News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
cactus Mail Starting 9/22/98

From: mark@greenlake.com (Mark Lewin);
Sent at Wed, 23 Sep 1998 10:10:05 -0700;

Josh Lucas wrote "[O]ur President broke his sacred trust with his wife."

This is a pretty narrow conception of how two people can structure a marriage.

Another explanation is that Hillary knew of, tolerated, and maybe even encouraged Bill's extra-marital activity, within certain guidelines (e.g. be discreet, don't get caught, no STDs or pregnancies).

Couples are free to define their own compacts; some might be further from the norm than most of us suspect. Of course to protect Hillary (and Chelsea) it makes sense for Bill to allow the Monica affair to be painted as straight adultery, but maybe the truth is not that simple.

From: priviet@sirius.com (Steven Gilman);
Sent at Tue, 22 Sep 1998 17:08:04 -0700;
Re:We'll Keep Clinton

I'm impressed with your ability to admit a changing position. It's not often we publically state something, then amend that statement. Our egos often get in the way. I can appreciate your change of heart.

I just wish someone would write about another side of this. All the focus is on sex. Nothing on what this redirection by Republicans away from the economy. This will absolutely come home to roost. Imagine; the party of economic conservatism and capitalism sacrificing the US economy to a smear campaign. And to the fundamentalists.

From: hopmann@holonet.net (Alex Hopmann);
Sent at Tue, 22 Sep 1998 15:50:29 -0700;
Re:We'll Keep Clinton

There is one issue regarding the publishing of Clinton's testimony that I haven't heard addressed in the press and that I frankly just don't understand. I don't object to making it public on the basis of what it does to TV or not liking to see this stuff. I'm more concerned about the legal issue- I was under the impression that his testimony was "Grand Jury" testimony and thus sealed and 100% secret, expressly to protect people from having to answer these sorts of questions without being able to present a defense and in public. I am amazed and confused as to how Congress can make this public, unless it is simply a matter of the Republican majority themselves trying to be above the law and using this for partisan reasons.

I also wonder about what precedent this sets. Several of the Republicans have taken great offense at their own past indiscretions being turned up lately (by Salon among others). I've got to admit, I'm unimpressed, given the precedent that they have set- As far as I can tell it's open season on the private lives of politicians in the US! What's fair for the President is fair for the chair of the committee investigating him, or anyone else in Congress for that matter.

From: peter.bell@swspectrum.co.nz (Peter Bell);
Sent at Wed, 23 Sep 1998 07:05:47 +1000;
Re:We'll Keep Clinton

Thank you for a great piece!

Most people here in New Zealand I have talked to and in the media commentaries feel the same way as it would appear the American people do: Mr Clinton has done some things in his private life which are reprehensible, but seems to be doing a fine job as President. (And this will probably continue as long as the American economy continues to buoy the rest of the world economy).

Again, thank you for your increasingly more balanced line. We may judge Bill Clinton harshly for his reprehensible acts in private life, but at the end of the day, global civilisation as it exists today is lead by America, for better or worse. We in the rest of the world take a keen interest in keeping America strong - its what keeps what "we" hold dear safe - and that is why we cringe when the private life American President is exposed in this way, not because what he did was right, but because the position itself is weakened in the eyes of the critics of the West and at the end of the day, his actions are not representatitive of what is right about our way of life.

From: BayEntLaw@aol.com;
Sent at Tue, 22 Sep 1998 12:41:10 EDT;
Re:We'll Keep Clinton

Good piece Dave. I didn't watch it because, after taking more than 1,000 depositions myself and sitting in another 1,000 depositions of my clients who were being sued, I think I've had an inside view of what to expect.

Any good lawyer's instructions to her/his client for a deposition is: do not offer any information except just as much as is needed to answer the question, and listen to the question very carefully so that your answer is only what is precisely asked for. You are being sued - they are coming after you - let them prove their case without you. You are not here to help them prove their case against you.

Also, considering how long depositions take and the pressure and the quickness of the way many lawyers speak in a deposition (reading a deposition transcript at your own speed is one thing - during the deposition when words are being spoken at a rapid speed, most clients are not listening to what their lawyers say - only to what is asked of them), it's far too easy to pick apart testimony that was stated quickly. They didn't write the deposition, they spoke the words under great pressure and speed in a deposition. And at the beginning of a depo, the witness is warned that if he makes any changes to his testimony later (as you can in a deposition - read it and make any changes after it's transcribed), any lawyer may comment upon that change later on to prove that you were lying or inconsistent. To make you look bad even if you're just trying to clear something up once you see the words in print.

