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Hometown Heroes

Japan looks back

Japan is working hard at forgetting. Its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, suggests in code-talk that Japan was the victim of World War II — no war criminals at all, thank you — and its influential conservative press, with a wink from the government, is determined to whitewash the country’s use of sex slaves during the war. This sort of thing can be catching. Maybe others will forget why they consider Japan a friend.

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Commission director says progress being made in state’s charter school efforts

You may recall that I vigorously opposed passage of a constitutional amendment in 2012 creating the State Charter School Commission that would allow an alternative method for authorizing charter schools in Georgia. You may recall, also, that the amendment passed handily. So much for my vigor.

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Posted: dec. 13, 2014 3:12 p.m.

The joys of Christmas traditions

I have always loved Christmas and its traditions; even as I have grown older, I find that really deep in my heart I still believe in Santa Claus and the spirit of the whole season, and I just can’t wait until I see the “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” re-runs at this time of year with the grandchildren.

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Posted: dec. 13, 2014 3:09 p.m.

If Bora-Bora doesn't care about the game, why should we?

This was written in a cave somewhere in Greater Bora Bora. The column was floated across the ocean in an RC Cola bottle to this newspaper. (I have no idea how the editors got it from bottle to print. I assumed that if editors can figure out where commas go, they ought to be able to figure out how to print a column in a bottle.)

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Posted: dec. 06, 2014 5:42 p.m. | Updated: dec. 06, 2014 10:00 p.m.

The wrong route to reform

Last month, the police commissioner of New York, Bill Bratton, was quizzed at a conference by Jeffrey Toobin, a writer for The New Yorker. Bratton had been the police chief in Boston and Los Angeles, as well as New York’s once before, and he is a well-known champion of what is known as the “broken windows” school of policing. Toobin asked him what could account for the precipitous drop in crime in New York City. Bratton responded in a flash: The cops.

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Posted: dec. 06, 2014 5:47 p.m. | Updated: dec. 06, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Carl Sanders: A great man who did great things for Georgia

On my “To Do” list last week was a reminder to call former Gov. Carl Sanders and see if he had any thoughts on how to get the field at Sanford Stadium named for UGA’s former coach and athletic director Vince Dooley. I knew he would like the idea and perhaps could jerk a few chains I seem to have been unable to rattle thus far.

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Posted: nov. 29, 2014 4:50 p.m. | Updated: nov. 29, 2014 4:51 p.m.

Real men don’t

Where are the men?

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Posted: nov. 29, 2014 4:51 p.m.

Elite contempt for ordinary Americans

Jonathan Gruber, MIT economist and paid architect of Obamacare, has shocked and disgusted many Americans. In 2013, he explained to a University of Pennsylvania audience: “This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure (the Congressional Budget Office) did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies.” He added that the “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.” Most insulting were his previous statements that “the American voter is too stupid to understand” and his boast of Obamacare’s “exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American ...

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Posted: nov. 29, 2014 4:48 p.m.

A reason to be thankful

I love the Thanksgiving holiday weekend as much as anyone. It’s great to have family visit and take some time to talk and visit and just be together. There’s the added bonus that comes from a warm glow of nostalgia lingering from long-ago Thanksgiving dinners at Nana and Grampa’s.

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Posted: nov. 29, 2014 4:47 p.m.

Questions of character

Beverly Gage, a Yale historian, was researching a biography of J. Edgar Hoover in the National Archives when she came across the infamous letter the FBI had written to Martin Luther King Jr., outlining in the crudest form his extramarital escapades and suggesting, King concluded, that he kill himself: “There is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is.” King did nothing, but the FBI acted. It leaked its dirt to the press.

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Posted: nov. 22, 2014 5:19 p.m. | Updated: nov. 22, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Thanks and giving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. A chance to be grateful instead of focusing on gift-giving and gift-receiving. Family, friends, bountiful feasts and football are at the forefront of our minds rather than cocktail parties and gifts. Think of it as a time to pause and give thanks before the whirlwind of December.

