News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
cactus Mail Starting 9/16/98

From: e.cartwright@de.qiagen.com (Ewen Cartwright);
Sent at Thu, 17 Sep 1998 07:29:41 +-200;
I'll drink to that

FYI, in Word for Windows 95, the I'll drink to that phrase is triggered in response to "I'd like to see Bill Gates dead". Apparently, neither Bill seems to get an easy ride from Word...

From: pberinstein@worldnet.att.net (Paula Berinstein);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 19:37:52 -0700;
Re:Adult Talk

I agree with much of what you say in this column, though not with everything. I watch the actors in this farce/drama with incredulity. I see Clinton choose his words painstakingly so that those not paying strict attention will be misled by what he seems to say but does not. I see Hillary refusing to face reality over and over, for what reasons none of us knows. And I see Starr way overstepping his bounds, wasting taxpayer money, and colluding with the majority in Congress to make sure nothing of substance gets done year after year.

Clinton speaks deliberately. We have to read between the lines because he is never direct with the truth. We had all the evidence we needed to make a decision when he was just a candidate, but we voted for him anyway.

Not to split hairs, but what choices did we have? By the time California holds its primaries, the candidate has already been chosen, and before our polls have closed in the general election, the winner has been decided, even if the media stays silent until everyone has voted. Do we here in the West really have a say in who's elected President? I voted for Clinton because a friend begged me not to throw away my vote on Ralph Nader. I never wanted him--or Dole.

As far as never being direct, that is true. The other day at the prayer breakfast he said he felt sorrow. In no way is that the same as being sorry, and in no way is saying that one is sorry the same as feeling shame, as you say:

A truly humble man, at this stage, would throw his fate on the mercy of the people, not legally split hairs over what is and isn't perjury.

Now, the following is something I am very, very glad you've said:

How about telling them [children] the truth?

It is so important to tell children the truth. It is so important *not* to shield them from life, not to treat them like china dolls. Children are people--people with sexual feelings, after all--and I will never understand why adults forget that. I wish people had been straightforward with me when I was a kid instead of intimating that once I turned 21 all would be revealed. It certainly seems as though no one ever told Bill Clinton the truth when he was a kid, doesn't it? He seems to live in a dream world in which he's invulnerable, and his wife has perpetuated that dream world by refusing to set limits.

From: dwlarson@sd.znet.com (Donald W. Larson);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 19:17:47 -0700;
Dan & Dave Show

I listened to the RealAudio session from last night.

I have met and spoke with Dan Shafer a number of times. A very interesting man.

The first time I heard of him is when he was writing a book on Frontier. I had placed my order and waited for several months before I called his company to ask about the books release. I think it was his wife that answered the phone and after a short discussion on the progress of the book, she and I started talking about the artwork for the front cover. Apparently, they had narrowed it down to two pictures, one of the desert theme and the other I don't recall. I told her to go for the desert scene because that was the way Mac programmers feel sometimes.

A year or so later I ran into Dan in person at the First Prograph CPX Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I found he is a very friendly guy. Later when he wrote a book on CPX, I had him autograph it for me. I think the last time I saw him was at the 1996 Apple Developer Conference, when my partner (at the time from EDO) just finished giving a presentation on the stage. Not long after that I heard he went back to work for somebody else.

I must also mention the RealAudio session is the first time I ever heard your voice. You sounded pretty relaxed and laid back.


From: gnu@toad.com (John Gilmore);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 13:23:00 -0700;
Re:Bruce Hughes on Clinton

In this "interesting time" it is useful to examine the lessons of history. I strongly recommend browsing a copy of the book, "Abuse of Power", edited by Stanley I. Kutler, ISBN 0-684-84127-4.

This book contains nothing but transcripts of the Nixon tapes that Nixon fought for years to keep out of the public eye, both before and after leaving office. Only 60 hours of tapes came out in the '70s. Kutler and Public Citizen got 200 more hours released after twenty years of lawsuits. There are another 3000 hours in there, gradually coming out. They're edited -- they don't give you every boring conversation -- but what they show is a President and senior staff who knew they were lying, who were habitual liars, and whose main concern was concealing the lies from the public and continuing to retain power.

You will be completely shocked by reading the book. The man was a criminal through and through. His deputies were no better.

There were strong indications during the Nixon presidency that this was the case, but little or no proof. Nixon himself was stupid enough that he bugged himself, thereby providing the evidence that we can see twenty years later, after he's dead. Clinton is probably not that stupid -- he's seen that lesson learned by his predecessor.

