Nov. 2, 2007
On the first hour of his radio show Nov. 2, Prager said: "Elliot Spitzer is a liberal Democrat... One of the major reasons for the greater acceptance of illegal immigration by the Democrats is so that they can get more votes. They don't win on American-born folks. They need to cultivate another community of victims. If you don't feel yourself a victim, you are 75% less likely to vote Democrat... Cultivating a victim self-identity it is indispensable to Democrat party victory. That's not good for the country. The happier you are, the more likely you are to vote Republican. All polls show that Republicans are happier."
Oct. 23, 2007
Oct. 18, 2007
After the introduction by festival organizer Govindi Murty (video), Dennis Prager takes the stage (video) at the Harmony Gold Preview House at 7655 Sunset Blvd.
(The sound quality on my videos is good but the picture quality sucks because I have horizontal roll so bad on my viewfinder that I don't use it, and thus much of the time, the people I'm pointing my camera at don't even show up on my video. To fix my camera would mean losing it to repairs for a month and I have too much work I have to do with it on a regular basis. Normally my camera work is not this bad.)
"It's very intimidating to speak to people who like you," says Prager. "You feel like you can only disappoint them.
"The last time I spoke in Hollywood, it was for a film festival. They invited me on a lark to be on a panel with three liberal-left critics and it was to analyze the film, 'The Making of Deep Throat.'"
Actually, the film analyzed that night was Inside Deep Throat.
Richard Schickel is liberal?
"When I was introduced, everybody booed. I felt great. I figured I can't get any lower."
"An audience of men and women watching fellatio, does that strike anybody as a decline in our culture? I said that and the audience, it was as if I started speaking sanskrit. The concept of elevating culture... "
At the time, I remember Prager saying on the radio that the 30 seconds of fellatio in that documentary were necessary and that Inside Deep Throat was a good and important film.
"To not have one film celebrating what is happening [in Iraq]..."
"Dialogue is very difficult in America and it is not because of us [conservatives]... We do not have something comparable to this -- the utter dismissal of the human who makes the other argument. When I read a critique of David Horowitz from the left, it is of David, and not of what he wrote or said.
"I get the same thing. Periodically, [Prager Googles himself]. Just Google "'Dennis Prager' asshole" and you get between 12,000 to 39,000 hits."
I just Googled: ""Dennis Prager" asshole" and got 4,330 returns. Googling "Dennis Prager asshole" gets 4,500 results.
According to Prager, this type of character assassination is the province of the left.
I Googled ""John Kerry" asshole" and got 136,000 results. Googling ""Bill Clinton" asshole" brings 196,000 results. Googling ""Al Franken" asshole" brings 70,900 results.
By this measure that Prager recommends, there is more personal invective slung against the left than the right.
I am sure Dennis Prager would get the same number of asshole results wherever he was on the political spectrum.
"There is no dialogue of ideas. Only defamation of character."
"There is one blog by a Jewish guy who particularly hates me. He's a member of some thinktank on the Jewish left. He wrote, 'Dennis Prager is a fraud. He claims to keep kosher but I have seen him on multiple occasions eating pork.'
"I haven't seen me eating pork on multiple occasions. I've never seen this guy. It's a pure lie."
I don't know who Prager is referring to and I can't find the blog post in question.
"I am not a believe that in the end the truth wins. I don't know."
Near the beginning is close tight lingering shot of blue jean clad bottom of filmmaker and human rights attorney Brooke Goldstein, a 24-year old fine looking blonde.
She walks into this Israeli prison for terrorists wearing tight jeans and a sleeveless top. The terrorists must've thought they'd died and gone to heaven.
I know I did.
On October 16, Prager had Brooke on his radio show.
After the screenings, Prager had a dialogue with her.
Check out the video.
When she sits down, Brooke's short tight skirt hitches a foot above her knee.
I never knew fighting terrorism could be so erotic.
I know it is generally bad form to comment on a someone's looks, but Brooke dresses provocatively and thus asks for this sort of feedback.
Dennis: "The woman who blew herself up in the pizza parlor in Israel [the first female Palestinian suicide bomber] was a strikingly beautiful woman. She could've been a model or actress in Western society... The fascinating thing was the throwaway line was that she was miserable and divorced because she couldn't have children, as though that makes perfect sense in Palestinian society.
"If you were to ask me why I was pessimistic about Palestinian society and much of the Muslim Middle East, I'd probably point to that as much as any factor, that in the 21st Century a woman could be divorced for not having children and it being understood by the society."
Brooke (who is a dual Canadian and American citizen): "When we were talking to her mom off-camera, and what came through was a more accurate version of the story. Not only was she divorced, she was also an adulteress. She was threatened with an honor killing...and had to choose between a rock and a hard spot. Am I going to go down in shame or am I going to do something that would raise my family's head high? She chose the latter."
Dennis: "Why didn't you include that in the film?"
Brooke: "We weren't 100% sure and did not want to propagate any myths."
Dennis: "You were surprised at how bad things were?"
"I risked my own life to speak to these people because I couldn't comprehend how a mother could send her own child to die. I had to see for myself. I didn't go in to the West Bank to make a film. I intended to get a series of depositions. I was a law student and wanted to collect evidence of a crime against children, inciting them to become suicide bombers.
"I came out with 82 hours of interviews. I showed it to a filmmaker friend. They said, 'You have a great film here.'"
Dennis: "There is a naivete in the West about evil generally and the love of death that permeates parts of the Arab world. It's hard not to believe that underneath it all, we're all the same. But we're not all the same. You've been sobered by this?"
Brooke: "Absolutely. I'm a bit more of a pessimist now."
Dennis: "For the females [suicide bombers], it's more to escape life and for the males, it is more to get the rewards of death."
Brooke: "There's a trend of marginalization. The cool kids are never the ones to die. They're used to recruit the loser kids. ...It's their way of fitting in. It's their way of becoming a hero."
