Why the Foley Scandal Won’t Matter

Crossposted on michael-peacock.com

The pedophelia scandal created by Republican congressman Mark Foley may seem like mana from heaven for Democrats seeking to regain some measure of control over the runaway train that our federal government has become, but I suspect that it won’t make much of a difference come election day.  That Republicans have known about, and apparently abetted, Foley’s illegal conduct will not sway the Republican faithful.  After all, when seen against the lightbox of other Republican abuses, incompetencies, fiascos, and outright disasters, this scandal fades to insignificance, outshined and outclassed by other more monstrous debacles.  And none of those obscenities have had much sway with Republican true believers.  No, not only has the Republican party by and large turned a blind eye to these abuses, it has, in so doing, been complicit in their creation.  Yes, a fair share of Democrats have been along for this little train ride, but it is the Republican party that has kept the boiler fire stoked.

Take for example, the Iraq War.  With over 2600 Americans dead, and over 20,000 wounded, we have paid a very dear price for whatever it is we have or have not accomplished there.  Now, a study by The Lancet, a very well respected medical journal, has estimated the number of Iraqi dead at 655,000 – a number roughly the same as the population of cities like Austin, TX, and Baltimore, MD.  That the administration and other Republican toadies would question the accuracy of this estimate is no big surprise – anything that makes the situation look worse is typically hidden, denied, or attacked.  That they claim that the proper way to estimate the Iraqi death toll is to conduct an accurate body count – and that they can claim this with a straight face – is appalling given that US commanders admitted as far back as 2003 that they simply do not conduct body counts.  The “official” casualty numbers place the Iraqi casualties in the neighborhood of 45,000 dead, and some much higher number wounded.  I find it offensive that our leaders will cite such numbers with the modifier “only”, as in: The Iraqi death toll is only 30,000.  An interesting position given this “Republican culture of life” and its claims about the preciousness of each and every human life.

Aside from the massive human tragedy, there’s the obscene cost of the war effort.  In September 2004, when John Kerry was rightly accused of inflating estimates by asserting that the war had cost “$200 Billion and counting”.  No no, went the Bush argument, we have only spent $120 Billion.  You’re soft on terrorists, and you might be one too.

Of course, we passed the $200 Billion mark long ago – in 2005 not long after the contentious presidential election to be precise.  Today, the “official” direct price tag is over $350 Billion, but many economists look beyond the dollars we’re spending now on fighting the war, and also consider future health care costs for wounded troops as well as the impact of interest on the national debt.  Some of these economists put the “real” cost of the war between $500 Billion and $2 Trillion

Most people simply have no concept of how utterly immense these numbers are, so let’s just examine the most optimistic number, the official cost of the war on terror is about $350 Billion.  That’s 350 followed by nine zeros. In scientific notation this is 3.5 X 1011 dollars, or when written out in standard currency format that’s $350,000,000,000.00.  If you started counting as fast as you could possibly count, which might be on the order of 10 numbers in a second, you would have to count non-stop for over 1100 years to get to 350,000,000,000.  Now, imagine that those aren’t just numbers, they’re dollars.  Your tax dollars, to be precise.  And now remember that this is the rosiest of estimates.  To get to $2 Trillion, you would be counting dollars for over 6300 years – longer than current recorded history.

OK – so the war is expensive.  Really, really, really expensive both in terms of human death and suffering, as well as the dollars that we’re throwing at it. “We’re red-blooded Americans”, the Republican refrain goes, “we’re not going to run away from a fight when the going get’s tough.  We’re going to adapt to win*”

No we’re not.

The US has already won the war in Iraq.  What we see now is the result of failing to plan adequately for the occupation of Iraq that everyone expected following the clear and decisive victory everyone expected.  That the Republican party still talks about the Iraq war reflects either stupidity on their part, which is unlikely since they really are pretty bright, or more likely – a willingness to trust their elected officials to a fault.  In this regard, I view Republicans more like battered spouses than hawkish war lovers.  Their leaders abuse all of our trust – again and again and again – and the Republican party faithful is ready to accept each apology, each broken promise, and each new abuse out of some twisted love for what their leaders once were, and a fear of what unknown fate would await them if they simply stood up and refused to keep on taking it on the chin.

