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SeaViews: Insights from the Gray Havens 
October 1999

(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,
"The Rep. candidate for President is all but ordained over a year ahead of time. Is this good? Is this fixable?"

Several years ago I raised this question.  I think at the time I presented two possible alternatives: that all candidates be allotted a certain amount of public money to spend as they saw fit for campaign advertising time, or that all spending caps be eliminated but the amounts and sources publicly disclosed.  The problem with the former idea is that if campaigns are totally financed from public money (i.e. taxes) then the incumbents will set up the rules by which the money gets dispersed, and such rules will no doubt be favorable to incumbents.

The second alternative is repugnant to Democrats, because they feel it is to the advantage of evil rich Republicans.  However, it does seem more in concert with the concept of freedom of speech, if one extends that concept to the freedom to contribute your candidate of choice.  And, if the press would do their job, I think the American public is smart enough to figure out not to vote for a candidate if he's being funded by billions of dollars from gangster Chinese Communists.

Someone once said something to the effect, "in a democracy/republic you get the government you deserve, not necessarily the best one."  To the extent a biasedly unskeptical media do not do their job, that quote is certainly accurate.

On Republicans: the party of isolationism?

This past Sunday (Oct. 17), the Sunday morning new shows were dominated by  administration officials claiming that the Republican Party, led by Patrick Buchanan, is now the party of isolationism.  In fact, one of the most impassioned arguments was given by former Clinton campaign adviser James Carville.  Carville claimed, alternately, that the Republicans were led by Pat Buchanan, but that Buchanan should not leave the Republican Party because he's their leader.  [For those of you missed last month's issue, it is widely anticipated that Pat Buchanan will join the reform party.]

Now, some of you may be a bit confused by this.  Join the club.  In fact, Pat Buchanan is not the policy leader of the Republican party which is why a he's so disagrees with them that he is willing to split and join the reform party.  Furthermore, some of you may recall that it was the Republicans who provided the votes in the Senate to ratify NAFTA (the free-trade agreement that Clinton promised to get passed in his first term) while Clinton's own party voted unanimously to oppose it.

In 1992, Clinton ran on the platform that George Bush didn't care about his countrymen, but only about foreign policy.  Remember, "It's the economy stupid!" Remember, "It's the worst economy in 50 years!" Clinton damned Bush then for paying too much attention to foreign policy, while today he denigrates the Republican controlled Congress for the exact same philosophy which he espoused in 1992.

The sad thing is, this group has learned the best lessons of Hitler's propaganda machine.  That is, if you tell a big enough lie often enough, it becomes the truth.  We can expect within the week that the major media will back the White House line without question or reservation.  Perhaps the majority of journalists in his country don't have any memory, but I do.

Guest Editorial:

Two Overwhelming Oversights on the Test Ban

     By L. Brent Bozell III
     October 21, 1999

     Reporters all over Washington and New York were angry. They wailed, they moaned,
     they gnashed their teeth. They railed against the poisons of partisanship and how partisan
     interests were outweighing the national interest. This means only one thing. Conservatives
     had won something.

     The U.S. Senate had voted down the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, the
     clearest defeat of a liberal proposal since Clinton's second term began.The news
     magazines fancifully imagined that this was horrendous political news for the Republicans
     and Bill Clinton. Time's headline was "Mutually Assured Destruction," while U.S. News
     & World Report echoed "A Mutually Assured Destruction."

     Predictably, journalists began by bashing the Republicans for their obsessive hatred of
     Clinton, that tired old spin they use every time Republicans stand on principle. But they
     also bashed Clinton for not working hard enough to sell Senate moderates and the public
     on the treaty. Los Angeles Times columnist Ronald Brownstein exemplified the mood:
     "Atlanta used to style itself [as] the city that was too busy working to hate. Washington
     has become the city too busy hating to work."

     Before we all get vertigo from the media's lofty perch on Mount Olympus, let's underline
     two overwhelming oversights in all this media ranting and raving about all those sullied

     First, if the media cared so darn much, where were they? Don't get me wrong. I don't
     want to see three network newscasts full of test-ban propaganda. But it's hypocritical for
     all of these reporters to go on chat shows and complain about how Clinton didn't take the
     time to sell this treaty to the public when these very same chat-meisters -- the so-called
     political experts --  didn't get to the story until days before it was mercifully put to sleep.