Where there's smoke, there's probably fire. When we catch Clinton lying to us, suborning justice, and perverting the courts, about his sex life, he's probably lying to us about other things. Things much more important to our political health and overall well-being.

Like why does he support the FBI's and NSA's ongoing power and grasping for further power via wiretapping? "Terrorists" and "national security" are handy labels, but we already know that in the '80s this power was used against political opponents (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador), and of course there's the extensive record of wiretapping and surveillance of the '60s civil rights movement, the '50s blacklisting and communism witch-hunting, and the 40-year reign of J. Edgar Hoover by blackmailing politicians so they couldn't fire him.

Our political system is not designed to attract people of integrity. It appears designed to attract people with a strong desire for power and a high tolerance for shitwork (campaigning, dealing with bureaucracy, working your way up the political ladder from the bottom). There is no filter in there against weak morality, and many temptations. This may be a good thing, in the sense that morals are an individual choice. I wouldn't want a country in which Presidential candidates had to subscribe to any particular Christian (or Islamic or Jewish or ...) morality, for example.

But it requires the public to be diligent to signs of the kind of immorality that threaten political transparency, due process, and working justice. These are all substantial accomplishments -- unavailable in large parts of the world -- and are actually both quite fragile and quite valuable. The more I examine our society and our system of government, the more I realize how important these things are. We could not do ordinary business without a working justice system -- that's one of the problems in Russia for example -- you're defrauded and have no recourse, or mobsters threaten your business and you have no recourse.

Due process takes us from being stuck with the whims of rulers and bureaucrats, to being able to know what the rules are before we get ourselves in trouble. Without it, anyone can be punished when the government doesn't like them. Political transparency is what makes sure that the elections are fair, that the people who sit at the top of the heap are really the ones that the vast mass of the people would choose to have sitting there. That's a big one -- Mexico is trying to get that now, and it's hard sledding after fifty years of one-party rule. The lack of any of these, of course, undermines the others, which is part of what makes the system fragile and in need of real support from the ordinary populace.

When the guy at the top subverts the parts of the system that keep it responsive, fair, and open, he needs replacing. We probably need to find someone other than Al Gore to do it, since he's been steeped in the current Administration's way of doing things.

From: rpauli@halcyon.com (Richard Pauli);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 12:46:50 -0700;
Re:Bruce Hughes on Clinton

The distractions of the President's private behavior is causing you to miss everything important in government right now.

A little history: recall that during the Nixon debacle a Democratic Congress was able to put through the EPA and other bills that would normaly be opposed by Nixon.

Now a Republican Congress is legislating some powerful changes that a crippled President will not be able to oppose: Two quick examples that you should know of right now: S 507 will fundamentally change the US Patent system making it more difficult for individuals to gain patents. Dave, you should be all over this issue. But Senator Hatch is sneaking in though today - attached to another bill.

Another stealth bill is HR 1891 (and companion bill S 1924) - which is slated to be attached to the Appropriations Bill - (do you think Clinton will veto it?) This bill will allow any worker in the US to be shifted to employment by a third party - read: agency contract workers - Whatever your take on the issue - don't you think these and other bills are significant enough to have open debate?

You don't think that Congress is pushing hard on humiliating and crippling the one man who could veto these bills do you? A removed president is far less beneficial to a Republican Congress than a crippled one. Over the next few days and weeks, I invite you to see if this fits.

From: rberger@ibd.com (Robert J. Berger);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 19:24:03 +0000;
Re:Bruce Hughes on Clinton

Or it could be that we collectively elected Clinton so we could examine our own opinions about integrity and truthfulness.

This hits the nail on the head. You have put to words what has been a thought in the back of my mind all along.

What has to happen next is that all the other decieters in Congress and the media have to be put on the same hot seat and lets see which way they squirm.

I suspect there are mini versions of this drama happening in homes throughout the country as well.

From: doc@searls.com (Doc Searls);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 12:03:06 -0700 (PDT);
Our country song about the best liar in the world

In 1994 I found myself alone in a small hotel restaurant late one evening in Grenoble, quietly reading a book, when a group of three men was seated at the next table. I recognized the tall, elderly gentleman as a familiar Democrat, now long retired. His companions were a pair of young French men. I suppose they thought I was a French local, because they paid no attention to me. I said nothing while the three spoke entirely in English, since the old American clearly spoke no French. What I heard was impossible to forget.

