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GUEST COLUMN: Random thoughts on random subjects - from gospel music to Rhodes Scholars

Dick Yarbrough

It doesn’t completely fill my bucket, but it is a darned good plank. Sometime ago, I opined about wanting to meet Bill and Gloria Gaither, who are to Southern gospel music what Rembrandt is to oil painting — the best. That would just about complete my bucket list which includes shooting the breeze with (pre-Twitter) presidents in the Oval Office; running the Olympic torch (twice); serving as president of the University of Georgia national alumni association; having a painting of mine hanging at the state Capitol and playing golf at the Old Course at St. Andrews. All good bucket material, but not Gaitheresque. Lo and behold, it turns out that loyal readers Jane and Michael Cox of Dunwoody are good friends with the Gaithers, have talked to them and tell me it will happen. In the meantime, Bill Gaither has sent me an autographed book on the roots of Southern gospel music. I am heaven-bound. ...

A personal message for Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry: Please stick to law enforcement and leave the comedy stuff to me. Your Facebook posts are so entertaining that you are making me nervous. I might be forced to go get a real job. During the recent snowstorm that hit much of the state, Sheriff Berry encouraged citizens to stay off the roads, saying, “If a deputy is directing you to not travel down a roadway, he or she probably has a good reason for doing so. The fact that you are from Wisconsin and say ‘this ain’t s---’ is really not pertinent.” And then this: “I know you need cigarettes, beer and wine to get you through having your kids at home. Can you just do without for a day? Stay home.” This guy is good. ...

At the risk of biting the hand that feeds me, I find too many media opinion-makers too predictable. They are either all in for Donald Trump or all out. All the time. How boring. I would rather have you have to read a few paragraphs to find out who I am about to skewer, be it the Georgia Baptist Convention lobbyist who says toting a gun to church is a “sanctity of life” issue — forget that New Testament stuff about “turn the other cheek” — or the head-banging cretins in the NFL (is it still around?) who dishonor their country while making more money in a year playing an irrelevant kid’s game than a schoolteacher will earn in a career. And I’ve only just begun. ...

Former state senator and current Republican gubernatorial candidate Hunter Hill is touting term limits as a part of his platform. Guess what? We already have term limits. They are called elections and We the Unwashed decide who serves and for how long. A major downside to term limits is that it put tremendous power into the hands of bureaucrats who are not elected. Most politicians will tell you they find it challenging enough to deal with all the bureaucratic red tape in government, even after having been in office for a while. Bureaucrats would eat term-limited legislators for lunch. ...

Speaking of Hill, his departure from the Legislature means one less advocate for cut-and-run public school policy, although I am sure someone will pop up to take his place and push for more tax credits to attend private schools. Just what our state needs: More money siphoned out of the state treasury. The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute estimates that the dozen tax breaks lawmakers approved late in the 2017 session will cost the state treasury roughly $483 million over the next five years. That is almost a half-billion dollars sucked out of the budget. Guess that means we can’t fix what ails Georgia’s public schools. We just don’t have the money in the budget. No wonder. ...

Finally, in the Whatever-Floats-Your-Boat department: The athletic supporters at You-Know-Where Institute of Technology are exulting on social media over Georgia’s overtime loss to Alabama in the national championship. Bless their hearts. Their football team went 5-6, got their butts kicked by the Bulldogs, 38-7 and couldn’t even qualify for one of the several hundred made-for-TV bowl games. To make matters worse, their basketball team was waxed by UGA, 80-59 earlier this season. Look for them to start playing the academics card, for which I have a two-word response: Rhodes Scholars. We have a whole lot more of them than you do. Woof! Woof!

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at dick@dickyarbrough.com; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb.