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It seems to us . . . Generic medicine, salting it away, baseball warm-ups and Albany for sale

GET REAL: It was no surprise that the health care reform bill triggered a lot of e-mails and letters to the editor, and we were happy to print them. So were other newspapers across the nation. But we're always on the lookout for what the trade calls "astroturf" -- fake grass-roots letter campaigns -- that provide suggested text for those too lazy to write their own letters.

Hey, folks may agree with the Declaration of Independence too, but they shouldn't sign a copy and claim they wrote it.

Anyway, our favorite during this week's deluge was received at a California paper, where the writer didn't even bother to change the line, "I'm proud to be represented by Congressman XX. His yes vote means he listened to us."

Congressman XX? Wasn't he caught with a stripper in D.C.'s Tidal Pool years ago? Or is that a generic term, for those caught in more recent off-color scandals?

In any event, we're glad he's listening.

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SILVER LINING: If it is indeed true that it's an ill wind that blows no good, then we're glad to be on the receiving end of the good for a change.

Nor'easters pummeled the coast this winter, but unless the weekend brings a few flurries, this region is on track for a snowless March and a short winter -- so short, in fact, that Buffalo saved $700,000 and still has a 6,000-ton mountain of road salt left over.

So maybe there is a benefit to global warming -- and we can take that with a grain of salt.

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OPENING DAY: OK, the Bisons won't be back in Coca-Cola Field for another 17 days, but there still was some baseball buzz here this week. One of baseball's premier players, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, was supposed to fly in for a quick inning with federal investigators in the case of a Toronto doctor whose aide was caught bringing human growth hormone across the border.

A-Rod reportedly is still trying to schedule the session. Other players may be questioned, too, although there's no allegation of a performance-drug connection and the feds are careful to characterize the players only as witnesses.

We're guessing it won't be a fun trip for A-Rod. But we hope when he does come, he gets to sample some real Buffalo wings -- or maybe, if it's a Friday in Lent, a fish fry.

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ALBANY AT IT AGAIN: Word comes that New York Democrats are offering seats on special-access "advisory councils" for $25,000 to businessmen and $50,000 for union leaders. Forget the "For Sale" sign they're hanging on the Legislature building -- that's a pretty sad pricing commentary on wealth and status in the business community.

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