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SeaViews: Insights from the Gray Havens 
December 2001

(formerly the _Rochester Rag_, formerly the _News from Detroit_)

Motto: The surest way to get a reputation for being a trouble maker these days is to go about repeating the very phrases that the Founders used in the struggle for independence.

-- C.A. Beard


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On last month's Fix;

the answer to last month's Fix,
"Should the state or county govt. be permitted to raise taxes on the general populace for the express purpose of furthering the investigation of a murder suspect who has been indicted on thin evidence?"

For over eight years somone known as the Green River Killer has been murdering women in Eastern Washington and  the tri-Cities area. The body count is somewhere over 30.  The cops have got a suspect in the person of Gary Leon Ridgway, a married, 52 year old blue collar worker from Auburn Washington. King County Prosecutor Norm Meleng says the costs to prove the case in court could cost $millions and take years. Meanwhile, the public defender Tony Savage says that the defense could cost over $1 million of which the county will cover only $250K.

Mr . Meleng has asked the King County Council to pass a 0.1 % increase in the county sales tax eperessly for funding the investigation of this case.

So, what we have here a a county govt that is willing to tax taxpayers extra to finance the prosecution of a lone individual of finite resources.

Tyranny has many faces ...

On the Holidays;
 Apologies, usually this issue gets out before Xmas, but it will be out before New Year's. Which is better then I can say for last year's Xmas Card (which never went out). This year Sheryl did yeoman's work (whatever that means) and sent out a great Xmas letter featuring cover pictures of our new home and the dog searching for the meaning of life in the bottom of an ice cream bucket.

 The year has been one of significant flux for us, and more is coming. We had to leave our long established rented home on Bainbridge Island and moved to our own place on Kingston. At work, a promotion has meant my responsiblities have been subtly changing, and the systems I designed I'm no longer even consulted on by the new kids.  [And to be honest, I do enjoy it when their arrogant ignorance leads them to kill systems for 1/2 a day.] On the positive side, I should be getting more time to do actual research on my two main interests: medical informatics and therapeutic ultrasound. My last living grand parent passed away in June 2000, and this year on the anniversary of that event I was hosting the Medical Physics Summer School, the same event I was only attending when she died the year before.

In the past year, Sheryl had another temp job, which introduced her to a new friend who is now practically our neighbor.  Also, she completed a tax prep course tought by H&R Block, and scored top in her class. Block offered he a job, at $7/hour, 40 miles from our house, with a 2 year non-compete clause. She wisely declined. It's very frustrating for her, since she doesn't want to face the 3.5 hour daily commute I do, she wants to work on the West Sound shore. However, she can take programming, accounting and tax classes and make $7/hr, or work at McDonald's for the same amount.

As I write this from  the loft of our new house on the last day of 2001, the rarely clear skies reveal a stunning pink dawn creeping over the snow capped Cascades. Truly - everyone should have a chance at least once in life to see such sunrises and sunsets over the mountains and sea. As a child of the Midwest - and having lived in the grand forrest of Bainbridge until four months ago - I never really understood the draw this view holds for so many people. But now I realize that someday when I am fortunate enought to return home, this is one of the only things I'll miss.

Anyway, the times they are a-changing and in the next few months there will be some significant developments. Please keep in touch (you know how to reach us) and we hope that you and yours will have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

On American Heroes and Patriotism;
Have you noticed that despite all the hooplah, the money and the noise - it's not the govt that has improved safety over the US skies - but the people themselves. Even on 9/11, some people took themselves down over the fields of Penn. rather than risk lives on the ground. And this past week, normal everyday folks on a American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami  beat down another martyr wanna be. No Air Marshalls. No govt. employees. Nada.

Now, airport security is screening people's shoes! But it doesn't matter. The screeners will never catch up, becuase they don't have the imagination to conceive of all the things the terrorists can do. Next will be a C4 enema with a pen shaped remote detonator. And if we resort to cavity searches, the bad guys will implant explosives surgically. Next, every passenger will be XRayed. And this still won't catch the guy who is in the incubative phase of carrying some plague.

America is a nation of heroes. Maybe not everyone of us, but enough so that on the average plane, one or two of us will take these bastards down - and to hell with the risk. This is what made, and can still make, America secure. Not the govt, and not even the privatge sector - but rather individual americans exercising their right to exist in a free society. Freedom, not the loss of it, makes us secure.

