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SeaViews: Insights from the Gray Havens 
March 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,
"How should the Justice Department deal with Microsoft in the resolution of the monopoly issue?"

First off, let me say that my position has modified on this somewhat. A year ago I thought the best thing would have been a break-up. From a pure justice point of view, I still do. But letters from J. Thorne, and an essay from Eric Raymond have swayed me that as a libertarian, this is an inconsistent view. The simple answer is to Boycott the offender, but untill quite recently, a Boycott would have been impractical for any non Macintosh user. In a free market however, alternatives will present themselves, and Linux, in the year since the Justice Dept. has been prosecuting its case - has become that alternative. Regardless of the Feds actions, MS has begun to give lip service to opening up their programming interfaces. However, I still think its entirely possible that MS will announce they will do a Linux distribution, just so they can get developers to get on board. Then slowly MS will "enhance" their distribution with proprietary code, guaranteeing that developers will face a choice of platforms to support - we know how that choice would go. Then, once fragmented, MS will abandon the effort - and offer those users an upgrade to Windows xx.This MS strategy is called by them "embrace and extend", but those of us who have seen it applied to OS2, Java, the ACE Consortium, etc. know it better as "embrace and break".

What will Justice do though? I think they have gone too far to risk the embarrassment of quitting now. I doubt that they will call for a break up, although ordering an opening of source to other developers would not seem beyond belief.  I await the news eagerly.

On the KingDome:
March 26: Sheryl, nephew and I viewed the implosion of Seattle's Kindome today. The implosion occurred one-day shy of the King dome's 24 anniversary.  It required 4600 pounds of blasting gel and 57 miles of detonation cord. Interestingly, King County still owes about $13 million dollars on its construction - and spent $9 million to blow it up. But, the reason for its untimely death can be traced to Paul Allen.  Three years ago, the Seahawks were set to leave Seattle and possibly go to its dreaded enemy-Tacoma.  Rather than bear that embarrassment, the city fathers sought to find a buyer and were willing to sacrifice virtually anything.  Alan agreed to purchase the Seahawks and keep them in Seattle, the condition being that he would get a new tax-payer funded stadium which would have many luxury boxes to help him recoup his $400 million investment in the team. The new retractable roof Mariner baseball stadium apparently was not to Allen's liking.  So the search was on for a new stadium, but there was really only one place left in downtown to site it, and that site was currently occupied by - the King dome. It had to die - despite the two year effort of its architect to get it declared an historic landmark by the legislature in Olympia.

Curiously enough, everyone in the city including the media were anxious to get a good site to watch the implosion.  The opinion seemed to be that it was going to be a great show.  From the initial flash of the detonation cord across the dome to the complete reduction to rubble took approximately 13 seconds. Afterwards, the area was invisible because of the cement dust cloud. From our vantage point at Harbor view hospital, we were looking down from the site at about a thousand feet above it. It took about 10 minutes for the dust to reach us, and the medical personnel were handing out surgical masks to help breathe. My nephew wanted to get a closer look, so we walked down to the police parameter about one block away.  Even during that 15 minute walk the dust had not settled and our eyes were considerably irritated.

While I listened to one of the radio stations covering the event, in the immediate aftermath the anchor woman said something at odds odds with the rest of the community. "Today, thousands of people watched with joy the destruction of one of the world's largest concrete freestanding domes. We cheered, knowing that it wasn't even paid off, and knowing that the arena which will replace it will not be significantly different.  I wonder what that says about us."

Until the new stadium is built, the SeaHawks will play at the Univ. of Washington football statdium, which has no luxury boxes.

