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Times Editorials That Aren't Fit To Print

Jim Sleeper writes 5/27/03: Luke-- In 1994 I published this now forgotten column about Howell Raines. In all the recent debate over whether to blame the Jayson Blair debacle on Raines' commitment to racial "diversity" or his administrative and moral arrogance, I have argued mainly for blaming the Times' mania for "diversity;" indeed, that was the point of the chapter of Liberal Racism which I devoted to Raines and Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.'s obsession with the problem and its likely consequences for The New York Times. (The book was published in 1997 and was re-issued this spring in a second edition.)

But now an old reader of my New York Daily News column reminds me that I had also called early attention to Raines' moralism on other fronts, and perhaps it will interest you and possibly your readers.

I'm beginning to think that some of us have been at this long enough to merit induction into the "Deja Vu All Over Again" Society, or at least the "Credit Where Credit is Due" Club.

New York Daily News,
August 18, 1994

By Jim Sleeper

Even if you don't read New York Times editorials---perhaps especially if you don't---you probably assume that they carry great weight in the councils of power. You're right, but have you ever wondered why? Like the Pope, after all, the Times has no troops. Its credibility rests on a community of secular belief and mutual respect among people in politics, industry, and the arts. The editorial page affirms its community's integrity by providing the smart insights and sound judgments upon which busy and powerful people depend. Its clout rests on its readers' dread of losing face in an editorial rebuke guided by standards they're all bound to respect.

But even the strongest communities are fragile crafts in history's tides. They can drift, lose course and be torn asunder. Responsible people are now saying that The Times is drifting, that it is less interested in good judgment than in style and show and shaking things up---as if things weren't already being shaken by forces beyond the Times. Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad; people are saying this about the editorial-page's new young Ahab, Howell Raines.

This week's New Yorker takes note of the problem in a profile of Raines that's a bit too soft and admiring. Peter Boyer's apologia is occasioned by a Rainesian bashing of the Clinton administration so harsh and unrelenting that it has made even New York Post editorials superfluous. Is the administration really "the most reckless… with the integrity of federal investigations since that of Richard Nixon"? Has its conduct in Whitewater really been "stupid, irresponsible and improper"? So Raines thinks, and even Boyer seems compelled to demur.

The Raines he portrays is a Southerner with an acute case of what I call Willie Morris Syndrome. "WMS" is a craving - named for the Southern writer who triumphed her as editor of Harper's in the 1960s - to come North and conquer by cutting a romantic figure in publishing houses and salons. When Raines, an accomplished and likeable novelist and memoirist, published Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis last year, he angled for a promotional spread by sending notes on fine stationery to People magazine's editor. This is "WMS" to the max, and, on one level, who cares? But it's fair to ask whether a passion to shake up us Yankees belongs at the helm of the Times' editorial page. And whether Raines' bashing of that other conquering Southerner, Clinton, has an edge honed by the adage, "It takes one to know one."

Raines tells Boyer he wants editorials that aren't bogged down in "on the one hand, on the other hand." A man of principle, he believes that "Every Southerner must choose between two psychic roads, the road of racism or the road of brotherhood." Such moral certitude, Boyer observes, "can come across to other Southerners, even some 'good' ones, as wearisome piety." It strikes some good Northerners that way, too, especially when applied to settings about which Raines knows less than he should.

Though the civil rights movement's evolution should have taught him otherwise, Raines can't conceive that syrupy notions of brotherhood wont' get us across today's stormy racial seas. Or that there's a difference between simply banging your drum - and weighing the other side's best arguments as if those you hope to persuade had principles, too.

The latter Raines does not do. Candidate Rudy Giuliani was an apostle of "civic Reaganism" with " no administrative experience" and a fondness for the tactics of Reagan henchman Lee Atwater. All untrue - indeed, all stupid and irresponsible - but, hey, we know where Howlin' Howell stands, and that's what counts.

The federal crime bill "deserves to die" because it excludes the Racial Justice Act, and never mind that most of the Congressional Black Caucus voted for it anyway. Raines will keep their consciences. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor practiced "Jurassic Park jurisprudence" by raising hard questions about racial redistricting. Justice Stephen Breyer didn't merit confirmation because Raines saw a "cloud" no one else saw. And on and on.

Such dubious positions make The Times less relevant to real battles under way. Serious people shake their heads and move on. Editorials should take unpopular positions on principle, but not for the fun of playing prophet. The point is to rally a working majority of people who are doing the world's heavy lifting. If that bores Raines, let him find other work.


SLATE magazine Remarks from the Fray, May 14, 2003:

In 1997 I devoted a chapter of Liberal Racism to warning, specifically and explicitly, that a strange symbiosis between Arthur Sulzberger, Jr's impish moralism and Howell Raines' penitential racialism was setting the stage for just the kind of journalistic debacle that has occurred. The chapter even opens with an anecdote about Times managing editor Gerald Boyd as told to me by Gay Talese. Not surprisingly, almost every reviewer of the book, including Slate's, contrived not to mention that chapter.

Still, it seems to me that anyone who really wants to discuss what has been going on at the Times should take Liberal Racism down off the shelf and read pp. 67-95. To my mind, the more furious of the denials from some quarters in recent days that Times' "diversity" policies have had much to do with what happened are just that: the furor of people in denial. They are also, however, a backhanded admission that the air is clearing--especially, I hope, for blacks, since they've been laboring for so long under the soft bigotry of low expectations. People like me, Bill McGowan (whose Coloring the News I reviewed in the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 17, 2002) and others who've tried to crack open the walls of denial have paid more than a little for it, and sometimes that has made me a tad testy. All I can do is ask people to read Chapter 4 of Liberal Racism (and the Hartford Courant column which Jack Schafer linked) in light of what is now known.--Jim Sleeper

Todd Wallack writes Media News 5/24/03:

So, let me get this straight: The Chronicle book editor confesses to Jim Sleeper and everyone who will listen that she is the one who inserted passages of Mr. Sleeper's review into a Chronicle review. In addition, The Chronicle ran a correction at the time calling it an "editing error." But Jim Sleeper keeps ranting both here and in the Hartford Courant that it is really the black writer who is to blame. And how he was protected by affirmative action. Oh, and by the way, buy his book and read the chapter on racism. I don't know Mr. Sleeper (or any of the above Chronicle staffers for that matter). But I suspect we're getting a pretty good glimpse of racism right here.

