Wednesday, March 30, 2005

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Cathy Seipp's Live-In Boyfriend Like The Deadbeat Dad Her Daughter Never Had

ABILENE, TX—Luke "Skippy" Ford, 38, the live-in boyfriend of single mother Catherine Seipp, 37, is like the deadbeat dad her teenage daughter never had, family sources reported Monday.

"Luke is a great role model for my kids," said Seipp, who has not had a man in and out of her house since 1994, when her live-in boyfriend Joseph Mailander was convicted of grand larceny. "Luke lies on the couch, blogs, and don't get himself into no trouble. Sure, he ain't worked in six months, but now there's someone around to look after the kid while I'm at work."

"I love watching Luke with the kid," said Seipp, who met Ford at a local tavern in October 2002. "He'll toss Cecile up in the air until she wets her pants laughing. And one night last January, he helped her with his homework. Sure, sometimes he roams off for a few days. But he always comes back sooner or later."

Although Cathy's sister has complained that Ford doesn't have a steady source of income and doesn't provide Cecile with much-needed discipline, Seipp was quick to disagree.

"Oh no, Luke can be real strict, especially after he's been blogging," Seipp said. "If the kids draw on the wall with crayon, play with his gas cans, or spill his beer, he'll get after them with the belt."

XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without A Shul

Will writes:

I am about halfway through XXX-Communicated and wanted to share a few thoughts about it.

I thought I would read this book in a single day but it has not turned out to be that way. Normally I am not phased by anything I read or disturbed/bothered but this book really gets under my skin. It is so invasive. I can't get too far with it before I need a break.

I appreciate the honesty with which you describe yourself and your feelings in the book, almost as if it were a warm-up to writing an autobiography, but I cannot get over the level of self deprication contained in the pages. I have no way to imagine how you deal with the constant humiliations you face in both the p--- industry and the Jewish industry. People around you (in the book of course) are treating you like absolute garbage and while you contentedly describe each troubled meeting with your nemesi (I hope nemesi is a word/the appropriate word because I like it) there is an emotional void here as well. It is almost like you severed the wire between the light switch and your soul and you are not truly feeling what is going on. Your depictions of events seem to patiently describe incidents without providing emotional context. When you say you feel scared that you are being threatened, it has a cold and distant sound like hearing Ted Bundy talk in the third person about the man who did all the killings he didn't want to feel directly responsible for. It is as if you have survived an entire lifetime of abuse and no longer register with the damage being inflicted upon you.

I am filled with empathy as I read the incidents in this book, but at the same time horrified that you would choose to endure so much hatred from others when you could choose instead to surround yourself with people who would be supportive and kind. Why be such a martyr? I am deeply and honestly saddened reading this book.

You are a talented man. You are rich with ability and insight. Do you not want to live in such a way that you will be appreciated by others? What do you get out of it when you are kicked out of shul? What do you get out of your martyrdom?

Remember, sympathy is in the dictionary right between s--- and syphillis. Is this your goal? Sympathy?

The Return Of The Luke Ford Fan Blog

After reading Mr Ford's interview with Mr Sailer on race (actually it wasn't that bad -- at least, Mr Ford didn't ask completely off-topic questions about anal sex, like he usually does), I started to think about my old fan blog. Was that embarrassing or what? When I started, I was under the impression that Mr Ford was a moral leader for reals. I was going to chronicle and explicate his every aphorism, parable, and trope. I read the Luke Ford Family of Blogs...religiously, thinking that moral enlightenment was just around the corner. So I waited for Mr Ford to write something profound, something life changing. I waited. And I waited. And I waited. Then I waited some more. A year passed and I was still waiting, although at this point I was starting to get really pissed off. I began emailing Mr Ford with suggested topics for his moral elucidation. Maybe, I asked nicely, he could write about vegetarianism, because I was thinking about becoming a vegetarian. Then I started copying and pasting entire articles from Commentary and First Things, sending them to Mr Ford thinking this would stimulate his massive intellect. He wrote back telling me he no longer has the attention span to read anything over 250 words, and I should knock it off. I kid you not, that's what he told me!

At this point, I was starting to suspect that Luke Ford was a fraud.... Then I read his autobiography. Good grief!


Hey, I figured out a fun and easy way to maximise my blog posting output: split a long post into parts. Cool!

So where was I?

Then along came Rick Warren and the Assemblies of God Church. It really is true that when one door closes in your life, another (thank you Jesus!) opens up. To be honest, I don't know where I'd be without my new Pentecostal friends. Sure they speak in tongues and every single one of them is an absolute moron, but at least their happy, and they're humble, and they're very, very nice -- in fact, if anything, they're too nice.

Although I'm now leading the "purpose driven life," I still occasionally miss my old infidel friends: Mr Ford, Miss Seipp, and, of course, little Cathy Jr. Sure they're not very nice people and, alas, they're all going to hell, but it's very interesting to read the blogs of a bunch of self-absorbed, narcissistic, arrogant, condescending, conceited know-it-alls. They're the exact opposite of my Pentecostal friends! I mean, the heathens are smart, and funny, and argumentative (and they don't play with snakes). Besides, I'm sure they're not really so opinionated in real life. They've probably just created obnoxious personas for their blogs. In real life they're probably all normal, just like Pentecostals.


After reading Luke Ford's interview about race with Steve Sailer, and feeling a little bit nostalgic, I decided to checkout my old LFFB email account. I hardly ever look at it because it's not my real email address. To my surprise I have thirty-odd emails. Cool! Except they're all from Luke Ford. Oh. What does he want, I wonder. Apparently, Mr Ford has been emailing me every week over the past four months and I didn't even know. At first the emails are pleasant enough. He asks, nicely, when am I going to start writing about him again. Luke Ford -- forever the narcissist!

Then the emails become increasingly desperate in tone. He's soon pleading that I start up my fan blog: "Please write about ME!" Then the emails turn nasty. Susan Estrich-like screeds in all-caps demand that I relaunch my fan blog "OR ELSE!" Now I know how poor Michael Kinsley felt.


