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The Other Shoe.

Friday, October 06, 2006 by Michael Reynolds

And here comes the other shoe:

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's chief of staff confronted then-Rep. Mark Foley about his inappropriate social contact with male pages well before the speaker said aides in his office took any action, a current congressional staff member with personal knowledge of Foley and his behavior with pages said yesterday.

The staff member said Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer, met with the Florida Republican at the Capitol to discuss complaints about Foley's behavior toward pages. The alleged meeting occurred long before Hastert says aides in his office dispatched Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.) and the clerk of the House in November 2005 to confront Foley about troubling e-mails he had sent to a Louisiana boy.

The staff member's account buttresses the position of Foley's one-time chief of staff, Kirk Fordham, who said earlier this week that he had appealed to Palmer in 2003 or earlier to intervene, after Fordham's own efforts to stop Foley's behavior had failed. Fordham said Foley and Palmer, one of the most powerful figures in the House of Representatives, met within days to discuss the allegations.

Fordham has gone on record with the FBI. Will Palmer? You can go to prison for lying to the FBI and now it seems the Feebs will have corroboration for Fordham's story. If Palmer has been lying to protect Hastert he'll take the Fifth. And if Palmer takes the Fifth it's over for Hastert.

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Marc Klaas on Foley, Hastert et al.

by Michael Reynolds

Appearing on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann tonight, Marc Klaas, father of Polly Klaas, advocate for stronger laws against sexual predators, on the Foley affair:

"There are more red flags in this affair than there are in a Chinese New Year's parade. Remember, in 1995 according to A.P. the pages were talking among themselves and warning each other about Foley. And then you can just go down the list from Representative Alexander who brought the initial emails, the Katrina emails to leadership, to Mr. Boehner, to Mr. Reynolds, to Mr. Shimkus, to Mr. Hastert, to Mr. Fordham who said that he brought this information to them three years ago. At the very best they chose to ignore a very difficult situation. And certainly at worst they are involved in a massive coverup which I think betrays all Americans and everything that we all stand for."

But then no doubt Mr. Klaas is yet another tool of the vast left-wing conspiracy that haunts Mr. Hastert's fever dreams.

(My transcription, no link available. However this link is to the Klaas Kids Foundation.)

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So, The Media Set Troop Levels?

by Michael Reynolds

Who knew they meant it literally?

Another defeatist who just doesn't get the genius of the great American known as Donald Rumsfeld:

I volunteered to serve in Iraq because I believe in our mission there. I share the president's conviction about the Iraq war--we can and must win, for the Iraqi people, for the future of our country and for peace-loving people everywhere. But I'm frustrated. America is fighting with a hand tied behind its back. Soldiers have all the equipment we need--armored humvees, body armor for every body part, superior technology, etc.--but we simply do not have enough troops in Iraq, and we need them now.

The source? The Wall Street Journal Online. The writer?

First Lt. Hegseth served as an infantry platoon leader and civil-military operations officer in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division.
The problem is, Lieutenant Hegseth, that we don't have a significant number of troops we can add to the mix in Iraq. Why? Because of Donald Rumsfeld's cute theories of warfare. Because our President didn't have the balls to ask the American people for sacrifices, or the "intellectual curiosity" (ahem) to question his SecDef. And because too many who should have known better, and probably did know better, put loyalty to the President and loyalty to the Republican Party ahead of love of country.

Where were the chest-thumping superpatriots two years ago, three years ago, when we might still have done something to salvage this situation? They were singing lullabies about the need for "patience," and blaming the "mainstream media."

Patience, patience, there's nothing to worry about, it's all media lies, go to sleep now.

Did the mainstream media leave our military undersized? No. How about Democrats? Nope. Who left us with too few men to handle the job? The President, his Secretary of Defense, the Republican Congress, and their cocky, complacent, uncritical echo chamber in the old punditocracy and their junior partners in the blogosphere.

If the Bush administration had acted three years ago when it first became clear that we were in for a long fight, we could have substantially increased the size of the Army and Marine Corps by now. We'd have the men we need.

Why did we not act? And why isn't that question even being asked by those who claim to cherish our military and believe in the necessity of American power?

(Props to Winds of Change for the link.)

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Fence? What Fence?

by Michael Reynolds

I think my landscaper can probably climb it.

It's been a lovely week for cynics. The Foley thing, of course. But this as well:

No sooner did Congress authorize construction of a 700-mile fence on the U.S.-Mexico border last week than lawmakers rushed to approve separate legislation that ensures it will never be built, at least not as advertised, according to Republican lawmakers and immigration experts.

