Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss is catching heat from right-wingnuts for doing exactly what he should be doing — trying to help the federal government find a way out of the financial morass the country is in. The wingnuts want him to honor a 20-year-old no-tax pledge. The senator says he is not talking about tax increases, but tax reform and cites loopholes that need to be closed, such as the current $6 billion annual tax credits for ethanol production. Good for him. I support his efforts 100 percent. Maybe the wingnuts would rather see some moron representing us who thinks rape is “a gift from God.”
But all the wingnuts aren’t on the right. A survey by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA shows that college faculty members tilt left. More than half identify themselves as “liberal” and more than one in 10 say they are “far left.” I hope students understand that many of their professors live in a dream world because they’ve never had to make a living in the real one.
State Sen. Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, a.k.a. “Will the Winner,” a.k.a. “Mork from Ork,” has stepped down from his post as majority leader and turned over the reins to Sen. Ronnie Chance, R-Tyrone. I will miss the Chipster. I loved his stand on not allowing our body parts to be microchipped without our permission (a burning issue in our General Assembly, second only to recognizing “Go Fish, Georgia” as the state’s official joke.) Mr. Chips was a hoot to write about, but I will admit he got a little scary toward the end. Instead of worrying about budget shortfalls and ethics reform, he was hosting meetings on a United Nations conspiracy to take over private property through mind control. Nanoo! Nanoo!
My friend Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage, an internet political news service, thinks horse racing is headed down the homestretch toward reality. Towery, a former state senator, cites a poll by Landmark Communications showing that more than 70 percent of Georgians want to vote on a constitutional amendment to allow horse racing in the state. “Make no mistake,” Towery says, “racing will come to Georgia in the future. The issue is that of when and how.” I expect this will get Baptists in such a fever they will temporarily forget about women preachers and the sins of yoga.
I have been told that a measure is being drafted in the Legislature that would benefit public-school teachers. It is about time. When I get the details, I will let you know. Until then, I will remain dubious. I still am not sure what public-school teachers have done to earn the antipathy and disrespect of legislators. Teachers are not the primary cause of the current state of public education in Georgia. In my opinion, the biggest problems are apathetic and often absentee parents as well as red tape and bureaucracy at every level of government from the feds to local school boards, leaving school teachers as convenient scapegoats. Interestingly, our intrepid public servants seem to have chosen to ignore the first problem and exacerbate the other one.
One more word on education: Charter-school advocates have reached out to me in spite of my strong opposition to the recent constitutional amendment in which they prevailed and I lost. I have been asked to interview a charter-school teacher in the classroom. I plan to do just that after the first of the year. That is a wise move on their part. There are more than a few politicians in our state, along with their staffs, who have the public-relations skills of a turnip. They could learn a lesson from the charter-school folks.
On a personal note: This has been a tough year for losing good friends. The most recent is John Willis, publisher of the Calhoun Times and editorial page editor of the Rome News-Tribune, a good and decent man who passed away suddenly last week. More and more, I am feeling my own mortality. It is a humbling and scary thought.
Finally, to Coach Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs: You left it all on the field against Alabama and I am proud of your efforts. Besides, you still are state football champions, having reduced Georgia Tech to road kill. That is what matters most in this household. Woof! Woof!
You can reach Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139.