Friday, September 2, 2005

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Kill Reality

I hit a bar on Sunset Blvd Monday night to watch the sixth episode of E!'s Kill Reality (a reality show about the making of the horror movie, The Scorned, which stars reality stars).

None of the major members of the cast showed. Many of them were in Miami for Sunday night's MTV VMA (Video Music Awards).

It seemed like a sedate night across the Sunset Strip. Because the youngsters are going back to school?

I park below Santa Monica Blvd and walk up La Cienega Blvd to save on parking.

Reality is its own world (separate from episodic TV, let alone movies). Reality people work together, sleep together and party together.

I learn that there are story consultants on the show to make sure that the dramatic intereactions between cast members have an arc (beginning, middle and end). Rather than say some of the action is staged, I'll argue that there's creative editing to make things (such as a romance) appear more dramatic than is true.

The premise of Reality Kills was to be the comedy of seeing reality stars act but it devolved into chronicling the salacious details and petty confrontations of the reality stars living together in a Calabassas mansion.

One other distorting force is that the reality stars have to compete for the limited amount of air time and thus go in for histrionic behavior.

The director (Robert Kubilos) and one of the producers (Eric Mittleman) come from Playboy TV. They had experience trying to get Playmates to act and were thus well suited to dealing with reality stars who have no acting background.

Trishelle and Jenna Lewis were the hardest to coax a performance out of. Jenna is so large wtih her emotions that she's better suited for the stage.

Though almost all the details in this Radar report are wrong, none of the reality stars will sue because they don't have reputations that can be damaged.

Jonathan Baker and his wife (blonde Playboy Playmate) Victoria Fuller (they were in Amazing Race 6) hang out.

When I introduce myself to some of these people, such as Victoria, they don't bother to say their name. It's either slipped their mind or they believe they are universally known.

Jonathan may be best known for shoving his wife Victoria and verbally abusing her on Amazing Race 6. They were the subjects of a "A Dr. Phil Primetime Special: Romance Rescue" 15 February 2005 where the good doctor did his best to repair their relationship.

According to IMDB: "The list this season includes two married selfish loudmouth entrepreneurs from California: Jonatha and Victoria."

And this comment:

The couple most people kept their eye on was Jonathan and Victoria who were constantly fighting. Jonathan treated Victoria very badly, insulting her, belittling her and it was evident their relationship was going downhill. They are said to appear in an episode of Doctor Phil to fix their messy and precarious relationship. Jonathan was quite a jerk on the show. Even when Victoria was injured, he showed no compassion and he blamed her for losing the race.

Various professional gossips are seeking information on a putative dating relationship between Reality Kills' one gay character, Reichen Lehmkuhl, and American Idol contestant Clay Aiken.

Pamela from The Apprentice stops by.

Do you want your husband to watch you give birth?

What if it killed his erotic attraction to you?

Julie writes: "David was in the delivery room when I had our little girl, and it didn’t seem to affect our sex life one iota. Actually he did an amazingly good job of keeping my family from driving me crazy – my mom, dad, sister, and her obnoxious boyfriend all insisted in being the in the room, as well as having David (who is the only person I actually wanted there) and his best friend Joe (who was there to be David’s moral support). So, it worked out okay for us."

David writes: "Well, they weren’t all in at once. And, it was pretty gross. I got all dizzy, and got really, really light-headed at one point… it smelled. Anyway, it was really neat cutting the cord and seeing her hold the baby, though."

Nighttime Madness

I get these inspired plans at night that usually seem stupid in the morning. Luckily, I don't blog most of them.

This is happened throughout my life. At night, I decide I must tell so-and-so how I really feel, or that I must write a novel (a few nights ago), and therefore I must take a certain writing class and I should sit down with certain friends and hash out my ideas...

With morning comes reality and I realize I must soldier on with a stiff upper lip.

Dennis Prager Has A Herniated Disc

He's had it since 20. It was so bad last year he couldn't walk half a block. He was headed for surgery but a doctor suggested he take some painkillers/muscle relaxants and DP says he was playing raquetball in 11 days. Now one of the drugs might be taken off the market for causing heart attacks.

Tim Rutten is a dishonest man

The relentlessly liberal LAT columnist claims, in a conversation with Hugh Hewitt, that he's conservative and pro-life (but refuses to say who he votes for).

Here's an excerpt of Rutten's latest column:

Moreover, as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, most of talk radio...

That's nonsense. Talk radio criticizes Republicans all the time (immigration is just one example of where President Bush and the Republicans get bashed by talk show hosts). Talk radio is as libertarian as conservative.

Rutten once wrote about "the mythology of liberal Hollywood."

Despite being blind, deaf and dumb (well, probably because of these qualities), Rutten climbs the LAT hierarchy.

Doug McIntyre Wrap-Up Speech

The KABC talkshow host is in his forties and has white hair.

The two-party system has collapsed. The Republican party is useless. This is a populist movement.

The UN is incompetent. They can barely get their hookers to the hotel room. The General Assembly looks like the Grammy Awards.

Free trade is immoral. It's not what happened in America... We encouraged have an eye towards civic responsibility.

I don't believe America is just a market. It is a nation with laws...a culture with inherent values that are different from any other country.

We're raising a generation of kids who don't value manual labor. They don't do it because the Mexicans do it for them. We're turning into veal.

KNBC has live coverage of Mexican Independance Day. What other country televises another country's independence day? We should put salt around the city limits and change the name of LA to Margaritaville.

They say they've got aerial drones up taking pictures. It's like a rafting trip where they take a picture when you make the turn. They've got photographs of you sneaking into the country that you can buy at a kiosk.

I think the multi-nationals [corporations] look at borders, language, history, culture as an impediment to the transfer of goods and services.

Before we sign our national sovereignty away, we should have a national debate.

We can't thank Lou Dobbs enough.

The CNN anchor writes August 28:

In the United States, an obscene alliance of corporate supremacists, desperate labor unions, certain ethnocentric Latino activist organizations and a majority of our elected officials in Washington works diligently to keep our borders open, wages suppressed and the American people all but helpless to resist the crushing financial and economic burden created by the millions of illegal aliens who crash our borders each year.

They work just as hard to deny the truth to the American public. That's why almost every evening on my CNN broadcast we report on this country's "Broken Borders." The truth is that U.S. immigration policy is a tragic joke at the expense of hard-working middle-class Americans.

What has been the response of the Bush administration? It proposed a guest-worker program giving legal status to millions of illegal aliens. But national opinion polls reveal an overwhelming majority of Americans are contemptuous of such cynical proposals. The latest Zogby poll shows only 35 percent of those surveyed support the president's approach. The American people want our borders secure, want our immigration laws enforced and want those who hire illegal aliens both punished and held liable for the economic and social costs of breaking our laws.

Doug Macintyre continues:

The political pendulum is swinging in our direction.

We're impervious to charges of racism. It's just a way of demagoguing the argument. We have to police ourselves. There are people who are anti-illegal-immigration are racist.

Go forth and preach the gospel and keep the heat on these people because they are weasels.

National Security Implications Of Illegal Immigration

Mark Krikorian moderates the panel discussion (Frank Gaffney, Kris Kobach, Janice Kephart, and Erin Anderson).

Erin Anderson, the final panel speaker (a tall bonde lady around 50), stole the show. Her family owns land next to the Arizona/Mexico border. She's been a U.S. House and Senate staffer. She worked for Barry Goldwater.

Erin begins with a reference to this Page One LAT story on Douglas, Arizona (opposite the Mexican city Agua Prieta).

It got my blood boiling. The main person interviewed in the article was mayor [Ray] Borane.

Mayor Borane is better known in Cochise County as "Cocaine Borane." His brother Joe Borane was the justice of the peace before he went to jail. The initial charges were money laundering and drug smuggling. He served time for lesser charges. The Boranes are well known in Cochise County. They do very well. If they want to make you disappear, you will.