The young French guys were very curious about Bill Clinton, who was then a fresh young President, charismatic and Kennedyesque.

"What you have to understand about Clinton," the old guy said, "is that he's a liar. But he's very good at it, and he's done it his whole career. It's what he's all about."

"Is he a bad man?"

"Not at all. He's a good man, but a better liar. It's quite a skill to lie like he does. Lies are hard to manage, and this guy does it better than anybody. It's remarkable."

"Does he break promises?"

"Sometimes, but that's not the point. He simply so good at lying that you never know when he's telling the truth."

"Is he corrupt?"

"No. To be corrupt you have to deal straight at least with somebody. This guy isn't straight with anybody. He's just a terrific liar. I don't know any other way to put it."

It's no surprise that Clinton was, by his own admission to Monica, an inveterate philanderer. By necessity philanderers are accomplished liars. They lie to their spouses and they lie to themselves. When philanderers are powerful men, they do heavy damage, especially to the people who trust them -- or worse, love them.

But we didn't trust Clinton not to philander, and we're not married to the guy. We only trusted him to do a good job running the country. Except for setting off a sex bomb under his "bridge to the 21st century" (the emptiest cliche in modern political sloganeering), the guy has done the job with a burly ease. A horrible husband, but a competent executive.

Until now. How can you lead when nobody wants to follow you any more? We'll find the answer to that question soon enough, because the fugger's not going away.

A measure of Clinton's peristent adolescence is that he acts like this thing is all about his manhood. His political enemies want to bring him down, he says, and he'll be damned if he'll let them. Never mind that he behaved stupidly, got caught lying to everybody, and risked his whole career for a few blow jobs. To Clinton this is about manhood, about turf, about respect. In truth he's no more a man than some gang leader on the bad side of town. The right thing to do is resign. But he won't do the right thing. He'll do the powerful thing. He'll stand and take it. All of it. Just like he always has, and always will.

So there he stands, alone, abandonded by all but his lawyers, who run around on TV, challenging the Commentariat to round after round of legalistic hair-splitting.

Meanwhile, all the country wants is a good story. And stories don't get any better than this. Even OJ. Only Watergate comes close.

In a retrospective on the 70s, Tom Wolfe wrote, "The lesson of Watergate is that the stability of the American political system is profound. It has a center of gravity like a 107 inch High Point vinyleather sofa." The President was exposed, discredited and run out of town; yet no tanks rolled in the streets and no communiques were issued by a Junta from a palace. "Instead we all sat back, watched the whole thing on TV and enjoyed it tremendously."

When Clinton was inaugurated for his second term, fate handed us tickets to the Arkansas ball. It was an amazing event: a gotta-love-'em festival for "Bill & Hill" (that's what they called 'em). It's clear now that the story of Bill & Hill is our own country song, pun intended. Good ol' Bill can't help cheatin' on Hill and lyin' about it. This time he did it with a young thing, without even hidin' his ring. Now he's crawlin' on back, sorry and sinful. Ain't it a shame.

Play it again on the juke box, Darlin'. Let's hear them lies, one more time.


From: idig@nbn.com (David Biedny);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 11:45:09 -0800;
Re:Bruce Hughes on Clinton

Have you ever read any of the work of Noam Chomsky, or seen the documentary about him called "Manufacturing Consent"?

It seems to me, a self-described Chomskian thinker, that in the case of the Clinton sex scandal, the media are simply playing along with the desire to avert attention from important issues to mindless drum-beating drivel. "The President lied, and had sex with an intern". Wow. I'm shocked and disturbed. Our president is a mere human, with all of the imperfections that make up a human, and made a stupid mistake? One that shows that his moral fiber is less than perfect? That he lied to the people who gave him his job? That he covered his ass when the heat got turned up?

OK, so exactly when has this NOT happened this century, with one of our leaders - or any damned leader in any country, for that matter? Am I missing something here?

There was a great scene in Oliver Stone's movie "Nixon"....

Nixon is standing in front of the portrait of JFK, and says:

"When they look at you, they see who they want to be... when they look at me, they see who they are."

It's a pity that people can't find their heroes in everyday life. They need to look to those with exposure in the media, or those who have amassed huge piles of cash. The conversion of sports figures into role models for children - another sick trend of this century.... Our value system is shot. this should be the main lesson of this whole fiasco...

