Mail Call

Readers of our cover story on the House page scandal were disturbed by Mark Foley's inappropriate behavior and disappointed in how little GOP leaders did to stop it. "He has tarnished our government and all of America," one said. Another added, "So much for the Republicans' being the party of family values and personal responsibility. They were more anxious to protect their political power than to protect teenagers from a predator within their ranks." While a few called for Speaker Dennis Hastert and others to resign, some scoffed at the idea that this scandal might hurt the GOP in upcoming elections: "Why would voters blame all Republicans for the actions of one fool? It's only Democrats' wishful thinking." But many said it's not just Foley's wrongdoing that could sink the GOP, listing various failures of the Bush administration: "We face far more important issues than the inappropriate behavior of one pitiful congressman."

Even amid his humiliation, disgraced House page-chaser Mark Foley proves himself to be a skilled manipulator ("A Secret Life," Oct. 16). Caught red-handed pursuing online sex with boys, he's now saying all the right things to pave the way for a return to civilized society: claiming to be an alcoholic, to have suffered from behavior problems (obviously) and to have been molested by a cleric as a teen. Voilà: he's transformed himself from a child predator to a sympathetic figure. We should avoid any impulse to show sympathy to a man who knew he was doing something wrong and who has cast yet another black eye on Congress.

Oren M. Spiegler

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

So it took a sexual predator to make us question our leadership? Lies about WMD and thousands of U.S. and Iraqi deaths were not enough. Nor was Abu Ghraib, a multibillion-dollar no-bid Halliburton contract, the denial of glob-al warming, tax breaks for the wealthy, 47 million uninsured citizens, Katrina's aftermath, the outing of a CIA agent, nor a declaration from 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that the Iraq war has increased terrorism. These weren't enough to call into question the party of morality? Mark Foley and House Speaker Dennis Hastert deserve what's coming to them, yet must the word "sex" be factored into the transgression before we are shamed to outrage?

Steve Kronen

Winter Park, Fla.

Your cover story both condemns Mark Foley as a predator and insinuates it is his fault Republicans are in jeopardy of losing control of the House. Despite the fact that buried in your article you admit that sexual orientation has nothing to do with sexual predation, the majority of your story is consumed with the lurid details about a homosexual Roman Catholic altar boy and less on the facts known to date. I am not defending Foley, but it is irresponsible to label him as a predator before the facts are fully known. And to lay the troubles of the Republican Party at this one man's feet is ridiculous--they all deserve the blame for that!

Adam F. Brennan

Wellsboro, Pa.

You would think that congress would have more to do than assign blame in the Mark Foley incident. This is not the first time a congressman has disgraced himself. Congressmen of both parties have been guilty of improper relationships in the past. Maybe working on the budget, trade deficits and our dependence on foreign oil would better occupy their time. On second thought, these are the people who actually spent time debating naming french fries "freedom fries." Productive work may be beyond their capabilities.

James Caskey

St. Marys, Ga.

The misleading cover photo of a psychotic, demon-eyed Mark Foley with a cutout of a pouting George Bush walking away could lead readers to believe there was an approving nod from the executive branch condoning, or at least not stopping, Foley's actions. To reinforce the connection, the story's lead picture also showed the two together. Isn't this scandal about a sexual predator and the lack of internal congressional oversight? NEWSWEEK can hammer Bush for all his other failings--because there are many--but you created a disconnect between the story and the pictures.

Randall W. Hoyle

Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Mark Foley's inappropriate e-mails are just now coming to our attention, but what have the Republican leaders been doing ever since they became aware of his behavior? They obviously hedged their bets hoping to squash this disgusting story until after the elections. But let's not lose sight of the fact that Foley preyed on teenage boys who were away from home and their parents, all while he was chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. They were there to learn and do a job, not to be ogled and flirted with by a perverted old man. The fact that Republicans covered up the story is reprehensible, and this from the party that champions moral values?

Connie Purdy

Owings Mills, Md.

Sixteen-year-old boys may be "boys." But they also tend to be sexual beings who act with agency. Was Mark Foley incredibly stupid? Absolutely. Did he take advantage of a position of power? No question. But is he a sexual predator? Who knows? Calling him a sexual predator based on current evidence misses the mark. One minute a 16-year-old who commits a violent crime is thought to be old enough to know better and is incarcerated for decades. Then he's an innocent, taken in by an older man who wanted to get his jollies instant-messaging about masturbation. While Foley may have been a complete fool, to call him a predator does a disservice both to the young men involved and to those who work to prevent the sexual abuse of children by adults. Call him stupid. Call him arrogant. The evidence, in my opinion, supports those conclusions. But a sexual predator? Save that for the other guys.

Melissa S. Embser-Herbert

St. Paul, Minn.

As an openly gay man, I am appalled at Mark Foley's now becoming a "gay" victim just like Gov. Jim McGreevey of New Jersey and Mayor James West of Spokane, Wash. They are a disgrace not because they are gay, but because they are immoral people who did something wrong. These three men have done more harm to the gay community in this country than all the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons could ever do. I hope Americans see them for what they are and don't think that their illegal and immoral behaviors are because they are gay. That is so very far from the truth.

