It's probably an understatement to say that Georgia voters this fall aren't likely to be terribly excited about their choices for governor.
On the one hand is Democrat Roy Barnes, who had the job before and got thumped out by voters eight years ago. On the other is Republican Nathan Deal, who continues to dodge ethical questions after eking out a primary runoff win following a long, ugly campaign.
If we had another hand, on it would be Libertarian John Monds, who for the sake of the state's long-term fiscal sanity probably should be elected, but won't.
Even the usual partisan hacks will have to work hard to feign excitement this time around.
Obviously there are policy differences among all of the candidates, and they're spelling them out during debates around the state.
At least they would be spelling out those differences if they weren't spending so much time arguing about such things as how much of their tax returns they're going to release.
It's pure political theater and is meaningless as an expression of how either of them intend to govern, but that's how campaigns run.
Oddly enough, though, there has emerged at least one policy agreement among both (OK, fine, all three) candidates: Each has said he would sign legislation allowing local communities to decide whether to allow Sunday carry-out sales of alcohol.
For Georgia, one of only three states that prohibits Sunday package sales, that's huge. Historically, legislation to allow local referendums on the topic haven't had much of a chance. That began to change a few years ago, but by the time it seemed that a majority of lawmakers were willing to pass such bill, the legislation stalled because of the threat of a veto from teetotaling (and, now, lame duck) Gov. Sonny Perdue.
It's pretty likely, then, that after a new governor takes office next year, the final roadblock to such legislation will have been cleared away.
Whatever your views on alcohol, it makes no sense under that law to tell someone that it is legal for him to drive to a restaurant, drink alcohol (not to excess, of course) and drive back home, but that it is illegal to drive to a store, purchase alcohol, take it home and drink it.
It might be hard to muster up excitement for any of the gubernatorial candidates. But at least we can look forward to the possibility of a little common sense under the law.
Abstainers die sooner
And in a related note: Bad news, teetotalers. A new medical study says that abstaining from alcohol tends to increase one's risk of dying.
As reported in Time magazine, the study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, was conducted by a six-member team led by psychologist Charles Holahan of the University of Texas at Austin.
The study followed 1,824 participants for 20 years. All of the participants were between the ages of 55 and 65 when the study began.
During those 20 years, more than 69 percent of the never-drinkers died; 60 percent of heavy drinkers died; and only 41 percent of moderate drinkers (defined as one to three drinks per day) died.
If you're wondering about caveats that would taint the study - what about socioeconomic status? what about physical health otherwise? - the researchers have already normed them out. After controlling for such factors, the results are conclusive: Moderate drinkers live longer than heavy drinkers, who live longer than teetotalers.
I'm often reminded at times like these of the well-meaning folks who believe the wine in Biblical times - such as that created in Christ's first recorded miracle at the wedding at Cana - was nothing more than non-alcoholic grape juice.
Really? Squeeze out some grape juice, set it aside without refrigeration in a desert environment for a couple of days, and see what happens. Then get back to me on that.
All things in moderation. That often-used quote isn't in the Bible. But then neither is abstention.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail email@example.com. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
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