Dennis: "What's despairing is not just the celebration of death but the lying."
Brooke: "The only way we are going to find a consensus between Muslims and non-Muslims, between left and right, is when we focus on the children. Everyone should agree that a child, a Muslim child, is an innocent party. If we can't come to that conclusion, I have no hope for the future. Even when I spoke to Palestinian adults who were otherwise OK with suicide terror against the Israeli civilian population, were not OK with the use of young children as suicide bombers. If we put a plebiscite, if we empowered Palestinian mothers so they would feel free to speak out, they'd say they do not support these tactics."
A big Australian lady yells: "Their mentality is so different, we have to admit it's different."
Brooke: "A base consensus can be found when you focus on children."
Woman: "No! Look at your film."
Brooke: "Of course Palestinian children are innocent. That's their cause.. When you confront the United Nations which claims to be the protector of Palestinian children, surely you are outraged by the premeditated murder of these children by their own community, there is no way they are going to publicly...
Woman: "You are projecting yourself onto them... You are still a naive Westener."
Brooke: "I've spoken to the parents. Them telling me they have a problem with the use of their own children. It may be a fringe minority that agrees children are innocent..."
Dennis: "I agree with their passion and I thank you for your film."
"Those [Palestinian] mothers who lament the death of their 13 year old also lament the death of their 30 year old son or daughter. The age does not make them lament less. As the parent of children running from 30 to 13, no parent thinks that way."
"If you don't care about the murder of Jewish 12 year olds, it is unlikely that the age of innocents will bother you."
The audience shouts questions. Video
Question: "During the filmmaking process, did you ever state you were American?"
"They love Canadians."
Question: "Was there any time you feared for your life?"
Brooke: "Yeah. The entire time. I was hanging out with people who have no scruples. They kill young children. They kidnapp journalists. I was terrified."
Later, Dennis: "I would ask you and everyone else to never say, 'Every Muslim.' We need to choose our words carefully to be effective. Once you say, 'Every,' the good guys are doomed."
"Here is my problem with the contemporary Islamic world -- the silence that has greeted the slaughters. It is more depressing than the slaughters."
Brooke: "What I found troubling was that the kids [Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails] were allowed to watch PA TV (Palestinian Authority television) while in jail. They each have TVs in their cells."
Dennis: "It s because liberal thought is dominant in Israel too."
Brooke: "You feel Hassam [the 15yo terrorist and focus of her documentary] deserves to be detained for the rest of his life. He's a victim. These kids are not criminals. They don't deserve to spend their formative years in jail."
Audience member yells: "They're murderers!"
Brooke: "They're victims."
Audience member: "They're murderers!"
Brooke: "They're children."
Dennis hushes the crowd. "We've got the point. They are murderers but she's saying they're brain-washed murderers."
"In the final analysis, the imprisonment of this boy is the fault of Palestinian authority just like the Japanese who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki died because of the Hirohito regime."
"A Jew who cannnot hear a Christian say, 'We'd like you to convert' is a wimp."
"Ann Coulter said the world would be better if the Muslim world woke up tomorrow Christian. I can't understand why that is even debatable."
"I don't have a porcupine in this sanitarium. Morally speaking, at this time, the Christian world is on a higher moral plane than the Islamic world. Nobody nurtures this hatred in the Christian world."
There are no Palestinian Christian suicide bombers.
"On Sunday night in San Antonio, Texas, I spoke to 5,000 Christians at the Cornerstone church of Pastor John Hagee and they raised $8 million dollars for Israeli [charities]. The Reform rabbi in San Antonio would not show up because he differs with them on same-sex marriage."
Brooke: "When I said that not every Palestinian mother wanted her children to become suicide bombers, I was called naive."
Dennis: "No, no. You were called naive for another reason, that because they care about 10 year olds is a glimmer of hope for the future."
Brooke: "We as Westeners have to empower these Muslims. Look what we've done with Irshad Manji."
April 30, 2007
On his radio show April 30, Dennis Prager said: "This subject has always intrigued me on a moral basis."
In 2004, Prager decided against running for the U.S. Senate, in part, he said, because he did not want his private life investigated and publicized.
At the time of Prager's show, this D.C. madam story was the top story on the Drudge Report.
There are few people who have listened longer and more carefully to Prager than I have (I bought tapes of his radio show going back to 1985). Without a doubt, Prager gets more topics for his radio show from the DrudgeReport.com than any other source.
And without a doubt, the DrudgeReport.com is the number one gossip site on the internet (I do not mean that as a criticism, only as a description, in my view gossip is morally neutral, sometimes it is right and sometimes it is wrong to gossip).
If publicly shaming non-evil people is so horrible, why does Prager make his number one source of information the most shaming website in the world?
Apparently 132 women worked for the madam.
Prager (who in the past said on his radio show that he used a prostitute while in Europe during college) initially claimed that ABC news had paid the madam for her client list. He later retracted that.
I suspect that the ABC News operation that Prager lambasted for an hour will be more careful with its facts than Prager was.
Prager laments that much of society is more concerned with prostitution than murder. If so, I doubt that is unique to our society. If such a preoccupation is widespread, it simply indicates that the preservation of certain sexual norms is of paramount importance in many, if not most, societies.
As a learned religious Jew, Prager knows that Judaism holds that a Jew should surrender his life rather than commit various sexual sins (sleeping with a prostitute would be regarded as just such a sin by many rabbis).
Prager keeps saying that publicizing the madam's client list will destroy lives. Yet this is the same Prager who says that divorce need not be a trauma. It depends on how you handle it.
Well, does it not depend on how you handle this prostitution publicity? I know that if such a thing were to happen to me (and I have never paid for sex), I'd try to laugh it off. I'd blog about it.
I'm not sure that in this day and age, getting caught hiring a hooker is not such a big deal. I suspect that most politicians commit adultery. The more successful the politico, the hotter his girls. Wives of politicians (and other stars) make that sacrifice in exchange for being married to a powerful man.