New abuses?  Yes.  Surely you remember: Overselling WMDs, claiming that we only needed 100,000 troops to keep the peace in Iraq, the Republican attempt to privatize Social Security, the out of control national debt created by this administration’s upside-down policies, the obscene trade deficit that puts us in the pocket of foreign interests, our total failure to find diplomatic solutions to complex foreign policy crises – including the creation of a new and hostile nuclear power, domestic surveillence, wire tapping, large-scale email and other database trolling, the suspension of the writ of Habeus Corpus, secret prisons and prisoner abuse scandals, as well as our new “flexible” definition of torture that not only both violates the Geneva Conventions and puts all our men and women in uniform at risk, but which also runs counter to over 200 years of American judicial and moral tradition. 

Oh yeah, and then there’s that little thing about the Republican pedophile in Congress that the other Republicans knew about and kept quiet.  Come on – the Republican party drank the cool-aid long ago.  You don’t think think this new intensification of that bitter almond flavor would faze them, do you?


* “Adapt to win” replaced the previous White House talking points, “Stay the course” this past summer.  Too bad the talking point miss the fact that we have already won in Iraq, and now we’re an occupying force that’s fighting a domestic insurgency – a contingency that the Bush neocons rejected even when their best planners outlined the scenario in 2002 saying we would be greeted as liberators instead.

22 thoughts on “Why the Foley Scandal Won’t Matter

  1. The Republican faithful just close their eyes and think about Jesus while their anointed leaders dry fuck America.

    I think it will matter, though, because there are a lot fewer True Believers than there are people who just didn’t like John Kerry.

    OTOH, Diebold voting machines still have no damn accountability.

  2. My pessimistic side likes to agree with you.  I don’t think that, by itself, the Foley thing would matter.  But the Religious Right has, by and large, not been able to cross many items off their wish-list.  And it doesn’t look like they’re getting any more of them anytime soon.  There’s plenty of cause for disgruntlement right there.

    I don’t think that the RR votes on practicality much at all.  God’s supposed to look out for them, after all.  But you can d—n sure bet that nothing gets their obsessive attention with other people’s sex lives.  If anyone can pin Hastert with knowingly shielding Foley for years on end, it’s game over.  Not that they’ll vote Democratic, mind you.  But that they will be less willing to sully their souls by being by dabbling in politics.

  3. I can see ‘an evil raving queer’ turning off people who vote Rep. to stop such people- not the hardcore, but the ‘not quite true’ believers.

    The major cause of the problems in Iraq is Rumsfeld.  It was pointed out over here within 6 months after the war finished, but is only now becoming revealed to the ‘Fox generation’ with the resignation/retirement of Donny’s advisors. By dismantelling the Ba’athist state the coalition was left with a patch of desert with oil under and a lot of pissed off Iraqi’s. Rumsfeld over-rode the advice of General (can’t find the name- can some-one supply), and sacked every one- the army the police the civil servants, because they belonged to the party. Dickhead- it was a dictatorship- you didn’t get a government job WITHOUT belonging to the Party. Overnight, no law, no security, no public services AND LOTS OF PISSED OFF NEWLY UNEMPLOYED.

    I actually feel sorry for Tony Blair over this particular point. It is such an obvious thing, that I bet he and his advisors must have thought (to coin a phrase) “What the fuck is wrong with you people- don’t you listen to advice?”  Thank you Donald, you have managed to turn one of the few secular relatively stable Middle-Eastern states into a unstable fundementalist battleground.

    Perhaps the Foley scandle will make the non hard-core look closer at the GOP, and show them the fuck up that is Iraq.

  4. Peacock: excellent post.  I look forward to seeing more of your work.  Sexy Sadie, I think many Americans are in the same boat.  Cross those fingers in hope of a landslide.

  5. Sadie: I, for one, refuse to give up hope for a Democratic landslide come November 7.

    I still hope for this, though I’d be satisfied with Dems winning a slight majority and pulling out some of the squeaky close races.  I just doubt that the GOP base is going stay home in sufficient numbers to allow for a Dem landslide.  The past few elections have been really close, and America is still pretty well divided down the middle, so my money’s in this one being pretty close as well.

    When it’s all over, I wonder if Dubya is gonna have more political capital to squander.

    Webs: Peacock: excellent post.  I look forward to seeing more of your work.