Jim Sleeper replies:

Hurling the "racism" charge, as Wollack does, is simply a way of trying to shut off discussion before it can begin. It's so tiresome and... Hurling the "racism" charge, as Wollack does, is simply a way of trying to shut off discussion before it can begin. It's so tiresome and foolish--and so obviously the misfiring of a well-intentioned moral impulse--that one hesitates to respond.

My argument in the Hartford Courant column was real simple: the blame is not on black reporters but on racially guilt-ridden (and, sometimes, just opportunistic) white editors. More recently we have heard that the problem in the Times' case (and, some would argue, in the case of the SF Chronicle's former Books editor) was not too much racial penitence but too much arrogance. In Howell Raines' case, I can buy that--and I said so, in a 1994 New York Daily News column...

In The Face Of Overwhelming Temptation, A Torah Jew Stands True

The following exchange warmed my heart and renewed my religious faith.

Luzdedos1: how's your sex life?
Jacob: non-existent since last nov.
Jacob: or december? can't remember
Luzdedos1: baruch hashem, most men are not as strong as you
Jacob: strong? i don't even meet women, period, let alone ones to bonk
Luzdedos1: baruch hashem, less chance for sin
Jacob: honestly, i haven't met one new woman 'round here who i'd seek any sort of communication with in about a year

A Chat With Violet

I speak in mid- May with 26-year old Violet, a student of world religion.

Violet's been a brunette since October 2002. "People listen to me more with brown hair. When I was blonde, I'd be talking to somebody and they wouldn't hear me. "The first day I was a brunette, I went to work and one of the guys said, 'Yo, I actually heard what you said. You're actually a smart girl. I thought you were stupid because you were blonde.'

"I prefer being a brunette. I don't get nearly as much attention on the street but it's a lot nicer to have people listen to you as opposed to look at you."

Luke:"Do you wear a pentagram around your neck?"

Violet: "Yes."

Luke: "And what does that symbolize?"

Violet: "Protection. It symbolizes that I am a free person and I can do whatever I put my mind to."

Luke: "Is it Satanist?"

Violet: "No. Anton LeVay adopted the upside down one. He started the Church of Satan. The Pentagram has existed since ancient Egypt."

Luke: "Now, you're married and you also have a boyfriend?"

Violet: "Yes. I've been married for four years. I have a little boy who is three-and-a-half years old. I also have a boyfriend for [a year or so]."

DUC: "Does your boyfriend know about your husband and vice versa?"

Violet: "Yeah, they hang out together. They're friends."

DUC: "That's not weird."

Violet: "Not at all. I don't have sex with my husband. I haven't had sex with him in eight months. We love each other and we care about each other but we're basically best friends. We're a partnership. We're raising our son together. We live together. We share a bed. I stay with my boyfriend every other night. My boyfriend and I have an open relationship. So long as I let him know about it, I can have sex with anyone I want. I like everything to be really open. Communication is key."

Luke: "You are into studying religion?"

Violet: "I started studying religion when I was six years old. Then I really got into alternative religions when I was 14. I got into witchcraft and Wiccan when I was 16. I was initiated into a coven when I was 19. I was initiated into my second coven when I was 21. I've been a member of the OTO (Order of the Temple Orientis) since I was 21."

I went to the OTO website and found this:

Ordo Templi Orientis is the first of the great Old Æon orders to accept The Book of the Law, received by Aleister Crowley in 1904 EV. This book proclaims a New Æon in human thought, culture and religion. The Æon arises from a single supreme injunction: the Law of Thelema, which is Do what thou wilt.

This Law is not to be interpreted as a license to indulge every passing whim, but rather as the mandate to discover one's True Will and accomplish it; leaving others to do the same in their own unique ways. "Every man and every woman is a star." The Law of Thelema can ultimately be fulfilled only through the individual efforts of each person. Nevertheless, many worthy aspirants to the Great Work of Thelema have a genuine need for information, guidance, fellowship, or the opportunity to assist their fellow aspirants and serve humanity. Such aspirants will find welcome in OTO.

OTO was originally affiliated with European Masonry but is no longer a Masonic organization, though it shares some terminology and traditions with Masonry. The complex but intriguing history of OTO may be of interest for the light it sheds on the origins of our current organization and goals.

Violet "We perform Gnostic masses the way they were meant to be performed before the Roman Catholics changed it."

Luke: "Does OTO have anything to say about abortion?"

Violet "Do what thou wilt. As long as you are listening to your true self, and not your ego self, then whatever you do is God's will because every man and woman is God."

Luke: "Do you cast magical spells on people?"

Violet: "I have done two. I was casting a love spell on a guy and my roommate ended up walking in while I was doing this, so he fell in love with her. They're still together six years later."

Luke: "Did you kill anybody?"

Violet "No. I don't need to cast spells. All my spells were done out of necessity - cleansing spells on myself... I can just think of something I want to happen and it will happen.

"In my religion, I don't need to sacrifice living things to my god. Of course in Christianity, they are supposed to sacrifice living things to Yahweh, which is scary. He's a resentful mofu. He's the first one. He's the Old Testament god. The New Testament god is very happy and pleasant. Jesus was loving and caring and great. The one before that, he was a terror. He was always blowing up stuff, making mountains erupt and killing a bunch of people."

Luke: "What about the New Testament god demanding human sacrifice of his son?"

Violet: "Well, he's not really the New Testament god. He's the Old Testament god."

Luke: "Who demands sacrifice of his son?"

Violet "Yeah. Whenever they did sacrifice Jesus, it was because he needed to die. He told Judas to tell them to come get him."

Luke: "Do you believe Jesus is God?"

Violet "No."

Luke: "Do you believe that if you believe in him, you will have eternal life?"

Violet "No. I think Jesus was an amazing prophet and that it is really sad that the Jews killed him, because he could've been a great leader."

Luke: "Do you think the Jews have suffered for two thousand years for doing that?"

Violet "Yes."

She laughs. "Yes, I definitely think that. I mean, look at the history. I definitely think that. They were really stupid to have done that because he could've really led them to victory. And they hung him up on a cross next to thieves and murderers."

She laughs.

Luke: "So how did they go from killing Jesus to running the [entertainment] industry?"

Violet: "They're not really Jewish."