My parent raised me a bit differently, thank goodness. My main heroes/role models when I was growing up?

- My father

- Isaac Asimov

- Leonardo Da Vinci

- Albert Einstein

My father was a wonderful, but less than perfect human, Asimov didn't have much of a spiritual life or belief system, Da Vinci was paranoid, and Einstein was in love his cousin. Big deal - they were all human. Thet all gave me things to think about, and displayed an intelligence and understanding of our universe that taught me how to live my life better.

No leader of this country has even done that for me.

Choose your idols carefully.

From: jamespl@MICROSOFT.com (James Plamondon);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 10:33:36 -0700;
Re:Adult Talk

The President of the United States -- the man charged with faithfully executing the laws of this nation -- apparently lied, under oath, to a federal grand jury, on a matter material to the jury's investigation.

This is not about sex, about a right-wing conspiracy, about our previously knowing or not knowing about Clinton's lack of character, or about anything else the spin doctors prescribe. It is about the fundamental separation between justice and tyranny. It is about Truth.

I do not expect politicians to be paragons of honesty or virtue, or even to be reasonable facsimiles thereof. I expect that they will put the best possible face on the truth -- or even outright lie -- in campaign speeches, in press conferences, and in other political arenas.

However, there are times when the truth must be told, though the heavens fall -- and giving legal testimony is such a time. To lie under oath is to attack the very foundation of justice, and thereby of civilization itself. Surely, some people do lie under oath -- and when they do, they should be prosecuted for it, even if they are at the center of the political heavens. Especially then, lest the corrupting influence of power be free of restraint.

If the President is proven to have lied under these circumstances, he should be removed from office -- though the heavens fall. His other behaviors -- base or noble -- are irrelevant. This particular behavior cannot be tolerated.

From: Jacob.Levy@Eng.Sun.COM (Jacob Levy);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 09:17:01 -0700 (PDT);
Clinton: mirrors and smoke?

This morning I heard a CBS radio news report in which the reporter was seriously saying that Clinton aides are worried about releasing his videotaped testimony because it'll make the president look bad. They're concerned that his attitude in the taped testimony will be seen as evasive, deceitful and obstinate. This was posed as a serious argument by these Clinton aides againts releasing the tapes. Congress Democratss are supposed to have this argument at heart when voting whether to release the tapes. Not our "need to know" or anything trivial like that. That's not really important..

I hate being treated like an idiot. It's one of the two cardinal sins that gets me really going. That and wasting my time :). Now you've piqued my interest, now I am *really* curious, and now I will really make sure to watch the testimony once it's released. I really want to know whether the President was deceitful, obstinate and evasive. Oh well. I don't think it's an "if" question anymore about what will happen, only a "when" question.

From: bsilver@cruzio.com (Brent Silver);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 09:06:13 -0700;
Re:Bruce Hughes on Clinton

Who knows, maybe in 2000 we'll elect a president, like Jimmy Carter, who admits that he lies in his heart.

Exactly. And this is one of the things that really concerns me. If we next elect the antidote to Clinton, perhaps we will choose another Jimmy Carter - a decent man, but not a very good president.

Or worse, perhaps, we will turn to one of Clinton's enemies, a morally right, right-winger like Pat Robertson.

God save us! (That's supposed to be ironic, but my irony may be rusty in print, so I point it out.)

From: tuckerg@inch.com (Tucker Goodrich);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 11:59:48 -0400 (EDT);
Re:Bruce Hughes on Clinton

Just a thought: The argument that we can't afford to remove (or force to resign) two presidents in twenty-five years is fallacious. We should remove a president every five years if the president needs to be removed.

This is not "moving towards a parliamentary system," as people say. It's simply exercising our Constitution, where to Founding Fathers provided us with the means to boot a bad President.

I can't stand Clinton, never could, and think getting him out would be a good thing for the country.

Would it be bad for the country? No worse, I think, than having a laughingstock as a president. Our system is designed so that everyone is replaceable. The president is no exception.

From: emm@CAM.ORG (Emmanuel. M. Decarie);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 11:59:41 -0400;
Re:Bruce Hughes on Clinton

I'm very surprised to see how the American people are perceiving the parliamentary system. Here in Québec, we had an elected chamber ("l'Assemblée Nationale") since 1771 based on the British parliamentary system, and if you follow politic in Canada, the relation between the province of Québec and Canada are not always easy to say the least. But notwithstanding this fact, I can't say that the Prime Ministers of Canada and Québec are at the mercy of the popular whim. The political system is so stable that it tolerate that the actual Québec government can have the long term goal to secede from Canada and make Québec an independent country.