    Thanks – I’ll try to keep it up.  If only there were enough shit that pissed me off enough to write about it.  Oh wait, I live in Alabama.  Maybe if I open the window …

  6. Thanks – I’ll try to keep it up.  If only there were enough shit that pissed me off enough to write about it.

    LOL

    Oh wait, I live in Alabama.  Maybe
    if I open the window …

    I hear Alabama has one of the most racist and screwed up constitutions of any state.  That should be a good starting point.  But seriously it is refreshing to know that someone that comes from that state is a free thinking Liberal.

  7. IT’S NOT PEDOPHILIA! I hate it when people use that word to describe Foley; it totally obscures the issues. These were 16-18 year old young adults, of or nearly at the age when they can go die for their country. Not young boys, which is what pedophilia means.

  8. Zak: IT’S NOT PEDOPHILIA! I hate it when people use that word to describe Foley; it totally obscures the issues. These were 16-18 year old young adults, of or nearly at the age when they can go die for their country. Not young boys, which is what pedophilia means.

    Technically, you’re correct: the term that would more accurately describe Foley would be ephebophile. However, I certainly hope that you aren’t implying that Foley’s actions are somehow more excusable simply because the boys he was preying on were pubescent (as opposed to prepubescent).

  9. It’s not going to get any better if the Dems win. They will just blame the Bushes. The whole thing has to be overhauled from the Ground up. Hopefully one day people will see Socialism as the only key to America and the Worlds need.

    As for the Sex thing. I am 51..If I approach a young person, even if they are legal age. It does not matter, its still seems wrong. I feel it’s better to contribute to the lives of young people in a more positive way, rather than seeing what I can get out of them because they lack maturity.

  10. Great post Michael.
    Sometimes I forget that my Oz government, my personal representative on the world stage, is riding shoulder to shoulder with Bull$hit and, what that realistically means.
    By association I am as much to blame even though I was against the war from the start.

    LH: you didn’t get a government job WITHOUT belonging to the Party.

    Yes. Our enlightened leaders either conveniently forgot that or it never entered their tiny minds cos they have abso-fucking-lutely no idea what happens outside their backyard; why do I think it’s the latter?

    Zak: IT’S NOT PEDOPHILIA!

    I agree. ‘They’ seem to use homo and pedo as tho’ they’re the same thing – I was trying to get a handle on the ages of these ‘boys’.
    I didn’t really believe there’d be under 16s working there; I was fairly sure they’d all be over the age of consent.

    Sadie: However, I certainly hope that you aren’t implying that Foley’s actions are somehow more excusable simply because the boys he was preying on were pubescent (as opposed to prepubescent).

    Unless Foley was using his position to rape boys I can’t see a problem.
    If one of the boys said No, I’m straight and Foley stopped, where’s the problem?
    If all this type of stuff were out in the open there’d be no problem.
    If part of a boy’s orientation education (boys and girls school education even) into the job included the advice that they didn’t have to submit to the sexual advances of anyone there’d be no problem.
    It’s called life; it’s the reality of the real world.
    At 16 I didn’t take shit from anyone.
    What sort of boy are you breeding over there?
    No I don’t agree with Foley’s actions but, let’s put this in perspective – Bull$hit, Cheney and Rummy have mind-fucked more than 1000 Foleys could ever hope to on their best day.
    That’s more than enough, John. Shut the fuck up.
    Okay.
    Please shoot straight – I’m standing still.  smile

  11. LuckyJohn: No I don’t agree with Foley’s actions but, let’s put this in perspective – Bull$hit, Cheney and Rummy have mind-fucked more than 1000 Foleys could ever hope to on their best day.

    I agree with you 100% here.

    Regarding Foley, however, I see the emails as abusive. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation (keep in mind that I’m perhaps one of the staunchest defenders of gays and lesbians you’ll ever encounter); rather it has to do with age and Foley’s position of power. A fifty-two-year-old politician soliciting a sixteen-year-old? That’s quite a bit different from standard debates about whether or not sixteen-year-olds are emotionally mature enough to handle sex (I personally think that some are and some aren’t).

  12. Yes; all true and I took those points into consideration when I mentioned he hadn’t raped anybody (that we know of?) and when I mentioned that open sexual education would be quite helpful in dealing with this type of thing.
    I’d like to think that all children these days are taught that if anyone makes any improper suggestions to them they should tell someone they trust.
    Having said that, I know predators know how to pick their marks and why they’re so ‘successful’, especially in religious organisations, cos no one believes their accusations.

