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Oglesby: Weighing in on new Hall leader, DC political chicken
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Count me among those who won't criticize the appointment of the new county administrator by a 4-1 vote. That's a job for the commission. I've never met the gentleman, never heard of him before, know nothing about his qualifications. We have to depend upon those we elect to make such decisions. Sometimes we are happy, other times not so.

The lone objector on the commission was Craig Lutz who appears to oppose any appointment he didn't recommend, including some district appointments made by other commissioners. Maybe now county government will settle down and go about business.

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Nor can I be critical of the jury that exonerated Casey Anthony, the women a jury found not guilty of murdering her child. Like most of the critics who are outraged because she wasn't convicted. I didn't hear all the evidence the jury did or personally see any of it. Most of, if not all of the outraged critics, didn't either.

People can be convicted on circumstantial evidence alone, but when the death penalty is the only option a jury has is innocent or guilty (as in this case) as a many-time juror, I can see where the circumstantial evidence might not be enough to overcome a reasonable doubt.. The jury did convict her of the several related counts where there were no reasonable doubts. The jury system can fail for various reasons, but it doesn't happen too often. It's the best system we have.

I like some of the ideas being floated about reforming sentencing laws and guidelines, giving judges more discretion, particularly for nonviolent criminals. It could lead to greatly reducing the prison population and its overwhelming cost to Georgia taxpayers. Recidivism rates already are high, but financial penalties could be stiff and automatically deducted from paychecks until paid and never forgiven until fully paid. More halfway houses also might be part of a solution. This idea ought to be thoroughly fleshed out.

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It's time for President Barack Obama and both houses of Congress to quit playing political chicken as Aug. 2 fiscal doomsday date fast approaches. Obama, who is trying to appear to be leading, is politicking for re-election like crazy. He's getting little help from the Democratic-controlled Senate, a sizeable majority of whom won't support their leaders' efforts to reach a reasonable compromise.

It's much like that over in the House, especially from the sizeable tea party crowd. Few Americans question we need to get our fiscal house in order. It can't and won't happen overnight. It'll take many years to eliminate national debt. There are numerous steps that could be taken, some of which have been mentioned in this space before. Combinations of all these steps could make a giant step forward.

It'll be catastrophic if we do default for the first time in history. Many critics, including Obama, love to scorch George W. Bush for leading us into the fiscal morass. His nonuse of the veto pen earned some of the blame.

Look at bald facts. The usual guide for national debt hovers around 18 percent of Gross National Product. Bush was well above that in 2008; it was 20.7 percent. The current Obama-led economy is 25 percent, heading higher.

It's been proven time and time again, starting especially with John F. Kennedy, when tax rates are reasonably cut, total tax collections increase. Though top rates are lower, the "rich" pay even more tax. Today, more than half the nation's households pay absolutely no income tax and many receive refundable tax credits. The top 1 percent earners pay more than half the taxes collected.

I'm far from rich, but support cutting top tax rates.

Effective leadership requires principled, pragmatic, give and take compromise to pass bills that can pass both houses by margins to overturn presidential veto. Bone-headed stubbornness is not and never will be leadership.

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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