     The serial silliness of network political coverage was underlined by Matt Lauer and Tim
     Russert discussing the treaty defeat the next morning on NBC's "Today." Lauer mourned:
     "There has been bad blood between the President and Republicans in Congress for a
     long time, certainly since the impeachment hearings, probably before that. But Tim, it
     seems as though even the appearance of civility between these groups is now gone out
     the window." Russert replied: "Absolutely. It's poisonous down here. It is very, very

     No one asked how many interviews "Today" had aired debating the test-ban treaty.
     Simple. None. They were too busy devoting entire half-hours to more important things,
     like the eternally unresolved JonBenet Ramsey murder case. Or "Today" viewers could
     have learned about the Harry Potter book craze or whether baby-walkers cause more
     harm than good.

     In fact, you wouldn't run out of the fingers on one hand counting the morning-show
     interview segments in the last couple of years on the treaties on carbon-dioxide
     emissions, on a ban on land mines, on the establishment of a world criminal court, on
     chemical and biological weapons. None of these noxious treaties has gotten the time of
     day -- yet journalists still feel justified to point their fingers at everyone else.

     "In-depth political coverage" is now defined as the networks just parachuting in after the
     vote and decrying everyone involved like a bunch of clucking kindergarten hall monitors.
     Don't bore the audience with concepts like verifiability or nonproliferation policy. Just
     compare the whole debate to food fights and ruined play dates.

     Second, if the world is growing more dangerous, whose fault is that? Most journalists
     blame the Republicans, such as U.S. News owner Mort Zuckerman, whose back-page
     column claimed the Republican rejection vote "borders on xenophobia" and warned,
     "Last week, this great country became Little America, and the world became a more
     dangerous place."

     At Clinton's tantrum-filled press conference after he lost,  reporters let Clinton claim
     Republicans damaged nonproliferation efforts in answering seven questions on the
     test-ban treaty. Not one of those reporters noted how it might be curious for Clinton to
     accuse others of endangering world security when Chinese espionage mushroomed on
     Clinton's watch, and China is a major proliferator to rogue nations like Iran and Libya.

     Not one could cite, as Sen. Jesse Helms did effectively in the Wall Street Journal, that the
     Clinton administration has looked the other way as Russia aided Iran's and Iraq's
     attempts to build weapons of mass destruction. Or that the Clinton team has loosened
     export controls on supercomputers that will make it easier for Russia and China to   test
     nuclear weapons without violating a test ban.

     In the end, not every reporter gave Clinton a political thumbs-down. On "Meet the
     Press," Tim Russert suggested to David Broder: "Every time the Republicans seem to
     engage the President, whether it's the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, tobacco, campaign
     finance, government shutdown, fairly or unfairly, the President seems to win politically
     with his big megaphone." Broder replied, "No question about it."

     But Clinton and his "big megaphone" lost this one. The winners shouldn't let the media
     sniping change that fact.


1. Rafe Donahue writes;

Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999 11:31:27 -0400
From: "Donahue, Rafe" <>
Subject: RE: lastcall


Not necessarily good.

Recall that Bush was kicking ass after the Gulf War and then Clinton came up with his first big lie: we have the worst economy in fifty years. As soon as the press bought that, Bush was toast. With the lies coming so fast and furious over the past 8 years, conservatives have been on defense the whole time.

Who knows if AlGore or Bradley can acheive the same low level of ethics and morals shown by Clinton? (I never dreamed I'd tell my sons "Whatever you do, don't be like the president.") If one of them (Algore or Bradley, not my sons) can create enough bullshit, George W might be faced with joining his father in the toaster.

All my love,

Rafe Donahue, PhD
Senior Statistician II
Rm 17.1455
Glaxo Wellcome Inc.
POBox 13398, RTP, NC 27709-3398

2. Doug Wilken shines some light.

Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999 15:19:21 -0500 (CDT)
From: Doug Wilken <>
Cc: Doug Wilken <>
Subject: Re: lastcall

Dear Steve,
> "A year ahead of the election and the Rep. candidate for President
> is all but ordained. Is this good? If not, what can be done?"
It is bad, not good. However, Governor Bush has plenty of time to keep alienating his "conservative" base and eventually screw himself up royally. Remember: We haven't had one lousy primary yet. Lots of time for things to happen and I predict that they will.

