Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sheik and stir - inflammatory comments

Australia has become a broad multi-cultural society, like many Western countries. Being essentially secular there has not been a great deal of trouble accommodating other cultures, but can those cultures accommodate Australia.

Broadly the answer is yes, but there will always be the exceptions and the Australian head mufti, Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly personifies that exception.

There have been a number of vicious hate rapes in Sydney, and young men who would claim to be Muslems warriors are languishing in high security prisons as a consequence.

So who is to blame for the behaviour of these young hot-heads?

Sheik Hilaly's Ramadan sermon confirms his continued role in stirring trouble. From the reports:

He blamed women who "sway suggestively" and who wore make-up and no hijab (Islamic scarf) for sexual attacks.

"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?" he said.

"The uncovered meat is the problem.

"If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred."

To their credit, many Australia Muslims are as horrified as the rest of the country, and have called for him to be removed. Hilaly is holding firm, but losing support rapidly.

These are more than mere sexist slurs, they are an incitement to vicious, mindless behaviour.

"I unreservedly apologise to any woman who is offended by my comments," Hilaly has since said. But his sermon comes on the back of years of trouble making.

Little wonder the Muslim community is concerned, as for the most part they simply want to get on in their adopted country. There is no place for the Hilaly's in an open, secular society.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Down and dirty

With the Tennessee mudslide leading the charge in election advertising, I thought Grub Street should air an attack ad. Just keeping up with the pack.

Attack ads have been on our mind over at GP Background Stories, where we've cobbled together a fascinating collection: Down and dirty: Attack Ads

I've always been wary of negative ads. Besides promoting the opposition they also have a tendency to misfire - and that seems to be happening with the Harold Ford attacks.

The other odd thing about the current rash of sleaze and dirt ads is the timing. Why are they attacking and leaving ample time for the nonsense to be revealed for what it is?

Call me biased, but I think the ad that shot down Canada in the cross fire was best of all. Tag line: ''Let Canada take care of North Korea. They're not busy.''

Nothing like taking the sleaze International.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Obscure tactics and a big call

US elections 101 is now in session for this pundit, there are so many fascinating side roads to follow, and we chase some down here. But in the end, my conclusions are firming up to the most ridiculous prediction of all, a landslide victory.

Revisiting recent comments on campaign funding reflecting final votes, the grass roots effect, I'm now even more convinced that the proposition is a crock. At least in so far as it can reflect grass roots support when money is flowing across district boundaries.

While on fund raising, being one for fascinating figures, this grabbed my attention:

Candidates, national political parties and outside issue advocacy groups will spend roughly $2.6 billion by the end of 2006. Obviously there is a lot of faith put in the cash.

I'm also toying with some of the other relatively obscure variables in predicting outcomes. Vote fraud isn't all that obscure, and I'm hoping to work something up on that - with a little help from my friends.

The local race aspect is interesting, note Rove's comment: "I think Iraq and the economy play a role in virtually every race. But there are also local considerations in the local contest between two individuals that at the end of the day matters for great deal of the contest."

Now that could well be a cover for the aforementioned vote fraud or it could be an honest reflection, but we are quoting Rove here so it's not easy to tell.

For my part, watching carefully over the past few weeks, the shift from national to local focus began last weekend. I expect the big issues, however they are defined, are out there now.

Despite odd swipes at a lack of Democrat position statements, the big picture is pretty clear, winning districts is all that counts once that message is out.

My attention was drawn, by another Australian commentator, to another pair of campaign tactics which are talked about from time to tile, but not really in the heat of campaigning; the gerrymander and strategic referendums.

Now that second one was new to me, I'm a slow learner it seems. Now I have been informed that "both parties have become expert at using controversial referendum questions to get their vote out and there is a vast array of election questions on the ballot in many battleground states."

But then it seems this effect has been neutralised largely, because each side have become so adept at the it.

The problem is, no one is game enough to stop the game now, so I guess just another aspect of the huge financial waste of campaigns.

The gerrymander is also fairly well entrenched and tend to favour all incumbents. Unless, by some miracle boundary distribution became truly independent of the politicians the gerrymander is here to stay. As long as everyone is playing to the same crooked rules there is a sort of fairness to unfair distribution.

But the gerrymander, it seems has another catch, it seems those who developed the aberration were too clever by half.