DP: "I see no moral good in publicizing the names of her johns."
Well, that's an easy one. Of course there are benefits to publicizing people who break the law (not that those benefits necessarily outweigh the harm done to innocents by such publicity). Publicizing the names of people who do shameful things discourages those people from doing them more often and discourages everyone else from engaging in such activity.
If you raise the cost of gasoline (ceteris paribus), people will use less gasoline. if you raise the cost of using hookers (ceteris paribus), people will use fewer hookers.
One problem with getting a good moral read on these types of situations is that the list of people hurt by publishing such information is small and concentrated and thus those people and their supporters have motivation to fight against the publicizing of their crime, while all the people who are benefited by this upholding of social norms are only benefited indirectly and minutely and thus have no motivation to support the outing of these johns.
One of the primary functions of gossip is to reinforce social norms without the painful cost of telling a wrongdoer to his face what's what.
A person is not a member of a community until he is gossiped about. We don't gossip about people who do not matter to us (and rarely about people who are below us in social status). There's a high incentive for people in high status to act decently to those below them precisely so that when the high-flier falls, people will not rejoice.
There's little gossip in the tabloids about people who act in a fundamentally decent way. Serious actresses such as Meryl Streep don't generate much malicious gossip.
While listening to Prager denounce the media for publicizing shameful information, I think about Prager's longtime friendly relationship with predator-rabbi Mordecai Gafni.
Prager often greeted Gafni with a hug. Prager asked Gafni to look after his step-daughter Anya when she went to Israel (circa 1998). Prager had Gafni on his radio show to discuss his book Soul Prints. Prager was scheduled to have a public dialogue with Gafni at Prager's temple, Stephen S. Wise, which for years had Gafni as a scholar in residence and gave him tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for bestowing his wisdom.
Two of Prager's closest friends, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin and Dr. Stephen Marmer, led a take-no-prisoners attack on Vicki Polin and myself for accurately reporting on Gafni's predatory ways.
When Gafni confessed that he was predatory, Telushkin made only the most circumscribed apology to The Jewish Week and Marmer, to the best of my knowledge, made no public apology.
Prager has never publicly mentioned the matter.
Yet you'd think for someone so obsessed about goodness he'd rethink his views on when it is appropriate to share shameful information. Yet neither Prager nor Telushkin have changed their thinking in this regard one iota, despite being on the wrong side of a big mess.
You'd think that intellectual and moral honesty would compel Prager to say that he'd been completely wrong on this issue in the past and had had to rethink his views in the light of reality.
Prager says that the media should not mention people who commit the crime of prostitution. But why should that be the one crime for which one gets a free pass? There are all sorts of other embarrassing crimes, such as public urination or smoking marijuana, etc, should they all be exempt from reporting? Why should people who break the law expect that it will never be mentioned?
All human societies have evolved sexual norms and all human societies stigmatize prostitution (to varying degrees) and gossip about people who use prostitutes and people who work as prostitutes. You show me a society that doesn't talk about johns and hookers and I'll show you one sick society.
Prager repeatedly lambasts ABC News for planning to publicize the madam's client list during sweeps week yet it is not at all clear that ABC News will do that. ABC News has not said that they will name the madam's clients yet Prager repeatedly says they will.
If ABC News is circumscribed in its publicizing of the johns, will Prager apologize for defaming ABC News?
I often get the sense when I listen to Prager that he is on repeat. He skims a news article and then offers the same pre-recorded message he's given dozens of times in the past (without respect for the facts of the current story).
The madam plans to name names. If ABC News does not publish those names, other places will. It does not matter much whether or not ABC News names the names. The nature of human communities is that if the madam is determined to publicize the names, they will get out.
In contrast to Prager's portrayal of the press, reality suggests they are being circumspect in this matter. According to the trade publication of the industry:
Prager's main point is that johns don't deserve to have their names dragged through the mud.
I have two questions: First, why should accurate reporting be described as dragging somebody's name through the mud? Second, why should johns be exempt from having their criminal acts reported? For what other criminal acts should there be such exemptions?
Prager says that this punishment is the equivalent of cutting off the hands of a thief.
I don't have a problem with the cutting off hands for some theft (such as breaking into somebody's home or car).
I don't have a problem with the publicizing of people convicted of committing a crime, but what bothers me here is the position that people who commit certain crimes should be exempt from negative publicity. Anybody justly convicted of a crime should not complain about people talking about them. That's chutzpah. That's saying that I knowingly chose to break the law and violate society's norms in an area of crucial importance yet you should not talk about me doing so.
Getting publicized for illegally using a prostitute does not have to destroy you nor your family. Like other forms of gossip, you can shake it off and do something worthy with your life.
When Britain's Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, was revealed to have lied to parliament in 1963 about using prostitutes, he devoted the rest of his life to good works. Do you think he would've done that if he hadn't been publicly humiliated for lying about his use of hookers?
How many haughty cruel people (are a disproportionate number of johns are cruel and haughty?) would turn their lives around if a mirror was held up to their behavior?
Prager: "What's more exciting than destroying lives?"
"Why don't we publicize the names of people who don't honor their parents?"
Well, we do. Just look at the negative publicity Dr. Laura Schlesinger received for ignoring her mother (who died alone).
From Wikipedia: "In December 2002, Schlessinger's mother Yolanda was found dead in her condominium, her body having been there for months. Schlessinger's estrangement from her family was again highlighted in the media, as she had often chastised listeners who said they had broken off contact with their families, calling them selfish. When asked about her estrangement from her own mother, Schlessinger claimed she had tried to mend fences but that "Some things you take from broken to bent and leave there.""
DP: "The press has no conscience. It only has a conscience when it is politically correct, such as not naming the woman [who made the false rape allegations against members of the Duke lacrosse team]."
