Brought to you by...


SeaViews: Insights from the Gray Havens 
Sept. 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


email Steve
Anon ftp site
News Archives

Standard disclaimers apply. In addition, the author makes no guarantees concerning the grammatical accuracy of his writing. Submitted text files must be in raw or compressed (.Z, .gz or PK Zip) ASCII. Image files must be in raw or compressed (see above) GIF89 (or older).

On last month's Fix;

the answer to last month's Fix,
"Is it time to give free prescriptions to Senior citizens?"

No. I've recently had a discussion that bears on this with some people in my van pool. With possibly one exception, they are all liberal. One of them asked me, " what do Libertarians stand for?"  I did my best to answer the question in less than 15 minutes.  Not convinced, they then asked me what would happen to the safety net.  I reviewed the history of charitable giving during the '80s, when they reached a peak due to low taxation rates. I also pointed out that - perhaps ironically - the more a society relies on self-reliance (which is termed at best enlightened self-interest, at best selfishness) the fewer people need handouts. In other words, a selfish society has less absolute poverty than one based on communal fairness. Or in the words of another, "Liberals define compassion by how many are on assistance. Conservatives by how many no longer need it."

Proof? Where is poverty greatest? Nations based on socialist govts with controlled economies. Where is  poverty least? In free society's with open markets. Yeah, they were not convinced by this either and insisted that the govt. had to take care of the governed.

OK I said, lets look at that. Back in FDR's day when social security was setup, it made up about 3% of the federal budget. Today, social security, medicare/medicaid and other entitlements add up 66% of the federal budget. Where will it be on the 100'th anniversary when  we add prescription support for all retirees regardless of their ability to pay? And where will national defense and energy research that leads to strategic independence be on that happy day?

Second, these entitlement programs are paid by the working for the retired. When the boomers retire, and their are more retired people than there are workers to pay for them (the reverse of the history so far) what will we call that? I don't know, people working for others, paying them tithes at gunpoint of the IRS - I'd call that a police state.

Finally, does anyone care to guess what will happen to the rate of prescribing when the drugs are "free"?

On the first Presidential Debate;

Well, according to the pundits, GB Jr. had a moral victory, but this is mostly because they all expected GB to be an idiot, and to the extent he was not, this was considered a win. In any case, there were errors aplenty on both sides. Since the major media will cover GB's, I'll just recap Gore's.

Most of you are aware that Gore has claimed at various points that;

  • He invented the Internet
  • He and Tipper were the basis for the movie "Love Story"
  • He invented the earned income tax credit (passed before he was in the Congress)
  • He uncovered Love Canal
  • Was sung to sleep by his mother to the tune "Look for the Union Label" which was written when Gore was 27.
  • Claims his mother in law uses a drug that is the same as the dog's, but she pays 3 times more (checks at the Drug store across from the Gore residence show that the price is 1/3 what Gore claimed - the number he quoted was from a Dem congressional talking point paper)

But now he was breaking new ground; he claimed that an 79 y/o IL women had to collect trash to get money for her prescriptions (actually, she gets a UAW pension and collects cans for extra $$). Turns out that she drove a Winnebago (which may have been provided by the media) to the debate with her dog so she could cheer Gore on. Also, Gore claimed that in a Florida school, conditions were so crowded that a female student had to stand in her science class. Turns out that it was the first day of class and a semi-load of new furniture was yet being unloaded, and the girl got a desk several minutes after Gore's media entourage swept by.

Polls show that a majority trust GB more than Gore - imagine.

We now return you to the other media channels.

On a mini-vacation;

For the past two weeks I was fortunate to have some time with my father and he, Sheryl and I went to Crescent Lake in the Olympic Mountains. This happens to be just inside the Olympic National Park, and the two lodges (Log Cabin and Crescent Lodge on opposite ends of the lake) are owned by people who have a concession to operate. Their concession is at the pleasure of the US Park Service and has been since the 1930s.

Its interesting how different the two lodges are; both claimed to be rustic, but the one we stayed in had cabins that were built in the 20s and the roof was caving in, while the Crescent Lodge  has a lodge with a 4 star restaurant, numerous grounds keepers, a library and a gentlemen's smoking parlor.