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Posted: nov. 22, 2014 5:20 p.m. | Updated: nov. 22, 2014 10:00 p.m.

The audacity of arrogance

In the week following the shellacking of his party in the midterm elections, one might think that President Barack Obama would be conciliatory and humble. Instead, he has continued to be audacious — but with arrogance rather than hope.

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Posted: nov. 15, 2014 6:17 p.m. | Updated: nov. 15, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Politics from the bottom up drives reform

In the wake of the midterm elections, many are now speculating about what will happen to President Obama’s health care law with a Republican Senate. However, all the partisan talk misses the point. In America, change does not come from politicians. It comes from the American people and the popular culture.

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Posted: nov. 15, 2014 6:24 p.m. | Updated: nov. 15, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Republican gains deep and wide

Little noticed by the Washington press corps is the extent of the Republican State legislative gains in Election 2014. A quick trip to the enormously informative Ballotpedia.org website provides the numbers that the DC reporters overlooked.

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Posted: nov. 08, 2014 7:12 p.m. | Updated: nov. 08, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Now, it's about governing not politics

Part of the allure and fascination of politics is that you don’t know what’s going to happen until election night is over and all the votes have been counted. It is real-life, high-stakes drama. In the 1970s, it was volunteers who would call in the vote tallies from the precincts. They would be written on the blackboard and the totals calculated as the votes were called in.

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Posted: nov. 08, 2014 7:15 p.m. | Updated: nov. 08, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Scholar-athlete charade

Last year’s column “Dishonest Educators” (1/9/2013) reported on the largest school cheating scandal in U.S. history. In more than three-quarters of the 56 Atlanta schools investigated, teachers changed student answers on academic achievement tests. Cheating orders came directly from school administrators. The cheating was brazen. One teacher told a colleague, “I had to give your kids, or your students, the answers because they’re dumb as hell.” Atlanta’s not alone. Teacher cheating has been discovered in other cities, such as Philadelphia, Houston, New York, Detroit, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Washington.

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Posted: nov. 08, 2014 7:17 p.m. | Updated: nov. 08, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Peace before sunset

Last week a neighbor friend passed on to his own personal sunset.

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Posted: nov. 08, 2014 7:20 p.m.

Cushman: Getting stuff done

Prognosticators are predicting a Republican takeover of the United States Senate, and a pickup of a few seats in the House of Representatives. Driven in large part by the unpopularity of President Barack Obama (latest Gallup poll 42 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove of Obama), this potential change in control provides both an opportunity and a risk for Republicans.

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Posted: nov. 01, 2014 5:46 p.m.

Rasmussen: Election 2014 in context

Political pundits often miss the forest for the trees, and it’s amazing how things look when you pause for a moment to look at the broader context of the 2014 midterm elections. The short-term discussion among political junkies is all about whether Republicans can win control of the Senate and just how many seats they will win.

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Posted: nov. 01, 2014 5:45 p.m.

Williams: Africa, A Tragic Continent

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.

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Posted: nov. 01, 2014 5:44 p.m.

Yarbrough: A salute to one trying to make this a better world

A wise man once said that our only reason for occupying space on this earth is to leave things better than we found them. Unfortunately, not enough of us will. Len Pagano is an exception.

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Posted: nov. 01, 2014 5:42 p.m.

Africa: A tragic continent

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.

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Posted: oct. 27, 2014 11:11 a.m.

The power of positive beliefs

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.

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Posted: oct. 25, 2014 11:52 a.m. | Updated: oct. 25, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Ben Bradlee was a leader and a friend

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.

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Posted: oct. 25, 2014 11:56 a.m. | Updated: oct. 25, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Embarrassing economists

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.

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Posted: oct. 25, 2014 11:58 a.m. | Updated: oct. 25, 2014 10:00 p.m.

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