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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Friday, January 13, 2006
 
Jack Abramoff
I hope this guy goes to jail for a long time, and I hope that every crooked politician that was in on his schemes goes down too. The GOP has got to get its house in order and weed out the scumbags.
Comments:
Amen.

As an orthodox Jew, I am doubly embarrassed, ashamed, saddened, etc.
 
Why be embarrassed? We've come far enough, I hope, that very few people will look at him and see a representative of all Jews. Though I did snicker when one news organization called his fedora the type of hat worn by Chassidic Jews. Somebody doesn't know their hats from their Chassids.
 
Ralphie: Oh, for all that is good and wholesome! Please, please, tell me he wasn't religious. It's bad enough he's a Jew. If he's religious I'm drowning myself in the toilet.
 
um, DB, he is religious. By the way, if they clean out all the crooked and bought out politicians from the GOP, will there be anyone left? Probably just DB, and his lovely wife. Guess who is the next US senator from california?
 
Not only is he religious, but he's super right wing. As in he started his own right wing black hat yeshiva because the other one was black enough for him.

It closed after 2 years.
 
Dilbert: I asked you not to tell me that.

Re corruption in the GOP: Puhleez. You want to get back to me after you cross out all of the dem politicians bought with crooked union money? Conservatives have come out unanimously for stringing Abramoff from the nearest tree. National Review too. You can gloat when Dems return funds that were involuntarily taken from the paychecks of union members.

The likelihood of California electing someone as conservative as me is exceedingly small. I'd have better luck in Utah. But what's the point of being senator? I'm constitutionally prohibited from becoming president, so I may as well stick to medicine.

PT: Oh, then that's OK, 'cause I'm modern Orthodox and I can't stand black hatters. Throw the book at him!
 
This week's Time Magazine has Abramoff as the cover story.

He reportedly told native American campaign contributors that "as an Orthodox Jew he understood how native Americans have been mistreated, been misled, because his people, the Jews, had also been done that way."

The Time article also discusses his relationship with Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a conservative (lower case "c") from Seattle, who helped him form his relationship with Tom Delay.

Politics aside (1/3 of his contribution recipients are actually Dems though Delay does stand tall), Abramoff visibly used his Judaism to help him further his goals. Like Inland Empress said, I don't know if people will view him as a representative of all Jews (some undoubtedly will), but his Judaism was certainly prominent in the Time cover story.

It is a Chilul Hashem (desecration of G-d's name) regardless. I'm joining Bean in the toilet - if anything, to keep him from running for office, we like our senators Democratic (and female).
 
Unfortunately, "religious" does not equal "integrity".
Doc Bean: hope the toilet was clean before you jumped in.
 
I said this over at DovBear's place (gasp!):

I had two thoughts when I saw him on the news in his black fedora:

1. Oh great, he's found religion
2. Crap, he's going to drag us orthox jews down the toilet with him

I can't say this often enough: If you're going to wear the uniform, you'd better make us look good.
 
I hate when a MOT does something like this. I don't believe for a minute it will be lost on the masses that this man is Jewish. :(
 
Do what to Abram?

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

This is on the same level, in my mind, as child molesting priests. The incidence of child molestation among religious is the same as in the general population, but the media goes insane with it. And all of a sudden all catholics, and all clergy, are painted with the same bloodstained brush.

Those who matter won't put his beliefs as a testament to the "badness" of jews. Those who don't matter, don't matter.
 
There's a child molesting priests?
 
yes, me. Why do you think they threw me out of the seminary.
 
Og: I wish it was that simple. But you see, when a Presbyterian minister is convicted for child molestation that doesn't get much attention, and when a secular Israeli Jew is put away for peddling ecstasy (and lots are) no one notices. The problem with the child-molesting priests and with Abramoff and the reason that members of their own group should be especially ashamed of them and work tirelessly to see that they are punished and made examples of is that they are symbolic of actual problems in their respective group.