The lady working the counter where we stayed seemed cold and reserved. I asked for fishing advice (the lake is 8 miles long and 1000 feet deep in some places and home to numerous trout types). She said that the best way to fish is with downriggers and trolling at 150-200 feet, and the fishing is catch and release. I voiced my displeasure at that, and asked if the fish numbers were down. She smiled and said, "Hell no." Then why is it catch and release I asked. Because the F&W wants it that way. OK, I next asked if there were any charter boats. "Used to be she said, but they lost their concessions two years prior." "Well, can I rent a boat?" "Yeah, we have row boats with oars - not allowed to have motors."

So my father, Sheryl and I  fished in 1000 ft deep lake, without down riggers and oar trolled along its 8 mile length for fish that we could not keep.

Later I asked the lady at the counter if she thought the ultimate goal was to run all the private concessions on the lake out of business, and she opened up. "Of course that's their goal. Look, we have people that are in their 70s that grew up here, fished here, and used to hike anywhere they wanted in these mountains. Now they cannot go into the hills without a permit, cannot step off the trails if they do, and must camp only at approved sites where they check in with rangers. The concessioners cannot have outboard motors and next year no one will be allowed a motor on the lake."

As we pulled out of the park, we saw an EPA boat trolling a net along the shore line behind a 85 hp Mariner outboard.

On buying a new vehicle;
This past week we bought ourselves a 1993 Ford Ranger pickup with a 4 cyl engine, 5 speed stick and 114K miles. The Kelly blue book value on the vehicle was $3K, we paid less. However, when we visited the state and transferred the title, they ran the truck's VIN and the state computer said the vehicle was worth $4500 - and that's what the state based the sales tax on. What they said the vehicle was worth. Not the value on the bill of sale (which admittedly could have been falsely filled out), and not even what the national standard of record, the Kelly Blue Book said.

Guest Editorial:

Mona Charen

October 6, 2000

More mendacity

Everyone knows that Al Gore's biggest problem is a tendency to lie, which is why his resort to lies in the first debate is almost creepy. For several weeks, the news has been full of Gore's little exaggerations and fibs. One would have thought that if he had one goal, it would be to avoid any additional lies. But he couldn't resist.

Right out the box, when asked about a direct quote in which he had questioned Bush's qualifications to be president, he denied that he had ever said it. Well, as they say in the movies, you can look it up. If he hesitated to repeat this in front of a national audience lest he look churlish, there were other options. He could have said: "If I conveyed doubts about Mr. Bush's qualifications then I may have been imprecise. What I really contest are his proposals." But Gore chose dishonesty. The resemblance to his mentor, Bill Clinton, is uncanny.

George W. Bush, in a magnanimous moment, offered a bit of praise for the Clinton/Gore administration, noting that the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had done a fine job during the fires and floods Texas has recently endured. Unable to muster a gracious response, Gore basically seconded Bush's praise of his own administration and amplified it to be sure everyone caught his role "... FEMA has been a major flagship of our reinventing government efforts, and I agree it works extremely well now." But not even that bit of self-inflation could satisfy the egomania of our vice president. He then added, "I accompanied James Lee Witt down to Texas when those fires broke out."

Well, no he didn't. Gore is a solipsist: Everything and everyone is interesting only insofar as it relates to Himself. If he wasn't there, it couldn't have been important. But it clearly was important, so he had to be there! Al Gore is the Zelig of modern politics, painting himself into pictures of which he was no part. He invented the Internet, co-sponsored McCain/Feingold, discovered Love Canal, faced danger in Vietnam, rocked to sleep as a babe to music written when he was an adult and authored the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. He now claims that he legitimately read in a newspaper article that he was the model for Erich Segal's tearjerker s"Love Story." Baloney. People know this sort of thing. Segal has even gone public saying that Gore was not his model.

