Sunday, October 01, 2006

C-Span Dreams (Mark Foley Edition)

Honest, I really am not such a loser as to spend my Sundays watching old Congressional hearings on C-Span. Especially not one that is so much blatant grandstanding as the House publicity-fest over “pretexting” (=electronic lying) at Hewlett-Packard. But I was working in the kitchen, okay? And it was on in the background, right?

And did occur to me: remember, sex sells. If you really want to bring out the nerds and moles on a Sunday morning, how about a day on Mark Foley and his fascination with Congressional pages? Now that would be TV worth watching.

(Wait a minute, whoa--doesn’t Congress have the obligation to consider whether we need new laws to prevent internet spying? –ed. Sure, but the chances that we actually need them are just about zilch. On the other hand, the chance for tut-tutting and oh-my-starsing is never to be passed by.)

Complicating Afterthought: I’ll stick by what I just said, but I must say the Foley story is proving to be far more interesting and complicated than it appeared at first blush (Why is this a surprise? Isn’t that all most always true?---ed. Well, um, yes, it is almost always true). Anyway, hand the mike to Glenn Greenwald:

For now, I will just note what seems to be the bizarre and incoherent contradiction in the law, noted by Atrios yesterday, that in-person, actual sex between Foley and a 16-year-old page would be perfectly legal in D.C. and in most places in the U.S. …, but it seems that it is a criminal act for Foley to discuss or solicit sexual acts with the same page over the Internet. Despite all the irritatingly righteous (and overheated) "pedophile" language being tossed around, in the overwhelming majority of states, and in Washington DC, the legal age of consent for sex is 16 years old. That means that actual, in-person sex between Foley and a 16-year-old page in D.C. would not be criminal at all (though it likely could have other legal implications).

But under the so-called "Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006" (of which Foley was a co-sponsor), along with 18 U.S.C. 2251, discussion or solicitation of sexual acts between Foley and any "minor" under the age of 18 would appear to be a criminal offense (see Adam Walsh Act, Sec. 111(14) ("MINOR.--The term 'minor' means an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years") and 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2256 (1) (“'minor' means any person under the age of eighteen years").

So, wheels within wheels, and hypocrisies inside hypocrisies. One fact seems to remain clear, though: the GOP leadership seemed to have zilch interest in this, except the possibility that it might become a political embarrassment.

Update: Mon AM, Greenwald published a revision/clarification of earlier stuff, including the stuff I quote here. Find his Mon remarks here.

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