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SeaViews: Insights from the Gray Havens 
June 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,
 "Should China get permanent MFN status?"


There is this thing called "constructive engagement" that was coined by Nixon's Secy of State, Henry Kissinger. Basically, its doctrine was you can do more to alter conditions within  a hostile nation by flooding their markets with the products of evil capiltalism, than by leaving the citizens of that nation ognorant of a better way of life. Call it, "sowing the seeds of discontent." Ok, so the excuse is we should do this for Russia and China, but why not Cuba, N. Korea, and Mid-East dictatorships?

Simply put, threat and cash potential.

If Cuba had the force to be a threat, and/or the $$ to donate to a US political party or a market big enough to absorb US products from grateful constituents, they too would be on the MFN trading list. To the extent that the US is rightly seen as being self-serving on the human rights issue, it loses any moral authority to condemn other nations.

On my email address;
Since approximately 1992, all of you have been able to reach me at the Oakland University email address.  After graduation, one of the carrots that was used to get me to join the alumni association was the prospect of a lifelong email address.  I thought this would be useful, as it would provide an anchor for my friends to reach me regardless of where I physically was.

Well, times change.  In the first week of May, the director of the alumni association emailed  all alumni that after June 30, all accounts would be forfeit.  A group of us took it upon ourselves to discover the  reasons behind this decision.  The reasons responded with were, "the alumni put too great a burden on the dial in modem pool, and email service may violate IRS regulations on the conduct of the tax-free organization unfairly competing was feature urging ISPs."

Well, yours truly used the waning days to monitor all account usage and a survey of usage statistics.  It turns out that there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 21,500 accounts on the campus cluster. Over a two-week period, there were 12,000 login sessions, composed of only 1100 unique users.  Of those 1100 users, 52 were alumni - 5 used dial in service.

Another fellow investigated the tax issue.  It turns out that the University runs two golf courses with club houses.  This in itself violated the IRS stipulation that tax free status organizations cannot have social clubs that provide a service for less than fair market value.  And members of the alumni association can golf the ranges at about one-third less than  they would pay for being nonmembers, and at about half the price they would pay at competing private golf courses.

Seven of us put together a position paper, and sent it around to the 500 alumni accounts to collect signatures for letter to the editor of the Oakland University student paper. On June 8, with about 30 signatures attached, the letter went out.  In response, the vice president of the University (a Mr. Disend) promised two of us via a phone call  that as a concession, users would be able to set up mail  forwarding from their Oakland accounts to their private ISP.

By June 28, all the affected alumni did this, but on Friday June 30th the director of computer services said, "... that mail forwarding was only a suggestion, never promised.  When we delete the accounts, all of your mail forwarding will quit as well."

So, what's the bottom line?

As of today, July 5, I was still able to log into my Oakland account.  It is also forwarding to my backup accounts.  However, I consider it likely that at any moment, the Oakland account will be deleted. But until I inform you otherwise, please continue to send your notes to me via the Oakland address.

Guest Editorial:

It all Depends on How You Define Courage
June 30
Oliver North

Washington, D.C. --- On the 4th of July, only a handful of  Americans will pause to commemorate the anniversary of our nation's  independence. I used to think it was a shame, how little attention   was paid to our national birthday. But on  reflection, I've decided it's  good that we not dwell on   the people and events that gave rise to this little holiday.

First, it's not politically correct. The "founders" as they are  sometimes called, were all men - white men - and crediting white  men with anything today just doesn't wash. Second, a careful examination of that handful of patriots who gathered 224 years  ago this week to sign that Declaration of Independence invites too many discomfiting comparisons with today's political  leaders.

Few Americans know that the Declaration was actually drafted by a committee of five: Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Philip  Livingston, Roger Sherman, and of course, Thomas Jefferson.  Fewer still know that most of the work on the document was  done between June 10th and July 2nd (when the Continental Congress actually resolved to declare independence from Great  Britain) in a boarding house at the intersection of Market and 7th Streets in Philadelphia. The draft document was so good that  when debate ended late on July 4th, the larger body made but 86  changes, eliminating 480 words, and leaving 1,337 of the most dramatic words in any political manifesto.