The gerrymander might protect incumbents against a swing, up to a certain point. Beyond that critical point, you find a whole lot of seats fall simultaneously.

Now I guess that reflects the generic polling figures, rather than race by race figures. That is it reflects that national shift, or tidal wave effect, that provides the vital nudge locally.

That brings us back the the recent exploration of tight races and the probability of a landslide.

That is a notion I am warming too. Enough of these wishy washy pundits stopping short at a close win, or 50 cents each way as the avid punter would put it, we are putting our money on the nose for a big win for the Democrats.

Just keep it between us for now though. I'm not afraid of making a dill of myself, that is a regular occurrence. But everyone knows the effect of calling a political certainty. The reality is parties need to maintain momentum by pushing the uncertainty. If party polling looks good, too good, you are never going to hear about it. Why would people bother to go and vote for a sure thing? On the other hand they might decide there is room to take a swipe at the race leader, or the political class in general.

So just between you and me - and I don't have a vote - get out there and prove me right!

And don't forget to visit GP Background Stories for more on the elections

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dumping the election load

After some connectivity problems in the past few days I think we are back in business, and out catching the undercurrents of the elections. One issue that stood out, during my erratic browsing, was the correlation between campaign fund raising and votes.

It was spurred by an article on BARRON'S COVER Survivor! where the writer was quite adamant that the success of fund raising efforts reflected the final vote. He was downright rude as well toward anyone who would doubt him.

Okay, I'm still learning the ways of US elections, so I asked Mike over at Born at the Crest of the Empire, and I think we came up with a pretty good analysis: Does donation cash equal votes?

Where I come from (Australia) politicians are fond of reminding anyone who will listen "there is only one poll that counts." Sure it is self protective, regardless of the numbers, but it also reflect the unpredictability of elections.

Listening to the pundits across the US and discounting the obviously partisan and overexcited, there is a sense of a moderate win, for the Democrats in the House; and even money on at least a tie in the Senate.

Now if you want to know how, on probabilities, I can speculate a landslide victory you will need to go to the story. Tipping the balance or dumping the load?

There is also the latest Watch List of the House and Senate races that bear watching, with early projections.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Looking through which prism?

There is always a tendency to see election campaign through in terms fixed criteria. I guess I'm no different, but I am seeing a different picture in some ways. The story is here on GP:

And it's still the economy, stupid

Campaign strategists and the media both prefer neat defined election issues, they are usually in competition constructing and maintaining them. The concept presupposes an homogeneous electorate, which is rarely the case.

This mid-term confrontation appears to be confounding both, as well as many commentators, as voters react to the their own various concerns. more...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Campaign Watershed?

It is 18 days out by my reckoning, and what seems to be the campaign watershed. For the first time in weeks scandal and corruption are almost entirely gone from media coverage of the election.

The focus around the country is on the dynamics of local races and the Metro dailies are left with non-stories, what isn't being said or done, according to them.

I found today's key story in the Sydney morning Herald, and note that at time of writing it was stating to appear in the US: Bush: Iraq 'Could Be' Vietnam All Over Again.

I expect in the news vacuum today it might blow out, although White House mouthpieces are trying to play it down.

I loved one quote, Bush at his ingenuous best: "My gut tells me that they have all along been trying to inflict enough damage that we'd leave."

The coverage continues over at GP Background Stories and the invitation remains open for contributions; snippets of news, comments or whatever.

Continuing the watershed theme: Latest comment on GP Background Stories...

Coalition of the wavering - Iraq resolve breaking

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has given the first hint of softening his position on when Australian troops will leave Iraq.

On the same day that US President George Bush conceded for the first time that there could be parallels between Iraq and the Vietnam War, Howard indicated Australia could leave Iraq before democracy was firmly established there. Full story...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Presidency you had to have

Huffington Post pose a cheeky question: Is George Bush a Democratic Mole in the Republican Party? and answered it with: If this is the case, he is doing a great job.

I responded on GP Background Stories responds with an explanation of why the Bush Presidency had to be, and the background to why it was predestined. The Presidency you had to have

I apologize for redirects at the moment, the GP site and its focus has become a major priority. This election, with all its ramifications, has created opportunities I can't overlook. One of them is to get back to seriously marketable writing. So bear with me, and I really do appreciate the encouragement my efforts have been getting.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Election watching

The Election Countdown, now a regular feature on GP Background Stories, is being updated daily. The approach is to visit daily news bites on trends, including a rundown on headlines and quotes.