"The news media is governed by what will bring revenue, only, and politics. Their agenda and making money."
These monolithic accusations seem ridiculous to me. The news media has different attitudes towards publicizing such johns. Or does it?
A caller to Prager: "How do they know that this woman didn't make up these names?"
Prager: "Don't know and don't care. It's sweeps week for ABC News."
The press is a reality check. If you are famous and you act badly and/or break the law, you may be reported on.
If you choose to illegally patronize a prostitute and you have a high position in society, you open yourself up to blackmail.
Prager wonders why the news media don't refer to the madam as "the alleged madam."
Dennis says that if the johns used public funds to pay for the prostitutes, then let it be known.
I do not give my views on this matter from the perspective of one who believes himself impervious to sexual sin. Quite to the contrary. Few sins tempt me more than certain sexual sins, particularly ones with wallabies and my childhood friend Wayne Chery.
April 27, 2007
Dennis Prager said April 27: "Why was there no attack of the murderer at Virginia Tech? If they had simply run at him, there would've been fewer deaths and he would've been stopped."
"We need to think about how we stop evil. We are not preoccupied with that. We are preoccupied with getting rid of guns, global warming...
"Have we made a mindset in America that you will always be taken care of?
"Those who are pro-gun want to take care of themselves while those people who are anti-gun want to be protected."
"Others will take care of you... Others will take care of your health, security, housing, job, salary... Then it doesn't even occur to ask how could they have better gotten the gunman? The only questions asked are how can we do better with the mentally ill, was this forseeable, and how do we get rid of guns?"
"The moment you say, 'How can I take care of me?' you are a conservative."
Controversy follows Dennis Prager to Yorba Linda
Islamic councils say tonight's talk by the radio host -- who has been criticized for saying a congressman shouldn't be able to take his oath on the Koran -- should have a Muslim speaker for balance.
I got my initial post wrong, thinking Prager was praising this man.
A Google search on ""Jack Kelly" plagiarism" resulted in numerous stories such as the above.
I now realize that the Jack Kelly praised by Prager Jan. 23 was the former Marine and Green Beret who served as a "deputy assistant secretary" of the U.S. Air Force under Ronald Reagen.
On the air, Prager also confused the Jack Kellys, saying that the guy he had just interviewed used to write for the USA Today.
Dennis said to Jack Kelly (with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) on his radio show Jan. 23, 2007 at 10:40 a.m. PST: "I have followed your career for many years and you are one of the best writers in journalism in America."
Dennis had Kelly on to talk about the "positive news from Iraq."
Dennis: "Why is your important and optimistic read not being echoed in other news reports?"
Jack: "Most journalists who write about this war have a theme...and they emphasize information that supports that theme and they are not terribly interested in evidence..."
Dennis: "That is a pretty severe indictment of your profession."
Jack: "Severe indictments are in order. The performance of journalists covering this war over the past five years has been pretty bad."
Dennis: "The only other person willing to blow the whistle on the lack of character of our media is [John Burns of the NYT]."
"It is you and John Burns."
"Did you hear that, folks? What an indictment of our mainstream media. It's painful."
"If you like dissent, it's a cheerful, an inspiring when someone in the mainstream media dissents from the mainstream media's awful reporting on Iraq. I just asked him, why do we not read what you just wrote? Three positive developments since we announced we'd increase troops by 20,000."
"We're going to have him on for an extended period of time. He was with the USA Today."
So I assume Prager also confused this Jack Kelly with Jack Kelley of fabrication fame.
There are plenty of legitimate criticisms to make of the journalism of Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The paper had to run this whopper of a correction in early July 2006:
(This column is a corrected version. The following correction will appear in the July 5 print edition: "Jack Kelly's July 2 column conflated references to two different Wall Street Journal op-ed articles by MIT professor Richard Lindzen. The first quote from Dr. Lindzen was from a June 11, 2001, piece, but it was incorrectly identified as being published last week. The second Lindzen quote was correctly attributed to his commentary last week (June 26). In addition, the Kelly column referred to a National Academy of Sciences report on climate change and a quote from CNN reporter Michelle Mitchell; they were both from June 2001, not this year. The column should have addressed the NAS report on climate change released June 22, 2006.")
Prager is also a
huge fan of Michael Fumento, who successfully sought out funding for
his books from people he wrote about, yet never disclosed this.
Beth Jacob hosts a panel discussion Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. between Rabbi Shalom Tendler, Rabbi Asher Brander and Rabbi Daniel Korobkin responding to Prager's recent critiques of Orthodox Judaism.
The Prager Perspective (Scott Webley) Vs. Dennis Prager
I shelled out $4:75 to search "Dennis Prager" on the L.A. Superior Court website and found nine cases.
The dispute has since been settled.
In a case filed May 15, 2000, Bank of America sued Dennis Prager for not paying back a loan of over $30,000. The plaintiff filed to dismiss the suit in September, 2000.
Can anyone recommend any good L.A. Superior Court cases that would shed light on Los Angeles Judaism?
I put in "Judaism" and got 25 results, 22 of which were for the University of Judaism. None of the cases with documents available looked interesting.
Around 1999, Dennis met Scott Webley, a former actor on General Hospital (1977-1978) who owned a production company (ShowBiz Studios) and several internet businesses (Showbiz.com, etc).
According to Los Angeles Superior Court case BC 357131 (in an Oct. 5, 2006 filing by Scott Webley's attorneys), Prager and Webley agreed orally in late 2000 or early 2001 to operate The Prager Perspective Limited Liability Company to sell Prager's writings, radio show, and talks via dennisprager.com, etc, and split the revenues.
Dennis Prager Speaks To Orthodox Union
9 a.m. Room is full (about 80 persons) for Rabbi Riskin's talk. He says Iran won't nuke Jerusalem because it won't damage the Al Aksa mosque on the temple mount.
10 a.m. Lisa Aiken says Judaism is primarily about having a relationship with God.