-Doug Wilken

Quote(s) of the month:

"This man has performed an illegal operation and has been shut down."
-- A suggestion for Bill Gates' tombstone, BBC radio 4

"The thought of gunfire in a place of worship should be inconceivable."
-- Attorney General Janet Reno on the shooting in a Fort Worth TX Baptist church last month.
Ed: I wonder if the Branch Davideans felt that way too?

"Sometimes the staple doesn't go all the way through and the last pp. get lost.  I'm sure that's what happened here."
-- anonymous Department of Justice source, answering a reporter in the Washington Post on how a Justice Department memo sent to congressional investigators was missing the last couple of pp. wherein the FBI admitted that flammable gas was used in Waco.

Fix of the month:

Is it okay to kill people, who have killed people, to show that killing people is wrong?



1. 29 Oct.; A number of state referendums are coming up that promise an exciting Tuesday. Ref. 695 wants to replace a VAT on car tabs with a flat $30 fee. Linked to the bill is a provision that all future state tax increases will have to be voted on by referendum. Opponents say, "But then the voters will have to see every little nickel and dime tax!". Proponents say, "Exactly."

Ref. 696 promises to kill all commercial net fishing within the state's controlled waters and 3 mile offshore limits. Opponents point out that Canada will still be able to fish the migration paths that feed the Washington schools, and that housing developments are more damaging (because they strip the vegetation and watersheds).

2. 25 Oct.; Biologists claim that samples of Orca blubber show that Washington's whale pods have the highest concentration of PCP's ever recorded. This is somewhat worrisome since PCP use in the state has been strictly controlled this decade, and points to the persistence of the stuff in the food chain.


1. LA: Monica Lewinski's father is suing the writers and producers of the show "Law and order: special victims unit" because on one of their recent shows, one character asked if a male colleague had a "Lewinski" performed on him by a female client.Said Mr. Lewinski, "Damnit there is a real family behind that name!"


1.  Those of you who like me attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, may recall that Donna Shalala was once the chancellor of the school (before her college friend, Hillary Clinton, got her her current gig as secretary of Health and Human Services).  Well it turns out that Shalala is still doing her best to help out the University.

Chad Alverez, 23, happens to be the son of the football coach for the Badgers, Barry Alverez.  Chad also happens to be in a bit of trouble with a law.  It seems that after a dispute with a fraternity brother, Chad grabbed the  student's pet Parrot and fried it in a microwave oven. Chad could face two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Shalala wrote to the Wisconsin Judge William Foust: "The proper balance between punishment and an opportunity to get professional help will give this young man an opportunity to survive, mature and straighten out his life and future."

New York;

1. 28 Oct, NY Times: Coca-Cola has finally figured out how to apply the law of supply and demand to vending machines. The new generation of Cole machines will have in on-board thermometer and raise the price with an increase in temperature. So the warmer it is, the more that ice cold Coke is going to cost you.

2. NY City: on one of the morning talk shows, Monaco Lewinsky explained that, "it's been nourishing for me emotionally to work with colors and different fabrics".  Monaco has come out with a new line of purses marketed at

3.  New York Times: A September article in the New York Times, written by William Glaberson, predicted that within the next ten years a great ape will appear in the courtroom.  Some kind of lawsuit, perhaps protesting the ape's imprisonment behind bars, will be filed in the animal's name and it will then testify using sign language or a voice synthesizer that contrary to centuries of law, it has legal rights including the right to Liberty.

Animal rights law is a subspecialty taught at some of the best law schools, and animal rights lawyers admit that they are planning strategies to bring such a suit, perhaps within the next ten years.  The one outstanding problem is, could an ape be sworn in as a witness? The problem, writes Glaberson in his article, "is that the law generally requires proof that the witness knows the difference between right and wrong. How would we know that an ape understands the concept of truth the way a human would?"
Ed: Heck, we have some recent politicians who have done great work to lower the bar on that issue.


1.  Orlando: the First Lady showed up the Kennedy space Senator to view a space shuttle launch.  Local channel 9 news anchor Steve Rondinaro announced on the air, "there she comes,  the old battle ax."  Rondinaro immediately apologized for the "offhand and flippant comment that just slipped out."
Editor: I'm not sure that the First Lady any longer believes that things just slip out.

Washington D.C.