We have an excellent article by Michael Evans, analyzing the race for California's Congressional District 25. Today we are looking at the effect of the Republican route on the White House, with an article complementing the news bites. Troubled times for the White House

We also have a message board on site now, so pop over and leave your thoughts. The invitation for contributions is still open, and we would welcome your take on the election.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bully politics drives discontent

With the amazing runaway train effect dogging the US elections, I was struck by how the current paradigm of bully politics is affecting other countries. Well, in this case Australia, with its near legendary laid back lifestyle.

Readers might recall the the traumatic beach riots of the last southern summer, and there are signs of that starting up again. We now read where lifeguards are being taught conflict resolution because of the tempers flaring at local swimming centres.

Road rage, pedestrian rage and spontaneous street violence seems to be almost epidemic in the laid back country. Youth, not content with attacking each other have killed a number of helpless elderly people, simply because they were in the way.

It all reflects a deep seated discontent, if not example driven by arrogant power politics. The US Republican style Federal Liberal government of John Howard openly ignores the needs of the people, using fear in place of responsibility.

His NSW counterparts, though in opposition display the same behaviour in their own limited way. Increasingly, in the process of selecting candidates for next year's elections, the dominant right wing of the party is over rinding the wishes of local selection committees and replacing incumbents with their own choices.

This disregard for basic democratic principles is unsettling, even if the majority barely understand what those principles are. They understand the concept of fair play, and the demonstrated behaviour is manifestly not.

I believe the same issue is at play in the US. While the Republicans look certain to pay for their fundamental betrayal of trust, that does not remedy the basic problem.

The real message is that it is time to start looking closely at just what we want from a democratic structure; to simplify the message and drive it home to politicians and the wider public alike. It's not rocket science, it is about fair play and shared responsibility. It is also about the ability to see the problems and the will to change them, without resorting to bully politics.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Another blow to the Bush Doctrine?

The head of the British Army has demanded an early exit from Iraq, warning that the presence of their troops was making the situation worse.

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt voiced concern about the worsening situation in Iraq and argued that the presence of British troops was contributing to the cycle of violence.
Sir Richard, who took over as Chief of the General Staff in August, hit out at what he said might have been "naïve" attempts to impose a "liberal democracy" on a post-Saddam Iraq.
He warned that coalition forces had squandered any support among local people. Daily Telegraph

We've been watching the steady erosion of Bush's international support for months now, as well as the various retired US senior officers. As far as I can recall, Dannatt is the first serving military chief anywhere to speak so bluntly.

The report goes on:

He also attacked the treatment of injured troops on NHS wards after The Daily Telegraph disclosed how one soldier was confronted on a ward by an angry Muslim.
Sir Richard said he had personally confronted Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, about the "unacceptable" hospital situation and accused the Government of breaching a "covenant" between the Armed Forces and the nation.
He is expected to meet Browne today. His criticisms are the most serious Tony Blair has faced from the military leadership and shook Downing Street last night.

I'm not sure if the US media will pick up on this story, but it is central to the Bush Doctrine and the Republican agenda. It is a story which needs to be circulated widely.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Odd campaigning styles

You really need to wonder, at this stage, if the Republicans have a political death wish. While some sober heads are working to get the 'key' issues back into the media, other seem intent on keeping Foley/Hastert on the front pages.

If the incredible invocation of the irrelevant Chappaquiddick wasn't enough then the whole story was backed up with purported comments by anonymous Democrat operatives claiming their Foley leak timing was off. These are issues which don't even begin to touch the scandal, merely keep it alive.

In reality, probably none of it really matters, once the grip of incumbency broke with Foley's exposure, the rest became history.

Campaigning style might be a moot point, Bush thinks so: Bush acknowledged that the war in Iraq was having a political impact, but predicted that voters would reward his Republican Party in national elections next month for its stance on security and the economy.

I obviously won't argue with George that something has overtaken this election, just with his predicted outcome.

Still, common sense and experience dictates that you stick to the issues script, and repeat it endlessly until it finally bites.