Also, most lawyers find the "games have begun" if anyone makes a claim regarding sex. In personal injury cases, a spouse may make a legal claim for loss of consortium if they lost the love, affection, etc. from their spouse due to their injuries caused by someone else. Many lawyers love this claim, because they start delving into the explicit sexual matters - the type of sex they can no longer have, the positions they can't maneuver, etc. - then take the depo transcript around the law firm laughing with other lawyers - knowing that most often a spouse will drop a legitimate claim that's based more on affection than sex because they don't want to go through such horrible testimony about their lives. Lawyers know this. Ken Starr & his lawyers know this.

Finally, so many people lie in depositions and in court - more than you would ever imagine. And I've tried at least 30 times to get LA prosecutors to prosecute perjury from a deposition and a few times perjury at trial - no prosecutor would waste his/her time on a perjury charge in a civil case. NONE - 0 - zero - nada. It's not considered a big enough crime.

I've kept quiet during this process and haven't shared my insider's opinion because most people don't want to hear the realities of civil litigation. In his deposition, Clinton did what most Americans do - followed the instructions of his attorney. Even if it is perjury, unfortunately, he'll be one of the very rare few who is prosecuted for it.


From: philippe@starfish.com (Philippe Kahn);
Sent at Tue, 22 Sep 1998 13:03:53 -0700;
Orwell 2000

Time to speak up.

Freedom of speech and the right to privacy go hand in hand. No compromises.

Through the process that America has been going through in the last few weeks, I feel that my privacy has been profoundly invaded.

I now fear that 2000, the new millenium, could be much worst than Orwell's 1984.

Maybe we're headed for "Orwelll 2000"!

Picture yourself in the light of the precedent set by the release of "the Starr video".

You are being interrogated by a relentless prosecutor. You've been sitting on your local school board and you don't favor mandatory school prayer because you believe in keeping Church and State separate. Of course there are some who want you out of office. After a lot of hard work, the schools in the County are now the best in the State.

But you forgot to pay some parking tickets and "they" are constructing a case where they want to show that you do not always say the truth because they want you off the school board.

So now you're sitting in a "standard deposition video studio", as mandatory setup in every municipality. Just imagine yourself, filmed in real-time on video, knowing that your parents, children and friends will watch all of your body language, expressions and carefully analyze all of your answers.

The prosecutor is now focusing on the most intimate questions:

Prosecutor: Have you ever masturbated?

You: What do you mean by Masturbation?

Prosecutor: You know what I mean by masturbation, c'mon!

You: I'm not sure....?

Prosecutor: Answer the question!

You: I'm not sure.....?

The Partisan Elected officials watching in real time: He/She has something to hide, look, they are not answering the questions, they can't be elected officials, I bet that they are about to lie!!! [Send a message to prosecutor: "Ask them what they were thinking about, surely they won't be "truthful"..."]

Prosecutor: The last time you masturbated, what were you thinking about?

You: .......

Why is America blessing this invasion of privacy? What does this all mean for each and everyone of us? What does it mean for our children and families? Is the Taliban society really providing for more freedom than our own? Who are these people anyway? Did we really vote for them? Are these are tax dollars that they are spending?

From: jdomina@ystone.mt.gov (Jason Domina);
Sent at Tue, 22 Sep 1998 11:49:31;

First of all, thank you for the intelligent, and thoughtful commentary you have provided on the current Washington YUCK. From your DaveNet pieces it is apparent that you aren't comfortable viewing an issue from just one perspective.

Whenever something divides people into two sides, wherever people are seeing things as "black and white", I get real nervous. When there are two sides to an issue that people have become emotionally attatched they always miss the fact that there is a third side. There's "my side" and "your side" and then, most importantly, there's "the impartial observer's side". It is really refreshing to see someone publicly struggling with these conflicting views in a manner that is both intelligent and thought provoking.

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to hear a repeat of Garrison Keilor's "A Prarie Home Companion". One piece struck me as extremely relevant to the psychic goo currently slowing down our country. It was a skit about the effect of spring on many people. How, for some reason, it made them sanctimonious.