 That said, both Bush II and the advertising media want us to do our duty by spending lots of money this Xmas and getting the economy back on its feet. Strangely though, while the airlines,  car manufacturers and retailers ask us to be brave and spend - they are laying off (30,000 from Boeing, another 3000 from, 2-3000 from General motors, etc). Rather like a 400 lb doctor telling the patient to lose weight. It does little good to push cars with 0.0 % loans when you lay off the customers whom you expect to buy them.

Guest Editorial:

Michelle Malkin
December 26, 2001

O come, all ye faithful

Every December, people get religion about religion -- and for a fleeting moment, government secularists lose their
invincibility cloaks. Example: Ron Sims, the county executive of my old stomping grounds in Seattle, got rightly
roasted nationwide after issuing a memo urging public employees to avoid using the phrase "Merry Christmas" (or
any other faith-specific greeting). Internet discussion boards buzzed with derision. Newspaper editorialists took off
their Grinch costumes and denounced such godless bureaucratic humbug. And angry citizens across the country
deluged Sims' office with so many e-mails and phone calls that he was forced to abandon his party-pooping

But what happens when the spiritual holidays are over?

Once the New Year begins, too many Americans pack up their Menorahs, throw away their Christmas trees, and
allow politicians and ACLU extremists to continue their relentless crusade to banish God from the public square.
Those who are truly outraged by such religion-bashing antics can put their money where their faith is by supporting
individuals and organizations that combat rampant secularism 365 days a year.

Jewish World Review ( is a webzine of political and social commentary edited and
published by New York journalist Binyamin Jolkovsky. The daily online publication, which celebrated its fourth
anniversary this month, was founded to communicate traditional values and morality from a Jewish perspective --
and to counter growing indifference among young Jews to their religious heritage. Among JWR's prominent Jewish
contributors: terrorism scholar Daniel Pipes, Jerusalem Post columnist Jonathan Rosenblum, and journalists Nat
Hentoff, Bob Greene and Paul Greenberg.

The 33-year-old Jolkovsky, who operates JWR on a shoestring budget in Brooklyn, has used his sharp pen to
criticize hypocritical Jews on the left and defend conservative Christians on the right.

When Connecticut Senator and former Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman mischaracterized
orthodox Jewish doctrine on the Don Imus show and later courted anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, Jolkovsky bluntly
exposed Lieberman's sellout of his core religious beliefs in pursuit of higher public office.

When feminists, ethnic groups and the media painted Attorney General John Ashcroft as a bigot during his
nomination hearings, JWR reported on the strong support Ashcroft received from Orthodox Jews in Missouri.

And when Johnny Hart's popular cartoon strip, "B.C.," was attacked earlier this spring by liberal Jews upset with
its overtly Christian message, Jolkovsky bravely stepped into the fray. "As a Sabbath-observant Jew, rabbinical
school alumnus and publisher of the most-accessed Jewish website, I see absolutely nothing wrong with Hart's
message ... The majority religion in this country is still Christianity and those who feel queasy about encountering
public displays of it should grow some thicker skin."

Forming coalitions across denominational lines is important, Jolkovsky says, "in order to give greater voice to
those who hold religious values dear." So JWR's stable of regulars also includes many non-Jewish writers
(including Tony Snow, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams and yours truly). In fact, Jolkovsky refers to his site as the
"Jewish e-dress for all peoples of all faiths. There is far more that unites us than divides us."

Another of JWR's contributors, Kevin Hasson, heads The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty -- a bipartisan and
ecumenical, public-interest law firm based in Washington, D.C., which protects the free expression of all religious
traditions. Among The Becket Fund's most famous ongoing pro bono cases is its defense of Zachary Hood, a
Christian first-grader from New Jersey whose public school teacher forbade him from reading his favorite story
about Jacob and Esau aloud to his classmates. The group also represents several houses of worship -- including a
Baptist church in Texas, a Jewish congregation in Pennsylvania, and Catholic churches in King County, Wash. --
which are all under attack by overzealous zoning regulators.

Long after the December media buzz about government Grinches dies down, committed champions of religious
liberty and expression continue to fight the extremes of liberal secularism. For, The
Becket Fund, and many other unsung warriors, the campaign against the Ron Simses of the world is more than a
passing holiday fancy. It's a lifelong labor of love and faith.

Paul Greenberg
December 26, 2001

It's still a wonderful life

To many Americans, this season would not be complete without at least a few scenes from "It's a Wonderful Life."