Losing the benefit of incumbency is bad enough and the loss of campaigning disciple won't stop the rot for the Republicans, but it could increase the losses.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Election Countdown 2006

It is day 28 on the election countdown calendar. With a rush of blood to the head, and old campaign habits, I launched a day by day countdown project on GP Background Election Countdown 2006

The basic idea is to provide the progress, issues and polling through the final month of the campaign; something that will serve as a quick history as well as a daily guide. The history serving as a reminder of just how quickly the dynamics of a campaign can change.

I invite any interested reader to be a part of this. I'm aiming at paragraph bites on various aspects, building a picture for each day.

Moreover, given that I started this at the beginning of a chaotic month for me, a helping hand would not go astray. Any volunteers?

No sex please, we are Republicans

The Foley sex scandal, essentially boring as it is, is ripe with fascinating insights for the seasoned political scandal watcher.

I've often asserted that the 'sex scandal' is generally an irrelevant presenting issue, a decoy, camouflaging aspects of real corruption.

Not this one, the US have managed to turn the process on its head. The real corruption has already been dragged about and largely ignored, the sex scandal finally being the catalyst.

It is a different dynamic, a revelation to the scandal scholar. But only in America, surely, where morals are a key plank on the political agenda of the right.

Which makes the whole issue doubly interesting and treacherous for the Republican blame shifters. The most fanciful tactic is the attempts to compare Foley and Clinton. Example:

This morning on Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume compared Mark Foley's predatory behavior towards underage pages to President Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Hume said that while Foley is now “in total disgrace in his party,” Clinton's “inappropriate behavior toward a subordinate [didn't] even cost Bill Clinton his standing in his party.”

There are two enormous and dangerous gaps in this strategy. First is that Foley compare to Clinton as a thanksgiving turkey dinner compares to yesterday's take out burger. Clinton still, after sic years on the sidelines, commands larger than life attention around the world. His sexcapades aer almost seen as a confirmation rather than a lapse. They always were, and remain a non-issue.

Bearing with the comparison; Foley, preying on young boys earns almost universal disgust. Clinton's dalliance with a young woman merely confirmed what we all understand; power is an aphrodisiac. Was he wrong? Quite probably on a number of counts, but not of any hanging offence.

The second chasm Republican have to leap, in this attack, is their own championing of morals as a political agenda item. Dangerous territory at any time, disastrous when it comes home to bite.

The GOP is swinging a two edged sword on this attack, and both edges threaten to smite them. In their desperation the Republicans have attacked their opponents as the instigators of this current mess. Yet while blaming the Democrats on a number of levels they have exposed their own weakness even more.

It was not a Democrat who strayed from the path of human decency, lets avoid the moral issues, preying on the young for sex is more fundamentally aberrant than many of the issues raised by the moral crusaders.

The Republicans, by their actions, by continuing revelations, have shown they merely play convenient lip service to their moral base.

For the leadership, again conveniently, to turn a blind eye to Foley's actions demonstrates, or underlines, the greater willingness to use power as a tool against the weak and vulnerable in wider society.

Rather than dig themselves out of a hole the party is only serving to highlight the enormous hypocrisy which bought about the mess in the first place.

But only in America perhaps, because most societies though they dabble in it, know full well that you can't legislate morality. It is not, and never should be a political issue. Again I stress, Foley's actions were not about morality, but were a plain abuse of power against the essentially powerless and vulnerable.

On the weekend, here in sunny western Canada, with people scurrying for last minute Thanksgiving shopping, one busy corner was lined with people holding signs along the lines of: Abortion kills children. Those in the car with me wanted to go back home and write their own signs; war kills people. The moral imperative extends much further than the confines allowed by the right. As one of the passengers commented, unthinking, 'you can't be just a little bit pregnant!' adding, you are moral or you aren't, and these people aren't.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Move over George, I'm here!

I can take a lot in my stride, defend the indefensible in some people's eyes, but cricket is sacred. According to the Sunday Times (London):

"The London bombers were initially ordered by Al-Qaeda to assassinate the England and Australia cricket teams during the 2005 Ashes, a friend of one of the terrorists has claimed."

Fair go! Surely there is a Geneva convention or something which makes illegal the assassination of cricket teams.

If you thought George W was a bit of a terror on terrorists just watch a rabid cricket fan in action.

There was nearly a riot in Australia recently when it was ruled that were were banned from calling the English cricketers 'pommy bastards!"