In 1990, there was a tunnel discovered in Douglas [connected to] Agua Prieta. We had to enlist the United States military to help us locate that tunnel. It took us over a month. The Boranes owned the land above which that tunnel was built. Fortuituously for them, they managed to transfer title...

The tunnel was a major architectural [feat].

The former mayor Agua Prieta (Vincent Teran Uribe aka Vicente Terán Uribe) is well to do also. He's gone on to higher office. He reported in our media that the number one entry point for drugs from Mexico into the U.S. was from his town. The DEA listed him as one of the top twenty narcotics traffickers in Mexico. It helped him acquire votes. He was more popular in Agua Prieta and the Mexican state of Sonora... That's how Mexico operates.

I got involved in illegal immigration directly as a result of an act of war -- 9/11. I was in the parking lot of the Pentagon and I unhappily watched several hundred of our colleagues burn to death.

The man (Hani Hanjour) who put the plane into the Pentagon came from the Al Qaeda cell in Tucson, Arizona.

There are three Islamic centers in Tucson, Arizona. The roommate of Hani Hanjour was involved in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole.

In the first World Trade Center bombing, two of the men involved came from Tucson, Arizona.

Osama Bin Laden purchased his aircraft out of Tucson, Arizona. There's a major airforce base there. We mothball airplanes there. We also guillotine them and some of them we sell to the highest bidder, even Muslims.

Documents and analysis by terrorism investigators suggest that Tucson was one of the first points of contact in the United States for the jihadist group that evolved into al Qaeda. Two group members who preceded Hanjour later became al Qaeda leaders, according to authorities. The city's principal mosque, the Islamic Center of Tucson, held "basically the first cell of al Qaeda in the United States; that is where it all started," said Rita Katz, a Washington-based terrorism expert.

Imams at the three major Islamic centers (Tucson, New York, Pakhistan) were knocked off in the 1980s and replaced by Osama Bin Laden's men.

Douglas, Arizona, averages over 3,000 illegal aliens coming across the border every day. Border farms average three phone calls per day to Border Patrol [about illegal aliens coming through].

Some of us have had to become our own 911. When you have an incident, all of us have put together a radio system so that if you get into trouble, you can notify the next rancher.

Nothing can be more frightening than a woman calling on one of these radios saying, 'They're coming through the door and I'm alone.'

At one time or another, all of us in Cochise County have been ambushed by illegal aliens. It's gotten to the point where you have to carry three items with you at all times -- a cell phone, a two-way radio, and a weapon. You need a weapon to get from the kitchen door to the barn door.

For children going to school, it's the same thing. A mother taking her daughter to school was ambushed by illegal aliens who took their vehicle. As a result of that incident, the Cochise County Sheriff arranged for deputies to escort school buses.

Mothers will stay at the bus stop until the bus comes and they will carry a gun.

Somebody suggests to Erin that she write a letter to the editor of The LA Times. Erin and a bunch of people say that the Times would never print it.

Susy Buchanan writes on the Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report:

...McInnish introduced Erin Anderson, a self-professed "illegal immigration expert," a regular on the "Russ and Dee Show," and one scary speaker.

Anderson said she grew up near the Mexican border in Cochise Country, Ariz., where her ranching family settled in the late 1880s. Now, she splits her time between the family spread and Washington, D.C., where she works as an anti-immigration lobbyist.

Like Moore, she is a popular speaker on the far-right-wing conference circuit. Anderson is scheduled to appear in early September 2005 at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies' "Turn up the Heat on the Left!" national convention in Scottsdale, Ariz., and is booked to appear later that month back in Birmingham before the Mid Alabama Republican Club.

A professional alarmist with a baby-doll voice, Anderson fires up audiences with wild claims about Mexican immigrants, portraying them as disease-ridden, child-molesting "invaders" bearing down on an unsuspecting and hapless America. Transcripts of her speeches are regularly posted to widespread acclaim on white supremacist and neo-Nazi Web sites like the Vanguard News Network.

Anderson opened her presentation at the Alabama Tea Party with images of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in flames. She then told the startled crowd that 2,000 to 3,000 illegal aliens tromp through her family's valley every night, claiming that "children trying to go to school risk being ambushed by illegal aliens. Every one of us has been ambushed at one time or another."

That certainly wasn't the end of it.

Anderson said there are schools in Latin America where Middle Eastern terrorists are training to pass as Mexicans once they infiltrate America. She said pedophiles from Mexico are flocking to the United States in droves to escape death at the hands of Mexican law enforcement.

She spoke of the deadly diseases illegal immigrants supposedly bring to America in their blood: west Nile virus, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis. She said illegals have spawned an outbreak of leprosy near Boston, and have tainted the blood supplies in major metropolitan areas such as Houston, Miami and Los Angeles with chagas, a disease found mainly in Latin America that she claimed kills more people than AIDS and has no cure. (The truth is that chagas is only occasionally fatal).

Of all the stories Anderson told about the consequences of illegal immigration that day, it was the one about the Mara Salvatrucha that was the most chilling. Andersen said "La Mara," a violent, international gang of El Salvadoran nationals and immigrants formed in the late '80s, has left its U.S. base of Los Angeles and can now be found near large, well-established illegal alien communities. She dwelled in some detail on how La Mara likes to disembowel, dismember and scalp people.

"And yes," she told her audience to gasps, "they are here in Alabama."

Then Anderson held up her "proof" — a photograph clipped from a Birmingham newspaper story last fall about graffiti. The picture showed a building with "sureños" (Spanish for "southerners") painted on it. She did not explain how that piece of graffiti revealed the presence of the disembowelers.

For her final act, Anderson hauled out yet another piece of evidence, this one designed to prove that scary Muslim foreigners are invading the United States via our southern borders. A Muslim prayer rug, she told her audience as she displayed a shiny green rug, had been found near her family's Arizona ranch prior to 9/11.

Well, it wasn't actually the rug she was holding, she conceded. But it was "similar."

Flashbulbs popped. Frightened "oohs" and "ahhs" filled the room. This was one group of Alabamians who had been thoroughly warned.

Illegal Immigration Conference

Mark Krikorian, Maia Lazar, Luke Ford, Heather Mac Donald, Cathy Seipp Maia Lazar, Heather Mac Donald (Photos by Sunana Batra)

Janet Levy moderates the first panel (Otis Graham, Heather Mac Donald, James Edwards, Glynn Custred) on social issues. She quotes a poll that 40% of Mexicans would like to move to the US and 20% of Mexicans would do it even if it was illegal. "Far from stemming the tide the of illegal immigrants coming across our borders, the Mexican goverment actively encourages it. In fact they have staging areas that help illegal aliens get across. They even publish a booklet to help illegal aliens dodge border patrols."

Otis Graham notes that many employers say that without illegal labor, the economy will collapse. "Mill owners said the same thing about child labor legislation. Southern plantation owners said the same thing about ending slavery. During WWII, Americans did their own work."

Graham recommends Robert Suro's 1999 book Strangers Among Us: Latino Lives in a Changing America.

Heather Mac Donald speaks:

I want to take as my text an August 10th Washington Post editorial called 'The Reality of Gangs.' This article could be called, 'The Unreality Of Media Coverage Of The Illegal Alien Crime Wave.' The editorial describes the unending series of maimings, stabbings, killings in the Norther Virginia the Salvadoran gang Mara Salvatrucha, which has spread from Los Angeles across the country.

Predictably the Washington Post calls for more social uplift programs to persuade young Hispanics from joining gangs.

It completely ignored the most salient feature of Mara Salvatrucha, which is its staggeringly high number of illegals. The Justice Department estimates that 50% of Mara Salvatrucha are illegal. Talk to an LAPD officer who deals with this gang daily will put the 100%.

There seems to be a taboo against talking about the contributions illegal aliens make to illegal activity. When I first started writing about this, I talked to people in LAPD...and I found it was a subject that polite people do not express. How many stories have you read...about the percentage of people committing crimes who are illegal immigrants. Reporters don't bother to ask.