Does anyone aside from a few eccentric intellectuals believe that? I've met few religious Jews who claimed to have a relationship with God. It's just one of those things that speakers say but few people do.
It's like saying, "Jews don't think they're better than anybody else."
I get that obligatory disclaimer every time choseness is introduced. Yes, Jews are God's chosen people but Jews don't believe they are any better than anybody else.
That's nonsense. Of course Jews believe they are better than everybody else, just as every religious and national group thinks it is number one. The only difference is that many non-Jews believe Jews are special, and sometimes hate them for it.
This old man (I think it was the Rabbi Emmanuel pictured here with Richard Joel last month) dressed like a Hasid makes a loud, passionate and incomprehensible speech complaining that he's been forbidden from passing out his flyers, which he does anyway over the next few hours to anyone he thinks is important (Michael Broyde, Dennis Prager, etc).
Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb does a good job keeping the yeshiva curriculum discussion moving.
11:30 a.m. Rabbi Yitzchok Lowenbraun lectures on why our youth are leaving Orthodoxy. He says it is not for intellectual reasons.
Rabbi Michael Broyde says it is for intellectual reasons. That the kids see irreconcilable differences between Torah and science. That "being happy and feeling good" is an insufficient reason to stay Jewish.
I wonder how many people leave Orthodox Judaism because so many of its practicioners are fat, slovenly, and unattractive?
A YULA boys school teacher says the reasons were intellectual a century ago but now kids are just giving into their lustful desires.
Fundamentalist religion attracts a disproportionate number of kooks and many of them are dying to speak up and bore us to tears.
Much of the room has nodded off. The sages command us to follow the majority, so I also nod off.
I walk out and past Rabbi Daniel Korobkin posing for photographs.
"Now, let's vary the background," says the photographer.
I make eye contact with a leading Los Angeles rabbi in the hallway. He stares at me, says hello, and then backs into the ladies room.
"Wrong room!" I warn.
Because I've studied Torah, I choose to believe that the rabbi went into the ladies room for the best of reasons.
Still, my soul is troubled. Why do so many of our rabbis go off the derech and into the ladies room? Is it for intellectual reasons or are they just following their lustful desires?
I listen to Rabbi Broyde's instructions on interacting with gentiles. I know more about dating shiksas than this rabbi. I should be giving this talk.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the leading Orthodox decider of Jewish law in the last half of the 20th Century, characterized American government as grounded in righteousness (he said that in Hebrew, much more impressive sounding). He said we should offer profound fidelity to secular American law.
Rabbi Broyde says we have to careful in selecting those who will do inter-faith dialogue. "I think much harder before speaking to The New York Times than I do to the Jewish press."
Do we want to encourage abortion laws along the lines of what Christians want that could possibly cause a mother to lose her life in a case where Jewish law would prescribe an abortion.
Jewish law is more concerned with the life of the mother than that of the fetus.
Standing up for religious values that are not ours, such as animal sacrifice by cults in Florida, protects our right to practice our religion.
A fat hippie teacher from Shalhevet wonders how Rabbi Broyde can give so much honor to American law when it allowed such terrible miscarriages of justice in the cases of Jonathan Pollard and the Rosenbergs.
"I don't see Jonathan Pollard case as a terrible miscarriage of justice. Nor the Rosenberg case."
The teacher yells at Broyde who replies, "You asked for my opinion. I gave it to you."
That quiets the yelping masses.
Rabbi Alan Kalinsky (West Coast director of the O.U.) holds the full house (about 250 persons) hostage for about 15 minutes to do housekeeping items and bestow some pointless award (a yad aka Torah pointer) on an O.U. functionary (president Steve Savitsky).
Finally, we're allowed the main event -- Dennis Prager vs. Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein.
The crowd is thrilled to hear Prager. His billboard "Just Right" is all over L.A. for his radio show.
Rabbi Daniel Korobkin gives the introduction: "My 21-year old son was looking over the program and his eyes perked up when he saw Dennis Prager's name. 'I'm going to that one.'
"You've all been put in cherem [excommunication] for being here today," says Rabbi Korobkin.
Prager is not Orthodox and a lot of people are upset about him being invited to an O.U. event.
Rabbi Korobkin says the O.U. got a telephone message from a local leader of left-wing Orthodoxy complaining about Prager's inclusion. That Prager was intolerant of other religions because he wants Muslim congressman Keith Ellison to take his swearing in oath on a Bible (in addition to the Koran).
Rabbi Korobkin: "The feeling at the O.U. is that we are sufficiently confident that Torah is emet [truth] and that what we have is emet and whatever deficiencies we have...we have to be prepared to look at someone pointing out our flaws..."
Dennis wears a light blue shirt, an orange and blue striped tie, and a brown jacket. "I was the one who opened the media to Muslims."
That would come as news to the hundreds of journalists who wrote stories about Muslims and put them on the air (radio and television) before Prager ever got a radio show.
"If we Jews think we are secure in America because of the constitution and not because of the Bible, we are fools."
"Of all the ethnic groups in America, we are the most foolish."
"The great majority of serious Jews are Orthodox."
"On the great moral issues of life, you and I are in agreement 99% of the time... Because we both believe the Torah comes from God."
"The average Orthodox rabbi and Reform rabbi share almost nothing [in values]."
"You turned out to be right... I could not argue against it -- the ordination of women. The adding of vast numbers of females to the Jewish and Christian clergy has not helped those religions. Women bring gifts that are different than what clerical leadership need. Women prefer compassion to standards and clergy have to prefer standards to compassion."
"Faith matters a great deal. When I grew up [in Orthodoxy], everything was halakah. About once a year, one of the rabbonim might have a hashkafa shiur where God might be mentioned. In my Orthodox world, the question was never what does God want. It was, what's the halakah?"
"It's hard to argue that God does not women to be able to marry if their husbands refuse a get [divorce]. Why even ask what does God want if my only question is, what is the halakah?"
