Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● Like Marion Jones, the Olympic champion who surrendered her gold medals after admitting to taking performance-enhancing drugs before the 2000 summer games, Atlanta School Supt. Beverly Hall should return the National Superintendent of the Year award for 2009. There’s “clear-cut, direct, eyewitness evidence that student tests” were doped-up during the 2009 CRCT exams, said Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard. Her watch, her responsibility.
● Yes, do scrap the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — if we have no intention of committing it to the stress of combat. If we do, the nation should listen to Sen. John McCain, Marine Commandant Gen. James F. Amos and his predecessor, Gen. James T. Conway. Amos pointed out that “there’s nothing more intimate than combat” where young men are “laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers.” If this nation intends to create a military for humanitarian and civil engineering purposes, there likely is little long-term harm in lifting the ban.
● In assessing the state of two-party politics in Georgia following November’s elections, I noted that only a small handful of Democrats with statewide potential remained. Make that one fewer. State Sen. Tim Golden of Valdosta switched parties. The sole white rural Democrat remaining in the state Senate is George Hooks of Americus. Redistricting could claim him; if not he could still be the last of the breed for a long spell.
● Say what you will, red-light cameras are to safety what courtroom-simulating TV is to justice. The primary purpose of both is to generate revenue.
● We live in the age of the self-absorbed where unjustifiably embittered people rage, anonymously, sometimes to call attention to their imagined importance — like, for example, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange or Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, who is thought to be the source of the leak of more than 250,000 confidential documents. Assange had the audacity to publish the leaks and call for Hillary Clinton to resign. The Army private, assuming his guilt, decides he’s more important than the nation or any institution in it. The hallmark of this era is rights without responsibilities.
● One of my great pleasures over the years was the opportunity to present the AJC’s Reserve Component Achievement Award to the outstanding enlisted men and women in the Georgia Army National Guard and the Army Reserves. This year I was a visitor but the chill-bumps come still as the reservists are honored. This year’s National Guard winners were Spc. James A. Wynn, a Warner Robins police officer and a member of Macon’s 48th Infantry Brigade who volunteered for combat duty in Afghanistan, and Staff Sgt. Kevin O. McMakin, also a member of the 48th, an Afghanistan vet and Georgia’s Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year. Representing the Army Reserve were Spc. Allison L. Hubbart, a chaplain’s assistant and a junior at Columbus State University, who joined the Army in 2005, inspired by her brother’s deployment to Iraq as a U.S. Marine in 2003, and Sgt. 1st Class Julie A. Hampton of Grovetown, a firefighter and paramedic in Augusta, a mother of two and a former active-duty soldier working in physical therapy. She had tours in Germany, Korea and stateside before joining the Alabama National Guard and then Army Reserves. They deserve our thanks.
● MARTA’s board chairman, Michael Tyler, says he sees no conflict of interest in asking suppliers to fund a Christmas party for the agency’s 4,400 employees. Is there anybody else who thinks the vendors’ cash “contributions” won’t wind up on MARTA’s tab in future billings? Didn’t think so.