GOP leaders have singled out the fence as one of the primary accomplishments of the recently completed session. Many lawmakers plan to highlight their $1.2 billion down payment on its construction as they campaign in the weeks before the midterm elections.

But shortly before recessing late Friday, the House and Senate gave the Bush administration leeway to distribute the money to a combination of projects -- not just the physical barrier along the southern border. The funds may also be spent on roads, technology and "tactical infrastructure" to support the Department of Homeland Security's preferred option of a "virtual fence."

What's more, in a late-night concession to win over wavering Republicans, GOP congressional leaders pledged in writing that Native American tribes, members of Congress, governors and local leaders would get a say in "the exact placement" of any structure, and that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff would have the flexibility to use alternatives "when fencing is ineffective or impractical."
Now that's what we expect from Republicans in Washington. They'll take credit for building a fence . . . while at the same time ensuring they'll do no such thing.

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GOP On GOP Violence

Thursday, October 05, 2006 by Michael Reynolds

The news that it was a GOP staffer who leaked the Foley emails is an unparalleled opportunity for Democrats.

So far they've been smart enough to keep a very low profile. But now is the time for a counterattack. But NOT against Hastert et al, that's going to play itself out as a GOP internal issue, all Dems can do is distract.

What Democrats should do, is point out that this story is essentially GOP on GOP violence. A Republican staffer is behind this, despite the fact that the GOP and its media echo chamber spent all day yesterday trying to scapegoat Democrats.

The proper attack to make is on the Right's kept media. That's the vulnerable point the Dems can hit. In military terms the Right counterattacked yesterday, and now that counterattack thrust is overextended, exposed and vulnerable. Don't worry about the main GOP force, counterpunch their overextended swing.

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A Dish Best Served Cold?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 by Michael Reynolds

And just like that we see that Lawrence O'Donnell was right and I, in my easy cynicism, was wrong. From tomorrow's The Hill newspaper:

The source who in July gave news media Rep. Mark Foley’s (R-Fla.) suspect e-mails to a former House page says the documents came to him from a House GOP aide.

That aide has been a registered Republican since becoming eligible to vote, said the source, who showed The Hill public records supporting his claim.

The same source, who acted as an intermediary between the aide-turned-whistleblower and several news outlets, says the person who shared the documents is no longer employed in the House.

But the whistleblower was a paid GOP staffer when the documents were first given to the media.

The source bolstered the claim by sharing un-redacted e-mails in which the former page first alerted his congressional sponsor’s office of Foley’s attentions. The copies of these e-mails, now available to the public, have the names of senders and recipients blotted out.

I thought it likely it was a Democrat. Apparently not.

Whoever is doing this, kudos: this is fucking brilliant political theater. The story hits just as Congress goes into recess. It comes in segments of rising intensity. The GOP counterattacks, seeking to blame Democrats. And bang, the hammer comes down.

Okay, in reality the timing would be as much serendipity as planning but still. Damn.

(Thanks to MyDD for the link.)

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by Michael Reynolds

I'm old enough to have seen a few scandals. I've never seen anything move at the speed of Foleygate.

Moments ago on MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Lawrence O'Donnell -- Huffpo blogger, left-of-center pundit, producer of The West Wing -- hinted very broadly that this story is going to a new level over the next 24 hours, a level that he says will change the way we see the story, and be centered in the "velvet mafia" of gay Republican staffers.

Not only is Hastert done for, the entire Republican House is in a state of meltdown.

This is the blitzkrieg of scandals. It's almost scary. It never happens this fast.

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Oh, Denny Boy.

by Michael Reynolds

Sharks? What sharks?

The fat lady is warming up to sing her heart-rending cover of "Denny Boy."

Oh, Denny boy, the sharks, the sharks are circlin'
'Tis blood they smell, and most of it yer own.

The frenzy feeds, the water red is churnin'

Ye'll soon be gone, and all for Foley's bone.

Just click over to AmericaBlog and scan down the page. Here's the current top item:

A senior congressional aide said Wednesday that he alerted House Speaker Dennis Hastert's office two years ago about worrisome conduct by former Rep. Mark Foley with teenage pages.

Kirk Fordham told The Associated Press that when he was told about Foley's inappropriate behavior toward pages, he had "more than one conversation with senior staff at the highest level of the House of Representatives asking them to intervene."

The conversations took place long before the e-mail scandal broke, Fordham said, and at least a year earlier than members of the House GOP leadership have acknowledged.