Luke: "They're not practicing Orthodox Jews."

Violet: "Exactly. That means that they are not Jewish."

Luke: "They're ethnically Jewish but not..."

Violet: "There's no such thing as ethnically Jewish. Either you are Jewish or you are not. It's a religion not anything to do with ethnicity."

Luke: "Were there any Jews where you grew up?"

Violet "I never met any.

"I don't know that many Jews. I don't know anybody who practices Judaism. I've met a few people who do practice but half the time I know more about the damn religion than they do, especially about the Jewish mysticism, the Kaballah. I don't consider them true practicing Jews unless they're like a rabbi and of course I've never even talked to a rabbi. They'd never talk to me."

Luke: "Why?"

Violet "Because I'm not Jewish."

She giggles. "They're not likely to knock on your door and ask you... They like to keep their religious thing closed. They're a very closed society. They're a lot like witches."

Luke: "Did you gain any benefit from studying the mystical side of Judaism?"

Violet "Of course. I learned how the universe worked.

"Yahweh has been dead for over a thousand years. He just disappeared. Haven't you noticed? There haven't been any hands of God coming out of the sky destroying entire cities because they have sex? That hasn't happened in over a thousand years because He's gone. He probably got kicked out by some other gods."

Luke: "If He showed up again, would you be surprised?"

Violet: "Yeah."

Luke: "Would you change your life?"

Violet "No, I would strike to kill him. He's a bad bad god. He's horrible."

Luke: "What did you think about the war to free Iraq?"

Violet "I think it was kinda silly but I think we should just kill the entire Middle East. That way we wouldn't have terrorism any more."

Luke: "Are you bothered that California is being overrun by illegal immigration?"

Violet "Yeah, I think they should all go back to where they belong or learn how to speak English. Did you know that there's no word for 'maintenance' in the Mexican language? I know a lot of nice Mexicans but there are a lot of Mexican scum who tend to live off the government and have a bunch of babies. I don't think we should be that open to immigration from Mexico."

Luke: "Do you think we need more Muslim immigrants

Violet "No, they keep buying up all the 7-11s. I think all immigrants should learn how to speak English. If they speak English, I'm happy. I hate when I drive through the Valley and I can't read any of the billboards because they are in Spanish. That's why I am going to go back up to Washington where all there are a few American Indians and Koreans. Everybody is white. It's a wonderful wonderful thing. It's clean. There aren't a lot of icky people. If you look at it, most bums are either black or white. I'm surprised there are not more Mexican bums."

DUC: "I think we've gone places in this interview I've never taken any[one] before."

Violet: "I feel special."

The Tao Of Steve

A good movie on how to pick up women.

I find the best way to select a movie is by its ranking on Imdb.com.

Khunrum writes: Saw it several years ago. I thought it was mediocre at best.

Moeliss writes Khunrum: What's not cool? the guy wasn't in shape, he wasn't great looking and with all that going against him, he got the dolls to fawn over him, with his rap. For chicks looking for strong relationships, this guy and movie weren't very cool. For guys who only want to play, selfish bastards that they are, this is a gem. To be honest, this guy reminded me of you.

Karl Williams writes: A massively charming and intelligent film that is tailor-made for its low budget and independent milieu, The Tao of Steve launched the career of character actor Donal Logue to a new level. In her directorial debut, Jenniphr Goodman maintains the integrity of an artistic high-wire act, sympathetically presenting a main character who is staggeringly selfish, smug, and manipulative — but who's also skating by on loads of witty appeal. That Dex (Logue) remains likable and interesting despite his negative qualities is a measure of Goodman's skill as a co-writer and director. Without the skepticism she brings to the proceedings and the careful revelations that Dex is slyly self-deluded, audiences would reject rather than embrace him. Like many other indie projects, particularly those from Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith, Goodman's romantic comedy contains heavy doses of postmodern irony and media-obsessed cultural observations. Also starring Greer Goodman, the director's sister, Taowas co-written by Duncan North, the Goodmans' friend and real-life model for Dex. A film festival hit, Tao was also subsequently developed as a possible television series.

You're All Evil Sinners

I am interviewing Amy Alkon Wednesday.. If you have any suggested questions for me to ask the Advice Goddess. www.advicegoddess.com

Mark writes: Ask why she's not more famous for being so gorgeous. Ask how old she is, and whether she dates 44yo lapsed Christians. Ask whether she's good with money. And in the Dennis Prager sense, ask if she thinks feminine nature has a down side (and try to get a serious answer).

Khunrum writes: Ask her the usual penetrating questions: Did she ever date a black guy? Would she bring a Whirling Dervish home to meet Mom and dad? How much does she make and does she pay her taxes on time? If she were not in the advice business, what would she do?

XXX writes: I'd hope you ask amy alkon about her breasts. Not because I would know anything about them from reading her website but cathy seipp seemed to allude to their hugeness recently.

Cathy Seipp writes: "Amy and I went upstairs to the lingerie dept., although her proportions are such ("I'm 30F" she told the shocked saleslady) she can only buy bras in Paris. Amy is a living argument against that p.c. notion that no living woman can naturally have Barbie doll proportions."

Chaim Amalek writes: Just repeat every point/question that I have made over the years and you'll get a great interview, as well as a growing reputation of the sort that worked for the crypto-jew "Ali G". To wit:

1. Repeat my point that the whole "great women, so great that they scare men off" is bunk, because women are not using the correct (i.e. male) definition of what is "great" in a woman.

2. Can a nation ever have too much diversity?

3. How many Mexicans in the United States is TOO MANY Mexicans in the United States: 0.1% of the population of Mexico? 1%? 10% More?

4. Muslim immigration into the U.S. - good for them, but is it good for the Jews?

5. Is it her experience that black people are as smart as Jews?

6. Why do secular jewish women have so few children, and is this not a posthumous victory for Adolf Hitler?

7. Venereal disease of the sort straight people get is a major problem faced by young women, and no, I'm not talking HIV, but herpes and venereal warts. Why is it that liberated women like Amy {all the Amys} never seem to have the balls to address it?

Please use these questions for each and every interview you do.

Rob writes: For God's sake please write what you and Ms. Alkon ate at your dining egagement! It's so interesting. "I had the strawberry lemonade. She had a margarita ..."

