Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Lawmakers, Angelina Jolie's Dad, and Jews

The story posted below is a preview of what I covered today.

I arrived at Hart Senate Office Building 45 minutes early today despite taking the wrong train to get there and easily found the main hearing room where I was going to cover a hearing before the Helsinki Commission, a group of congressmen responsible for keeping track of everyone under the Helsinki accords, which is a long story and you can all look it up on your own.

I sat down and watched as the room filled up. Before I knew it, there were more than 50 black fedoras floating about on the heads of more than 50 Rabbis. I have no problem with jews, but when their headgear blocks my view of something, I get edgy.

But no worries, they sat in a nice arrangement that gave me a fair shot at the speakers from my seat at the press table, which became an "anyone" table when people, all Jews, started sitting at them when the regular seats filled up.

This place was packed with Jewish individuals, heck, there were at least 4 Jewish photographers.

As I said, I have no problems with Judaism. I didn't hate the person sitting at my table because she was Jewish, I hated her because she never stopped coughing in the direction of my tape recorder. I would have hated her just as much if she was a buddhist. Not that I have anything against Buddhists either.

I'm just noting the obvious, and it was blatantly obvious to me that 95% of the audience was Jewish.

Another thing: You hear all these stereotypes about Jews pinching money or smelling funny, but those aren't true as far as I can tell. True, the were dressed formally and this one rabbi had breath that gave the impression that all the roadkill in Kansas had been stuffed down his throat, but it was a congressional event and the Rabbi was an old man. Have you ever met an old man with minty fresh breath? I sure haven't.

But here's a new stereotype for the teeming masses: Jews never turn off their cell phones. It's rare that I hear one go off at a congressional hearing, but I counted at least six today.

Then Jon Voight walked in. I nodded in his direction in smiled, he came up to the Press table and got friendly with us reporters, he even pointed out that a whole bunch of copies of a new document had been set out and handed a few out. What a nice guy.

I returned to my seat and watched what was happening around me, taking mental notes on who does what and who to speak to and what to take pictures of (I had the bureau's camera with me, stupid carrying-case and all).

The case began, and the Congressmembers played musical chairs as several votes had been called but they so dearly wanted to hear what would be said today.

Everyone spoke, except for the Russian embassy who decided to be turds and not show up to even read a statement. They saw fit to simply leave a statement for people to read, and people seemed pretty pissed that they didn't even show up.

The hearing ended, and a photo op was called with the Senator, Voight, and the 16 Holocaust survivors there. I took plenty of pics, even had to change cards. I also did interviews with a few people, Jon included, and I got a photo of the guy with me. I'll post it later on.

Story's done, posted online, and I even got a free lesson in Yiddish thanks to this story.


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