It is our God given right to attack the Poms with everything we can throw at them, and likewise they have no problem counterattacking. That is the stuff cricket legends are made of.

The 'bodyline series' of the 1930s still excites violence between opposing supporters, just as it was a nearly fatal form of the game then.

But like family, we can call them bastards and try and cause bodily harm; outsiders do not share that privilege.

"Just bring it on," we cricketers say. We'll give you bloody bombs. And Pakistan had better watch out next time the face up to the fast bowlers too!

A moment to gloat

Your erstwhile scribe is delighted to see the White House 'invisible woman' fall from grace. Not that I have anything personal against Susan Ralston, but having canvassed her curious role in the Abramoff scandal months ago there was a simple feeling of a prediction come good.

When I first became curious about this mystery woman there was no body! Just opportunity and motive - all the right connections.

My one regret now is that Ralston knows where all the bodies are and unless someone has seriously pissed I her corn flakes she is still unlikely to tell.

Ralston's name was mentioned 162 times in a 93-page congressional report on the influence wielded in the Bush White House by Jack Abramoff; from the bipartisan House Government Reform Committee.

She is also privy to, if not central to the Plame leak details. That she was very low profile in the White House stakes is hardly surprising; she was a busy woman and carried a load of key insider knowledge. In some ways more than the key players because she was the conduit between so many of them.

I haven't really commented on the near dead Plame issue for a while, but I'm gratified to see the Bush perennial fall guy, Dick Armitage's handy confession was treated with the contempt it deserved. They really are a ham fisted bunch, but will be at a loss without Ralston steadying the tiller.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Sydney ideals

If you had ever wondered just why they booted your humble correspondent out of the glorious harbour city of Sydney, this graphic image says it all.

That pair, we are told, is what Sydney-siders look like. I can assure you in a line up of said residents I would stick out like a sore thumb.

Apparently the morphed portraits of 1400 people to create this composite, and oddly enough I think I know them both.

But this weather beaten old hack would have marred the image somewhat I fear. In fact, given some of the fairly ordinary residents in my memory, of that city, I'm wondering how they selected the portraits suitable for morphing. I'm also wondering who they are trying to impress.

I'm all Foleyed out for the moment so the image struck me as an interesting diversion.

Thatcher is not dead

I never thought I would suffer the merest twinge of sorrow for Britain's Baroness Thatcher, and it is just the merest particle.

A few months back Tony Blair was publicly planning a state funeral for the still breathing old warrior of neo-liberalism. Now the leader of her own party, the Conservatives, is busily burying her again.

I suspect he is intent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, hateful as many of their policies are to me, the old party exists to champion greed and the excesses of the even moderately right.

David Cameron, said leader, might well succeed in changing the direction of the party, but the cost of that is surely to leave many of its followers without a platform they can relate to.

He told the Conservative conference: there was "no going back" and that it had to come to terms with homosexual marriages, single parents, the party had to accept the similar commitment of civil partnerships between homosexuals.

Steady on old boy! These are fundamentals you are toying with.

Conservatism has a long, historic hold in Britain. It is as inbred in that country as the class structure. Its very existence as a champion of the right serves good and vital purposes. First is allowing moderate rights to keep the ugly end of that spectrum in check. Take away the platform and the uglies will be forced to coalesce with the even uglier extremes, giving the neo-nazis et al, some semblance of recognition.

But even more than that, and witness the parlous states of governments existing in an void of real opposition, there will be nothing to check and counter government actions.

It is said, in politics, that a government is only as good as its opposition, and Cameron seems certain to destroy even the weak opposition the Conservatives provide.

No David, leave it be. Let those of us who detest conservative politics bury the Baroness. You get on a talk to your constituency, build from where they are. It's better for all to have things in their proper place and for the Conservatives that is not centre left.

On cutting off heads

Who'd a thunk it; the Republicans much trumpeted WoT theory, flawed as it is, sought to cut the heads of the Gorgon of terrorism. In the complex defence of their own position of power they have tripped on the tangles and look like severing their own heads, at a vitally important time for them.

The terrorism analogy should not be overlooked, as Bush fights frantically to talk up security in the midst of his party's own turmoil.

Now I have been saying for some time now that Bush has been steadily losing allies, and their influence.

How telling that he currently sits in the White House, a head virtually severed from his legislative body.