  1. Oct. 15: In light of recent law suit decisions, gun maker Colt has announced that it is getting out of the cheap handgun business, but strongly challenges news reports that it's abandoning the hand gun market altogether. Rather, company president Steven Sliwa has announced that Colt will develop and sell "Smart Guns" which will only fire when in the hands of their registered owners. Colt notified distributors that it would continue to produce its single-action Army revolvers and custom-made "classic" handguns--such as the Colt revolver romanticized in Western films--but would discontinue seven models, including its double-action revolvers and small 9mm pistols.

2. Oct. 25: Pat Buchanan has finally made it official - he's joining the Reform Party and hopes to be their Presidential nominee. Also joining, real estate magnate Donald Trump, who has not yet announced that he is a candidate. The two join the ranks of Ross Perot and Jesse Ventura as possible contenders.

3. Oct. 26: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has implemented a new Presidential order that from now on, employers of illegal aliens must treat them to the same benefits and non-discrimination practices that are enjoyed by citizens. This is a somewhat confusing state, since these illegal alien workers now have standing in US courts to sue in discriminatory termination cases, and as part of the restitution, the employers can be forced to knowingly hire the illegal back and then be fined for it.

An EEOC spokesperson said they hope that the result will be that employers take more care to not hire illegals in the first place.

4. 26 Oct.: As part of an effort to retain more recruits in the Armed Forces, Congress voted to have a 4.5% raise in pay for military members. They are also considering giving soldiers special codes for their ATM cards so they won't be charges withdraw fees.
Ed: Wow, that's compassion. They may save a whole $6 a month. How about just suspending income tax on active duty soldiers?

5.  Some of you may have wondered, while listening to National Public Radio's fund drives, why it costs so darn much to keep a radio station going per hour.  Well, it turns out that it's not all dog eat dog journalistic competition.  This month it was revealed that the public broadcasting system traded their donor lists with the Democratic party.  This is raised the ire of Congress (for Republicans anyway) when looking at the latest 300 million dollar public broadcasting funding request.

What is not as widely known, but was reported in the Weekly Standard, is that some of the money just doesn't go for Big Bird, but for in-house massage services at public broadcasting's headquarters in Alexandria Virginia.  "It's to relieve the stress from sitting at a desk 8 to 10 hours a day, using the computer and talking on the phone,"  said Dara Goldberg, associate director of communications at PBS headquarters.

Great Britain;

1.  In in the Aug issue of the British medical journal, professors George Davie Smith and Stephen Frankel write that health fanatics who run around warning people to stay out of the sun to prevent skin cancer are really preventing a simple human pleasure that boosts happiness, increases levels of vitamin D., and even reduces heart disease.  The article points out that skin cancer deaths total < 2 percent of deaths from heart disease.  So even a modest protective effect of solar exposure could result in a substantial reduction of mortality from other means.

Christopher New, who works for the British health education authority as their skin cancer coordinator, told the London Telegraph that the article "runs the risk of undoing many years of good health education."


1.  A high-tech fleet of trucks patrols the Kuwait border near Iraq.  Air and soil samples can be analyzed in seconds designed to warn the West if Saddam Hussein uses biological or poison weapons.  In Aug. a cloud of fumes wafted past the fleet.  Soldiers alerted U.S. Army generals that they could be under a chemical attack.

However, further tests revealed that the source of the biological attack was not Saddam.  An army spokesperson admitted: "An alarm was caused when a herd of camels passed upwind and changed the air."


1.  ON: Those of you who were born in the '60s and grew up watching the original Warner Bros. cartoons may recall the Bugs Bunny episode called "Bewitched Bunny" wherein Bugs is being chased by a witch. He eventually finds a bottle of magic powder which he throws on the witch converting her to a beautiful female rabbit -- although with a cackling laugh.While walking arm in arm with her into the sunset, Bugs turns to the audience and says "Ah sure I know.  But aren't they all witches inside?"

When this aired on Canada's Global television channel in July 1998 it didn't set well with a certain female contingent of the viewership.  A woman viewer demanded that Global's president offer a televised apology for "This anti-woman cartoon."  Global defendant itself, "we do not believe that this episode contravenes any provision of the sex role portrayal code." (In Canada, they have a sex-role portrayal code.)

Next the woman went to the Canadian broadcasting standards council, which last month gravely ruled that "nothing in the demeanor of Bugs Bunny or any other character in the episode could be broadly interpreted as constituting negative or degrading comments on the role or nature of women."

© Steve Langer, 1995-2000