Garrison was moseyin' along in that rich, baritone, philosophy of his and happened to utter a word like 'short'. The next thing we could hear was the voice of some bitter, angry, person spouting off like '... I can't believe you just said that. Do you realize how that makes the vertically challenged feel?' This sort of satirical banter continued on for the next few moments with the rhetoric growing more ridiculous and comical while Mr. Keilor gamely continued in his wise and unaffected tone. You see, he had a solution. The next time someone corners you with acid tongue and unwavering sanctimony there is a simple solution. Reach between their eyes, give them a friendly pinch to the nose, and say BeBoop. It's guaranteed to snap them right out of their unnatural and unhealthy condition.

So to all of you who have been tossing around phrases like "...the real issue is truth..." and "... you can't just abandon principles..." BeBoop!

From: david@sallak.com (David Sallak);
Sent at Tue, 22 Sep 1998 12:02:43 -0500;
Re:We'll Keep Clinton

Nice DaveNet article. Did you see the standing ovation Bill received in the UN? The leaders of the planet threw their support behind him, because the world abhors a vacuum. With Bill as leader of the sole Superpower, he's a known factor they have chosen to accept. Anyone else in charge represents a shake of the 8-ball. The world's leaders don't want unscheduled change.

The release of the videotape seems to have caused an opposite reaction from what Republican House members desired -- public sympathy for the President. We're in the unique situation of having judge and jury (senators and representatives) make their decisions based on their future possibility of re-election. Normal judges and juries never have these considerations. All of the other reasons given for dismissing Bill (breaking the law as top officer and commander in chief) don't apply today. "We The People" will determine how the House and Senate act.

All Bill Clinton needs to do is sway public opinion by becoming humble. Really, really humble. Eat so much crow that We The People accept the apology. The result will be censure, nothing more.

This is how it is in the late 20th Century. I really can't believe I voted for this liar, but I'm not perfect either. He still stands for issues I believe in, excluding the CDA (may it never reappear).

I also agree with Aldo Bergamini -- when Starr caught him in a relationship triangle, Starr wedged him into choosing between two evils. I don't see any other elected officials such as Hyde tossing their hand into the air and volunteering their sins. Humans are prone to hide their sins until they are forced to admit them. This does not mean that I forgive Clinton. He lied to me.

From: steve@woz.org (Steve Wozniak);
Sent at 22 Sep 98 09:15:54 -0700;
Re:We'll Keep Clinton

I had a different impression from seeing him on TV. I saw him by accident, I didn't even read the report or see TV the day it was released or even read the paper that day. But on TV, in a deposition, I saw what a lot of us hate about the legal system. That people with really slick words can slither out of the truth with clever use of syntax. It's nice to see at least one person getting caught at it.

From: josh@stonecottage.com (Joshua Lucas);
Sent at Tue, 22 Sep 1998 12:09:56 +0000;
We'll Keep Clinton

It seems to me that we are missing the most important aspect of this whole saga. The fact that our President broke his sacred trust with his wife. It doesn't matter whether or not his definition of sex is used, the fact remains that he felt that his physical needs were more important to him then keeping the commitment with his wife.

From the testimony the President gave, this wasn't the first time he has been unfaithful to his wife. I still remember the Barbara Walters' interview with him when he was just a candidate back in 1992. He seemed so sincere in his explanation. Why then, did he allow himself to behave in this way? As someone who almost ruined a marriage because of a gambling problem, this is the toughest time of the year for me. With all of the various odds and shows dealing with who will win on the weekends, I know that you can't put yourself in situations which will make it difficult to stay with your commitment, whether that is a commitment to your wife, to not gamble, or to not drink. Knowing that he had a problem with faithfulness, why did the President allow an intern to spark his interest? At that first pang of desire hit him, he should have gotten out of the situation whether that means never being alone with Miss Lewinsky(and I don't mean just having someone within the Oval Office complex) or taking more drastic measures.

It seems the President has a problem with temptation. I have a problem with temptation. My fight is by the minute and I know how hard it is to not give in to temptation. Hopefully his new spiritual advisors will help him to see the temptations and understand how to battle them.