The ugly truth is that there is a strain of right-wing Orthodoxy that values the minutia of rabbinic law over basic ethics, that doesn't give secular law (i.e. the law of the land) any legitimacy and that thinks that Jews' ethical obligations towards non-Jews are much more lax than those towards fellow Jews. (It should go without saying that I loathe that strain; but in case it doesn't, I'm saying it.) It's not a coincidence that Orthodox Jews have been busted for major nursing-home Medicare fraud scams. Apparently Abramoff is a bird of that feather. So it's not just a religious Jew being seen by the rest of the world doing something generically wrong like getting a speeding ticket. He is a disaster because he exposes something bad and true about Orthodoxy.

Now to child-molesting priests. I hate to criticize an institution from the outside, because it's really not my place, and I know that Catholics are the last minority against whom people can say mean and prejudiced things with impunity, and I'm usually among those defending Catholics. (The actual info here I read over the years in various National Review articles. The certainly can't be accused of an anti-Catholic bias, whatever you think of their views on sexual norms.) I think in this instance the Church has a problem. Child molestation is just a symptom. The problem is gay priests. No one mentions the fact that although in the general population since most child molesters are men, most victims are girls. But the vast majority of victims who have come forward claiming to have been molested by priests have been boys. Some will object that being gay doesn't make one a child molester, and only a small fraction of gays are child molesters, but this fraction is much higher than among straight men. Given the prohibition on marriage and the fellowship with other seminarians, it's perfectly natural for the priesthood to attract gays. Especially in America, in which the Church tends to me more liberal than elsewhere, there has largely been a blind eye turned to an increasingly uncloseted gay subculture in seminaries. Some fraction of those priests molest boys, but the resultant lawsuits are only the tip of the cultural and moral iceberg that the Church will have to deal with. Og, I'm sure you know much more about this than I do, and you know I don't want to step on any toes, so please educate us. But again, if a priest shoplifted, that wouldn't be a huge story. The child-molestation issue is embarrassing because it hints at an actual problem.
 
Doctor Bean - You said two dangerous things.

First, you say that Abramoff exposes something bad and true about Orthodoxy. Abramoff is a brazen criminal. I would be careful about drawing a relationship between him and his community of faith. He swindled Indians and called them morons behind their backs. He created not-for-profit organizations to line his pockets under the guise of "doing good." He lived the high life and passed himself off as an upstanding character. I trust that he is not representative of any community of faith.

Second, you suggested that some child molesting clergy fly under the public radar. Child molestation gets attention regardless of denomination. Unless you can give an example of a child-molesting minister of Presbyterian (or Lutheran or Episcopalian or Methodist) faith, please do not invent any to compare against known troublemakers in other faiths.
 
"Unless you can give an example of a child-molesting minister of Presbyterian (or Lutheran or Episcopalian or Methodist) faith"

http://www.reformation.com/CSA/Brown1.htm

http://www.reformation.com/CSA/CarsonHull1.htm

http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/058673.php

There are, have been plenty. They receive almost no media attention. Again, if you look at the stats, the incidence of molestation is pretty even across the board, regardless of position. In other words, if n% of priests are child molesters, so are n% of janitors, firemen, accountants, presbyterians, etc.

Bean: It is a complete and utter myth promulgated by the media that celibacy draws gays and gays are child molesters. Not happening. Never has, never will. Are there gay priests? definitely. Make sure you understand that a gay priest is almost universally NOT a child molester. Most child molestors are not homosexuals but something else altogether.

The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, of which all catholics are by default members, is in the process of training anyone who has contact with children across the country to behave in a specific manner, and every catholic will attend VIRTUS meetings. Anyone with regular contact with children or priests must attend refresher courses quarterly. There are simple rules and they are ironclad and(at least at our parish) NEVER broken: Nobody is ever in a room with a child alone. No child is ever alone with less than three adults. No room containing a child and an adult may ever have it's door closed. There are a lot more. The "problem" is being solved, and the church will end up being the model for how it is solved. To read more go to VIRTUS online at

http://www.virtus.org/virtus/
 
Og: thank you for pointing out that being gay does not make you a child molester. I would have done so, but I know I couldn't have done it as eloquently as you.
 
Obviously this is a major departure from the main topic, but I'll stand up for Protestant clergy if they are getting smeared for imaginary reasons.