Those of you who live in LA may have been following the recent debacle to hit the LAPD -- the shooting of Jose Raul Pena and his 19-month-old daughter on July 10.

Michelle Malkin writes:

On July 10, Jose Raul Pena, an illegal Salvadoran previously deported for cocaine possession, engaged in an hours-long shooting attack on Los Angeles police officers, during which he used his abducted 19-month-old daughter as a shield against the return fire. Finally, after unloading endless fusillades at the police and wounding one officer, Pena was fatally shot by a SWAT officer. Not surprisingly, his toddler-shield was killed, too.

Heather says:

There are protests about police brutality. Nobody talks about Pena's role in this. In all its stories, The LAT has mentioned once that Pena was here illegally.

The prohibition on mentioning the contributions of illegals to crime has a policy counterpart and that is the prohibition on local police on taking any hand in getting rid of illegal gangbangers.

If the Washington Post was serious about getting rid of this gang, it would've called for the immediate involvement of every policeman in D.C. to get these guys off the street. Instead, police are prohibiting from noticing a person's immigration status.

The only category of crime going up is gang crime. This is driven by one fact only -- immigration.

I want to contrast the squeamishness in the Washington Post editorial to discussing the role of illegals in crime with a more typical example of media zealousness. This is from The LA Times in June 2004...about the brouhaha of the Border Patrol making arrests in the Inland cities like Riverside...At the time, the Border Patrol said it had been working with local police officers to find out where the illegal problem was the heaviest.

The Los Angeles Times, in conjunction with the ACLU, decided to check these claims. They went to police agencies who of course denied offering the Border Patrol help. The LA Times concluded that the BP agents had "scoped out the areas on their own."

Petit Bourgeois blogs:

Today's Dog Trainer has an article in defense of the enemies of the United States:

But hundreds of pages of documents about the raids, released by federal officials in response to a lawsuit from the ACLU, show no specific evidence of such tips, and several police agencies told The Times last week that they did not inform Border Patrol agents of the whereabouts of suspected illegal immigrants before the sweeps.

The documents suggest that the team of a dozen agents may have scoped out the areas on their own, targeting day laborer sites and other locations where large numbers of undocumented immigrants gather.

The sweeps raised protests among politicians, church leaders and the Mexican government because they extended well beyond the border and caused fear in immigrant neighborhoods, even among people in the U.S. legally.

Besides using the term "undocumented" to define criminals, what is wrong with that?

"If they are saying they are acting on intelligence, then they didn't get it from us," said Ontario Police Det. Alfredo Parra. "We've never done anything like that…. We don't get involved in their sweeps or activities."

Ontario: Of course you don't get involved, you treasonous sons-of-bitches.

"We were absolutely not involved," said William Lansdowne, police chief of San Diego, where some sweeps occurred. "The only time we work with the Border Patrol is if there is a criminal nexus."

San Diego: So, violation of Federal immigration laws does not rise to the level of "criminal" activity? You are also guilty of treason. May you die a slow, painful death for turning your back on this country.

The Escondido Police Department was the only one of seven agencies contacted by The Times not to dispute the Border Patrol's claims.

"We have an ongoing problem with day workers congregating in specific areas around town," said Lt. Mark Wrisley. "We pass that information to the Border Patrol all the time."

Escondido: You set a good example. Hooray for you!

The sweeps raised protests among politicians, church leaders and the Mexican government because they extended well beyond the border and caused fear in immigrant neighborhoods, even among people in the U.S. legally.

Yes, and we all know the Mexican government dictates our immigration policies, and also dictates their enforcement. One phone calls and the cops go away. "Extended well beyond the border" is phrase designed to confuse the public into believing that interior enforcement is not allowed. See what happens when you have two reporteers who hate this country write an article? If someone is here legally, what do they have to be afraid of? As for the illegals: they should fear "la migra," and such fear should be a enough to make them go home voluntarily.

So I conclude with this declaration:

1. Death to the LA Times for aiding and abetting the enemies of this country;

2. Death to the ACLU. I hope you all rot in hell;

3. Death to the police departments who do not enforce our immigration laws. You are a disgrace;

4. Death to Joe Baca. Treason is punishable by death.

5. Death to the DHS, who directed its agents away from the criminals. Y'all should be strung up by your toenails and have legal residents of this country throw rotten food at you before being led to the firing squad.

Be sure to write your congressmen, your police chiefs, the ACLU and the editor of the Los Angeles Dog Trainer calling for thier heads. And when a judge grants legal status to criminals represented by the ACLU, call for his head too.

Heather says:

A lot of kids who were born here are getting swept up in gang culture. Out-of-wedlock births and drop-out rates among Hispanics have passed those of Blacks. The lesson I draw from this is not only the crucial need to start enforcing laws against illegal gangbangers but our current open-borders policy is folly. Until we persuade immigrants to go up the social ladder, as so many have, a significant portion of second, third and fourth-generation kids are going down. This is going to impose social costs in the long run that will dwarf the costs of illegal immigration.

Heather Mac Donald testified April 13, 2005, to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims:

Sanctuary laws are a serious impediment to stemming gang violence and other crime. Moreover, they are a perfect symbol of this country’s topsy-turvy stance towards illegal immigration.

Sanctuary laws, present in such cities as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Austin, Houston, and San Francisco, generally forbid local police officers from inquiring into a suspect’s immigration status or reporting it to federal authorities. Such laws place a higher priority on protecting illegal aliens from deportation than on protecting legal immigrants and citizens from assault, rape, arson, and other crimes.

Let’s say a Los Angeles police officer sees a member of Mara Salvatrucha hanging out at Hollywood and Vine. The gang member has previously been deported for aggravated assault; his mere presence back in the country following deportation is a federal felony. Under the prevailing understanding of Los Angeles’s sanctuary law (special order 40), if that officer merely inquires into the gangbanger’s immigration status, the officer will face departmental punishment.

-- The L.A. County Sheriff reported in 2000 that 23% of inmates in county jails were deportable, according to the New York Times.

--The leadership of the Columbia Lil’ Cycos gang, which uses murder and racketeering to control the drug market around Los Angeles’s MacArthur Park, was about 60 percent illegal in 2002. Francisco Martinez, a Mexican Mafia member and an illegal alien, controlled the gang from prison, while serving time for felonious reentry following deportation.

-- In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide in the first half of 2004 (which totaled 1,200 to 1,500) targeted illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) were for illegal aliens.

Heather published an essay called "The Immigrant Gang Plague."

Hispanic youths, whether recent arrivals or birthright American citizens, are developing an underclass culture. (By “Hispanic” here, I mean the population originating in Latin America—above all, in Mexico—as distinct from America’s much smaller Puerto Rican and Dominican communities of Caribbean descent, which have themselves long shown elevated crime and welfare rates.) Hispanic school dropout rates and teen birthrates are now the highest in the nation. Gang crime is exploding nationally—rising 50 percent from 1999 to 2002—driven by the march of Hispanic immigration east and north across the country. Most worrisome, underclass indicators like crime and single parenthood do not improve over successive generations of Hispanics—they worsen.

Debate has recently heated up over whether Mexican immigration—unique in its scale and in other important ways—will defeat the American tradition of assimilation. The rise of underclass behavior among the progeny of Mexicans and other Central Americans must be part of that debate. There may be assimilation going on, but a significant portion of it is assimilation downward to the worst elements of American life. To be sure, most Hispanics are hardworking, law-abiding residents; they have reclaimed squalid neighborhoods in South Central Los Angeles and elsewhere. Among the dozens of Hispanic youths I interviewed, several expressed gratitude for the United States, a sentiment that would be hard to find among the ordinary run of teenagers. But given the magnitude of present immigration levels, if only a portion of those from south of the border goes bad, the costs to society will be enormous.

Fuel For Truth - Pro-Israel Activist Joseph S. Richards

I call him in New York Thursday afternoon, August 25, 2005. He's been on the job for 18-months. Before that he was an actor (Head & Shoulders commercial, Law & Order: Criminal Intent – Detective Marinoff and Detective McGowan), producer, and model (GQ, Glamour).