Honestly I no longer care whether he stays or goes. The whole political arena seems so out-of-touch with the people that I'm around. The fact remains that anything the President does will be second-guessed and spun various ways. That is the consequence of his actions. I only hope he understands that and deals with it.

From: pudge@pobox.com (Chris Nandor);
Sent at Tue, 22 Sep 1998 09:32:40 -0400;
"We've spoken. We've found the line that we don't want our

One thing troubles me: what happens to the next President that decides to lie under oath? Whath happens to the next defendant in a sexual harassment civil suit who lies about his sexual history? Without penalty, we set the precedent that these actions of Clinton's are OK. We must consider the effect this will have on future justice. That is the main point as far as I am concerned. If we decide to keep Clinton in power just because that is easiest, then we are forgoing principle, which is always a bad idea. You cannot eschew principles to save your principles.

I agree that this can hurt our country, and I wish we could just sweep it all under the table, let Clinton finish his term, and learn from our mistakes. But I can't see how that could be a good precedent to set for our legal system, not to mention for future presidents.

I agree with most of what you say, but I cannot agree that Clinton should be let off the hook. Public embarassment is not much of a deterrent, IMO, because that is no legal precedent; if the next President comes along and does the same thing, we will not take it to this length if we let Clinton off the hook, because we will note that it is not worth the effort, since nothing will come of it.

I would love to see what we can do to punish Clinton. Censure is nothing, and impeachment is possibly too servere, and resignation might upset our country's balance. So what do we do? I dunno.

So that's what I want to know: what happens when the next President does the same thing: lies under oath about his personal life to avoid liability in an embarassing civil matter?

Maybe censure is the right thing. Because if we censure the President, we note that in the future, lying under oath will be investigated and exposed, and that might be enough of a precedent to deter future officials.

From: cranstone@worldnet.att.net (Peter J. Cranstone);
Sent at Tue, 22 Sep 1998 08:13:32 -0600;

A quality piece of penmanship, with a healthy dose of humbleness. I don't think there's many men in the world who don't watch this man and say, that could have just as easily been me!

I agree (and I also agreed with your Truth Decay piece) it's time to move on. It's extremely unlikely he will do this again, and we could as a nation actually benefit from his contrition.

Pat Robertson needs to read your soliloquy. He condemns the President out of hand for his reckless behavior (as he well should) but then stops short of forgiveness. Not quite what a preacher should be doing.


From: marney@animatrix.com (Marney Morris);
Sent at Tue, 22 Sep 1998 07:36:37 -0800;
Re:We'll Keep Clinton

Ayatollah Khomeni or Kenneth Starr? Salman Rushdie or Clinton? Take a man's life or destroy a man's life? It's zealous, moral religious persecution. and it looks the same to me.

There's one major difference. we're talking about it. public opinion is clear. "enough already". Let clinton do his job. we haven't formed such a strong collective opinion since the Vietnam war. TV brought the war into our living rooms, and the whole country began talking about it. the mothers started marching. We said "enough already". and it stopped.

Maybe this 40 million was well spent after all. it brought the moral majority right into focus. For way too long, we've been letting the dog bark in the woodpile. but we brought that dog into the living room, put him in front of company, and we just didn't like him very much.

Amazingly, the US is resuming face with the rest of the world. Our system is working. the people are speaking. Could this be the beginnings of the death throes of puritan morality? Let's hope so. let's not underestimate the power of public opinion when people actually have an opinion. It's the most powerful force in our government. and thank god, it still will prevail.

From: webmaster@vtec.org (Josh Hurley);
Sent at Tue, 22 Sep 1998 11:04:26 -0400;
Re:We'll Keep Clinton

I watched most of video and I have to disagree with your comments. There is a difference between lying to friends and family members about behavior, and lying about it under oath.

By letting him serve out his term, you are endorsing and excusing every other public official that lies and/or is considering lying. Yes I know politicians lie a great deal, but when they are caught you can't "shrug off" their behavior.

At times you need to take a hard line, otherwise the line disappear.

From: aaberga@nb-a.com (Aldo Bergamini);
Sent at Tue, 22 Sep 98 16:35:20 +0200;
Re:We'll Keep Clinton

Iam glad to read what you say today.