Okay so now what do I write about? I haven't read any of Mr Ford's blogs in four months. I could just make stuff up. But that would be wrong. And as a good, um, Pentecostalist (is that right? I don't even know what we are called) I could never do that. I must do what Jesus would do. I must start reading the Luke Ford Family of Blogs again. Maybe they've improved? I mean, they can't be that bad, right?

I think I'll start with the Luke Ford Seeks a Wife blog. Back in five minutes ...


Hmmm. Not much material there. Mr Ford hasn't updated in over a month. Maybe he's given up on ever finding his true love. So sad. And so thoroughly inexplicable.

One of the more recent posts is titled "I Need a Chinese Wife (Mexican Just Won't Do)" and contains all sorts of tips that I can use to seduce Michelle Malkin. Thanks! I thought my problem was that I was being too aggressive, what with all my emailing, but now I see I haven't been aggressive enough. You can never be too obnoxious. I think this is Mr Ford's helpful advice when it comes to women (and everything else).

Then there are the posts from last summer when Mr Ford was contemplating whether it was the time "for me to go yellow" and "should I go for some yellow cake?" Apparently, he failed to find a single Asian woman who was willing to allow him to let her date with him. Shocking!

What Air Supply Means To Me II

Air Supply inspires me to lead a life in accord with transcendent values.

Life is relentless and we need inspiration as we trudge along. For many years, Air Supply gave me such inspiration. Their lyrics articulated what I felt but could rarely say (except in that rare relationship or in therapy).

Air Supply gives me a taste of the transcendent. As with all those who articulate a higher way of loving, they are easy to make fun of.

I've been told that my essay on Air Supply was the first non-cynical thing I've written in a long time.

So if I were to live in fidelity to Air Supply's lyrics on their 30th anniversary May 12, I will have to be genuine for longer than five minutes, and be emotionally honest and courageous.

I admit that to speak with the honesty of Air Supply's lyrics would be inappropriate most of the time, even with your girlfriend or wife. It's too much. But Air Supply articulates what I have often felt, and even if it wasn't right most of the time to give voice to such feelings, it made me feel better that somewhere else had on my behalf.

Closer Is A Cruel, Mean-Spirited Exercise Of Meaningless Sadism

I'm glad it failed at the box office. It's a smart movie, and as a movie, a good movie, and so I understand why the critics loved it. But I don't think it is insightful into the human condition, and ergo is not good art.

I can enjoy and respect cruel sadistic movies, such as In The Company Of Men and other work by director Neil LaBute. But Closer was cruelty without human insight.

I admit I watched Closer with rapt attention.

Post writes on IMDB.com: "It's difficult to watch, ends unsettlingly with a misanthropic view of relationships (it wouldn't be my first choice for a "date flick") and some may even argue that the characters have no redeeming value whatsoever besides their fabulous bone structure..."

'My Neighbor Is A Darkie'

I'm reading Bill Bryson's book Notes from a Small Island about Britain:

A sitcom called My Neighbour Is a Darky came on. I suppose that wasn't its actual title, but that was the gist of it -- that there was something richly comic in the notion of having black people living next door. It was full of lines like, "Good Lord, Gran, there's a colored chappie in your cupboard!" and, "Well, I couldn't see him in the dark, could I?"

Advanta Rip-Off

I've sometimes wondered how Advanta credit card company dings me for a $40 late fee when I always send in my payment ten days ahead of the due date.

As I was walking to the mailbox today to send off my latest payment, and looked at the envelope, it hit me. Advanta must intentionally design their payment slip and return envelope to obscure your address, thus delaying their receipt of our payments. Thus they rack up a lot of late fees.

Stupid New York Times Article On Gossip

Katharine Q. Seely writes: "Ms. Smith admitted that the gossip industry has become so pervasive and ruthless that it is difficult to break through with a distinctive voice."

That's nonsense. Almost all prominent gossips have a distinctive voice. Matt Drudge has his and Page Six has their's, and People magazine has their's, which is different from US magazine. And I have mine.

I don't think today's gossips are particularly ruthless when you compared them to Confidential magazine in the late 1950s. There's still little racism and outing of homosexuals in gossip columns (I am not arguing that there should be, that just was the highly popular approach of Confidential, and such an approach would garner a huge audience today.) The gossip columns in almost all daily newspapers (aside from the New York Post and New York Daily News) tend to be gentle. The LA Times does not even have one.

If gossip was hardcore today, you'd read much more speculation (and possibly confirmation) about the sex lives of seemingly closeted politicians such as Gray Davis, Art Torres and John Vasconcellos.

Liz Smith writes: "With the whole world writing gossip, where is the place for the professional gossip?"

Because a professional should be able to do it better. A journalist with credentials has a much easier time getting access and calls returned than an unknown blogger.

Another thing missing from Seely's lazy piece is any mention of Liz Smith's staff, which does most of the heavy-lifting for her.

"Gone are the days when a single powerful columnist could make or break a career."

Anyone can make or break a career if he has the right information. If I had information that led to the impeachment of President Bush, I could destroy the president's career. Anyone could.

"Gone too are the days when columnists had individual identities."

Self-evidently stupid.

"The Internet and blogs have returned gossip to its earliest human roots - the kind of gossip that the priests told you was a venal sin," said Ms. Gerhart. "You can make it up. You can speculate wildly. You can accuse people of the most taboo practices, all in this sort of merry way."

If an Internet gossip column consistently made things up, it would either attract few readers, or it would be so widely denounced by other blogs, that the author of the fictitious blog would come under enormous psychic pressure to either quit or reform his ways. The Internet, like the news media in general, tends to be self-policing.

"...where Mr. Winchell used his power to destroy people, Ms. Smith used hers to help people..."

