Archive for October 6th, 2006


There are some aspects of the wall-to-wall coverage of the Foleygate scandal that I find disturbing.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not condoning Foley’s actions, and believe me, I’m not going to complain about anything that drives this corrupt bunch out of power.

But we’re talking about whether the Republican leadership, confronted with the “overly friendly” emails (I haven’t seen anything to suggest they knew about the explicit IMs), should have taken more affirmative action to protect 16 year old pages from Foley’s advances.  Yes, they should have.  Yes, they didn’t because they didn’t want to lose Foley’s seat.  But does anyone really believe there are not straight male congressmen and/or staffers who are known for being “overly friendly” with young female employees and even underage female pages on the Hill?  My guess is that if the emails the Republican leadership were aware of (again, as opposed to the very explicit IMs) were from Foley to a female page, it would be much harder for the Democrats (and the press) to muster as much outrage against the Republicans for ignoring “red flags.”  So, while I am happy to revel in the Republicans’ implosion as election day approaches, I worry about the homophobia (in the literal sense: fear of gay people) that is being perpetuated.

Perhaps because it feels like homophobia is to some extent driving this story (read this for confirmation), I am also struck by how out of proportion the reaction to Foleygate has been to its importance as a national issue. Consider this: ABC News, which broke the Foley story, is reporting that Baghdad is “much worse” today than it was even six weeks ago, and that 14 U.S. soldiers have been killed there in the past five days.  More than 2700 U.S. troops have been killed in the Iraq war, many of them teenagers.  And Republicans are in crisis mode because they didn’t protect 16 year olds from Mark Foley’s overly friendly emails?  What about the hundreds of kids, only two years older than the congressional pages, who are being blown to bits in Iraq?  They were sent to Iraq by the Republicans in power.  Shouldn’t we be more outraged that they are not being protected?

— Ty Alper


I don’t live in Montana.  But I had a very traumatic experience in Montana when I was five years old.  I was camping with my family at Glacier National Park.  We went to a campfire presentation during which the ranger demonstrated how to boil water using a camp stove.  (In hindsight, it must have been a very boring presentation.)  Afterwards, he invited people up to ask questions.  Eager five year old that I was, I approached him to ask him something.  My memory of what I was going to ask the ranger has been erased by the more searing memory of him bumping the pot of boiling water with his elbow and spilling it all over me.  In order to get me quickly to the hospital, they had to helicopter me over the mountains to Kalispell.  Long story short, I had second and third degree burns and stayed in the hospital for a few days.  Still have a scar the length of my forearm.  Thanks a lot, Montana.

I wonder where the ranger is today.  Maybe he is a huge 4&20 fan (are there “4&20heads”?) and is reading this post.  By the way, my four year old daughter loves to hear the story about daddy getting burned at the campfire in Montana.  Her favorite part is the helicopter ride.

 — Ty Alper


This is my first-ever blog.  Or is it a “post”?  I still don’t have the lingo down.  I check Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo a couple times a day, as well as Jay’s blog (are you supposed to say “Touchstone” even though he is not anonymous?), but I have never ventured into the vast and intimidating world of the Daily Kos comments and diaries, where being a “troll” – whatever that is – seems to be a capital offense and where, if I am understanding it correctly, people actually rate each other’s comments on a scale of 1 to 5?  I can understand sacrificing your family life and your job performance in order to transmit snippets of your unique world view to an audience that is potentially mind-bogglingly big (it’s probably just your mom and a few friends but it could be everyone who has a freakin’ internet connection!), but I can’t quite wrap my head around taking the time to rate other people’s comments on other people’s blog posts.  What am I missing?  In any event, my goal for the day as the guest blogger on 4&20 Blackbirds (by the way, I love Jay like a brother, but would it have killed him to have left the ampersand out of his blog’s name?  Am I the only one who can never find it on my keyboard?) is to not somehow delete the entire thing.  Here goes ….


— Ty Alper

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