Chaim Amalek writes: I do my best to elevate this discourse, and yet you always bring it down to the lowest common denominator. Can't we instead talk about the issues of miscegenation, racism, the Church, and lesbianism that were raised in the Sunday Times article? (Born Jews always prefer serious discussions about what they have read in the New York Times to anything about Hollywood, especially when it is written by a shagetz.)

Concerning Amy Alkon, does she really wear an "F" cup? What does she weigh? What do they weigh? Is she married? Is her personal life so successful that she is someone rational people should turn to for advice?

The weather here just sucks sucks and sucks some more. Almost June and we cannot hit the 60 degree mark. If all the Mexicans would but return to their homeland, I would move to California for sure.

Dave Deutsch writes: "Just got this from my rabbi, who is a true mensch--chasidic, from a prominent chasidic family, but extraordinarily down to earth and decent. Anyway, give it a read, and think about it the next time you take flak for who you are--and, more to the point, the next time you engage in one of your diatribes about the less religiously enthusiastic of our tribe."

Luke replies: "This is very nice, but I think it is more effective to simply scream at people that they are evil sinners..."

Dave Deutsch replies: "Oh, I agree with you most of the time; but every now and then, it's nice to get all Jesus-y and send people things like this that make you seem saintly and forgiving. Next time you want to criticize somebody, try the "forgive them lord, for they know not what they do" bit. Screaming is gratifying in the short term, but for long-term smugness, nothing beats self-righteousness, because you'll know that your target is seething with impotent rage, since, after all, how do you respond to it? If you disagree, don't worry--I'll forgive you."

With Sex Comes Wisdom

Chaim Amalek writes: With sex (REAL sex, by which I mean coitus with a member of the opposite sex) comes wisdom. The lack of sex brings about all manner of social pathology, including:

-suicide bombings;
-situational lesbianism;
-cat ownership;
-onanistic abuse and its handmaiden, pornography;
-depression, poor physical health and premature death;
-weight gain;
-blogging (with the sole exception of that really hot french chick who pretends not to care that France is destined to become a a muslim nation, who I am sure is getting plenty. And if she's not, well, there's 450 pounds of cane-supported swarthy bagel-eating hairy palmed jewish flesh available to her in New York if she wants a slice.)

Shameless Pandering For Gifts

Fred writes: Luke, Your birthday is rapidly approaching and I couldn't help but notice that many female bloggers *cough* *moxie* openly solict gifts via PayPal or amazon.com from their fans. Why not, you? Attention Shoppers! Only Three More Days 'Til Luke's Birthday!

Women Too Amazing To Have Boyfriends

Amy Alkon writes: A subject I'm intending to write about -- the too-large crop of really great women who seem to be what men SAY they want, but who hear from men, time and time again, that they're "too much." My friend Susannah Breslin put it wisely: "It isn't that we're too much, it's that they're not enough." Elizabeth Wurtzel had a great take on this in her book, Bitch:In Praise Of Difficult Women. "I think, quite frankly," she writes, "That the world simply does not care for the complicated girls, the ones who seem too dark, too deep, too vibrant, too opinionated, the ones who are so intriguing that new men fall in love with them every day, at every meal where there's a waiter, in every taxi and on every train they board, in any instance where someone can get to know them just a little bit, just enough to get completely gone. But most men in the end don't quite have the stomach for that much person. Why do you suppose Arianna Huffington married a complete simpleton? Does anyone know where it is in the state of Tennessee that Dolly Parton keeps her husband hidden? These women knew what they needed to do to make the world work with them. But that's unusual."

Chaim Amalek writes: This is a total myth put out by women who are alone because they just aren't as hot as they think they are or are really really REALLY irritating and not correspondingly beautiful enough for most men to tolerate them. All of the "really great" women I know - as MEN define this - are spoken for.

Fred writes: I tend to agree. A woman who is an irritant chalks up her relationship failures on being too much for other males. BTW, why did Ariana Huffington marry a simpleton? Because that simpleton was a zillionaire. And who are these women who men constantly fall in love with, but in the end "don't quite have the stomach for that much person?" Something's fishy here.

Khunrum writes: I knew a women some years ago, a colleague. We taught together. She told me she broke up with the love of her life who wanted to marry her because he was a fireman and didn't have a college degree. She thought she would be marrying below her station even though she loved the guy. Twenty years later and no one else has asked. She's a spinster if you will.

I haven't checked in with her in a years. However, even in her late thirties she was starting to go slightly bonkers. She became a Baptist religious fanatic. She would tell me "if something happens and I am not around anymore you will understand" ..."No I won't, what's happening"? She claimed that when the end of the world was near, she and the other believers would be spirited away to cloud nine or something. Us sinners would be toasted in a nuclear war. Then the good folk would return and carry on. She kept asking me in I believed Jesus was God. Not the son of God, but God himself. I told her I had no idea. Never gave it much thought. She claimed that If I didn't believe he was God (not the son of God mind you) then I was just as bad as every other scumbag on this planet and would be fried to a crisp when the end came. She liked me and felt sorry that I would go down with the rest, but unless I was a true believer there was nothing she could do for me. I attempted to get in her knickers several times to no avail. To answer your question Fred, yes I believe she is sorry she never married the fireman. She may even be sorry she didn't give me a sample of that holy ------ she guarded so carefully. Who knows?

Chaim writes: Someone should have taught these women the meaning of the term "settling" when they were young.

Khunrum writes: As I get older I realize that deep meaningful conversations with women are highly overrated. My latest Thai sweetie knows about 50 works of English. It is plenty. We get along great.

Chaim writes: Luke, Marc, is there an inverse correlation between blogging and sexual intercourse? Does time spent in the former suggest a lack of the latter?

Luke says: Not necessarily... If you are a successful blogger, with lots of readers, it increases your chances...

Khunrum writes: In which case Young W. should be nursing a sore member from too much action. However the reverse seems to be true. He's been out in the wasteland longer than Moses. Applying your theory, Moxie would have a full dance card. How about "once a nerd always a nerd, blogg or no blogg" (excluding Weis~b of course) These people seem to have a support group of "blogger groupies" who continually tell them how great they are. National treasures. Even send them money. In which case why are no many of them unemployed? Doesn't anyone want to hire these intelligent, wonderful people with the sterling personalities?

