The allusion to the NCAA tournament gets the adrenaline flowing to be sure. Without question, it's a very exciting time of year. Having been a basketball player and coach for most my life, I can honestly say the “win or go home” mentality sure adds to the drama of the season.
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I’ve gotten the e-mail several times over the past few weeks. I’m sure you have, too.
It bears a photo of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and attributes to her the following quote, “The problem with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.”
I did not go to snopes.com to verify whether or not Mrs. Thatcher actually uttered those words. In fact, I’m not real sure who Mr. Snopes is or who died and left him in charge of online information verification.
If Mrs. Thatcher did not actually make the statement, she should have for it is an absolute truth.
The e-mail arrived as the so-called stimulus bill was being debated and subsequently signed into law by President Barack Obama. The bill is a combination of tax cuts (one third) and spending initiatives (two thirds) totaling some $787 billion designed to jump start the economy.
It purports to put money back into the pockets of consumers and businesses and create millions of jobs - most of them on public works projects to rehab the nation’s sagging infrastructure. There is also a component that directs millions to making the USA more energy efficient.
The fund also adds some $20 billion in funding to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP is what used to be called food stamps before it underwent a socialist extreme makeover. Now, instead of food stamp fraud and welfare queens, we can have SNAP beans.
Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsap says the money will help feed families and boost the economy. Critics say it rewards the least productive members of society at the expense of the most productive.
Certainly, we need to create our own energy and kiss the mideast oil barons goodbye. We should harness the power of clean coal, wind, solar and even methane in this battle. That will help.
We also need to rebuild infrastructure. No one wants to see another bridge loaded with rush hour traffic fall into a river.
But, all these jobs are temporary. What happens when the government runs out of other people’s money?
When it got back to work this week, Congress started debating another $410 billion in spending just to keep government functioning.
Those of us who work to pay for all this are, quite frankly, tired of carrying the chronic layabouts who refuse to work for even a minute but demand equal compensation through government handouts.
Which brings to mind another quote.
“The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”
Those words were delivered by the Roman philosopher Cicero in 55 BC. Cicero was a firsthand witness to the decline and fall of the Roman Republic.
It is a shame he is not around to advise President Obama during our own great national decline.
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Almost everyone has heard the expression “due process rights” but many never consider what it really means. It is easy to have preconceived ideas about the guilt of accused persons because victims of crime have already been denied their rights.
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Get real on race President should seize chance to lead national dialogue on race
Attorney General Eric Holder said recently that America is "essentially a nation of cowards" for not talking more frankly about race.
Only days later, protesters from the NAACP are demanding the head of an editorial cartoonist because they think he compared Barack Obama to a chimpanzee.
If this is a nation of cowards - and we don't think it is - this kind of thing is precisely why.
First things first.
If we thought for a second that cartoonist Sean Delonas really intended to compare our president to a chimpanzee, we'd be the first to call for his being tossed out on his stump. President Bush was compared to a chimp too, but that in no way carries the racist baggage of doing such a thing to our first black president. And, in fact, no one came out swinging faster or harder than we did when a Marietta, Ga., bar owner last year sold T-shirts depicting Obama as the chimpanzee children's book star Curious George ("Spurious George," May 16 Augusta Chronicle).
We just don't see the same hurtful intent in the cartoon incident. Not at all.
In the New York Post cartoon, police officers have shot a chimp, and one says, "They'll have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill."
Delonas was using the metaphor of the recent police shooting of a chimp in Connecticut that had attacked a woman, in order to make a statement about how brainless he thinks the stimulus bill is.
In a real "nation of cowards," such matters of opinion will be left unexpressed, for fear of offending someone who might take it wrong.
Meanwhile, the New York Post has apologized to those who did take it wrong. But in today's America, you can be taken wrong and apologize and still lose your job.
The truth is, Barack Obama did not write that bill anyway. It was written by an out-of-control Democratic majority led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who couldn't help but put every pent-up left-wing cause into the massive spending bill. Much of it had nothing to do with stimulating the economy.
It was, as the cartoon implied, a stupid bill.
Still, rather than have a frank discussion, some want the cartoonist's head on a platter.
This isn't the kind of America Barack Obama talked about in his landmark speech on race in 2008. In it, he denounced his former pastor's racist sermons by saying the Rev. Jeremiah Wright "expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America."
Likewise with this hyper-emotional reaction to the cartoon - and with the words of Obama's own attorney general.
The president could calm the waters in both instances. We wish he would let it be known that he doesn't take offense to the cartoon. And, as Forbes.com columnist Tunku Varadarajan writes, the president should rebut Mr. Holder's view of America, which is so completely at odds with the nation that just elected a black man president.
"President Obama, could you set the record straight?" writes Varadarajan. "Tell us that your attorney general is mistaken and misguided. Tell us, please, that he ought to know better."
In short, the president needs to lead the discussion his friend is so anxious for.
From the Tuesday, February 24, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle [Full Story »]