• 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.
There's an old saying that a cat has nine lives, but in politics, there's probably nobody who has more lives than Hillary Rodham Clinton. It's a measure of her resilience that as she completes four years as secretary of state in the Obama administration and prepares to step down from that post, her popularity is high, even among many who considered her almost the devil incarnate for a long while.
• There's a legitimate reason many Republican lawmakers in Washington oppose the potential nomination of Susan Rice as secretary of state. There are too many unanswered questions about her statements following the attack on the U. S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Many in the GOP say they'd be more comfortable with Sen. John Kerry, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004. Kerry has long years of experience and significant expertise in foreign affairs. Unless President Obama simply enjoys picking fights, he'd do well to go with Kerry.
We've been whacking national Republicans pretty hard lately. They lost the presidential election by appearing to be completely out of touch with the majority of voters. They have been the image of obstinacy, acting as if they are still operating in a cloakroom of darkness. Even Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has said the party is running out of angry old white men and had better change its ways.
There's a lot not to like about college athletics these days. In many ways, it has become a giant money grab, with schools giving up longtime allegiances and rivalries to jump from conference to conference, wherever the dollar signs are highest. Academic and recruiting scandals such as the recent one at the University of North Carolina are common. Coaches are paid millions of dollars while schools raise ticket prices for their fans, many of whom swear until their dying breaths that the coaches are "worth every penny of it." It's not a pretty world.
• One of the frankest explanations we've heard from Republicans on what the party needs to do to revitalize itself nationally came from Haley Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi and former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Said the folksy Barbour, "We've got to give our political organization a very serious proctology exam. We need to look everywhere."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the plain-spoken chief executive of the Garden State, found out following Hurricane Sandy just how deep partisan feelings can run. Christie, who praised President Obama for his response to New Jersey's being battered by the hurricane, came under severe criticism from many within his own party for being too complimentary of the president's actions; in fact, some laid the defeat of Mitt Romney at Christie's feet, which is a specious position to take. We'll acknowledge that Christie, who plays by his own rule book, might have been more effusive in his ...
The folks at the Carolina Cup Racing Association did their usual fine job in putting on last Saturday's Colonial Cup steeplechase program, and those who attended saw fine weather and a great racing program that featured two Camden connections in the winner's circle. The Colonial Cup, of course, has never been as well attended or as well known as its older cousin, the Carolina Cup, and the annual November outing has sometimes battled iffy weather as well as all the competition -- football being the primary one -- that comes with a fall date.
Lawyers of every political persuasion are lining up in Washington to have their say on the legality or illegality of the plan President Obama intends to implement regarding amnesty for illegal aliens who are in the United States without proper authorization, with one major network saying the president's plan to take the immigration system into his own hands "is a daring test of the limits of presidential power."
Operating under the simple premise that citizens have a right to know as much as they can about how their government officials operate, and how that affects governmental agencies as a whole, we almost always favor laws and regulations which require transparency in government. Transparency, of course, is an overused word, but it basically means that government agencies must operate in a way that allows citizens to observe what's happening, and even to have input about what's taking place.
• Once again, we mention the good work of Brian Mayes in this space. Seven years ago -- in response to the death of Camden High School student Michael Smith in Kershaw County's only gang-related shooting -- Mayes said the community had to become "a better gang than the gangs." What he meant is Camden and Kershaw County had to offer young people alternatives to gang life and choices which could land them in jail, or worse. Two events this month prove Mayes has planted good seeds we hope will bear fruit for generations to come. First, the official ribbon cutting ceremony ...
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