Joel B. Pollak

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large and in-house counsel at Breitbart News. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, he also has a degree in Jewish Studies from the University of Cape Town. He ran for Congress in 2010 in his hometown of Skokie, IL and worked as a Research Fellow at the Hudson Institute, as well as speechwriter to the Leader of the Opposition in the South African Parliament. He enjoys improv comedy, rock 'n' roll, and the literature of liberal apostates and iconoclasts. His wife Julia is a Ph.D. Fellow at the Pardee Rand Graduate School and his daughter Maya is unbelievably cute.


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Opinion: California Deserves More than 'Eyewash' Ethics

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc--Any fan of the popular West Wing television series remembers when President Bartlett asked his staff in the Oval Office the English translation of this Latin phrase. You’ll also remember that our TV President provided the answer: “…after, therefore because of it.”
 
The West Wing approach would seem to be that taken by California State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and his fellow Democrats in the Legislature when it comes to the issue of ethics as it relates to their friends in the legislative arena.
 
People across California have been shocked and disgusted by the continuing news stories involving State Senators and Assembly members indicted, convicted or accused of various crimes, or the subject of ethical complaints filed by their own staff. I believe that one of the reasons for such revulsion is the fact that we all expect our elected representatives to come to their offices guiding their actions with the words of former Congressman J.C. Watts, who once said, “Everyone tries to define this thing called Character. It's not hard. Character is doing what's right when nobody's looking.”
 
Senator Ron Calderon, 12 years, Senator Rod Wright, 12 years, and Senator Leland Yee, 12 years. These aren’t the number of years each senator has been sentenced to prison. Rather, it’s the number of years each one has served in the Legislature as an Assemblyman and/or Senator prior to their respective indictment or conviction.
 
While it’s difficult to imagine that there are more ways for officials to lower our expectations or our faith in government, those who purport to serve us and not themselves have managed to find it. I’m speaking about the most recent stories that report that instead of removing these officials who have violated our trust it has been decided that taxpayers should fund paid vacations while their respective cases await resolution.
 
What may be even more laughable is the fact that following the move to place the three Senators on a paid vacation, it was decided by the leader of the Senate that what was required to “…repair some of the damage that has been wrought…” was to hold a two-hour ethics training session.
 
Senator Calderon is age 56, Senator Wright is 61, and Senator Yee is 65, so the question becomes at what point in their collective lives did the question of following the rule of law or engaging in ethical behavior become murky? Does anyone truly believe that an ethics training class lasting less time than the average fundraiser held by any one of these politicians would have made a difference prior to being caught by the authorities?
 
It’s time for the people of California to get more than eyewash ethics. It’s time for officeholders who commit themselves to restoring trust or who pledge themselves to “…restoring the Legislature’s honor” to stop talking and start acting. Talk for the purpose of getting elected seems to have resulted in the belief that two hours of training is all that is needed.
May 23, 2014 6:15 AM PT

Poll: Kashkari Still in Third, but Closes Gap with Donnelly

Republican moderate Neel Kashkari has closed the gap with Tea Party favorite Tim Donnelly in the race for California governor, while both trail incumbent Democrat Jerry Brown by a wide margin, a new poll reveals. May 22, 2014 6:20 AM PT

Finally: California Mayor Tells Bullying Victims to 'Grow a Pair'

The mainstream media are all agog and aghast in feigned outrage at Porterville, California mayor Cameron Hamilton's advice to victims of bullying: that they should "grow a pair and stick up for them damn selves." This is timeless and eminently sensible advice, passed down by responsible fathers to their sons, or by caring mothers in the form of karate lessons. Yet it's politically incorrect, in the Obama age, to fight back--at all. May 20, 2014 10:30 AM PT

Macklemore's anti-Jewish Rap: Same Hate

The worst thing about Macklemore's antisemitic performance in Seattle last Friday is not that he dressed up as a hook-nosed, black-bearded Jewish caricature (in a non-ironic fashion). Nor is it that he performed his song "Thrift Shop," driving home the stereotype. Nor is it that Macklemore pulled his stunt despite being fêted by Hollywood as a symbol of tolerance for gays, winning awards and accolades for his 2013 anthem "Same Love." May 19, 2014 2:47 PM PT

Monica Lewinsky, Hillary Clinton--and Me

I was surprised but pleased when people began calling to tell me that, in her much discussed Vanity Fair piece, Monica Lewinsky referred to one of my books, which was first published in 2002. Lewinsky writes that the “culture of humiliation” to which she was subjected is one that “Phyllis Chesler recognized in her book Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman: that women themselves are not immune to certain kinds of misogyny. We see it today in how the ‘mean girls’ at school lurk on the modern playground of the Web (or around a pundit’s roundtable on TV or at a French restaurant), ever eager to pile on.” May 19, 2014 5:55 AM PT

Full Employment in Silicon Valley

Unemployment in the San Jose metro area fell dramatically last month, by nearly 1%, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reports. The drop was driven largely by hiring in government and health care, and brings the area's unemployment rate down to 5.4%--"close to what the Congressional Budget Office considers full employment," writes the Business Journal's Eric van Susteren. May 18, 2014 9:19 AM PT

Former Mayor Wishes San Fran Would Be Destroyed 'More Often'

Willie Brown, the charismatic former mayor of San Francisco, has penned a column for the San Francisco Chronicle in which he expressed his fervent wish that the city would be destroyed. "This weekend moviegoing America will watch Godzilla stomp the daylights out of San Francisco," Brown wrote. "I wish it would happen more often." May 18, 2014 6:04 AM PT

Sandra Fluke Loses Key Endorsement in CA State Senate Race

State Senate candidate and free-birth-control activist Sandra Fluke lost a key endorsement this week, as the Santa Monica Democratic Club endorsed local school board president and Harvard graduate Ben Allen instead as its candidate for the 26th district in the June 3 primary. Local party endorsements are often the key to winning state and local elections, because many voters rely on party mailings when deciding whom to support. May 16, 2014 5:49 AM PT

New NYT Editor Was Ousted from LA Times in 2006

Dean Baquet, the new executive editor of the New York Times following the ouster of Jill Abramson, was himself ousted as editor of the Los Angeles Times in 2006--on Election Day. Baquet was reportedly removed because of his strong--and public--stance against cuts to newsroom staff as the paper struggled to stay afloat. May 15, 2014 8:01 AM PT

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