Guest Editorial:

White House scandals: Owing it all to Clinton
March 12,  Investors Business Daily

Al Gore cannot be happy.  Just as he locks up the Democratic nomination for president, the media are finally starting to report the Clinton Administration abused power and tried to cover up what they did.  The Los Angeles Times reported Friday the conclusions of Justice Department special investigator Charles Labella on the need for an independent counsel to probe Clinton/Gore for fund-raising abuses.  Labbela said that Justice Department officials were intellectually dishonest in use legal can portions to avoid investigating the president and Mrs. Clinton, Al Gore and and White House aide Herald Ickes. In his report, Labbela urged attorney general Janet Reno to appoint in independent counsel, but she refused to do so.  She also kept the report itself confidential, even under the threat of contempt of Congress.

This wasn't Reno's first stone wall response.  In 1997 faced with Al Gore's fund-raising phone calls from the White House she said, "the allegation that the vice president may have been soliciting hard money is insubstantial and I conclude it does not provide reasonable grounds for investigation."  At the very least, Reno's actions looked and smelled funny.  But at worst, suggests a criminal cover up so Clinton/Gore could keep their jobs.  Now Gore wants a new job.  But before voters and the media give it to him they should demand to know:

  • what he meant when he said he was innocent of fund-raising abuses because there was "no controlling legal authority."
  • If he expects the country to believe he was ignorant of the improprieties of raising money from Buddhist nuns at their Southern California Temple.
  • What he did, if anything, to discourage the White House's use of FBI files on political foes.
  • Whether he knowingly participated in the White House years of independent counsel Kenneth Starr, his informant Linda Tripp, and congressional investigators.
  • If he knew about White House efforts, as reported by the Washington Times, to withhold 100,000 subpoenaed email's that dealt with Monica when ski, fund-raising from Chinese agents, and FBI files.

While an aide to the First Lady took an envelope full cash from a huckster, the president was enjoying himself with a 21 yr. old intern.  While the Internal Revenue Service targeted political foes with audits, operatives rifled through FBI files for dirt on opponents. While the First Lady put the Justice Department on innocent travel office employees, Defense Department officials illegally released confidential information to the media.

At times, it seemed like everything was for sale in this administration: seats on trade trips, sleep overs in the Lincoln bedroom, coffee at the White House, and get out of jail cards to corporate contributors.  Gore of course is now the sole of piety, saying he has learned from his mistakes, and please pass campaign reform.

Pardon us if we have a hard time accepting this ploy.  Gore has much explaining to do-if not in court, then to the American people.  The Clintons won't, nor will Reno.


1. David Gay writes;
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 09:58:02 -0600
From: David H. Gay <>
Subject: Re: lastcall


> "What should the Justice Dept. do with Microsoft?"


Thinking about this over the last several months, I've come to the
conclusion that there is a truly simple answer to this problem. The
Federal Government and several State Governments have come to the
conclusion that Microsoft has abused its monopoly powers. The simple
resolution if for those governments and their agencies to forgo any
future purchase of Microsoft products. They would not be allowed to take
bids for anything that includes a "contribution" to Microsoft either
directly or indirectly.

This should only effect 25% to 35% of Microsoft's market directly.

This is better than the current solution, where they say Microsoft has
misbehaved and "Oh, by the way, we are going to throw out all those
copies of WordPerfect and buy MS Office to replace it..."

Ed: Interesting thought. Back in the late 80's, the Pentagon had a rule that any OS they bought had to be POSIX compliant - which basically meant UNIX. Along came NT and someone at MS had the bright idea of bringing a PERL interpreter over to NT so they could write the basic "csh" commands in PERL. Ultimately they were converted to C and now MS claims NT is POSIX compliant (yeah, go ahead and try "fork" or "sys").

Quote(s) of the month:

"Wow, that was cool."

-- Justin Phelps, my nephew at the sight of the implosion

Fix of the month:

"Is the Family Farm going to survive the next century? Should it?"