This situation makes a mockery of the security chant, and 'the right to rule' which the Republicans arrogantly promoted.

For me it is all the more interesting to watch this as a more or less dispassionate viewer. Yes it does matter who rules the US, because of the massive influence that gives over the world.

Having received several emails today exhorting me to 'Save the American Flag' and 'Show your Patriotism' serve to remind me of the vast gap between Americans and the rest.

The symbolism is obviously right for the American psyche, it means nothing to me. It just as obviously means very little to those elected to lead the country; those floundering in the mess of self-serving excreta they have create.

What I am reminded of is that invariably the greedy and corrupt, often immune from the law and public opinion, end by destroying themselves.

So let those heads roll and bring on a new day!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Amoral and unprincipled

There is no other scandal while the Foley storm rages out of control! It dominates all. For GP Background I have put together a growing TIMELINE, one that now begins in 1995 according to WaPo reports.

In trying to create something a little different from from the outpourings of the mass media, I have also assembled a collection of QUOTES generated by the sleazey doings. Which bought me to to the following, the most moronic, inane comment of them all!

It's not the speaker who should go, but the "antiquated" page system that brings 15- and 16-year-olds to the Capitol and has resulted in scandals in the past.

Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill (ABC) (Pictured right)

The Republicans are in a cold sweat, revealing more than just the odd peccadilloes of their pervert ex-rep and the attempted cover up. What is being revealed, and frighteningly so, is the lack of basic discipline among these people who rule on behalf of the people.

The LaHoods in the system are normally kept mute by party leaders who don't like to reveal the depths of inanity among their number.

But everyone is trying to put their own spin on this one, bringing the fools and morons out of the cupboard.

What is being revealed is an essential amorality, where yielding to temptation is not the crime; getting caught is the crime. But even worse is the gutless attempt to shy away from responsibility and blame the victims and the system.

Little wonder the 'Great Democracy' is in crisis, when those who represent it in congress cannot even admit to their own need for discipline and decent behaviour.

The President's man, Snow, try to brush this off as one person among the 434 who slipped up. Bullshit Tony! Have you seen the list of representatives who are under suspicion, investigation or prosecution for various forms of malfeasance?

This is not an isolated incident in bad judgement and questionable behaviour, simply one which is powerful enough to catch public attention.

LaHood might well be squeaky clean in the corruption stakes, but his moronic mutterings have just put a damning spotlight on him for his pathetic lack of basic principles. Under pressure they are showing their true colours!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Those two narratives

I can't recall when I've heard such arrant nonsense as the "two opposing narratives story" doing the rounds of the media.

Foley was wrong! He failed to live up to his high responsibility and gave in to his base desires. He preyed on potentially vulnerable young people while pretending to protect them.

That, by the way, goes for any adult not just those who hold elected office.

There does not need to have been a plot to make a cover-up any worse. Other people knew what this creature was doing and chose not to act. Whether as individuals or in concert, they were wrong!

The political duck shoving, or blame shifting serves no purpose except to divert from the basic issues of right and wrong. This is really politics at its worst when issues of breach of trust are put aside to promote political self interest; although doubtlessly just an extension of the norm.

On Power and Justice

I am working on a background story for the GP scandal site, but the information is tumbling out at the moment and my aim, as usual, is to encapsulate the saga for the longer term.

Oddly, apart from the demonstrated willingness of the majority party to condone yet another "obscene breach of trust", and one other issue which I will come to, I find the whole affair minor, if relatively sordid.

These people have already shown their tendency to breach the trust of those they govern on behalf of. Lawmakers are steadily being exposed for a variety of "obscene' breaches of public trust. Perhaps this one strikes home to voters because the conservative lawmakers are being 'hoist on their own petard'.

But there is nothing new about conservative 'perverts'. Sexual deviance is a power trip; and it seems that it must be all the more exciting when it is the very ideal you champion which you can then go and pervert. That is power!

Which brings me to the other point, another take on hoist on your own petard. If Foley is prosecuted it is likely that it will be under laws established by a committee he heads up - as he was the co-chairman of the House caucus on Missing and Exploited Children.

Last week we had Australian conservative backed businessmen threatened with dubious anti-terror laws for supplying cash to Saddam, this week the champion of children facing his own pervert laws. That is justice!