"My oldest son [David], in a deep rebellion, has decided to become an Orthodox rabbi."
"My brother [Kenny], who is Orthodox, says to me, 'I should've been Reform. Then my kids would be Orthodox.'"
"The eruv is baloney. It is a legal fiction. We're going to fool ourselves that it is ok to wheel our kids to shul."
"I can't believe that God wants a woman [on Shabbos] to be under house arrest because there's not a string around the city."
"I believe that God doesn't want us to look silly in the eyes of the nations. The L.A. Times article [on the Venice eruv] makes Orthodox Judaism look silly. You can't blame the L.A. Times."
"I believe that God wants Pesach [Passover] to be seven days [rather than the eight days now observed by traditional Jews in the diaspora]. That's what he wrote. The Torah's from God."
I can't believe how several Jews have the chutzpah to answer their cell phones during the lecture.
"The siddur [prayer book] is too long. The maxzor [High Holiday prayer book] is too long. Nobody understands the piyutim [which make a Rosh Hashanah morning prayer service last over six hours]."
"Then I have Orthodox friends tell me, 'Dennis, at our hashkama minyan, we do everything in 90 minutes.' Then you have to say the prayers so fast they become gibberish. Evelyn Wood [speed reader] grew up Orthodox."
"I believe that the Torah wants Pesach to be seven days because it recreates creation. Judaism stands on two pillars -- creation and the Exodus from Egypt. When you make it eight days, you lose the whole point of what HaShem wanted."
"Are we a kiddish HaShem in the way we kill animals? We had the most humane way to kill animals...but do we today? I don't think so."
"Kosher veal? It's killed in a painless way but it is raised in a painful way."
"I wish I could say that halakah [Jewish law] makes people good."
Dennis relays a story from Rabbi Shlomo Riskin who interviewed various rabbis to become the head of his yeshiva. All of them said that if they ordered a shaver in the mail and the company accidentally sent an extra one, they would keep it, as there was nothing wrong in keeping such from a Gentile. They could even quote some Jewish text to support it.
"Here's a case of halakah making people worse."
"My dad has been Orthodox his whole life. Even though he enlisted in World War II, he noticed all these yeshivot popping up in New York during World War II so Jews could avoid service in the armed forces by studying to become rabbis. All these goyim are fighting Hitler and all these frum Jews are enrolling in yeshiva to not fight Hitler."
"The finest Jews I have known have tended to be Orthodox."
Dennis complained about Orthodox Jews who don't greet gentiles on the Sabbath.
"The Reform conference recently passed a resolution that Washington D.C. should become a state. There's a pressing Jewish issue."
Rabbi Korobkin: "I've never been so glad to see Rabbi Adlerstein. Better you than me."
Rav Adlerstein makes a response (and blogs about it later). "If I score a couple of points for the Ribbono Shel Olam, Baruch HaShem."
"I applaud the O.U. for allowing this despite everyone's lock-jaw. We do have a tradition of being open to criticism."
He recommends an article by Judy Bleich in the Orthodox Forum on Reform doing away with selichot. He says that shorter prayer services don't attract more people to shul.
Rav Adlerstein says the lack of greeting gentiles was not because such persons were Orthodox but because they were from New York.
Rabbi Korobkin says that if there's anything that's bothering you, seek out your rabbi and ask. "There are answers to all these questions."
Dennis: "When I first met Rabbi Adlerstein, he was not the same. He had to get halakic permission to go on Religion on the Line (KABC) and dialogue with non-Jewish clergy. Today he's a leader in Jewish life in talking to Christians and meeting with them and hugging them."
Rabbi Adlerstein: "Just the men."
Dennis: "The tradition with Conservative Judaism is not the non-fidelity to halakah. They are overwhelmingly faithful to halaka... The problem with Conservatism is that they don't believe the Torah is divine."
When Prager speaks, my face angles up and to the side like a puppy towards his master.
Dennis says it is wrong that we have to stand during Neilah (and much of the High Holiday prayer services). "If you had to stand during my talk, all you'd think about is when you could sit down."
"We're stuck with standing up more than any other religion."
"You can't say anything in Orthodox life that something rabbinic is a bad idea."
If you want to become effective at outreach, learn from Chabad in two ways:
One. Chabad doesn't ration its love for Jews on the level of the Jews' observance. Chabad seeks to make Jews Jewish while the mitnagdim (non-Hasidic Orthodox) seek to make them Orthodox.
Two. Chabad emissaries are happy. "A shaliach [emissary] who is not happy is sent back to Brooklyn. A rebettzin who is not good looking is sent back to Brooklyn."
"The best advertisement for religion is when its practicioners are happy."
Dennis says that only two or three people in his yeshiva class did not cheat.
"Joseph Telushkin was a Republican ten years before I was."
A young man gets up and says how disgusted he is that Prager was invited to speak and to criticize the Orthodox. About 15 people applaud him.
Dennis: "Reform does not invite me (because of my politics). Conservative does. I spoke at the Rabbinical Assembly convention."
"My parents went to my Stephen S. Wise minyan Saturday morning for my youngest son's bar mitzvah. They loved it."
Rabbi Korobkin says Dennis Prager thinks more like an Orthodox Jew than most Orthodox Jews.
At the end of the program, a man loudly pleads with Dennis to daven mincha with them. Prager agrees.
As for me, I can't wait to get home to watch some football.
Gadi Pickholz emails (email@example.com) from the Israel Fathers Rights Advocacy Council:
Openers, negging, proof of social status.
What Do Terrorists Want?
About ten times in this interview, Dennis Prager lets his guest known about ten times whether or not he agrees with her. The Harvard professor, like most guests, evinces no interest in whether or not the host agrees with her.
That's bad interviewing technique by Prager.
Dennis Prager: "The dominant feature of a society [with little marriage] is secularism."
