'Letters, We Get Letters ...'

CHATSWORTH, Calif. - Years ago, on his TV variety show, singer Perry Como used to read and respond to letters from his viewers and fans, and the above title was the first line of the jingle that introduced the segment.

AVN.com also gets letters. Here's one of the more interesting recent ones, together with our response:


As you probably know, one of the Republican candidates for president, Mitt Romney, is speaking to Christian right groups all over country portraying himself as someone committed to "returning America to its Christian heritage," among other things. As a candidate, he is vowing to launch a crusade against abortion, gay rights, pornography, etc, if elected, but the irony is that he was on other side of the first two issues while Governor of Massachusetts. Basically, his advisors have informed him that he needs to become a social conservative if he is to win the Republican nomination. As for pornography, Romney sat on the Marriott Hotel board during the time period when Marriott made millions of dollars as a result of contracts with Lodgenet and others to carry porn in their hotels.

I can't stand hypocritical politicians and I would love to expose him on the hotel porn issue. I'm a Republican Party activist but I'm not involved in anyone's campaign. However, I do have access to national reporters who would do stories on this issue. I wanted to find out if you have any info which could be helpful. Of course, I will keep your name and AVN's name out of this so this is all off the record.

The main defense Romney will offer when attacked on this is that the Marriott Corporation has no control over what it franchises [sic] do so thus he had no involvement in this issue. I say this because when Marriott was attacked by anti-porn groups in the past, this was their defense. However, I've also heard that, as with any franchise, individual hotels still have to follow policies set by the national HQ. A McDonalds franchise owner, for example, could not paint his store purple and refuse to sell hamburgers.

It is inconceivable to me that Marriott corporate HQ was not involved in the porn issue in some fashion. I've heard rumors that the Marriott National HQ negotiated large contracts with folks like Lodgenet in order to obtain a much cheaper rate for all their hotels. I've also heard that the Marriott HQ initiated a policy ALLOWING its hotels to carry porn, but also allowing them to not carry it if they so desired. Either way, the national Marriott HQ was involved. However, I can't seem to confirm this and this is what I want to find out.

Do you know anything about this issue? Or do you know people who know about this who would be willing to talk to me off the record? Thanks.

Steve B******

Mark Kernes responds:

Well, to tell you the truth, Steve, much as I appreciate your offer to keep my and AVN's name out of this, I think your letter deserves all the attention I can give it.

The next election will not only be crucial to the survival of the United States, it'll probably be crucial to the survival of the world. It's going to pit politicians against each other, and unlike most people, politicians are usually slippery sons of bitches (or in Hillary's case, daughter), especially at the presidential candidate level. You'd probably be wise not to believe a single word any of them says.

Of course, I have no idea who the final candidates will be, but the one that's currently topping the "straw poll" being conducted by the American Family Association hasn't even formally announced yet: Fred Thompson. But you can tell he's getting ready to announce because he told some reporter that he has non-Hodgkin's' lymphoma, a form of cancer he says won't spread – at least not for the next four years or so. That's just the sort of mea culpa it's good to get out of the way early ... like Newt Gingrich's admission that he was fucking his mistress in the same time period that he was prosecuting Bill Clinton in front of Congress for lying about his own sex life. And let's not forget Newt's asking his wife for a divorce while she was in the hospital dying of cancer – that's the kind of decisive decision-making that we need in a Leader of the Free World ™! (Newt's scoring pretty highly in that AFA poll as well; he's a way far second behind Thompson – 10,469 as of Friday, compared with Thompson's 26,243 – and nobody else is even close to those two.)

But Fred would be an excellent choice for them, and my money's currently on him. After all, fans of Law & Order get to see him on TV on almost a daily basis, and some Republicans are wont to confuse an actor's on-screen character with his actual, real-life character – look how well that worked for Ronald Reagan! – and for Thompson, that's a plus. He appeared on Fox News Sunday on March 11 and said all the right things: He thinks "people are somewhat disillusioned. I think a lot of people are cynical out there. They're looking for something different," and will be "open to different things." He's "pro-life" and thinks Roe v. Wade is "bad law and bad medical science... I don't think the court should wake up one day and make new social policy for the country. It's contrary to what it's been for the past 200 years." As far as gays, he thinks we all "ought to be a tolerant people, but we shouldn't set up special categories for anybody" – which, of course, means he's against gay marriage. He's against gun control "generally"; voted for the McCain/Feingold campaign finance law; thinks illegal immigrants should have a path to citizenship, and supports Bush's policies on Iraq.

Better yet, he's on the steering committee of the Scooter Libby Legal Defense Fund, and has "helped raise millions of dollars for his extraordinary legal expenses" – and he thinks Libby should be pardoned "now." Outside of McCain/Feingold, what's not to like? (I mean, aside from the fact that the majority of the country pretty much opposes every one of his positions?)

And let's face it: Everybody else who's announced has problems. Thursday's New York Times editorialized about Rudy Giuliani's recent trip to Alabama, where he managed to support, without even being asked, the "right" of Alabamans to keep America's main symbol of black oppression – the Confederate flag, otherwise known as the good ol' Stars 'n' Bars – flying high over their state capital.

"Explaining his let-them-fly-flags philosophy," wrote The Times, "he declaimed that one of the 'great beauties' of American government is that 'we can make different decisions in different parts of the country.'"

"He added: 'We have different sensitivities.'"

"Mr. Giuliani cannot truly believe the issues surrounding the Confederate flag are just a matter of local taste. The Civil War, the civil rights movement and the Supreme Court answered that question. Even the Southern states have largely moved on."

Maybe Rudy should forget about the presidency and find expression for his views in the format of a radio talk show. I hear there's an opening for an early morning block at WFAN – and maybe he can also get it simulcast on MSNBC!

Some of us also have good memories to recall that just after 9/11, Rudy floated the idea of postponing the New York mayoral election for a few months, because his services were so greatly needed in the attack's aftermath, and that during his administration, he was responsible for more than 20 legal attacks on the First Amendment, from attempting to defund the Brooklyn Museum over some art he didn't like, to trying to stop an ad campaign on the city's buses.

John McCain's candidacy is likewise going down the tubes, all the moreso since it was shown last week that his ability to "walk freely" in a Baghdad marketplace was contingent upon his being accompanied by about 100 well-armed soldiers, three Blackhawks and two Apache attack helicopters.

So you see, the point is, no matter what Romney's stand may have been on hotel-room porn – of which, I tell you truly, I have no idea – hypocrisy is no stranger to any of the Republican candidates. Over the last six years, they've all claimed to want to "get government off our backs," but they've increased its size enormously. They all claim to be fiscally conservative, but have added more than three trillion dollars to the national debt – all of which will have to be paid back by the children and grandchildren of those families they all claim to be so much in favor of (except gay ones, of course). They claim to be absolutists when it comes to the Constitution, yet they've violated the First and Fourth Amendments with impunity, and deep-sixed habeas corpus for all the Guantanamo kidnap victims – and possibly the rest of us as well.

So as a "Republican party activist," maybe your energies would be better spent trying to find and develop a candidate who won't seem like so much of a fascist whenever he (or she) opens his/her mouth.