And even if this goal from the actual Québec government is a threat to political stability, Canada is still rated by the U.N. number one for its quality of life.

The fact is that Canadians and Quebecquers are respecting the privacy of their public figures. But the case of Clinton could not stand a long time in Canada and Québec. If a Prime Minister was proved to be lying to a court, he will have to resign right away. I don't know if its a quality of the parliamentary system, or just a quality of the Canadian and Québec political culture.

From: jetcity@halcyon.com (John Fallisgaard);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 08:32:48 -0700;
Re:Bruce Hughes on Clinton

Many people are puzzling over exactly what the impeachment clause means (what is a high crime and misdemeanor). Actually I think the best definition came from Gerald Ford where he said impeachment is whatever 535 people decide it is on any given day.

The whole impeachment process is by definition (from our founding fathers) a political process. This to me is very interesting and something I think is being glossed over today. They did not send it to the judicial branch to adjudicate; rather it is a vote after a debate in congress.

I also saw the interview with Howard Baker and, even prior to his comments, have had some strong misgivings that we are edging closer to a parliamentary form of government. [Just what we need, wind up with the same indecisiveness that most of Europe, Israel and Japan suffer from.] However, that is the way we are set up for dealing with issues such as these.

My personal opinion is the solution for the future is to not allow any lawyers with their propensity for "situational ethics" to be allowed to run for congress or the presidency. You mentioned Jimmy Carter. Remember that he was an engineer. Maybe he was too "dumb" to lie.

From: abridge@wheel.dcn.davis.ca.us (Adam Bridge);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 07:57:10 -0700;
It's about integrity

That the president of the United States lied under oath, and lied to the republic, now seems clear. That he obstructed justice and attempted to influence the testimony of those around him is less clear but, to me, convincing. He is caught up in a pattern of behavior which he has maintained for most of his adult life, a kind of shallow duplicity which lives or dies on a knife-edge interpretation of the truth and the polished showman's ability to say "I've sinned and I beg your forgiveness."

But now the President's ability to lead the nation has been severely undermined. At some point he will have to stand before the nation, and the world, and defend some US action or position. We'll have to trust him. And the whole time the clip of "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" will be running through our minds.

Remember back to August when our major anti-terrorism effort so amazingly sprang into view with, well, "Wag the Dog" timing? There are some serious questions that need to be answered about that one. Why we blew up a pharmaceutical plant that seems to have no terrorism precursors at all. Why we may have blown up parts of the Afghanistan desert but that's all. At some point answers to some very uncomfortable questions are going to be required -- and frankly the President can't deliver the truth in a believable way: he smoked but he didn't inhale, he didn't have an affair with Jennifer Flowers, there was no sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

To save the presidency Clinton must resign. Regardless of his good works during the early course of the administration we must be able to believe our leaders when the hard truth is required. And the hard truth is what Clinton is utterly unable to speak.

From: geoff@wsu.edu (Geoff Allen);
Sent at 16 Sep 1998 07:56:34 -0700;
The word "Adult"

I have 4 kids, ages 2 through 8, and often find myself referring to a movie as an "adult movie," by which I mean that it's something probably wouldn't be interested in, or whose subject matter isn't appropriate for them. I certainly don't mean it's rated NC-17, or even R.

Unfortunately, in 1998 American English, "adult movie" means "skin flick." I need a better term, but don't know what to use. "Mature content" is taken, too.



From: ehall@ehsco.com (Eric A. Hall);
Sent at Wed, 16 Sep 1998 07:45:29 -0700;
Re:Bruce Hughes on Clinton

My opinion on this issue is based on a few fundamental thoughts

  1. Any police chief that lied under oath would be fired immediately. Clinton is the top law enforcement officer in the country, and should be treated the exact same, if not more so.

  2. Any military officer who fraternizes with another of lower-rank is fired immediately, as required by law. Clinton is the CIC, and should be treated the exact same, if not more so.

  3. A true leader lives by the same rules that his followers are required to. For this, he must resign if he is to be my leader.

In all, I think that the democracy is better off when it prevents presidents from becoming kings. The anti-impeachment talk out there is along the lines of "he is King, leave him be."

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