Neither destroying nor helping people is inherently good. It depends on who you are helping and who you are destroying. Some bad people deserve to be destroyed and some good people deserve to be helped. A gentle item that covers up the bad things somebody is doing is immoral, while a nasty item that protects the innocent by providing them with valuable information is good. Neither be nice or nasty is inherently a certain moral quality. It depends on context. As Dennis Prager says, morality is absolute and contextual. The context determines the absolute.

"This kind of transaction makes Ms. Smith a further anachronism in her profession, where one of the newest entries, in Los Angeles, is a blog called Defamer, a title that almost begs its subjects to take it to court."

Well, obviously the title doesn't beg its subjects to be taken to court as it hasn't been yet, after more than a year in business. Libel actions are rare in the United States because of its laws and the possibility of publicity, which many of those mentioned negatively in gossip columns don't want.

Gossip, like every other action in life including killing and kidnapping, is morally neutral. Sometimes it is right and sometimes it is wrong. As Prager points out, what's a prison sentence but state-sponsored kidnapping?

Monday Is Caesar Chavez Day

It's the most meaningful holiday of the year for me. I plan to spend it marching with oppressed farm workers and raising consciousness. How about you?

Mickey Kaus's A-List Party

The Slate blogger held a party at his Venice apartment Saturday night. The A-list turned out including Arianna Huffington, Virginia Postrel, Jill Stewart (just turned 50, not many women over 40 can wear their hair long as she can), Josh Mankiewicz (NBC's Dateline), various people from The LA Times and KCRW/NPR.

What is the chattering class talking about? Their work.

LAT reporter Carla Hall (who worked on the LAT's Arnold Schwarzenegger groping stories) was introduced to Jill Stewart Saturday night. Carla reportedly gave Jill a long angry stare and then went off in a huff. According to some, Carla and company at The LAT blame Jill for denying The Times a Pulitzer prize for its groping series.

The Pulitzer doesn't like to award prizes to controversial series.

Cathy Seipp's take on the groping series. Rachel Smolkin at the American Journalism Review kisses The Times.

Until I read Cathy Seipp in Buzz magazine, I thought all media criticism had to be as boring as Rachel Smolkin's work.

Jill used to work with Carla at The Times but didn't recognize her.

A lot of people think swarthy Jewish author Dan Akst is black.

Low-carb celebrity Josh Mankiewicz sounds unhappy with his Dateline job. Too many fluffy lifestyle pieces, not enough hard news.

Some have claimed that it was the hyper-politically correct black female head of Human Resources at KNBC who was behind the firing of Kyung Lah, Jeff Soto and Jim Bunner. (Original story.) Maybe it was for miscegenation?

But Ron Fineman reports it was the general manager Paula Madison, who made it clear when she took over that a married person who has an affair with someone at the station could get fired.

I spent most of Sunday at Cathy Seipp's house with Amy Alkon, Hillary Johnson and her brother Din, Nancy Rommelman (who is married to Din), JackieBlogs.com and her business colleague Perry DeHavilland, Emmanuelle Richard...

Perry and Jackie disagree with me about the business efficacy of blogging about "smelly Arabs."

Nancy and Hillary used to be in business together and in 1995 co-wrote a book on the MTV show The Real World.

Cathy and I were arguing the case for the niceness of LA Observed's gentlemanly author Kevin Roderick. We're whistful for the bad ol' days when comments were allowed and I could write something horrible on there and then Cathy would come along and excuse my inexcusable behavior.

Lewis Fein must not be feeling himself because he didn't make his first call of the day to Cathy until 3pm. He needed to vent about the dishonesty of car salesmen.

I stepped on Cathy's scales. They read "191," about an all-time record for me. I buried my sorrows in Nancy's chocolate chip cookies (cleaning out Cathy's cache so she and Cecile wouldn't be tempted to sin against their bodies).

Perry offered to break Troll Dolls' kneecaps but Cathy said her policy was to ignore people that far beneath me.

When Dr. Laura Schlesinger was facing boycots led by homosexual activists a few years ago, she hired crisis management consultant Allan Mayer (former publisher and editor of Buzz magazine, California's last good magazine), who eventually fired (there's a nicer word for this but I forget the proper term) her because she was so difficult to deal with. I guess rapper R. Kelly, charged with child porn possession, was a choir boy by comparison.

The name of beautiful and charming Salon writer Heather Havrilesky came up the other day. I interjected that she gave a wonderful ---- ---. Not that I would know from first-hand experience, just that Heather has described it in glowing terms. I've also heard stories about Heather's penchant for flashing while intoxicated and her aggressive pursuit of her boyfriend, which some would describe as attempted r---. I have no idea if these stories are true, but they should be.

Heather has an accomplished new boyfriend. He's about 40, and teaches at UCLA.

Heather has a beautiful book-keeper friend Amy, whose car I gave a jump-start last Saturday night at AFI.

On The Radio

In the true world, love isn't found on the radio. It's found among the people. But for those of us with strongly misanthropic drives, particularly when we were younger and dumber, the only love we knew was on the radio.

Someone found a letter you wrote me, on the radio
And they told the world just how you felt
It must have fallen out of a hole in your old brown overcoat
They never said your name
But I knew just who they meant.

I was so surprised and shocked, and I wondered, too
If by chance you heard it for yourself
I never told a soul just how I've been feeling about you
But they said it really loud
They said it on the air

On the radio
Whoa, oh, oh
On the radio
Whoa oh oh oh
On the radio
Whoa, oh, oh
On the radio
Whoa, oh, oh

Tits To Stop A Bus

The following is a story about my friend Danny Shapiro. The owner of this website, Luke Ford, does not necessarily endorse the language and opinions expressed. Luke would never objectify a woman because the Pope said not to.

My friend Danny went to a Shabbos dinner this month. It was a sausage-fest. About four guys for every girl.

Across the room, Danny spotted a formidably stacked woman. Danny wanted to rest his head on her bosom and cry. He thought she was hot, strong, smart. Best of all, she was modestly dressed. There were no peaks at her jewels.