I'm going to go out on a limb here: There are probably fewer child molesters per capita among Protestant clergy than in the general population because child molestation is anathema to the major Protestant churches. In the same vein I would imagine there are few Jews in the Nazi party or African-Americans in the Ku Klux Klan.

Og, I appreciate that you give references, but they certainly do not show that child molestation is high or even average among Protestant clergy, nor do they show that child molesters among Protestant clergy get no media attention.

Source 1 - Channel 2 news identifies a DeKalb minister (of unknown denomination) who was sentenced to 70 years in prison for child molestation.

Source 2 - A page from the L.A. District Attorney's website states that a Methodist minister was arraigned on child molestation charges in Long Beach on May 24, 2002.

Source 3 - A blog called the Jawa Report refers to a BBC article that states a Pakastani minister has revealed hundreds of cases of alleged child sex abuse at Islamic schools.

The general principle is this - no community worth its salt provides a safe haven to evildoers. This goes for the Protestants, the Catholics, the Orthodox Jews, and the GOP. Rather than be embarrassed by scumbags in our midst, we've got to hold them accountable and make sure justice is done.
 
"Og, I appreciate that you give references, but they certainly do not show that child molestation is high or even average among Protestant clergy, nor do they show that child molesters among Protestant clergy get no media attention." As you can not give references that there is a higher incidence of molestation among priests. Sorry. I've been attending these organizations and been involved wiht them for a very long time. Out of a personal need to deal with child molesters. Believe me: Nobody you have ever met before me is more intimately familiar with the problem. There is no difference between the occurrence of molestation among priests than there is among any other group. It is only because the church is such an easy target that you hear mostly about priests. If you'd like to pore through the information I have, get good reading glasses, I've been working with this and researching it for nearly thirty years (and that takes me back to MY time in the seminary, so draw your own conclusions.

THe bottom line, you're right, Giving safe harbor to these sick fucks (pardon the language, dear hosts) is the problem. Aside from a few moron cardinals, the whole of the body of the catholic church has a plan to eject them from thir midst, and is working the plan. I don't see that in any other denomination, and believe me, they're there too.
 
I think I need to step in and check my pal Bean's Black Hat Bashing. Some of my best friends are black hats. Not people; actual hats.

But seriously, folks. I don't think it's fair to generalize like that - there are some people who feel they are above the government. There are some people who respect the government so carefully that they triple-check their income tax to make sure they aren't cheating by even a penny. Both may or may not wear hats of any color. Reb Bean, I realize you must have had some experience with certain individuals, and heard tales of certain environments, but I think you should get some anger management counseling or something.

As for Abramoff himself, he doesn't strike me as a black hatter in the first place. According to some accounts, he wore that hat only to try, ironically enough, to limit his "Jewish appearance" by obscuring his yarmulke, not realizing that a hat such as that would still be largely identifiable as Jew-y. In other words, he may very well have been trying to limit the desecration of God's name while still not going around bare-headed. As for the day school, it strikes me more as a bit of hubris than as a need for a more right-wing institution.
 
Here's more on Abramoff and the hat and being embarassed.
 
Yikes. I was at a conference and away from the web, so I missed out on all the hubbub.

OK. Let me back-peddle. All groups have a similar incidence of sociopathology as all other groups. All stereotyping is wrong.
 
Don't you think you're stereotyping groups by saying they all have a similar incidence of pathology? Don't you think you're sterotyping sterotyping now? Hmmm-hmmm?
 
ROFLMAO! That'll teach you to try to have a life outside blogging, bean.
 
Ralphie: Talk to my brother (former black-hat, now secular). he would say that disrespect for people outside of Judaism is actually part of the teaching in these schools and communities. It is not that there are some bad apples in every group it is that within ultra-orthodoxy they don't even see behavior like this as wrong. Screwing the secular government for the betterment of Jews is a net good. He might be wrong, but he has some pretty good examples to back up his theory.
 
B-n-C - I realized that his perspective played a part in Bean's opinion. But, and I mean this with little to no disrespect, it is still just one man's experiences and opinion.
 
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