In addition to forever exaggerating his own accomplishments, Gore has the repellent habit of always assuming the worst about you. He has worked mightily with debate coaches and image-meisters to tone down his monumental condescension, but he still cannot quite shake it. That was the root of his recent gaffe regarding prescription drug prices for mothers-in-law and dogs. He had seen a Democratic Party handout claiming that veterinary medicines are cheaper than those for humans. But instead of simply relaying this information (actually, it's propaganda and it's not true) to voters, Mr. Brilliant felt that it might be too hard for their weak minds. He figured he'd better personalize the story for them. And so he claimed that his mother in law and his dog were taking the same medicine and paying very different amounts.

That same Let Me Simplify This For You mindset was at work in the debate over and over again, but he got caught when he used little Kailey Ellis as the symbol of overcrowded, underfunded public schools. The day he visited, Kailey had to stand in science class for a few minutes until someone got her a lab chair. Gore did not inquire about the facts. He grabbed Kailey's name and ran. Later, we learned that it was one of the first days of school in one of the wealthiest districts in Florida, that Kailey was standing because they were unloading $100,000.00 worth of new equipment and that she was given a desk the following day.

Here's a deal that might satisfy voters and might prove even more remunerative than Mr. Bush's tax cut plan -- have Mr.Gore give taxpayers back one dollar for every lie he tells.


1. Dave Dubey writes

Date: Sun, 1 Oct 2000 20:50:43 EDT
Subject: Re: lastcall

In response to "Is it time to give free prescriptions to Senior citizens?",
the answer is a definite no.

The only way to prevent over-use of un-needed prescriptions is to charge for
them.  Non payment for service leads to abuse of service.  This would only
add to the cost of the prescriptions drugs to the public, not make them


Quote(s) of the month:

Thomas Jefferson:  "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

Fix of the month:

"How do we convince voters that creating a new entitlement is not a good idea?"



1. LEBANON, Tenn.:  A 61-year-old man was shot to death by police while his wife was handcuffed in another room during a drug raid on the wrong house.   Police admitted their mistake, saying faulty information from a drug informant contributed to the death of John Adams on  Wednesday night. They intended to raid the home next door.

The two officers, 25-year-old Kyle Shedran and 24-year-old Greg Day, were placed on administrative leave with pay.    "They need to get rid of those men, boys with toys," said Adams' 70-year-old widow, Loraine.   John Adams was watching television when his wife heard  pounding on the door. Police claim they identified themselves and  wore police jackets. Loraine Adams said she had no indication that the men were police.

 "I thought it was a home invasion. I said 'Baby, get your gun!' "   she said, sitting amid friends and relatives gathered at her home to  prepare for tomorrow's funeral.  Police say her husband fired first with a sawed-off shotgun and  that they responded. He was shot at least three times and died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

 Loraine Adams said she was handcuffed and thrown to her knees in another room when the shooting began.   "I said, 'Y'all have got the wrong person, you've got the wrong  place. What are you looking for?'"

 "We did the best surveillance we could do, and a mistake was made," Lebanon Police Chief Billy Weeks said. "It's a very severe mistake, a costly mistake. It makes us look at our own policies  and procedures to make sure this never occurs again." He said,   however, the two policemen were not at fault.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating. NAACP officials said they are monitoring the case. Adams was black. The  two policemen are white.


1. Oct 3: The first presidential debate. Possibly one of the most loaded questions was, "Gov Bush, if elected would you have an anti-abortion litmus test for appointment of Supreme Court Justices?" Bush replied that he would not appoint based on a certain topic, but based on a judicial philosophy of strict constructionism. In contrast, Gore made the usual song and dance that the constitution, "... is a living document that grows with the times." Well it is - but the founders had a way to accomplish that, its called an ammendment.

Bush was right, for 40 years we've had an activist court that finds rights where they are not, and ignores those that in the Constitution. Search it, you won't find the words "right to privacy" or "separation of church and state". When Roe v. Wade was decided, the Court created law - it did not interpret it. Thus, the seed has been planted to render the federal legislature - and responsibility to the voters - obsolete. We are periously close to having an oligarchy of nine appointed by a king.

Washington D.C.

1. Oct 6; Plans by the Clinton administration to clinch a Nobel Peace prize for their mid-east efforts continue to fade. Nine Palestinians were killed today during renewed fighting along the Gaza strip, bringing the total to 90 in the past week. Marathon talks by Secy of State Albright in Paris show little progress. Meanwhile, the Israel leaders promise a violent counter if Palestinian leader Arafet does nto take steps to quell his people.

