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Oglesby: Bells GOP leanings are no surprise
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It wasn't too surprising to learn of Commissioner Ashley Bell's switch to the Republican Party. In fact, I may have been the very first person to approach him about it.

His mother was a fellow Kiwanis Club member then, and she introduced me to him. I got to thinking he might shed some light on something I was trying to figure out. Why were black citizens so wed to the Democratic Party?

After the Civil War and up until President John F. Kennedy, blacks were mostly Republicans. Democrats resisted equal rights and desegregation, filibustering all attempts. Blacks mostly shared the same family values. I thought he might enlighten me on it.

I took him to lunch and we talked a couple of hours. That was before he ran for any office. In hearing his philosophy over all those lunches, I told him he was a fiscal conservative and belonged in the Republican Party. That wasn't then on his agenda.

We continued more discussions over lunches. He told me he was thinking of running for office. I told him that despite his obvious talents, it would be an uphill battle in increasingly GOP Hall County and he ought to switch parties. He didn't and lost.

He finally won his current seat as a Democrat and in my view has done an outstanding job. The timing caught me by surprise, but Hall County is better off for his switch.

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Congress finally did the minimum. As this is written by my deadline, it had not adjourned sine die and several things including the START Treaty remained to be done.

It's a crying shame an immigration bill which in reality could have been a relatively simple document with a pragmatic approach and tough requirements didn't even get on the calendar. They were too busy playing chicken after getting the partisan votes cast for future use - either to brand opponents for future battles or use for their own re-election bids. I didn't see many "fetch 'em bills," originated and designed in Illinois to "fetch" campaign contributions.

The tax cut package including extensions of current rates, including the AMT fix, which was in question until the end was the biggie minimum referred to above. It'll take programmers until the first few weeks of next year to get them written and to professional preparers like me. Look for a long season with numbers of extensions,

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If you happen to be looking for people to add to your holiday prayer list, I'd appreciate prayers for my brother-in-law. He fell several weeks ago in the bathroom and broke his shoulder. They found him about a half-hour later and took him to the Dahlonega Hospital. When he was discharged there, he also couldn't walk and was dead weight.

Last Tuesday, as I was preparing to bake my holiday pecan pies, the facility called telling me he was still deteriorating and the ambulance had just left bringing him to Gainesville for a thorough evaluation. After oodles of tests, the doctors said he needed emergency brain surgery, which he received.

He remains in the hospital. This 80-year-old man had never spent a night in the hospital until now. He's still there and will have to weeks of physical therapy for shoulder and learning to walk again.

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This is the last column I'll have before Christmas and New Year's Day. To you and all yours, the merriest of Christmases and the best New Year ever.

Ted Oglesby is retired associate and opinion page editor of The Times. You can reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com.

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