Sunday, July 24, 2005



The 16th annual Huckleberry Finn Float was yesterday. 40 men and women
set forth on homemade rafts for a leisurely day of sunbathing, swimming, bbq and beer. Conceived by Bob Owens as a means of getting more people to appreciate an under utilized resource, the annual float is still going strong a decade and a half later! This years float was held on the Indiana section of the St. Joseph river from downtown Bristol to the east side of Elkhart.

The 72 year old Owens still organizes the float and maintains the rafts. He sells souvenir t-shirts to help cover the cost of raft maintenance, charcoal for the grills, and ice. The rafts are made of 12'x8''' platforms strapped over 2 canoes or six 50 gal. drums. Each raft is outfitted with 6-8 chairs, an ice chest w/ice, a table with umbrella, and a Smokie Joe w/charcoal. Everyone brings their own food to grill and a side to share.

This years float lasted around 4 1/2 hours. The weather was sunny and warm, with a nice light breeze. The water temp. was perfect for a swim. Our personal chef Gwen (who I always make sure is on the same raft as me) did her usual stellar job on the chicken, sausages, and burgers! A grand time was had by all!

Other stuff.... Did you hear William Saffire testifying with great anger about "prosecutorial overreach" and the first amendment rights of journalists before congress this week? Saffire let it be known he is furious about the fate of his NY Times colleague Judy Miller (jailed for refusing to identify her source in the Valerie Plame case).

Somebody should remind Saffire that he, as much as anyone, is responsible for the atmosphere in which journalists work today. Long before he began working as a "journalist", it was Saffire, along with Pat Buchanan, who plotted and carried out the Nixon Whitehouse strategy of branding journalists as being liberally biased. It was Saffire who wrote the Spiro Agnew speech that made famous the phrase "nattering nabobs of negativism". It was Saffire and colleagues who pioneered the anti press tactics that Lee Atwater and Roger Ailes would later refine.

Forty years ago, no prosecutor would have been able to force a journalist to reveal their source. No court would have allowed it. Saffire bears as much responsibility as anyone for today's lack of respect for the fifth estate. He should take a good long look at himself and see what his actions have wrought!

The proprietors of THE GREAT WHITE BEAR and THE CHURCH POTLUCK will be vacationing at beautiful WEKO BEACH on Lake Michigan this week. We'll return Monday, Aug 1!

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