We have noted before with a degree of perplexity that diesel automobiles that get great fuel mileage and are wildly popular in Europe have never been promoted here in the United States by automakers. Finally, we're glad to see that is changing, and the public is responding in a big way. Volkswagen is now aggressively pushing its Passat TDI diesel model, which can deliver up to 50 miles per gallon in highway driving. Auto industry analysts have said for more than three decades that Americans wouldn't latch onto diesels, partly because of the disastrous results back in the ...
• With the Major League Baseball season in its infancy, we're struck by one fact about the New York Yankees: the team must have the biggest -- we're talking in terms of physical size here -- pitching staff in the history of the league. Excluding Hiroki Kuroda, at 6-1 and 190 pounds the dwarf of the group, New York's starting rotation averages nearly 6-6 in height and 257 pounds. Hurler C. C. Sabathia is the biggest of the group at 6-7, 290. We don't know how well they'll pitch this year, but we doubt you'll see many ...
We don't know whether Kershaw County voters will face a referendum this fall on whether to organize a new county police department -- in the process taking virtually all authority away from the sheriff's office -- but the fact that county council is even considering it is a bit unsettling for both entities. Discord between sheriffs and county council members is nothing new, of course. In the past, going back decades, some sheriffs have been quick to remind council members that they are independent elected officials, and councils have been no less reticent to let sheriffs know they are dependent ...
• There's a controversy over federal subsidies granted to college students, and that's a valid subject for debate, but lost in the shuffle is the fact that college costs are out of control. The expense charged to students from colleges and universities has skyrocketed in the two decades at a rate far exceeding the increase in the cost of living. Colleges need to get a handle on that before criticizing the government for not allowing large subsidies.
It appears that claims of $5-a-gallon gasoline in South Carolina that were made a few months ago were nothing more than speculation, as the price of fuel is now coming down and is actually lower than it was a year ago. That's good news, of course, and experts say one reason is that people are driving less, using more fuel-efficient cars, making fewer trips and carpooling. There's another option we'd like to suggest, one that can save money while at the same time improving health. It's walking. What could be simpler than that?
The relationship between Gov. Nikki Haley and members of the General Assembly hasn't been exactly lovey-dovey, and there's probably some blame to be placed on both sides. But it does look a bit churlish for the Senate to finally pass a bill that will allow gubernatorial candidates to pick their own running mates, but to postpone the effective date of the bill until after Haley runs for re-election -- as she is presumed to want to do -- two years from now.
• USAirways, which has a major hub in Charlotte, is making a play for American Airlines, which is in bankruptcy, cutting a deal with American's unions that will give USAirways a step up in the merger it seeks. For Kershaw County travelers who choose to fly out of Charlotte rather than subject themselves to the restrictions of Columbia's limited flight schedules, that would be a great improvement, and we hope USAirways is able to pull its deal off.
After years of fan discontent over the lack of a playoff system in college football, it appears that progress is finally being made toward establishing some sort of playoff that will involve at least four teams and possibly more. Over many seasons, since the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was established, college football's power brokers steadfastly refused to admit that a controversial system of picking two teams to play for the national championship had any weaknesses. They wanted to protect the current bowl system and they displayed a blind eye to fans' calls for a playoff.
Members of the S. C. General Assembly appear poised to strike down the TERI program as the state's retirement system deficit continues to climb, recently hitting the $14 billion mark. The program was born out of good intentions but contained so many loopholes that it became the antithesis of what lawmakers intended when they started it.
• Political spin is a given these days, and President Obama is as good -- or bad, given your point of view -- at it as anyone. We were amused at his response to one reporter after Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen stuck her foot in her mouth with her comment about Ann Romney's never having "worked a day in her life." Obama referred to Rosen as "some woman on television," conveniently forgetting that she's a Democratic operative. We'll have to admit that goes beyond spin.
Pat Summit, the legendary coach of the women's basketball team at the University of Tennessee, has stepped down, months after revealing that she has early-onset dementia. Summit carved out one of the most incredible records of any coach in any sport, finishing her career after 38 years with 1,098 wins and only 208 losses and more championships than anyone can count. We are all left to ponder one inescapable fact: if dementia can strike someone as young (59) and as active as Pat Summit, is there anyone who's immune?
One of the great things about our political system is that citizens can openly and freely voice their opinions about elected officials and particular proposals that are under consideration. Such dialogue has been common in the controversy surrounding the proposed sports complex in Camden. Some critics have been vocal not only about the project itself but about the way Camden City Council has handled the matter. We understand many of those concerns; we've commented on prior occasions that council members could have done a better job of presenting their ideas and accepting public input. On the other hand, there ...
• We're glad to read that analysts say the surge in gasoline prices is nearing its end and that prices might actually subside a bit as we head toward summer. Here in the United States, fuel prices have never been a classic supply-and-demand item, and there are few who truly understand the system. But one thing is indeed clear: if prices are going down, we're all going to have more money in our pockets to spend on other things and to help stimulate the recovery, and that's indeed a good thing.
There's a long history in this country of major-party presidential candidates bending to the left (if they're Democrats) or to the right (Republicans) to win their parties' nominations, and then swinging back toward the center during the general election that determines who will occupy the White House for the next four years. That's probably what we're going to see now that Rick Santorum has given up his campaign, opening the door for Mitt Romney to become the Republican nominee.
Back in the early 1960s, the journalism surrounding politicians and famous figures was often adoring and non-controversial -- something a public relations expert might dream up. Movie stars and professional athletes were always pictured as happy and devoted to their families, although there was probably nearly as much fooling around back then as now. And political figures were smilingly looked upon as people who had nothing more than the good of the country in their hearts. President John F. Kennedy's multiple dalliances were well known but never reported.
• We hope you had as much fun reading our recent front page story on the 2015 Junior Leadership Kershaw County's etiquette class as we did putting it together. The entire Junior Leadership program -- taking some of Kershaw County's brightest and most promising students and giving them the opportunity to interact with a variety of leaders from across the county -- is one we're lucky to have in our community. The etiquette class, held at Boykin's Mill Pond Steakhouse, taught these already well-mannered teens the finer points of moving through society, especially at a fancy restaurant. Parents often ...
Kershaw County residents who watched the State of the Union address Tuesday night might agree with us that perhaps it's time to call a halt to the entire production. That's not a slam at President Obama, for he did nothing more overtly political than his predecessors from both parties have been doing for years. It's just that the term "state of the union" bears little resemblance to what actually occurs at the annual event; it's become little more than a political circus.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sen. John McCain of Arizona have been buddies for a long time, and they're cut out of the same cloth: moderate Republicans who are willing to cross the aisle to get legislation passed. The far-right wing of the GOP makes a lot of noise about whacking Graham down to size, but he keeps winning elections by sizeable margins. That suits us fine. We'll have to admit we thought it was pretty funny recently when McCain said he'd like to see his "illegitimate son, Lindsey Graham" make a run for the ...
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