The dinner drags on interminably. About 10pm, the woman wanders over to the table. She recognizes somebody from an Aish HaTorah function.

Danny says hello. He gets into an intense conversation with the woman. She's hot, hot, hot for Torah. She can't say no to Torah. A woman after Danny's heart.

She says Air Supply is good stuff.

Like a black widow spider, Danny is about to insert his stinger and render her helpless (through the acquisition of a telephone number or some form of contact information).

Then this guy walks up and says, "Danny Shapiro!"

Danny cringes and introduces the woman into the conversation, which drags along for a couple of minutes before the woman takes her leave without giving up the sacred contact information.

Danny's mad that he's let another guy break up his seduction routine. This keeps happening to Danny. He's too nice a guy.

In a way, though, it is only just, because Danny's been a dick a lot and horned in on other guys who were trying to pick up chicks. So perhaps Danny got what he deserved.

Danny doesn't think so. No more mister nice guy. Especially when the chick's got a rack that'll stop a bus.

January Book Sales

Zero. I did not sell one book in January according to IUniverse.

'I'm Going To Get Killed If They Catch Me'

Purim is a wonderful time to catch up with friends and to remember what is truly most important in this tawdry world -- things like staying alive.

I've known "Kevin" for a few years. We know a lot of people in common. He's walked the mean streets for about 20 years with some colorful characters. Many of them are from New York and have names that end in vowels.

Kevin: "Dana is just a bitch. She's trying to get me killed. She's so stupid. Nothing was going to happen to her at first. She just keeps getting herself in more and more trouble. She's lied to federal agents. That's a crime. She should know better. Either don't talk to them or tell them the truth. It's not like the cops where you can just lie and nothing will happen to you. They are federal agents. They write down everything you say.

"Dana took my car. I have a Lexus. I put it in my name. She was supposed to make the payments on it. She stopped making payments on it in December because she thought I was going to get killed. Her response was, 'F--- him. He's going to get killed anyway.' She wrote me the other day saying that if I want the car, I can go to Seagate [Mafia stronghold in Brooklyn] and get it. Where they'll kill me. She thinks she's so smart. She threw in with some people. She doesn't realize the bigger implications."

Luke: "If these people wanted to kill you, why wouldn't they just come to California?"

Joe: "Where are they going to find me?"

Luke: "How badly do they want you dead?"

Joe: "They're going to kill me. Bad. There's a contract out. I'm going to get killed if they catch me.

"They should come to California, but where are they going to get me? If I see them before they see me, then it's on. If they don't get me on the first shot, then people like Keith are going to disappear. It's all fair.

"You've got to remember something else. I still have friends. I'm not alone. I have powerful friends. And they're [enemies] are not in the right. I didn't do anything. It's just people getting greedy and they don't want to pay. That's it.

"Basically, my life is worth $100,000. 'Hmm, take Kevin back or kill him. Hmm, I'll kill him.'

Where Can Survivors Of Rabbinic Sex Abuse Turn For Help?

Jewish Whistleblower writes 3/25/05:

Who can victims/survivors go to for help? Rabbi Mordechai Tendler case exposes the sad simple fact that in the post-Lanner era little has changed.This seems to be the key question now again being asked. Where do you go? Who will help you? Who can you trust?I do not have the answers to these questions but let’s look at the organizations and individuals that failed victims/survivors in this situation and review what we’ve previously discussed.

1) OHEL and rabbinical leaders

In early 2003, several of the women who say they were sexually exploited by Rabbi Mordecai Tendler contacted Rabbi Dovid Cohen the Halachic advisor for Ohel for help. He did not help them.Various rabbinical leaders and community leaders were approached over the years. But nothing was done.

2) Agunot advocacy organizations and their leadership

They utterly abandoned and failed victims/survivors. At worst supported and continued to send women to Rabbi Mordechai Tendler, at “best” remained silent.

3) Rabbi Mark Dratch (Jsafe) and the RCA

In December 2003, during the question-and-answer session of a Makor forum on rabbinical abuse, several female health-care professionals in the audience spoke with frustration about Rabbi Mordechai Tendler and made accusations of rabbinical sexual misconduct, which they reported has been going on for years.This led to the current long and protracted RCA investigation that has just in the last 9 days resulted in Rabbi Mordechai Tendler's expulsion from the RCA.

Rabbi Dratch initially put together investigation materials but stepped aside as others in the RCA took over the investigation as there was a feeling that there may be a conflict of interest due to Rabbi Dratch's past involvement in The Awareness Center.

An outside organization Praedium was brought in to investigateVictims/survivors and other witnesses were told that their information would be treated confidentially and NOT handed to Rabbi Mordechai Tendler. They were betrayed.

Although, Rabbi Dratch was certainly not the source of the RCA betrayal, he did make a mistake. He told victims/survivors that his colleagues would treat their information confidentiality, something he should never have done as his colleagues turned out to be far from honorable in this regard. Hopefully, in his Jsafe organization he will choose his colleagues with more caution. It is clear that he has lost some trust among victims/survivors as a result of this. It is also clear that in the future advocates helping victims/survivors will be less inclined to trust or tell victims/survivors to trust the RCA or Jsafe. Both will have to take steps to re-establish their credibility as trustworthy. The question remains today, can a victim/survivor go to the RCA for help? Can they trust that the RCA will act professionally? Can they trust that confidentiality will be respected? These questions remain.