1. March 16: Initiative 695, which was passed by the voters last Nov. and said that car tabs should be based on a flat $30 rather then a percent of the car's value and that further tax increases had to be approved in referendum, has been found to violate the state's constitution by the King County state circuit court. The argument is that the constitution requires each ballot referendum to address a single issue. The court says that I695 addressed two points. Of course Tim Eyman, I695's author, wrote it the way he did because a similar bill limiting car tab taxes in Calif. a few years back was rendered ineffective when state lawmakers simply legislated other new taxes. Eyman was a victim of his own research. The budget restriction will remain until the decision is reviewed by the state supreme court.

2. March 5, Olympia: In the aftermath of ferry service sutbacks caused by I695, numerous private concerns have reapplied to the State for permits to operate foot ferry service. The plea goes before the state Congress which must have open hearings on the issue. The State Ferry workers union says the permits should be denied because public transportation jobs are protected by the state consitution, and private operators would not pay "decent" wages (i.e. over $40K/year for a starting postion with a high school diploma).

3. March 6, Olympia: State Ferry Workers Union members, utilizing state owned equipment, produced thousands of flyers to distribute among the ferry riders urging them to write their Congressmen to exempt ferrys from I695 cuts. The state AG has said that such a use of public funds to promote the interests of state employees is a conflict of interest and unconstitutional. The union disputes the claim.

1. 1 April, Redmond: Despite numerous rumors of a settlment, the Justice Dept, has said it will go ahead with its cases against Microsoft and seek punitive damages.


1. April 1: For the first time since 1941 the UW Badger Basketball sqaud made the final 4 in the NCAA payoffs. They were defeated today by the Michigan State Spartans 53-41, thus cruching hopes of a Cinderella season. The Spartans face Florida Monday night for the final.


1. 31 March, Virginia Tech: Researchers have isolated a chemical in tobacco that prevents Parkinson's Disease. Thus, the very industry that Janet Reno's Justice Dept. is trying to put out of business may be responsible for her cure (she is a Parkinson's patient). The researchers ackowledge that the negative correlation between smoking and Parkinson's has been known for decades, but until the isolation of this specfic compound, no one was aware of the causative agent.

New York;

1. March 24, NY City: The State of New York, flush with their impending cash payoffs from tobacco lawsuits, has begun the opening overture in their bid to rape and pillage the gun industry. The State Attorney General has given an ultimatum to all US gun manufacturers - either sign a document permitting a state and citizen oversite board to decide what guns will be made, or else. Colt and Smith and Wesson said OK. GLock and Browning said no. The NY AG said flat out,  "If those corporations don't sign, they better have their bankruptcy attorneys standing buy."
Ed: And so now the cat is out of the bag. At last a liberal admits that its all about power and money. Shocking. Soon, it will be the sellers of violent video games.

Wash. D.C.;

1. MArch 17: During his interview on "This Week",  National Rifle Assoc. Vice President Wayne LaPierre  was questioned by Cokie Robert's on whether the shooting of a Detroit area child by a six year old had changed the NRA's position on child safety locks. LaPierre noted  that:
a) The NRA has never opposed safety locks, but that
b) he found it hard to see how a safety lock would have been in use by the child's legal guardian's, since they were running a crack house

LaPierre also said that Clinton/Gore are willing to accept a certain amount of gun violence just to have the political hay by giving lip service to more gun laws, rahter like Al Gore giving lip service campaign finance reform. Cokey said, "Certainly, you cannot mean that the President would risk lives for political gain." Unperturbed, LaPierre said, "What else would one conclude when in 1997 in the aftermath of Brady there was a bill which would have given Clinton nation wide FBI checks for gun sales, banned virtaully all semi-automatic pistols, and the only reason he vetoed it was that the bill proposed a 3 day cooling off period when Clinton wanted 7 days."

Net News;

1. David Limbaugh summarizes the month:

Treaties, triggers, tobacco, and tyranny

                    Why do you suppose the framers were so insistent that only
                    virtuous men serve as president? To set a moral example for the
                    nation? Oh yes, but there's much more to it than that.
                    Before you Clintonoids wrongly assume I am waxing nostalgic for
                    impeachment and urge me "to move on," you should hear me out.
                    Despite the brilliant scheme of checks and balances incorporated
                    into the Constitution, the system is not foolproof against the
                    devices of clever and deceitful men.

