level… more like high school through college.

    Question: You disagree with my interpretation of why SAT score recentering occurred, and why grade inflation is so rampant. I’m curious, what do you think about the reasons for the occurrence of the former and the presence of the latter?

  119. Tripp (and others):

    I’m quite willing to consider the idea that my worldview is inaccurate – that’s why in a previous comment I said, “Thanks, you’ve given me a lot to think about.” Trust me, I will be considering what y’all’ve said. That’s kinda the whole idea of this particular enterprise, isn’t it?

    Specifically Tripp: briefly, a response and a question:

    Extending your baseball analogy: a better comparison to what I’m talking about would be, if the skills of baseball players trying out for the major leagues was dropping (extreme examples: fielders constantly letting grounders through, pitchers hitting every other batter), and to keep the same number of new players coming in every year the teams dropped their acceptance standards, how would that ultimately affect the quality of the play at the Major League level? (The analogy is imperfect, but this is closer to where I’m coming from.)

    And yes, of course making things too competitive too soon will only discourage kids when they’re first learning. I guess my gripe isn’t really as much with the primary/early secondary level… more like high school through college.

    Question: You disagree with my interpretation of why SAT score recentering occurred, and why grade inflation is so rampant. I’m curious, what do you think about the reasons for the occurrence of the former and the presence of the latter?

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