What kind of relationship did you have with Israel before you got involved in this?

Joe: "It played a role knowing that it was the only place where Jews could feel comfortable being who they are and they needed a place to go. I had no connection growing up. I was not religious. My grandparents were Holocaust survivors. My parents were born in Bergen-Belsen after the war when it was a refugee camp. That's where they grew up. I was first generation American and I always thought of Israel as one safe place for Jews.

"I was 21 when I first visited Israel. After Syracuse University, I traveled through Europe with a friend. We were in Greece. I said, 'Israel's right over there. I don't think I'll ever have a chance to go there again. I'm going.'

"Israel was nothing like what I expected. Israel was a modern pluralistic society. I never really knew Israeli Arabs existed. They all lived together peacefully. It was 1994. A good time. The Oslo peace process. The women were absolutely beautiful. There was such an amalgamation of people, I felt like it was the United States of Jews."

I assume that when you were growing up in New York, most of your friends were Jewish.

"Not at all. I was born in Manhattan and then I was moved out to Port Jefferson, Long Island. Few Jewish people. All my friends were not Jewish until I was eleven years old, when my parents moved me to the Five Towns, New York, a very Jewish area. It took me time to adjust."

How has it influenced you to be the grandchild of Holocaust survivors?

"Tremendously. They let me know there were tough Jews out there. I didn't grow up with images of tough Jews."

Joe looks Italian. He played Tony in Tony and Tina's Wedding. "I've gotten away with being part of conversations where people start to say things about Jewish people and I'm sitting there thinking, 'Am I going going to say something?' My parents taught me to not get involved. Walk away. Don't start trouble. If there's a problem, stay away.

"I got tired of it but I couldn't defend myself against all the stereotypes, so I kept my mouth shut."

Were you ever an activist?


What propelled you into the role you have now?

"September 11. I lost six of my friends (including Josh Rosenblum, Scott Weingard, Josh Vitale, Brett Freiman, Morty Frank). My best friend was Muslim -- Taimour Kahn.

"All were childhood friends except Taimour. I met him after college who went to SUNY Albany with my two best friends from HS. We lived two blocks away from one another and became brothers in a sense. We referred to one another as “my Muslim brother” or “My Jewish brother” because we knew we came from the same place. Abraham.

Post 9-11, I moved into his apartment to keep it for his family. I moved out after the landlord sued the family.

"I still have his bed and sleep on it till this day.

"Prior to September 11, Israel was facing a yearlong streak of terrorism. I couldn't fully understand it. I knew that Israel was not how they were portrayed in the media.

"Taimour said to me, 'Joe, what the hell is going on in your country?' I said, 'Taimour, I don't know, but Israel is not causing this violence.' He said, 'Don't you think you need to understand what is going on?' I started reading about what was going on and the history of the conflict. I'd come back and report to him and he'd teach me about Islam and Muslims.

"After September 11, I realized it was the same people who were coming after us in the United States were coming after Israel. It was the same terror apparatus with the same goal -- to rid the world of Israel and Western society.

"On September 16, I received a call from Jon Loew, who's now the President of Fuel For Truth. He pulled together about 15 young secular Jewish guys. He said, 'We have a problem here and Israel's been facing the problem for the past year. We need to do something.' That night there were still sirens going off. There was a discussion, an argument. People were saying, 'Who the hell are we to do anything?'

"At the time, I was producing commercials, films and live events in New York such as the Tribeca Film Festival.

"We paired up with pollster and communications strategist Dr. Frank Luntz. We did research about the beliefs and knowledge of young Americans about Israel and we found it was alarming."

How much success have you had getting people in the entertainment industry to be interested in Israel?

"We've got some soap stars to speak at our events such as Grayson McCouch (who plays Dusty on “As The World Turns”). We have appearances by people in TV and film. An up-and-coming celebrity and nightclub host Gerald Bunsen tattooed 'Fuel For Truth' on his forearm. He's not Jewish. He just understands what's happening in the world. He's bringing in a lot of other actors."

How has your work affected you?

"I got really depressed at the beginning. There's so much ignorance out there and lack of motivation to learn. It's hard to get people to care about media bias.

"We hold social/educational events. We book a nightclub and we create the atmosphere that they'd have when they go out, but it's all to create awareness about Israel and the United States war against terrorism. We'll stop for 30-minutes and deliver a powerpoint presentation by us, not a professional spokesperson. We explain, 'Look, we're just like you. This is what I've been doing with my life. But I've educated myself and this is what I've learned and we think it is important you learn for yourselves.'

"For the past couple of years, I've been motivated only by the people we effect. There's so much negativity out there, with what's happening in London and Madrid and Israel.

"It's the young people that we're turning on."

Do you feel infused with purpose in a way that you never felt before?

"Absolutely. I never cared. It was more important to me to go out to the clubs and hang out with my friends and meet chicks and see to my career. I can't believe I'm doing what I'm doing. But running around the city on September 11, I didn't know what the hell was going on and I don't ever want to have that feeling again."

What are the most difficult parts of your job?

"Raising money. We come from outside the organized Jewish community. They look at us, 'Who the hell are you guys and what are you doing? You have to get involved with our program or we're not going to help you.' The first year we spent all of our own money. We received two grants from UJA-Federation of NY for a total of $60,000 over two years. Now we are on our own.

"Everyone else has asked us to do events with them but they only want to benefit them. They don't realize that by educating young people, they are eventually going to become involved in the Jewish community.

"The Jewish community is missing a step. They aren’t going to get young adults to become donors if they don’t care about being Jewish. We wake them up and show them why they should care.

"The hardest thing is raising money from young people, because young people don't have money. You have to go to old people.

"Number two is getting the right people, finding the social leaders in New York City or on a college campus and explaining to them what we do and why it is important for them to get involved.

"We only throw two events a year because that is all we can afford. Since our organization started, we've only spent $150,000. We've attracted over 3,000 young adults. That's about $50 per person to get them to learn something about Israel and get involved. Jewish organizations are spending millions of dollars and they're not reaching the demographic we are. Why? Because we are the demographic they're reaching out to. We were never turned on by Jewish organizations. They couldn't reach us. It wasn't cool. Why? I don't know. That's their problem. I don't know what they're doing to create a continuity plan for the next generation but it hasn't been working.

"I used to be a nightclub promoter when I was in college. I was responsible for bringing thousands of people together for parties. If they would've been able to get to me, I would've done something for them because I cared about my identity as a Jew.

"I go out to nightclubs. I hang out with people from TV shows and models and who's going to get them to come? You're going to have a rabbi who's going to get them to come to an event for Israel? No, you're going to have a guy who's a former actor who cares and who can hang out with them because he's in the same place.

"We may not have the answers to everything, but we're making it cool to be Jewish again without telling people, 'You need to be more religious.' We're using Israel as a rallying point to get people aware and in touch of who they are as a Jew, and for non-Jews who care about Israel."

You sound like Theodore Herzl.

Joe laughs. "Whoa. Thank you, I guess. Ze'ev Jabotinksy would be really good too. Jon Loew, FFT president, would be our Moses."

Jon Loew, Curtis Sliwa, Joe Richards

Let Me Tell You How Wonderful I Was

On page 55 of the latest issue of The Jewish Press, columnist Ellen White is titled as writing in third person about how captivating a speaker she was (turned out to be a typo, she didn't write the article):

Mrs. Lipskar introduced the featured speaker, Ellen White, with obvious affection and regard. Ms. White is a young woman who has taken an amazing journey. The subject of her talk, "Teshuva [return] as the Ultimate Path to Self Discovery" was engrossing.

Ellen charmed the audience with her candid approach...

The reality of this powerfully demanding life change was presented in a thoroughly captivating manner.

Sheesh, when Luke Ford walked into shul Shabbos morning, he was greeted with obvious affection and regard by both the male and the female congregants. Luke is a young man (not so young) who has taken an amazing journey... He charmed his fellow Jews with his candid approach and did amazing performances of the ancient Australian art of puppetry during the Torah reading.