The movie wasn't a hit when it was first released just after the Second World War, but it has slowly acquired an
immense popularity -- and even a certain critical acclaim. Maybe because it represents a peculiarly American
vision. It is not a vision of Christmas -- despite that last, tear-wrenching scene in front of the tree -- but of a
society, and how it ought to be.

This year the movie's picture-postcard image of small-town America came alive. It happened in a place called
Clintonville, Wis. (Pop. 4,700). It's got four stoplights. And it's where they've been making New York City's fire
trucks since the days when New York's mayor was named not Giuliani but La Guardia. So when the Twin Towers
were struck, so was Clintonville. It knew a lot of those firefighters, who had visited the town over the years to
check on their fire trucks as they were being assembled. The whole town went into mourning, then action.

After all, Cindy of Cindy B's Pub & Grill in Clintonville has 400 firefighters on her Christmas card list, and she
started making phone calls to the bereaved families. Bars, restaurants, churches, schoolchildren ... all raised money
and sent letters. And Clintonville started building 54 new fire trucks for New York. It could have been a scene
from the movie, as the whole town united to help friends in trouble.

Indeed, after Sept. 11, New York has become a small town to many of us out here in mid-America -- no longer
an impersonal metropolis but a community we can all identify with.

I once read a brief analysis of "It's a Wonderful Life by a professor of American Studies at Boston University. He
said it shows that, while life can be "an enriching Norman Rockwell experience, it also can be smothering, where
you end up marrying the girl you went to high school with, and you never get to go to Europe. ... It tells us George
is one of the most sad and lonely and tragic characters ever imagined. I cry when I see it."

I confess to having shed a few annual tears over "It's a Wonderful Life," too -- but not for the professor's reasons.
For nothing in the movie seems as sad as the professor's analysis of it.

George Bailey a tragic figure? Why, he's the richest man in town, as his brother says at the end of the film. He
makes Mr. Potter, that old miser, look like a pauper -- because George Bailey has loved and sacrificed and built
and given and stood alone a time or two, and, well, he has lived. No, he never got to be a tourist in Europe, but he
didn't go through life as a tourist, either. He lived. He changed the lives of others. He mattered.

If there is a moral to Frank Capra's movie, it may be the comment from Clarence, George's bumbling guardian
angel, to his despairing charge: "Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives, and when he isn't
around he leaves an awful hole to fill, doesn't he? ... You see, George, you really had a wonderful life. Don't you
see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?"

This movie makes marrying your high school sweetheart seem any number of things, including comedy, but never
tragedy. It is a celebration of the usual middle-class virtues, which are not usual enough in this or many another

To quote Nancy Dillon, a writer who can remember watching the film with her father: "We laughed, and cried, a
lot that afternoon, and at the end I no longer saw my father as being at all ordinary." There are few things more
extraordinary than the ordinary virtues of small-town, middle-class America. Nancy Dillon, it might be noted, lives
in Worthington, Ohio -- which sounds not unlike the movie's Bedford Falls. The values of Bedford Falls are those
our professional intellectuals are supposed to see through. Sometimes they are so busy seeing through them that
they don't see them at all. Or they confuse the happy with the sad, the lonely with the interconnected, and,
strangest of all, the triumphant with the tragic. Just as George Bailey did in his despair.

The movie may celebrate, but it does not idealize small-town life. It sees the potential, sordid Pottersville inside
every wholesome Bedford Falls. The jealousy, envy, greed and misplaced values. There's that moment when
George Bailey sees his friend The Success driving off to Florida, complete with homburg, plaid suit, limo and wife
out of the 1940s' Good Life catalog, right down to the fur piece.

And all George can think to do is stare at his old jalopy and kick the door. The Chance of a Lifetime has been
missed. As if he and Mary hadn't just done something infinitely finer by installing another family in a home of their
own in Bailey Park, complete with bread and wine.

The craftsmanship of Frank Capra invests scene after scene with this kind of darkness and light. Just one so-called
ordinary man, like George Bailey, can make the difference between the two, between a Pottersville and a Bedford
Falls. Just as his Mary made all the difference for him.

Think of all those who make a difference in your town -- and those who don't. That professor's view of George
Bailey as a tragic figure strikes me as sadder than anything in the movie. It's also kind of comic, this being America,
land of the happy ending. I wish the professor a brighter perspective, a merry Christmas, a happy New Year ...
and a wonderful life.