Just for the records, I am not an American. Still, if I were, I would be actually proud -today as one month ago- of the Clinton Presidency - even if I would have not voted for him 6 years ago. I think most Americans should be, for the reasons you said. Nothing more, nothing less. You might note that decent (I don't dare to say 'good' or 'perfect') politicians are a scarce resource, worldwide. There are a lot of bad ones, actually.

As an Italian Citizen I must add, that IMHO American citizens should not be proud of Mr. Starr. When the Judicial Power starts mixing up in politics, what in the end suffers is democracy.

If you'll have the time to be curious about Italian politics (for a foreigner it's a great deal of fun; somewhat less for the Italian taxpayer or jobless people), you'll see what happens when a regularly elected administration is eliminated by conspiracy and judicial actions. Governments should be 'sent home' by elections, if the people desire, not by prosecutors.

I think this out of our experience. It is 'since three administrations' that we do not have the government we have voted for, independently from what everyone has voted for: left, right, or whatever. Democracy? Decency? Craziness? Complete inability to deal with politics, even if we are not a young(­), inexperienced country?

May be the point is with some lack of 'Checks and Balances' in our system: don't lose yours.

I think that as you elected Mr. Clinton, if Mr. Starr does not agree, it's his private matter. There will be a new vote in a couple of years, where he (Starr) will be entitled to contribute to a new Aministration 'on par' with everybody else.

What he should have never IMHO done is to use public money to contribute to a new Presidency 'on his own', diverting the sense of his office from investigating alleged financial wrong-doings to 'chase that man forcing him to lie because I am undermining his right to privacy'.

Clinton had no right to lie, ok. Did Starr had the right to investigate the Presidents private life? He (Clinton) had committed no crime before Starr started the affair: two adult people had a relationship. I guess this is no crime. So Starr put him -purposedly, IMHO- in the position to lie. And you paid for the show, in the end.

It is really time to end this stuff, both for you -the American people- and for most of the Free World, the rest of us.

From: DBHolmes@aol.com;
Sent at Tue, 22 Sep 1998 10:57:37 EDT;
Re:We'll Keep Clinton

Although my guess is that your prediction is correct, we'll keep Clinton, I repectfully disagree with your argument in favor of so doing.

To me, the overriding issue here is not the sex, per se, but rather his behavior, as President, in the White House. I feel personally embarrassed that my President did what he did in the executive offices of the White House - the business end of the place, the place where our government's Executive Branch is managed. I personally feel that my trust was betrayed by this man who then used his own Cabinet secretaries to spread the word that he was innocent of any wrongdoing. He violated all of our trust; he then lied it about it to his Cabinet, his staff and aides, his family, etc. And did all of this while acting "Presidential" in the White House.

To me, what he did, or didn't do, with Gennifer Flowers, Sharon Stone, is private and unrelated. He wasn't in the White House, in his role as President.

(Let me state here that I've spent my working life in industry, not government, and in my managerial role have already been involved in one court case involving sexual harassment in the workplace. As others have written in recent weeks, what Clinton has admitted to doing would have gotten him fired and thrown out of any self-respecting company in this land, because it is the law of the land.)

Appearances are important. Trust is very important. But he doesn't get it. No longer is the message: "It's the economy, Stupid." Now it's: "It's the truth, Stupid." A President who lies and manipulates others to do likewise has betrayed us all. I can no longer trust this man to carry out his duties as President. I can forgive him his sins; I can pray for him, and his family, and Ms. Lewinsky. But I can no longer accept him as President.

I detest the thought of what the impreachment proceedings will bring. Hence, my conclusion is that the right and honorable course of action is for Mr Clinton to resign, right now. He, and he alone, can spare us the burden of the impeachment proceedings. He and he alone can stop the process.

Yes, the transition will have risks. Always does; always will. Yes, there will be costs associated with it, many perhaps unforeseen. Always will. But the costs of his staying in office; the costs to us, the citizens who elected him, the costs to our nation, the costs to many others around the world (What if, for instance, one of the real crazies among the world's heads of state decides this is the perfect time, while Clinton and the Americans are distracted, to invade a neighboring country, to lob a few rockets over the border, to conquer someone else's oil fields????) are huge. Enough; you've had your chance, Mr. President. You blew it. Accept the consequences of your actions; resign. We don't ask or expect people in high office who "lose face" to commit suicide, as in other lands. Just resign the Office of President of the United States.

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