I would note:

a. No counseling services/resources and no legal representation were provided to victims/survivors. Once again raising the question of why such resources are not available to victims of abuse in the general community.

b. During the entire investigation, Rabbi Mordechai Tendler continued to act as a pulpit rabbi and provide counseling to women.I also want to clarify an important point. Rabbi Dratch has been criticized as part of the RCA for this betrayal. I believe Rabbi Dratch is a good and decent man. I believe he truly wants to make a difference. As I have posted in the past, he has a long commitment to this issue and has been a powerful advocate. He clearly understands that there is no simple solution to how to deal with these type of cases or how to advocate:

As far as the postings are concerned, I understand Vicki's point. The allegations are usually true, the information needs to be out there to help protect others and to inspire others to come forward, etc. At the same time, others are totally alienated from her work because they feel that there are no checks and balances and that anyone could possibly find their names and pictures posted (inappropriately) with no recourse, suffering untold damages, etc. I don't know of an appropriate medium. Neither extreme works for me. I know of the difficulties and sometimes long lengths of time it takes to adjudicate and the system often fails. I don't know the answer, really. But I think that there needs to be some kind of review process that takes many factors into account. That will ensure greater credibility in the larger community for the project and will be more ethically sound.

I personally disagree with Rabbi Dratch in this regard. An initial review process in untenable. It is NOT possible to investigate these type of cases and come to conclusions like “guilty/innocent”. That is for the courts or a future Sanhedrin to determine. No other religion is taking such an approach and for good reason. Each and every case is difficult. It may take decades to understand the whole picture. Look how long the Rabbi Mordechai Tendler case has dragged on. That is why I advocate the same approach as other religions. Post all public cases that are documented in any way, shape or form. Put the information in the public's hands.

We are a very “rights of the abuser” focused society. This must change. The rights of the past/current/future victims should be equally focused on. It clearly isn't.

I would only remove cases when the parties involve make a formal request and submit to a full review by professionals directly in the field of sexual abuse who have both the education and experience to fully comprehend and analyze the dynamics involved.

Here is a case I would like to see addressed by Rabbi Dratch/Jsafe:

Anthony Roberts a former teacher at an Orthodox school in England was recently found “not guilty of sexually abusing a 14 year-old student. Mr. Roberts maintains his innocence and will almost certainly be back in education in some Jewish community within a few years.

Should he be back in education? What would/could Jsafe do?

I know of cases in kashrut where shochtim with questionable behavior (unrelated to shita) were told that even though there was not enough evidence for a beis din to find them guilty, the fact that a chashas (suspicion) exists is enough that they are no longer welcome in kashrut. The justification? They should never have put themselves in a position where they could be compromised. As shochtim they must be beyond reproach.Should we not have stronger standards as to who works with our children then we have in kashrut?

4) The Jewish press played an important role in this case. Both Gary Rosenblatt and Rukhl Schaechter (in particular) have written powerful articles.

I would note that although I praise Rosenblatt for stories like Rabbi Lanner, I have been and continue to be critical of the arbitrary standards he applies to sexual abuse stories. If the general media had used similar standards, there would be no Catholic Church scandal. He has refused to do proper investigative reports on numerous cases such as, Rabbi Ephraim Bryks, Rabbi Lewis Brenner (see quote and link below regarding this area). He is too quick to acquiesce to senior RCA members in letting them investigate and deal with such situations quietly (Rabbis Bryks and Tendler). He has also delayed stories for no good reason (Rabbi Mordechai Gafni).

As I've pointed out before, people turn to him for help believing that the reporter that broke the Lanner story will help them. Unfortunately, many victims/survivors find no help. He has simply refused to investigate many stories in this area. Unfortunately, he is the one reporter that everyone is referred to.

"The professional dilemma this poses for me, and this newspaper, which already has a reputation — I believe undeserved — for Orthodox bashing, is whether we are now to become the central communal clearinghouse for dealing with and outing Orthodox Jewish officials with various sexual deviancies. I don’t think that’s our role."

Unfortunately, there are few Jewish press reporters willing to even do stories in this area and the general media has been reluctant to do stories in this area. I was asked to list Jewish reporters who could be approached recently. I could only name the above two. Many reporters after doing stories in this area are so disturbed by the material that they avoid doing further work in this area. Several reporters I have approached have told me exactly that.

5) The Awareness Center was the one organization that showed backbone, the one organization that advocated for these women, the one organization that tried to find resources for them even when it had none of its own, the one organization that did not betray these women, the one organization that was not quiet and the one organization that put its reputation on the line for these wome. If ever there was proof of the need for an advocacy organization like the Awareness center, it is stories like this.

Now if only it had proper resources of its own.

Stuck In Rehab With Pat O'Brien

A new resident arrived today. He showed up during group time when "Tony" was talking about the poodle he had when he was a boy. Again.

Sheryl Anne started to introduce the new guy, but before she could, he did it himself. "Hey, folks! I'm Pat O'Brien."

"Hi, Pat O'Brien," a few of us answered back.

"We encourage residents to avoid using last names," Sheryl Anne told him.

"Hey, folks!" Pat O'Brien said. "Coming up next: Find out what famous entertainment show host has checked himself out of the limelight and into rehab."

Newt Gingrich Delivers A Message Of Hope

Cathy Seipp blogs:

Newt said that he thought not allowing the parents to put ice on Terri Schiavo's lips seemed wrong. But while that's a loaded and emotional image, it's not really very useful or logical, considering that she's not even aware of things like ice on the lips. Plus doctors say that while sick people who stop eating and drinking COMPLETELY die peaceful deaths, those who have a LITTLE water or food feel the pains of hunger and thirst. I think the parents are not thinking clearly, and I'm afraid I continue disagree with the right on this topic.

I have to fight myself to avoid spending too much time reading about politics. I naturally love it, as I love professional football, for its brutality and the clearcut nature of its victories and defeats.

I limit my reading about sports because the subject is inherently shallow and a distraction from what truly matters. Also, reading about the Dallas Cowboys football team intensifies my feelings for them, and my identification with them, and that makes defeat all the more painful. It's easier not to care too much.

I limit my study of politics because I am naturally rabid. I like to use the information I learn to win arguments and to hurt people. When I study politics (or religion or anything), I get puffed up and self-righteous and quick to judge those who appear to know less than me as idiots.

