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What's a couple hundred million among friends?

Another week, and I'm once again writing against deadline... this time, however, it is no fault of mine. Our editorial trio here in Elizabethtown is a man-down today, as design editor Josh Leipzig is tending to his sick wife. Get well, Paula...

And that's it for good tidings. The New York Times isn't handing them out, and neither will I. That's right folks, just days after Barack Obama's historic swearing-in ceremony, the Times was back on the attack - spitting venom at former president George W. Bush, claiming that President Obama did more in his first week in office than the 43rd president did in his first term.

That's a lofty claim, considering that Bush sent us guns blazing into two wars and signed off on No Child Left Behind in less than two years. Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of Bush, but didn't Obama just tell America to put aside old beefs and get to work? Shouldn't the largest newspaper in the country get in line behind Our Fearless Leader?

Old grudges, like old habits, share something in common with detective John McClane, I suppose...

Speaking of the inauguration, a friend of mine, Tony the Brit (who is, in fact, British), asked me why America would stand for a ceremony that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, especially during a time of great economic hardship,

"It seems ludicrous, if you ask me," he said.

"Well, nobody asked you, eh?" I responded.

In fact, Tony's point is a good one - and it's an argument that has been echoed from liberals and conservatives alike. Why would America stand for such an expensive and lavish inauguration when middle-class taxpayers are being forced to choose between paying for food and paying Citibank?

Well, for starters, the ceremony wasn't charged to the American taxpayers in full. A good portion of the bill may have come from the taxpayers, but the states of Maryland and Virginia and the District of Columbia paid a good portion, too. Also, the countless volunteers who donated to Obama's election chipped-in.

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