Strongman of the North

Senator Deplorable

I enjoyed the piece on Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens ["Strongman of the North," Jan. 4]. I have known about him and his kind for many years and find his practices and policies corrupt and indefensible. Of course, as long as the money keeps rolling in, few in his home state are going to make any noise. And of course the nepotism, and how it has worked in his and his son's favor, is equally deplorable. It's amazing what one such as Stevens can get away with by just having so many years in the Senate. We as citizens should be working fervently to end this type of behavior. Congratulations to Sen. Maria Cantwell for stepping up in our name.

Dave Caudill


Cantwell's Hissy Fit

Evidently Rick Anderson would like to return to the days when gas, in real terms, was more expensive than it is today ["Strongman of the North," Jan. 4]. Either that, or he embraces the Pollyannish fiction that we can have everything at once, including nonpolluting, clean, and cheap means of heating our homes and workplaces, transporting ourselves and goods, and providing power to our computers and our industries. Either that, or he believes that gas priced at 25 cents per gallon would add to conservation efforts.

Sen. Maria Cantwell should propose legislation that gradually (by 3 percent or 4 percent per year) reduces the amount of foreign and domestic oil allowed to be refined, imported, sold, or used in any way. This would undoubtedly spur the search for alternative energy sources, which need merely be discovered.

Anderson's and Cantwell's hissy fits are so typical of the liberal mantra: No trade-offs required.

Eric Tronsen


Another Pol Loses Touch

Unlike Warren Magnuson and Henry "Scoop" Jackson, the women senators have been mainly below the track ["Strongman of the North," Jan. 4]. The pork has become kibbles and bits for our state. Meanwhile, Alaskans are not unlike penguins waiting for someone to throw a fish in their pail. But quietly, our senators serve with integrity. Maria Cantwell can be just as cantankerous, ornery, and surly as Sen. Ted Stevens. Is she wary? I don`t think so. Remember Maggie's last run? Boy, was he beat and even goofy! This is Stevens now. As a Seattle-based fisherman, I have had the wonderful experience of listening to many of his radio addresses, and it is just another example of someone who has lost the touch and scent of his constituents. Thanks for the article.

John Hananger


Protecting Patients

Thank you for Roger Downey's piece on Virginia Mason's vaccination program [Buzz, Jan. 4]. As a seven-year employee of Virginia Mason, it makes me proud to know my employer cares about the safety of the patients we serve.

The main organizational goal at VM in 2005 has been to ensure the safety of our patients. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications and about 36,000 people in the United States die from flu each year. Virginia Mason advised us months ago that we would need to prepare to get a flu vaccine. There have been accommodations made for employees who can't take the vaccine for medical or religious reasons.

I'm sorry to see that some people have chosen not to take the vaccine or accept the accommodations that VM offered. However, I am more than glad that not only will I not get the flu from a co-worker, but that my 87-year-old mother will not come in contact with a VM employee carrying the flu virus.

There has been much debate among employees about the flu program and the way it was presented. At the end of the day—in my view—the flu vaccine saves lives. Kudos to Virginia Mason for putting its patients first.

Tim Crowley


Lutefisk Sorbet

Come, come. If lutefisk were mandatory [Mossback, "'Mandatory Lutefisk,'" Jan. 4], just imagine the culinary competition it would unleash in this foodie town: lutefisk in brioche with caramelized onions, goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, and rosemary; lutefisk in a white wine beurre blanc with chanterelle mushrooms, thyme, and Peruvian purple potatoes; lutefisk stir-fried with watercress, green onion, galanga, and red chili; lutefisk tamales with fresh-cut cilantro and tomatillo salsa; lutefisk tapas with quince paste; a sorbet of lutefisk and cranberries; lutefisk energy drinks; etc.

Priscilla Turner


The Sanity Defense

This letter reports a potential libel in a recent Mossback article written by Knute Berger entitled "Mandatory Lutefisk" [Jan. 4]. The victim of Berger's prose? William Clark, a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. And maybe also his co-captain, Meriwether Lewis. In his article, Berger asserted: "Without the endless rains that drove Ulysses S. Grant to drink and Lewis and Clark insane, we are defenseless."

Admittedly, the term "endless rains" is accurate. The winter that Lewis and Clark spent in the Pacific Northwest, exactly 200 years ago, was neither a highlight of their trip nor a great advertisement for the potential of Northwest winter tourism.

On Nov. 7, 1805, when Clark exclaimed about "the joy" that the Pacific Ocean was in view, he also noted that the expedition then "spent the night in the rain." Rain fell the next three days, and Clark observed in his diary that "we are thoroughly wet with the rain." The next morning it rained again, in torrents. Then, on Nov. 12, Clark recorded "a tremendous gale" followed by "a violent rain which lasted through the day." Four days later, Clark noted that "the rain . . . has continued for the last ten days without an interval of more than two hours." The next day, he wrote: "Eleven days rain, and the most disagreeable time I have ever experienced."

Then, on Dec. 1, 1805, the serious winter rains began in earnest—and continued pouring on the Corps of Discovery every day for 31 days. Clark soon wrote: "Scarce a man can boast of having been one day dry since we landed in this place."

Robert Cantwell, in his 1972 book The Hidden Northwest, noted that during the five months that Lewis and Clark were residing in the Pacific Northwest, there were only 12 days without rain—and six of these were cloudy days.

But did this weather drive Lewis and Clark insane?

Certainly, the example of Meriwether Lewis suggests insanity, but Lewis had significant problems before his visit to the Pacific. In fact, in his 1996 best seller, Undaunted Courage, the late Stephen Ambrose diagnosed Lewis as a manic- depressive, a conclusion that is consistent with the recollections of his colleagues.

Contemporary reports about William Clark, by contrast, describe him as very straightforward and calm—a good match for the more volatile Lewis. True, Clark was candid about conditions at their camp during the winter of 1805–06, and repeatedly complained in his diary about the soggy weather. But Clark seems, by all accounts, to have lived and died an utterly sane man, notwithstanding the rains of 1805–06.

Bruce E. H. Johnson

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP


Kings and Emperors

I didn't see King Kong for various reasons, but Adrien Brody wasn't one of them ["What Were They Thinking?" Dec. 28, 2005]! He makes skinny ethereal. I enjoyed Tim Appelo's article, especially the 40 Year-Old Virgin hyphen miscue, since I am a brittle technical writer. I'll bet that someone powerful was of the opinion that there should be one hyphen, so one hyphen it was. Emperor's new clothes, y'know.

Sally Neary


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