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SeaViews: Insights from the Gray Havens 
February 2000

(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,
"Is it a problem if the Chinese now own both side os the Panama Canal?"

Let me put it this way, the week that the Canal was turned over from the US Military to the Panamians, the nightly news interviewed the Commander on teh scene who said that the Panamanian military will now well prepared to assume control. The White House echoed those sentiments. Within the month, it was announced that the Chinese had bought the Canal and would be reponsible for security. Now either US intelligence was totally flat footed that this deal was going down - or they knew but had orders from above to keep it quiet.

Given the history of campaign contributions - what do you think is likely?

This move will come back to haunt us.

On the Washington Primary;

Today, my fellow state citizens and I cast our ballots for the respective presidential candidates. Politics in Washington is a bit odd. We are an open primary state - which means that one does not have to declare party affiliation. It also means that the two primary parties are not obligated to count our votes. It works like this:one can declare oneself to be an independent, a Republican, or a Democrat. Votes that are cast on an independent ballot are ignored. Declared republican votes are actually counted.  Declared Democratic votes are used to assign delegate percentages in the states Democratic caucuses which than actually vote for the candidate. [Interestingly, there is no guarantee that once at the caucus delegates that claimed allegiance to one candidate cannot switch their minds.]

On John McCain;

Those of you with short memories may not recall the so-called "Keating 5". Let me help you out.

In the mid 1980's, Ronaldus Magnus deregulated Savings and Loans so they could compete better with banks. However, large deposits in banks were covered by FSDIC insurance - those in S&Ls were not (that was in Ron's plan originally - but it was dropped by the Dem Congress). Many S&L CEO's made bad investements, lost their investors money, and were called to task for it. Ultimately, the US taxpayer ponied up about $400-500 Billion to make those S&Ls solvent.

Now lets look at McCain's stance on campaign finance reform. In 1987, Democrats were trying to restrict political action committees, set up a system of  public financing for Senate campaigns and limit  spending on Senate candidates. During the debate, McCain derided Common Cause (who supported the bill) as ''uncommon cause,'' and characterized the bill, S.2, as a blatant power grab by Democrats. In particular he railed against the proposal to provide public financing of campaigns. Despite the Democrats' eight tries over two years to pass the bill, John McCain and his Republican colleagues killed the reform.

That stance changed radically in 1990. Then, when a similar reform bill reached the Senate floor, McCain dropped all his objections and voted for the Democrats' campaign finance reform. What changed?

In late 1989, news broke that McCain, along with, Sens. Alan Cranston, D-Calif., Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., Donald Riegle, D-Mich., and John Glenn,  D-Ohio, had pressured bank regulators to go easy on Charles Keating, head of the failed Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. Together, the five senators had collected over $1.3 million in contributions from Keating.

By the end of the scandal, Keating was jailed, and Cranston was officialy reprimanded by the Senate.  The Senate Ethics Committee found that McCain hadn't broken Senate ethics rules. But it officially admonished McCain because he ''exercised poor judgment in intervening with regulators.''

''It may have been very unfair that Sen. McCain was included,'' said says Larry Sabato, director of the     University of Virginia Center for Governmental  Studies. ''It was pretty obvious that the Democrats were desperate to find a Republican so that they didn't have a pure Democrat scandal. They picked a man who had  done almost nothing wrong in that episode.''

Despite the Keating Five scandal, it was clear that McCain was a rising political star with presidential  ambitions. McCain is a frequent guest on the Sunday morning political talk shows where he talks about everything from foreign policy to tax policy to campaign finance reform. He also enjoys friendly ties with the Washington  press corps.

''It is my belief that this legislative effort to adopt campaign finance reform is due in part to a desire to overcome what might have been his primary obstacle on the campaign trail - the Keating Five episode,'' said Sabato. ''Now reporters rarely raise the issue, and they are almost all his cheerleaders.''

For now. I guarantee you folks that if Al Gore has one shred of intelligence and faces McCain in November, he will start talking about campaign finance reform as if  he invented it, and thereby unload those bullets from McCain's armoury. And in that instant, the liberal media will tar and feather McCain on the Keating Cross.

Guest Editorial:

"Reformer" McCain? Bunk.

     By L. Brent Bozell III
     February 24, 2000

     If youíre a conservative considering voting for Sen. John McCain, youíre a fool.

     At least thatís what McCain and his political hit squad think. Bill Clinton conducted perhaps the
     greatest smokescreen presidential campaign in recent history in í92. It seems McCain has
     obviously studied it well; in both word and tone he is running just as disingenuous an effort.
     Perception being the reality of politics, like Clinton before him McCain is having a dandy time
     fooling a whole lot of people into believing a whole lot of things about him that simply are not true.