  The Declaration is far more than an assertion of freedom or a bill of particulars levied at a tyrant. No other founding document for  any nation reflects on "the laws of nature and of nature's God." No other proclamation declares that all people are "endowed by  their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these  are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." No other national   manuscript appeals to "the Supreme Judge of the World for the  Rectitude of our Intentions." And no other mechanism of national design or intent places the fate of its founders in the hand of God with words like this: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we  mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our    Sacred Honor." Good thing they weren't writing this stuff in a public school!

In an era when Fidel Castro and Che Guevara are revered revolutionaries, the 56 who signed the Declaration just don't cut  the mustard. They were all men of means, well educated and wealthy by the standards of the day. Twenty four were lawyers  and jurists; 11 were successful merchants and traders; 9, like  Jefferson, were prosperous farmers. Nine of them would die before the war was over; 5 were captured and tortured by the British and 12 had their homes looted and destroyed.

 Neither John Morton of Pennsylvania nor Button Gwinnett, the  signer from Georgia, would live to see the first anniversary of their signatures. Philip Livingston, the merchant from Albany,  New York who served on Jefferson's drafting committee, was dead before the second anniversary. Thomas Lynch, a farmer  from South Carolina died of wounds received in a 1797 naval    engagement.

Carter Braxton, a wealthy trader from Virginia saw his armada of trading vessels swept from the seas in battle. To pay his debts, he sold all that he owned and died in rags in 1797.

Thomas McKean, a lawyer from Delaware, served without pay as  a member of the Continental Congress. The British forced him to flee with his impoverished family five times during the war. When   he died in 1817, his sons had to take up a collection from their neighbors to pay for his funeral.

 Thomas Nelson of Yorktown, Virginia borrowed 2 million dollars to provision the French Fleet that would eventually come to our  aid. After the war he liquidated his entire estate to pay back the   money he borrowed because the Congress refused to reimburse  him. He died penniless in 1789.

John Hart, a New Jersey farmer was driven from his wife's sickbed by a British patrol and lived on the run for more than a  year. Upon learning that his beloved wife was failing, he took the terrible chance of returning home to find her dead and his children gone. When he died a few weeks later, on May 11, 1779   his friends said it was of a broken heart.

  John Hancock, the merchant from Quincy, Massachusetts,   claimed that his bold signature would allow King George to read it without spectacles. When the British burned the port that   made him rich, Hancock was reported to have said: "Burn,  Boston, though it makes John Hancock a beggar, burn!"

All 56 signers were hunted, hounded and declared criminals. All  were indicted, tried in absentia for treason, and all were  convicted and condemned. Yet, despite all they endured, not  one man broke his pledge. They were the definition of the word, "courage" and a far cry from today's political leaders who ask us  to define "is," and "sexual relations," and "fundraising."


1. Dave Gay writes;

Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 11:52:11 -0500
From: David H. Gay <>
Subject: Re: lastcall


> "Should China get permanent MFN status?"

Yes and no. Yes, constructive engagement is a valuable diplomatic tool.
No, Clinton has had no vision or skill for diplomacy and so any attempt
to use constructive engagement is doomed to fail. Clinton surrendered a
strong negotiating position with Russia to promote chicken exports for
his friend and patron Tyson. Clinton has also reaped a financial
windfall from his personal relationship with the Chinese government.


PS. With my spell checker I'm always forced to select between "ignore"
and "replace" for the word Clinton.


Quote(s) of the month:

 "The right of the people to keep and bear... arms shall not be infringed.  A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country..."

--James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434, 8 June 1789

Fix of the month:

What's to be done about the gas prices??



1. June 28, Seattle: [A pathology resident, about to be ejected from his residency, went to the University Medical Center, shot and killed his advisor, then himself. ]

They had criticized his work, urged  him to see a psychiatrist and fired   him.  Still, Dr. Jian Chen told his bosses  he was "in total control."  And, ultimately, he was the one who decided his life would end on the floor of an office at the University of Washington Medical  Center, near the body of a man he idolized.

In a year, Chen went from a determined pathology resident to an outcast who called his bosses liars, denied he was failing and shopped for a gun as his last day of work approached.    University administrators tried to defuse Chen's anger by buying him time. Rather than force him to leave, they gave him at least  three reprieves as they tried to nudge him into other jobs.

