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By Tom Cushing

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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Ordinary Transgressions

Uploaded: Aug 9, 2014
This will be an equal opportunity RC post; recent scandals have befallen politicians of both Parties, on both ends of the country. I'll focus on one from each Party. There will surely be disappointment about my choices from among the target-rich alternate universe of candidates – that's what the Comments are for.

Out west here, our first stop will be in Montana, where a plagiarism dust-devil has driven 53-year old Democrat John Walsh from this fall's US Senate race. He replaced hardy perennial Max Baucus in February, as Baucus was named Ambassador to China. Walsh was trailing in the race for a seat that has been held by Dems since 1913.

Now, pols are forever cribbing the ideas of others, especially in their speeches – right Mr. Veep, Senator Paul? This one stands apart from that sordid crowd. It seems that Mr. Walsh lifted whole sections of his 14-page Master's degree thesis on Mideast affairs from other authors, without so much as source attribution. Those sections included all six recommendations that conclude the paper, verbatim.

A youthful indiscretion, perhaps, that can be tolerated when weighed against a career of distinguished service? Nope – it happened seven years ago, at the US Army War College, in Carlisle, PA, which awarded him his degree.

It's hard to know which disbelief to express first: he got his degree anyway? At the War College?? For a 14-page thesis??? (Hell's bells, I've written a few of these Raucous Caucae that verged on that length, and were better attributed, to boot! Kindly address me as Colonel).

As it happens, the fact that he got his degree may be the very worst 'Fail' in this sorry incident. The War College did not catch the fraud – the New York Times did. The academics did not use even the most basic of anti-plagiarism tools freely available on the market.

At GGU, for example, we routinely use a software app called TurnItIn, as one line of defense against academic dishonesty. I have also discovered plagiarized work via routine google-search of an odd phrase. There is no joy in that, but academic integrity standards need to be patrolled if the degree is to have meaning, and out of respect for the hard, honest labor of classmates. This incident begs the question: just how cunning would an enemy need to be to put one over on the Army War College?

Confronted with his actions, Walsh first blamed stress, as well as the later suicide of a comrade from his tour in Iraq – apparently forgetting that the Montana state animal is not the weasel (it's the grizzly). Under pressure from other Dems, he finally dropped-out of the campaign this week. The War Collegians, scrambled egg on their faces instead of their chests, have opened an inquiry. The MT GOP Senate candidate enjoys a double-digit lead.

Back East, VA Governor Bob McDonnell and his First Lady Maureen stand accused of taking bribes in the form of some $169,000 of gifts from local businessman Jonnie Williams. This prosecution is notable for several reasons: first, it is apparently still possible to give money illegally to a public official (who knew?). It's also a 'family values' politician embroiled in a sex scandal, a heterosexual sex scandal. And, charged with conspiracy, Gov and Mrs. Gov are defending on the basis that their family-values marriage is so irretrievably broken that they never even speak (much less 'conspire').

But wait – there's more! "Anatabloc," the tobacco-based product the Governor is alleged to have hawked on Mr. Williams' behalf, is marketed variously as a pharmaceutical and a health supplement (The FDA begs to differ). Its label graphic uses the wrong chemical symbol, its health claims were even rejected by various cigarette companies, and its R&D involved novel means of curing the tobacco leaves – in Maytag dryers, and Walmart microwaves. They apparently hoped to thereby render their healthy-pills non-carcinogenic. It is not clear that they succeeded.

Further, Mr. Williams may not be the best of government witnesses. He has been fired from the company he ran as CEO – the Chairman and COO(!) pronounced himself shocked at Williams' various 'egregious errors.' He has been in hot water with the SEC at various points in his career, and is not famous as a details guy. He also does not believe he shares a romantic relationship with Mrs. McDonnell, despite her indication of a "huge crush" on him -- or the 1200 texts and emails exchanged between them (I will proudly cop to a mad romance with My Intended, but not to 1200 emails. How about you?). It may help him (or not) that her personal secretary characterized First Lady Maureen as: "a nutbag."

These incidents are long on head-shaking disbelief, but do they let us all off-the-hook? They do beg the Margaret 'Hotlips' O'Houlihan question: how did these people manage to get themselves into such positions of great responsibility? The Answer (akin to Hawkeye and Trapper John): they were elected (Walsh was Lt. Gov. when appointed).
By us.

To further paraphrase Major O'Houlihan: Our will be done.

Comments

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Aug 9, 2014 at 5:27 pm

I would like to know if Governor McDonnell has confirmed that he's "not a crook"?

I'm so waaaaaaaaay tickled by all this silly willy news! I don't know much about his First Lady but she seems to have a worried look. I'll have to study her expressions over the next several days. I can hardly wait to see her march right into the clink if found GUILTY!!!

I'm sure a few Plutonians will forgive them both but not I! NOPE...PRETTY IS AS PRETTY DOES. that's my motto...it drives my life

i rest my case...tee hee...THANK YOU FOR THIS WONDERFUL DRAMA.

ps can anyone confirm if they Mexican nationals?




Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Aug 9, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Correction: ps can anyone confirm if they be Mexican nationals? or, been had a secret past? gracias...


Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Aug 10, 2014 at 8:56 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

"There will surely be disappointment about my choices from among the target-rich alternate universe of candidates – that's what the Comments are for."

These are the examples that you chose to highlight?!

How about the recent senatorial primary election issues in Mississippi? Or what about any number of crisis we seem to be in with our current federal government?

Plagiarism and former politicians misdeeds while in office??

Who cares!


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Aug 10, 2014 at 9:25 am

Nuke! You're right on-cue. Here's what you do: Web Link


Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Aug 10, 2014 at 11:58 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

"There will surely be disappointment about my choices from among the target-rich alternate universe of candidates – that's what the Comments are for." <----!

You literally beg for comments, then snark when someone gives one.

Make up your mind, man!

But you have Cholo, so you have that going for ya!


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Aug 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Here I thought I was helpfully linking you to the "So you want to be a blogger" tab. No good deed goes unpunished ...


Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Aug 10, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

Then I guess there's no discussion to be had here.

On to your next blog. Hopefully you might say something a little more interesting than "Here I thought..."

Maybe you could write about homonyms?

:)


Posted by BF, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 10, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Way to go Dan! You spoke right to the point about Cushing's tactics. I saw through his nonsense many blogs ago. It was pretty easy to see why he carries on the way he does. He's a lawyer; he's trained to argue. Taking Tom to task is useless. His literal use of "lawyer speak" is not only boring and uninteresting, it also gets in the way of making points.




Posted by BF, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 10, 2014 at 9:31 pm

...I almost forgot. The opinions I have read from Chief Justice John Roberts are easier to read than what comes fom the pen of Cushing.


Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 11, 2014 at 7:35 am

I don't care about plagiarism or attribution. I like interesting ideas. I don't care how you get them.

"When a thing has been well said, have no scruple; take it and copy it." - Anatole France


Posted by Tom Cushing , a resident of Alamo,
on Aug 11, 2014 at 9:09 am

Hi Herman -- there Is a theory that holds that there's no original thought in the world, so steal shamelessly.

But when the point of the exercise is to demonstrate that one can organize an approach to an issue and think independently, and when, like Sen. Walsh, you've committed to things like attribution and originality, then both are problems when you crib.

Now, some might say that demonstrating the ability to play fast-and-loose is a 'feature' in a pol, rather than 'a bug,' but getting so blatantly busted at anything that smells unethical is still a career-altering event.


Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 11, 2014 at 10:02 am

I agree Walsh is a loser.

My advice was directed to you. When you write your columns, you generally read an article from the NY Times or some other liberal publication and then parrot what they said. Wouldn't it be faster if you just took their work and cut and pasted it into your column instead? If you must, you could add in a few of your trademark words, like "howsabouts" and such.

I steal other people's words all the time. Of course, no one pays me to annoy people. I just do it for fun.

It's me, spcwt, by the way. I've decided to go by Herman Glates. Like the name? I stole it.


Posted by TGom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Aug 11, 2014 at 10:49 am

Actually, S-P, while I will continue to respect your anonymity, 'howsabout' you using your actual name? It tends to narrow the range on the trollometer, when your friends and colleagues know it's you.

It's true I'm a subscriber to the nation's newspaper of record. Lots of good column material comes from there. I generally cite my sources, as well. If it's liberal, well, so be it. I do often look to reasonably responsible conservative commentary, like Forbes, National Review and WSJ, to look for other sides, but many of their commentators are just transparently awful. Reality does have a liberal bias, 'methinks', although I don't know who first said that -- probably somebody writing in the NYTimes.

I am surprised that you haven't taken-up the standing invitation to become a blogger 'hereabouts,' yourself. You often have interesting things to say, and a consistent point of view, at least when you're not just trolling the board. Is it the anonymity thing, or the fact that you'd occasionally have to drone-on about something other than drone policy?

BTW, I also think Peter Kluget would be a good choice to be a blogger hereabouts. Maybe you two could point/counterpoint agreed-upon issues? Kluget & Glates (or v-v), either a law firm or the new Siskel & Ebert.


Posted by Herman Glates, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 11, 2014 at 11:41 am

I'm here for the laughs.

Plus, most of my friends and co-workers would not appreciate my political views. I prefer anonymity.


Posted by Cholo Pololo Mololo, a resident of Livermore,
on Aug 12, 2014 at 7:53 am

Her-man G. Tesla...i rest my case...


Posted by REALLY, a resident of Canyon Creek,
on Aug 14, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Your real name is TGom?


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Aug 14, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Really: Yes, really. My typing is a bit like a bear dancing. It's remarkable enough that it can be done at all -- you shouldn't bother expecting Fred Astaire. Card shuffling, loosely defined, is also an occasion for much mirth at my expense.

Southpaws generally have little incentive to develop fine motor skills. So, we learn how to think, and adapt to a hostile northpaw environment, instead. Those things come in 'handy' -- especially when blogging.


Posted by Where did Lulu go? , a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Aug 15, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Update on Lulu??


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