     Clinton understood that the Beast in modern day American politics is Washington. Its
     personification is, of course, the incumbent president, so Clinton broadsided George Bush at will.
     But what to do about the fact that the legislative arm of the government was controlled by his
     like-minded liberal Democratic colleagues? Bingo: Enter the New Democrat, the Man Who
     Would Be Different.

     If anything, the hostility toward the federal government is increased today, so every Republican
     candidate has laid claim to the "outsider" or "reformer" moniker. For some (Alan Keyes, Gary
     Bauer, Steve Forbes primarily) it is/was an appropriate title. For others (George W., Quayle,
     Alexander) it is/was a debatable point. But for McCain (and Orrin Hatch) to claim that title is
     simply ludicrous. "Reformer" McCain has spent almost two decades in Congress and as head of
     the Senate Commerce Committee controls one of the most powerful arms of the legislative body.
     If ever there was the idea of the Consummate Insider, John McCain is it.

     Of course, you canít just call yourself a "reformer." You have to show the public how things will
     be very different with you at the helm in the Oval Office. "New Democrat" Clinton was at his
     amoral best promising all things to all people; "Reformer" McCain is proving to be a fine student
     of that art.

     On abortion, "New Democrat" Clinton championed the idea of making it "safe, legal and rare,"
     thus aligning himself with the pro-choice rank and file of the Democratic party while
     simultaneously signaling the pro-lifers that he wouldnít hold to a pro-abortion stridency.
     "Reformer" McCain neatly reverses the argument, claiming to rank and file pro-life Republican
     activists that he is unabashedly in their camp, then finds the opportunity to make clear he wonít
     have "litmus tests" (once known as principles) where Supreme Court justices are concerned;
     would overhaul the GOP platform on the subject; would not interfere with his daughterís desire to
     abort her child, etc. ñ all carefully designed to woo the pro-choice crowd.

     On fiscal policy, "New Democrat" Clinton paid homage to just about every Democratic spending
     initiative possible and played the class warfare game to perfection with relentless attacks on the
     "greedy rich," while simultaneously proposing tax cuts and denouncing deficit spending.
     "Reformer" McCain wraps himself in the Reagan mantle, proclaims himself a fiscal conservative,
     but offers no program to reduce the size of the bloated federal government. He (eventually) offers
     a paltry tax cut, and then denounces his opponentís (somewhat less paltry tax cut) as a giveaway
     for "the greedy rich." And he proposes massive new taxes on the tobacco industry.

     "New Democrat" Clinton publicly trashed "special interests," bashed Bush for "coddling to
     communist dictators" in China, and then made it a point to have this very special interest illegally
     fund his re-election effort. "Reformer" McCain thunders against the very same campaign finance
     practices Mr. Keating Five has used to his advantage his entire career while regularly denouncing
     Washington lobbyistsí money bankrolling the Bush campaign, except now theyíre pouring money
     into his coffers, and heís cashing their checks in seconds.

     If double-talk on policy is the norm, so too is it in political tactics. Clinton regularly bemoans the
     "politics of personal destruction" while his operatives proceed to destroy the lives of any and all
     critics. McCain continues to promise a positive campaign while his goon squad slanders Bush
     with all manner of personal attacks, including the wretchedly dishonest accusation of

     And yet some conservatives are willing to ignore all this as they jump on the McCain bandwagon
     because suddenly the conventional wisdom is that heís more "electable" against Gore. In a recent
     piece promoting McCainís candidacy Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote
     that while "Bush is the more reliably conservative candidateÖthe political objective for
     conservatism is to put an end to Clintonism. That can only be done with victory," which victory
     would be achieved with McCain heading the ticket.

     Wrong. The political objective for conservatism is to elect conservatives who will advance the
     cause. Maybe Bush will, maybe he wonít. But McCain has made it abundantly clear there is only
     one cause that motivates him: McCain. That he will say and promise and do anything to get
     elected tells me heís no conservative. Heís a fraud.


1. Rafe rites

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 13:49:41 -0500
From: "Donahue, Rafe" <>

> "is it a good thing the the Chinese have bought the rights to control both
> sides of the Panama Canal?"

Read my lips:  Monroe Doctrine.

Rafe Donahue, PhD
Senior Statistician II

2. David Gay pens

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 15:50:05 -0600
From: David H. Gay <>
Subject: Re: lastcall

> "is it a good thing the the Chinese have bought the rights to control >  both
sides of the Panama Canal?"

As long as the money from the sale doesn't end up paying for political

I'm not sure this is related, but I have a question for everybody:
Why didn't the Democrats have a primary in Michigan?

Ed: If this isn't a trick question, I believe its becuase they have caucases.