Richard Moccia

New York, N.Y.

In the midst of war, spiteful election ads and the boldfaced cover-up of child endangerment, the shining example of the Amish people stands out like an oasis in the driest desert ("Tragedy in Amish Country," Oct. 16). The story of how they patiently forgave their children's cold-blooded killer and offered comfort to his family was the most uplifting news item I have ever heard. The Amish truly are what the religious right pretends to be.

Juliet Nace

Camp Hill, Pa.

The Amish may be out of step with the world when it comes to using modern technology, but they are far ahead in what is more important--the ability to forgive those who wrong or even kill them. What an example of Christlike love! Overcoming evil with good is foreign to most individuals and nations. Forgiveness is a bold peacemaking initiative that is rarely used. Revenge, which begets more violence, is currently the world's standard operating procedure. Blessed are the Amish peacemakers; they are truly God's children.

Paul L. Whiteley Sr.

Louisville, Ky.

As a registered nurse, I've served on many committees dealing with quality of nursing and medical care. I appreciated reading about how doctors and other medical personnel are looking for solutions to decrease errors and improve quality of care, communication and collaboration so that patients have as good a hospital experience as possible ("Fixing America's Hospitals," Oct. 16). Yes, hospitals have many problems, and in this age of technology, errors are bound to occur. But many health-care professionals are working hard every day to address these problems, elevate standards of care and cut down on errors of all kinds.

Emily Hall, R.N.

West Springfield, Mass.

As a surgical specialist with more than 30 years' experience in community practice, I find that in addition to improving care and striving to eliminate errors, we need to provide universal, affordable access to this care. As the number of uninsured and underinsured grows, we are losing more than 18,000 lives annually as well as driving up the costs as people seek care late in their diseases. Access to care is as fundamental as quality of care.

Jerry Frankel, M.D.

Plano, Texas

I still have fresh, painful memoories of a mistake I made in my internship in the '80s. After asking for med-dose clarification and being chastised for doubting it by my senior resident, I gave a critically ill patient the seizure-causing dose. When I wanted to apologize to the family, I was reprimanded by both senior resident and attending, who told me to "get over it" because it had not caused permanent damage. As a mother, I was horrified that a doctor did that to a child, and to this day I question any medication given to my family. Thank you for your article. I love being a doctor and being allowed into the very secret and often painful parts of my patients' lives. I only hope we can improve our care without increasing documentation, paperwork and liability.

Susan Cary, M.D.

Wilbraham, Mass.

I am one of Sacha Baron Cohen's many victims ("Behind the Schemes," Oct. 16). Because his handlers told me he was Borat Sagdiyev, "a TV journalist from Kazakhstan," I booked him for a live studio interview on our morning news show in Jackson, Miss., thinking he was a legitimate reporter doing a documentary to be shown in his home country. I checked out his public-relations company's Web site and even met one of the publicists in person. They seemed genuine. But once the camera was on him, this man destroyed our credibility in very short order. Because of him, my boss lost faith in my abilities and second-guessed everything I did thereafter. I spiraled into depression, and before I could recover I was released from my contract early. It took me three months to find another job and now I'm thousands of dollars in debt and struggling to keep my house out of foreclosure. How upsetting that a man who leaves so much harm in his path is lauded as a comedic genius. Think of all the other people who've probably been fired because of his antics.

D. A. Arthur

Panama City, Fla.

The best thing about your interview with Amy Berg about her documentary on abusive priest Oliver O'Grady was its brevity, since the more she talks, the more she distorts the facts ("Priest and Predator," Periscope, Oct. 9). Take, for example, the assertion that her production company offered the church a private screening of her film. The truth: CNN asked Berg to let me review the piece so I could provide a comment for the cable channel's review. Berg gave the nod--as long as I agreed to go to her attorney's office to view it. There certainly was no invitation made to church officials to screen her film. Berg's editorial bias is revealed in her parting cheap shot at Cardinal Roger Mahony, in which she pushes aside evidence and facts in her haste to call for his resignation. Preposterous.

Tod M. Tamberg , Dir. of Media RelationsArchdiocese of Los Angeles

Los Angeles, Calif.

The cover credits for the Sept. 25 issue, "The Next Generation, Women and Leadership," were inadvertently omitted: María Celeste's makeup and hair by Luis Alejandro Ortiz, styling by Sarah Maher--Oliver Piro, dress by Elie Tahari; Queen Latifah's makeup by Roxanna Floyd--Illusions at Click Model Management, hair by Iasia Merriweather-Dusk to Dawn, styling by Susan Moses--Get Dressed Inc.; Marissa Mayer's makeup and hair by Patrycja-Igroup, hair assistant Josie Torres--Atomic Assistants, styling by Sarah Maher--Oliver Piro, suit by Boss-Hugo Boss and shirt by Stella McCartney. NEWSWEEK regrets the omission.