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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What's Up With This?

State Senator Phil Puckett (D-Russell County) recently sent an op/ed piece to the Bristol Herald Courier for publication. Folks there took one look at it and decided to toss it in the trash. Why?

You're not going to believe it:

Puckett column flap reveals the extent of lobbyists' influence *
By Andrea Hopkins, Opinion Editor, Bristol Herald Courier

Somewhere in the halls of government, an army of wordsmiths-for-hire labor anonymously – churning out opinion columns, speeches and legislation for their bosses.

This, apparently, is the way it works in state capitals and the nation’s capital. So when state Sen. Phillip Puckett, D-Lebanon, slapped his byline on a column that he didn’t write (at least not in the conventional sense of the word) he was merely following standard operating procedures.

But what's ok for public officials is frowned on in "civilian" life.

Puckett submitted the column to this newspaper, but we didn’t publish it. We made that decision because a nearly identical piece had been published in two other papers under the byline of Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, who has gained notoriety this session for his support of uranium mining in the state.

A version of the column identical to Puckett’s was published under [Delegate Steve] Landes’ byline in yet a third newspaper. That newspaper later ran a correction noting that the piece was written by a third party at the direction of Landes and Puckett.

Puckett and his staff seem somewhat apologetic about the entire incident. (link)

He's probably somewhat embarrassed as well, I'd expect.

* "Puckett column flap reveals the extent of lobbyists' influence." Is that really what it reveals?

Trying To Be Outraged

From our looney friends at the Charleston (WV) Gazette):
Bush budget
$410 billion deficit

President Bush has drafted a record-shattering $3.1 trillion federal budget for fiscal year 2009 - and it's an ominous display of irresponsibility.

It would overspend U.S. revenue by $410 billion, forcing the government to borrow this horrifying sum.

It would continue extravagant tax giveaways to the rich.

It would boost military spending to a record $515 billion a year - even though America faces no enemy nation, but merely furtive cliques of armed fanatics.

It would cut many domestic programs that help American families. (link)
Gosh. Those are serious charges. One can only guess the amount of exhaustive research that must have gone into this.

Any bets on whether these mental giants have even read the damn thing?

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By the way, this is the first time I think I've ever seen the adjective "horrifying" used to qualify the noun "sum." Groundbreaking, I think. Horrifyingly groundbreaking.

On Obama's Charismatic Appeal

James Taranto:
In 1965, appalled by the unearned adulation for mayoral candidate John Lindsay (who was also considered a future president), Robert Moses warned: "If you elect a matinee idol mayor, you're going to have a musical comedy administration." And that's just what New York got. Substitute "president" for "mayor," and you can anticipate what might be coming.
"Empty Vessel," Best of the Web Today, February 5, 2008

'Science' & Second-Hand Smoke

This is such an accepted "fact" by our society that I have little inclination to even throw my two cents out there. So I'll simply comment on a piece of today's news (to be found in "Virginia Senate OKs broad public smoking ban," Roanoke Times) and be done with it:

Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple's bill would prohibit smoking not only in restaurants, but also in banks, sporting arenas, shopping malls and most other public places. It exempts hotel rooms designated for smoking, specialty tobacco stores and private rooms in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Whipple, D-Arlington, said science clearly shows that secondhand smoke is a health hazard. She said that while smoking kills about 9,000 Virginians a year, exposure to secondhand smoke claims an additional 1,000.
In fact, science "shows" no such thing. "Science" has never been able to find a causal link between cigarette smoke and any illnesses (resulting in death or otherwise) known to man. "Scientists" have, however, used statistical extrapolation (an inference about the future - or about some hypothetical situation - based on known facts and observations) to come up with a link between secondhand smoke and all sorts of ills.

Statistical inference drives this non-debate. Not science.

But do your banning anyway. It seems to make you feel better.

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Let it be noted, by the way, that the Roanoke Times editorial staff wants to ban transactions between lenders and lendees too. Maybe I should come up with my own list of targets for banishment. Starting with holier-than-thou newspaper editorialists.

It All Becomes Clear

Remember the confused old man down in south Florida who came out of the polling place in 2000 and, supposedly because of the type of punch cards in use for voting back then, sputtered to the entire world, "I think I accidentally voted for Buchanan!"

One worries for the future well-being of one's country at such moments.

Well, it seems we had another such moment here in Virginia yesterday:
Overeager Voters in Va., Md. Suffer a Super Letdown
By Tim Craig and John Wagner, The Washington Post

Hundreds of confused Virginians and some Marylanders jumped the gun yesterday, showing up at polls or calling election officials to find out where to cast ballots, even though the presidential primary is next week.

Virginia and Maryland were not among the 24 Super Tuesday states that voted yesterday, but that word apparently did not make it to some voters. Virginia, Maryland and the District vote on the 12th. More than 700 people called the Virginia State Board of Elections to ask, "Why aren't my polls opened, and where do I go to vote?" said Susan S. Pollard, a spokeswoman for the board. (link)
Repeat after me:

Democracy is the most perfect political system ever devised by man.

Democracy is the most perfect political system ever devised by man.

Democracy is ...

Quote Of The Day

Regarding that which is going to be the biggest issue of the 2008 presidential campaign - the economy:
[John] McCain has at least one serious political drawback -- and it is not the "temperament" issue.

[T]hose who know McCain report a general lack of interest in domestic policy compared with his engagement in foreign affairs. "It's sometimes unfairly argued that Bush is intellectually uncurious," says one former member of Congress, "but on domestic issues that is really true of McCain.
Michael Gerson, "One Surge That Led to Another," The Washington Post, February 6, 2008

Is There a Trend Here?

I'll leave it to others to determine that.

The race results from yesterday:

Darned if I can see a pattern to all this.

Chart courtesy of the Washington Times