Quote(s) of the month:

"The most obvious example of the superiority of the free market is the contrast between East and West Germany.  Originally part of one whole, now torn asunder by the vicissitudes of war.  People of the same blood, the same civilization, the same technical skill and knowledge inhabit the two parts. Which has prospered?  Which had to erect  a wall to pen in its citizens?  Which must man the wall with armed guards, assisted by fierce dogs, mine fields, and similar devices of devilish ingenuity in order to frustrate brave and desperate citizens who are willing to risk their lives to leave the Communist Paradise for the capitalist hell on the other side of wall?"

-- Milton Friedman,  in "Free to Choose"

Fix of the month:

"What should the Justice Department do with Microsoft?"



1. 28th February: While walking off the ferry this morning, commuters were surprised to be compelled to shake hands with Bill Bradley.  Yours truly politely obliged the expected duty, but once he actually touched the hand of Mr. Bradley a strange thing happened.  All sense drained out of my head and I felt a warm, loving connection with this caring-honorable former NBA star.  He touched me so deeply with those dreamy brown eyes I felt I had no choice but to declare myself a Democrat and vote for for him.

2. 29th February: Once again demonstrating the neutrality for which all labor unions are famous, the Washington state Ferry Workers union invited the other presidential candidate to greet commuters as they stepped off the boat this morning.  Al Gore, resplendant with his new buff outdoor look and deep tan, pressed the flesh with commuters as they stepped off the boat this morning.  Many fair minded Seattleites were heard to say, "Wow, it's good of them to invite both candidates here."

3. 1 MArch: The aftermath. My dream boat Bill Bradley lost to Al Gore, but the fight will continue.Oh yeah, there were some other guys running too, but they weren't mentioned in the news anywhere so they must not have been important.

North Carolina;

1. 16 Feb: With Bush and McCain having decisive leads, many other Republican candidates dropped out of the race. Interestingly, Gary Bauer (arguably the most pro-life candidate) lent his support to John McCain (who has indicated his flexibility on the issue). Republican observers are confused because Gary Bauer claimed up to the last moment  that John McCain was no friend of the right to life crowd. However, the news media lost no time in changing their assessment of Bauer overnight. Before Tuesday, he was described as a fringe right-wing radical Christian.  After swearing allegiance to McCain, he was described as an influential conservative opinion maker.


1. Santa Rosa, 14 February: Charles Schultz, the 77 yr. old creator of the Peanuts comic strip, died in his sleep Saturday night at his home in Santa Rosa CA just two hours before his final cartoon ran in the Sunday newspapers. In November last year he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Lynn Johnston, friend of Mr. Schultz, commented on how amazing it was that he passed away just hours before his final comic strip ran.  His wife Genie said, "he had done everything he wanted to do."

In his last Sunday strip, which ran yesterday, he signed a farewell message, "Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, can I ever forget them..."

Washington D.C.

1. 1 March: Mr. Bush swept Mr. McCain in three contests on Tuesday -- Republican primaries in Virginia and  in Washington and a party caucus in North Dakota -- to pick up a large cache of delegates as well as a  considerable morale boost. Now the campaign moves to a rush of a contests on March 7 in a dozen   states, including New York and California.

Net News;

1. The 1999 Darwin Awards

In the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals
who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own
lives.  Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily
idiotic manner, thereby improving our species' chances of long-term survival.

Gone Fishin'
1999 Darwin Awards Nominee
Confirmed True by Darwin
(25 May 1999, Ukraine) A fisherman in Kiev electrocuted himself while
fishing in the river Tereblya.  The 43-year-old man connected cables to the
main power supply of his home, and trailed the end into the river.  The
electric shock killed the fish, which floated belly-up to the top of the
water.  The man waded in to collect his catch, neglecting to remove the
live wire, and tragically suffered the same fate as the fish.  In an ironic
twist, the man was fishing for a mourning meal to commemorate the first
anniversary of his mother-in-law's death. © 1997 - 2000
Submitted by: Michael Jacobson, Jeremy Fletcher, Rashawn White
Reference: Deutsche Press-Agentur, Bloomberg news Source

Zany New Zealand Contest
1999 Darwin Stupidity Award
Confirmed True by Darwin
(7 June 1999, New Zealand) A student set his own penis aflame in a
successful attempt to win $NZ500 cash and an equal bar tab.  Thomas stapled
his penis to a white crucifix, poured cigarette lighter fluid over it, and
set it on fire in his bid to win a controversial "How Far Will You Go?"
promotion for Trader McKendry's Tavern in Christchurch.  The event,
sponsored by New Zealand Breweries, encouraged patrons to compete for the
most lewd act.  Thomas walked away with the top prize, which he used for
car registration, a warrant of fitness, and registration for his bloodhound
Puss.  At a student clinic, he obtained free medical treatment for his
bruised and burned penis.  After two weeks, he has almost recovered, and
expresses no regrets about his actions. © 1997 - 2000

© Steve Langer, 1995-2000