                    No, I'm not referring to "lying under oath about sex." I'm talking
                    about Clinton's other flagrant abuses of executive authority making
                    headlines this week. They all illustrate just how much damage one
                    Constitution-disrespecting president and his administration can do
                    to the cause of freedom in this country.

                    This week, President Clinton urged India to comply with the
                    Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which the Senate
                    soundly rejected last year, and the Kyoto (global warming) Treaty,
                    which he hasn't even submitted to the Senate for ratification
                    because he knows he doesn't have the votes. In utter disregard for
                    the Senate's constitutional role in these matters, Clinton presses
                    forward with the unabashed arrogance of a totalitarian dictator.

                    On the environmental front, the EPA has announced that it will not
                    allow certain California farmers to harvest timber on their own
                    property because it would violate new water-quality regulations
                    governing a river adjacent to their land. Never mind the devastating
                    economic impact this could have on landowners whose livelihood
                    depends on their land use. Never mind that the EPA lacks statutory
                    authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate such "non-point
                    sources" of pollution.

                    On to tobacco. In an excellent article in the American Spectator,
                    Byron York chronicles the extensive efforts of the Clinton Justice
                    Department to bring Big Tobacco to its knees. In 1996, the federal
                    government refused to join states in their litigation against tobacco
                    companies, saying they had no legal authority do so.

                    In the meantime, the states achieved an enormous settlement with
                    tobacco, whetting Clinton's appetite beyond containment. When he
                    couldn't convince Congress to intervene, he directed the
                    always-compliant Janet Reno to reverse her earlier decision
                    declining to involve the Justice Department. Never mind that there
                    had been no change in the law authorizing Justice to proceed
                    against cigarette makers.

                    Clinton would not be deterred by that annoying nuisance of a
                    document known as the Constitution. He proceeded primarily
                    under the Medical Care Recovery Act, a narrowly defined statute
                    allowing the federal government to recoup medical expenses on
                    behalf of military personnel injured by civilians. Using a tortured
                    interpretation, Clinton argued that the statute allows the
                    government to recover against tobacco companies the medical
                    costs expended on behalf of Medicare patients due to smoking.
                    York notes that "It's an interpretation of the law that strikes some
                    experts as almost breathtaking in its audacity." Stay tuned.

                    In another audacious move, Clinton's FDA tried to regulate
                    tobacco as a drug. Thankfully this week, the Supreme Court, in a
                    5-4 decision, slapped down the FDA's attempted usurpation of
                    authority. The ever-brazen Clinton was unfazed by the ruling,
                    spinning it as a victory because the Court recognized tobacco as
                    "one of our most troubling public health problems facing our nation
                    today." He knows that Gore, if elected, can rectify this
                    constitutional obstacle by appointing activist judges.

                    To top it all off, the administration this week bullied gun-maker
                    Smith & Wesson into adopting gun safety measures that Congress
                    had so far refused to legally mandate. In exchange, the company
                    was released from liability in lawsuits brought by more than 15
                    cities, the Federal Housing Authority and other groups seeking to
                    hold manufacturers legally responsible for violence caused by their
                    weapons. The lawsuit was never about recovering money, but
                    using the courts as a weapon to circumvent the democratic will of
                    Congress. Adding insult to injury, HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo
                    has promised to use the economic coercion of the federal
                    government to force other recalcitrant gun manufacturers to get on

                    Without some modicum of honor being exhibited by our elected
                    and appointed officials, the Constitution is hardly worth the paper it
                    is written on. Without some respect for their proper constitutional
                    roles, we are all at the whim of their capricious abuses of authority.2000

© Steve Langer, 1995-2000