Robert writes: Luke's bizarre behavior is not linked to his meds (or lack there of), but to the loss of his spiritual compass, Dr. William Pierce, a year ago. Since then he has been spiraling downward at an alarming rate.

Khunrum writes: There is a new guy on the air now. But I don't know if he is to be trusted. His teeth don't whistle when he speaks.

Ever Wonder Why The Jewish Press Is So Boring?

Check out the schedule for the annual conference of the American Jewish Press Association. Snore city. These guys are so clueless and dull, no wonder their papers are so clueless and dull.

I was all set to join the AJPA until I realized that I had to send in my gonads with my application.

If the AJPA were truly serious about their Jewish journalism, they'd have seminars and panel discussions on the important topic of - why are Jewish papers so clueless and dull? Why are we so predictably liberal? Why do we sanitize the news? Why do we so rarely use scene-by-scene construction, point of view, realistic dialogue and status details in our articles? Why do we believe it is a mitzvah to lecture our audience in the news columns and put them to sleep? Why do we strive to publish only good things about Jews? Why do we model ourselves on Pravda? Why are we so gay-friendly? Why are our papers so womanly? Why are we such faegeles? Why is our coverage of religion so cursory and shallow?

How can we suck up better to the Jewish Federations that fund and control us? How can we better scratch the backs of the affluent in our community? How can we add more hot man-on-man action in our personal ads? How can we bend over even more severely to the homosexual agenda?

Are Jewish journalists horrible people? No. It's just that their constituency is Jews, who complain far more than goyim. So Jewish journalists learn it is not worth making waves.

Cad - Confessions of a Toxic Bachelor

Rick Marin's memoir is a great read. I picked it up at 10PM Friday night and couldn't put it down until I finished it at midnight. One thing - I'm dying to know the identities of the people he writes about. I've searched the web for clues and found nothing. Can anyone help?

Marin is now married to the well-preserved Ilene Rosenszweig, coauthor of Swell: A Girl's Guide to the Good Life and a codesigner of a line of home products.

Moxie Links Me

Moxie writes on her site: "I look up to Ken Layne, as any aspiring writer should. As always Ken is right -- I should link to the Moxie interview. Another LA icon, writer Luke Ford interviewed me last week. I felt shy and weird about basically linking to myself, but Luke did such a great job with a difficult subject (a cranky tired Moxie) you all should go over and read it. Luke is a prolific and talented writer and his site should be on your daily rounds. Just don't forget to come back and read Moxie!"

Chuck writes Moxie: "Wow -- a blast from the past. I'd always wondered whatever happened to Luke, after he sold lukeford.com -- reading lukeford.net, he's seriously retcon'ed himself; you'd hardly know he was one of the pre-eminent industry gadflies just a couple of years ago -- even reading his bio... But Luke still writes like Luke, albeit a little less tortured."

Jamie writes: "That whole bit about the Mexicans was kinda weird."

Moxie writes: "I'm not sure who that guy Fred is, but I'm guessing his tart comment was some thinly veiled insult."

Fred writes: "Always glad to help out a blogger by causing lots of free content. Tell her she's welcome. I wasn't really implying that she's a tart so much as joking about LF."

Sir Nerdalot writes: "This whole blogger world seems more than a bit onanistic in its orientation. I say the whole lot of you unplug yourselves from your computers and live life as though the internet had never been invented. My sense is that the more time one spends online, the less happy one is with life."

Moxie writes: "No one's unhappy -- that was Luke's incorrect projection. One of the downsides about giving interviews. But hey...you are welcome to your opinion, I just don't have to agree with it."

I Was Jayson Blair Before Jayson Blair Was Cool

Khunrum writes: Luke, How does it feel to be the father of inaccurate reporting? You are a trailblazer. You invented the genre. I hope when this type of reporting becomes the rule and not the exception, you will get the credit you deserve.

Robert writes: Be fair. Luke's CFS prevents him from strenuous "fact-checking."

Khunrum writes: Luke is merely celebrating his new fly lifestyle and high baht job. The old Luke would order two veggie sandwiches from Subway and pay with a coupon. The new Luke frequents trendy watering holes accompanied by tall willowy blondes. He orders his Moroccan veggie burger medium rare and his half lemonade/half ice tea shaken, not stirred.

UJ, Conservative Judaism Shy Away From Homosexuality Controversy

University of Judaism won't discuss publicly the biggest controversy within the Conservative movement of Judaism (the centrist denomination) - ordaining openly homosexual rabbis. At the moment the policy is don't ask don't tell but the pendulum is steadily swinging away from traditional Jewish values and towards liberal tolerance.

An increasing number of homosexuals are being ordained at Conservative seminaries and they are coming out of the closet and teaching at Reform and Conservative day schools.

The Reform Stephen S. Wise day school has a lesbian rabbi teaching Talmud. The school has a gay and lesbian club.

The Reform movement already ordains avowed homosexuals and some Reform rabbis perform commitment ceremonies for homosexuals.

The biggest Conservative advocates of ordaining homosexuals are important professors at UJ - Dr. Rabbi Elliot Dorff and head of the rabbinics school, Rabbi Brad Artson.

Conservative Judaism's Law Committee is supposed to decide the issue later this year.

I've noticed in all the media reports on this, both in the Jewish and goyisha press, that advocates of change get the most quotes and the most touching anecdotes while opponents of ordaining avowed homosexuals come off as stodgy and mean-spirited.

I was at a panel discussion at UJ about God with three rabbis - Orthodox Rabbi Steven Weil, Conservative Rabbi David Wolpe and a Reform rabbi. I asked about the issue of homosexuality and moderator Robert Wexler ruled the question out of bounds.

Dr. Wexler won't permit any kind of public debate about the issue at UJ.

Many Conservative rabbis, such as David Wolpe, won't discuss the issue publicly because of the furor it will create within the congregations. The Conservative laity are split on the issue, with most of its activists pushing for ordination of homosexuals.

I was at UJ Wednesday night for a panel on medical ethics with Rabbi Dorff, Dr. Neil Wenger and radical lawyer Vicki Michel.

Rabbi Dorff struck me as a fair articulator of the Jewish tradition on medical ethics but he's way to the left on homosexuality. Or is that tolerance of homosexual behavior is now normative even within traditional Judaism?

Jewish Haikus

After the warm rain
the sweet smell of camellias.
Did you wipe your feet?