Chen, 42, shot himself to death last Wednesday, moments after killing his mentor, Dr. Rodger Haggitt, 57, an eminent pathologist.  The next day, medical-center officials said at a news conference that they had done everything possible to manage Chen's  increasing anger and anxiety. They said they had no reason to think Chen posed a danger and had declined to force him into a  psychiatric evaluation.

Subsequent interviews with Chen's colleagues and supervisors show that administrators struggled to control an increasingly  volatile situation mired in ethics, legalities and good intentions.  The university is reviewing the events that led up to the shootings  and may launch its own in-depth investigation, said Dr. John  Coombs, associate dean of the School of Medicine.

  The state Department of Labor and Industries is investigating the shootings to determine whether the university has systems in place to protect employees from workplace violence. UW police are  called about once a month to meetings where employees are being disciplined by supervisors who fear them.


1. June 15, Chicago: Oprah Winfrey doesn't mince any words when  it comes to telling us what she thinks about the  federal estate tax: "I think it's irritating that once  I die, 55 percent of my money goes to the U.S. government," she said. "You know why that's irritating? Because you would have already paid  nearly 50 percent."
Ed: Careful now Oprah, soon you'll not get invited to any more Dem.. fund raisers.

Washington D.C.

1. Supreme Court, 26 June: The Supreme Court set aside a ruling Monday that let public school students in an Alabama county lead group prayers at graduations, assemblies and sports events.

The justices told a federal appeals court to restudy the case in light of a major school-prayer decision they announced last week in a Texas case. In that ruling, the court said prayer in public schools must be private and that such prayers at high school football games violate the constitutionally required separation of church and state. The Supreme Court's landmark 1962 decision outlawed organized,  officially sponsored prayers in public schools. In 1992, the justices barred clergy-led prayers at public school graduation ceremonies.

The following year, Alabama legislators enacted a law requiring public schools to allow student-initiated prayer at ``compulsory or non-compulsory'' school activities including sporting events, student assemblies and graduations.

In 1996, Michael Chandler and his son, Jesse, challenged the law and its enforcement in DeKalb County public schools. They said Jesse's school let students lead Christian prayers in classrooms and over the intercom, and allowed students or clergy to lead prayers at graduations, football games and student assemblies. Gideon Bibles were handed out in classrooms by non-school personnel, they said.

A federal judge declared the law unconstitutional and barred all non-private prayer, including student-initiated prayer at graduations, assemblies and football games.

2. 28 June: Elain Gonzalez and his father boarded a chartered, U.S. registered, Lear jet for the short flight back to Havana.  While many in the United States consider this a victory for parents rights (including the Clintons), some of us wonder why the father will be returning to his coastal fishing village while his son stays in Havana as a guest of Fidel Castro. {The lad and his father actually sent a Father's Day card to El Jefe from the estate of whichever Clinton pal was last to play  host to them. }

3. June 30; Computer retailers that offered personal computers for free or at low cost have been guilty of deceptive  advertising and must let consumers know the real upfront costs, the  federal government says. The total cost of a computer could be nearly four times greater than the advertised price after hidden costs were added, the Federal Trade Commission said in a complaint.

Value America Inc. (VUSA.O) and Inc. (BUYX.O), two Internet-based retailers, and office-supply chain Office Depot Inc. (ODP.N) reached an agreement with the FTC to post real,  out-of-pocket costs of computers that are sold along with three years of Internet service.

No penalties were assessed on the retailers in consent agreements  with the FTC, and the companies did not admit to any wrongdoing, the  FTC said Thursday.Although no other retailers were named in the complaint, the practice   is common throughout the industry, said Michael Dershowitz, an FTC   lawyer involved in the case. ''We hope we get the deterrence we're  looking for,'' he said.

4. July 4: In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Nebraska's ban of a procedure known  as "partial-birth abortion" was unconstitutional in that it put an "undue burden"  on a woman's right to choose.

In a blistering dissent, Justice A. Scalia wrote that "the  method of killing a human child ... proscribed by  this statute is so horrible that the most clinical description of it evokes a shudder of revulsion."  He challenged the constitutional basis of the  majority decision: "The notion that the  Constitution of the United States ... prohibits the states from simply banning this visibly brutal means of eliminating our half-born posterity is quite simply absurd."

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