Does anyone remember the original "October Surprise"?
The phrase entered our language three decades ago to describe the conspiracy theory in which Ronald Reagan's campaign supposedly colluded with the government of Iran to prevent the release of the American hostages until after the presidential election in order to hurt Jimmy Carter's chances of re-election.
Those of us who were around back then knew Carter didn't need much help losing. Lord, what a disaster he was.
All those sad-sack Georgia lawmakers who occasionally try to get the state to apologize for slavery - even though there are no living slaves or slave-holders - should instead have the state apologize for helping inflict Carter on the rest of the nation in the first place. Ugh.
But I digress.
While the original "October Surprise" has been thoroughly debunked, the phrase lives on. It most often describes some dramatic, late-in-the-game action by an incumbent to boost his or her chances at a November re-election.
This year? Here's a prediction: The October Surprise won't be much of a surprise. And it sure won't help any incumbents at the federal level.
The Democrats this past week passed the horrific government takeover of our nation's health care system, a plan designed to "fix" something that works just fine for some 85 percent of the nation.
Among other things, this bill restricts insurance companies from denying policies because of pre-existing conditions, and removes the lifetime limits on payouts. Both changes will mean enormous increases in insurance company costs; they'll recoup it by raising your rates.
Most major employers - public and private - hold their insurance "open enrollment" periods in (wait for it...) October. So, not long before the November elections, workers all across the country are likely to get slammed with huge insurance policy rate increases.
And don't think for a minute they'll blame anyone but the Democrats in Congress and President Obama.
That wasn't an earthquake the folks in Lincoln County felt last week. That was the rumblings of discontent rolling across the nation because of the actions of our federal government.
Residents will get a great opportunity to sound off on their aggravation at 6 p.m. Monday at the Lincoln County Courthouse, when U.S. Rep. Paul Broun - who voted against all this mess - visits for a town hall meeting.
Broun also will appear in Hiawassee Wednesday and Carnesville Thursday, and undoubtedly will get, and give, an earful.
If there was any lingering doubt that the overpaid bureaucrats in the federal government have lost any connection with fiscal reality, this should clear it up.
The United States Department of Agriculture posted the following announcement this past week:
"Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA will award grants of up to $5 million to improve access to and increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - formerly the Food Stamp Program."
They are going to pay $5 million, money extracted from your pocket, to encourage more people to take more money from you.
There once was a day when people took money from the government dole only as a last resort, and then with at least a semblance of gratitude and humility. Now we're playing it like a "Price is Right" episode: Food stamps? Come on down!
We're doomed, comrades.
The News-Times bids farewell this week to Stephen Fastenau, our sports writer for the past two years.
Like other recent News-Times sports writers, Stephen is moving on to a bigger job elsewhere now that he's honed his prep-reporting skills. The guy before him, Billy Byler, now writes for The Augusta Chronicle; Byler's predecessor, Jonathan Heeter, writes for the Macon Telegraph.
Stephen will be a little nearer the coast, covering high school sports for Hilton Head's Island Packet and Beaufort's Gazette.
We're hunting for the next News-Times sports writer even as we speak, and for now News Editor Donnie Fetter will once again add the sports writing hat to his already extensive wardrobe.
Best of luck to you, Stephen. Don't hit your head on the way out.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.