Marvin Shick writes that Israel's most prestigious paper, Haaretz, hates religious Jews.

Illegal Immigration Friday

I awake at 7:41am. At 8am, I arrivea at the corner of Beverly Dr and Cashio and park. I then walk over a mile (in my suit in the heat) to the Beverly Regent to save on the $29 all-day valet parking fee.

I arrive at 8:20 and get stuck into the free breakfast - a pastry and fruit and coffee.

The audience of about 100 people is all white.

I hear there are going to be protests outside the hotel. I spot several security guards. David Horowitz doesn't mind tackling the controversial (with the elites only, regular folks are dead-set against illegal immigration).

David introduces California congressman Ed Royce who then introduces the first speaker -- the Rush Limbaugh of Arizona is the first speaker, Congressman J.D. Hayworth (more info). A tall, strapping former sports anchor, Hayworth's powerful voice projects to the back of the room and into my digital tape recorder.

"To secure America's future, we must secure America's border."

Widespread applause.

"What we confront now is not a problem but an invasion."

Hayworth holds up The LA Times which has this Page One story:

In a State of Emergency, City's Relaxed

Arizona's immigration declaration has one border hub wondering where the crisis is.

Encounters with illegal border crossers are so frequent that even Mayor Ray Borane hardly noticed the group of Mexicans hiding in the bushes recently outside the home he is building.

"I have seen illegal immigration all my life," he said, shrugging. "Illegal immigration has a life of its own. You can't stop it."

"I take issue with those who would surrender in the face of an invasion.

"This is not a political problem to be managed. It is a threat which must be met."

Hayworth mentions these stories:

Patrol agent fired on near border; officer coming to aid of deputy attacked by rock-throwing illegals

And this:

Rocks thrown by immigrants damage Border Patrol helicopter

YUMA - A rock allegedly thrown by an illegal immigrant forced a Border Patrol helicopter to make an emergency landing after a rotor was damaged.

Hayworth quotes somebody on the Mexican side who says "Borders are scars on the face of the Earth."

Hayworth: "Borders are necessary political divisions for soverignty and security.

"[Illegal immigration] costs us at least $70 billion annually."

After his speech, Hayworth leaves. I hear him yelling at someone in the corridor.

Platforms and Prayer Books: Theological and Liturgical Perspectives on Reform Judaism

There's gorgeous writing and clear thinking in many of the essays in this book, particularly from Judith Z. Abrams, Eric L. Friedland and Peter S. Knobel. Here's a nugget from the Knobel:

An analysis of the various platforms indicates that the Pittsburg Platform of 1885 exhibits the greatest clarity and certainty while subsequent platforms exhibit greater ambiguity. In each of the platforms that followed the first Pittsburgh Platform, there is an increasing openness to the restoration of particularistic practices that mark the uniqueness of the Jewish people and a restoration of the concept that Reform Judaism is more than a confession of faith.

A friend writes: "Why are you looking at reform prayer books? That's no different than a Christian looking to the Book of Mormon for daily wisdom and insight."

Because it is important to clearly understand the heretics so one can better combat them. And Reform chicks are hot.

"I suppose it's the same with the... industry -- you have to understand it well in order to combat it, eh?"

Pensive At The Pool

Cathy Seipp writes:

Moxie and I share an immature streak and we spent a lot of time splashing around the pool making nasty double-entendres about rear admirals who were prematurely discharged from the Navy for misadventures involving able-bodied seamen.

Why Do Men Cheat On Women And Force Them To Stick Their Heads In Ovens?

I've learned from experience that telling a literary lady, 'I want to be the Ted Hughes to your Sylvia Plath' is not an effective pick-up line.

Calling Alana Newhouse

I have a few questions.

* What is the scope of the Jewish-American contribution to American literature? How has modern and contemporary American writing been informed by Jewish writing? Discuss the ways in which Jewish American fiction has experienced a rebirth in the last twenty years. Was that rebirth unexpected? If so, what were the possible reasons why Jewish American fiction lost its momentum before it experienced a renewal, and how does Jewish-American writing in its most contemporary expression compare with the experience of other enthic literatures and the strivings for multicultural curricula?

* Is there something unique to the literary soul of the Jewish people that manifests itself inexorably - and mystically - as a Jewish story, regardless of what the Diaspora does to make itself indistinct from other cultures? Moreover, what role does the burden of memory - particularly when it comes to third and fourth generation American Jews, as well as those who write about the new immigrant experience of Jews from Russia, the American connection to Israel, Zionism, Hasidism, and the texts and rituals of Judaism, and children of Holocaust survivors - play in the evolving trends of Jewish literature? Which writers are at the forefront of this new trend? How are they - and their aesthetic material - different, if at all, from their literary precursors?

* How does feminism intersect with Jewish Studies concerns? How does feminism as a movement utilize midrash in a contemporary setting? How are such uses of midrash unlike its traditional uses?

* How has American Jewish writing seized upon midrash? What are the ways in which American Jewish literature's employment of the midrashic technique both coincide with and depart from a classical midrashic mode of writing? In what ways might this increasing tendency toward the use of the midrashic technique in fiction represent a re-visioning of the American Jewish literary canon?

* Discuss the ways in which a movement toward midrash in contemporary Jewish fiction represents a critical component of postmodern literature. Additionally, what role does the act of writing after the Holocaust play in the evolution of midrash in contemporary fiction? In other words, in what ways does living in a post-Holocaust era necessitate a movement toward the use of midrash and midrashic technique in postmodern American Jewish fiction?

The Beatles Responsible For Dennis Prager?

The first hour of Prager's show August 25 was a great hit. Dennis (a classical music buff) interviewed cultural commentator Steven D. Stark, who's just published Meet the Beatles: A Cultural History of the Band That Shook Youth, Gender, and the World.

A caller said that the Beatles inspired him to devote his life to music. That the Beatles were the first rock group to write their own songs and this pressured other bands to do the same. If bands didn't write their own songs, they were viewed as lightweights. Yet most bands couldn't write good songs. Thus, the quality of rock music has dramatically declined, paving the way for talk radio and Dennis Prager.

Stark said the Beatles had a far greater cultural influence than musical influence. No band succeeded the Beatles. They were unique.

Dirty Money And Judaism

Serge writes: Service at the Synagoge. Rabbi is raising money for the new building. The congregation is $750,000 short. A brothel owner raises her hand and pledges $250,000. Rabbi asked her to sit down and refuses the donation without explanation and continues the fund raising. Another $250,000 raised and the congregation is still short $500,000. A brothel owner raises her hand and pledges $250,000 with the same results. Rabbi asking everybody to look hard in their finances and do the best. Another $250,000 raised and they are still short $250,000. Once again a brothel owner raises her hand and pledges $250,000. Rabbi can no longer remain calm and tells her that they can not accept the dirty money. Silence in the room was broken by an old Jew's outcry: "What do you mean 'dirty money'? It's OUR money!"

Avenue Q On Broadway

The purpose of the internet.

'If You're Going To Cheat, Cheat With Someone Beautiful And Smart'

I've had several girlfriends tell me that. They all thought I was the cheating kind (though I've never cheated on an explicitly committed relationship). They didn't approve of this possibility, but what they all said would kill them was if I cheated with someone less attractive and less smart than them.

This is a distinctly female way of thinking. If I loved a woman, I'd find little comfort in her cheating with someone more attractive, intelligent and affluent than me.

The bottom line of this female thinking is their self-esteem. If I cheated with someone more beautiful than her, than she wouldn't feel so bad, because she'd understand that she couldn't compete (blame it on genetics). But if I cheated with a cheap slut, then my girl would feel like she was of less value than the whore.

My Friend Kevin Discovers His Spiritual Side

I call him Wednesday afternoon.

Kevin: "I'm healthy. I got my results back from my doctor. I am seeing a life coach. I've gotten into Buddhist meditation.

