Here's how my Aug. 11, 2003, column began: "Anyone who believes President Bush's Africa initiative, including sending U.S. troops to Liberia, will amount to more than a hill of beans is whistling Dixie. Maybe it's overly pessimistic, but most of Africa is a continent without much hope for its people." More than a decade has passed since that assessment, and little has changed to suggest a more optimistic outlook. Now Ebola threatens the very existence of the West African nations Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Moreover, the deadly disease is likely to spread to neighboring nations.
My mother was diagnosed with uterine cancer in the mid-1970s, when I was in grammar school. Her goal, at that time, was to stay alive to see my older sister Kathy and me graduate from high school. She neither dwelled on the disease, nor on why she was stricken with it, but instead focused on getting rid of the cancer and living for her two daughters.
Ben Bradlee would not have liked me to say so, but he was the living refutation of the Declaration of Independence: All men are not created equal. Certainly, he was not. He was born rich and well-connected, a member of the WASP tribe that once ran much of America and nearly all of its prestigious institutions. He was compellingly handsome and so smart that no crossword puzzle could really challenge him. It's not that he didn't have a weakness. He did. He was a sucker for the underdog.
So as to give some perspective, I'm going to ask readers for their guesses about human behavior before explaining my embarrassment by some of my fellow economists.
Last week Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter shared via this column his vision for public education in Georgia.
To understand the lack of enthusiasm most Americans feel about the midterm elections, it's important to recognize a vital distinction between government and community.
While new and novel might be exciting, routine and habit can help create a structure and framework for success. From eating breakfast, brushing our teeth or exercising every day, much of our lives are driven by routine. This reliance on routine behavior can startle us when we are driving and find ourselves not at our planned destination, but at our routine destination.
Tell me something: What do you think would happen if the United States concludes that Iran has been cheating and delaying and is about to pop a fully functional nuclear weapons program? Would President Obama respond by joining Israel to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities to smithereens - or would he stall and equivocate? My bet is the latter and so, just to double down, is what I bet the Iranians are betting. They have taken the measure of Obama. He lacks menace.
The Food and Drug Administration can make two types of errors. It can approve a drug that has dangerous unanticipated side effects, or it can reject or delay approval of a drug that is safe and effective. Let's look at these errors, because to err on the side of under- or over-caution is costly.
It's a little thing, but it bugs me a lot.
If I die anytime soon - and I have no plans to do so at the moment - please see that the first paragraph of my obituary reads, "He was past president of the University of Georgia National Alumni Association." You can save for later paragraphs the part about my being often mistaken for Brad Pitt and my uncanny ability to put commas where they don't belong.
Ever since the 1976 election, I've understood the importance of voter turnout. My father was running for United States Congress in rural Georgia, having lost in 1974. He realized in early 1976 that running as a republican in Georgia, while Jimmy Carter was topping the democratic ticket, was going to be a hard feat to pull off, but confident of his ability to work hard, he trudged forward.
This past summer I travelled back home to attend the 50th year reunion of the class of 1964 of St Mary's High in Annapolis Maryland.
In 1913, an entrepreneur "said in many newspapers and over his signature that it would be possible to transmit the human voice across the Atlantic before many years." For that accurate assessment of reality, he was prosecuted for stock fraud. A U.S. District Attorney claimed that, "based on these absurd and deliberately misleading statements, the misguided public ... has been persuaded to buy stock in his company."
The director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, was questioned this past Tuesday by members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding lapses in Secret Service Performance. The hearing focused primarily on an incident that took place on September 19. Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, allegedly jumped the White House fence, ran across the White House lawn, ran up a flight of stairs and through the North Portico door. He then allegedly entered the entrance hall, turned left and headed into the East Room, where he was tackled and subdued. A knife was allegedly found in his possession.
Just what were these guys thinking?
Mort Ewing and Tim Fleming, members of the Newton County Board of Commissioners, are reported to have said, that no one has asked them to raise their taxes. Maybe, but to me, that's asking the wrong question.
Here we go again. Yet another public office holder - a New York Congressman - has been caught in and disgraced by an egregious and revolting lapse in judgment, to put it mildly. I won't go into the details, but it involved his Twitter account.
The people of Newton County and the five cities located here have suffered dramatically during this great recession that seems to have no end.
Well, it looks like I am in another theological pickle.
It's gardening time in Georgia, and some of my friends are sharing pictures of tomatoes, peppers, squash and all the other plants they're growing in their backyards. I love to see all this home gardening, but thankfully, I haven't seen any pictures of okra plants. Before I tell you about my hatred for okra, I'd better explain a bit about the proper pronunciation. It wasn't until I was in college that I learned that the itchy pods that we grew each year were pronounced "OAK-RAH." I grew up saying "OAK-REE," and I'd usually pronounce ...
I can be predictable in my columns.
The church in which I grew up had a tradition of singing one particular song more often than any other. In the middle of the service, just before the pastoral prayer, we would sing "Take time to be Holy."
This week in the church year, we are celebrating the Ascension of Jesus. That's the day, 40 days after Jesus rose from the dead on Easter, that he elevated in front of the disciples' eyes and rose up to the heavens until the clouds hid him from their sight (See Luke 24 or Acts 1).
"Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don't repay evil for evil. Don't retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it."
The sale of 200 million shares of AIG stock by the U.S. treasury in late May was reported to have made a "small profit." There are a couple of things about that sale and the U.S. ownership stake in AIG I find puzzling.
It's not as if I were planning a trip to Germany this summer, but being a vegetarian, I would give it a wide berth for now. Some 1,500 people who live there or who have visited there recently have been sickened by one of the world's largest ever outbreaks of a heretofore unknown E. coli infection that has killed 18, making it the deadliest outbreak in history. Suspicion is pointing toward imported lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, leading Russia to ban all vegetable imports. When the advice is not to eat summer's salad bounty, I think I ...
It's hot, darn hot, about 13 degrees warmer than average, and supposed to top out at a searing 97 degrees today in Newton County.
Rats. I thought I could get out of writing a column this week.
Do you remember the Bible verses about Peter denying Christ three times, or the disciples arguing about seating arrangements up in Heaven, or the time they fell asleep while they should have been praying? How do most good folks react, when they hear about someone who disappointed Jesus? Some of them get high-and-mighty, pretty quickly. "Oh, I wouldn't have let Christ down! No sir! Not me! I'd have marched up to those Roman soldiers, and said, 'You want my savior? Well, you'll have to take me first!' That's what I would have said, praise God!"