Net News;

1. Matt writes

Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 15:59:21 -0700 (MST)
From: Matt Birkholz <>
To: Dr. Steve Langer <>
Subject: Warren Buffet's band-aid
   1 Shown     7 lines  Text
   2          50 KB     Application

Our hero Warren Buffet seems to like campaign finance reform, rather than
tax reform.  Go figure.  Like criminalizing marijuana possession made
marijuana disappear?!  If the gumint were penniless, I bet there would be
no need for campaign finance reform.

New York Times: September 10, 2000

The Billionaire's Buyout Plan


OMAHA - For five decades, I've looked for undervalued stocks. But if
I'd been interested in the biggest bargain around, which I wasn't, I
would have bought political influence. For many a year, it was far
cheaper than anything to be found in the stock market. A relatively
modest contribution - say, $25,000 - was enough to make the donor a
V.I.P. in the political world. And really big amounts? As a
fund-raising senator once jokingly said to me, "Warren, contribute
$10 million and you can get the colors of the American flag changed."

Markets correct, though. Politicians began exploiting the soft money
loophole, and pricing became more efficient. Soft money contributions
jumped from $86 million in the 1992 election cycle to an expected
$360 million in the current one. That's a growth rate worthy of
Silicon Valley: 20 percent annually.

And the game has barely started. For most supplicants, cost still
lags ridiculously far behind value. American business spends $200
billion a year on advertising to influence consumers. In many
industries - communications, tobacco, banking, pharmaceuticals and
insurance among them - political influence can sometimes be of
similar commercial importance. It also matters critically to such
professionals as lawyers, doctors, and teachers. Absent reform, these
interest groups will continue to ante up for political influence,
accepting the soaring prices that the vendors demand.

These vendors, however, maintain that it's all O.K. They argue that a
contribution may buy access and empathy but are shocked - shocked! -
at the thought that it could influence their vote.

Perhaps. But let me suggest a fanciful thought experiment to test
their position. Suppose that a reform bill is introduced, raising the
limit on individual contributions to federal candidates from $1,000
to, say, $5,000 but prohibiting contributions from all other sources,
among them corporations and unions. These entities could still
encourage their employees, stockholders, or members to contribute
personally, but could do no more - a ban, incidentally, that applied
to them until the "soft money" dodge was introduced in 1978. Such a
bill would be far from a panacea for all campaign finance ills, of
course, but it would at least be a start.

Why should this bill stand a chance in a Congress enraptured with the
status quo? Well, just suppose some eccentric billionaire (not me,
not me!) made the following offer: If the bill was defeated, this
person - the E.B. - would donate $1 billion in an allowable manner
(soft money makes all possible) to the political party that had
delivered the most votes to getting it passed. Given this diabolical
application of game theory, the bill would sail through Congress and
thus cost our E.B. nothing (establishing him as not so eccentric
after all).

The beauty of this plan is that it would highlight the absurdity of
claims that money doesn't influence Congressional votes. What a $1
billion promise would buy here is a "counter- revelation" among
legislators, who'd be induced by the offer to shift their position on
campaign finance by 180 degrees so as to prevent the money from being
delivered to the opposition party. When the roll call began,
Republicans and Democrats alike would, in this scenario, suddenly
find merit in a reform that they had previously classified as
somewhere between repulsive and un-American.

This hypothetical exercise, it should be noted, does not expose the
legislators who now oppose reform as evil or corrupt - but only as
human. How many of us push for laws that are clearly injurious to our
self-interest? I can assure you that I've never looked for ways to
make retention of my job less secure. Why should legislators?

Would a system that allows an E.B. to influence legislation by a $1
billion promise make sense? Of course not. And neither does a system
that allows an anything-but-eccentric individual, corporation or
union to achieve similar influence by a large check. Only individuals
vote - and then just once per election. Let only individuals
contribute - with sensible limits per election. Otherwise, we are
well on our way to ensuring that a government of the moneyed, by the
moneyed, and for the moneyed shall not perish from the earth.

© Steve Langer, 1995-2000