There has been a change of plans. I was going to talk about Georgia’s olive industry this week. It is one of our state’s best-kept secrets. According to gourmands in the know, the quality of Georgia’s olive oil rivals that of anywhere in the nation and is even compared favorably with overseas producers. But now is not the time for that discussion. Farmers all across south Georgia are busy dealing with the aftereffects of Hurricane Michael. We’ll get back to that subject later. In the meantime, pray for all those hard-working souls who provide the food for our tables as well as all those impacted by that monstrous storm.
Once upon a time, a frightened and homesick kid from East Point showed up on the campus of the University of Georgia wondering if he shouldn’t just turn around, go home and get a paying job. He stayed, stuck it out and graduated. A couple of weeks ago, that kid – now an old man — sat at dinner in Athens with a group of distinguished men and women who have served as president of the UGA Alumni Association. We are from different cities, states and backgrounds, but we all agree it is one of the highest honors your alma mater can bestow on you. Frankly, I still pinch myself that it happened to me.
Politics is a blood sport and I understand that. However, what went on in the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings was despicable. One of the basic tenets of our Constitution is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. That was not the case in these hearings and it wasn’t meant to be. Kavanaugh was a pawn in an effort by Democrats to position themselves for the upcoming midterm elections. Senators in both parties say that once-esteemed body has hit “rock bottom.” I agree. When, if ever, will our elected officials quit pandering to the extremes in their respective parties? There are a lot of us in the middle and we are disgusted at the sorry spectacle we witnessed.
The last thing Billy Payne needs is my seal of approval, but he gets it anyway. When I joined the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, Payne was coming to grips with running one of the most complex organizations on Earth, after having been a one-man-band real estate attorney in Atlanta. As such, he was the subject of a lot of smirks and eyerolls from the local media and government bureaucrats for his unbridled enthusiasm. One of roles I assigned myself was to wipe the smirks off their pompous faces. It was a job I did with relish. Not only did the man put on a great Olympic Games, he later became an innovative chairman of the venerable Augusta National Golf Club and has just been named to the World Golf Hall of Fame. The smirkers? They all crawled back into the woodwork from whence they came, never to be heard from again. Good riddance. Billy Payne was and is and always will be a winner.
A longtime political observer possessed of much wisdom reminds me — and I remind you — that when we elect our next governor, we are electing more than a person. We are electing a philosophy — someone who will appoint like-minded department heads, commissioners, members of a host of boards and commissions and, perhaps most importantly, make judicial appointments. Call it what you will, but it is political patronage and it will have a major impact on your life and mine for years to come. It goes without saying that Republican candidate Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams are miles apart philosophically. Remember that when you vote.
Finally, from the Department of the Bizarre, multi-millionaire and unemployed knee jerk, Colin Kaepernick has filed a trademark for a black-and-white image of his face and hair. The filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office says the intent is to use the image on everything “from shampoo and hairspray to jewelry and lampshades.” (Just what I have always wanted — a Colin Kaepernick lampshade. When it hears the national anthem, it falls off the lamp.) I wasn’t aware that you could trademark something as ugly and as irrelevant as a tree frog, but I was wrong. Is this a great country, or what?