"My life coach is also a healer. I'm feeling good. I know it sounds all hippie and crazy and whacko... I'm going meditating with my healer on Sunday at the Self-Realization Center. You're in touch with your spiritual side. That's something I've been lacking. While I may not be the most religious Jew or go to temple as much as I should, this is a different way of connecting with the Higher Power and getting my shakras all in line.

"The ironic thing is that my life coach is Lyra's (convicted cocaine dealer) stepfather. But keep in mind that Lyra doesn't listen to anybody. That's why she's in the predicament she's in."

Revisiting The Marcia Falk Case

She was a PhD on the University of Judaism faculty and a leading feminist liturgist. Her 1987 denial of tenure was the one story that former Editor Gene Lichtenstein regretted not publishing in the Jewish Journal.

He told me June 25, 2004: "If we ran the story in its entirety, we would've had to come out with the reason she was denied tenure -- that the president [Dr. David Lieber] and some of the faculty found her obnoxious. They didn't want her as a colleague."

Falk sued the University of Judaism for not giving her tenure and won a settlement. Two national professors organizations censured UJ for its behavior (the AAUP (American Assoc. of University Professors) and the AAUW (American Assoc. of University Women).

Dr. David Lieber, president of UJ at the time, had an anonymous evaluation committee to decide whether or not to give Dr. Falk tenure. The committee largely depended on the opinions of six outside referees. The UJ committee said the six outside workers had a low opinion of Dr. Falk's work. But when Dr. Falk approached the six, they all said they'd highly praised her work and recommended her for tenure.

The 1988 AAUP report states:

The investigating committee found that the evaluation committee provided misleading information in its report on the contents of outside references, thereby acting questionably under the standards setr forth in the Association's Statement on Professional Ethics. The investigating committee found further that the University of Judaism administration, by failing to afford the faculty member opportunity for independent review of her complaint against its action, denied her requisite procedural protections...

...The report of the anonymous evaluating committee also conveys its impression of Professor Falk as someone who is difficult and demanding in her relationships with others, an impression similarly conveyed in quite hostile evaluations of her candidacy submitted to Dr. Mars [UJ's Vice-President for Academic Affairs from July 1985] by three administrators at hte university upon his request. Might it have been that evaluators who found her personally objectionable felt that they needed to make a case against her writings and teaching? Was personal dislike, if it was an important factor in the decision, based significantly on the fact that she is a woman, thus constituting discrimination on the basis of sex? Was it based significantly on the fact that she is a feminist, thus raising an issue of academic freedom...?

...Professor Falk is the only woman ever to have been evaluated for tenure at the University of Judaism.

...[N]o other faculty member at the University of Judaism is engaged in work that challenges tradition at a comparably fundamental level.

Dr. Falk has a BA in Philosophy from Brandeis University and an MA and PhD in English from Stanford. She was a Fulbright junior scholar and later a post-doctoral fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She was an assistant professor of English and Hebrew at the State University of New York at Binghamton from 1974 to 1981. From 1981-84, she was an associate professor of English at Pitzer College. She joined UJ in 1984.

Dumbest Question Posed On The Cover Of The Jewish Journal

* When Israel pulls out of Gush Katif, will religious Zionists pull out of Israel? (8/12/05)

Yeah, religious Zionists are going to pull out of Israel when religious Christians reject Christ. By definition, a Zionist is someone who believes that the Jews will return to Zion (Jerusalem and Israel) and control their own destiny under God.

Despite massive hype, the pullout from Gaza turned out to be uneventful.

Yori Yanover writes:

Dearest Luke,

The mishna says S'yag l'chochma shtika -- Silence is the best avenue to wisdom. Case in point, your berating of the JJournal.

An actual reading of the article (always a good thing before delivering a joke about it) would have revealed that the pulling out of Israel by the right is more an emotional and consequently political trend, and not a geographic one. So, it was an editorial teaser, and not, not at all the "Dumbest Question Posed On The Cover Of The Jewish Journal."

I believe a serious mia culpa to the hardworking men and women of the Jewish Journal is due...

That's nuts. I didn't make any joke or comment about the article in question (which I read weeks ago). My point was entirely about the question posed on the cover.

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem....

"Hardworking" is not intrinsically an important quality of journalists. It is entirely a matter of what you do with your efforts. You can be "hardworking" and still make stupid decisions, such as that cover line.

Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism

The most boring book I've ever read.

What's It Like To Spend The Night With Luke Ford?

I get so much email on this topic, I've decided to make it a general-interest entry and add it to my FAQ. So lift your eyes if you feel you can. I figured it out. What I needed was someone to show me.

I normally start feeling sleepy around 9am. If my rigorous work schedule permits, I like to take a nap while listening to Dennis Prager. It started so easy, I want to carry on.

Around 11:30am, with lunch coming on, I take my dad's advice and have another nap to relax my stomach. But I'm back on my feet, eager to be what you wanted.

Afternoons are my most sluggish times. I like to spend them lying down listening to a book on tape. What are you thinking of?

I usually come alive around 6pm and get some work done. Then I'm out on the town, rubbing shoulders with the cognite elite. I'm all out of love.

Presuming I am in normal health, I prepare for bed any time between 10:30pm and 2am. (When I'm feeling down, I spend the whole day in bed.) I take off my pants, take my pills (lithium, clonidine, clonazepam), eat some bread with peanut butter and jelly (the carbs make me sleepy), check my email, put on a brace on my left foot, pop in a mouth guard so I don't grind my teeth down to my gums, put a book-on-tape on my CD, and lie down. I'm so lost without you.

There are many reasons I do not spend the night with someone else. Most importantly, my religion and my morals forbid me. Two, there's not enough room in my hovel (though my sister slept here two nights, I had to chuck most of my stuff out on the lawn to make room, we didn't have sex). Three, I toss and turn a lot and get up an embarrassing amount (I drink about a dozen glasses of water a day). There's a chance you will be there.

I toss and turn for a couple of hours. Eventually I rise again and eat more bread and jam. I tire of the intellectually demanding regiment I've set myself and instead put on some easy listening Air Supply. I know you were right, believing for so long.

I go back to bed. I feel nervous that I can't sleep. I must have two pillows under my head to be satisfied and they must be arranged just right (this usually means turning them over and over and twisting them). I toss and turn and scratch and itch. This frustrates me so that I can't sleep. I'm up and down for a couple of hours. Around 3am, I look at the clock and panic that I haven't gotten any sleep yet. Before I took pills, I'd usually rise at this hour and make a heartfelt blog entry about my desperate life. Now I just pop some Tylenol PM or Benadryl or tune into BBC4 cricket coverage. I know you hurt too but what else can we do?

I wake up at about 7:30am feeling exhausted. Please love me or I'll be gone. Hold me in your arms for just another day. I promise this one will go slow. Don't say the morning's come so soon.

Cathy Seipp calls me: "It's a pity we're not married. It seemed like one of the old Luke Ford entries. I like the ones about weird things you do that day. What's going on otherwise aside from lying in bed and wrapping your foot?"

Khunrum writes:

It was Gertrude Stein who on her deathbed was asked "what is the answer"? to which she replied "what is the question"? She then passed away.

Here are a few quickies. 1. What did you want to be when you grew up? (answer: an astronaut)

2. Did the other kids in school beat you up on a regular basis?. (answer: Yes)

3. At what age did you loose your virginity? Where? (answer: I'm still a virgin)

4 What is your favorite Air Supply tune? (answer: you'll have to fill this one out)

5. Are you gay? (answer: No, I'm a virgin)

Khunrum Remembers Blacklisted Journalist Al Aronowitz

Khunrum writes me August 3, 2005:

I visited him in Elizabeth N.J. a couple of years ago. He was a bitter guy who felt he had been abandoned by Dylan and others after he had helped them get started. I knew he had cancer but it was skin cancer. I guess you can die from that too. I planned to see him again last month when I was in New York but didn't. Goes to show you shouldn't put things off. He was definitely a force during the 50s and early 60s and I agree he was the first to write in a "new" style. Not gonzo like Thompson. Al was a good writer. I bet they'll have something about him in the Village Voice too.