Her lips near my ear,
Aunt Sadie whispers the name
of her friend's disease.


Today I am a man.
Tomorrow I will return
to the seventh grade.


Testing the warm milk on her wrist,
she sighs softly.
But her son is forty.


The sparkling blue sea
reminds me to wait
an hour after my sandwich.


Lacking fins or tail
the gefilte fish
swims with great difficulty.


Like a bonsai tree,
your terrible posture
at my dinner table.


Beyond Valium,
the peace of knowing
one's child is an internist.


Jews on safari --
map, compass, elephant gun,
hard sucking candies.


The same kimono
the top geishas are wearing:
I got it at Loehmann's.


The shivah visit:
so sorry about your loss.
Now back to my problems.


Sorry I'm not home
to take your call.
At the tone please state your bad news.


Is one Nobel Prize
so much to ask from a child
after all I've done?


Quietly murmured
at Saturday services,
Yanks 5, Red Sox 3.


A lovely nose ring,
excuse me while I put
my head in the oven.


Hard to tell under the lights.
white yarmulke or
male-pattern baldness.

Papillon Witnesses For Jesus Christ

I chat by phone with Papillon, 5/13/03.

Papillon: "I love people who are into religion because everybody bugs me."

Luke: "There aren't many religious people in the industry."

Papillon: "Definitely not. They look at me as though I'm retarded.

"The Old Testament rocks. I carry my Bible with me all day long. I read that thing every day. "People say, 'That is so not normal. You can't talk about God on a set.'

"Who said? Just because you are not religious doesn't mean I can't talk about it. He should be a part of your life every day, not just when you are about to crash into someone else's car, 'Oh God, please, don't let me do it.' That's no relationship whatsoever.

"Prayer helps the body and soul. You know. You're in synagogue every day.

"It always freaks me out when people say, 'I'm Mormon.' You're sodom. You're sodomites. I'm horrid like that.

"Because of my working so much, I haven't been able to go as often as I'd like to. I used to go every Sunday and Bible study on Monday night and Wednesday night. I get told I shouldn't tell anyone.

"Last time I went to church was on Easter. It was a Catholic church. I was raised Catholic but I became born again. I'm Christian.

"Even when I was in the industry before, I never worked on a Sunday. I always went to church every Sunday. I was so young, I didn't want to let people know that I was religious.

"Now I don't care. I'm old enough to say screw you. My three kids go to Christian private school and they learn about the Lord. I might be a little bit of a Bible thumper.

"I invite people all the time to go to church with me. Would you like to pray? Would you like to join a circle? You're going to see a little section on my site. People are going to say, 'How can she talk about going to church?'

"I usually end all my emails with 'God bless' and that freaks people out... 'By the way, you're doing blah, blah. Thanks a lot. God bless.' How can she end it like that? But I do and I don't think there's anything wrong with it.

"What I'm doing right now [make-up and other work behind the scenes] is not the right path but I think I was sent here to be a part of this industry, to preach and to bring people in and let them know it is ok to say 'I believe in God.'

"If you ask a lot of people in this industry, they're all atheists. I'm not even asking if they believe in Jesus Christ. 'Well, I believe there is a god.' That is what I get.

"I'm not holier than thou. I've been divorced twice. I wasn't wanting to get divorced. No matter what, I will always love my second husband.

"When I became born again, I realized that I needed a strong man who believed in the Lord and would help me to be closer to the Lord. My husband is not religious. He'd have to believe in God before I ever took him back because when you believe in God, you believe in His commandments.

"Not many people, even those who say they're religous, can say that they follow too many [commandments]. When I got married, I never cheated on him and I tried to be the best wife and mother and spiritual guide.

"I can't tell you too much about that because I was in school, I was working a lot, but I had a 3.8 GPA. I have ADHD. I was on Ritalin to calm me down. I was on uppers.

"I can't go on Ritalin right now because I have three kids and the Ritalin so slows me down, I can't keep track of my kids.

"I make sure they don't get into the closets and pantries and eat dog food. My son likes to eat cardboard. I have to keep all boxes away from him. It's hard because I'm a single mom.

"I get up at 5AM. I make my kids' lunches. I rush my son to the babysitter and my kids to school. Then I show up to set. Finally I go home. If they are still awake, I get to still hang out with them. They go to bed at 9PM. If it weren't for my mom, I wouldn't know what to do. I don't trust too many people to watch my children.

"I don't believe in lesbianism. I'm sorry. It bugs me. Being gay, that bugs me too. I have nothing against anybody. I have cousins who are lesbians. God didn't make Adam and Steve. He made Adam and Eve.

"I don't do masturbation because I don't believe in it. Uh huh, no, it's not right. By any standard, it's not right. In my personal life, I'm very celibate. I'm just waiting for the right person to come along."

Communicating With Aliens

Ken Layne writes: Hmm, can't say I've met any aliens. But I did live in a haunted apartment in Prague long ago! It was Matt's old place, and Kate Sullivan lived there briefly. Guitars played by themselves, strange voices through the night, flashing lights, doors opening and closing, etc. It was a terrible place, but the rent was cheap. Also, the teevee didn't work for more than 15 minutes at a time. That wasn't supernatural; it was just a lousy communist-made teevee. I'd get home from a late night out and hope, hope, hope I might catch 15 minutes of world news from CNN International. But more often than not, I'd get Jesse Jackson's horrible talk show. The days before the Internet ....

Oh, and I've seen a few strange craft in the sky. Most recently saw one of those infamous black triangles over the beautiful Owens Valley along the 395 -- that was about two years ago, on our way up to a New Year's party at Tahoe. Crazy looking airship, one of the new stealth planes. Fantastic to watch.

I should be back in LA on newspaper business in a couple weeks. There will be something or other & it won't be kosher, but you must come and pretend anyway!

How The LA Press Club Clique Works

Matt Welch explains on LaExaminer.com : In 2000, I decided to finally bite the bullet and apply for an award; went to the ceremony, knew no one except Jill Stewart (I knew her back in Prague), and had a terrible time. The next year, we went back, knew a few more people, had some fun. Soon after that, Seipp & Alkon started inviting us to the monthly Press Club booze-fests, which are just terrific fun, and my wife Emmanuelle started to help them organize. Through those, and other shenanigans (blogs, the Riordan paper, the Los Feliz chapter of the Leo Strauss Society), some people got to know each other. Voila! Stewart & Seipp & Oppenheimer & Alkon & a bunch of others (Patt the Hatt, I believe, maybe Bill Rosendahl, etc.) worked very hard to revive the Press Club, and I think they've managed to double the membership in three or four years. They do many useful things (Sunshine Law work, panels, statements of outrage), but I like the drinking best of all. You should come out next time, and wear a nametag!