1. Doug writes
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2001 08:43:28 -0600
From: Douglas E. Wilken <>
Subject: Re: lastcall

>Fix of the month:

>  "Should a state (or any) govt. be able to raise taxes to pay for
> additional investigation of a murder suspect who is being held on
> insufficient evidence?"

The thought makes me nervous.  Did we forget about Habeus Corpus?
Give a bureaucrat lots of extra funding and I suppose evidence can start
appearing to justify the funding.  Or am I too cynical?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

Doug Wilken

Quote(s) of the month:

"Ho ho hooo. Merry Christmas."
-- Santa Claus

Fix of the month:

"This month, something you should all enjoy - a film review of the "Ring". I would especially like to hear from Jeff, Kerry and Tom - some of the most avid scifi and fantasy readers I know."



1. 12 December, Seattle: King County Supervisor Ron Simms released a memo to all county supervisors that they should not use the words, "Merry Xmas" or "Happy Hannukah" in any of their day to day work. It was permissable for them to say, "Happy Holidays" however. This was interesting to me because I had already seen Xmas trees (aka Hannukah bushes) in public areas of Harborview Medical Center, a county operated building.

 Nevertheless, the Simms memo said that a non-inclusive holiday greeting would not be acceptable. Then a local media pundit on King 5 news (Ken Shram) took Simms to task on the air, and a mail in campaign deluged Simms with over 200K letters.

2. Seattle, 27 December: Three weeks after 9/11, the airline industry convinced the Feds that due to the shutdown of air services for three days by the FAA - the $billions shuold be refunded by the Feds. So - in October, Congress approved $15 Billion in bailout for the airlines. But - Boeing also went to the Feds and said, "Becuase of the airline cutbacks - we too are losing sales and deserve part of the pie - to save manufacturing jobs in the US."

 The feds agreed. Boeing got a piece of pie ($1-2 billion).

 Today, Boeing announced that they will move production of the 767 to Japan - and lay off another 10,000 workers in the Puget Sound region.
[Editor: The lesson is clear. In a free market, the govt. should minimize its feeding off the people, but likewise - the market must not be fed off the govt. Even when govt's try to do good - by attempting to save jobs at tax payers expense to buoy up the economy - the outcome will not be what was expected. Rather - the debt is increased to support corporate welfare.]

2. 2  Dec, ELLENSBURG, WAóIn a gala breakup featuring the town mayor and the Ellensburg High School marching      band, Chris Schiffman was ceremoniously dumped Sunday by Vicki Arness, his girlfriend of three  years. "Ladies and gentlemen of  Ellensburg, let the word go forth from  this day that Vicki and Chris are no longer an item!" Mayor Robert Todd announced before 3,000 cheering attendees. "Vicki has let it be known that she wishes to see other people,  and see other people she shall!" The scissors-wielding mayor then officially declared the couple broken up by cutting an oversized photo of them in  half.


1. Boston, 23 Dec: Alledged British citizen Richard Reid was coralled by fellow passengers as he attempted to detonate his PETN laced shoe bombs as the American Airlines jet entered US airspace. The plane, which came from France, was scheduled to land in Miami. "Reid" was originally detained by security in Paris and as a result missed his flight. American Airlines paid for him to be put in a hotel so that he can board a flight the next day.


1. San Diego, 15 Dec: Cameras located at intersections take pictures of cars and send tickets to those owners who run red lights. The ticket is $271. The city claimed that the system would boost safety and reduce accidents. However, the police and installers shortened the length of the yellow lights so that the units would catch more "evil doers". The upshot was, more people were jamming on their brakes becuase of the short yellow, and got rear ended.

 Former San Diego Mayor Richard Hitchcock led a class action suit to sue the police department and pointed out that the only "benefit" of the system was increased money to the city.

Washington D.C.

1. Dec 31: The FBI announced that 1500-300 groups or individuals are currently being "observed" on the US for possible ties to the Al Kaida network. One can assume that covers all electronic forms of communication as well as visual and banking moves, according to an FBI agent.

2. Dec. 8: The Supreme Court declined to hear a case that will likely decide the life or death of Russel E Weston. Weston is accused of shooting to death two Capitol police officers, but the defense argues he is innocent by reason of insanity and unfit to stand trial. The prosecution argues that with the proper medications, the defendant would be lucent enough to take the stand - and they are ordering that he be given the drugs. The defense argues that forcing the drugs on his client violates the 5'th Ammendment protection against self incrimination.

