An After-Dinner Chuckle

IMG_3320After having another fine dinner at Hodge’s in Cleveland tonight, I got a laugh when the check was presented.  A little honesty is a wonderful thing.

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Another Thadmirable Season

I’m a huge fan of Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta. This season is a great example of why he’s a wonderful coach and excellent representative of my alma mater.

Coach Matta had to replace Jared Sullinger, a dominant center who led the Buckeyes to two Big Ten titles and, last year, a Final Four.  Sullinger left early for the NBA — but Coach Matta is used to that.  He recruits top-notch talent, and he’s lost many players who turned pro after a year or two at Ohio State.  When that happens, he cheerfully accepts the challenge of reshaping his team, and each year he rises to that challenge.  This year’s team has compiled a 22-7 record and is contending for another Big Ten title.

I hope every Ohio State fan remembers what it was like before Coach Matta came to Columbus.  For every good year, Ohio State had many sad seasons of futility and sketchy talent.  That changed immediately when the Matta years began.  Under Coach Matta, the Buckeyes have won 20 games every year and routinely are in the fight for the Big Ten regular season title.  He recruits terrific players and they improve under his coaching.  His teams play with grit and passion.  His tenure has not been tainted by scandals or investigations.  With this record, how can you not appreciate what Thad Matta has done for Ohio State basketball — and be grateful that he has chosen to stay here?

Thad Matta obviously is a wonderful college basketball coach, but he’s also a great person.  He’s a family man.  He’s dealt, uncomplainingly, with painful health issues that would have made most people angry and bitter, yet he has a great sense of humor that he displays whenever he faces a microphone.  He’s active in the community, and thoughtful and decent and well-spoken in his dealings with fans and the media and opposing coaches alike.

As I’ve said before, I believe in the power of saying “thank you.”  Coach Matta, thank you for giving us another great season!  (Now, let’s be sure to beat Illinois on Sunday.)

 

 

Droning On

Yesterday Kentucky Senator Rand Paul staged an old-fashioned filibuster on the Senate floor.  Paul held the floor for almost 13 hours until the urgent call of nature caused him to yield the floor at about 1 a.m. this morning.

The target of Senator Paul’s filibuster was the nomination of John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency — but the broader target was the Obama Administration’s drone program.  Attorney General Eric Holder has refused to rule out the possibility that the President could lawfully order drone strikes on American citizens on American soil under extraordinary circumstances, such as a terrorist attack akin to September 11.  Paul considers that position frightening and an affront to due process rights of American citizens, and that’s why he took to the Senate floor.

I don’t agree with Senator Paul on many issues, but I applaud his use of the filibuster to draw attention to the drone issue, which I think has largely flown under the radar of the American public.  We need to have a national discussion about our use of drones, both in America and in foreign countries.  We should fully consider the costs and benefits of the use of drones overseas, and whether we think it is prudent for the President to have the unilateral authority to authorize drones to kill suspected terrorists in other, sovereign nations with which we are not at war.  There is no doubt that the drones have been effective weapons in the fight against al Qaeda, but are they being used too frequently and too indiscriminately?  The strikes have injured and killed apparently innocent civilians and deeply damaged the United States’ reputation in several countries.  Is it worth it?  That’s not a question that the President, alone, should be answering.

Domestically, do we really want to give the President the power to order the killing of American citizens in the United States — without a judge or jury or a finding of guilt by any other entity or branch of government?  Reserving for the President the right to do so in “extraordinary circumstances” seems like an ill-defined limit on presidential power.  Supporters of President Obama might trust him to make wise decisions with such power, but what about the next President, and the President after that?  Presidential power runs with the office, not with its occupant.  Gradual accretions of presidential power never seem to get reversed, they just continue to accumulate and accumulate until the president seems less like a chief executive of a three-branch government and more like a tyrant.

I’m not ready to yield the power to the President to order drone strikes on American citizens on American soil just yet.  I hope Senator Paul’s old-fashioned, bladder-busting filibuster causes Congress, and the American public, to pay more attention to this important issue that addresses broad questions of individual liberty, due process, and how our government should work.