The Prince Of The City: Giuliani, New York And The Genius Of American Life

Fred Siegel (former editor of City Journal) spoke to the Wednesday Morning Club August 3rd.

He describes himself as a Joe Lieberman-Democrat.

"I wrote this book because New York was dying. Before Giuliani, 60% of the adult population wanted to leave.

"One moment characterizes the early nineties... [A politician] was standing in front of the lake, and as he rose to speak, a dead body floated by."

Fred steps away from the mike and walks closer to us (there's about 60 people in the audience). He projects well.

Siegel worked with Clinton in 1992 and Giuliani in 1993. "They're similar in intellect. Giuliani understood where the levers [of government] were.

"Giuliani is now studying the federal government [for a 2008 run for president]."

Siegel describes former NYPD head William Bratton as brilliant. His broken-window policing said that people who committed small crimes also committed big crimes. Many of those who were jumping subway turnstiles were wanted on felony warrants.

"When I wrote an article about this [for the Manhattan Institute], two of my teenage sons were arrested for jumping turnstiles."

Giuliani cleaned up welfare by requiring recipients to come in and physically pick up their checks. In 1994, 1.1 million people were on welfare in New York.

He forced the Transit police to share info with the NYPD by threatening to bankrupt them if they didn't cooperate.

"San Francisco reminds me of New York in the early nineties with its aggressive panhandlers. Gavin Newsome gets good press but there's no substance there.

"Giuliani fired Bratton, a huge mistake. Giuliana and Bratton are the same person. They have the same executive style. They hold everyone accountable. But when they're in the same room together, there's not enough oxygen. Giuliani's problems in the second term are because of [the firing of Bratton].

"Giuliani is at his best at a time of crisis.

"Giuliani got involved early in [the fight against] terrorism [since 1985 case of the Palestinian murder of American Leon Klinghoffer]. If those wanted would've been brought to justice in the United States, Giuliani would've tried the case.

"His first speech as mayor was about what the 1993 World Trade Center bombing meant for New York.

"[Somebody] said that being a member of the Giuliani administration was being like a made man in the Mafia. It's a whole other identity. One guy pretended he was an Orthodox Jew so he didn't have to attend meetings Saturday morning.

"The best thing that can be said about Giuliani's personal life is that he is a serial monogamist. It will not play well in the Republican primaries."

Giuliani was married for 14-years to his second cousin Regina Peruggi. He had that marriage annulled by the Church, claiming he didn't know they were that closely related. He later divorced Donna Hanover.

Siegel stopped speaking after 20 minutes and took questions.

"Giuliani was soft on illegal immigration. This could come back to haunt him.

"Giuliani will bring great clarity to our foreign relations. He has no illusions about the Europeans. He understands that something fundamental has happened in Europe. They are not our allies.

"He'll be a serious candidate provided issues break his way.

"Giuliani did the most for the people in the poorest neighborhood.

"Charlie Rangel is a slick version of Al Sharpton. For years you couldn't do business in Harlem without paying off Charlie and his friends. Giuliani put an end to that.

"Will Giuliani be big enough for the national stage? His inability to live with Bratton doesn't speak well of that.

"Out of every dollar New York (or Los Angeles or other big cities) sends to Washington (federal government), they get back 79c. The only state that did worse than California in the latest transportation bill is New York. (Alaska and Wyoming got about $9 per person for transportation for every dollar California and New York got.) The federal system does not work for large urban areas.

"Public sector interests are involved in politics 24/7 365 days a year.

"On a typical night during the New York mayoral campaign, you'd get four or five hours of political news. You don't get five hours of political news in the whole Los Angeles mayoral campaign."

Is Giuliani good for the Jews?

"Yes. After the 1992 Crown Heights pogram, mayor David Dinkins waited three days to call out the police.

"Giuliani identifies with Israel. He has an instinctive sense of who our enemies are.

"Events are in the saddle. Let's suppose it is 2008 and a bomb goes off in Baltimore.

"The Wire is the best television show. It is about (drug, politics) corruption in Baltimore. If I was a terrorist, that's where I'd go. If this happens, Giuliani would jump to the top of the pack.

"There's only one scenario under which Giuliani would become vice-president, that's [under] John McCain. They have tremendous respect for each other.

"Giuliani made a speech that Virginia should be honored to take New York's garbage."

Siegel says Mike Savage is bad for conservatism. "He might be crazy or it might be shtick. More good will come from reading an issue of Commentary magazine than five years of listening to Mike Savage."

The Triumph Of Luke

Matt Welch (three times) and his wife Emmanuelle Richard (once) have emailed me about entering a self-published books award contest.

I reply that I was a man of the people and don't hold with elitist awards.

Emmanuelle replies: "But in the past, you had "award-winning journalist" in your bio, didn't you?"

I reply no.

She replies:

Of course you're a man of the people, but you still mentioned "winning various academic and media awards." It's funny, I remember the "award-winning" expression somewhere else. Because I asked you during our first interview what the awards were about (I was naive back then, I didn't know that everybody calls themselves "awards-winning") and you laughed and mentioned some high-school newspaper trophee I guess you had less self-confidence back then. Now you can assume that people have heard of you or come across your site, because most people who surf a little bit have. The triumph of Luke.

Now I remember. The one and only time I entered for an award was at my highschool newspaper advisor's (Bob Burge) insistence. I was given the 2nd place Northern California High School Journalist of the Year award. I also got Student of the Year in Communications and Political Science at Sierra Community College in June 1988.

The reason I don't like entering awards, pitching stories, asking for jobs or for help, is that I don't like giving people power over me, such as the power to hurt me. I'd rather sit in my corner and scribble on my website.

Kill Reality

The only difference between this E! reality show (Mondays at 10PM about the making of a horror movie killing off reality stars, called The Scorn) and porn is when you turn the cameras on. Cast members hook up right and left (they live in a house together for the eight weeks of the shoot).

A PG-13 version of the horror film will play on E! in a few weeks. Then an R-rated version of the film will be released with Tonya Cooley, Jenna Lewis, and Trishelle Cannatella doing nude sex scenes.

Like porn, there's no talk about STDs on this reality show though transmission on these shows must be a problem (it is certainly something reality cast members talk about, and blame certain persons, but this never gets aired).

Kill Reality has a car-crash feel. You wonder if you are watching people forever shame themselves.

Could the producers up the ante? Yeah, they could disclose who's spreading STDs (and which ones). But reality producers have never done something like that because it would so embarrass cast members that they might have a nervous breakdown or quit the show.

The location in Calabasas is the same one used on dozens of porn shoots.

I hung out with much of the cast and crew Monday night at a bar on Sunset Blvd and watched Episode Five. A buxom blonde named Tonya Cooley (Playboy's Cybergirl for December 2004) complains that a guy (Jonny Fairplay) she slept with on the show has been boasting about his conquest of her.

The rest of the cast tells her to get over it. She won't. She discourses at length on how Johnny has treated her bad.

I stand beside Tonya most of the night and a few feet away from Johnny. She's volatile, swaying between angry, embarrassed and sweet. She'd just flown in from talking to orientation classes at a couple of colleges in Texas.

Johnny and Tonya renew their fight while watching the episode then kiss and make up.

Shake and repeat.

Jonny Fairplay gets crazier as the show goes on.

Tonya repeatedly turns for solace to producers and crew. She insists that she made her point on the show. That she was right and Johnny was wrong.

Despite her embarrassment, she doesn't have a hard or nasty edge to her.

Reality TV may be the best thing that ever happened to Tonya. Without its notoriety, she might be a stripper or a porn star. She's known for extreme behavior and is a crazy girl.

Everyone in the house is mean to her but underneath her volatility, she's sweet.

Also at the party is Britney Spear's ex-husband Jason Alexander (they were married for a day).

Jenna Lewis is an ebullient happy person. I thought I must be wonderful if she was so chirpy in talking to me but she's like that with most everyone.