Moxie Interview

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds says: "I don't think that Moxie is real. I think she's distilled out of every blogger's fantasies."

My Toronto writer friend Marc W. introduced me to the blogger "Moxie" (not her real name) when he paid a two-week visit to Los Angeles in the fall of 2002. She's a smart slender blonde.

After running into her at a few writer events, I decided to interview her.

I pick Moxie up at 1PM, 5/20/03. She's ready to go within a minute and climbs into my battered old van with a laugh.

Moxie wears a long black patterned sundress with platform sandals and a beige sunhat. Her arms are bare and her skin is pale. She's half asleep. She had a busy day yesterday and didn't finish everything on her list.

Unemployed for two years, Moxie normally rises around 10AM but with her particularly active social life over the past two months, she often rises later.

She says she needs 9-10 hours of sleep a night. I think she's a little depressed and when her life is up and running full tilt, she'll be fine with eight hours.

We park (a laborious process that takes five minutes) off First Street and walk to Pusan on La Brea Blvd, a health-food restaurant where I once ate with W..

I quickly down two lemonades. Moxie nurses her lemonade/ice tea.

Moxie's not thrilled that I want to tape our interview. I hadn't mentioned this habit of mine. She doesn't like to hear her own voice. I promise not to play it back to her.

She doesn't think this interview is a good idea. She doesn't think she has anything interesting to say. Still, it's a good excuse to leave the house and lunch is on me.

I order the California Vegetarian sandwich and Moxie orders a French chopped salad.

I switch after my second lemonade to water.

Born and raised in Manhattan Upper West Side (her father is a CEO), Moxie graduated from Cornell with a double major in bio-chem and marketing. She worked in high tech in San Francisco for five years and in LA for five years, earning in six figures. Then when the tech boom crashed in 2000, she lost her job and she hasn't worked steadily since.

As I turn the tape recorder on, Moxie tenses up.

Moxie says she started her blog in October 2000. "I needed a structured way to write every day."

She thinks before she speaks. She prefers interviews by email. I prefer to tape in-person chats.

Luke: "Was your blog like anything you've done before?"

Moxie: "I don't know if there is anything else you can compare it to."

As a child, Moxie kept a diary.

Moxie's "not surprised [by her number of hits and emails] because it took me two years to get there."

Her Alexa.com ranking is about 90,000. Lukeford.net's is 250,000.

July 2002 was a key time in the evolution of Moxie when she met other Los Angeles bloggers like Tony Pierce at Brian Linse's party. "I only read Tony Pierce before that and he introduced me to everyone else, including the Olsens in Cleveland.

It's about 15-minutes into the interview before I get her to crack a smile and laugh.

I rarely work from prepared questions. I have a few notes on a piece of paper of things to cover but I prefer to work intuitively, throwing out questions and comments promiscuously and thoughtlessly until I evoke an interesting reaction. There's nothing I'm trying to prove or achieve with this interview or most of my interviews. That's what I like about having a website. I don't have to artificially construct stories for a daily newspaper or radio station. I can just open someone up to the universe and see what happens.

Moxie: "There are things I will never write about. I've written a lot about boyfriends, dates and relationships. I find myself writing less about that. I was lucky that when I first started, the man I was dating got me started and said, 'Hey, this is what you need to do.'"

Luke: "Lucifer?"

Moxie: "Yes. He said this will give you the structure you need and it will be easy for you to write from anywhere. And he didn't care what I said about him. I was lucky. But other men I've dated have been really sensitive about it.

"I don't tell all of them that I write about them but of the ones who know, about 75% [are sensitive about it]."

Luke: "Has this caused you to pull back from the writing or from the boys?"

Moxie: "I've pulled back on the writing. It's limiting. I can't write about some things that would make great stories."

Luke: "What percentage of guys you date know you're writing about them?"

Moxie laughs: "It's becoming less and less. I've gone entire relationships without the man knowing [about her blog]. The man I wrote about the other day who would never initiate a conversation never really knew. He knew I had one but he never bothered to ask where it was because that would require him starting a conversation."

Moxie says she's dated about ten guys in the past year and had zero relationships. She says she's had three serious relationships in her life. The last one was with a Jewish guy for three years. It ended badly two years ago.

Luke: "What's your thing with Jewish guys?"

Moxie: "Contrary to popular belief, I don't just seek them out. They just happen to be the ones... I don't even know they're Jewish. We go out on a date and we get along well. They know how to treat a girl, a woman on a date. The guy who would never initiate a conversation was not Jewish."

Luke: "Have you ever dated a black guy?"

Moxie: "No."

Luke: "Would you?"

Moxie: "I don't know. I've definitely met black guys who were smoking hot. It would depend on the person."

Luke: "How would your parents react?"

Moxie: "I don't think they would be thrilled."

Luke: "Who's the male version of you?"

Moxie: "I don't know. There are a lot of people who do what I do."

Luke: "What's with the more active social life over the past two months?"

Moxie: "I've had a hard couple of years and I just decided that if I want things to change, I have to get out and meet people."

Our food comes and we quit the interview while we eat.

Afterwards, I ask for the desert menu.

Waiter with a foreign accent: "We've got chocolate cake with ice-cream and tart, the one over there, with ice-cream and berries on top."

Luke to Moxie: "What would you like?"

Moxie: "I don't have a sweet tooth."

Luke: "I do. I'll have the tart."

We decline coffee. Moxie gets another half and half.

Luke: "Why haven't you pursued more aggressively writing for a living, or have you?"

Moxie's taken aback. "It's a little bit hard for me to talk about. I am pursuing it but it's not something that will be obvious right now. I really can't talk about it but I have some projects going on, not journalism, with my writing."

Luke: "Are you working on a book?"

Moxie: "Yeah, I'm working on a book but this is something bigger than that."

Luke: "What can you say about the book?"

Moxie: "It's a group of short stories. I hope to get it published at some point."