  13. LuckyJohn:…open sexual education…

    You’re right—it would be nice if this concept were more than just a dream throughout much of the U.S. Does it exist in Oz? I’m really curious, given John Howard et. al.

  14. Does it exist in Oz?

    I think so but have no idea to what extent, not having kids and all.
    I do know that the message of ‘stranger danger’ is taught but how deep it goes into sexual education with all its nuances and realities … ??

    given John Howard

    Yeah, he’s good isn’t he?  wink
    I don’t like the little prick or his right-wing politics (exactly the same as your GOP) but he’s a consummate politician.
    He makes me smile – not about what he says but how he says it.
    He has a finger firmly on the pulse of the majority of voters (knows how stupid they are and what they’re afraid of), one foot planted firmly in white-picket-fenced land of 50’s Oz, one foot firmly in Thatcher’s UK and his head firmly up Bull$hit’s arse.
    And what’s he doing with his other hand?
    Dunno but you can be sure it involves our losing something, firmly. wink

  15. Paul: Hopefully one day people will see Socialism as the only key to America and the World’s need.

    I agree with you but (hasn’t that word got some power ? – apparently that’s when you can start listening to a politician – after he says but) there’s still so much more that capitalism can rape and pillage. The planet is nowhere near dead yet and we still need more stuff. wink
    Almost apt is: When we are young we act as if we were the first young people in the world. Eric Hoffer (1902>>1983)
    But, I’m looking for the the one that goes along the lines of: we act as if we’re the last generation on earth.

  16. This scandal wasn’t deployed to sway Republicans!
    It’s designed to convert un-enrolled voters to elect Democrats (i.e., non-incumbants).

    The target is indepedents, not Republicans.

    And, for sure, other “issues” will soon be deployed in the next few weeks to continue and embolden this conversion of indepedents.

    Now, go act/speek positive.
    That’s how we’ll win both houses.

    rob@egoz.org

  17. I don’t know about the law in DC, but in NY state, a person under 18 is not of legal consenting age.  There is an allowance for 17 year olds that allows them to be with someone up to 5 years their senior, but you are not completely “legal” until 18. 

    I think that the issue of whether pedophilia is the correct label for what Foley is being accused of is moot if the law states it to be pedophilia.  If Foley had sexual relations with a 16 year old, or took actions showing he was attempting to do so, the law (in NY anyway, but I assume in DC as well) clearly states that it is pedophilia or attempted pedophilia. Whether or not anyone agrees with the law, it is still there.

    The fact that the Republicans (who seem to like to proclaim themselves the party of law and order) would hold such disdain for an existing law when it applies to them seems a bit ironic to me.

  18. You’re right—it would be nice if this concept were more than just a dream throughout much of the U.S. Does it exist in Oz? I’m really curious, given John Howard et. al.

    John Howard has nothing to do with school curriculum, fortunately. That’s state business. Though I doubt even he’d be for that abstinence only bullshit schools are peddling in the US.

  19. Technically, you’re correct: the term that would more accurately describe Foley would be ephebophile. However, I certainly hope that you aren’t implying that Foley’s actions are somehow more excusable simply because the boys he was preying on were pubescent (as opposed to prepubescent).

    No, I’m not excusing it. A) He was in a position of power over them, and B) he was married.

    However, hitting on a 16 year old boy is certainly “more excusable,” as you say, than hitting on an 8-10 year old boy, which is really what pedophilia means. There are degrees of awfulness, and what he did, while sleazy, comes nowhere close to actual sexual predation of children.

  20. I think that the issue of whether pedophilia is the correct label for what Foley is being accused of is moot if the law states it to be pedophilia.  If Foley had sexual relations with a 16 year old, or took actions showing he was attempting to do so, the law (in NY anyway, but I assume in DC as well) clearly states that it is pedophilia or attempted pedophilia. Whether or not anyone agrees with the law, it is still there.

    Actually this is wrong. Foley would be guilty of statutory rape, which is a legal term. Pedophilia is most a psychology term, and has nothing to do with legality. It is also, a tiny bit of web research reveals, usually used for those attracted to 13 and under.

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