It is clear that when I wrote yesterday:

Do I think Hastert has known for a long time that Foley was a perv? Yeah. Do I think he covered it up for purely political reasons? Yeah. Do I think Reynolds and Hastert squeezed a fat 100k donation out of Foley in exchange for their continued acquiescence? Yeah.

I was at least two-thirds right, and the last part of that paragraph may be proven right pretty soon. (Hey, stop acting so surprised, I get it right every now and then.)

I said yesterday evening I thought Hastert's chances of being pinned to the mat were about 30% (Wrestling metaphor. Clever, eh?) But that was yesterday. That number just about doubled. Hastert's only move now is to start tossing his own staff over the gunwale.

Hark! Is that splash I hear?

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Foley Follies

Tuesday, October 03, 2006 by Michael Reynolds

Dude: look in the mirror. You're old.

I don't know any more about the Foley thing than any of you do. So what follows is a mix of fact, speculation and opinion. In other words, the usual.

Do I think sleazy emails between a 50 year old man and a sixteen-year-old are fucking sleazy? Yeah. I do. (And really, by the time you trigger my moral radar you've pushed it pretty far.) Foley's my age. I maintain a fifteen year rule: don't be looking at people any more than 15 years your junior. It's not a question of morality alone, it's also a matter of dignity: you're old, stop drooling over people young enough to be your kid, you're making everyone sick.

Did Denny Hastert screw up? Oh yeah. Hey, you big dumb-ass: only a moron doesn't know that a 50 year old man who asks for pictures from a sixteen year old is looking to score. You're a former coach, Mr. Speaker, so don't play dumb. If it was one of your former coaches you'd have known it was wrong.

Is the media missing the real story? Maybe. Congressman Reynolds was chair of the NRCC, the Republican re-election committee. He took $100,000 from Foley last July. And then he sent his chief of staff, himself a former Foley handler, to try and quash the ABC story. Follow the money. Follow the money and work your way up the chain-of-command. Foley to Reynolds to Hastert. Mmmm, smells like cover-up.

Do I think Hastert has known for a long time that Foley was a perv? Yeah. Do I think he covered it up for purely political reasons? Yeah. Do I think Reynolds and Hastert squeezed a fat 100k donation out of Foley in exchange for their continued acquiescence? Yeah.

Do I think Democrats, or at least someone allied with Democrats leaked this? Sure. Did they time it for maximum political impact? Duh.

Am I upset that a Democrat would pull this? Please. It's like seeing the pitiful, drunken street person in a bumfight video suddenly pivot and nail the cameraman with a short, sharp left. It's like watching the spindly little bookworm turn and knock the school bully on his ass. The Republicans have been pulling this shit for my entire adult life. Now it's their turn in the barrel. So, waaaah. Shut up.

Is this a gay thing, as the Right is desperate to have us believe? No, it's a man thing. The only problem with gay men is that they're men. (Gay women don't seem to have the same issues, do they?) Men are hounds. I know. I've been one my whole life. A man, I mean. We do pretty much all the bad things in the world: murder, rape, pillage, drinking straight from the milk bottle. And there's a reason why "he thinks with his dick," is a fairly common phrase, whereas no one ever says, "she thinks with her vagina."

Was the GOP reluctant to act against Foley because they were afraid of being accused of gay-bashing? This argument is pathetic on so many levels. 1) Since when is the GOP reluctant to gay-bash? 2) Is that the definition of leadership now? We'll only do what's right if no one criticizes us? 3) Name one Democrat who would have stepped up to defend a GOP congressman from even the tamer early emails? Exactly. So, STFU. (Shut The Fuck Up.)

Is Hastert safe now? No. My sense is he's where he started the day, around a 30% chance of being forced to relinquish his crown. He was rising from 30% toward 50% but he counterattacked well using the conservative Mainstream Medium of talk radio to appeal to the zombies and Alzheimers victims who form Rush Limbaugh's audience. But there may be other shoes preparing to drop. It's all a question of 30 second spots: the Republicans will support or abandon Hastert entirely on the basis of calculations as to which outcome helps Democrat media consultants more.

Will this hurt the GOP in the mid-terms? Yes. Not a lot, because so-called "values voters" are endlessly flexible about applying their alleged values. (They're relativists when it comes to denouncing moral relativism.) But it will hurt some. Some of the bible thumpers will be a little less excited about rushing out to vote for a party that can't figure out whether it's a good thing or a bad thing for a fifty-something bachelor to be trolling for pics of sixteen year olds.

Am I enjoying all this? What kind of man do you think I am? Of course I'm enjoying it.

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