6:00 AM EDT, April 8, 2013
"What's the second paragraph?"
That is my boilerplate response when someone suggests a column idea to me. "Yeah. Right. But where do I go from there?" Not every topic is worth 700 words.
So, today I will offer a few words on recent headlines in the news. Call it speed-opinionating.
•Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, whose aides told everybody he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was in fact bedding his mistress in Argentina, has won the Republican primary for his old congressional seat. He will be running against news-comedian Stephen Colbert's sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch.
Joe Scarborough, Mr. Sanford's friend from his days in Congress, semi-challenged Mr. Colbert to go mano-a-mano on the air during the race, and Mr. Colbert responded by calling on the entire "Colbert Nation" to support his sister. I have to agree with the sham newsman: "Only in America."
•Newspapers in Colorado are editorializing against executing Aurora movie theater gunman James Holmes on the grounds that the legal proceedings that would stretch over years and years are tremendously expensive, and the money could be better spent on roads and playgrounds.
Not that Mr. Holmes is clearly insane and has agreed to life in prison without parole, removing him from society and putting an end to the trauma victims' families would relive every time his appeals made the news. Or that capital punishment is barbaric and ineffective as a deterrent. But that the money could be better spent on public works.
•Former Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice, who was captured on video physically and verbally abusing his players but was only dismissed after the video went viral, is getting all the attention. But I'd like to put in a word for Eric Murdock, the team's director of player personnel, who was fired last summer after complaining about Mr. Rice's behavior.
He put the tape in front of university officials, who responded with only a three-game suspension and a fine for the coach. I am guessing he had a role in getting the tape to ESPN when it became clear that the university wasn't going to sully its image while trying to join the Big Ten. He's the hero here. He should get the $100,000 bonus Mr. Rice is being paid because he made it through the season, which would not have been the case had he been fired when he should have been.
•Jimmy Fallon will replace Jay Leno as host of "The Tonight Show" next spring, following NBC's broadcast of the Olympics. Either that, or it is Jimmy Kimmel. I get the two look-alike comics confused. And that doesn't bode well for the iconic show. Nobody ever confused Johnny Carson with anybody else.
•I am pleased and grateful that the Maryland General Assembly has passed a ban on assault weapons, a limit on ammunition magazines and strict gun registration requirements. Gov. Martin O'Malley is right. Assault weapons have no place in a civilized society. But I would be more enthusiastic if this did not have the unmistakable whiff of ambition about it.
•Michelle Obama, with the help of lots of school kids, planted a kitchen garden on the South Lawn of the White House for the fifth spring in a row. There are still people out there who think it is a fake garden and that the harvest is contaminated by human waste and fed only to poor children.
•As noted in this space recently, the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project reports that women who complete college and establish themselves in jobs or careers before marriage and children earn an average of $10,000 more each year for life than those who do not follow this "success sequence." At the same time, a Princeton alum wrote an open letter to women students advising them to nail down a husband before they graduate because the talent pool outside the Ivy League is so second-rate.
Certainly, a college degree from a prestigious university will help young women sort out the messages here.
•And finally, President Barack Obama is returning 5 percent of his salary to the Treasury Department in order to show solidarity with furloughed federal workers — and to get his case for ending the sequester back before the public.
It is a swell gesture, but I prefer what acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe did, even before the president acted. He is donating 32 hours of pay to a fund that provides emergency loans and child-care subsidies to strapped federal workers.
There you have it.
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