She has nine year old twins (Jenna gave birth at age 18).

"Imagine what I'd be like on cocaine," she bubbles.

Jenna Lewis says she was offered over half a million dollars to pose for Playboy but turned it down. She shows up on the Web in a home-made sex video, which she claims she never consented to but she made over $100,000 from it.

On the first season of Survivor (in Borneo), they played her up as the single mom who really cared about her kids. On Reality Kills, she comes across as more extreme.

Lewis played "Reality Woman" in the episode "Penetration Island" in Howard Stern's TV show Son of a Beach.

Near the end of Monday night's episode, Johnny hooked up with Trishelle Cannatella on the kitchen table and in the bathroom:

Appeared in July 2003's issue of "Playboy" along with Katie from Road Rules. [Trishelle] followed the footsteps of Veronica Portillo, Beth Stolarczyk, Jisela Delgado, and Flora Aleckseyun, all former Real World/Road Rulers who have appeared in the magazine.

Given how vicious the cast members are, at times, to each on the show, they were all content with each other Monday night and basked in their B-grade celebrity.

The party pulsed with erotic possibilities and ran till 3am.

Talking About Adultery

I call "Erica" Monday afternoon.

Erica: "I used to hook up with a married man at the shows then we'd go about our lives. Because of him, I now think you should never have sex with a married man.

"If a woman is willing to have sex with a married man, then she is a threat to all women. Not one woman is going to trust her. She's no longer a good girlfriend.

"It messed with my head. Any time I'd see a happy couple, I'd disrespect the woman. I'd think, 'Honey, if he was alone and in a room with me, he would cheat on you.'

"Then I didn't have any good girlfriends. I wondered why. It was because of that. Ever since I set that boundary, I have all these girlfriends now."

Bisexual Women Reembrace Their Jewish Heritage

This important essay is found in Dana Kaplan's Contemporary Debates In American Reform Judaism:

"...[B]isexuals and Jews occupy a middle ground in the spectrum of oppression... But because bisexuals sometimes have different-sex partners, or because many Jews have white skin, we are not as visible in sharing ...oppression..."

...Queer Minyan was founded by Aliza, a lesbian-identified bisexual woman, and a "fag-identified" bisexual man. It is a social and prayer group that meets monthly on Friday night to celebrate Shabbat; while most of its members are Jewish bisexuals, it welcomes people who identify as Jewish "queers" and their friends...

"We pray together, we're sexual together, we do spiritual stuff together..."

In 1995 Pardes Rimonim ("orchard of pomegranates" in Hebrew), an earth-based, feminist Jewish ritual group also dominated by Jewish bisexuals, conducted its first High Holy Days services.

"Walk into room and look around and see all these guys in skirts and these pierced body parts and... women kissing each other in the corners."

Tone, a student in her early thirties, explains that as a person with a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, s/he barely identified as Jewish until s/he encountered queer Jewish community... S/he is an intersexual activist who is usually assumed to be a butch female by strangers.

Chaim Amalek writes:

More with this Jewish stuff....oy. Honestly, who cares if he is gay or not? Just ask him leading questions like "so, what does your wife think of all this?" and converge onto what you really want to know. But you know, he looks to be around 39 years old, and if a man is single at 39, likely there is some good reason for him not to be married to a woman.

Why aren't lesbian rabbis better looking? You tell these dyke rabbis that what judaism needs is flirty fishing, like the Jew founded Children of God offered. And they are not bait material. Torah has nothing bad to say about the lesbian woman. Nothing at all. So they are free to do whatever it is that they are inclined to do with one another.

Why aren't you married? In less than a year, you are going to be hearing that quite often.

"I have no money."

I think your life long lack of money is just your closeted way of avoiding the issue of women. "Since I'm poor, I cannot be expected to be serious about any woman." (Whew!) You would rather be poor than have to be married.

It's not as though you have not had the years I've known you, you've had many, many good women to pick from. Lawyer women....ex porn women...economist women...jewish women....gentile women....old women.....young women.....lots of women, including many real beauties. 98 percent of men would have had no problem selecting a wife from among the many lovelies you've had hankering for you. Women who would have given you spine enough to become successful in life. Or are you vaginaphobic? You fear the vagina; you refuse to eat pomegranates; you won't eat fish.

Gay Synagogue Architecture

Dana Evan Kaplan writes about West Hollywood's Reform temple Kol Ami (I once went there by mistake, thinking that as it would be a good place to meet a woman, boy was I wrong, though everyone was friendly, frankly, a little too friendly):

Kol Ami wanted to distinguish its synagogue from the suburban congregational architecture of the post-World War II period that many congregants associated with superficiality and heterosexual centrism. They wanted their temple building to reflect their values, which stress simplicity as well as beauty.

...Los Angeles architect Joshua Schweitzer included in the building's design from features of his popular designs for the Border Grill restaurants. He wanted the space to be sunny and open so that gays and lesbians who had often felt excluded would feel welcomed.

Rabbi Richard N. Levy (who does not drive on Shabbos, is a terrible public speaker, and uses words such as 'actualize') wrote in 1969:

The American Reform synagogue is in trouble. It has generally defaulted on all three of its traditional functions -- as a house of prayer (Bet Tefillah); as a house of study (Bet Midrash); and as a house of meeting (Bet Knesset).

At least it's gay archicture is tops.

Who Is Grand Rabbi Y. A. Korff?

I posted on Protocols Sept. 6, 2004:

What do you know about Y. A. Korff, who calls himself "Grand Rabbi Y. A. Korff." Claims he's a Hasidic rebbe. He's a baal teshuva. Comes from a Hasidic family. He owned the Jewish Advocate and sold it to

Veber responds:

For the record -- the Rebbe is descended from the Baal Shem Tov and a long line of Chassidic Rebbes, and was pressured by family and cousins (including the Skvira Rebbe, Talner Rebbe, Chernobler Rebbe, and others to fill the void left by his grandfather's passing, who was the previous Rebbe. (see

Second, I am not a baal teshuva (although the Rebbe says we should all be baalei teshuva, particularly those born frum and who were always frum), but according to my understanding a baal teshuva in common usage is someone who was never observant of such things as Shabbos and Kashrus, etc. -- if you check the Rebbe's background accurately you will find that he was born to and raised by frum parents (his father was a Rov who received smicha from Torah V'Daath in New York and from Sfas Emes in Jerusalem), educated in yeshivas (as well as with secular education), and was always Shomer Shabbos etc. Just because he has a more open and modern outlook and background (and a college, and law school education, scandalous!), didn't always dress chassidic, and he believes in people earning parnossah (he himself supported himself through business and didn't accept money personally for his rabonnus) the right-wingers try to discredit him and spread loshon hora.

USC Journalism Professor Kenneth Noble Is A Plagiarizer

Seth Mnookin writes in his 2004 book Hard News: Twenty-one Brutal Months at The New York Times and How They Changed the American Media:

In the summer of 1994, a black reporter named Kenneth Noble returned from his stint as West African bureau chief.... "But Gerald [Boyd, black managing editor of The New York Times under Howell Raines] went and visited Ken in Africa and offered him the [Bureau Chief] job in L.A..." says [Times national editor Linda] Mathews. "And when I complained, [Boyd] said the paper had a responsibility to bring along young, talented blacks."

...Noble had great difficulty from the moment he arrived in California. He came to the office infrequently. When he did appear, he was often dressed inappropriately, in sweatpants and T-shirts. He had trouble meeting the Times's East Coast deadlines, and instead of attending the O.J. Simpson criminal trial, he occasionally wrote he copy off of Associated Press reports. Several times, copy editors noticed that stories Noble had filed seemed to contain multiple paragraphs lifted verbatim from the AP or a local California paper.

Noble left The Times in 1997.

Boyd told the convention of the National Association of Black Journalists in 2003: "To suggest that I played favorites not only diminishes me as a journalist but as a manager, and diminishes all of those people that I have helped try to inspire, to teach, to mold."