Looking ahead to 2013, this county, state and nation all face major issues and problems; that, of course, isn't peculiar to this year but occurs regularly. Here at the Chronicle-Independent, it's our responsibility to comment on these issues in editorials, and as we have in the past, we won't be hesitant to do so. We've noticed for a long time that many newspapers are like politicians in that they adhere to certain philosophies or dogmas and seldom swerve away from them. With many papers, it's possible to predict which side of an issue they'll ...
• The new Congress sworn in last week in Washington is the most diverse ever, with membership gains by women, minorities and gays. In addition, the House will have its first Hindu member, its first female combat veterans and its first openly bi-sexual member. The Senate will have its first Buddhist. And, of course, Tim Scott of South Carolina becomes the only African-American in the Senate. We hope all the new officials will do a better job of leading this country than those they join in Washington.
Though members of Congress avoided pushing the United States over a temporary fiscal cliff, they did virtually nothing to solve the long-term financial problems facing this nation. So when you see them on television talking about how much they accomplished over the New Year's holiday, you can dismiss that as just another blast of hot air. President Obama and members of Congress made no difficult decisions.
The recent death of Robert Bork no doubt brought memories for many Kershaw County residents who recall his 1987 nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court and the vicious attacks on him that led to a new word -- "borking" -- being added to the dictionary. As columnist Gordon Crovitz related in a recent piece, Bork's treatment by the U.S. Senate was the first in what has become a normal procedure, that of trying to demonize court appointees who don't meet a certain political standard. Up until that time, presidents enjoyed the power to appoint justices with a great ...
• If you plan to watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year's Eve, you'll probably catch a glimpse of One Times Square, an office building that is mostly vacant. But don't shed tears for the building's owners; according to The Wall Street Journal, the building will generate more than $23 million in revenue this year as a spot to hang billboards and other advertisements. Its clients include Anheuser-Busch, which will pony up $3.4 million to for beer signs, and Dunkin Donuts, which is paying $3.6 million to feature its goodies.
As the gun debate has mounted following the tragic school shootings in Connecticut, many who have strong opinions are speaking out -- some who favor a total ban on guns, others who prefer no controls whatsoever. But there's no easy solution to this problem, and the best one lies somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.
Almost any reasonable measure which makes government more open and accessible to South Carolinians is good, so we're glad to see Rep. Bill Taylor once again offering a bill that would prohibit tax-supported agencies from charging excessive fees for providing documents and would require them to respond more quickly to public requests for information.
• As you settle back to enjoy holiday football, we have a startling statistic for you regarding the size of college football players. A recent survey which focused on linemen over seven decades revealed the average lineman today weighs more than half again as much as his 1950 counterpart. Over that time, according to a recent news report, the average offensive and defensive lineman grew to just over 290 pounds from just above 190. We can't even predict how big they'll be in another 50 years.
Most of us here in Kershaw County are caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season -- shopping, family gatherings, baking and all the other traditions of Christmas. And there's nothing wrong with that. But as we observe a holy day of Christendom, let us pause to recall the true meaning of the season, as related in the second chapter of Luke, from the King James Version of the New Testament.
Rep. Tim Scott became the immediate front-runner to succeed Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina after DeMint announced he would resign to run the Heritage Foundation, perhaps the pre-eminent conservative think tank in the country. (As an aside, we've seen lots of philosophical mumbo-jumbo come out of think tanks, both conservative and liberal, but very little workable policy.) Other names were bandied about, the strangest one being Jenny Sanford, former wife of the Palmetto State's philandering ex-governor, Mark Sanford.
• We've commented before on the merry-go-round of coaches in professional sports, and that some who get fired manage to get new jobs no matter how bad their teams have been in the past. A news story pointed out recently that Norv Turner, coach of the NFL's San Diego Chargers, has managed to coach 234 games while compiling an overall losing record. Now that's what we call a survivor.
While President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner continue negotiations in an attempt to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, Americans across the country -- including, of course, many right here in Kershaw County -- are voicing their concerns about the irresponsibility of the federal government. But surveys of voters show a curious trend, and if we Americans want to look at one cause of the huge national debt and the dysfunction of Uncle Sam, we need look no further than ourselves.
The U.S. government has never been known for efficiency, as indicated by the staggering amount of red ink under which Uncle Sam is struggling. And there's no easy way to reconcile changes that will bring the deficit under control. But there's one action that's extremely simple and effective: changing the way the government measures inflation, which affects how fast government payments rise under a variety of programs.
• Little noticed last week among all the "fiscal cliff" talk was the death of former Rep. Congressman Jack Brooks of Texas, who spent 42 years in Washington and is perhaps best remembered as the man standing behind Jacqueline Kennedy as Lyndon Johnson took the presidential oath of office aboard Air Force One following the assassination of President Kennedy. Brooks was one of a kind -- described in one news story as an "irascible, cigar-chomping … swashbuckling Texas character" and by one Johnson aide as one of the only men LBJ was ever afraid of." Brooks came from a different era, but he ...
Nobody here in Kershaw County or anywhere else in the country would rationally assert that President Obama's victory last month transformed the United States into a one-party country. After all, Obama won by a skinny percentage (though by a wider margin in the antiquated Electoral College), and the U.S. House of Representatives is still controlled by the GOP, as are a majority of governorships. However, the protocols of presidential politics are creating a more difficult path for Republicans to win the White House unless the party steps back and takes a fresh look at itself.
The unemployment rate here in Kershaw County and across South Carolina, as well as the rest of the United States, remains disappointingly high. The economy is still mired in slow growth, and too many people are out of work. Yet a recent study by a national newspaper shows how ineffective government jobs programs can be and points out that many people who have tried to take advantage of them end up worse off than they were before starting them.
• Here in Kershaw County, we don't think about bridges much, unless it's the spans crossing the Lynches and Wateree rivers on U.S. 1, I-20 and other roads. Many bridges in our county are small, made of wood or pipes used as culverts. They cross streams and branches of creeks and -- according to our recent two-part story -- not in the greatest shape. Some state-owned bridges are in the process of being repaired or replaced with state and/or federal funds. But many others are owned by the county. All but two currently open bridges that cross bodies of ...
Two horrific diseases have been brought into the spotlight recently -- ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, which has caught the public eye through an "ice bucket challenge," and depression, brought into further consciousness through the tragic suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams. Attention in such matters is always beneficial, both in terms of raising money to fight the diseases and in making Americans more aware of the challenges of such maladies.
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