Luke: "Fiction? Autobiographical?"

Moxie: "It's a lot like my blog."

Luke: "Then it's nonfiction."

Moxie: "There are things in for spice but the basic story line, oh yeah, is autobiographical. I have to change names and situations."

Luke: "What do you think of the comparison of your blog to Sex in the City?"

Moxie: "I know so many people that live that life... I don't think it's the most flattering comparison. I'd like to think I'm more unique than that. The show is well done but it is not unique."

Luke: "What do you love and what do you hate about having your website?"

Moxie: "I don't think I hate anything about it. I don't love it either. It just is."

Luke: "How would your life be different if you never did this?"

Moxie: "I'd have an entirely different group of friends. I'd probably never write. I'd think about writing a lot but I'd never write. My house wouldn't be such a mess. It takes a lot of time out of my day. I'm a slow writer. It doesn't just spill out on the page."

Luke: "Is it possible that it is distracting you from anything?"

Moxie: "A couple of months ago, yeah, I think it was. But I haven't been spending as much time on the site lately. I've been focusing on looking for a job and my real-life friends."

Luke: "Why aren't you leading a religious Catholic life?"

Moxie's taken aback: "I don't really believe in organized religion. The Catholic church is very corrupt. I don't like the way they treat women. It's much better for me just to be spiritual than to participate in something that's disrespectful to my gender. Now we're hearing about all the priests molesting little boys. It's just disgusting. There'd be a better chance of peace in the world if people weren't so fanatical about organized religion."

Luke: "Does God communicate to you and do you communicate with God?"

Moxie pauses: "I don't think so."

Luke: "You don't pray?"

Moxie: "No."

Luke: "Do you believe there's intelligence in outer space?"

Moxie: "I don't see why there couldn't be. I don't think about it. It'd be pretty arrogant for us to assume that we're the only planet with intelligent life."

Luke: "Have you ever had any kind of communication with an alien?"

Moxie laughs: "No."

Luke: "Do you think there's truth to astrology?"

Moxie: "Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. I'm nothing like a Capricorn, however, I have noticed my friends and people I date do sort of fit their astrological sign."

A Mexican cleans away our dishes.

Luke: "Do you think there are too many Mexicans in LA?"

Moxie answers immediately: "Absolutely not."

Luke: "Really?"

Moxie: "What do you mean by too many?"

Luke: "There are more Mexican babies born than white babies. In 30 years or so, Mexicans will be a majority in this state. That doesn't bother you?"

Moxie: "Everybody came to this country from another country. That's discrimination. That's..."

Luke: "Wrong?"

Moxie: "Yeah. Based on skin color? Why would that bother me?

"Why, do you think there are too many Mexicans in LA?"

Luke: "Yeah."

Moxie laughs: "So you're prejudiced against Mexicans."

Luke: "I don't believe diversity is a strength."

Moxie: "Hmm."

Luke: "I think they're wonderful for Mexico."

Moxie aghast: "You're kidding me, right?"

Luke: "No."

Moxie: "Oh God."

Luke: "Those that come here legally are fine, as long as they learn the language and are law abiding. I don't think they should be given welfare until they've been here a certain amount of time. If I lived in Mexico, I'd probably be an illegal immigrant too to America. I'm not being righteous about this."

Moxie: "I see them as the cogs, as the grease in the wheel. You're not going to find a 25-year old white guy from Omaha dig trenches and clean toilets..."

Luke: "For $5 an hour."

Moxie: "For them, they're excited about that. It's good money."

Luke: "Yet you wouldn't date one?"

Moxie: "Why not? I did date someone who was Mexican and Spanish. Sure, why not? They take many of the jobs Americans are too proud to take."

Luke: "What about Muslims? Do you think if there was an influx of Muslims into the city and country, would that bother you?"

Moxie thinks for about 15-seconds. "Yeah, maybe a little. Only because they want to impose their religion, their way of life."

Luke: "What books have you been reading of late?"

Moxie: "I'm actually not reading anything right now."

Luke: "What's the last book you read?"

Moxie: "I don't know."

Luke: "What's the last social or political issue that got you really passionate?"

Moxie, who supported the war on Iraq: "The celebrity backlash against the war."

Moxie is not political. She normally dates liberal Democrats.

Luke: "What's your attitude towards psychotherapy?"

Moxie: "I know there are situations where it is needed and effective but I think the majority of people who go into therapy are looking for someone else to help them shift the blame. I think it's better to talk to friends and deal with issues through writing, unless you're schizophrenic or have heavy mental issues to deal with."

Luke: "From your website, you've written about battling depression. So you never considered going into therapy?"

Moxie: "No. For one, I can't afford it. Two, I don't believe in it. It wasn't clinical depression. It was my life sucks. Going to a therapist would only make it worse. It would drain me of more money. I've never considered that."

Luke: "How good are you at judging the moral character of the men you date? How often do they surprise you and disappoint you?"

Moxie: "Every time. I'm not a good judge of moral character. In every situation I've been greatly let down and disappointed. I don't think there's been a time when someone hasn't shocked me with their moral character."

From the way Moxie says "moral character," it feels like it is a phrase she doesn't use much.

Luke: "That's fascinating that every guy you've dated has shocked you with their moral character? So why do you think that is?"

Moxie: "I think everyone wants to put their best face forward. Some people are better at hiding it than others. I always try to give someone the benefit of the doubt. The first time I catch someone lying... I have an uncanny sense of when someone's lying. I've had things happen where someone has lied to me and friends saw them... It always comes out in the wash."

Luke: "Could it be that you are valuing other things than ethics when you get to know somebody?'

Moxie: "How can you know that without getting to know somebody? When you've got your game face on... I haven't dated that many people. I've probably only had three boyfriends. Maybe two."

Luke: "Do you believe people are basically good?"

Moxie: "Yeah."

Luke: "And you want to believe the best about people?"

Moxie: "Yeah. There are definitely people out there that are not good but I think the majority of people...

"I'm not that impressed with myself.

"The more bloggers you meet, the more people expect you to read their site every day. I try to go to whomever has commented on my site first and then I go read Instapundit, Dawn Olsen, Foxnews.com and MSNBC."

I drop Moxie off at her home at 2:45PM.

Fred writes: "Well, for one thing, I'm not surprised that you had a tart."