"Secular life is just boring. Imagine saying, 'Let's all get together in Chicago because Jerry and I have decided to live for each other.'"
"Religious life is communal."
"Nothing has the same clout as saying I was at your wedding."
I remember chatting with a cute young blonde at a Jewish singles event at the Century Club in Century City in 1994. I was telling her about Dennis Prager. She said, "That's my dad." It was Anya, the only time I met her.
Dennis Prager's Happiness Hour: Maturity
As he did with Prager's TV show 12 years ago, Alan Estrin has improved Prager's product since taking over as producer (about two years ago). A longtime friend of Prager's, Alan might have more strength to push Prager to not repeat himself as much, to get adequate sleep, to not spend time on esoteric subjects such as stereo equipment and favorite cigars.
If you're thinking of marrying, part 1
If you're thinking of marrying, part 2
It's done by his radio producer Allen Estrin.
Prager writes 7/19/06:
Rob Barnett writes:
Whatever Happened To Michelle Goldberg?
Michelle was a delight. I wanted to talk to her all day.
I remember chatting to my friends about how adorable she was. A graduate of U.C. Berkeley (I believe), she had a 14 year old's voice and manner that made you want to open up to her.
I found she's now blogging on HuffingtonPost.com, where I found this bio:
July 11, I catch her on Dennis Prager's show discussing her new book. She now has an adult voice and manner as she argues her case. But I'm sure she can still be as adorable as a kid when she works her interviewing magic.
I find it interesting when those of us who can be charming interviewers are called upon to argue out our ideas. It's hard to do both things well. I have no doubt that Michelle and I are better interviewers than pundits. If you are primarily devoted to promoting your ideas, you're rarely going to be a good listener. If you are primarily devoted to listening, you are unlikely to be a good polemicist.
Champion of nudity found dead in jail cell
Public nudity isn't just a gag and a healthy activity, it's an assault of Western civilization (or any form of civilization), writes Dennis Prager:
Dennis Prager says: If you were an agnostic, that program would push you to become an atheist. The one Jew on the panel was a rabbi [Michael Lerner] who represented no mainstream denomination. They simply picked him because he's a Marxist. Not that Christianity fared much better.
The panelists were Sister Joan Chittister, Rabbi Michael Lerner, author Jon Meacham, Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Rev. Richard Neuhaus, and Pastor Joel Osteen. Plus, a Meet the Press Minute with Rev. Billy Graham.
Prager is a big fan of Richard Neuhaus.
All Americans must see "United 93"
Rebel in Chief
Rob Barnett writes from Minneapolis 2/10/06:
Prager: 'The More You Have That Brings You Happiness, The Better For You'
Dennis: "Don't put all your happiness eggs in one basket. If you rely on your kids for your happiness, what a burden you put on them. It's not enough to rely on God or your spouse or your work for your happiness. You need friends. Hobbies. Passions. Joy. Music is God's drug for dealing with life."
The Curse Of The Moderates
Cathy Seipp Thinks I'm A Treasure
Thursday. 1:50pm. My caller ID tells me it's Cathy Seipp. "She's going to chew me out about something," I think as I pick up the phone.
Cathy: "You are a journalistic treasure."
Luke, thinking she's been sarcastic: "How so?"
Cathy: "I can't believe that pompous ass Dennis Prager is frightened for society and that [Michael] Fumento is an important voice.
"I'm glad you called in. Fumento said, 'These are new rules.' That this is on record is fantastic. Amazing. You are truly a journalistic treasure. They should give you a Pulitzer."
Luke: "Prager spent the whole hour on Fumento's plight. Prager said that not disclosing the grant was wrong."
Cathy: "That's not the only thing Fumento did that was wrong. Soliciting the grant was wrong. What is these people's problem?
"Fumento's latest column has two baldly-inaccurate facts -- that Sharon Waxman threatened and bullied me, and that my [publicist] source complained to my editors twice."
Neither Townhall.com (and its ilk) nor the Scripps-Howard news service pay their columnists such as Fumento for syndicating them weekly.
Cathy: "You've got to wonder how is this guy [Fumento] making money?
"If he makes these kinds of factual errors, how many factual errors are there in his science reporting?
"...You were pretty worshipful of Prager?"
Luke: "I've always admired him and that has not changed [even though we may disagree about many things]."
Single, Jewish, Childless, Intellectual
Cathy emails me Wednesday night:
I email Cathy: "Wasn't [X] obnoxious?"
She replies: "As obnoxious as you bringing up the topic of double anal right there at dinner with all these professors?"
Luke: "I said double-penetration."
I would never be so uncouth as to raise double-anal at a dinner with professors. Unless they wanted me to, or drove me to it by being very boring.
Sometimes these stuffed-shirt types need loosening up, and, come to think of it, there's nothing like a discussion of double-anal to do just that.
Over dinner with the profs, I learned that Playboy had little success at USC and UCLA when they came seeking girls to pose naked. I guess they have more success at Chico State, San Diego State and other less prestigious schools. The more accomplished the woman, the less likely she is to pose naked for publication.
David Brock asks Cathy over dinner about Pajamas Media. She says their site is finally coming along. I ask if there's any original reporting on it. Not much, I guess.
Dennis Prager: 'Michael Fumento is a truth-seeker'
Dennis on his radio show Feb 9: "His first impact on me was [in the late '80s] with his 'Myth of Heterosexual AIDS' [first published as an essay on Commentary magazine, then later as a book].
"I am not happy with the way Scripps-Howard let Michael go."
Scripps-Howard is about the lowest rung syndication network.
Fumento says he's done 150 columns for the service.
Michael: "It doesn't bode well for Hillary Clinton's vast-right-wing conspiracy. It's a left-wing conspiracy. Doug Bandow had a column for Scripps-Howard. He lost his column because he was involved in the Jack Abramoff scandal. [Bandow] was paid per column by Abramoff.