3. Dec. 3: The court has agreed to hear a campaign case from the state of MN. At issue, "Can a candidate for State Supreme Court state his views on politics and law during the election?" The current state rule forbids this. The Rep candidate, Greg Wersal, joined by the Rep party, says this violates free speech. The state Attorney General says campaigning for a Court is different than running for Congress or govnr. "Litigants have a right to expect that decisions will be based upon law and facts - not statements made during a campaign."
[Editor: They may have a right to respect that, but anyone who recalls the Dem grilling of Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork  certainly knows that the Dems (worried that Roe v Wade would be overturned) don't believe that.]

International News;

1. 25 December, the U.N. : Stepping in to avert a famine, the UN sent over 90,000 tons of wheat to Afghanistan to assist the US in providing food and lodging for refugees created during the US' war on terrorism. In the previous month 75,000 tons were delivered - mostly from US and Canadian farms. The current assesment is that there will be no widespread starvation this winter which is in marked contrast to reporters claims in November when US bombing was at its peak.

Net News;

1. from the Onion

 REGO PARK, NYóGabe Kloster, a 32-year-old Queens-based entrepreneur, expressed fear Monday that he may
be unable to sell his remaining inventory of 40,000 urinal cakes bearing an image of Osama bin Laden between a pair of

  "A few months back, I couldn't make them fast enough," said Kloster, who  supplies news- and pop-culture-related novelty products to discount stores and street vendors in the New York area. "Now I can't get rid of the goddamn   things."   Kloster came up with the idea for bin Laden urinal cakes a few days after Sept. 11.

 "I saw that guys on the Internet were already selling Osama bin Laden dartboards, toilet paper, trash cans, and kitty-pan liners, so I thought people would get a kick out of having the chance to piss on him," Kloster   said. "Besides, I knew a guy in Paramus who could do  the printing real cheap."

 On Sept. 20, Kloster moved forward with an initial run of 2,000 urinal cakes, which sold out in just three days. He subsequently upped the run to15,000, and by early October, the product had proven so popular that he decided to halt the manufacture of all other novelty items to focus exclusively on the cherry-scented, terrorist-decorated cakes.

      "The sports bars loved them," Kloster said. "Paddy O'Lantern' s, this bar near my house, even put a sign on the
men's-room door saying 'Target PracticeóThis Way.' That same week, a newspaper in Hartford called to say they were
interested in doing a story on [the cakes]. They never wound up doing one, but it was obvious I was on to something."

      Encouraged by the positive response, Kloster raised the production run to 50,000 in early November. Unfortunately,
interest soon began to wane. Since the beginning of December, Kloster has only sold 141 cakes, a 97 percent drop-off from
his early-October sales peak.

      "Bush said this war could drag on for years, so I quadrupled production, figuring the market would be hot for a while,"
Kloster said. "But then the Northern Alliance started capturing huge chunks of Afghanistan from the Taliban, and people
here began to calm down a little. The last few weeks, with the war going so well, sales have really been in the shitter."

      "Hopefully, bin Laden will do something else to really piss America off," Kloster continued. "I mean, I don't want another terrorist attack on the U.S., but maybe he could give us the finger or call us some really bad name. Short of
something like that, I'm fucked."

      Li Chang, a street vendor on Canal Street in New York's Chinatown, said he does not plan to order any more of the urinal cakes.  "In October, first time I order, I sell out very fast. In November, I order more, but it take longer to sell," Li said. "Now, I don't want no more. People still mad at [bin Laden], but not like before."

      John Traber, owner of J.T.'s Touchdown Bar & Grill in Lyndhurst, NJ, also does not intend to reorder.
      "This is kind of gross, but drunk guys kept stealing them out of the urinals to keep as souvenirs," Traber said. "[Kloster]
was charging four times as much for the bin Laden cakes as you'd pay for regular ones, and I couldn't afford to keep
replacing them, so I decided to go back to the regular kind."

      Added Traber: "They had way too strong a cherry smell, anyway. Made the bathroom stink like perfume. Who wants to
be overpowered by some sweet, fruity odor when you're taking a leak?"

      Despite the inventory surplus, which could cost Kloster upwards of $70,000, the entrepreneur is feeling positive about
his next venture.

      "I got a really sweet deal on these framed posters of an American eagle crying in front of the Stars and Stripes... 25
cents each from this distributor in Ohio who needed to unload them fast," Kloster said. "I think I'll combine the Osama cakes
with the posters as sort of a commemorative 'God Bless America' war-souvenir package."