I am at my best when I describe rather than prescribe. Studying religion and politics feeds my yearning to be a moral leader. That's not healthy for me or for others.

The more I learn about politics, the more painful the reality of American political life becomes. With the enormous influx of illegal immigration, I fear that Republicans are doomed. I fear that our society is sinking into cultural decadence (gay marriage, non-judgmentalism, Hollywood nihilism).

I think that President Bush has done a lousy job controlling domestic spending, supporting free trade, and, most important of all, protecting our borders from an influx of illegal immigrants.

As a conservative, I have skeptical view of human nature. I fear that our good society won't last and our blessed nation will go the way of all flesh (or at least into a decline akin to what Britain suffered after World War II).

Because I'm a journalist, I try to clamp down on my partisan tendencies (by, among other things, confessing them). When I go to speeches, I don't like applaud. I must be priestly in these matters, above temptation.

Thursday I got one of the last seats available for Newt Gingrich's talk to David Horowitz's Wednesday Morning Club.

Why doesn't the WMC update its website? It's next to impossible to figure out on this page what's going on with the WMC and how to join. Ahh, ok, if you just surf over here it gets much clearer.

Newt Gingrich gave a marvelous speech full of specifics and a general tone of optimism (a virtue that often escapes me).

I owe Newt a couple of my happiest political memories of the past 20 years -- when the Republicans won back the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years in November 1994, and when they passed their Contract with America in January 1995. Newt was a marvelous minority leader but shortly after taking power, he went down the drain. He was a waste as a majority leader. I don't know exactly what went wrong. He screwed around on his marriage.

It sounds like he's positioning himself for a run for president in 2008. Melrose Larry Green (a regular caller to the Howard Stern show) got up and implored Newt to run.

Gingrich said he wouldn't talk about that because the media would get too negative [about his personal life as well as his failures as majority leader when he was consistently whupped by Bill Clinton]. Newt wanted to stick to ideas for now.

Gingrich made God, the judiciary and illegal immigration the major focus of his speech.

Stanley Crouch Is A Crap Writer

How does he get away just phoning in his columns? Because he's a black contrarian intellectual? Because many of his ideas are so powerful that people just forgive his pedestrian prose?

Crouch has things to say. He just doesn't take the time to polish how he says them.

Chaim Amalek writes:

Which is more important: writing things that are sensible but not writing them well, or writing utter nonsense but with a brilliant writing style?

He is sensible in most respects. You know, Bob Woodward was never a great writer, either. And yet these men somehow manage to have brilliant careers. All without blogging.

Most of history's great men, if you read what they actually wrote for themselves or listen to them speak extemporaneously, do not sound clever. But the mark of a great man is that he gets things done, which requires intelligence of a wholly different sort. Something you smart-set bloggers don't appreciate.

How To Observe Air Supply's 30 Anniversary?

It's May 12, Yom Ha'atzmaut aka Israel Independence Day.

I'm working on an essay about Air Supply's meaning to my life.

In honor of their contributions to the music, I want to have a meaningful date on that day. Dinner at a kosher restaurant followed by a walk along the beach watching the sun go down.

Failing that, I will spend this sacred time writing about love and other bruises.

To give in to moral weakness would be to betray Air Supply's ideals. Therefore, I will not hook up May 12 with some girl young, dumb and full of fun.

What Air Supply Means To Me

When Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell met on May 12, 1975, during the first day of rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar, I was not yet nine years old (born May 28, 1966) and living two hours drive away in Cooranbong, the home of the Seventh Day Adventist Avondale College, where my father Desmond Ford was the chairman of the Religion Department.

My home was not a happy place. After my mother was diagnosed with cancer on my first birthday (she died April 24, 1970), my family cracked up.

Though my dad remarried nine months after her death, and I got a devoted stepmother, the love had left our home. What remained was my father's dedication to saving souls for Christ. Aside from that, this world was worthless.

Popular music was not allowed in our home. It was regarded as a sin, along with caffeine, nicotine, and sex before marriage.

My parents, along with most of the Christian world, regarded Jesus Christ Superstar as sacrilegious.

While Russell and Graham toured Australia and New Zealand with this musical, they started singing Beatles (a Satanic group according to my dad) hits together as well as a couple of Graham's songs.

Graham recalls:

We made a demo of two of my songs, "Love and Other Bruises" and "If You Knew Me." The demo was recorded live on a cassette in the orchestra pit using the drummer and pianist from the show. We shopped it around Sydney with no luck in an environment of AC/DC and Rock n' Roll. As a last resort we saw Peter Dawkins from CBS... He loved the sound he heard and we make a single in four hours at Alberts Studio on Kings Street in Sydney. We didn't even have a name yet, but that night I dreamt of a billboard with flashing neon lights and on it said "Air Supply."

The single came out and was played on 2GB in Sydney. Not long after it was all over every station in Australia. It went to #1... 

In late 1976, Air Supply opened for Rod Stewart around Australia.

In May 1977, my parents and I moved to Pacific Union College in the Napa Valley. Lost and lonely, I immersed myself in books of history. Music was a minor part of my life. My parents like certain hymns (many composed by Martin Luther, John Newton and Paul Wesley) and my father adored the 19th Century German classical music composer Wagner.

On July 4, 1977, Air Supply boarded their first 747 and flew to Los Angeles. They toured with Stewart around North America for six months.

Back in Australia, Graham wrote future hits Chances, Lost in Love and All out of Love.

On Sabbath afternoon, October 28, 1978 (Yom Kippur), my father denounced our Church's central doctrine of divine chosenness before 1000 of his co-religionists. Soon after, he was called to account for his heresy at SDA headquarters in Washington D.C.

Just before my parents left, a classmate I envied for his popularity, Andy Muth, was pushed by his mother to invite me to his home for Sabbath lunch.

It was the first time in America that I'd been invited (without my parents) to a friend's home for Sabbath lunch.

The meal was life-changing. For a few hours, I sat with a family who loved each other.

My own home was cold. I hated it. I constantly dreamed I'd be adopted by a loving family (yet, whenever I thought through the specifics, I always concluded that the benefits of my home outweighed the disadvantages).

My father lived by the dicta that great people discuss ideas, not people. Our table talk was about philosophy, history and my father's theological battles. Ordinary matters, such as girls, were forbidden (not explicitly, just by my father's stern example, which my stepmother generally fell in with).

The one time (in seventh grade) a girl called for me and my mother answered the phone, I got into trouble.

What chilled my soul was not so much my mother drilling me about the girl and forbidding such future telephone conversations that sent such a chill into my soul, but the whole steel wall my parents (not from malicious motives, they did their best by me) erected between me and the joys of being human. It was impossible for me to enjoy being 13 while I was Dr. Ford's son.

My dad was far tougher on my older siblings (I didn't like to make waves around the house) than on me. I got the kinder gentler Dr. Ford. When my brother was 13, my dad marched to the door of his girlfriend's parents and broke up the relationship.

By age 15, my brother and sister had left home.

My father was uptight around women. He thought they were, in general, overly emotional and insufficiently rational. Resolutely moral, dad hated it when they tried to hug him. He loved misogynistic remarks from unimpeachable sources, such as the one by Martin Luther that "women were born with big hips so that they can stay at home and sit on them."

As I grew up, I found myself mirroring dad's behavior, shrugging off the female touch even though it was what I wanted most.

From age eight onwards, I was fascinated by girls and sex. Due to the standards of my home, it was not something I could talk about except with my closest male friends.

When the first girls became interested in me in fifth grade, I punched and kicked them, spat upon them, and left thumbtacks on their chairs for them to sit upon. I didn't know how else to respond to what I wanted.

Now on this Sabbath afternoon with the Muths, I sat with a family who could banter about all my secret fascinations -- chiefly, the cute girls in my class such as Denise Bernard.

When my parents moved to Washington a couple of weeks later, I stayed behind with friends and became close to Andy and his family.

Though the Muths had the same religious code as my parents, there was humanity in the way they implemented it. For the next five years, there home was an oasis of normality for me. I was never happier than when I lived with them.

One Sabbath they even had Denise over for lunch.

Andy introduced me, not only to beautiful girls, but to the typical concerns of 13-year olds, such as computer games and pop music.

In early 1980, Air Supply's title cut Lost in Love went to number three on the American charts. I immediately latched on to the group because their music spoke to my lonely heart. I loved their first hit because it spoke to the way we can inspire each other: "But I'm back on my feet and eager to be what you wanted."

All Out Of Love was their second hit:

I am lying alone with my head on the phone
Thinking of you till it hurts
I know you're hurt too
but what else can we do
Tormented and torn apart

I wish I could carry your smile in my heart
For times when my life seems so low
It would make me believe what tomorrow could bring
When today doesn't really know, doesn't really know

As a kid who moved a lot, and tended to romanticize what I'd left behind, this song spoke to me.

Then came Every Woman in the World:

Over night scenes, dinner and wine
Saturday girls
I was never in love, never had the time
In my hustle and hurry world
Laughing myself to sleep, waking up lonely
I needed someone to hold me, oh

It's such a crazy old town, it can bring you down
Till you run out of dreams
So you party all night to the music and lights
But you don't know what happiness means
I was dancin' in the dark with strangers
No love around me, when suddenly you found me, oh

Love can transform your life. Not just love of a woman, but love of friends, text, and experiences. I felt that if I could tap into the power of love, and combine it with a disciplined commitment, I could transform my unhappy life.

The One That You Love was the title cut from Air Supply's second album. It became a number one hit.

Now the night has gone away
Doesn't seem that long
We hardly had two words to say
Hold me in your arms
For just another day 

As one who had never spent the night with a girl, that description sounded thrilling.

Here I Am (Just When I Thought I Was Over You) was another hit.

Here I am playing with those memories again
And just when I thought time had set me free
Those thoughts of you keep taunting me
Holding you, a feeling I never outgrew
Though each and every part of me has tried
Only you can fill that space inside 
So there's no sense pretending
My heart it's not mending 

I admired the emotional courage of the lyrics. I wished that I could say such words to Denise and that they would be reciprocated.

I 'll Never Get Enough Of You was big in Japan.

Now you're gone, I'm all alone just lying here
Waiting for the moment when I'll feel you near
Never asked if you'd come back, I'm too damn proud
I just smiled and touched your hair
As you went out

I longed for the opportunity to feel such pain.


How many times has love fallen through
When I left it all up to you
I took your words when you said
It's got to be just right
I need you now I need you now

Sweet Dreams

I'm not looking forward to the night I will spend
Thinking of you when you're not here
How many times will I think about the things
I'd like to do
Always denied the right to live my life the way I want
I want to share it with you

Come What May didn't get the recognition it deserved in North America. But those Japs and hot-blooded South Americans sure know good music:

When she looks at me
I know the girl sees things
Nobody else can see

All of the secret fears inside
And all the craziness I hide
She looks into my soul
And reads me like nobody can

And she doesn't judge the man
She just takes me as I am

Even The Nights Are Better:

You, you knew just what to do
Cause you had been lonely too
And you showed me how
To ease the pain

And you did more
Than mend a broken heart
Cause now you've made a fire start

Two Less Lonely People In The World was the wedding anthem of the 1980s says Graham Russell:

Just to think what I might have missed
Looking back how did I exist
I dreamed, still I never thought I'd come this far
But miracles come true, I know 'cause here we are

Young Love:

Take my thoughts away beyond the things we see
Sometimes I feel just a word away

Making Love Out Of Nothing At All

Every time I see you, well the rays of the sun are all
Streaming through the waves in your hair
And every star in the sky is taking aim at your eyes
Like a spotlight
The beating of my heart is a drum and it's lost
And it's looking for a rhythm like you
You can take the darkness from the deep of the night
And turn it to a beacon burning endlessly bright
I gotta follow it 'cause everything I know
Well, it's nothing 'till I give it to you

I want to do great things for the girl I love.

I Can Wait Forever:

When it looked as though my life was wrong
You took my love and gave it somewhere to belong
I'll be here, when hope is out of sight
I just wish that I were next to you tonight
And though, I'll be reaching for you even though
You'll be somewhere else, my love will go
Like a bird on its way back home

 Just As I Am:

I've had a lot of big dreams
I've made a lot of bad moves

I know you could walk away
But you never do

I've met a lot of cold hearts
I've learned to smile and deceive
I know I'm hard to be around
But you never leave

The Power Of Love:

We're heading for something
Somewhere I've never been
Sometimes I am frightened
But I'm ready to learn
Of the power of love

During the first six months of 1980, when I went to bed at night, I tucked a radio under my pillow and for the first time listened to the same songs as my classmates.

During the day, freed from my parents, I mixed normally with people. I developed friends and community. I touched girls.

Back in the beginning of sixth grade, the most beautiful girl in the class, Cindy, dropped a note on my desk asking me if I wanted to "go" with her. With an opportunity to seize love, I froze, felt unworthy, and never answered her directly. Instead, I teased her unmercifully for months. When I finally dropped a note on her desk and asked her to "go" with me, she responded with an enthusiastic "No!"

Now I learned from my classmates' example how to express what I felt in more socially appropriate ways. Instead of dunking girls in the college pool and twisting their nipples, I began holding them in ways they wanted to be held. At times, I even got to touch the most beautiful girls.

In the main, however, I found myself longing for a girl, Denise, who did not feel the same way about me. For months on end, I called her every day until the gossip went around the class about what I was doing and how annoying she found it, and, humiliated, I got the message and quit.

But I couldn't quit loving her.

She was the first girl I asked out on a date. Several times she turned me down in the summer of 1981 (between ninth and tenth grade) because she had to go to horse shows. Finally she said yes when I asked her to a San Francisco Giants. It was the first night of pro baseball after a 50-day players strike.

I was so nervous that I wore mismatched socks and spent most of the night making bets with Andy. Denise and I never went out again.

I hear she's now married and living in Los Angeles.

Later in the summer, I fell in love for the first time with a girl who reciprocated my feelings -- Rainy Jackson. She was a year younger than me. She had chubby cheeks. We liked the same music. It took me a year to work up the courage to kiss her. Meanwhile, when I left the Muths to return home for school, we exchanged long and longing letters (far longer and more longing on my part until the time I got so jealous, I stopped writing to her for several months. Nothing is more effective with girls than cutting off attention to them.)

The most haunting Air Supply song is Chances. Whenever I heard it, I thought about Rainy:

There's a chance you will be there
Wondering what to do
How to play my role
I'll leave it up to you

If I disguise my smile
It gives too much away
What if we can't speak
What then shall I say
Don't you be too long
Something has gone wrong 
The chances are all gone

From childhood to adulthood, I've found it hard to approach someone I'm attracted to (when I'm feeling unworthy, which is often). I find it easier to sit in the corner and sulk. I find it easier to avoid painful truth and live in my delusions of grandeur.

I've found it hard to tell a girl that I care because not only does that make me incredibly vulnerable, but it gives her all the power and removes from me all the mystery. It's a really lousy strategy (unless you're sure the feelings are mutual, or you need to get clarity on the matter so you can fish or cut bait).

Air Supply articulated my helpless longings and soothed the pain of my awkward adolescence. My favorite songs included Chances, The One That You Love, Here I Am, Sweet Dreams, Even The Nights Are Better, and Two Less Lonely People In The World.

Andy not only introduced me to junk culture, but also junk food. We d clamber into the bins outside our local supermarket and dig up the pastries and cookies that were a day or two past their expiration date.

I was also introduced to the trash can outside the post office where one could find catalogues of pornography. I wouldn't look at it (for religious reasons), but I got a thrill from hanging out with those who would. I'd ask them to describe to me what they saw.

After highschool, I created my own life. I didn't need Air Supply as much and it was a good thing as they were all out of hits. My new favorite song was 1984's Drive by The Cars.

Who's gonna tell you when
It's too late
Who's gonna tell you things
Aren't so great
You can't go on
Thinking nothing's wrong
Who's gonna drive you home tonight

Who's gonna pick you up
When you fall
Who's gonna hang it up
When you call
Who's gonna pay attention
To your dreams
Who's gonna plug their ears
When you scream

I listened to that song while driving home Rachel, a 16-year old I fell in love with during my year back in Australia (1984-85). Because of a miscommunication (her mother thought the host of a party I wanted to take Rachel to was someone else, and forbade her going), I never got to date Rachel. All I got was the privilege of driving her home one night (and a week later, taking out her twin sister Leeanne all night).

I never saw them again. In the early '90s, Rachel died in a car accident.

By the time I lost my virginity at age 21, I'd moved from pop to classical music (though I was willing to play REO Speedwagon to get my girlfriend in the mood).

Since then, I've limited the amount of discretionary time and money I'll spend on pop culture and concentrated on things more in accord with lasting values.

In 1999, 2000, and 2001, I took long drives from Los Angeles to my childhood haunts. When I stepped alone on to those familiar paths (all my friends have married and moved on), I realized how little I've changed. Yes, I've learned to control my behavior better, but the same forces that drove me as a kid to seek a sanctuary in Air Supply still drive me today. And when my fears and hopes hit peak intensity, and I'm as lost in love as I was at 13, nothing speaks to me like Air Supply. The music takes me back 25 years to my adolescent fear and excitement over girls.

It's when I no longer feel that shock and awe that I will worry. As long as I have passion, I can still make my dreams come true. And one day soon, I pray, I will be one of two less lonely people in the world.