"The Left got an idea. Bandow was rid off because he took money for something he wrote. Let's put together an enemies list. Let's just say they were paid for pieces and let's give them to sympathetic reports. The only two reporters I've found who have taken this is Sharon Waxman at The New York Times [who has not published on the story yet] and Eamon Javers at Business Week.
Fumento says his job is coming to an end at the Hudson Institute in the next month. "A little bit of it has to do with my not having a column anymore. My being involved in this scandal. They know I didn't do anything wrong but there's this taint. There's been scandal involved in his name. That's why Scripps dropped me. They didn't even consult me."
Fumento says it is the practice for fellows at think tanks to solicit corporate money (as Fumento did). "Hudson finally said enough is enough."
Fumento says he lost his job writing for the Rocky Mountain News (owned by Scripps-Howard) after his first book (The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS) was published.
Prager: "There is something frightening going on here where a particularly important columnist, a voice this society can not afford to lose. Apparently you have annoyed enough people that you need to be quieted. I am frightened, not for me, [but for society]."
I called in to Prager's show. I was the first caller on this topic.
Luke: "A journalist can not go soliciting money from people he plans to write about. Michael Fumento asked for money from Monsanto and various agribusiness companies to finance his  book [BioEvolution]. He did not disclose it in his book. It's an elementary matter of journalistic ethics. He should be fired."
Prager: "Who should've fired him?"
Luke: "Anyone who employs him as a journalist. He did something beyond the pale. If I'm going to write about somebody, I can't go to them and ask them for money to write about them. He didn't disclose it in his book and he didn't disclose it in his columns."
Michael: "These rules are new to me. In fact, they are new to everybody. Are you a writer?"
[My answer did not make it on the air.] Luke: "Yes."
Michael: "These rules are new to me. They are new to everybody. That's exactly what Business Week did. They invented new rules and applied them retroactively. I don't care much for retroactive rules. I'm willing to follow rules that are made up before I do something."
I think that these rules are not retroactive. It is elementary journalistic ethics that you do not solicity funds from people you plan to write about.
Michael: "The book took four years to write. I got far less than minimum wage to write it."
Dennis: "In retrospect, you should've mentioned the [Monsanto] grant."
"The other way the other side [the Left] works is that they do not [concern themselves with truth]."
Fumento keeps painting the issue as a Left-Right debate when it is a matter of journalistic ethics. "Whenever you analyze research, you examine the funding," notes a caller. "For your guest to say that all of a sudden there are new rules...to not disclose your source of funding. Corporations do not give away something for no value. To say that this is a new rule is an egregious misstatement for scholars and scientists."
Michael: "Give me an example of someone who has lost a column for taking a grant seven years ago."
Dennis: "Michael made a mistake. I don't think he should be a lost voice for America."
The way Fumento reacted to Cathy Seipp's critique struck me as screamingly gay. From the first time I heard Fumento on Prager's show (circa 1989), I thought, this man is gay. What kind of straight man (who is a scholar) would publish on his website a picture of himself in a thong? And then take offence at comments people make about his nipples?
Fumento writes: "Seipp posted a photo of me on her website, inviting her readers to laugh. Don't know if I'm in Brad Pitt territory, but does this woman not look like a mouse that drowned in a bottle of Old Milwaukee?"
This is the type of catty remark that gay men make.
Wednesday Night Three Male Streakers Interrupt Cathy Seipp's USC Debate With David Brock Over Media Bias
Cathy, the moderator Michael Dear, and David (along with the audience) seemed thrilled with the 7:56 pm interruption of a boring audience question about Valerie Plame.
The streakers (part of some larger free-speech protest at USC over the past few weeks) ran up and down the aisles (wearing backpacks filled, I assume, with clothes) and out the side door.
Cathy's 16yo daughter Maia emails her friends: "USC may be my college because mom spoke at USC which went well though three guys streaked in the middle of her speech. She told me they had nice butts. Then the faculty guy who was impressed by me yesterday...so I may be a Trojan, not the condom but a rah rah rah Trojan."
Maia came to the first night of the debate. She asked me if she should ask a question. I asked her for her question. She wanted to know the debaters favorite journalism era. I said that was a good question.
Maia gingerly walked up front. Then she got into a discussion with the student manning the microphone, got intimidated, and returned to her seat without posing her question.
The second night of debate reprised the first night. Cathy spoke up for American news organizations linking to the controversial Danish cartoons about the Islamic prophet Mohammed.
David Brock, on the first night, accuses Cathy of being funded by the right-wing. Yeah, she does some opinion pieces for National Review Online and the Independent Women's Forum and probably makes about $250 each. And she got about $150 for reprint rights for her FrontPagemag.com articles. David Brock, meanwhile, got a $2million grant from left-wing sources for his organization Media Matters, which bills itself as: "A non-profit progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation..."
"Maybe that's because I'm better at what I do," said David, when Cathy pointed out his grant.
About the same time he came out as a homosexual (circa 1995), Brock decided to become left-of-center politically.
Both nights of debate, the audiences are largely composed of apathetic students, many of them wearing sweats. It's rare that they cheer. They never boo. A handful ask questions. A handful hang around afterwards (including two Muslim women in headcovering) to talk to Cathy (I only notice one or two trying to talk to David Brock, he's not friendly).
David Brock doesn't answer questions. He uses them as pretexts to say whatever he wants. When I tried a dozen different questions afterwards to open him up, he had nothing to say.
Brock evinces little interest in what anyone has to say.
Dennis Prager notes that when he's picked up at the airport for a speech, he's forced to give his speech twice (to the audience and to the driver).
Listening is often more work, and more annoying, than speaking.
'Women Don't Like To See Bad Things Happen To Bad People'
Dennis Prager says 1/19/06 that on the basis of their nature, women don't like to see bad people hurt while men do. That's why women tend to be liberal and men tend to be conservative (when they follow their natures).
Prager loved this story: