As I was writing this column, the Woman Who Shares My Name wanted to ask two questions. First, would I please talk about positive things this week? "Surely," she mused, "there has to be some good news you can share with readers instead of your usual gloom and doom." I told her she was meddling in my business. This space represents my opinions, and telling me what to write was a violation of my right of free expression, which could land her in serious trouble with First Amendment advocates.
That led to her second question: "How would you like to eat broccoli three times a day for the rest of your miserable life and have what is left over rammed up your nose?" Say what you will about the Woman Who Shares My Name, but she is a terrific negotiator. Hence, I will attempt to offer some good news to go with the bad.
Good news: Our friends in the General Assembly are working on a measure that will double the homestead exemption from $2,000 to $4,000 and give homeowners a tax break worth about $200 to $300 per household this year. Bad news: Local cities and counties will probably have to raise property taxes to cover the shortfall. Maybe politicians understand the logic of this. I don't.
Good news: The General Assembly has voted to meet only three days a week until they can figure out what is going on in Washington with the economic stimulus package. Good luck with that. Even Washington doesn't understand the economic stimulus package, and they created that Frankenstein. Bad news: Meeting three times a week means that legislators will be in session until June. Hold on to your wallet.
Good news: I have heard nary a peep in the past few weeks from President Peanut, Ted "Looney Tunes" Turner or our esteemed Ambassador to Outer Space Cynthia McKinney. Bad news: If they don't say something outrageous soon, I may be forced to write about the medicinal properties of kumquats.
Good news: One of my favorite members of Congress, Dr. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, publicly criticized Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk show natterers who "stand back and throw bricks" instead of offering "real leadership" during high-profile public policy battles, like the economic stimulus package. He was right as rain. If Limbaugh is so smart, why isn't he president?
Bad news: After what he called a "high volume of phone calls and correspondence," Gingrey folded like a cheap tent. He told Limbaugh, "I want to express to you and all your listeners my very sincere regret for those comments I made yesterday. I clearly ended up putting my foot in my mouth. I regret those stupid comments." It sounds to me like Gingrey was groveling. Congressmen should never grovel. That is worse than crying in baseball.
Good news: The University System of Georgia is running like such a well-oiled machine that they can't be bothered with absorbing budget cuts like other parts of state government. While the legislature is looking into such measures as employee furloughs across all departments in order to deal with a $2 billion budget deficit, University System Chancellor Erroll Davis told legislative budget writers he's "philosophically" opposed to furloughs.
Bad news: Davis might have to re-examine his philosophy because I have identified some potential furlough fodder for him. There is a particular department at Georgia Tech that doesn't care much for me or my opinions and has let me know via a taxpayer-supported employee on a taxpayer-supported computer on company time, which I assume is taxpayer-supported, too. If I'm the biggest thing on the minds of that group at Tech, I would submit they have too much time on their hands. Give them a non-tax-supported furlough. That's my philosophy.
Good news: I have told the Woman Who Shares My Name that I would appreciate her not interfering in my business in the future. Writing columns is much too complicated for her to understand, and I have neither the time nor inclination to explain it to her.
Bad news: It is hard to breathe with broccoli up my nose.
E-mail columnist Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org.