- The Washington Times - Monday, April 29, 2002

Twists and alterations
Here's a question to ask the next political pollster that rings your house during supper: "Does your political polling hurt democracy?"
At a time when polling of public opinion has come to dominate this nation's political life, pollster John Zogby of Zogby International, and Matthew Robinson, author of "Mobocracy: How the Media's Obsession with Polling Twists the News, Alters Elections, and Undermines Democracy," will try to answer that specific question at a Cato Institute forum in Washington tomorrow.
"Presidents and members of Congress consult their pollsters just as ancient politicians queried the Oracle of Delphi," organizers of the forum observe. "Defenders of polling say it improves our democracy by providing the views of the public to policymakers, thereby controlling elites. Critics ask whether polling undermines constitutional government in favor of the 'will of the people' as discerned by continual surveys."

Political marathon
It wasn't the "Run for the Roses," but a race that will live forever in the lore of political Washington shocked unsuspecting Old Town Alexandria pedestrians and amused Morrison House patrons.
Craig Shirley, president of Craig Shirley and Associates, and Andrew Theodore of Keelen Communications were having cocktails with friends Friday evening when the 34-year-old Mr. Theodore decided it would be a good idea to start picking on the 45-year-old Mr. Shirley for being "an old man."
Never believing that Mr. Shirley would call his bluff, Mr. Theodore challenged his friend to a foot race around the block and put up $100 to sweeten the deal. Mr. Shirley accepted and proceeded to the front entrance of the four-star Morrison House. The pair were quickly followed by friends, intrigued guests attending two weddings at the hotel and several of the Morrison's employees.
Moments later, Patricia Meagher of the Meagher Co. officiated the start of the race on the red brick sidewalk as Mr. Shirley and Mr. Theodore clad in dress shoes, dress shirts, suit pants and neckties took off on foot to prove the fitter man.
As they disappeared around the corner at crowded King Street, the official jury Ms. Meagher, Christian Josi of Nichols-Dezenhall Communications Management Group, Audrey Mullen of Advocacy Inc. and Michael McShane of the McShane Group waited to see who would be first to clear the Morrison's alley a block away and head into the home stretch.
The leader was Mr. Shirley by 20 yards at the halfway point, prompting Mr. Theodore to throw in the towel and wheeze up the alley in defeat. The smartly dressed Mr. Shirley finished the block and the race, and was declared the official winner. He plans to donate his winnings to the American Heart Association in Mr. Theodore's name.

Hyper lynx
They've found lynx hair over there,
And more lynx hair over here.
The endangered lynx
Is OK, methinks,
When there's lynx hair everywhere!

F.R. Duplantier

Nuke Fort Knox
A House vote to move forward with making Nevada's Yucca Mountain the nation's primary nuclear waste depository is being applauded by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste.
The decision comes after Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn vetoed Uncle Sam's initial decision to move forward on Yucca. The decision came after two decades of scientific analysis and political wrangling over where and how to deposit and store nuclear waste.
"After spending more than $6 billion to determine the safest and most secure site, the government has correctly concluded that it is safe to bury nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain," says council President Tom Schatz. "In addition, keeping the waste at its current location at nuclear plants around the nation wastes taxpayer dollars."
How many dollars?
Estimates put the price tag of such hazardous storage at more than $60 billion. In addition, several federal court decisions in recent years have found the Department of Energy has violated the law by failing to construct a permanent nuclear waste site.
But it is September 11, says Mr. Schatz, more than anything else, that has taught this country a lesson about its potential weak spots.
"Currently, a terrorist has over 100 chances in 39 states to breach security where nuclear waste is stored, and there are scores of sites power plants, old reactors, etc. where nuclear material now resides," he says. "The shallow nuclear storage pools built in the 1970s were only designed as a temporary measure and are often located near major U.S. cities.
"Putting most or all nuclear waste in one facility that can be carefully documented and guarded, like Fort Knox, ensures high security."

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